I’ve Co-Hosted A Podcast About Love For A Year, Here’s What I’ve Learned

It began five years ago when I got married for the first time at 51. My husband, also a marriage first-timer, was 57.

I thought it was an interesting story. Here we are, two people in our 50s, with no exes, no kids, no baggage (emotional, maybe) manage to find each other after a lifetime of looking.

To tell the story, I created the blog The Late Blooming Bride, which documented my journey from single life to first-time midlife wife. It included dating tales, my relationship fails, bad choices, breakups, dating advice, and menopause. I shared my pain, triumphs, night sweats, and never skimped on honesty.

A year ago, the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network contacted me to see if I’d want to turn the blog into a podcast. I agreed, but only if my husband Robby could join me. “Dating advice podcaster” seemed to fit with the other hats I wear as life coach, dating coach, and fitness professional, so we said yes and they said yes.

So began “Done Being Single,” a podcast that covers all aspects of dating, being single, and finding love later in life. I like to joke that between Robby and me, we have a combined 107 years of single life under our belt. We were pros at being single, and we know our shit.

After being in the dating trenches for so long, Robby and I come to the podcasting world with tons of knowledge and wisdom about love, but we’ve had help along the way in the form of top notch therapists, relationship experts, personal development influencers, and thought leaders of all kinds, who’ve come on the show to share their wisdom. All of our guests have given us incredible insight, for which we are grateful.

In the year we’ve been on the air, we’ve amassed over 80K active listeners, and recorded close to 50 episodes, ranging from sex tips to self-improvement, prenups to personal growth, manscaping to money, dating intervention to dating single parents.

The following is a snapshot of what I’ve learned from some of our guests (included are links to their full interviews):

Gay & Katie Hendricks, personal growth pioneers, authors

“Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear”

http://bit.ly/2P8iLAJ

Love is a fear-based emotion. People have a fundamental fear of getting close, a fear of criticism, and a fear of not being enough; they despair and feel helpless. Gay & Katie describe limiting beliefs about love as “Upper Limit Problems,” self-sabotage when things start to go well. When you feel unlovable, think of someone you love–a friend or a mate–and love yourself just like that.

Arielle Ford, relationship expert, author, personal development teacher

“The Magic Is In You”

http://bit.ly/2uXcr5K

Arielle, one of the original practitioners of the “Law of Attraction,” believes our ability to love matches our state of being. We draw people, places, and experiences that align with our vibration. If you think you’re a loser or unlucky, that will be your experience, and you’ll manifest those unconscious beliefs and thoughts. You need clarity about what you desire, believe that it’s already yours, then take action steps to manifest it.

Lori Gottlieb, psychotherpist and best-selling author

“Is Good Enough, Good Enough?’

http://bit.ly/2UM5dQo

Our episode with Lori was about settling, not lowering your standards, but having higher standards about the things that matter to you. People need to change the way they think about settling. If you settle for less, you’ll not only compromise to be with another human being (because humans are imperfect) someone’s going to compromise to be with you. There is no perfect person, but there is someone perfect for you.

Guy Finley, self-help writer, spiritual teacher

“Admit It, You Suck At Relationships”

http://bit.ly/2Gcuw61

Guy believes love is about fulfilling expectations, and seeing our partners as a special kind of mirror. The things we see in them that disappoint us–their faults or limitations–are actually things we see in ourselves that we blame on them. No one can disappoint you without your permission. No relationship can grow when blame is the game two people play. We get too attached and dependent on our partners for our happiness.

Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, psychologist, author, podcaster, fellow late blooming bride

“The Best/Worst Dating Advice You’re Ever Going To Hear”

http://bit.ly/2Uch5qw

Love can’t fix people, nor can you heal people with your love. It’s not your job, and it’s not sustainable. If someone is a project, they’re not your partner, and they will never be emotionally at your level. If you’re thriving in terms of your own growth and development, that’s the kind of person you will attract. “Water seeks its own level,” as she says. Fixing someone never works, because once you fix the fixer upper, the dynamics aren’t going to work anymore.

Ken Page LCSW, psychotherapist and author

“Forget New Years Resolutions, Make Valentine’s Resolutions”

http://bit.ly/2IosFMV

People are victimized by dating advice that says you’re not sexy enough, feminine enough, confident enough, etc, Fixing those things in order to find love is just a path to hell, as Ken says. It looks like self-help, but it’s really self-hate. If you really want to find love, you’ve got to work less on your attractiveness, and more on your attractions. Ask yourself: With whom does my heart feel safe? With whom does my heart feel right? When that becomes your question or filter, your search for love will change.

Lou Paget, sex educator

“Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask”

http://bit.ly/2IkghyA

The best partners aren’t the best looking, or have the best so-called body parts, the best partners are secure with themselves. Everyone wants to be loved, they want to love, they want to be heard, they want to be understood, and they want to know they’re making a contribution. Be honest with yourself, and about what you want. Honesty is your most seductive behavior, nothing has more magnetic appeal than for someone to see you as you are.

Allana Pratt, intimacy expert

“Too Picky, Or Not Picky Enough?”

http://bit.ly/2VxYJBP

Allana says love can’t happen if we’re not in communion with ourselves. We need to be present, secure, and have a connection with self. We wear masks, create limiting beliefs, put up obstacles, and make excuses not to get vulnerable. When we seek love and approval, we give our power away, and hold people responsible for our happiness. We need to let go of judgment of self, and feel the divine on the inside.

Of all the lessons I learned about love though, here’s the biggest:

How you love and who you love, all comes down to SELF-WORTH.

No shocker there, but after interviewing the best in the business, and hearing the stories, complaints, and experiences of our listeners, I can confirm that love is all about how you value yourself, and what you feel you deserve.

No matter what we talk about on the show, no matter who the guest is, no matter where the conversation goes, it always circles back to self-worth.

Another thing I’ve learned about self-worth? You can never have enough of it. So go love and have love, just start with yourself first.

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Tune into Done Being Single www.donebeingsingle.com.

To learn about Treva’s coaching services, visit www.trevabrandonscharf.com.

 

Self-Improving Your Chances At Love

“I am the most important mover of my chances in life.”

I don’t know where I found this saying–probably in a self-improvement or personal growth blog—all I know is that it resonated so much with me, I highlighted the text, enlarged the font, printed it out, cut it into a strip, placed it on my desk next to my computer, and have been looking at it ever since for the last two years.

This little piece of self-improvement kept me going when I wanted to quit; it pushed me to work harder when I got complacent; and it reminds me on a daily basis that my future is mine, and only I can make it happen. It’s a pep talk every time I look at it.

You can apply it to everything in life: career, family, success, money, etc., but it also applies to LOVE—finding it, knowing it, and keeping it.

You are the most important mover of your chances to have all three.

Self-improvement isn’t sexy, or especially romantic. But if you want love, if you want to be a better dater, attract better people, have better relationships, you must first become a better you.

Here’s how:

Take Responsibility

Everything starts with you: your emotions, choices, actions, and behavior. You have total control when it comes to managing YOU. Stop blaming others for your unhappiness, and stop making excuses for your singleness. If you’re unsatisfied with your looks, your weight, the quality of your relationships, etc., take ownership and be accountable. Take charge and be the boss of you.

Stop Complaining

Everyone’s got problems, no one’s life is perfect. You may have legitimate grievances, but you worsen them by complaining. Hearing yourself bitch and moan (or posting it on social media) not only gives your misery power, it feeds into your self-loathing. Moreover, it turns people off. No one likes negativity. Like I said, we’ve all got our shit, but we deal with it. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Envision The Best Version Of Yourself, Then Keep It In Your Mind’s Eye

Whether it’s a slimmer, smarter, fitter, happier, healthier, more successful you, see a picture of yourself as that, and refer to it often. Commit it to memory. When it comes to your potential, dream big, aim high, drill it into your head, and convince your self-doubting psyche that anything’s possible. Don’t take “no” for an answer, especially from yourself.

Have The Courage To Change

Recognizing what needs to change takes honesty, making changes takes guts. If you find the courage to do both, the rewards will more than pay off. Face your fears, put in the effort, push yourself a little everyday, and fight against procrastination with everything you’ve got. “Do hard things,” as artist/blogger John P. Weiss says. It will force you to grow, it will build your confidence, and help you become more resilient.

Stop Wasting Your Time With Losers, Or Loser Situations

Get rid of toxic people, unhealthy friendships, and dead-end relationships. Draw boundaries, don’t engage in drama, and remove yourself from situations that cause chaos and bring you grief. Real love and true friends should always make you feel valued. If a person or situation doesn’t inspire you, bring you joy, empower you, or lift you up in some way, dump them.

Fall In Love With The Process

As personal growth blogger Reece Robertson says. All rewards are found in the process, not the results. Results are important, but the process is EVERYTHING.

Your goals really shouldn’t be about dating more, or being in a relationship, or getting married. Your goals should be about developing yourself.

How you get there, and how it changes you in the process, IS the goal.

In the process of finding love, something amazing will happen: you will find yourself. You will find that you’ve grown, evolved, gotten stronger, smarter, and more loveable. You will find that you’ve gained more self-respect and dignity. In improving your chances at love, you will have actually improved yourself.

You are the most important mover of your chances to have just about everything, so get moving.

Romance Is Dying, Here’s How To Save It

Sorry, technology, I love you, but you’re ruining romance. You’re killing it. Sucking the life out of it. You’re the death knell of courtship—a soon-to-be lost art if someone doesn’t do something about it.

On one hand, technology has been a shot in the arm to dating, helping people find love when they previously couldn’t or wouldn’t. Some people wouldn’t even have a love life if not for online dating and dating apps.

Online dating helped me when I was single, but that was in the early days, before people forgot how to be romantic.

How is technology killing romance? Let me count the ways:

No one has patience anymore

No one’s willing to look closer or go deeper, because it takes too damn long. It’s all about instant gratification, the next swipe, the bigger, better deal. If the chemistry isn’t immediate, forget it. There’s little desire to court someone, and let a romance build slowly. “A digital system based on instant gratification has dissolved the virtue of patience—a critical element of seduction and successful courtship,” says matchmaker Alyssa Bunn

No one is willing to invest either, because A) It takes too much time, and B) There’s too much choice out there. Does anyone really get to know anyone anymore? Not when there’s the problem of “choice overload,” “option paralysis,” or “FOBO,” fear of a better option.

There’s zero interest in going past someone’s looks

Digital dating has made people shallow. Trying to fix up my friends has become a frustrating exercise, since most can’t or won’t go past one’s looks. “Send me a picture first,” they say. What happened before technology, before profile pictures and social media, when people got fixed up based on personal recommendation? What happened to the element of surprise?

It’s dead, I tell you. No one wants to take a chance. If they’re not a 10, sorry I’ll pass. I call these people “Lookists,” because they discriminate based on looks.

Writer American Jebus, offers a most depressing view of it:

“Dating apps have become an endless buffet of dick-pic-obsessed Lotharios and airbrushed Aphrodites hand delivered to your phone, leading to a gluttony of saccharine fulfillment, romantic empty calories that pack on dead weight to your ego’s waistline. It’s an inflated sense of self-worth that could lead singles to feel entitled to a dating life that they don’t have to work for, especially when they can acquire and discard people like baseball cards.”

If technology is making people shallow, it’s also making them insecure and self-conscious. How can you not be when you see all you see are filtered, flawless people online? I don’t care if it’s Instagram, Tinder, or Porn Hub, it’s enough to make even the most confident of daters feel like shit.

Business psychology professor T.Chamorrow-Premuzi believes that Tinder is capable of damaging one’s self-esteem and confidence, while aggravating or even causing anxiety and depression. The problem with Tinder-like dating apps, according to him, is that they can be more arousing than the actual hookup.

No one talks on the phone anymore

And that’s a shame, because there’s nothing sexier or more intimate than hearing a real human voice on the other end of a phone.

Today’s default courting protocol is texting—a cowardly way to communicate, and a dangerous one, too. Things get lost in translation, verbal cues/clues get missed, and feelings get misconstrued. What you may gain in the efficiency of texting, you definitely lose in intimacy and true emotional connection.

Sorry, but emojis aren’t a replacement for emotional connection either.

People are lazy and fearful

They’re forgetting how to meet IRL. They’re forgetting how to flirt and make eye contact. They’re afraid of rejection, being vulnerable, and now, in the age of #MeToo, they’re scared to make a move, approach someone, or even strike up a conversation. People just don’t want to do the work, and yes, dating is work. Romance is work, but that’s what makes it romantic! It’s the effort, stupid!

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I fear we’re losing the human element in dating, and millennial writer Erica Berger agrees:

“Off of the apps, it’s not the same numbers game anymore. If anything, it’s gotten harder. People are more dependent on their dating apps, and qualitatively speaking, I’m noticing less people approach each other in the real world. Why take a risk on the ‘you never know’ when you can simply retreat to your phone later? Why accidentally talk to someone who isn’t available or isn’t interested, only to be rejected, when you have a location-based dating service persistently available in your pocket? There is a chance that if they are available, you’ll be able to find them on one of the services later, right?”

Romance, dating, courting are like muscles that need to be flexed. Use it or lose it, otherwise they’ll atrophy and wither away altogether. Romance, with all the hope, wonder, excitement, mystery, and heartbreak that comes with it, must be kept alive at all costs!

So how do we save romance from the death spiral of technology?

Put the humanity back in it for starters.

If you’re on dating apps, be nice. Be courteous and considerate. Don’t breadcrumb, ghost, bench, or any other egregious thing. Be direct and honest. Post recent pix and current information. Don’t play games, or play with people’s hearts. In other words, don’t be an a-hole. You’re all in this together, so treat each other with kindness and respect.

Slow down, and be patient. Stop being in such a hurry to discard people, and get back on your phone after a date. Love is not on speed dial.

Take a risk. Go against type. Get out of your comfort zone and give someone a chance. Your potential date might not be America’s Next Top Model, but who cares? Someone with depth, character, intelligence, and humor, is way hotter anyway (P.S. Hot chicks are nuts anyway, and super good looking guys are overrated).

The person who’s a little older, heavier, or not made of money, could be the man/woman of your dreams, not to mention the greatest sex you’ve ever had, so keep an open mind.

After you accomplish all this, do yourself AND romance a favor, and get off your phone.

Look around. Smile. Say hello. Strike up a conversation. Flirt. Flex your charm muscles. It’s not pervy, it’s proper. Do it now before you forget how.

Need instant gratification and immediate chemistry? Well here it is, right in front of your face, people!

If you say you want to save romance, if you say you want to make a real connection, or have a long-term relationship, do as the Angry Therapist says and:

“Act like it. Plan something. Set an intention. Put your best foot forward, because they are too, and it’s your job to set the tone. You don’t have to hand wash your car or put a playlist together. But Jesus, open a door. Engage. Ask questions. Be interested and interesting. Order dessert together. Pick up the check. Effort. Effort. Effort. Put some into it. You get back what you put in. Now if there’s no connection, that’s okay. That’s all just a part of dating. But don’t act like your time was wasted or that you were ripped off. Magic is hard to find. Your parents had to kiss a lot of frogs before they met so why shouldn’t you? The internet doesn’t hack that for you. And if you think it should, you’re entitled and don’t have the tools to build a relationship so stop dating until you grow the fuck up.”

To all the hopeless romantics out there, don’t ever change. The dating world needs you more than ever.

Admit It, You Suck At Relationships

It’s OK, you can admit it. You suck at relationships.

You’re great getting into them, pretty decent getting out of them, but you suck at staying in them.

You’re not alone. I used to suck at relationships, too.

Most times, it was me. Sometimes it was them. I’d get restless, lose interest, or subconsciously pick the wrong person, because truth was, I probably wasn’t ready to commit in the first place. But sometimes, it wasn’t me, but the guy who couldn’t go the distance. It was always a round hole, square peg situation, trying to force something that wasn’t a fit.

By the time I turned 50, I had dozens upon dozens of relationships: good and bad, short-term and long, enjoyable and excruciating, painful and passionate, happy and heartbreaking. None lasted, but they all had one thing in common:

They were PRODUCTIVE.

Yes, productive. Because I always got something out of them—especially the failed ones.

All that pain, challenge, and heartbreak, were like sharp little stepping-stones on my journey; they hurt a long the way, but eventually I became grateful for what they taught me, and showed me about myself.

Just because your relationship ends, doesn’t make it (or you) a failure. It makes it an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself. In fact, the relationship that blew up, left you in tatters, or crushed your soul, can be the most productive of all.

Some would go as far to say that your failed relationship was actually a success!

Let’s hope you never breakup, let’s hope your relationship never ends, but if it does, asking yourself the following questions might put your relationship failure into a better light:

• “What’s the teachable moment here for me?

Self-examination is the greatest gift a failed relationship can give you. Owning your part, reflecting on what went wrong, and taking responsibility for your actions and emotions with acceptance, grace, and forgiveness, isn’t just empowering, it’s an auspicious move for your future relationships.

• Did it show me my potential for love?

Even if your relationship lasted a short time, even if it was a fleeting love affair, it showed you your capacity to love and be loved. You proved your ability to feel, to open your heart, and give of yourself. “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,” is true. Be glad you can love in the first place. If you did it once, you can do it again.

• What positives came out of it?

Was your life somehow enriched because of the relationship? Did you meet new people, make new friends? Did you go to interesting places or travel? Were you able to get out of your comfort zone and discover? If the relationship broadened your horizons, showed you more about life and the world, then be grateful for that.

• Are you stronger because of it?

Did the relationship show you what you were made of? Did it prove your resiliency, resolve, and affirm your self-respect? Did it honor your highest good? Did you refuse to settle or compromise yourself? If you had the courage to do all of above, good for you.

No relationship was a waste for me. Even the worst ones were productive because they brought me closer to what I wanted, and who I am today. I got a little something out of each of them, and for that, I’m thankful.

SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY EX BOYFRIENDS: Even though it didn’t work out for us, I want you to know I have nothing but love and appreciation. You got me to Robby, and for that, I’m beyond grateful.

If you want to grow, improve, and evolve, make failure your friend. Make it your guru and guide. Listen to it carefully and heed its lessons, because even if you have a terrible relationship track record, there’s always room to learn more and suck less.

Dating TMI: Let It Rip Or Keep It Zipped?

“We had magic, it was immediate bliss. Being with him was a perfect world. We would connect on such a deep level, and he made me feel beautiful. It felt loving and honest. We could talk for hours about anything.

But after he’d go home, things would change. He’d call the next day, and be moody and distant. How could he not have felt what I felt?”

This is from a conversation I had recently with a friend about a guy she was dating, someone she thought was the man of her dreams. They fell hard for each other, and he professed true love, but she couldn’t understand his mixed signals.

After a few weeks of this emotional rollercoaster, she confronted him, and he finally admitted the problem: he had severe depression issues.

 “You want consistency, and I don’t think I can give you that. I’m so unstable. My shrink told me I need to go back on my meds because of my history with mental illness. He thinks I might be bipolar.”

He ended his text by saying: “I shouldn’t be in a relationship, I need to fix myself. Sorry.”

The guy disappeared, and the magic vanished just like that.

As I was listening to her story, I felt a mix of emotions: sympathy, pity, and anger all at the same time. I felt so bad for the guy, and yet I couldn’t get over how he misrepresented himself. How could he have lead her on like that, selling her a bill of goods, when he knew the whole time he wasn’t capable of being a boyfriend?

At first, I thought it was an incredibly uncool and unfair thing to do because she felt burned, but then I stopped myself and asked: Is there ever a good time to tell someone you’re bipolar?

This lead to a bigger question for me about dating and honesty. How much and when should you disclose your personal issues? On the first date? In the third week? After a year?

Is it TMI, or truth in dating?

A similar story I read about a single mom and writer named Steph Montgomery, posed the same questions. In her, article “Why I Bring All My Baggage On The First Dates,”she describes entering the dating world after divorce, unsure of how much personal information to disclose:

 “I’d been out of the game a while, sure, but I was pretty sure that divorce, trauma, mental illness, and existential crises still weren’t really first-date material.

On the other hand, hold on to a piece of information long enough and it starts to look uncomfortably like a secret, and I wasn’t ashamed of the tougher parts of my past. I was just in uncharted territory. How soon do you share? How much is too much? I had no idea.”

Drop the bomb sooner or later?

So here’s where I stand on dating disclosure. If you can’t be fully honest with your issues/problems/circumstances, and if you can’t be fully present or available because of them, then you shouldn’t be dating.

Another thing. Don’t wait until someone starts developing feelings for you, or after you start having sex, or get in their heart and head to disclose information you think might be a deal breaker. By then, you’re in too deep, and it’ll feel like a sucker punch.

I’m not saying unload all your baggage upon meeting; I’m not saying dump all your dark secrets at hello, but telling someone you’ve got a crazy stalker ex-husband, or you’re just out of jail, or you’re in a deep financial straits, is not first date material. Neither is over-sharing the benign, but boring minutia of your life–that’s TMI.

So, should you let it rip, or keep it zipped?

Only you can make that call.

Pacing is everything. When the moment feels right, when trust is established, speak your truth. Then own your truth, without shame, guilt, or fear. Yes, it can be a risk; yes, it might not be received well; but that’s not your problem. Your only job is to be as forthcoming and transparent as you can, with as much courage and dignity, as you can muster.

And who knows? By laying it all on the table, you just might find someone ready to return the favor of sharing their truth with you, too.

A few weeks after my friend’s relationship ended, she told me she saw the guy back on Tinder, which upset her even more. She didn’t message him, but if she did, this is what she would’ve said:

“Had you just given me a heads up, or forewarning, I’d be understanding. Had you said something like, ‘I suffer from severe depression and it’s not you. I adore you, but I can’t handle my shit,’ I’d get it. You gotta warn people so they don’t take it personally. It’s not cool to play with people’s heads.”

Then she added bluntly: “Fess up if you’re mental.”

Surviving Breakup Hell

Your world is shattered, your guts are wrenched, your soul is crushed, your ego blown, and your heart is broken into a million pieces.

Welcome to Breakup Hell, the absolute worst place on earth.

Before I got married for the first time at 50, I must’ve visited Breakup Hell a thousand times, and every time I was there, I thought it would be forever. I feared I’d never get out; that I’d never see sunshine or feel happy again. The pain of feeling unloved/unlovable was so heavy, and the anxiety so gripping, my whole body would shut down.

I wouldn’t be able to eat, I couldn’t sleep, my hair would fall out, and I’d be running to the toilet every five seconds. It was pure hell.

There’s a reason why break-ups hurt like hell: because the brain hates rejection (especially mine). Show me a brain that doesn’t!

There’s science to back this up. In the study “Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection,” conducted by Dr. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer at Chemistry.com, researchers found that areas of the brain associated with nicotine, cocaine addiction, and physical pain—as well as romantic love—were all activated after a breakup.

Which means that “When you’re going through a breakup, you’re feeling romantic love, you’re feeling physical pain, and you’re in a state of constant craving,” according to Dr. Fisher.

This is why breaking up is hard to do–you love and hate your ex at the same time. You despise AND romanticize. It’s a total mind fuck.

Rejection sucks, loss is painful, abandonment is traumatic, and unfortunately it all comes with the territory. You will also feel like a big, fat failure, and take everything personally, because that’s what you do when you’re in Breakup Hell. You don’t just lose a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, you lose your damn dignity too.

I told you it was the absolute worst place on earth!

If you’ve just broken up, get ready for some intense anger, serious soul searching, and non-stop obsessing and replaying in your head. Everything feels like a nightmarish OCD loop. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done better?” P.S. If you didn’t know, your head is a bad place to be.

The thing I’ve learned with Breakup Hell, is that you can’t escape it, you just have to work through it—sometimes with large amounts of wine and pot, like I did.

In addition to Sativa and Sauvingnon Blanc, I would also consume large amounts of talk therapy, junk food, bad cable movies, massages, and hanging with good friends who didn’t judge.

After a little pampering, I’d get ruthless with my own tough love. Here are a few things I highly suggest for immediate emotional triage:

  • Remove ex from contacts, delete all emails, and unfollow (not unfriend) on social media.
  • Destroy all physical reminders of ex (photos, gifts, etc.)
  • Stay away from exe’s mutual friends so as not to be reminded of him/her.
  • Choose new places to eat and visit, so you won’t run into ex.
  • Stay incredibly busy, make plans from morning to night, exhaust yourself with fun.

Start with these, and something will happen. You’ll start to heal. You won’t just feel better, you’ll start feeling better about yourself again. In other words, you’ll regain your dignity again.

It takes strength not to text your ex in moments of weakness; it takes discipline not to replay or romanticize; it takes power to take the high road; it takes effort to find happiness elsewhere; it takes courage to go it alone; it takes forgiveness to heal; and it takes self-worth to love yourself more than your ex.

If you can do this, you can do anything.

Here’s how another writer Taylor Garland dealt with her Breakup Hell:

“My grief was the impetus for powerful introspection and self-discovery. In the past, I turned towards alcohol and wild nights out to avoid the pain, but I knew this time must be different. I took the opportunity to let the heartache wash over me. I found myself pondering, nearly always, what it meant to be a good person, to offer value to others. I examined, in great detail, my shortcomings. I learned to meditate. I opted out of boozy nights with pals. I connected with my friends and family on profound levels, enabling me to offer deep empathy and connection that had been missing for years. I found forgiveness for people I’d been holding grudges towards. I found release.”

After a thousand trips to Breakup Hell, I’m here to tell you, you will be fine. You will be more than fine. You’ll survive, see sunshine, and love again. Slowly but surely, you will catch yourself smiling, hear yourself laughing, and realize you haven’t thought of your ex all day.

And that my friends, is pure heaven.

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To get my full list of breakup tips, plus other dating wisdom, please visit trevabrandonscharf.com.

Singles Sex: When To Have It, When Not To Have It

 

“I’m dating, when should I have sex?”

On the first date? Third date? After a month? As soon as you lose 10 pounds?

When to have sex depends on what you want, where you’re at, and most importantly, what your needs and goals are.

“I WANT THIS RELATIONSHIP TO LAST”

If you want a new romance to go the distance, then don’t jump into the sack too soon–you’ll only fuck things up, in my opinion. Better to wait and get to know the person. Find out who they are, and what they’re looking for.

As I like to say, feel them out before you feel them up.

If you introduce sex too soon, you run the risk of it becoming all about the sex—which is OK if that’s what BOTH parties want. The other risk with early sex is early flame out. You want this thing to build.

The goal here is sustainability and longevity.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think waiting makes things hotter and more meaningful once you do start having sex. Call me anti-feminist too, because I think men like the chase. Giving it up too soon does something to their primal instincts.

If you want a committed relationship, remember TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE. Don’t be in a rush, and don’t let yourself be pressured. When the time is right, both of you will jump each other’s bones accordingly.

As for heavy necking/light petting/oral, I’d give that a few dates too.

“Yeah, but what if he loses patience because I won’t fuck him?” If he’s truly interested in you, not just interested in getting in your pants, he’ll wait. And if he doesn’t want to wait, you wouldn’t want him anyway.

By the same token, you should never use sex as a way to snag someone. It should never be used as a bargaining tool, as fellow blogger Kris Gage cautions:

“If you want a relationship, you don’t use sex to get one. You have sex in it.”

“I NEED TO GET OVER MY EX”

There’s an old saying: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone.” This works for some, but whatever the feeling you get from it–distraction, victory, a morale boost, or spiteful satisfaction– is usually temporary and short-lived.

Sex to get over an ex is probably a better strategy for guys who can disconnect from the emotional aspect. Most guys treat rebound sex as a triumph or ego stroke. If a guy gets dumped, he’s going to want to bone someone as soon as possible to make sure he’s still got it.

With women, it’s more complicated because sex is more complicated. For many women, sex is a way to bond and connect on a deeper level. It’s not just about getting off, it’s about getting off emotionally too.

Rebound sex for women can be the thrill of victory, or the agony of defeat if it goes wrong. It can backfire in your face (as can having sex with an ex, but that’s a whole other blog post).You may hate your ex, but screwing someone as an F-U has its perils. The same applies if you still love your ex, but with even more risks. One hasty roll in the hay with a new person not only can make you miss your ex even more, and it can leave you feeling worse than ever.

You never want to get out of bed with hurt feelings.

Post-breakup, if your feelings are still raw and your heart’s still healing, don’t get naked.

“BUT I JUST GOT OUT OF A 20-YEAR SEXLESS MARRIAGE”

What are you waiting for then? Bang away and don’t delay! Get back in the saddle, ASAP. If that means first date, fine; if that means in your car on the way back from your first date, fine too. The goal here is to restore your confidence, and feel desired and sexy again.

Whatever happens, just make sure you’re in the driver’s seat. Losing control isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but losing your power is.

“I’M HORNY AS HELL AND NEED TO GET LAID”

If all you really want is a hook-up without having to actually date, or you want something casual without strings, go ahead, it’s a free world. We’re all adults here, and being horny is human.

But as I said earlier, if you’re going to love ‘em and leave ‘em, bone and bounce, do it with the expressed understanding and knowledge of your partner, or else you’ll look like a selfish jerk.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

There are so many exceptions and caveats to all this: Like if you’re an alpha female who just wants to be serviced, emotions be damned. Or if you’re a horny guy with the patience of a saint. I know many people who had sex on their first date and got married. I know someone who waited two months to consummate, and the relationship didn’t make it to a year. Like I said, it all depends.

When it comes to sex, there are no rules, except the rules you want to make.

Whenever you decide to give it up, just make sure it’s on mutual terms, and at a time that feels respectful and right for both partners. That way, even if the sex sucks, at least no one will get screwed 🙂

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

I’m co-hosting a new internet radio show with my husband Robby called DONE BEING SINGLE, on the VoiceAmerica Network. Tune in live every Saturday, 12p PST for tough love dating advice, tips, and tools to help you conquer single life and triumph at love!

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Is Donald Trump F-ing With Your Love Life?

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It’s been over a year since the 2016 presidential campaign, nine months since the election, and six months since the inauguration, and I’ve just gotta know: Is Trump cramping your dating style?

Are you a Republican finding it harder to hook up? Are you a Democrat getting laid left and right? Are you red-hot in a Blue state, or do you have blue balls in a Red state?

Is your dating pool getting deeper with prospects, or is your swamp getting drained?

Politics, especially in dating, has become a lighting rod, a third rail of attraction or revulsion. Everything is supercharged, and everyone is hot and bothered.

POLITICS IS SEXY!

Whether politics has made dating easier or harder is debatable, but one thing’s for sure: Donald Trump has become the new measure of compatibility. It’s not enough anymore to know someone’s age, religion, interests, marital goals, or career, you’ve got to know if they’re a Nasty Woman, a Bad Hombre, or a fellow Deplorable.

In other words, you need to know where someone stands. Or, do you? Does it really matter if that cute girl on Tinder voted for Trump, or that hunk on Bumble voted for Hillary? Do you care if the man/woman of your dreams wants to make America great again?

In today’s dating world, party affiliation is either the greatest aphrodisiac, or the world’s worst allergy. It’s the difference between a match made in heaven, a relationship destined for hell, an instant turn-on, or a complete turn-off.

Swiping on a dating app is not unlike pulling a lever in a voting booth. Case in point from a real Tinder profile:

“Trump voters please swipe left, and go to your room and think about what you’ve done.”

OPPOSITES ATTRACT (except when it comes to Trump)

According to data from dating site Match.com, 60% of singles say they are less open to dating across party lines than two years ago. It’s even harsher among liberals, who tend to really dig in when it comes to Trump. In fact, Match found that a whopping 91% of liberals judge potential dates negatively if they voted for Trump. Conservatives, on the other hand, are slightly less judgmental. 57% said they are more likely to date across party lines.

Data from another dating app, CoffeeMeetsBagel, seems to back this up. A poll of 1,320 of its users found that 70% of Democrats feel “politics are impacting their dating lives ‘slightly to profoundly,’” while only 43% Republican singles feel the same way. 66% say being aligned politically is more important than good sex.

Conclusion: What’s in your heart is more important than what’s in your pants.

Sometimes opposites do attract though. Take conservative commentator Mary Matalin and Democratic strategist James Carville. They’ve managed to stay married for 24 years by keeping politics out of the bedroom (or maybe by keeping them in, who knows).

Like I said, politics can be sexy!

For the rest of us though, the political division– and resulting lack of desire from liberals and conservatives to date each other– is why David Goss launched TrumpSingles.com, “a regular dating site where people who are fans of Donald Trump can go and meet each other,” as it’s described.

Goss, a Trump supporter himself, saw the dating divide, and instead of bridging it, he enabled it with Trump lovers. Even though he hopes everyone will make love and not war one day, he knows full well that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

“Yeah, it goes both ways. You know, like a liberal doesn’t want to date a Nazi, and a Republican doesn’t want to date, well, a whiny snowflake, and that’s what they’re viewing each other as.”

YOU KNOW IT’S TOUGH OUT HERE FOR A DATER

My friends on both sides of the political spectrum recently shared some thoughts on love in the time of Trump:

My friend Bob, 58, describes himself as not so much a Trump lover as he was a Hillary hater, but went for Trump anyway.

Last November, he was fixed-up on a blind date, but the meeting place was an election night party (advertised as a Hillary victory party). Knowing he was going into hostile territory, he passed on the opportunity. It ended up being no big loss since a few months later, he met a fellow Trump voter, with whom he’s hot and heavy.

My friend Jill, 48, a diehard Dem, had a promising start with a guy on Match. After taking it off-line and on to the phone, they found an easy rapport. He was interesting, funny, and she was liking him more by the minute.

They had great chemistry, and talked for hours. But when the conversation turned to politics, it all went to hell. Turns out, he was a Trump supporter, and she couldn’t get past that.

“I was in shock. We lined up on so much, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I kind of lost respect for him, and came up with excuses not to see him again. For me, it’s not about politics, it’s about values.”

*Caveat: If you’re a liberal, there’s no reason why you can’t date a Trump supporter just as long as they’re willing to call Trump out on his BS. And by BS, I mean his compulsive lying (an automatic dating disqualifier for me). Liberals also have to look at themselves when their team fucks up too. It goes both ways.

THE POLITICS OF DATING

Like David Goss of TrumpSingles.com, I too hold out hope that one day we can put aside our differences, find common ground, and sing Kumbaya. I hope one day a Repugnant can love a Libtard, and the GOP can party with the DNCC.

But I’m not getting my hopes up too soon, because as I have realized (for better or for worse) you are your politics, and politics is principle. You can’t separate them.

Daters, ask yourselves: Are we on the same page? Do my values align with his? Do my politics jibe with hers? If so, you’ve met your match. If not, well, there’s always the next Trump rally or women’s march to find what you’re looking for.

Politics might have no place in dating, but let’s be honest: it’s the fastest way to weed out the riffraff, and for that, you can thank Donald Trump.

He could be the best f-ing thing that’s ever happened to your love life.

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The 3 Dirtiest Words In Dating

Benching. Breadcrumbing. Ghosting.

You may not have heard these words before, but if you’re single and dating in 2017, chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been a victim of one of these dirty dating practices, you have my sympathies. If you’ve ever knowingly committed one of these offenses, you’re on my shit list. And if you’re still in the dark about what I’m talking about, you’re either happily married or  living amongst the Amish.

BENCHING

If you want to keep someone in the game, but don’t exactly want them to suit up and play, then “Benching” is for you.

This is a great dating strategy for selfish wimps who want to keep their options open and their players in rotation. Benchers love to keep people guessing. They’re neither straightforward nor direct, and they never tell you where you stand because they never move forward with the relationship.

Instead, they string you along by sending mixed signals, throwing you a bone every once in a while, and texting you just enough to keep your hopes up.

When I was single, I was benched by a guy I met online. He said he was divorced, but by his excessive texting, excuse making, and chronic unavailability, he made me realize he was more likely still married, had other chicks on the roster, or just wanted to fuck around.

This guy hardly called, always cancelled, but he kept texting to say hi!

I have a girlfriend who just went through something similar with a guy who kept her on the bench for almost six months before she finally had enough.

He was a sweet-talker, but talking wasn’t his strong suit. Conversations rarely happened because his phone would suddenly “die,” and plans would fall through because something would always “come up.”

But it didn’t stop him from constantly texting to say he was thinking of her!

Typical bencher. Buys time and plays the field while decimating your self-esteem and dignity. Nice.

With benchers, you’re always wondering: “Will I make the cut? Will I ever be a starter or only a sub? Or, will I stay on the bench and be relegated to watching from the sidelines?”

My advice? Get off the bench and go play for a team that truly wants you.

BREADCRUMBING

Another dirty dating trend I despise is “Breadcrumbing.” It’s as manipulative as benching, but even more so because unlike benching, you never actually meet the person.

Breadcrumbing is what it sounds like: a person who sends ambiguously flirtatious digital crumbs meant to lure you in and lead you on.

Breadcrumbers have no real intention of connecting on any substantive level. They just want to play with your head, fuck with your heart, and toy with your emotions by keeping you tormented, oops, I mean interested. It’s the perfect M.O. for narcissists needy for attention and ego stroking.

A common practice for breadcrumbers is to come on strong, string you along with non-committal messages, then go radio silent. Then, out of the blue, they’ll pop up on social media with a comment on Facebook or a compliment on Instagram just to mess with your mind and give you false hope.

Breadcrumbers love to hide behind their texts and dating apps, and throw just enough bait into the water to keep you swimming. Personally, I’d like to slap these people across the face with a dead fish.

A guy friend of mine has been trying to pursue a woman he met on Tinder for weeks now, but for all the fun, flirty messaging going on between them, he’s no closer to meeting her than he was the day he swiped right. I keep telling him to give it up already, but he’s certain it’s going to happen any minute.

It’s not going to happen. All he’s doing is feeding her ego, while she’s feeding him breadcrumbs for his unrequited efforts.

Man and woman cannot live on breadcrumbs alone!

GHOSTING

Ever have a love interest vanish into thin air, right in the middle of your courtship without a trace, an explanation, or even a heads up? You can feel it coming: the texts get fewer, calls cease, plans don’t pan out, and you’re left asking yourself: “WTF?”

Welcome to “Ghosting,” the world’s all-time worst dating behavior, and preferred exit strategy for spineless cowards.

We all know ending things with someone isn’t easy; we all know breaking up is hard to do. But there is a right way to do it, and it doesn’t involve triggering someone’s deepest insecurities by giving them the silent treatment or disappearing off the radar.

Ghosting doesn’t get you off the hook. In fact, all ghosting does is confirm you’re a total pussy.

There are tons of psychological reasons why people ghost, but from what I’ve read and experienced, it has everything to do with fear of conflict, avoiding confrontation and difficult conversations, and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.

There are also tons of better ways to end a relationship than falling off the face of the earth or being a dick. My personal favorite is just biting the bullet and being honest. It might be painful for a few minutes, but it’s infinitely less painful than running into your ghosted ex at Rite-Aid as they pick up their Popov vodka and Xanax.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Benchers, Breadcrumbers, and Ghosters of the world, if you’re reading this, do us a favor and man up. Victims, you too need to grow a pair and stop accepting this bad behavior from your dates. If you’re accepting it, you’re encouraging it.

I dated a lot prior to getting married. Some dates were great, some weren’t. When it wasn’t a match, I said thank you and wished them well. No benching, breadcrumbing, or ghosting. Just straight up truth.

Treat people the way you want to be treated, is the golden rule of dating– especially in the age of technology. Don’t let internet dating turn you into an asshole.

If you want to find love and make a genuine connection, then say it. If you just want to hook-up, say that too. And if you just want to be friends, let that be known. Whatever you do, be clear, be courteous, and keep your ego in check.

Dating doesn’t have to be dirty (unless you want it to be of course).

“The Trump Effect” And How It’s Affecting Me

2016-06-25-13-30-31This blog post isn’t about Donald Trump the candidate. It’s not about his platform or policies, or his vulgar comments caught on tape last week. In fact, this post isn’t about politics at all. It’s about Donald Trump the bully, and the effect his bullying is having on me.

“The Trump Effect,” isn’t something I made up. It’s a real term coined by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups.

In their new study, “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools,” the SPLC shows that the election is inflaming racial and ethnic tensions, and producing alarming levels of fear and anxiety among children of color.

Whether it’s schoolchildren taunting “Build that wall!” or “Go back to Mexico!” Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail is being played out in ugly playground spats and classroom exchanges all across America.

I’m not a kid, but I feel their pain.

I’ve been the victim of bullying too—not in a schoolyard when I was a kid—but as an adult, not so long ago. I was harassed, cyber-bullied, and threatened by two ex-friends of mine, both grown women with children of their own. I spoke about this at length in my post “When Your BFF Becomes A POS.” It was a horrible time of my life, and it feels like I’m reliving it all over again thanks to Donald Trump.

Just last week, an irate Trump supporter on Facebook wished me some horrific things–including rape– in a comment thread. Now, I’ve gotten into some political jousting on social media before, but suggesting physical harm because I disagree with you is taking it to a whole other disturbing level.

Trump’s habit of demonizing people because of their race, religion, gender, profession, and appearance, is hitting a very sensitive spot for me. Whenever he humiliates and shames, it’s like he’s doing it to me personally. Whenever he hurls an insult or demeans someone, my heart hurts a little.

Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, minorities, POWs, and the disabled, I feel their pain too.

Trump’s mean-spirited tweets and inflammatory language are triggering a trauma in me I thought was healed, but unfortunately, the wound is still open and the pain is very real.

Worst of all, Trump is inciting a mindset in his supporters that feels like a collective threat to my soul. They remind me of an angry mob with pitchforks and torches, but instead of marauding through towns, they hide behind computers trying to destroy you with their words.

I’m not the only one affected by the Trump Effect. There’s scores of people–young and old– who’ve been threatened and harassed by haters, internet trolls, and online bullies.

Female Reporters

When Donald Trump suggested that Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly might have been on her period because she was tough on him during a debate, his supporters jumped all over her with an avalanche of online hatred. They called her every name in the book including “bitch, slut, whore,” amongst other things.

Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter with the Daily Beast, knows a thing or two about online bullying too. After she posted a story on Marla Maples on Facebook, Mike Krawitz, a Trump supporter and Republican candidate for the West Deptford New Jersey, township committee, wrote this on her page: “Fuck. You. Olivia, I. Hope. Somebody. Rapes. You. Today.”

Jewish Journalists

When Observer writer Dana Schwartz complained about Donald Trump’s tweeted image of Hillary Clinton in front of raining money with a six-sided star, declaring she’s the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” she had no idea the shit storm of anti-Semitic abuse she would get. His supporters attacked her with hundreds of tweets that ranged from mocking her nose, to applauding the Holocaust.

Jewish political reporters who cover Trump, say they are regularly subject to anti-Semitic harassment by Trump fans online.

Just ask journalist Julia Ioffe. After she published a profile of Donald Trump’s wife Melania earlier this year, she was inundated with angry, anti-Jewish tweets, emails, and even death threats.

People of Color

When Fox News reported that President Obama’s daughter Malia had elected to attend Harvard University after taking a year off, it didn’t go unnoticed by their readers. The comments were so racist, Fox News had to shut down the comments section on their website. Here’s an example:

“Probably staying out for a year so she can help her parents carry out the furniture and dinnerware when they leave the White House.”

And that was one of the nicer things.

After Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican primary, Huffington Post civil rights reporter Julia Craven tweeted her concerns about the possibility of a Trump presidency:

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In response, Craven was unexpectedly hit by a full wrath of hate like this:

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So How Do You Deal With Bullies?

In my case, because the harassment was so extreme, I had to hire a lawyer. The situation was eventually resolved, and the truth became clear: bullies are really just insecure cowards.

As for the Facebook bully from last week, he ended up apologizing to me after being reported by friends and others who were also offended by his comments.

The bullying may be over for me, but I worry about the rest of our country. I want to believe the “Trump Effect” is just a passing fad; I want to believe that civility and kindness aren’t things of the past, and that bad behavior is not the new normal.

Regardless of what happens on November 8th, we must make sure that bullying never wins.

 

To find out more about how you can fight bullying, please visit:

http://beyondbullies.org

https://www.stopbullying.gov

http://www.championsagainstbullying.com

https://www.inpatientdrugrehab.org/cyberbullying-substance-abuse/

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