Dating: Get In, Get Out

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of making friends with lots of lovely single women, many of whom have been married once or twice. Sooner or later their desire to be with a man quickly became the “hot topic” of many of our conversations. Before I knew it, I was the “how to find a man” resource for other women as well. They asked me their questions and I told them no lies. I’ve helped them all from what not to wear to what not to do or say. Being a dating coach of sorts inspired me to create some basic dating principals to help the process along so you know just how to “get in”_. and get out”.

Being single today, especially in the suburbs, is not as glamorous as the “Sex In The City” gals make it out to be. That said, it takes a good friend to tell you the truth and lend a helping hand. Like the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the spirit of dating past, present, and future can all present themselves to you while navigating the dating circuit. You might hear for example, “my ex and I did that years ago”, ” I’m busy on Saturday”, or my personal favorite, “can I let you know tomorrow”?

As a lifestyle expert, I focus on everything in your home, garden, and life. Men are a lot like gardens in that they need nurturing, tender loving care and space in which to grow. If confined, they will eventually feel cramped and unable to reach their full blooming capacity. Women, on the other hand, are like baking a cake. The recipe is complex and all of the ingredients must be there in precise proportions and added in sequence. Miss a step in the baking process and the recipe fails. Miss a step in dating, and the relationship may never bloom.

Are single people looking for love in all the wrong places? Is the emphasis too much on the resources we have rather than the good old-fashioned way of meeting someone”? These days, men cop out by sending a “wink” instead of an email and women delete a profile solely because of a bad picture.

Inspired by these questions, I decided to create a clear-cut action plan as my contribution to the dating conundrum. Here are my personal “Dating 101″ principles making it easier to play the numbers game and help you get in and get out without wasting precious time and energy.

Don’t be a Scrooge:
If you are unhappy with yourself you will never be happy with anyone you meet. Start taking care of yourself first and spend time doing things you love that don’t require anyone else. Once you master your one-on-one time you’ll be ready to share time with others. Being the best “you” you can be will keep you feeling positive and ready for a new relationship.

Honesty is the best policy:
Believe me, I’ve heard it all: men who claim they are 6 feet tall when they have trouble getting something down from the overhead bin on an airplane; women who claim they are 45 years old when they are 55 with a facelift; men who state they live alone when in fact they live with their ex-wife, or better yet, their Mother. Honesty is the best policy and if you ask the right questions you may discover their “white lie” as most people will make a mistake or come clean sooner rather than later. A white lie is still a lie, albeit sugarcoated, thus making it white. This breaks the fundamental dating/life rule that you cannot begin a relationship with a lie. It’s like standing in quicksand. You’ll be able to move but sooner or later you’re going under.

Online dating:
With so many dating web sites on the Internet claiming to help people find the perfect mate one can get a false sense that these sites work by simply posting a profile. Dating web sites should be used as one of several dating tools, not as the only resource to finding love. Many people stretch the truth in their profiles and use old photos in an attempt to make them selves look better than they really are. A lot like a professional resume, it’s very rare to see a bad one.

Let’s begin with photos. One of my friends will delete an email if she doesn’t like the photo or there isn’t one. Let’s face it ladies, you can’t judge a man by his poor photo alone as most men can’t take or tell what’s a good or a bad photo unless another woman took it for them. Women, on the other hand, pay more attention to how they look in photos. So, if you choose to post a photo it should be tasteful with no other people in the photo with you, especially a former spouse or lover. And men, if you think going shirtless is cool, regardless if you’re on the beach or on a boat”_NOT. It’s just wrong on so many levels.

Don’t drink and wink. Many people make the mistake of searching for a mate late at night after a cocktail or two. Bad move. Everyone sounds better and looks more attractive after a few drinks. The morning after, you might be surprised at the emails you get.

Once you’ve identified a candidate, limit your emails to one or two then follow up with a telephone dialog. Remember, you don’t need a pen pal if it’s a long lasting relationship you’re looking for. Spending days and weeks going back and forth by email is better left to teenagers. After a few quick and to the point emails, set up a time to speak. You can learn a great deal about someone while on the phone. Ask questions, talk about your life and lifestyle, kids, etc. From there, if the phone persona is to your liking, make plans to meet for coffee. I love the idea of meeting at a bookstore with a coffee shop. It’s a safe public place and provides an easy way to get in and get out if necessary with plenty of witnesses. There’s also plenty to read in case you get stood up and no one is the wiser.

Online serial dating:
Trying to communicate with lots of people at one time is like trying to keep a lot of balls in the air. Very few can manage it successfully. It can be difficult to keep track of who is who and what you said to whom. Unless you keep meticulous notes, you’ll mess up. I recommend keeping your search small by knowing what you’re looking for and narrowing the parameters of your search. For example, start with a small age range and geographic area. If it doesn’t pan out, then widen your search.

No photo:
Some of the best candidates for dating won’t have a photo due to a variety of reasons both personal and professional. If you choose not to post a photo, state “I’ll be happy to forward a photo to you upon request”. Give these candidates a try by asking for a photo? This also makes for the perfect opening line.

Do a spell check:
No matter what source of communication you use, if you don’t know how to spell a word correctly, learn how to spell it or don’t use it. “A lot” is two words, people. I see that mistake over and over again. Also, never type your profile in all capital letters or all small letters. You’re either screaming or whispering. Either way, it says that you don’t care about how you present yourself or that you are too busy to care. Try writing your profile on a word document then cutting and pasting it into your profile after you have done a spelling check. Always have a brutally honest, good friend read your profile before you post it. Ask for feedback and be prepared to accept whatever they have to say and make the necessary changes.

Don’t wear any rings:
Women are always looking for a wedding ring and men get confused about which hand is the wedding hand. If you are single and looking to date your chances increase if you’re not wearing any rings of any kind. It’s just confusing for a lot of people. The wedding finger is the left in the U.S. and on the right in many places around the world. If you love that family ring put it away until you have met someone. Doing this precludes the possibility that someone will misread the opportunity to meet you thinking you may be attached. And if you are married, well then, in my opinion, don’t add to the confusion wear a ring!

Who pays?
Women want men to pay. Any questions? If they don’t they will tell you.

The first real date (after coffee):
I’ve heard this time after time from many women, “we had such a great first date, what happened”. Too much too soon is what happened! Men that are looking for a serious relationship don’t want a drinking buddy. Staying up to all hours of the night may be fun for both of you but will never get you a long lasting relationship.

The “one foot on the banana peel” syndrome:
Before starting a new relationship or even looking for one, one needs to let go of an old relationship. If it worked, you wouldn’t be looking for a new one. Whether it be a divorce or break-up you can’t seriously be available for someone new until you are over the previous one. If you are still seeing, thinking about or worse sleeping with someone, you can’t honestly be available to someone else unless you get out completely. The idea of remaining friends is great but somewhat tricky. Circle back later for the friendship. You’re on a mission.

Too much too soon:
Everyone has personal baggage but how we carry it and when we “spill” differs from person to person. You know what I’m talking about. Ever been standing in line waiting for your coffee when someone starts talking to you and before you know it, you realize that you’ve got way too much information. Keep your baggage under lock and key until you feel safe. Then you can open up and share your deepest and most personal experiences. Spilling your guts on a first or even second date is frightening. Rather than getting in and getting, they will run!

Whether you have been dating for years, just beginning or looking to date sometime in the near future what you need to know is all here. Have fun and go with your gut. And remember, it’s a numbers game and there’s a lid for every can.

Now “get in and get out” with your eyes and heart wide open.

And there you have it.