How to Write a Great First Message

online-dating

How to Write a Great First Message

Online dating seems to be the way a lot of people get together nowadays. Make a profile, upload some pictures and off you go. It’s a great tool and for some a fun way to spend a couple of hours searching and considering. But when there’s one profile you keep returning to, or someone who you just can’t wait to know more about, it comes time to message them. Some of us just freeze up. What do you say? There are others who aren’t intimidated but keep sending out messages and never get a response. So what’s the best approach? What can you do to make that first message great?  The first step is to actually write something. Don’t abbreviate or use internet lingo, use proper English. Double check your grammar and spelling. Daters on these sites want someone savvy and sophisticated, not a Neanderthal typing with hairy knuckles. Next, watch the physical compliments, especially guys contacting gals. Most women like to be told in person that they are beautiful or gorgeous, but online they want to know that you took the time to read their profile, and found something in there that attracted you. They want someone who is interested in who they are, not just their looks.

Just like everywhere else, there’s competition online. Beyond that, you don’t want to seem a flat, uninteresting dullard. Why not use a greeting that shows who you are? If you are both Star Trek fans, type them a Vulcan salutation. If you both like country music, hit them with a “Howdy.” Even if you just go for a “Hey there” it’s better than just a hello. A line from a movie you both like might work. Strike a casual tone however. Too formal and you might come off as a stick in the mud. Now include what you liked about the person’s profile, and what attracted you to them. What do you both have in common? Spend some time reading their profile and thinking about what would appeal to him or her. Do they like the same books, movies or music as you? Are they a fan of the same sports team? Are they vegan? Do they practice yoga? Do they have six dogs, seven birds and a tank full of man eating piranha just like you? The more things you have in common, the more things you have to talk about and hopefully, the better a match you will make. Use your commonalities to get the conversation rolling. Don’t be afraid to challenge them a little. Ask a question.  Posit a theory or give them some insight that most people fail to notice. Bring up something they might not know like a certain band they might like, a book that would blow their mind or a great little restaurant tucked away in a corner of their neighborhood. The more interesting, the more they’ll want to message you back.

Talk about yourself, but don’t brag. Be humble. Arrogance is a turnoff. You don’t have to write an enormous amount. A paragraph or two will suffice. Be yourself. Don’t be weird unless the person you are messaging has already shown an affinity for your type of weirdness. Can you be relaxed and funny? Go for it. Not sure how it will come off? Then just be upbeat. If you still aren’t getting responses check your selection process. If your search filter includes the words “Ivy League” while you barely finished high school, you might want to rethink that. Make sure the person you are messaging would find it reasonable to date you and vice versa. If you are only going on classic chiseled features, the perfect body, a prestigious career and high salary when you spend your days shouting “You want fries with that?” you may be setting yourself up for a fall. Lastly, be sure to be nice. Sometimes we try to elicit a certain response with something witty and acerbic but come off as mean or bitter. Keep things positive and G-rated, at least at first. For more tips on making your online dating a success read, Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating by Laurie Davis.

The Kinds of Friends to help you Through a Divorce

woman-consoling-friend

The Kinds of Friends to help you Through a Divorce

When a marriage ends some people want to hole up and never see the light of day again. It’s true that everyone has their own grieving process. But this is a time when you could use the support of family and especially friends. Close friends will validate your feelings, comfort you, make you laugh and give you some insight. They can really help you endure those hard, dark days and aid you in reaching the bright, shining day at the end of this terrible storm that’s settled over your life. Don’t be too shy or too proud to reach out to those close to you. That’s what they’re there for. You’d be surprised how much people want to help if just given the chance. And if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t you be happy to do the same for them? There are different kinds of friends that can help you through a divorce. See if you have any of these in your social circle and be sure to reach out to them in your time of need. A divorce can drive you nuts. What you may need is a friend who’s logical that can show you how things work and tie the loose ends together for you. If you have sudden revenge fantasies, the logical friend will bring up karma. And if you suddenly want to get a face tattoo to celebrate your new singlehood, your logical friend is sure to talk you off of that ledge. This is a good friend to have when the tempests of emotion rock your inner core. Be sure to have one logical friend you can reach out to.

Next, you want the confidant and conspirator. This is the person who will back you up, and throw in a few things when you really need to badmouth your ex. They’ll take you out for a few drinks, maybe even introduce you to some cute singles they happen to know. This is the person you can get loud with, have adventures with, and find reasons to love your life again with. Divorce can feel like part of you was ripped out. It’s important to explore your past and other sides of yourself. That’s why the old friend is a good one to reach out to. You can sit and relax, reminisce with them and get insight into who you were, who you are and who you want to be. The old friend has probably known you a long time and can talk about your other relationships and what patterns emerge, helping you to see what perhaps you brought to the relationship that you should work on to make your next one spectacular. If you met a new friend, why not spend time with them? They can help you develop your new personality, post-divorce. If you have a friend of the opposite sex, don’t steer clear of them. Hang out with them. When you’re ready a little harmless flirting as practice can lift your self-esteem. They can also provide insight from the other gender’s point of view. The fuzzy friend is a great one to have. Dogs and cats know instinctively when we hurt. The gestures that they do and the unconditional love they practice can help heal your heart. Finally there’s the tried and true friend, the one who may be all of these friends combined, the one that’s always at your side. You know they’ll be there when you call. Definitely reach out to that friend. They’ll have you feeling better in no time. For more advice on getting over a divorce, read Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery: 101 Stories about Surviving and Thriving after Divorce by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Patty Hansen.

What Your Date’s Pet Says about Them

Silhouette of a couple walking their dog on sunset

What Your Date’s Pet Says about Them

Are you dating someone who has a pet? It’s often whispered that how a person interacts with their pet can tell you a lot about how they will act in a relationship.  What does your date’s pet say about them? First, discern how your date disciplines his or her pet. This is especially noticeable with dog owners. Are they too controlling? It’s important to discipline your pet. But if they are all over it to the point where the dog can’t be a dog, this person is way too type-A. You really have to be a laid back type-B to handle that. Another word comes to mind, high maintenance. You are going to be spending so much time following the rules that there won’t be any room for any fun. The same is true if they go the other way, no discipline whatsoever. This doesn’t bode well if you have or are planning to have children. You’ll have to enact all the discipline yourself. In fact, he or she may turn into just another one of the children. Have you ever met someone who let’s their pet eat at the dinner table? Proper hygiene aside, this person has boundary issues. They can’t say no. They are a people pleaser. If you require someone to stick up for themselves or for you, then you may want to move on. They will be spreading themselves way to thin, committing to everything, leaving little time for the relationship to blossom.

Does your date feel threatened or jealous of your pet? This person may be manipulative, controlling or just overly needy and clingy. Being threatened by a friend who used to be an ex is one thing, but a pet is certainly another. Has your date ever used their pet as an excuse? Pets are certainly an important responsibility. And you should definitely notice whether or not your date takes care of their pet properly, particularly if you want children. But if they are conscientious, loving and responsible pet owners chances are this is how they’ll act in the relationship toward you and also to any future children. In fact, lots of couple’s cohabitating today get a pet as a starter child, to see how well they manage taking care of a cute little being together. But aside from all of that, if your date says that they’d like to go somewhere with you, but can’t because their dog doesn’t like it for instance, they may be harboring passive-aggressive tendencies. Like it or not, conflict is a very important part of any relationship. That is, how couple’s fight determines how sturdy and seaworthy their relationship is. And if they can’t tell you that they don’t want to go directly, but instead use the dog as an excuse you can bet they don’t deal with conflict well. If your date is buying every accessory for the dog then they feel inadequate and so want to gain attention, and status through their animal. Beware unless you have an ample salary to feed this need. Notice how your date interacts with their pet or pets and you’ll gain precious insight on who they are, and whether to move forward with them to the next level. To learn about the special relationship people have with their pets, read Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs by David Grimm.

Should you Google your Date Beforehand?

mid adult man using a laptop

Should you Google your Date Beforehand?

On the one hand, it behooves you to know who your date is before going out with them. If they were say wanted for murder, maybe you wouldn’t want to go out with them. Does that make you an accessory? On the other hand, people have ended relationships solely on what they Googled about the person. Is that fair? Shouldn’t this information be brought forth with context through natural conversation with the person you are dating, and perhaps their friends and family, rather than an impersonal computer and search engine? Isn’t there something lost when we don’t hear it from the person themselves but rather in bits and pieces through social media sites, their blog, and any videos on Youtube or any other websites? Knowing things and hearing things from your date is so much better than judging the person through a third party medium. So should you Google your date beforehand? You should, but reserve your judgment until you get to know the person. Keep it at the back of your mind. But wait for the person to provide context. If it’s something you don’t agree with or don’t understand, why not simply ask the person about it? Get over your aversion to letting them know you Googled them. It’s the modern age. Everyone has the internet. And anyway, it means you are interested enough in them to check them out. How cool is that?

In this vein, here are some rules you can use and think about before Googling your date. First, remember that it’s a mathematical algorithm, not Nostradamus. It can’t tell you exactly anything. All it can do is provide you with some facts and certain points of view. However if you see arrest warrants, mental patient records, outpatient clinic records or something of the like, you may want to mention it to your date. Make sure you meet in public. Googling is something everyone does. It can’t be helped. And it actually means you care about moving forward with this person, and are contentious enough to check them out and protect yourself. Everyone can use a little protection, right? Some people say that the best time to Google someone is when things are already over. That might be true. But why be so shallow? Isn’t it better to leave things cut and dry and move along? Sure a little reflecting now and then is good. But if it’s over and the relationship doesn’t have a chance, what good really is it? Either you are mad because they’ve become successful or found someone else, they are the same, or they are worse and you gloat about it. Whatever path you choose, it isn’t good for you. Google your date, but find out for yourself what kind of person they really are. For more dating advice, read 101 Good Questions to Ask on a Date by M.D. Chuka.

Keeping your Cool when your Partner Criticizes You

Arguing Couple

It isn’t always easy keeping your cool when your partner criticizes you. If anyone knows how to push your buttons, it’s them. But when you lose your cool the fight goes out of control. And a relationship with conflict such as this cannot last. First, determine where losing your cool stems from. Do you have anger management issues? Did you grow up in a high conflict household? Or is it just that your partner likes to push your buttons? And why do they like to do that? Learn to control your anger. Take deep breaths. Count to ten. Walk away from the situation and go somewhere to calm down. Tell your partner you need time to think and sort out your thoughts. Schedule a future time to discuss the issue. Make sure they realize that the discussion should be a place without shame or blame, but to discuss what is happening freely and find a solution to the problem. If your problem is severe, seek out anger management classes. Your town, city, county or state clerk’s office can give you information on free or discounted classes in your area. Otherwise, try to solve the problem yourself. Read up on anger management issues on different websites. Browse through a bookstore. Check out videos on how to better manage your anger on YouTube. Talk to a school counselor, college counselor, or find out what other services you may be entitled to.

Learn not to take everything personally. Sometimes people make observations but we jump to conclusions and believe we are being criticized. If you are unsure, ask your partner. But instead of getting angry, take a deep breath and evaluate what has been said. Ask your partner for clarification. Get some insight. Consider again. Was your first conclusion the correct one or were you taking it wrong? When your partner criticizes you outright to push your buttons, figure out why. Are they feeding off of your anger? Does it give them an excuse to get angry? Turn the tables on them and ask how they would take it if they were in your shoes. Explore your partner’s issues and address it with them. Is there something from their past that makes them act like this? Suggest the reason. Talk it out, listen to what they have to say, and come up with a better way to interact that is supportive, positive and appropriate. If they don’t want to try and address these issues, perhaps it’s time to move on. If it isn’t malicious, when you feel criticized ask them what you should be doing instead of what you are doing. It takes time to learn how to communicate effectively and appropriately. And we all have to work at building a better us and better relationships. If you are serious in turning things around, both yourself and your relationship, move forward, start learning and communicating, try the techniques laid out in this article, and find out what works for you. For more insight on this topic, read the advice of Kim Paleg PhD and Matthew McKay PhD in their book, When Anger Hurts Your Relationship: 10 Simple Solutions for Couples Who Fight.