How to Write a Great First Message

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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.

Advice for Dating Over 50

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Advice for Dating Over 50

If you are over 50 dating can be a whole different world. Most people are independent at this age, perhaps with adult-age children who are hopefully out of the house by now. These are the divorced empty nesters. They don’t take any guff and know exactly what they are looking for. Today, it’s much easier than in the past because of the internet. But even then sometimes there’s no one that strikes our fancy. A lot of singles in this age group don’t want to be alone but don’t want to feel as though they are settling either. It isn’t easy but a lot of people get in their own way, too. Here is some advice for those dating over 50. First, consider the law of attraction. What you focus on in your life is what you bring into your world. If you are focused on the idea that there are no good men or women left then that is the situation you will dwell in. But if you are secure and happy, entering into each situation in an open-minded and lighthearted way then perhaps the right person will find you. That’s because this newfound positivity will sooner or later attract those who are also secure, open and happy, the exact type most of us would like to date.

Consider how you feel about dating. It often fills 50-somethings with anxiety. Sometimes we just have an unlucky streak. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to put dating aside and later on try again. When you come back to it in a week or two with fresh eyes, take a look at your meeting and selection process. Consider reworking your dating profile. What does it say about you? Who does it attract? Perhaps freshen it up with a new photo, an anecdote or insight and then ask a friend their opinion on it. A lot of people at this stage are afraid. They’ve lost out in one or more serious relationships. They may be bitter or carrying baggage. Perhaps they feel as though they’ve been through the meat grinder and don’t want to do it again. This idea that there is no one of high enough quality is a projection we use to protect ourselves from certain fears about love, while also protecting our status. Here, it isn’t us that have the problem but the available dating pool. Sooner or later those that say these things start to sound like a broken record. It becomes a battle worn, thin piece of armor other minds can easily pierce. Instead, jettison excuses. Deal with whatever interworking makes you feel negative or reticent. Talk it out with someone and work toward a new perspective on your life and your love life, one that’s positive and edifying.

Dating at this age is not easy. We often run in the same circles. Start to break out. Explore new hobbies or old ones you put aside in the days of yesteryear when the demands of kids and career got in the way. Read articles and books about dating at this age. Attend singles events. Try a different website or app for meeting someone new. Pursue interests that are social through Eventbrite, Meetup, a local civic organization or a charity close to your heart. Network with friends and others to see if they know someone who is single that would be a good match. Those who are friends will have other friends who you might have things in common with. Another thing, don’t so easily cast others aside. Some people make their wants and desires in a mate so extensive that they price themselves out of the market. Everyone is imperfect. But judgment has to be set aside for an exploration of who exactly the other person is. A first date is like an initial interview. Often it tells you little of the person before you. Give it until the third date before you say no for sure. Some of the happiest couples weren’t so hot for each other when they first met. It takes time for anxiety to wane, understanding to grow and love to blossom. For more advice for those of the female persuasion pick up a copy of, The Winning Dating Formula For Women Over 50: 7 Steps To Attracting Quality Men by Lisa Copeland.

Your Marriage isn’t Hopeless

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Your Marriage isn’t Hopeless

Lots of marriages seem to peter out. The couple lets the spark die and can’t renew it. Infidelity creeps in because one or another’s needs aren’t being met, or because the couple can’t seem to get along anymore. Or there are those who simply run into a roadblock they can’t seem to overcome. Certain issues will always creep into a marriage and be hard to solve. Marriage actually seems to go through cycles, periods of bliss, followed by a rut or perhaps a contentious issue, then settled and blissful again. But when a married couple gets stuck in one of these periods and can’t seem to climb out of it, the relationship stagnates and both people drift apart. If you are in one of these situations, realize that your marriage isn’t hopeless.

If all of the important things are there, respect, trust and love, everything else can be fixed. You’ll have to invest a lot of time, patience and understanding to get through it. But if you can do that you can turn a marriage that has fallen flat into one that is vibrant and fulfilling. Follow these steps to renew your marriage. The first thing to do is to make a list of all the problems you are experiencing, the things you quarrel about. The marriage will be reborn once you have addressed these issues in a manner acceptable to both parties. Remember you are looking for the win-win, or at least a compromise you can both live with. If someone feels slighted it isn’t going to work.

When you try to force your partner to change they will resent it, become defensive and throw up walls instead of inviting you in. This will impede progress. Next, a very difficult step to get through, address the issues you are bringing to the marriage. What emotional baggage do you have and how does it express itself when you and your spouse interact over a certain contentious issue? How could you address the issue in a different way? For instance, if you are nagging, consider using humor to address the problem. Start a to-do list for chores instead of bringing the matter up time and again, being ignored and getting angry. Perhaps finding other ways to communicate will alleviate the problem such as text or email. Let your spouse know that you are changing your behavior and working on your issues to make the marriage better. They will likely respond by examining their own behavior and ways to make it more copasetic to the relationship.

Listen actively. Repeat back what you have heard your spouse say in your own words. Don’t invalidate their feelings, validate them. “Of course you would feel that way because (blank) happened.” Lots of fights occur through misunderstanding and the invalidation of the other’s feelings. Jettison all negative communication. Sarcasm, finger pointing, shaming, passive-aggression and more have no place in a marriage. They poison it until it is dead. The latest research has shown that marriages that last have five positive interactions for each negative one. Inject positive interactions into you marriage: a hug, holding hands, a kiss, seduction, a love note, a little gesture of appreciation, a “thank you” even if it was their chore anyway. Cherish one another and your relationship will blossom anew. For more advice read, Fighting For Your Marriage by Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg.

Little Behaviors that Reinforce a Happy Relationship

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Little Behaviors that Reinforce a Happy Relationship

It can seem like a great and complex puzzle when trying to figure out what you and your partner can do to keep your relationship well-adjusted and content. Many times couples look for grand policy changes or an entire relationship makeover to become blissful and perpetually pleased. Oftentimes this isn’t the case. Generally, it’s the little things, little problems or behaviors that pile up like clutter in a closet. Soon the closet is full and no longer usable. It needs to be cleaned out. There are lots of little behaviors that reinforce a happy relationship, to help organize your relationship closet, keeping it sparkling, welcoming, pleasant, and clutter free.

Do you two often argue about what restaurant to go to? Where to eat out? What to do on a Saturday night? If you argue over this, or are tired of the methods you use to choose, try the 5-3-1 rule. The first spouse lists five restaurants that you both like. The second person eliminates three of the choices. The first partner then selects one. This is a fun and interesting way to make choices without fighting occurring. It also makes sure both parties are involved and no one feels drowned out by the other’s choices. Don’t overuse however. Instead, incorporate a variety of methods to make choices. Don’t take advantage or push your choice through. Your partner will resent it and will get revenge at the next juncture when it becomes time to choose again. Play fair and expect your spouse to do the same.

Sharing responsibilities is important. If one person prepares dinner the other should volunteer to clean up. Find ways to amiably share the household chores. Find what each person doesn’t mind doing. Make a list and write each person’s name next to their responsibility. What is left can be horse traded. Find nice, positive and respectful ways to voice your concern when your spouse hasn’t kept up with their chores. If you find yourself nagging, or they are, have a meeting and address it. Find more beneficial and positive ways to communicate. Make sure you aren’t around each other all the time. Respect boundaries. If your spouse wants to read in the bedroom alone, or go out with their friends, don’t be a sourpuss, encourage it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And if you are always around one another you may get on each other’s nerves and start to bicker.

Show how grateful you are for what your spouse does in the relationship. Thank them. Appreciate them, even if it’s a chore you decided was on their to-do list. Don’t correct one another or shoot each other down in public. Lastly, when one of you is wrong and wants to own up to it, don’t allow the other to rub it in or give an “I-told-you-so.” Why not use a “Fail dance.” This is when one person failed, and they do a silly dance for the other to apologize. It’s funny and fun and can make what could have been a fight or a negative moment into a positive one. For more advice read, Happy Habits for Every Couple: 21 Days to a Better Relationship by Roger and Kathi Lipp.

Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

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Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

We are all familiar with the fairy tale ending “And they lived happily ever after.” But can this happen in real life? Sure it can. It all depends on your attitude in your relationship and your point of view. If you interpret this as your partner being perfect then you are going to be woefully disappointed. This disappointment will weigh heavily on the relationship, may even tear it apart. But if you see it as finding someone who is not necessarily perfect but perfect for you, this is something different altogether. Of course your partner will have faults, in this outlook, as will you. The point is to accept each other as humans who inherently have flaws and to work together to circumnavigate those flaws and find ways to be happy together. You need to accept your partner’s issues in a radical way.

Truly, radical acceptance is the key to unconditional love. That certainly doesn’t mean that you should put up with any abuse, neither physical nor emotional. It does mean that when your spouse or partner has left their wet towels on the bed for the umpteenth time that you shake your head and laugh, and instead of having a blow up fight about it, you realize that you aren’t reaching them and need to find another way to communicate how this makes you feel. Part of the difference is between focusing on someone’s flaws and accepting that person for who they really are. Of course if you are going to do this, your partner needs to know about it. In fact they should practice the same in return.

Another important aspect is to accept yourself for who you are, and your partner doing the same. That means accepting your feelings. Some people swallow things that bother them in a relationship in order to keep the peace, but this is where repressed anger comes from and it can poison a relationship in the form of passive-aggressive behavior, sarcasm and more. Instead, both must commit to being honest and open with one another. But find ways to communicate your feelings in a positive way, and in a way where your partner will recognize, understand and be able to accept, perhaps even modify their behavior, or at least come to some sort of understanding and compromise with you. Radical acceptance is being able to love your partner with absolute empathy and compassion. It isn’t keeping them at arm’s length when things get hard but instead letting them in. It’s accepting their faults and even loving them because of their faults, as this is just a part of what makes them who they are. Radical acceptance is meant to free both parties, to feel accepted and loved way deep down, and feel empowered to communicate freely and in a positive way to overcome obstacles to intimacy and grow forever closer. To learn more on how to use this outlook to change your life read, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach.