Articles on Dating and Relationships
Online Dating KEEP IT SIMPLE!
The search for the right partner
Dating rules have changed; time to update your skills!
To Bed or Not to Bed: The Big Question
We don't survive in isolation
Meet your on-line date
Handsome men evolved thanks to picky females
We're all love addicts
Love and Chocolate are the same to your brain!
Pretty women scramble men's ability to assess the future
Sex more likely during women's fertile phase
Men's murky motives for romance
Body Language - Do's and dont's
Hormones converge for couples in love
Women marry men who look like dad
Secret Signals - What is it that makes you irresistible - or a total turn-off?
Spiritual Growth as a Journey
• Dawn Brown - Spiritual Growth as a Journey
• Dr. Iris Jackson - The search for the right partner
• Luke De Sadeleer - We don't survive in isolation
• Madeline Dietrich – To Bed or Not to Bed: The Big Question
• Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
In most cases online dating can be a successful means to finding your partner provided you follow these basic guidelines:
You need to be searching for someone in your area; someone you can date regularly if your initial communication has been successful. If you live in Ottawa and are emailing with someone in Vancouver, what are the chances that you’ll ever meet? Or if you meet after a few months of an “online relationship” what are the chances you establish and sustain this relationship in the real world? Don’t be tempted to contact someone too far away even if they have the greatest profile, and a picture that has dazzled you!
Meet them in person within the first one or two weeks of your first communication. Your goal is to see them, hear them, talk to them and observe their body language. All this input will help you decide if there may be a potential for a relationship, and if you want to go out on a second date. This is no different from being introduced by your niece to her neighbor, or having a blind date through a colleague or a friend. Stop emailing anyone who continuously postpones meeting with you. You should doubt their motivation, motives, personality and goals. If someone tells you, after a week or two of email exchange, that they need more time emailing with you to get to know you before they’ll meet with you in person, assume they may not be ready to meet with you at all. For some people creating on-line relationships is often all they can or want to do. Don’t fall into the trap of investing your time and feelings in building a “relationship” based on email or on-line chats.
Going out on a date with someone you met online is important because it provides a romantic opportunity. And after all, you are looking for a romantic connection, not a platonic friendship! People often develop romantic expectations and even become attached romantically to someone they have met on the Internet but never in real life. Romance can only be substantiated face to face, between two real people. To sense whether an opportunity for romance exists you must meet him or her, and the sooner the better. Do not get emotionally involved with a person you have never met!
Dating on-line should be handled as a technical process up until your first date:
You see someone’s photo and like what you see. Now don’t click to send them a message as yet. Take time to read their profile. Try to get as much information as you can from the person’s profile. Often what they don’t say is much stronger than what they do say. Read between the lines. Look for areas of possible compatibility. Are your goals similar? Do you have some common interests? Activities you can share? You want to find someone whose personality and lifestyle appeal to you no less than their looks.
Be careful not to become obsessed with searching. It’s easy to scroll through 10-15 profiles, but it takes you nowhere. Rather decide what it is that you are looking for in a mate, and once you’ve found someone suitable contact them. Then go do something else. Do not become an on-line hermit. It will sabotage your social life, and may also affect your wellbeing.
You exchange a few emails within a week, talk on the phone soon after; then meet in person. No more than two weeks unless outer circumstances dictate otherwise (one of you out of town etc.).
Meeting your on-line date for the first time in person is exciting, although unfortunately too often disappointing. The reason why it can be disappointing is that most people build up expectations at the very initial stage of searching. They read something in the profile, and get carried away with their romantic aspirations which usually are completely unfounded in reality. This is why spontaneous encounters have a much better chance of success. When you don’t know anything about a person beforehand, you don’t have expectations, and your impression is based on the real interaction between the two of you. You are free from pre-conceived ideas.
Assign only a short time for your first date. An hour to two hours is enough. Agree in advance on the time frame, and stick with it even if you’re having a great time. It is a wonderful feeling to leave wanting more. A quiet café or pub is better than a noisy place where you can hardly hear each other.
Other risk areas when dating online include:
Focusing on searching instead of finding
Attracting frivolous matches and creating a superficial process of communication
Dating more than one person simultaneously
Ignoring datiquette (socially accepted dating behaviour)
Copyright 2011 The Single Option. All Rights Reserved
Spiritual Growth as a Journey
By Dawn Brown
When we’re single, we’re tempted, in times of loneliness and difficulty, to believe that all the pain would go away if only there was someone in our life. It’s easier for us to wait for someone else to answer our needs than to realize that this is an opportunity to address our needs ourselves. Spiritual growth occurs when we become aware of those needs, try to understand them, and attempt at making some changes in our approach to life. This process of looking inside our spirit, investigating the meaning of life’s ups and downs, and understanding their effect on us, is work we do at the spiritual level. The spiritual path is simply the journey of living our lives in awareness.
We seem to have it all, and yet we sadly wonder if that’s all there is. Once we recognize that there is an inner emptiness or loneliness that a lover cannot fill, then we are ready to begin the journey.
I have a wonderful friend who has the house, the cars, the trip - and relationships that don’t seem to go anywhere. He’s convinced that if he had that special someone, his life would have more meaning. So he continues to fill it with external toys and desperate relationships that leave him even emptier. He sees the inner work that is part of the spiritual path as a waste of time. He is confident that his fulfillment will come from external sources. But it is our spiritual growth that makes us whole, and this wholeness allows us to make room for others in our lives. We’re encouraged not to shop on an empty stomach because our hunger causes us to buy everything in sight - so how can we look for a life partner patiently when we’re so hungry for love that we could accept just anyone?
The spiritual journey has to be taken alone - no one can walk along our spiritual path for us. As we grow, we are able to reach out to others from a position of inner strength. Miraculously, this strength attracts people and situations to our lives that enrich us, challenge us, and spur further growth. So while we must do the work on our own, we’re never truly alone. Along the way we meet fellow travelers who enter our lives and stay for varying lengths of time. When the time is right and we’ve learnt what we can from each other, they move on from our lives.
In his book A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield emphasizes that it’s essential for us to realize that the spiritual process is not about possessing people or things. It is about spiritual joy and wisdom that “do not come through possession but rather through our capacity to open, to love more fully, and to move and be free in life.” His observation captures exactly why spiritual growth is a process as well as a journey. How many of us keep our hearts open, love unconditionally, and feel free all the time? We’re all works in progress, and that means that there will be times when we may seem to pause, take detours or backtrack. This is where we need to be gentle with ourselves and find the non-judgmental inner voice that patiently encourages us to continue on the journey.
Being able to listen to our inner voice is essential to this process. Sanaya Roman, author of Spiritual Growth, describes spiritual growth as a journey of self-discovery, on which you grow through “connecting with your Higher Self and to a Higher Power - the God/Goddess within and without, Christ, Allah, Buddha, the All-That-Is.” One way of contacting your Higher Self is to imagine that you have an inner wise teacher or guide. As you access and communicate with your inner power and trust the messages you receive, you will experience the wisdom of that voice - until more and more it is who you are. You know you have connected with your Higher Self when your dealings with yourself and others come from your heart. Like most spiritual teachers, Sanaya emphasizes that enlightenment is not a place where you stop growing and are perfect. There will always be higher and higher levels for us to reach throughout our lives. But first, getting on the spiritual path will ensure that we develop our inner connection and have the tools and resources to deal with the challenges we meet along the way.
Years ago, visiting a friend’s cottage, I got up early in the morning to meditate by the lake. As I was finishing, another guest returned from a long canoe ride and said that wished he could meditate like me. I asked him what his morning had been like - and as he described the peace he had felt on the water, and his connection with the trees and wildlife he had seen, it became clear to him that he had indeed been meditating! As Iyanla Venzant, author of Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind, remarked, “We’re not finding God in the places that we’ve been taught to look for him.”
There are many paths one can take on this journey of opening our hearts, and they all lead to the same destination. I’ve had conversations with friends who have tried to convince me that their particular path is the way. Do not be sidetracked by such talk. Spirituality doesn’t mean that one size fits all. Don’t be afraid to explore different approaches until you find one that resonates with your soul. This takes time, so be patient with yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to question teachings that seem repressive or oppressive and do not contribute to your growth as a spiritual being. Find the path that touches your soul, keep an open mind, do your individual work.
Try to learn through joy. We can learn through joy or pain, but many of my earlier lessons were learned through pain. As I travelled my spiritual path, though, more and more of my lessons became so easy that they were a pleasure. I’ve also learned humility. Whenever I’ve taken my progress for granted, the rug has been pulled from under me so swiftly that the pain was unexpected. I realized that my arrogance had made me think that I could travel alone, without acknowledging the presence of my Higher Power that is always with me.
In one of her lectures Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love, described a relationship that brought her to her knees, it was so devastating. And yet she credits this with helping her go through what she calls “spiritual surrender.” When you’re forced to acknowledge that all your own smarts and best efforts haven’t prevented you from getting to a place that’s so painful, you know there must be a better way. That is when we are truly ready to take the next step in our spiritual growth.
The spiritual path is simply the journey of living our lives. “Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don’t know it,” says Williamson. There is a loving purpose in everything we think and do, and some situations and people come into our lives to remind us of this. Certainly relationships provide a major classroom for us to learn about love. Whether the relationships are with family members, spouses, partners, friends, or colleagues - they challenge us to keep our hearts open, to love unconditionally without expectations, and keep our sense of freedom. Williamson points out that all relationships are assignments in which “each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love.”
Williamson is also one of the teachers of the program A Course In Miracles which maintains that our greatest growth comes from seeing relationships as a learning milieu as opposed to a battleground (of anguish, attack, and pain). She compares spiritual progress to detoxification, a process in which things have to come up in order to be released, and our unhealed issues are forced to the surface to be healed. Our relationships actually bring much of our existential pain to the surface. I once spoke to an employee about her work performance and got a long story about how her mother corrected her when she was growing up - so she didn’t like being told what to do. A friend once told me about taking an instant dislike to a man because he reminded her of her father. However after getting to know him, she realized that her perceptions had to do with her, and not with him. Relationships challenge us to use compassion, acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves and others.
There is an old saying that the world would be clean if everyone swept their own doorstep. So it is with spiritual work. We don’t have to save anyone else or do their spiritual work for them. As we accept responsibility for our own growth and life issues, this self-acceptance extends to accepting others. The search for emotional stability begins within. This is not selfish: reaching out to others from a position of inner strength, instead of weakness, is the kindest gift we can give others. Then we don’t need to clutch, grab or manipulate them to be who we want them to be and to get our needs met. When our relationship with ourselves is healthy, we will attract healthy people and healthy situations into our lives. That’s the challenge of our personal journeys.
Dawn Brown, M.Ed. (Counseling) has over 25 years experience as a psychotherapist, teacher and coach specializing in relationship and life transitions. Dawn is an international speaker, and author of two books: "That Perception Thing!" (2002) and "Been There, Done That…Now What?" (2006). She is the proud recipient of the 2006 YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award, Learning for Life category. www.perceptionshift.com
Dr Iris Jackson, C. Psychologist – The Search for the Right Partner
Single people often have a strong core belief (whether they would admit it or not) that there is only one right person for him or her and “all the good ones are taken”. Many singles take an extreme position in the search for a life partner. Some focus on finding the compatible mate, refusing to see anyone who does not meet their criteria because they would be wasting their time. Others have withdrawn from the dating game stating that destiny alone will bring them their mate with no additional work on their part. Clearly, the singles most successful in finding a long-term intimate relationship have a belief system that lies in the middle ground.
The best long-term intimate relationships usually start from a basis of friendship. Thus, it is important not to wait for destiny to send you the right person. We are likely romantically compatible with about 10% of the people we meet. Therefore we need to meet many people before finding a small number of potential partners. Thus, dating services, singles clubs and special interest activities are useful ways to develop friendships out of which a small number will have the potential for romance. In the process, we can develop a network of friends who can bring support and interesting interactions into our lives.
People used to find friends and partners in their workplace. Recently, the potential for conflicts of interest and harassment charges has chilled the atmosphere at work. Thus, many people have a personal policy of not dating their coworkers. However, maintaining contact with people whom you liked at former workplaces can lead to deepening friendships and potential partnerships with people no longer subject to the restrictions inherent in being coworkers or in the work hierarchy.
A creative way of expanding your friendship network is to organize a dinner party in a restaurant, to which you invite two of your single friends, and ask them to invite two friends they know but whom you do not know. They ask their friends to also invite two friends that your friends don’t know. At the dinner, everyone knows two people and meets for the first time four new people. The dinner party has seven people, a manageable number for socializing. Balancing genders helps men and women meet each other. Because you start with two people you like, and ask them to invite people they like, the chances are that the group will be pleasant and interesting to all.
Developing the friendship first allows you to really get to know the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. There are no perfect people, and most people are quite open initially about what their limitations are, if we listen carefully. Unfortunately, most of us ignore those warning signals only to realize later that the person may have faults with which we would have difficulty living. As we assess whether a friendship can become romantic, we need to ask ourselves “is this a problem that I can live with or not?” Different people will have different responses to the range of human limitations that we all have. For example, a friend of mine cannot live with a man whom she determines is excessively financially frugal. However, another woman might be reassured that her partner would never overspend and that he would always have a lot of savings.
We need to become aware of the warning signs for relationships that are bad for us. If we feel nervous, anxious and confused, the relationship is probably unhealthy for us. A healthy romantic relationship is calming, soothing and stabilizing. Of course, there is excitement in being infatuated with someone. However, there is a difference between excitement and panic! Healthy romantic attachment is fulfilling and does not deplete us. Healthy love makes us feel safe enough to be open, vulnerable and self-disclosing, not protective and defensive. When we are in a good relationship, we trust the other and enjoy time spent with the other person and time spent alone. Balance is the key to a healthy romantic relationship. If you are feeling off-centre and off-balance, the difficulty may lie in the choice of partner. Honestly ask yourself whether the imbalance is self-generated (fear of intimacy) or a warning sign about the other person. Healthy love gets easier to sustain over time, while an unhealthy relationship requires increasing effort to sustain it over time. While all relationships require time, effort, energy and planning, there should be joy in doing these things, not fear. We cannot love anyone we fear.
Some relationships are actually emotionally abusive. Jealousy, possessiveness and over-controlling behaviour are signals that a relationship is becoming abusive. If your partner is isolating you from friends and family and demanding an ongoing account of your whereabouts and activities, he or she is too controlling and domineering. Threats of violence, denigrating putdowns and name-calling are all abusive behaviour. Driving recklessly or too fast and ignoring pleas to slow down are abusive. Pursuing a person to continue the argument after the other has said he/she wants a time out or sleep, is abusive. Spending all the money, using up all the resources such as food, gas in the car, and so on, is domineering and can be abusive. These behaviours are often part of a pattern of insecure attachment to the other, and warrants professional help.
Violence directed toward the partner, dominant physical restraint and death threats are all considered to be serious warning signs about life-threatening violence. While leaving such a partner is scary and dangerous, it is important to have somewhere safe to go. Fortunately, very few relationships end up in such serious trouble.
There is no substitute for getting to know the other person well and taking time in developing the relationship slowly. Facing the reality of whom the other person really is, and who we really are in the context of that relationship is very important. Ask yourself if your partner brings out the best in you, or are you becoming someone you don’t want to be. Given all the fine single people in the world, you can find someone who contributes to your personal growth, as you do to his or hers.
Dr. Jackson is the founding psychologist of Gilmour Psychological Services in Ottawa, and sees adults in individual and couples counselling, and does psychological assessments. See the GPS website at www.ottawa-psychologists.com
By Luke De Sadeleer - We Don't Survive in Isolation
Our society tends to focus on couples and can sometimes neglect the needs of the single person. I want to reinforce the fact that human beings need to be involved in close relationships with others, although at times it may certainly feel that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
But the many rewards of being in a healthy relationship justify the efforts we may need to make in order to get us to a better starting point on the road to happier relationships.
I will admit that I did not always have this opinion. During my early years as a practicing psychotherapist, when I used to conduct singles’ workshops, I actually promoted independence. One of the statements I made back then went: “Anyone who has not developed sufficient strength to live alone under-contributes to any relationship.” My interpretation was that we had to learn to be happy alone, so that we would not be so desperate in a relationship.
Fortunately, it did not take me long to realize that the requirement for living a fulfilling single life is more importantly about developing our capacity for self-love, self-confidence and self-worth. The truth is that if you want love in your life, you have to be able to give it to yourself first. This inner strength will contribute to your ability to care for others as well as yourself, and will enable you to develop and nurture caring relationships.
We should not isolate ourselves but seek out caring relationships. It is a fact that people who have richer relationships enjoy better health.
Much research has been done on attachment and loss. These studies demonstrate that dependence on others is not a sign of immaturity or dysfunction – it is a natural part of the human condition in crisis times. And how wonderful it is when you need someone to support you – they are by your side.
The key to emotional and physical health is interdependence. We start our lives as infants, totally dependent on others. As we mature, we become independent, developing our capacity for self-love and self-reliance. Eventually we discover that we all depend mutually on each other for our well-being – and when we can contribute to a relationship from a place of love and confidence in ourselves we become interdependent.
Unfortunately, there are still too many people in our North American culture who see independence as the solution to their social problems. Statements such as: “I don’t need anybody; I do just fine on my own” obstruct our view of reality.
Research shows that this lifestyle may be the cause of a shorter lifespan. As Dean Ornish points out in his book Love and Survival: “Dozens of studies demonstrate that solitary people have a vastly increased rate of premature death from all causes; they are three to five times likelier to die early than people with ties to a caring spouse, family or community.”
I strongly suggest that as you acquire the ability to love yourself and care for others, you make an effort not to isolate yourself. Instead, seek out other caring people. Become involved in your community. Get to know your neighbors. Join a social club or any organization that brings people together.
Perhaps now you can understand why I believe that we need relationships. Being emotionally connected to other caring people not only extends your life span and contributes to your well-being; it brings joy to your life.
Luke De Sadeleer, M.Ed, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Ottawa. He's the author of the best-seller Vitamin C for Couples: Seven "C"s for a Healthy Relationship. Readers are invited to send their questions or comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:The Couples Coach, 1889 Baseline Rd., Suite 301, Ottawa, ON, K2C 0C7. You can visit his website at www.thecouplescoach.com
Madeline Dietrich – To Bed or Not to Bed: The Big Question
Deciding whether and when to become sexually intimate with a new partner is a significant crossroads in a relationship. Examine these few scenarios:
You’ve been out on a couple of dates with someone you’ve recently met. It’s not love at first sight, but you think he/she’s kind of sexy and has some endearing ways. You’re interested, and it feels as though there could be possibilities.
You’ve fallen madly in love (or in lust). The decision is easy: you want her/him!
Lately, you’ve been seeing more someone who has been a casual friend before, and the connection is beginning to take on a different tone. You’re wondering if there might be some real relationship potential and whether you should take a more sexual direction.
You’ve been single for a while and you’re enjoying your freedom – but you’d like a little sexual companionship, without too much commitment.
You’ve just come out of a significant relationship, and you’re feeling lonely and at a loose end. You think a new affair could be just the ticket.
There are probably many more situations you can think of. But every time you need to make a decision about getting physically intimate it can be easy or challenging – depending on some factors.
First is where you’re at in your life right now regarding relationships. Before you get intimate with someone, try to be as clear about this as you can. Be honest with yourself. What are your hopes and expectations for this relationship? Are you really invested in it, or do you just want to add a little excitement to your life or perhaps need an outlet to distract you from the weightier issues of your life? Are you just testing the waters, or are you ready to commit?
Then consider the situation from the other person’s perspective. Why does he/she want to have sex with you? What are her/his hopes and expectations? Remember to evaluate the other person in terms of who he/she really is (as far as you can determine at this early stage of the relationship), rather than in terms of who you would like him or her to be. Try to be objective; often a good friend can help with giving their perspective.
If you’re clear about your needs and wishes for your life right now, and if you have a good idea about the other person’s expectations and hopes, you’ll be a lot closer to making a good decision.
Are you ready for sexual intimacy?
What do you want from a relationship right now?
Does this person seem to answer some of your needs/wishes?
What are their expectations of the relationship?
Do you have a sense of their sensual style? Does it suit yours?
How are you doing with communicating your basic needs and wants to each other?
Let’s take another look at those scenarios above. In the first one, it’s obvious that you need more time to get to know each other. With the second, because you’re madly in love, you’re also much more vulnerable. If the other person is equally in love with you, that’s great as sex could add a wonderful dimension to your relationship. But if he or she seems to have reservations, you would probably want to wait before going to bed with this person.
What about the other scenarios? Check them over and try to guess what your advice to those couples would be: should they get sexually involved, should they hold off? Then try to dispassionately examine your own personal situation. Objectively speaking, should you or not?
Here are some other factors you might want to consider:
What does sex mean to you? For some, the quality of the sexual experience is really important. For others, sex is less of an issue - not because you’re undiscriminating, but because other aspects of the relationship matter more to you: the closeness you feel after sex, for example.
Are you going to have good sex with this person? The fact that there’s a strong sexual attraction between you doesn’t necessarily mean the sex will be great. If you’re wondering how to determine ahead of time if it’s going to work out sexually. some people say it’s all in the kiss. If the kiss doesn’t do it for you, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the experience. Observe how you dance together – it’s been said that dancing is like making love standing up, with your clothes on! Watch how the other person eats, too – that’s probably as good an indicator of sensual style as anything. Think about it, would you prefer to be wolfed down, or savoured?
Being able to communicate is really essential. How do you negotiate your time together? Do you want to visit your friends at their cottage, but your partner prefers to snuggle in bed with you all weekend long? Do you want to take in a movie, while he/she would rather go to a restaurant? (Which movie? Which restaurant?) How much time do you each want to spend together? How comfortable are you saying “no,” and how does he/she deal with that? These are some of the communication fundamentals to consider before trying to navigate the sexual terrain.
Remember too that sex doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair. A foot massage, taking a hot tub together, or any other sensual activity can be just as rewarding as full intercourse, yet less stress-inducing than having sex too soon. But if you decide not to have full intercourse for now, it’s important to important to stick to it -- since engaging in sensual activities can often tempt one to ignore that decision! It helps to clearly communicate to your partner that "play" is in fact all you want -- no matter how passionate it may get.
A final thought: try to be responsible. That doesn’t just mean doing your best to make sure the other person isn’t a psychopath, and always practising safe sex. It also means being as honest and decent with the other person as you can, while still looking after your own needs. The old adage “do unto others” applies here. Proceed gently.
Madeline Dietrich is a holistic psychotherapist. She has an MA in psychology and is a clinical member of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists. She has 15 years experience working with individuals, couples, and groups on a variety of issues including relationship and sexuality. Her work is guided by her belief that sexual well-being is an essential component of healthy self-development. Her web address is www.madelinedietrich.com
Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist, and sex therapist and educator.
Dr. Kleinplatz is a clinical psychologist, board certified sex therapist (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists as well as Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counseling of Ontario) and certified sex educator.
Since 1983, she has been teaching Human Sexuality at the School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, where she was awarded the Prix d'Excellence in 2000. She also teaches Sex Therapy at the affiliated Saint Paul University's Institute of Pastoral Studies.
Dr. Kleinplatz deals with sexual issues in individual, couples and group therapy. Her work focuses on eroticism and transformation. She has also contributed in this field by publishing a book that is intended to combat the increasing medicalization of human sexuality by providing cutting-edge, therapy paradigms for clinicians of every kind.
New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives
by Peggy J., Ph.D. Kleinplatz
Released: 01 March, 2001
Dr.Peggy Kleinplatz can be contacted at (613) 563-0846
More links on learning about dating and relationships
Who is My "Perfect Partner?" Read about the fascinating Imago relationship theory and take a test (at the bottom of the url).