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.

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).

Can You Find The Love In Being Single?

 

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Before I got married, I had an on-again/off-again affair with being single. When we were on and things were good, I loved it; but when we were off, I hated it.

There’s a lot to love about being single: you’ve got freedom and independence; you can come and go as you please; and you can do what you want when you want. You can go out, get laid, and not have to answer to anybody.

If you’re not actively dating, you don’t have to shave your legs or get bikini waxes on a regular basis. And if you’re a guy, you can scratch your balls and fart all you want.

Now that’s what I call freedom!

Being single can be the greatest time of your life, or it can be a living hell.

If you’ve ever been a singleton at a couples dinner party, or at a wedding without a +1, or dateless at a family function, you know the hell I’m talking about.

For years, a girlfriend of mine has been throwing dinner parties attended mostly by her married friends or fellow school parents. Even though I was single, she would invite me, and I accepted because I adore her. The evenings were glorious events, filled with incredible food and wine, beautiful settings, and fabulous people.

And it was brutally tough to get through.

My singleness made me feel like an outsider, like an alien from another planet. I was neither a member of the married club nor the mommy club, and it was made painfully clear especially if one of the wives gave me the stink-eye.

Hell is being the only single woman in a room full of married people.

When you’re single, people judge, stare, ask questions, whisper and gossip– especially if you’ve been single an eternity like I was. They make assumptions and jump to conclusions. They ask why you’re not married or have kids, and wonder what’s wrong with you.

There’s a stigma attached to being single, and a word for it too: “Singlism.” It’s the technical term for holding negative beliefs about single people or treating them unfairly because of their single status.

The good news is if you stay single long enough, eventually the questions will cease. When my mother stopped asking when I was getting married and started asking if I had received my AARP card yet, I knew things were getting better.

But some people aren’t so lucky– the questions keep coming.

Just ask Jennifer Aniston, the subject of relentless rumors about her marriage and maternal status– stuff of no one’s business. She finally told everybody to fuck off and stop speculating about her happiness in a recent Huffington Post piece, For The Record, and I will tell you the same:

You don’t need to be married and have kids to be happy, so STFU already!

 

proxy-jpgSingle gal blogger Michelle L. Torigian echoes Anniston’s sentiments in her post For the Record, I’m Fed Up Too, as does Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell in her book, Single Is The New Black.

Dr. Abrell, a fellow dating expert and late blooming bride like me, got married when she was 42 after suffering the same single girl experiences I did— both good and bad.

In her book, she emphatically contends that nothing is wrong with you if you’re still single. You just haven’t yet met “The One,” and that’s OK. Being single is not a curse or a crime or something that needs to be fixed or ashamed of. It’s just where you are in life, and the sooner you stop defining yourself by it, or beating yourself over it, the better.

This got me thinking: while you’re looking for love, can you find the love in being single?

It’s possible and here’s how:

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Don’t conform or change for anyone. Stop apologizing and making excuses for who you are. If someone doesn’t appreciate you (or your choices, personality, sense of humor, smarts, values, circumstances, etc.) then they’re not for you. Period. Don’t waste one minute of your precious time trying to be something you’re not. Love who you are, whatever you are.

LOSE THE EXPECTATIONS

If you want to be a happy single person, do yourself a favor and stop pressuring yourself about dating, getting married, etc. Stop checking the time, and tapping your watch– love happens when it happens and not one minute sooner. As I’ve said before, you can have aspirations, just not expectations—they’ll set you up for disappointment and defeat.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR SINGLE STATUS ASAP

You’re single, deal with it. Own it, accept it, and stop bitching about it before you become bitter. The strongest statement you can make as a single person is to live life on your own terms, and show the world you don’t give a shit.

FIND YOUR HAPPINESS ELSEWHERE

You know when love finds you? When you’re busy with other pursuits and pleasures. Get involved, volunteer, hang with your friends, find a hobby, do the things that bring you joy. It’ll take the edge off being alone and it’ll keep your life full.

HAVE A GREAT FRIEND OF THE OPPOSITE SEX

Having a good guy or girl buddy for companionship while you’re single is crucial. With opposite sex friends, there’s no competition, pressure, jealousy, or weirdness, just unconditional love and support for each other. They make great confidantes, dates, and wingmen. Keep one handy and you’ll never be lonely.

DO THE WORK

Along with finding your happiness elsewhere, it’s important to find your healing too. If you’re single, that means you’ve got time to work on yourself. So go inside, tie up loose ends, resolve old issues, and bring closure to things that might be impeding your progress. Being single is a job, so take care of business.

BE OK WITH BEING SINGLE FOREVER

Single friends, this is a tough one to swallow, but I’m here to tell you that your “Happily Ever After” could be happily right now. You might be single for longer than you want, or even forever, so you better get on with it.

When I turned 50 and still wasn’t married, I did something bold: I blew off marriage altogether.

On my 50th birthday, I made a life-changing decision. If I was going to be single, then I was going to be happiest singleton I could be. I would live my life unashamed and proud; I would refuse to be stigmatized; and I would never allow myself to feel incomplete just because I didn’t have a husband or kids.

I decided to find the love in being single, and it freed me.

Then something weird happened. After my come to Jesus moment about being single, I found “The One” and suddenly gained membership to the married club.

Those wonderful days of not shaving my legs and letting my pubes grow out are a thing of the past, and no one’s happier about it than my waxer, Esther. I’ll see you soon!

NOTE TO THE GUYS READING THIS: As I’ve learned, you can still scratch your balls and fart all you want—it’s called marriage.

Confessions Of A Closet Neurotic

shutterstock_145656107People who know me as a personal trainer know I’m pretty tough. I’m strict. I’m disciplined. I push my clients to aim high, to work through their self-doubts, and to face their fears and find their strength—both physically and emotionally.

And I get results.

How? Because I’ve worked through the same stuff myself and know the struggle. I’ve been in their gym shoes and have walked the walk.

The truth is, I may be a professional ass kicker (just ask my clients) but I can be just as neurotic as the next person (just ask my husband).

My past neurosis of choice was control. I was the classic control freak who worried about everything: her single status, her health, her need for perfection. My head was filled with crazy thinking, “mishegas”as my Yiddish-speaking grandma would say.

How crazy? Well, put it this way: if I got a rash, my mind would think I had flesh-eating disease.

Here’s the thing about control– it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the compulsive NEED to have it that makes you nuts.

If you’re neurosis-free and can’t understand what I’m talking about, let me break it down for you: needing control leads to stress, stress leads to worry, worry leads to anxiety. All of which sucked the life out of me and got me nowhere.

Actually, it did get me somewhere: to a shrink’s office. And while I was on the couch, here’s what he told me: #1 worry is bullshit, and #2, I wasn’t alone.

Apparently, when it comes to being secretly neurotic, there are lots of us in the closet.

You’d be shocked to know how many professional athletes (or people like me whose work requires balls and brawn) suffer from anxiety and other stress-related disorders. Folks who make their living being tough and powerful are wrestling with some powerful demons too. Considering the intense pressure, expectations, and media scrutiny sports stars are under, it’s no wonder some of them are headcases.

That they suffer makes them human; that they’re going public with it makes them extraordinary.

Major League Baseball’s Dontrelle Willis, Khalil Greene, and Zach Greinke have all been put on the disabled list at one time or another for social anxiety. In the NBA, L.A. Laker Metta World Peace has been open with his depression, and former Houston Rocket first-round draft pick Royce White, has been struggling with generalized anxiety disorder since he was a kid.

Did you know professional soccer stud David Beckham has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? His condition leads him to do all kinds of kooky things like count clothes and place magazines in straight lines and symmetrical patterns.

Even pro golfer Charlie Beljian isn’t immune from the dangers of getting into your head. Last November, when the 28-year-old golfer was in the second round of the PGA’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, an extreme case of panic struck. Out of nowhere, his throat tightened and his heart raced. A TV audience watched as he struggled through 18 holes with a skyrocketing pulse. He thought he was going to die, but didn’t. Instead, he powered through his anxiety and went on to a final-round win the next day.

Who knew anxiety could come in handy?

When channeled properly, nerves and adrenalin can work to your benefit. “Nervousness is your friend,” says JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a Stanford Medical Center sports psychologist who’s treated Olympians as well as Fortune 500 businessmen. “It’s a normal reaction to an important moment in your life.” However, when the “flight or fight” instinct of life becomes too much, that’s when people develop issues.

But don’t worry fellow nut jobs, there’s good news. We’re geniuses! According to studies in Higher Perspective, people who worry tend to have higher IQs and problem solving abilities. Expert neurobiologist Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College in London explains it this way: “Worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs over the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.”

This brings me back to my own issue: Control.

Here’s what I’ve learned: I can’t control everything. No one can. Worrying about stuff you can’t control will suck the life out of you, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you’ll be free—of stress, anxiety, and mishegas.

Giving up control and letting go is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. So is learning to have faith, not fear. It’s a process that takes practice— sometimes years. But I’m proof that it works. When I finally stopped worrying about my weight, I made peace with my body; and when I gave up on getting married, I met my future husband.

As for the rest of the stuff I’m still neurotic about? I guess I just have to kick my own ass and get over it.

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The Beauty Of F*cking Up

Thinking Man v2The coming of Yom Kippur has me thinking about regret and guilt – you know, the usual suspects when it comes to feeling shitty about yourself.

On Yom Kippur, we’re given a day to atone for our sins, to clean the slate, to clear our conscience, and make things right, while we fast for 24 hours as punishment for the past year’s misdeeds.

And when it’s all over, we go back to our flawed selves, burying our shame and committing wrongdoings, until we bring them out again next year for reflection and redemption.

I say atone it AND own it. Not just for one day, but for LIFE. That way you can be truly free.

 

Wrong Choices, Right PlacesLooking back, maybe you did some things that you’re not proud of. Maybe you made some poor choices or unwise decisions; maybe you did some dumb shit that sabotaged you or hurt others; maybe you acted impulsively, or didn’t act at all when you should have.

In other words, you fucked up. That’s life. Join the club, we’re all members.

But rather than beat yourself up for it, is it possible to accept your fuck-ups with a sense of respect instead of regret? Is it possible to see your mistakes not as liabilities, but as assets that gave you more character, depth, and soul?

You may have fucked up, but you’re not shit out of luck: the wrong choices you made yesterday could very well be taking you to the right places today.

Beautiful Imperfections

Instead of letting your screw-ups get the best of you, why not make the best of them? Embrace your imperfections and make peace with your flaws because chances are, they made you who you are today: someone smarter, wiser, stronger, and more resilient.

This is why fucking up can be beautiful. It gives you incredible gifts of insight and clarity, as well as opportunities to put your guilt and remorse to good use– like making positive changes and staying on the path of right action.

Fucking up will test you, tease you, torment you, and ultimately teach you things about yourself you never knew. The key is learning the lessons. You never want to waste a perfectly good fuck-up by not learning from it (nor would you want to ruin one by repeating it).

I’ve had some doozy fuck-ups in my day: I squandered time and opportunities; I missed the boat, took my eye off the ball, and made unforced errors. I wish I could go back in time and do it over, but I can’t. I can only be thankful for the lessons I learned and the wisdom it gave me.

I fuck up, therefore I am.

Everyday we have a chance to make things right; to make amends and move forward. And of course, everyday we have a chance to practice FORGIVENESS– fucking up’s best friend.

Just remember, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” To actually be able to do that, awesome.

My friend therapist Dr. Margaret Rutherford says it perfectly in her blog “How To Step Away From Paralyzing Shame:”

“You can call it forgiving yourself. You can use use faith in a higher Being to help you let it go. You can acknowledge you are human. You can see yourself with compassion. Tell yourself what you would tell your best friend. Realize you were learning something vital. You can do things to try to atone, things that will help you move past it. It takes work, but it can happen. It must happen for you to move on.”

Past MistakesI’m fairly certain that fucking up makes one a better person. We’re all a work in progress, and the process never stops. Trial and error, live and learn, you know the drill. The challenge is to remove judgment and condemnation from your path so you can turn self-loathing into self-loving.

Atone it and own it. Just don’t fuck it up.

Surviving Single Life: 10 Tips

Single LifeOnly child, divorced parents, single forever, yep, you could say I know a thing or two about being alone and on my own.

Been there, done that, lived it, and survived.

So can you. Whether you’re just entering singledom for the first time, or been there forever, single life is a journey– a beautiful, amazing, tough motherfucker of a slog.

Being single was the best of times and the worst of times. I loved it, I hated it, and I always learned from it. As Winston Churchill once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And I did. Whether it was navigating the world alone as an only child or constructing it as a single woman, I kept going.

Going solo isn’t always easy, but it does show you what you’re made of.

The following isn’t dating advice; it’s practical wisdom and survival tips that kept me sane when I was single, and continue to come in handy even as a married person. The wisdom might sound familiar, but it never gets old.

Hopefully as you navigate your own journey through single life (or just life in general), these tips will come in handy for you too.

KNOW YOUR WORTH

Having a sense of your own value is what self-worth is all about. It’s the sum total of your principles, character, attributes, and personal power. Knowing your worth protects you from being exploited, becoming a victim, compromising yourself, or selling out.

RAISE YOUR BAR

Once you know your worth, you can start aiming higher – personally, professionally, and romantically. If you know you deserve better, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Demand it. Especially when it comes to love. Don’t settle for less. Raise your bar and watch the quality of your life improve.

HEAL YOUR WOUNDS

In order to move forward, you’ve got to take a few steps back. I would ask, who hurt you? What’s the source of your pain? What past action or event gave you emotional scar tissue? Don’t take old wounds, grief or anger into your future. Do whatever it takes to heal them now and be free.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

No one’s perfect, we all make mistakes – I’ve made plenty. The key is to apply your newfound wisdom to becoming a better person, parent, partner, whatever. Fucking up isn’t the worst thing in the world – repeating your fuck-ups is.

SET YOUR BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are a lifesaver. I’m talking about saying no, standing up, speaking up, and refusing to take on people’s pain and suffering. When you set clear boundaries, you become your own advocate for self-respect.

FIND YOUR PASSION

The quickest way to take the edge off being single is to get busy. Ask yourself what you love, then pursue it with a passion. Stay social, surround yourself with good friends, volunteer, engage with your world. You’ll create new interests, new relationships, and find new purpose in life.

BE ALONE WITH YOURSELF

While it’s important to stay busy, it’s also important to know how to be alone without freaking out. Get comfortable in your skin; enjoy your own company; and carve out quality alone time. Learn to savor the stillness and you’ll never be lonely again.

TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Having goals is great, but having unrealistic expectations can set you up for disaster. Deepak Chopra describes this as “detaching from the outcome.” Remember, there is power in letting go and surrendering control. You can have aspirations, but beware of having expectations.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

It’s the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling bad, but taking stock of what you have, instead of what’s missing, speeds up the healing process. Dig deep and find some gratitude every day (“I’m grateful for my family, friends, clients, job, health,” etc.) You’ll feel a shift and a lift.

KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

If anything will keep you from losing your shit, it’s keeping your sense of humor. Whether it’s a bad date, a bad breakup, or some other bad news, let it go. It’s just not worth it. Remember to keep your wits (and wit) about you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the single club or a lifelong member. What matters is that you find what works to keep you sane and empowered.

Like I said, being single isn’t always easy, but should you find yourself going through hell, just remember to keep going. It’s a worthy slog.

Required reading and suggestions for singles and non-singles alike

 

The Agony And The Ecstasy: Memories Of Online Dating

shutterstock_242614333Before I got married, I had a love/hate relationship with online dating.

JDate and I had a torrid romance, an on-again, off-again love affair, filled with highs and lows, starts and stops, and plenty of hits and misses. There was never a dull moment for me and JDate; we broke up a million times, but somehow managed to always kiss and make up until I finally kissed it off for good.

Whether you’re on JDate, Match, OkCupid, Bumble, etc., most of you already know internet dating can be fantastic place to meet new people, make new friends, find true love, lift your spirits, boost your ego, or get laid.

Or, it can be living hell if you let it.

Dating online is a lot like a real relationship: when it works out, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, you hate its guts.

So how do you stay in love with internet dating? First, keep reasonable expectations so that you’re never disappointed. Second, don’t take it too seriously. If you don’t roll with the punches, you’ll go from dater to hater faster than a left-swipe on a Tinder dating app.

Looking back, JDate and I had some great times together. We had lots of conversation, coffees, and cocktails, but nothing that involved a real meal since that was too much of a commitment.

Most of my dates were “one and done.” Some lasted longer; some became good friends; and some I think back on and laugh (which is what you need to do with internet dating).

Like the E.R. doctor-turned-actor (always a red flag), who actually lasted for three months – practically a lifetime in the world of online dating. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t so funny.

After weeks of dating and courtship, and spending Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine, he dumped me on New Year’s Eve. Just like that, with no heads-up, no warning, nothing. His reason? He said I was the “marrying type.” He felt bad dating me since he wanted to have fun and I was holding him back.

His timing may have sucked, but at least he wasn’t lying. I saw him back on JDate trolling for more “non-marrying” types the very next day.

There is a fair degree of lying online, I’m sorry to say. Typically, the online dater is 10 years older, 20lbs. heavier, or a few inches shorter than what’s on their profile.

I realized this early on in my online dating foray when I arranged to meet someone for drinks at a popular bar on the ground floor of an office building. It was crowded with after-work business types. Going on my date’s profile picture, I scanned the place but couldn’t see him.

Minutes later, a much older fellow who had been practically right in front of me the whole time, introduced himself. It was my date, but he looked nothing like his profile picture. In fact, he kind of looked like my grandpa.

Not that older men aren’t attractive, they are. So are bald men, short men and chubby men. The problem is that some men (and a lot of women too) feel the need to misrepresent themselves online and don’t have to.

You know what’s attractive? HONESTY.

Sometimes though, they’re not older or heavier or shorter, they’re just jerks – like the aforementioned doctor-turned-actor, and others of his ilk who think internet dating excuses them from bad etiquette.

I remember my very first online date showed up 40 minutes late, without an apology, wearing a bad toupee, and carrying no money on him. The actual “date” last 20 minutes. And when the check came, he laughed glibly and said he “forgot his wallet.” So I paid for my wine (which I was going to do anyway) and beat a gracious, yet hasty retreat.

Then there are the guys online whom you suspect are still married or juggling multiple women. How do you know? Because they text too much. They text all the time, at all hours, and will not pick up the phone to save their life. In lieu of texting, they often times show up on social media to say hi or compliment your new profile pic. Guys like that also use their kids, their jobs, or travel schedule to get out of having to actually speak.

NOTE TO THE LADIES: If you meet a guy online and he prefers to TEXT AND NOT TALK, do yourself a favor and RUN DON’T WALK.

After being on-again, off-again too many times with online dating, I finally called it quits. We broke up for good and went our separate ways. There’d be no more winks, flirts, chemistry tests, or e-cards of any kind. Instead, I threw in the towel, and gave it up to the universe to find the man of my dreams.

And when I wasn’t looking and least expected it, he appeared on Facebook of all places–quite possibly the greatest online dating site of them all.