Modern birth control changed bonding relationships profoundly.  Universal internet connections to practically everyone in the world has been another game changer.  For many of us our beliefs and expectations about relationships has lagged behind the reality of modern relationships.

familyBefore Birth Control (BBC)
In the times before modern birth control intimate relationships between men and women normally produced babies. Mothers nursed infants and cared for the kids and the nest.  Men worked outside the home. Couples exhausted the remainder of their youth and all their middle age raising their families.  Mostly, couples bonded for life. Religions and laws supported this lifestyle.  Couples committed to the relationship once and then made it work as best they could “til death do you part.” Divorce was rarely an acceptable choice. It wasn’t a perfect arrangement, but it lasted centuries.

After Birth Control (ABC)6155_O'Connor_Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in as US Supreme Court Justice, 1981_with credit_Collection of the Supreme Court_crop2
Birth control affects women more profoundly than men. For men, birth control has allowed the control of taking on the responsibilities of being a provider for a family under the old family model.  For women, it meant they could have relationships and at the same time  be a provider.  Women are no longer expected to be limited to the role of “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Fluidity of Relationships
Divorce – Since women started entering the career world divorce rates have skyrocketed.  In the BBC way of thinking this has been a shocking reality, but in the ABC world it’s not really so negative. While there are substantial negatives to divorce, particularly with children, divorce is more manageable when both spouses can work and support themselves, as is often the case today. Divorce also allows escape from bad marriages.  The old stigma of divorce is melting away.

Unmarried or late marriages – Statistics show a great increase in men and women who are choosing to remain unmarried or postpone marriage. With birth control they can have careers and relationships without the challenges of raising kids.

Child Care – Career women who wanted children but didn’t want to abandon their careers created a need for child care to take care of their precious little ones during working hours.  Some husbands split or assume all the responsibility for work time child care. Though sometimes reluctantly,  many husbands today are sharing other domestic chores more equally with their wives.

Internet Dating and App Dating
The ease of finding a compatible mate is remarkable when compared to the profoundly limited choices of just a decade or two ago. It’s fast, easy and cheap.

Uncommitted? Relationships
Are humans naturally monogamous?

Is a lifetime commitment the goal of bonded relationships?

When is divorce the right answer for a marriage?

Are religious ideas of marriage keeping up with changing science and cultures?

How do overpopulation and lower mortality rates relate to making families?

Are expectations of having a home like Beaver, or even Bart, becoming obsolete?

If you can answer these questions with intelligence and sensitivity, you need to have a voice that is heard.  For many people the answers to these questions have changes radically over the past few decades.  Our observation is that marriage age people today generally have very different thoughts about marriage than their parents.

 

 

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!

We all have been around the block a few times (or a few thousand times).  That will be a good thing for your dating future if you gain wisdom and insight from where you have been.

Learn from your past
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

pina-colada-yolo-rum-beachWhat worked? Why did it work?
I could probably have a good time with just about anyone if I was sitting on a beautiful beach getting a little hazy on pina coladas, but those kind of times don’t define relationships that work. Relationships that work do it day in day out through the sun and the rain. Good relationships make the hard stuff more bearable and the good stuff more fun. Who has done that for you? What was it about them that made it happen?

What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
Flip the coin over and consider what was messed up about parts of your experiences with past partners.  Try to be as specific as possible.  Merely concluding the other person was a jerk doesn’t help you much.  Maybe that person was self-absorbed and had very little interest in your well-being.  Maybe you want a more intimate relationship than you would have settled for in the past?  Maybe just the opposite?

bright futureStay in the present on first dates
Your past is a big part of who you are today, but keep in mind that dating for long-term relationships is acted out in the present with some focus on the future. You will eventually need to know each other’s past to know what to expect from each other, but work into that gradually, particularly with past relationships.  Focus on the present experience of your date. Observe, and know you are being observed. Enjoy the time together as best you can.  Some people fall easily into griping about past relationships.  Eek! Please don’t, and don’t encourage your date to do so.  Stay present and positive to develop the expectation that the future is bright.

No one knows you as well as you know yourself (presuming basic mental health). You know where you’ve been, what you’ve done, how you feel about things, what you dream about, etc. elizabethanYet, we all find it challenging to classify ourselves into personality types with confidence.

Know Yourself
As you get involved in the dating game there are definite benefits to knowing generally what kind of person you are.
Know what you are offering
Not everyone wants the same things from a mate.  Haven’t you noticed that with some happy couples one is a talker and the other tends to be less talkative. The less talkative one probably likes it that the talker brings that to the table. Do you like to touch? Listen? Debate? Cook?

Know what you want
Do you want someone to exercise with you? Or to leave you alone while you exercise?  How much time do you want to be alone, with your mate, or with friends? Do you want your mate to structure your vacations for you? Do you want to do it? Do you like unstructured vacations?

distortedjpgHow to learn about yourself
Sorry, but while introspection is helpful, it will rarely give you a clear picture of yourself. We all have biases about ourselves that make it difficult to see ourselves. You are trying to get past that cloudy thinking, not accentuate it.

Counseling
Counseling can be a great way to learn about yourself. Sure, it takes time and money, but a good counselor (not one who just tells you what feels good) can open your eyes to see yourself in amazing ways.

Personality Systems
An easy way to start seeing yourself better is personality test like the Myers-Briggs 16 personality types.  Google “personality test” and you will find a bunch.  Some folks like the Enneagram personality typing scheme.  Look for yourself.

baby_in_mirrorDon’t be Afraid to See Yourself
You are who you are, warts and all.  You are an amazing product of nature and nurture; a complex, wonderful human being. The more you know about yourself, the more you can appreciate yourself.

You only have one chance to make a first impression!

We encourage you to take the time and make the effort to deliver the first impression that works best for you.

Put your best foot forward = to act or appear your best; to try to make a good impression

To Act and Appear Your Best Online
The first goal of your online profile and pictures is to catch the attention of dates who are good matches for you.  After you catch their attention, your online presence needs to create sufficient interest in you to make dating likely.

Rule # 1 – Appeal to universal desires
Unless you are one of those rare people looking for something “peculiar” in a relationship (shades of whatever), count on the fact that most people are looking for the same normal things in a relationship.  Not many daters are looking to avoid people who are “nice” and “interesting” and “happy” and “healthy” and “honest” and….

Rule # 2 – Avoid unnecessary turn-offs
Sometimes trivial things detract from your image. Skip displaying information that is irrelevant to you. For example, including your astrological sign may give someone the impression that you are an astrology true believer.  That may be an unnecessary turn-off to some people.  over-accessorizedThere is a tendency to believe that the more you put in your profile, the more likely you will attract a date.  Not true.  Show what is important to you.

Rule # 3 – Keep the “your” in your best
If you are creating an attractive image that is not you, that is not likely to benefit you in the long run.  On the other hand, get past the generic descriptors when describing yourself.  Maybe sit down with a friend and “brainstorm” what makes you special.  Sometimes others see us more clearly than we do.

Rule # 4 – Don’t try to hide the obvious
Research has proven that being open about your obvious characteristics you may believe are  “negatives” works much better than trying to hide them.  For example, if you think you are too short to be attractive, it’s better to show you are comfortable with your height than to initially appear to be hiding your height.  People are attracted to confidence.  Don’t make your insecurities (we all have them) the focus of their attention.  If your profile seems to say “Yes, I’m 5′ X”. I’m good with it.”  you defuse the issue.  More often than not, what you think is your big “negative” is not nearly as big a deal to potential dates.

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.