On paper with a postage stamp?  Sure.  It’s a bold statement in this digital world that will hopefully be read and re-read for a lifetime.  There are also modern ways of delivering your well composed love words that we encourage. Not by text messages please. You want permanence and an appropriate level of dignity.  Email works acceptably.  It’s supposed to be a big deal. Make it so.

Love-LettersExpressing Your Love
The essential, and preferably only, topic of a love letter is informing your love interest about the qualities of your love for him or her.  It’s surely not about asking to be loved. Don’t water it down with relatively trivial topics that are off subject. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, go on for pages and pages. Get to the point, stay on point, and don’t dull the point.

A love letter is intensely personal. Make it about the uniqueness of your love.  A letter that says only “I Love You!” is way better than nothing, but you can do so much better.  Think about your letter being re-read ten years hence.  Will it evoke deep emotions, maybe a tear or two?

This is the time to use lots of pronouns like “I” and “me” and “my” in your expression. You know, the old “I feel xyz whenever I think of you.”  Does your heart skip a beat when …. ?  Say so.  Remember, it’s about you and your love that you want the other to know about and, with great expectations, cherish.

Be Brave
It’s not easy to go out on a limb and express something as important as your love. You are vulnerable when you send a love letter. True. Yet, the wonderful advantage of a love letter is the separation between you and your love interest. When you are face to face you don’t get to re-write what you just said, and an immediate response always happens (even if it is silence……………………).  It’s easier to get a love letter right (if you take the time).  A letter also allows the receiver time to absorb the powerful content and respond appropriately.

Be Smart
Timing is important.  It’s hard to imagine circumstances when a love letter would be appropriate after only a first date – no matter how smitten you are.  A love letter expresses true love, and true love doesn’t actually happen at first sight (or sometimes even first site).

signalsReceptivity is important.  Don’t throw your fastball when the catcher is not ready. Be observant.  Is your love interest giving you the signals that call for your pitch?

Re view you’re righting so u dont loook dum
Typos and bad grammar detract so much that your love letter’s powerful impact may turn out to be negative. Everyone goofs up, but a love letter is something really important to you. So, take the time to get it right. Also, pick your words carefully, be as elegant as fits your character, but always use your words that come from your heart. Read what you have written as if you were in the shoes of the recipient. Will the sentiment be taken in the way you meant it? In other words, are you communicating well?

An example; I (Rich) once responded to a suggestion from Rose by writing “Yeah Yeah Yeah.”  I was trying to communicate that I had great enthusiasm, but what Rose received was “whatever.”  “Yes! Yes! Yes!” would have worked so much better.

If it takes emoticons to convey your feelings, you need to work on your words.  OMG, does it have to be said that you must use whole words, not decontented texting acronyms?

Don’t rush to send it. Sleep on it. Do a rewrite when you are in a different mood.  Make it a sparkling gem, simple yet dazzling. Enjoy the process. It’s wonderful to feel love. Revel in it. Then share it!

“Love can be expressed in a myriad of different methods, but the most timeless and most treasured will always remain the classic love letter.”    Auliq Ice

Check out the Modern Guide to Love Letters on our resources page.

All I really know about dating, I learned from the poker table?

Poker_handLook at your cards
That seems obvious.  You don’t want the disadvantage of not knowing how good or bad your hand is.  The same holds true for what you bring to the dating table.  Have you taken a clear look at your strengths and weaknesses?   Sometimes we think we are just like most everyone else, but that is not true.  Some people downplay their strengths and over-emphasize their weaknesses.  Others do just the opposite. Finding reality is what you want.  Your cards are no better or worse than the reality of them.

Play your hand well
Use your strengths to your advantage and don’t let your weaknesses hold you back.  In the hand above the 2 of hearts is insignificant. How to play the three 5s is what this hand is all about.  Say you are a great cook, but you aren’t interested in sports.  Look for someone who loves your cooking and could not care less about your detachment from sports.

Be observant
If you know your hand, you are half way there.  After that you need to get an idea of what cards are across the table. It’s not easy to know the other person’s hand, but it’s impossible if you are not paying attention.  You know all too well that well-practiced bluffs can fool you. On the other hand, amateur players may not even know how good or bad their hand is.  The longer you play with someone, the better idea you will have of how that player plays.

Calling your bluff
You can pretend to have assets that you don’t actually have.  In poker you may win when your competitor believes your bluff and folds never knowing for sure whether you were bluffing or not.  That is not the way dating works (hopefully!).  In dating your bluff will always be revealed if you stay in the game long enough. If it a big bluff, you are likely to lose.

Know when to fold ’empoker
If the chances of this hand (date) being a winner has really bad odds, it’s time to back out and wait for the next hand.  There will always be another hand to play.  If you are willing to take the risk of playing against long odds,  you are going to have to get used to losing a lot. Play hands that you have a good chance of winning.

You too can be the King or Queen of Hearts!

Care about what is important
We encourage you to care about what’s important in your life. This is not hard to do. Care about your friends and family, care about those who are suffering, care about doing a good job, and care about so many more important things.

shaken-not-stirredIt’s also good to care about a few things that are special to you. Wine. Baseball. Crochet. Even martinis, shaken not stirred. Having refined sensibilities in an area of special interest makes a person interesting.

Don’t care about what is not important
This precept sound a little odd and very easy to do, but often it’s harder to do than you think.  It’s commonly expressed as, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  In relationships, the benefit of not caring too much about too many things is that you will be easier to get along with. For example, sometimes having discriminating tastes about every little thing crosses the line from interesting into being just plain picky.

How does not caring help relationships?
We have all heard the conversation that goes something like this:
Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, where? How about Chinese? Not feeling it. Italian? Had it yesterday. That new restaurant on Broadway? I read a so-so review. How about our favorite place? It’s wearing thin on me. Hamburgers?  Yuck.      et cetera ad nauseam
spoiled
Wouldn’t it work better as a respectful exchange:
Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, where? How about Chinese? That new place on Broadway? Sure, let’s go!

Or even:  Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, you pick a place, just not XYZ, I ate there at lunch.

While the first couple is getting close to blowing up the others are on their way to an enjoyable evening.

Don’t be a pushover.  Stand up for what is important to you, but don’t make too big a deal over all the little things. Most of the time, when nothing critical is being decided, it will serve you better to be compliant, easy-going, laid-back, chill, mellow, and undemanding.  Your date will appreciate it and with any luck will return the favor.

It can be a challenge to separate what is truly important to you from what you can easily let go, but it is worth doing.

Just say yes!

We all hear people say that they deserve this and they deserve that. Sometimes we want to ask them “Why?”  The idea of entitlement has a negative ring to it, but aren’t we all at least entitled to some good things, like being treated with respect.

What are we entitled to?
In America we are entitled to quite a lot that we often take for granted. The Constitution guaranties us rights that people would have considered to be ridiculously unattainable just a few hundred years ago.  Jefferson, with his fine writing talents, summed up our entitlements as the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”   Thank you TJ for expressing so well what all humans should be able to expect in life.

“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.”  Aristotle

worthy-notOf what are we worthy?
We also deserve what we have earned.  Sometimes what you deserve to get back for what you have given out is straightforward, a quid pro quo, or give-and-take. You do your work, you get paid.  Sometimes there is a less direct connection between what you have done and the reward. For example, you work hard and you might get a promotion.

Do you deserve happiness?
As Jefferson wrote, we all have the right to pursue happiness, but we think it is best to believe that you don’t deserve happiness unless you have done something to earn it.  We’ve all done good things in our lives that would seem to balance with deserving happiness, but who knows if that good was good enough?  If you really want to feel deserving of some seriously nice happiness, why not ensure that the balance of give and take is in your favor.  Give and give and give some more. You can then sincerely feel deserving of receiving happiness. (And you’ll make a lot of friends, too!)

GiveGet-CropSelectiveColor

It’s true, you are a liar.  Don’t try to tell me that you didn’t tell your grandmother that you really loved the teal sweater she gave you for your 12th birthday.

Yes, you are a teller of “white lies.”  We all are.  Sometimes deceit is excused by the greater good it serves. Sometimes white lies are strong.  For example, publicly denouncing your family to save all of their lives. Sometimes white lies are so light they are barely recognizable. You say “It’s OK” when it’s really not because you know it’s not worth fighting about.

It’s also common knowledge that there are quite a few white lies in dating profiles.  Quite a few black lies too.

800px-Auto_Racing_Black_White.svgHow to determine if your lie is white or black
The test is simple, but it’s correct application is sometimes difficult.

A deceit is excused (white lie) if the good it serves is greater than the bad of lying.
Lies, standing alone, are always black.
Generally, societies and religions have straightforward beliefs about lying.  Lying is wrong. There is a clear recognition that people live better together when communication is truthful. It’s hard to imagine a functional society that encourages lying.

It’s the good intentions that whiten a lie.
The big test of “good intentions” is to determine who will be receiving the good.  It can’t be the person lying. Lies that have the sole purpose of benefiting the liar stay black.

When is an untruth in a dating profile a white lie?
Some black lies in online dating profiles are really obvious.  It’s pretty clear with the broke guy who claims to be a millionaire and posts pictures of his younger, handsome cousin who kinda looks like he did ten years ago.

What about lying about your age?  Just 2 years, 41 to 39?  Figuring the good intentions of that misstatement is not easy.  If some people cut off their matches at 40 for no particularly important reason, and the two of you could be a match made in heaven, that untruth seems to be leaning toward white.

What about saying you’re single when you are still married – but expect your divorce to be final next week? What if you say you are 2 inches taller than reality?  What if you claim to be slender when you are carrying a few extra pounds – but you have already committed to an exercise program?

If these small lies are unimportant to your potential dates, are you merely working with the system for the benefit of both of you?

Finding someone who would really not care about the untruth, but would love to be with you, seems to be the common “good intention” that whitewashes small lies in your online dating profile.

pants

 

Can it be a white lie to give the only right answer to the question “Do these pants make me look fat?”

When you are transitioning from one relationship to another or from the single life to a deeper relationship life, you are choosing to make a big change in your life.

Change is Difficult
We have inertia that tends to keep us doing things the same way we have done them in the past. Some of these ingrained practices have served us well. For example – getting up and getting to work on time.  Much of what we habitually do is of little consequence, the brand of shoes we prefer, what we put on a hamburger, etc. Unfortunately, there are also some regular occurrences in our lives that fit into that old definition of insanity of “doing the same thing and expecting different results.”  Whether good, bad, or neutral our recurring practices keep moving forward unless some force shifts their direction.  It’s as simple as Newtonian physics.

page_001Change Happens
Starting to date changes your life. You will be doing things that you didn’t do before. It feels strange, maybe even scary. Yet, you are doing it.  Give yourself a big pat on the back for overcoming inertia.

Change Leads to More Change
Your life is not just a bunch of unrelated practices.  Everything you do is related to the other things you do. For example, if you didn’t regularly get to work on time you wouldn’t be able to buy that hamburger while wearing your favorite shoes.

 A simplified representation of your naturally complicated life     
Think of yourself as one big hanging mobile of the things you are. mobileIf you move one piece, others move. If you make one heavier, you permanently shift others. No change is isolated from the others.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”    Alan Watts

Embrace Change
By choosing to date you’ve decided to make a big change to rearrange your life.  Realize that this will change many other things in your life.  Don’t give up control of those other changes.  Imagine how you want your mobile to look, and start tinkering with other pieces of your life until it looks better to you.

It’s a grand opportunity for reinvention.

Here’s a link to an article about personal change in Psychology Today that we think you might enjoy.

And a link to Wonderland Studio on Etsy who offer the mobile above and others. No connection to us – we just thought that they make nice things.

Imagine you are on a stage and before you is an audience of 1000s of people, and all those people are potential dates. Imagine you have the power to pick as many of those dates as you want, and your available dates can be narrowed by the criteria you choose.
stage
What criteria would you choose?
What if you start to get excited about finding your perfect soul mate and you come up with an image in your mind of that perfection. You describe that wonderful person exactly with your criteria and wait for the spotlights to illuminate your dream dates. And wait. And wait. And…..

OK, you accept that you have narrowed the field out of existence with the expectation that your dates be billionaires. Millionaires are acceptable, right? So you modify that criterion (isn’t the singular of criteria cool) and the spotlights illuminate three dates. This is exciting now!

You contact the first dream date and arrange a meeting. You two have a fun first date culminating in your dream asking if you can just be friends because your dream date is just not ready for anything more serious. You are a little deflated, but there are still two others.

Your second dream date never responds to your contact attempts. Maybe you don’t fit that person’s expectations. Maybe your dream date had a family crisis. Maybe your dream date found someone else. Maybe….. Oh well, fate must have it that the third dream date is the “one.”

Your third dream date goes out with you, you have a great time, and it continues with a second and third date. But something is feeling not quite right. Why does this person have such a hard time scheduling dates? That’s when you notice the faint tan line on your date’s ring finger.  Anger!   Depression.   Ouch!

Don’t narrow your field too much
The good part of your experience is that you have learned a good lesson about problem with criteria that are too specific.  You get to go back to that audience of 1000s and loosen up the criteria.  You realize it takes more than criteria to make dreams come true. You get to go on a bunch of dates. You get to date without the burden of extreme expectations. You have a much better chance of succeeding.

We suggest you look for dozens or even hundreds of potential dates who could be right for you if you want to find the “one.”

We highly recommend honesty in relationships.  Honesty works.   Dishonesty doesn’t.  Yet, that doesn’t mean you need to tell everything about yourself in your profile or on your first date.

Disclosure is a gradual process
If you are dating online, you don’t want to say too much about yourself that might let potential matches find a reason (often irrational) not to contact you.  You want to focus on the enticing bits and leave the rest off.

The same is true for first dates.  Volunteer only what you think is appropriate.  What if your date asks a direct question about a subject that you deem too personal for that stage of your relationship?  You can artfully suggest that the subject is better opened when you know each other better.  Use a little of the “Wouldn’t you like to know” treatment.  Leave ’em wanting more.

Information-Overload1But don’t be invisible
Of course, you don’t want to play so hard-to-get that you will never be gotten. A profile that says nothing and a first date where you remain a blank canvas probably won’t entice anyone.
Be intriguing!
Hoping this isn’t inappropriate, but imagine the old time burlesque “artist” (who may not have actually exposed much of anything) getting the crowd all worked up by just removing her gloves.  The excitement was in the anticipation from the slow reveal.

cool_pictures_of_love_heartsLOVE
Many would say we most want love in our close relationships.  We can’t argue with that.  The problem with looking for love is that love is so hard to define. What does it look like? How do you know you’ve got it?  How do you know when you are giving it?  Love is complicated, multi-faceted, and really hard to nail down.

Because love is so amorphous you may want to start any evaluation of your relationships with something more easily recognized even though it may be somewhat less important.

RESPECT
Respect is easier to identify. Most people don’t have a hard time coming up with clear examples of respectful behaviors. Listening attentively to someone. Trying to understand and consider another person’s needs.  Showing up on time.  And numerous others.  Some say respect is the fundamental attribute of love.  How can you love someone if you don’t respect them?

The essence of respect in a relationship is recognizing that another person is important and honoring that.  Each of us believes deeply that our own life is important, and it feels wonderful when someone else shares the recognition of our importance.

Act With Respect
In a relationship respect is shown through action.  To respect someone is act appropriately, to treat them with respect. If you believe you respect someone, but you don’t show it in your behavior, we would argue that what you have is not respect at all. Show respect when you are dating.  If you date doesn’t want respect, that’s a little spooky.

Expect RespectRespectful
You deserve it. It will be powerful positive force in your relationship. Look for respectful behavior when you are dating.

Respect Yourself
In some ways this can be the hardest part. Many of us have not yet learned to fully respect ourselves for one reason or another.  We wish there was an easy answer to this challenge, but there probably isn’t. Work at it. Own your self-respect when you are dating and in every other aspect of your life.  Your life is important, honor it.

Aretha Franklin knew what she was singing about. Listen to Aretha sing it!

Her smile!

That’s a powerful truth.

“Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.”     John Ray  1627-1705

And if you think a man’s smile doesn’t work for women, you haven’t been paying attention.

Smiling also makes you feel better. Check out this TED talk on the hidden power of smiling.

smile
Everyone has a smile.  Use yours to your advantage.

 

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”      Mother Teresa