Friday, February 14, 2014

Could You Fall in Love with Someone You’ve Never Met?

If you’ve been online looking for love, you’ve probably heard of the term Catfish. Maybe you’ve even seen the MTV show.
If you’re like me, you’ve thought people were crazy when you heard stories about them falling in love and even mortgaging their house or putting themselves into debt to give money away all for a man or woman they have never met.
They say until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you’re not in a position to judge.
Well, as a veteran relationship coach, I actually walked a few yards in those shoes, and thankfully I’m now in a unique position to hopefully prevent it from ever happening to you.

It’s easier to fall for than you may think.

I know I have a lot to offer someone, so I’m fairly picky about whom I find interesting. Searching online can seem a lot like questing for a needle in a haystack, but it has worked wonderfully for me in the past.
When I found “Jack,” I was definitely intrigued. He was handsome and had lots of pictures. He was tall, successful and expressed himself beautifully.
His profile portrayed him as a true romantic who believed “honesty and truthfulness are two of the greatest virtues anybody can have.”
Integrity is what I value most in a man, and OkCupid said we were 91 percent match and only 1 percent enemy. I sent him an email expressing that.

Click here to read the rest of this article on  Donna was a guest blogger for the all-inclusive dating resource site whose experts dispense wisdom on 'all things dating' through how-to-articles, informational studies, reviews, reader questions and more! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why you shouldn't cyber-stalk your ex

Young adults are having a hard time moving on post breakup.
A new report from the Pew Research Center finds nearly half (47%) of twentysomethings, ages 18-to-29, admit to “checking up” on their exes on social media, including Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). Only 31% of this same age group say they post details or pictures from a date.Those ages 30 to 49 were checking up on exes less frequently at 31%, compared to 16% of those ages 50 to 64, and 7% of those aged 65 and up.
It can be understandable that former flames would want to know what their exes are up to, but dating experts say this habit can make it harder to move on.
The popularity of cyber snooping on exes has grown because it’s easy to do and doesn’t leave a paper trail, says dating coach Donna Barnes.
“The lure is just overpowering because it’s just so easy,” Barnes says. “There is hope that you will feel better if you do this, but it rarely has that feeling.” She adds that most exes aren’t looking to make sure the other person is faring well,  and it’s more about a competition to see who appears to be in the lead post-breakup.
“People play games intentionally posting things solely for their ex to see, hoping they are still looking and will see it,” she says. “It is really destructive, and I always tell my clients not to do this. You can’t move on if you are still focused on this. It’s not pleasant information; you will probably see the love of your life married someone else. You keep yourself addicted to that person.”
The amount of time we spend in front of a computer makes it tempting to do a quick search on a former significant other, so Barnes offers some simple advice to tale away the enticement:  de-friend all exes.
For those that still have the urge, think about what would happen if the person found out about the actions. Barnes says if checking up couldn’t be done anonymously, most people wouldn’t do it.
“I think people take comfort in the fact that they can look at someone’s page and that person will have no idea,” she says. “There is safety in anonymity.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

How To Have Healthy Boundaries In Relationships

How many times have you been upset with someone and intended to tell him or her about it, only to have your resolve weaken once you were face-to-face?

Then, instead of maintaining your power, you allowed the other person to dominate the situation. You got caught up in his or her energy and ignored your own intention, allowing your boundaries to collapse.
We teach people how to treat us. If someone disrespects you and you allow it to happen without saying anything, you’ve just taught him or her that it is acceptable behavior and that he or she can continue to behave that way. That person will indeed continue to do so until he or she loses respect for you and leaves. If you overreact and tell that person off, you’ve taught him or her that you’re not in control of your power.
If that person likes drama, he or she will continue to disrespect you, hoping to engage you in future scenes, thus creating a dysfunctional relationship. If someone is healthy, he or she will see your outburst as a huge red flag. He or she will lose interest and move on. However, if you calmly express what was not okay with you and request how you’d like to be treated in the future, you’ll command respect. If you don’t get respect, then you should lose interest and walk away.
Having healthy boundaries means knowing your inner feelings, wants, needs, and limits, as well as fulfilling and enforcing them without hurting others. That means finding your true self and protecting it, no matter what, without needing anyone else’s approval. Enforcing healthy boundaries means not letting anyone else change what you know is right for you.
Donna is now making advice videos for Digital Romance TV

Friday, October 4, 2013

What NOT To Do After A Good First Date

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories recently about bad behavior after a good first date. So I thought it might be worth writing about what is inappropriate, lacking in boundaries, or even down right creepy.

Here are a few actual situations (with the names changed to protect privacy).

1. Inappropriate

At the end of a good first date Brian kissed Diana good night. It wasn’t a passionate kiss, in fact when he tried to use his tongue she pulled back and closed her lips. She liked him, and said she would go out with him again; but she wasn’t thoroughly attracted to him yet.
The next morning he sent her this text, “Good morning Diana, I’m still tasting your kisses…Mmm”
Diana didn’t reply.  She called me to say, “Eww gross!”  She was completely turned off.
Brian’s words were inappropriate given the level of intimacy they had currently achieved. Diana felt sexualized. She had enjoyed his company and found him intriguing; therefore such an explicit text seemed out of context. She lost respect for him—and he lost the opportunity for a second date.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard something like that.  I don’t know what the men are thinking by talking about kissing when they really haven’t yet, but women don’t like it.

2. Lack of Boundaries

David didn’t even wait till the first date was over before he got overly familiar. His date, Kelly, pulled out her phone to show him a picture. As she searched for the image he started looking over her shoulder and asked, “Who’s the muscly guy taking a selfie?”
That was probably an attempt at humor, but it came off as huge red flag that he is jealous and possessive, maybe even controlling.  It’s none of his business who is on her phone; he shouldn’t have even been looking.
Kelly left her phone on the table though she ignored it when it made a soft noise (indicating she got an email). David said, “Somebody’s trying to reach you.”
Until you’re in an exclusive relationship there should be a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. It’s none of your business who the other person sees, speaks to, knows, or has pictures of.  And even after you are exclusive, his or her phone is private personal property.

3. Down Right Creepy

Lisa was excited to meet Nick for drinks. It was their first date but they had initially met at an event where they’d spoken and got to know each other a bit. She really liked him. They both had crazy busy schedules so the only time they could both be available was for just an hour at 11pm (that’s fairly normal in Manhattan). Lisa had an early morning meeting and made it clear she would turn into a pumpkin at midnight.
I guess that gave Nick the impression he had to act fast, because within two minutes of Lisa’s arrival Nick had his hands all over her.  He tried to go up her skirt, and grabbed at her chest.  A few minutes later he actually took her hand and put it on his crotch! Lisa was trying to have fun with him but she was absolutely freaked out.
Then he started blowing up her phone.  He sent four texts later that night, called at 6:30am, and sent sexually suggestive texts all day long—for three days.  Lisa called me in a panic asking how to make him stop. She was scared to tell him he was coming on too strong, she was afraid of how he might behave if he got angry.
If you have a good date and he or she seems to like you, slow the pace of communication and intimacy.

Here are my suggestions:

  • call or text two or three times a week is normal.
  • Don’t call or text before 10am or after 8pm.
  • Assume that he or she is dating other people.  
  • If you left a message or sent a text wait for a response before communicating again.
  • If you haven’t had sex then don’t send anything sexual (including kissing) in writing.
  • Less is more for the first few dates.
I believe the man should initiate all communication, but you can respond as soon as you want.  If you’re looking for an emotionally intimate relationship then you want someone who is communicative. If a person is turned off by healthy communication, you don’t want that person anyway.
This colunm was written for Digital Romance Inc.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Instinct Or Paranoia? How To Tell…

Photo: "How do you feel when your partner isn’t with you? Do you worry about who he or she may potentially meet, or might be spending time with? Do you need constant contact and reassurance of his or her feelings for you?" Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships do you feel when your partner isn’t with you? Do you worry about who he or she may potentially meet, or might be spending time with? Do you frequently call or text to check-up? Do you need constant contact and reassurance of his or her feelings for you?

How can you know whether you have good instincts that you should trust, or you’re just paranoid and ruining what could be a good thing? Well, unless you’ve chosen to be with a player or known philanderer, it’s most likely your insecurity that’s creating your suspicions.
Paranoia is cancerous to relationships. If you’re afraid your partner doesn’t want you as much as you want him , you’ll usually start to reject him out of insecurity, or you may become needy and smothering—hanging on for dear life.

Common paranoid actions:

  1. Reject when you feel rejected. Putting up an emotional wall to protect yourself that prevents you from getting close to someone you truly want.
  2. Compete with him or her to prove your worth and show you’re good enough.
  3. Manipulate by using guilt or blame, or by playing the victim.
  4. Sabotage by creating arguments over nothing or acting out.
  5. Jealous of others that you perceive your partner finds more attractive—which only makes you less appealing.
  6. Joined at the hip. You want to do everything together and don’t trust him or her out of your sight.
  7. You keep your thoughts, needs, and desires to yourself because you fear that if he really knew you, he wouldn’t love you.
All of these actions, conscious or not, drain your energy because they put your happiness in the hands of someone else. When you succumb to your fears by taking insecure action, the result is usually what you fear most: you push him away and he leaves you. Alternately, when you choose to face your fears and accept responsibility for them, you can gain wisdom to make your relationships better.
Start by trying to pinpoint the source of your insecurity. When you catch yourself getting all worked up and wanting to react to something you think is going on…stop! Ask yourself what the facts are. Only respond to what is actually going on, not what you think or fear is happening.
Don’t confuse a pre-programmed response to your own baggage for an instinct. You have to know yourself. Are you highly jealous? Do you hate to be alone? Need a lot of attention? Perhaps you just don’t feel desirable enough. If you’ve been burned before, you’re most likely gun-shy and reacting to your current partner as you did to your ex. Or maybe you have a tendency to cheat, in which case you’re projecting your own behavior on him or her.
Whatever it is, it’s not fair—or healthy. You need to stay in the moment and only react to the reality in front of you. Don’t make everything personal and assume it’s about you. It’s usually not, and that’s ok. Don’t rush things, be patent. You have to stop trying to controlanyone else; you can only control yourself. In all probability the thing making you jealous is low self-esteem. If you don’t truly feel lovable, how can you possibly believe or trust anyone who says he or she loves you?
FDR very wisely said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I could devote an entire book to the symptoms and resolutions of every fear that gets in the way of healthy relationships (Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships describes many of them). But what it all boils down to is love yourself completely and maintain your power. You need to build your self-esteem by giving yourself the attention you crave. And don’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability to the person you love, if he or she loves you it will only make them love you more.
This column was written for DigitalRomanceInc

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Are Your Expectations Ruining Your Relationships?

I think the number one cause of heartache and disappointment in relationships is failed expectations.
Expectations are built in several ways: by reading into your man’s behavior, by romanticizing a relationship to be more than it truly is, by wanting something without expressing your needs or by simply ignoring things you are shown or told.
As a relationship coach, a large part of what I do is manage my clients’ expectations. My intention here is to help you become aware of your own expectations so they don’t end up destroying your relationships.
Click here to read the rest of this article on  Donna was a guest blogger for the all-inclusive dating resource site whose experts dispense wisdom on 'all things dating' through how-to-articles, informational studies, reviews, reader questions and more!