Put Yourself On Your Own Damn Pedestal

There was a time in my life when love was so elusive, when committed relationships felt so unobtainable, and marriage so out of reach, it had me convinced I wasn’t good enough, and that everyone was too good for me.

I was in my late 40s, still single, and on a horrible losing streak. Nonstarters and strikeouts characterized my dating life, and disappointment ruled the day. The worst thing about that time is the damage it did to my self-concept. Repeated rejections got into my head and messed with my mind. They made me question my attractiveness, doubt my desirability, and lose my ability to be my authentic self.

At 51, I finally tied the knot, and now at 57, I look back on those years and know exactly what went wrong. My need for approval was so misplaced, and my desire to get married was so ridiculous, it clouded everything, especially my priorities.

I put guys first. Big mistake.

When you worry too much about someone liking you, you forget to like yourself. You forget how to be yourself. You lose yourself. You forget where your power is, and why you were giving it away in the first place. When you put someone on a pedestal, you lower yourself; when you make someone more important, you diminish your own importance; when you come from a place of inadequacy, everyone seems better than you.

Insecurity + intimidation = inhibition. It’s unsustainable for dating and relationships.

There’s danger in believing negative narratives about yourself, especially because it can become self-fulfilling. Here’s what it looks like: your fear of not being attractive/charming/smart/whatever enough undermines your confidence, which in turn sabotages your relationships, which makes your worst fears come true.

I told you, it messes with your mind.

Hear this and believe it: YOU’RE ENOUGH AS YOU ARE. No one is ever too good for you, and no one is out of your league. Furthermore, don’t think for one second that guy or girl you like doesn’t have flaws and problems and issues that make them not so hot. No one is perfect, so stop handing them your power and making them boss. There should always be balance and equal footing, and if there isn’t, you’re in the wrong relationship with yourself.

Because it’s so easy to get down on yourself when you’re single–especially if you’ve been single a long time—it’s crucial that you take stock of your greatness. And by greatness, I mean every little wonderful thing about you, every little thing you’re proud of, every little thing that makes you fucking great. Remember, there’s no one like you. And when you know what you’ve got, no one, not even your own mind, can mess with you.

The question shouldn’t be: “Do they like me?” It should be “Do I like them?” The question should be “Are they worthy and deserving of me?” Not the other way around. It’s a privilege to date you, know you, be with you, but you need to be convinced of that first.

This brings me to the subject of self-acceptance vs. self-improvement.

As a life coach and former fitness professional, I’m in the business of self-improvement. I believe in it, preach it, and practice it. I’m a big fan of doing the work. There’s always room for improvement, always room to get stronger, fitter, more confident, productive and empowered, but there’s also room to be more accepting of yourself. Being able to love yourself, even if you don’t lose a pound, make more money, find a boyfriend, or get married. The truth is, there is nothing sexier than self-acceptance, because when you have it, the people you date feel it.

If you want to improve, do it for your own sense of accomplishment, not because you think it’ll make you more lovable. Remember, the only approval and validation you need comes from you first. And it shouldn’t be hard, because you’re already pretty fucking great as is.

But if you forget, I’m here to tell you: it’s time to put yourself on your own damn pedestal.

Breaking Up With Donald Trump

We lasted four years together, which is shocking since I didn’t think we’d make it past his 2017 inauguration.

I thought we were over so many times; I thought he was out the door; I thought we were splitsville, but after every fuck up, controversy, or scandal, he managed to hang in there, for better or for worse. Although married three times, breaking up is really not his style. Nor is it his style to apologize or take responsibility. No, he just wanted to watch TV, tweet, and put as little work into the relationship as possible.

And I couldn’t do a thing about it. I had no choice. It was an arranged marriage of sorts, and I was stuck with him. I knew he was deeply flawed, wasn’t a healthy choice, and he definitely wasn’t my type, but I went into it anyway, plugging my nose and hoping for the best. I never stopped hoping he’d change. Or evolve. Or behave. Or just shut up and be nice.

I thought he could be fixed! Silly me!

From lying about his crowd size, to defending Russia, to coddling white supremacists, to threatening Ukraine, to his catastrophic response to the coronavirus pandemic, to trying to overturn an election and inciting a violent insurrection, he could never be the man I needed him to be.

I mean, how can you be in a relationship with someone who lied to you over 20,000 times??

He was never relationship material, and proved it every day. He pissed me off on Twitter, disgusted me at a press conferences, enraged me with his rallies. During our time together, he made poor choices, and constantly put his foot in his mouth. After  accomplishing things, he would self-sabotage spectacularly. He couldn’t help himself; he was his own worst enemy. For a guy who wanted love and loyalty so badly, he did everything he could to undermine it. SAD! as he’d tweet.

Normally, you’d want to give someone like this a big hug because you know how hurt and wounded they are, but it’s Trump, and it’s COVID, so please don’t.

As much of a disappointment as he was though, I must’ve cared or else I wouldn’t have written two blog posts about him.

The first one was called “The Trump Effect and How It’s Affecting Me,” written on October 10th, 2016. It was a month before the election, but it wasn’t about Donald Trump the candidate, it was about his Donald Trump the bully.

Why did this matter to me and why did I blog about it? Because I was once the victim of bullying myself. Not in a schoolyard when I was a kid, but as an adult, not too long ago. I was harassed, cyber-bullied, and threatened by some ex-friends. Years later, when Trump started his campaign, those old wounds were triggered.

“Trump’s habit of demonizing people because of their race, religion, gender, 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 insults or demeans someone, he does it to me too.”

In light of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021, what I wrote about bullies seems almost prescient:

“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 destroying you with their words.”

The second blog post I wrote about Donald Trump was on August 9th, 2017 called “Is Donald Trump F-ing With Your Love Life?”

Donald Trump-Valentines-WallHe did then, and he still is! Because Trump fucks with everything, including dating. He’s made it tribal. Thanks to Trump, love is now a battlefield, where people don’t cross enemy lines to date the opposition.

“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 to know someone’s age, religion, career, interests, or relationship goals, you’ve got to know if they’re a Nasty Woman, a Bad Hombre, or a Deplorable.”

Four years later, it hasn’t gotten any better. The dating world is still as divided, if not more, which might not be such a bad thing. Because now we have the ability to swipe left on anti-maskers, COVID deniers or QAnon conspiracy kooks.

The truth is, you are your politics. Politics are your values and principles, you can’t separate them out. Pre-Trump, it wasn’t such a big deal, but love in the time of Trump is definitely a dealbreaker.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

We all dated Donald Trump, and breaking up with him won’t be easy. We got in deep, and allowed him to penetrate all areas of our life. He says he’s never going away, and in fact, says we’re getting back together one day! He’s a man scorned, so he’ll continue to linger and be bitter. He’ll stalk and troll and tweet and make our lives miserable, just like a crazy ex. But now, we need to ghost him. We need to heal and move on, and get a restraining order if we have to.

It was a tough four years, but I have hope we can make politics civil, and make love great again. Just not with anyone named Trump.

FILED UNDER:

Blog

Undecided Voters, Maybe You Should Rub One Out

I came across a Reddit thread the other day about “Post Nut Clarity.” I had no idea what the term meant, but the word “nut” gave me a clue. So after scrolling down a few hundred comments from mostly horny millennial guys, it became clear: Post nut clarity is an epiphany or realization you have after masturbating or having sex. What a mind blower! To think of all the applications post nut clarity could have in life, especially for undecided voters, got me excited.

Yes, I’m making politics sexual. That’s what you call post nut clarity!

With the election a day away, it’s hard to think anyone’s still on the fence. But if your mind still isn’t made up, if you’re still confused about ballot measures, and struggling to pick presidents, and can’t seem to pull the lever, the solution may be to pull something else.

Think about your brain when you’re horny. You can’t think straight. It’s hard to rationalize and compartmentalize. Your decision-making abilities are impaired, your critical thinking is cloudy, and you lose judgment and impulse control. Things and people often look better than they appear….like candidates and online dates.

But then you rub one out, and suddenly, you have clarity! Or, as Trump likes to say: “It’s like a miracle, one day it just goes away.” What was attractive isn’t, what was desirable, is no longer. Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a social psychologist and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, confirms this. “Once someone experiences orgasm, their thinking can become more clear.” Having post nut clarity will keep you from making the worst mistakes of your life in dating and politics.

Why does this happen? Blame brain chemistry. During sexual stimulation, there’s less blood in the brain than normal, which is replaced by endorphins, dopamine, and other feel-good hormones. After orgasm is achieved, the blood returns to the brain, making you feel like you can think more clearly. After you choke the chicken, you’ll suddenly realize that hot chick running for congress isn’t your type, and that proposition you’re about to vote for, is really a bunch of shit just benefitting billionaires.

Having sex or masturbating is an excellent pre (and post) election day activity. It’ll help you focus, it’s a great tension reliever, and it’ll mellow you out before the riots begin.

Post nut clarity isn’t just for men either, woman achieve amazing awareness from getting off. I remember years ago I was just starting to date a guy I was super attracted to. We hadn’t had sex yet, and the build-up was ridiculous. But then we did the deed, and right after I said to myself: What the hell was I thinking? 

When I was in college, I had a sorority sister who ate dinner before going on dates, because she didn’t want to be hungry and eat too much. It’s like a guy who jerks off before a date so he can concentrate on the girl, and not getting into her pants. (P.S. My husband just informed me that guys jerk off before dates in case they get lucky and don’t want to come too soon. He then added, “Of course that doesn’t work either”)

People do dumb things when they’re horny/lonely/hungry or voting in a hotly contested elections. They think with their dicks (or vaginas), not with their heads. They let fear get the best of them. They believe lies. They become immune to cruelty. They let hate blind them. They ignore their own best-interests. They get bamboozled by tax cuts, and seduced by empty promises.

If the electorate of this country got laid before casting their votes, we might have better government.

Before you pull the lever, remember, you’re committing to at least a 4-year relationship with your president, and 6-years with your senators, plus a bunch of years with new judges, school board members, etc, so you don’t want to be rash. It’s just like picking a GF/BF or choosing your spouse, you want to be 100% all-in, for the right reasons. No regrets.

If you’re still undecided about how to vote, you might want to take a few minutes to read the election materials as if it was porn. Get excited, get worked up, then shoot your political load with a clear mind and conscience. Even if you’re voting in a Red state, you don’t want to have blue balls.

FILED UNDER:

Blog,Dudes and Chicks

Treva’s Statement On COVID-19

The pandemic has turned our world upside down. The way we live, interact, and connect, have all have been disrupted. Being single seems harder, dating feels more challenging, and it takes more effort to stay focused and motivated. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are creative solutions and strategies to finding love–and your power–in the time of coronavirus. You just need the right tools, support, and direction.

If you’re struggling right now, I can help. Contact me, talk to me, work with me. We’ll get through this together.

CONTACT ME

FILED UNDER:

Blog

10 Life & Love Lessons from Me and Navy SEAL Admiral McRaven

I bet you didn’t know (and I’m sure he doesn’t know either) but Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven is an accidental dating and relationship expert.

When he offered his 10 life lessons in a commencement speech to the University of Texas at Austin, he wasn’t exactly talking about LOVE, but he could’ve been. In urging the graduating students to find the courage to change the world, he unwittingly offered profound, powerful, and practical analogies to love. So much about how we live, translates to how we love. Both require courage.

Below are the Admiral’s life lessons, and my translations:

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

He says: “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

I say: Love requires that you work on YOU first. You’ll never be a happy single or a healthy partner unless you take care of yourself. Fix what’s broken; resolve old issues; build your worth and value; savor the small wins, and never stop self-improving.

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

He says: “You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help. To get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers, and a strong coxswain to guide you.”

I say: Have a good support system to keep you strong and loved, people who will be there when you need them–like after a breakup, or in between a relationship, or when you don’t want to be alone. Surround yourself with friends, family, advisors, and mentors. They’ll come in handy.

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not their flippers.

He says: “SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, ethnic background, education, or social status.”

I say: Don’t measure a person by their bank account, age, car, or looks. In other words, don’t be shallow. Get past the exterior and go deeper. Ask questions, listen, be curious. Find out what’s in their heart. Your soulmate might not be what you expected, so don’t judge too quickly.

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

He says: “Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student [in Basic SEAL training] had to run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of their body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day–cold, wet and sandy.

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

I say: When it comes to the pursuit of love, you may have the best intentions and still not measure up. Life isn’t fair, and neither is love sometimes. No one’s perfect, we all have flaws. Accept it as an opportunity for growth and change, and a chance to deepen the relationship to yourself and others.

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

He says: “Everyday during training, you were challenged with multiple physical events–long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics–something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards, your names was posted on a list, and at the end of the day, those on the list were invited to a ‘circus.’ A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.”

Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

I say: Love is filled with circuses. Despite your good efforts, you’ll make mistakes. You’ll get down on yourself. You’ll fight with your spouse or argue with your BF/GF. You may not get the guy or the girl, you may breakup or get dumped, or be single longer than you’d like. Don’t get discouraged, don’t let it break your spirit. Keep your eye on the prize, and keep moving forward.

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

He says: “The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable, that is, until a student decided to bravely go down head first. It was a dangerous move, seemingly foolish and fraught with risk, but he ended up breaking the record.”

I say: Love takes guts. Being single, dating online, putting yourself out there, is scary. Commitment is daring. Marriage is brave. Relationships take conviction. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable takes courage, so does being alone. Love of all kinds requires risk, but with the risk comes great rewards.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

He says: “There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”

I say: Haters and shamers are a part of life. They’ll either be jealous, begrudge your happiness, or judge you. Rise above it with dignity and grace. Never cower, never let your relationship status define you.

 8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

He says: “At the darkest moment of the mission is the time when you must be calm and composed, when all your tactical skills, your physical power, and all your strength must be brought to bear.”

I say: There will be times when the search for love will feel impossible, or sustaining your love will feel daunting. Love is not a losing cause. Stay calm, breathe, trust, and never abandon yourself–especially in dark moments.

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

He says: “If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person–Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan Malala–one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

I say: Nothing will bring you more unconditional love than helping others. Volunteer work gets you out of your head, puts things into perspective, and instills compassion. When you lift others up, you lift yourself up; when you change someone’s life, you change your own.

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

He says: “In SEAL training, there is a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit, is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT–and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever, ring the bell.”

I say: Love will challenge you, test you, teach you. Love is a lesson; it shows you what you’re made of, and if you’re up to the task. Love ultimately starts with YOU, happiness is an inside job, and it’s worth it. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, coupled up, or married forever, stay the course. Don’t give up on love, and don’t ever, ever give up on yourself.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Watch the full speech here:

 

Falling In Love Is Scary AF

Falling in love is a death-defying act.

You’re head-over-heels, topsy-turvy, with zero gravity, zero certainty, and no way of knowing which way is up.

When you fall in love, you have no control, no grip, no balance. You’re vulnerable, powerless, dizzy, exposed. You don’t know how you’ll land, where you’ll land, or if you’ll land safely.

You take a chance when you fall in love. You throw caution to the wind. You leap and hope the net shall appear. You open your heart, cross your fingers, and hope not to die.

Falling in love is risky business and scary as fuck.

For a control freak with an anxious attachment style, falling in love always caused too much stress. Were those butterflies in my stomach or gastritis? Was my heart aflutter or was it anxiety? Was I high on life, or was it the weed calming me down? Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE, but I hated falling into it.

Love fucks with your head, and it’s not my imagination. According to science, falling in love causes all kinds of crazy changes in your brain chemistry, which Dr. Rosemary Guerguerian MD explains:

“When you first fall in love, your heart may also be pounding. You might have sweaty palms and nervous butterflies. You might feel exhilarated, elated, and full of energy. This is the effect of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter closely related to increased levels of dopamine. Norepinephrine controls the fight-or-flight response. It makes us hyperalert during times of stress–so you may notice you feel unable to eat or sleep. Love is a stress we actually crave and search for the world over.”

I’ve been in love enough times to know it’s an exquisite experience, but it also triggers fear of rejection. This lead me to OCD-level worry and rumination: I wonder if he’s into me? I wonder if it will last? I wonder how he feels? I wonder if he’ll call? I wonder if I’ll ever stop wondering?

Even as the relationship started to develop, there’d be a whole new list of things to worry about: What if he loses interest? What if we don’t share the same goals? What if I’m honest and he thinks I’m nuts? What if he finds out I’m not perfect?

What I should’ve been wondering is: Where the hell was my self-worth?

Why was I so worried about someone liking me, when it should’ve been the other way around? Why was I allowing a guy to determine my value? Why was I waiting for someone’s approval, when all I had to do was give it to myself?

It took me until I was 51 to get married, and it took me about that long to understand the problem: When you lack confidence, when you question your worth, and when you look outside of yourself for validation, falling in love will always be frightening.

And if you’re still nervous or fearful after the initial love high wears off, if you’re still in fight or flight mode and your heart’s still pounding as the relationship goes on, you’re either with the wrong person, in the wrong relationship, or you need to book an appointment with me.

Falling might be scary as fuck, but love should be as uneventful as hell. It took work on myself and finding a good man to tell me this is true. You shouldn’t feel unsafe, and your palms shouldn’t still be sweating beyond the first few weeks of a new relationship.

Whether you’re dating, in a relationship, married, or in the middle of a break-up, having a strong safety net of self-worth underneath you will save the day. Having your own sense of security is what will bring calm and stability into your partnership, or single life.

The truth is, there are no guarantees when it comes to love. We all take our chances; we throw caution to the wind and leap.

Falling in love shouldn’t feel like a high-wire act. It shouldn’t give you gastritis or anxiety, or make you need a bong hit just to deal. It shouldn’t make you question yourself or worry incessantly. When I finally met someone who accepted my neuroses and imperfections, it all became clear AF:

If you accept yourself first, and your partner does too, you know you fell for the right person.

Dating Post-50: You Just Might Get What You Need

So what does a single man in midlife looking for love really want? A lot less than you’d think.

A few weeks ago I read an article about a widow in her 50s named Kerry McAvoy, who had just entered the online dating world after 30 years of marriage. What she found shocked her, but it didn’t shock me. Prior to getting married, I was single for a long time, so I already knew about online dating’s pitfalls, perils, and pervs.

What shocked me was a comment I read in the comment section, written by a single guy in his 50s. It was refreshingly sincere, incredibly honest, surprisingly simple, and I loved every word of it.

It made me wonder: Can finding love in midlife be this easy?

Or rather: Are we making the search for love too hard?

I feel so strongly about his comments and the sentiments he expressed, I want all of my single friends to read it–both men and women–because it’s really a commentary on the state of dating, not to mention a tutorial on how to date at this age.

“A really enjoyable read, Kerry. Thank you for enlightening me, as someone who is on the other side of those things that are on the female mind. There’s a lot of crossover in those mini-anxieties, and while you ladies have to put up with middle-aged Tom Cats on the prowl, I’ve also had my run ins with the female equivalent. I’ve been sent the equivalent of dick pics…I’m not sure my English slang carries over to the USA (I’d call it a fanny pic but I know you guys place the fanny at the rear, whereas we’re somewhat more to the front). As for sex, I’ve been surprised how many want first date sex. This would feel weird admitting this as my 20-year-old self…Much as I love sex and flattered by the offers, it’s not something I find appealing…it can muddle things up too much too early.

For me I need to see and feel the honesty in a profile. Recent pictures rather than obvious older ones. Maybe a smile rather than a grimace. A few pics that show personality and pastimes. I personally switch off from over idealistic wishes…swept of feet, soulmates, wishes of ‘tall, dark, & handsome’ or gym toned. I’m imperfect. I accept imperfection. In fact, no, I embrace it. Anything that denies our natural imperfections is a red flag. I’m wary of wishes of chemistry & compatibility. To me, that’s where we’re trying to end up. It’s not a given and it’s only sustainable (in my learned life experience) if it’s built & maintained. I’m 18 months into this middle-aged dating and learned so much about myself, and others. I haven’t given up hope. It takes patience and resilience. As an old mentor of mine safely advised ‘don’t rush, don’t panic, don’t give in.’ That, plus a dose of honesty, keeps me broadly happy with life.”

Like I said, I love this guy. And I’d love for more men to be like him: evolved and forgiving.

Men, learn from him. Women, listen to him. 

What should you be looking for in a partner? What are your expectations? Are you asking too much? Wanting it too soon? Are you putting up obstacles? Making people jump through hoops? Are you asking someone to give you what you ultimately need to give yourself?

I want my single friends to meet an evolved, forgiving person like this. Someone who’s romantic, but realistic. Someone who wears his midlife imperfections with pride. Someone who appreciates courtship and the value of waiting. Someone who accepts himself and embraces his flaws, and in turn, will embrace and accept your flaws too.

Chances are at this age, you won’t be swept off your feet–you’re too smart for that anyway. You know that love takes time, and it’s more of a slow build than a love bomb. You also know that soulmates aren’t made in a day or even a date.

The Rolling Stones were right. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

If you can get past the pitfalls, perils, and pervs, you’ll see pretty much everyone’s looking for the same thing in midlife: a nice, normal, decent person, with integrity, experience and wisdom, who might have some wrinkles, possibly a little baggage, maybe a few extra pounds, but has a good heart and soul. Just like you, just like all of us.

Shockingly, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

Single In A Pandemic? You’ve Got Options

How’s your dating life going since the pandemic? Non-existent or “what pandemic?”

Has it ground to a halt or going gangbusters? Have you gone into hibernation or gone wild? Or, have you realized you just don’t give a shit and deleted all your dating apps? There’s no bad answer here.

It’s a weird time to be single, but it might not be the worst time. Life and love will go on. We are social animals and need interaction. We need connection. Human contact is an essential business! There’s only so much social distancing/isolating/quarantining a person can take before losing their mind.

The good news is, as lockdowns lift, dating IRL might pick up again.

Or not.

From what health experts are saying, we’re not even done with the first wave of COVID. Things are spiking again, and with that comes the possibility of more sheltering-in-place. Regular dating might be put on hold. But there are workarounds. Single people are very resourceful in finding ways to adapt. When faced with challenges and adversity, singles think outside the mask (but the smart ones keep it on).

If you’re single right now, you need to be prepared for any eventuality. I wrote an article about this at the beginning of the pandemic, and things actually haven’t changed much. You’ve got options.

Option A: Stay active, keep your dating apps open.

Why let a pandemic cramp your dating style? There’s no reason not to keep swiping, scrolling, and staying out there. Everyone’s at home on their devices, so why not take advantage of your captive audience?

If you’re not sure which app/dating site is right for you, check out ConsumerAdvocate’s online dating guide here. And if you need a little dating coaching, you can always contact me here.

Before coronavirus, when you met on a dating app, you’d have a few text exchanges, maybe a call or two, then meet in person as soon as possible. You can still do that, but video dating is now the safer alternative for those too freaked out to meet face-to-face.

I love the idea of video dating. It’s like old-fashioned courtship. Very Victorian, very Jane Austen, very hot. Courting via video slows everything down, which I find very romantic. Delayed gratification is sexy as hell.

If you haven’t done video dating, or gotten good at it, there’s still time. There’s still time to meet the love of your life in the middle of a deadly virus, and look great doing it.

Watch this video dating tutorial for pointers. When it comes to lighting, camera angles, techniques, tips, and best practices, Hot & Flashy really nails it.

A video date is a real date, so treat it like one. Don’t be lazy. Clean up, put some makeup on, be as charming as you would IRL. This is your chance to get to know someone, and possibly get laid sometime next year, so make an effort.

Or, you can throw caution to the wind and throw your mask off, along with the rest of your clothes like this woman did. Read her pandemic dating story here.

Because physical intimacy might be too risky for the less adventurous or horny, chances are, anyone dating right now is searching for something more substantial, perhaps longer lasting than a just a hook-up or booty call. Maybe they’re searching for a shelter-in-place partner for the next pandemic (or the rest of this one).

Option B: Take a break, temporarily deactivate your dating apps.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a dating break, especially if you’re burned out or going through a hard time. If you’re not actively dating, hide your profile, or turn off auto-renewal until you’re ready to venture back out.

Use the downtime to catch your breath, work on yourself, get in better shape, and get clarity on what you want. When there’s no obligation or pressure to date, it frees you up to make smarter, more thought-out choices. Pandemic or no pandemic, pressing pause on your dating life presents a great opportunity to weed out the riff-raff and regain your sanity.

Option C: You’ve actually come to enjoy your alone time, and realize that social distancing/isolation isn’t that bad.

The quiet and stillness of lockdown at first might’ve been uncomfortable–possibly unbearable—but now you’re getting used to it, and even LIKE it. It’s given you time to think, reflect, read, and relax. Becoming friends with silence and solitude is a skill, and mastering it will get you through single life (and pandemics) like a pro.

“Man conquers the world by conquering himself,” said Greek philosopher Zeno. Now’s the time to prove it.

Some people avoid being alone at all costs, but according to research, the ability to be alone with yourself is actually essential for a healthy social life. Researchers Jeffrey A. Hall and Andy J. Merolla spell it out:

“We’d seen lots of research suggesting more social interactions are better,” Hall says, but “the one that had the strongest empirical support was that when you’re alone and content that way, that’s a great indicator that you’re socially healthy.”

Being single in a pandemic is a great test of your self-reliance. Enjoying your own company is everything.

“That’s why there are some people in the world who are almost never alone but feel lonely, and some people who are always alone and never feel lonely,” she says. “Solitude works when you feel satisfied on the whole with your connection to other people. Once you have that basic need met, it’s much easier to spend time alone.”

The bottom line with pandemics (and other shitty things that happen in life) is there’s always an upside: it can be worst thing ever, or the thing you needed to make changes, practice new skills, and find strength you thought you never had. Your choice.

Single or not, you always have options.

* * * * * * * 

For more wit, wisdom, and tough love dating advice, subscribe to my blog and follow me @trevabme

Post-COVID Dating: The People You Still Need To Avoid

There’s going to come a time when life gets back to normal, and normal dating will resume. Other than still practicing some social distancing and washing your hands every five seconds, chances are, you’ll still be the same person you were before the pandemic, and so will the people you’ll be dating.

Except you might be feeling a little more desperate. Or lonely. Or starved for affection and human contact. And who could blame you? The problem is, these feelings might lead to making hasty choices.

How much a pandemic changes people, we don’t know, but what we do know is that coronavirus or no coronavirus, there are still people you need to avoid dating, no matter how horny or deprived you are.

I just read a great article by James Michael Sama about the five types of people you should avoid dating:

The Control Freak:
The person who tries to mold you into the person he/she wants you to be.

The Constant Complainer:
Someone who drags another down emotionally.

Silly Putty:
Someone who doesn’t have their own identity and relies on you for every decision.

The Center Of The Universe:
Someone who is so self-absorbed that everything needs to revolve around them.

The Ultra-Materialistic:
Someone who tries to use you for what you have, or someone who tries to use what they have to “get” you.

All of these are excellent, and I wholeheartedly agree with each one of them. If you’re going to be dating now or anytime in the future, stay the fuck away from the aforementioned types of people.

While you’re at it, here’s a few more types I came up with that I highly recommend staying more than six feet away from until the end of eternity:

The Person Not Over Their Ex:
If you thought COVID19 made you miserable, try dating someone who’s not over their ex. This type might physically be there, but their heart and minds aren’t. This person will keep you a secret, keep you guessing, and keep making excuses as to why they can’t be fully present. No matter how hot, smart, brilliant, cute, sexy you are, the ex will loom over your relationship, and you’ll either be forced to compete, or take a back seat. The worst part is, they’ll never admit they’re still hung up on the ex. They’ll just wait for the situation to become so untenable, you’ll have no choice but to leave. And good for you if you do.

The Person Looking To Be Needed, Saved, Or Has Attachment Issues:
Unless you like a damsel in distress or a wounded bird, avoid these types like your life depends on it. I know men and women who live to be needed; it gives them power and pumps up their ego. People with “savior complex” come in like white knights to save the day, and it’s all very noble and chivalrous until it becomes co-dependent and weird. Neediness is never sexy. Attachment is not love. Put your mask on and go find someone that doesn’t need saving, fixing, or rescuing.

The Chronically Bitter/Angry Person:
When you date someone who’s chronically bitter or angry, it’s always a fight: either with you, or with themselves. And if someone’s anger and bitterness is really entrenched, it becomes like a third person in the relationship who won’t go away. NEWSFLASH: your love will never soothe a person who constantly bitches or seethes about past disappointments, slights or failures. But good luck trying. Oh, and did I mention the walking on eggshells part? Good luck with that too!

The Crazy Person:
I don’t care how great the sex is, when you date a crazy person, you’re asking for trouble–and chaos, instability, inconsistency, and drama. Do you really need that after a pandemic? Like you haven’t had enough stress? How many refills of Xanax can you get to keep adding more anxiety to your life? Even after the coronavirus, you’ve got to keep practicing good habits, which starts with staying the hell away from crazy people.

The Newly Separated/Divorced Person:
If the word “Rebound” gives you a dry cough and shortness of breath, your body is telling you something: STAY AWAY FROM NEWLY SEPARATED/DIVORCED PEOPLE. More than likely, you’ll be a rebound after their relationship ends, and it won’t end well for you. Dating this type has serious side effects including general pain, suffering, frustration and fatigue. If you happen to meet one of these highly seductive creatures, lock yourself down immediately.

What’s the post-COVID dating prognosis? Until there’s a test that tells you what type you’re dealing with, you’ll just have to depend on your own good judgment to stay safe and healthy. But if you start getting symptoms, or suddenly feel lousy, you’ll know you’re dating the wrong person. Avoid them like the plague.

* * * * * * * *

Want more dating advice and wisdom from someone who’s been around the block? Sign up for my newsletter at www.trevabrandonscharf.com and follow me at @trevabme.

Vulnerability Is The New Black

Did you see Brené Brown’s interview on CBS 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, where she sang the praises of vulnerability? It spoke to me. In fact, it moved me so much, I watched it again online because I didn’t want to miss a single piece of her wisdom. And it wasn’t just wisdom she doled out, it was confirmation of something I’ve always known: That being vulnerable is actually a strong move.

If you don’t know Brenè Brown, she’s a qualitative researcher, lecturer, TEDTalker, best-selling author, and badass when it comes to vulnerability.

I thought I was alone in my fear of vulnerability–even admitting it made me feel weak, but here comes Brenè Brown with 20 years of research and over 400,000 pieces of data to prove that vulnerability isn’t weakness, it’s the path to courage. There is no courage without vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the new black. It’s sexy, brave, and it’s everywhere. Vulnerability shows your humanness, and isn’t that what we’re all feeling right now? We’re in a time where we’re collectively vulnerable, searching for strength. Our vulnerability is on full display, and it’s OK according to Brenè, because “What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.”

“The most vulnerable people I know are the toughest people I know.” –Brenè Brown.

Vulnerability teaches resilience, gives you grit, and makes you tougher. Vulnerability is the scariest ride you’ll ever take, but daring to step on it is the first step to conquering it.

It takes balls to admit you’re vulnerable/scared/lonely/helpless/anxious, but as Brenè cautions: “If you don’t name what you’re feeling, if you don’t own your feelings, and feel them, they will eat you alive.”

I’m terrible at vulnerability. Nothing makes me feel more out of control, exposed, and fragile. But that’s the lesson. We need to feel vulnerable in order to know what we’re made of, to know our worth, and see what we’re capable of.

I know this from my many years in the fitness business. After hundreds of classes and clients, I’ve seen what facing fears, powering through pain, and digging deep will do to somebody. I’ve seen the power of vulnerability take a self-doubting, fearful 80-year-old grandmother and turn her into the Bionic Woman; I’ve seen vulnerability take an overweight, self-loathing, single dad and turn him into the Six Million Dollar Man. Everything I do with my clients makes them feel vulnerable: from balancing on unstable surfaces, to releasing their egos. But I crack the whip and they beat back the vulnerability beast.

Me and vulnerability are a different story, though.

We’re “friends” right now, but it’s been a struggle. Usually I’m tough-as-nails, but when both my parents fell ill last December, all that changed. My father was diagnosed with cancer and died in January, and my mother continues to be in and out of the hospital suffering with Type-1 diabetes, pneumonia, sepsis, a broken hip, and coronavirus. As a result, I’ve been suffering too. And even though I have an insanely supportive husband, I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life. Add in the backdrop of a pandemic, and you can see how beating back the vulnerability beast is a daily struggle for me.

How is this possible? I’m a life-long athlete, I’ve run five marathons, and was single till I was 51. If anyone knows how to tough it out, it should be me. WTF?!

I’m not sure this experience is showing me what I’m made of, but it’s sure showing me that I’m human.

The reality is, we’re all scared shitless right now. We’re all freaking the fuck out. There’s so much we have no control over, and if you’re like me, you’re fighting the feeling with everything you’ve got. But here’s the deal: “Vulnerability may be the core of shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it also appears that it’s the birthplace of joy, creativity and love,” according to Brenè.

My hope is that when coronavirus is all over, we’ll look back at ourselves with a sense of pride. We’ll have seen what we’re made of, what our worth is, what we’re capable of, and we will be stronger people for it.

Vulnerability is the new black, so wear it well my friends.