I remember when I first started bicycle touring.wind2 I was training along the coast of North Carolina when I joined up with a seasoned rider.  We were cruising along easily, and I noted to him that this biking thing wasn’t really so hard. He grinned and replied, “Yeah, with a tailwind.” I hadn’t noticed.  I did when I turned around to go home. The headwind beat me up.

Finding your Tailwind

Albert#1 Use great photos online
Your first photo viewed and all the others are the most important online facts about you that will get you dates.  To understand this better see our post on window shopping. Don’t discount the importance of your image. It may be true that you are so much more than what you look like, but we all make snap judgments about people based on their looks.

#2 Don’t confuse selling with buyingmarket
Your online profile has one function, to sell you out in the marketplace for dates. It’s an advertisement for you. It’s your 30 second ad during the Superbowl.  Make it work for you. Know your product, and know your target audience. Advertisements don’t say “I want xyz from you.” They say “I’ve got what you want.” The desire for you is out there. Your job is grab the attention of the people with that desire.

You get to do “buying” when you check out their profiles and pay close attention to them on dates. This is equally as important as selling. Know what you are looking for. Hint: if you think it is mostly about looks, you are way off course. Looks are very important to begin with and way less important for a relationship.

pinocchio#3 Be Yourself
You ask, “What else could I be?” Well, people pretend to be all sorts of things they aren’t because they think that is what will get them the most attention. Talk about creating a headwind.  Sooner or later faking wears thin and you’ll just be you. You might as well make it easier by being you to begin with.  Be proud of who you are. People respect that, and studies show it leads to better dating success.

Know your strengths. Work on your weaknesses. Be happy.  Those three things aren’t so easy to do, but it you work at them a little bit at a time, you will be amazed at the tailwind you will develop.

Settling is not a bad word.
For some picky people there is a need to accept some deviations from the long list of date requirements.  For some who don’t expect much there may be a need to be more selective.  For most of us both settling and selecting will help us find the best mate.

Organic Applesapples_2327493b
Organic may or may not be your thing, but it’s pretty clear that they are better for you than conventionally raised apples. The conventional apples will probably be bigger and have amazingly perfect skin. As to which taste better, the organics may hold an edge. What kind of apples do you buy? You are both settling and selecting when you choose.

With your dating you have similar choices. Are you looking for the pristine conventional red delicious or the sweet, slightly-flawed organic fuji. There are always trade-offs. Always.

Consider the importance of your Date Criteria
Being a lawyer (and maybe just too damn picky), I can get hung up about grammar. Rose is very intelligent, but she hasn’t lived in a world where the precision of grammatically correct speech is as highly valued.  If we weren’t together because of that mismatch, I’d be a fool of the first order.  We have other mismatches that we consider relatively insignificant because the areas where we do match are so nice.  For example,  healthy eating was a criteria for my dating, but I had no idea how wonderful it would be to find someone who really loves to feed me better than I ever expected to be fed.  And with love!

selectingOverly tight requirements may overly eliminate
Maybe height is a big hangup for some people, but if you found the perfect person for you and booted them for a few inches of altitude, in my book, you would be foolish. A graduate degree may generally indicate more intellectual firepower. So what? There are plenty of really bright college drop-outs.

Some traits are very important
Simple matching criteria like height, income, and education may generally help get matches in the ballpark, but the important things for really good fit with couples are primarily about personality; things like kindness, generosity, sense of adventure, attentiveness, and the like.

Rule for selection criteria
Those criteria that are easily measured and stated like multiple choice questions for online profiles are generally less important than the criteria that can not be easily stated or observed.   Example – height vs honesty.  You have to get to know someone before you can have an idea if you two are a good match.

Settle with little stuff  –  Select for the big stuff!

Your online profile is like a tapestry of who you are.  Weave it with skill and care, and it will attract attention, desire, and collectors.

swift-silvertails-passing“SWIFT SILVERTAILS PASSING” by Ulrika Leander

So maybe your first attempt won’t quite be a masterpiece like Ulrika produces, but you can weave an image of yourself that is cohesive, coherent, and very appealing.

Design it
Your dating profile is an image of you that you have decided to present to the world.  Isn’t that worth composing well?  We are regularly amazed when incredibly fine people present profiles that make them look like clods of dirt. Maybe consider your first attempt at drafting your profile to be a “rough sketch.”   Re-read what you did and start to better develop the idea of who you are and how you can best be presented. Maybe crumple up a few drafts and file them in the recycling.  We’re willing to bet big money that Ulrika didn’t just sit down and start weaving with the vague idea that a flock of birds would look pretty cool flying through a forest of trees.

Weave it
It’s work. Creative work? Yes. Rewarding work? Yes. But nonetheless, work.  Invest the necessary time and energy into what may ultimately be one of the most important things that you do in your whole life. What if you were offered the deal of having a great mate for the rest of your life in exchange for a dozen or so hours of work creating your profile tapestry?  If you’re too busy watching TV to take that deal, it’s probably best that you just keep on watching Cheers reruns.

Get help if you need it. Would you fix the brakes on your car yourself without knowing how?

Profile bonus
Unlike woven tapestries, you can rewrite your profile to improve it at any time.  If it ain’t working, fix it.  You can and will learn what works and what doesn’t. Apply that knowledge.

Be a masterpiece!

Pay attention to your sources of advice!

“No enemy is worse than bad advice.”   Sophocles

keep-calm-and-follow-the-moneyWhat is their Motive?
If your source of advice is a commercial enterprise, how do they make their money?  Ask yourself “Is this advice being given because they want my dating to succeed?”

Click Bait
Many web sites make their money through the advertising on the site.  Every time someone clicks onto their site they make a little money from their advertisers.  If a site claims something like “The TOP 5 SECRETS to finding EVERLASTING LOVE” and their web pages are plastered with ads, can you guess what they are up to?   Do they care about you or your click?  If the claim is too good to be true, well….

Books
Granted, people generally write books to make money.  They also spend a lot of time writing, and, if the book comes from a big publisher, there has likely been some intelligent editing. We’ve read quite a few books on dating. Some are relatively worthless. Some offer real help. Some we disagree with entirely.  The good thing about buying from bookstores is that you can thumb through the book to see if you like what is being said.  Amazon has reviews that may be helpful, but we’ve purchased some well-reviewed books that were ludicrously bad.  Hey, at least we got a laugh.

Dating Websites
There are some excellent dating websites out there. We are really glad we were able to attract each other through match.com.  While we see no reason to believe the dating websites don’t want to help make matches, they make more money the longer you pay to have their service.  Hmmm, there seems to be a conflict.helping

Who Cares?
We believe there are many good people in this world who care about the well-being of others. Keep your eyes open wide (and your hand on your wallet) and look for the caring people who want to help you.

Find your Own Way using Directions
Recognize that you can figure out this dating challenge.  Also, recognize that it’s smart to find help.  You can drive from NYC to LA without a map, but it’s not such a bad idea to use one.  On the other hand, a map won’t get you there, you still must get behind the wheel (and pay for the gas).

Playing hard to get can be attractive, but it may also turn off a potential mate.

2877-Blowing-Out-The-CandleInterest must balance Disinterest
Don’t let your appearance of disinterest outweigh the other’s interest in you. If the date’s interest in you is just beginning to burn, don’t blow it out with hopes that it will re-ignite.  If the interest is a raging bonfire, you would have to do something bold to extinguish the interest.

Don’t Get Burned
Playing hard to get can make someone desire you more, but it can also make them like you less. We don’t think you want to set up a situation where your date pursues you passionately, finally catches you, then doesn’t like you much afterwards.

Playing Games
There is power in playing hard to get. But we all know that power corrupts. Messing with people’s minds sounds like a bad thing to do.  There is a difference between playing games and just plain playing. Stick with the latter.

I’m a good girl because I really believe in love, integrity, and respect. I’m a bad girl because I like to tease.”    Katy Perry


The title is a famous marketing statement made popular in the 1930’s. It’s based on a simple progression that takes place in the human mind:

DESIRE    ATTRACTION    SATISFACTION

Desire for Steak
Steaks sell because of a powerful recurring desire, hunger.  That’s not the only desire though.  There is something about grilled meat that really turns on most people (no offense intended to our vegetarian and vegan friends).  Maybe it’s the memory of the satisfaction of eating a hot, juicy, and tender steak.

Sell the Sizzlesizzle
Sizzle is stimulating. It creates an eagerness for the steak. We all know that instant appetite we feel when we smell baking bread or grilling meat.  It’s a primal instinct of desire. We can choose whether or not to pursue the desired thing, but we don’t choose the attraction.  The attraction works at a subconscious level.  We may need to be in the right mood to be susceptible to the attraction, but it works on us whether we want it to or not.

Deliver the Steak
Unless you don’t care about the customer, you have to deliver what the sizzle promised. You have to meet expectations or there will be disappointment.  Satisfaction will bring them back for more.

Dating Desires
To understand your sizzle you must first understand the desires that you may choose to satisfy. OK, everybody’s mind jumps to the desire for sex.  While that is often a powerful desire and should not be overlooked when considering your sizzle, it is not necessarily the most powerful desire your potential date may have.  It is surely not the only desire.  The desire for companionship is strong.  What about the desire for appreciation?  Happiness.  Romance. Giving. Touch. Safety. The list for what people want from the person they hang with goes on and on.

Dating Sizzle
Like a steak’s sizzle, your dating sizzle comes from the highly attractive attributes of what satisfies the desires.  Eating satisfies hunger.  The sights, sounds, and, smells of a steak cooking are the attractions.  The desire for steak is relatively simple compared to dating desires.  You will have to work harder at being creative to discover your dating sizzle.  The desire for sex is often believed to be one of the simpler desires and therefore one of the easier ones to produce sizzle. Sizzles for the companionship desire are more challenging. Those sizzles are even more challenging if you try to create sizzle with written words; for example, “long walks on the beach” or “cuddling together on the sofa” or “attending the opera together.”  candlelit

Pictures can sizzle way more than written words (unless you are Shakespeare). Humans can be powerfully stimulated by images. This is why advertising uses images.  There is a big difference between writing “I love candlelit dinners for two” and this image. Your dating profile pictures are very important to creating your sizzle.

What you do on a date has great potential to sizzle. Your packaging can sizzle. Dressing attractively, being nicely groomed, and wearing a nice fragrance (even though every carnivore loves the smell of bacon, we don’t recommend it) can stimulate a multitude of desires. A kind word can be powerful, not to mention a smile or laugh.  You may not be able to give your date a lifetime of love on your first date, but you can give them the expectation that you might be the source of such love.  Did we mention the excellent sizzle of eye contact held just a little longer than normal?

Dating Satisfaction
Only create the high expectations that you want to live up to.  It may be tempting to offer what you won’t deliver, but it’s obviously a doomed enterprise. Know what you will be delivering before you sell the sizzle.  The good thing is that most people want what most other people can satisfy. If someone desires companionship, it’s not too hard to find someone else who wants the same thing. If your date desires appreciation, is it so hard to say “mmmmm, this is good” when you eat your date’s cooking?  Deliver the goods your sizzle sold and you have the makings of a great relationship.  Sizzle gets them in the door, but satisfaction keeps them coming back for more.

Sell the sizzle – deliver the steak!

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