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My First Love


  Guidelines for that First DATE

Oh, there were so many times when I wished I had just talked (or e-mailed) instead of making a date...

There was the over-eager mogul, good-looking, with a house in Bel Air, and married five times. Before our first date was over, he was all over me, and his response to my rebuffs was to proposition me to move into his guest house and write there -- to be his pet writer-in-residence, I suppose.


Another time, I picked up a tall, handsome carpenter in a cowboy bar. I knew he wasn't exactly my type, but I agreed to go out with him anyway. As I climbed into his pickup truck on our way to get donuts (yes, donuts), I told myself it didn't matter what he drove or where we went. But by the time we got to the donut shop, he had already told a racist, sexist, anti-semitic joke. I told him the donut was giving me terrible indigestion and just barely escaped.

Another time, I went out with a well-known actor from a television series. He too was tall, dark and handsome, and he drove a Bentley. I was impressed, but not for long. We soon wound up in a gay bar where he and his "decorator" proceeded to tell me how I needed to redo myself.

Then there was the cute, clever film director who seemed so sweet and safe I drove with him out to the desert to see the wildflowers. He got so drunk I had to drive his camper all the way back to L.A., with him belching and barfing and ranting in the back.

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When Love Happens Easily ?

Most of us have a specific "type" of man or woman that most appeals to us. Sometimes this preference is a clearly- visualized fantasy mate, and sometimes we're not even aware we have a preference. It doesn't matter. If you match a person's preferred "type," he or she is pre-disposed to fall in love with you, whether they know it or not. It's that simple.

Of course, people fall in love all the time with someone who's not their "type," and many times wind up very happily married. But if someone marries their fantasy mate, they're not just in love, they're satisfied that their quest for a mate has come to a perfect end.

It's easier than you might imagine to find out if you're someone's type or not. How? Just tease them by claiming you're not, and see how they respond.

Timing is critical. The best time is before you agree to go out with a new person, if they're asking, or immediately after he or she has agreed to a date, if you're asking.

If you're dark, say "Actually, I'm surprised you want to go out with me. I heard you liked blondes." (Or if you're blonde, say "dark and sultry" if it's a man or "the tall, dark and handsome type" if it's a woman). Just describe a type that's opposite to you, in a light, bantering tone.

If you are their type, they'll protest this gentle tease instantly, like a reflex -- "No! That's not true! Where did you hear that?"

If you're not their type, they'll probably sputter and hem and haw for a moment while they're figuring out what to say.

Of course, if he or she just smiles, looks you up and down, holds their hand out level with the top of your head, and says, "Honey, I like 'em just about so tall, and dark just like you," your prospective date is a smoothie who figures you're going to be putty in their hands.

While those hands may be tempting, I'm here to keep you on guard. Your smooth talker undoubtedly has a "past." Check up on him or her. If, for example, you're a short brunette, and this guy's ex's for the last five years turn out to be mostly leggy blondes and redheads, you can bet you're just an experimental "change of pace" for him. And that's exactly what you don't want to be -- it's called a fling.

Sure, you can fight "type" and win. But if you do, and the two of you eventually decide to get married, you'll always have to live with his unfulfilled fantasy. Part of him will always be yearning for the long-legged blonde he didn't get. You'll be out somewhere and his eyes will wander to a woman who looks more like his fantasy than you do. You'll always worry that he'll run off with his fantasy woman, leaving you in the lurch just because you weren't it.

I'm not saying you can always figure out someone's "type," or even that they necessarily have one. But it's worth trying to find out, because believe me, the easiest and best love relationships are when you fill each other's fantasies. That way nobody ever feels cheated -- or as if they have to cheat because they never got their fantasy.

"Qualifying" Someone
It's all too easy to fall for a cute face or a sexy body and wind up with a time-waster, or in crazy love, or even in a bad marriage. And if "The Pitfalls of Cyberlove" have clouded your judgement before you even meet the other person, you're in even more danger.

While I've given you a whole Rogue's Gallery of types to stay away from in "Men To Avoid" and "Women To Avoid", and I've provided you with some important guidelines in "Spotting The Crazies", you need a final line of defense to protect you from a disastrous relationship.

Here it is. A step-by-step process which works even if your hormones are raging and your brain is addled by those tight pants or deep cleavage. If you REALLY want a fulfilling, happy relationship, use the following steps to qualify each new person you meet, with no exceptions, and don't stop until you have all the answers.

First, Is Someone Commitment-minded?

Even if a person seems to meet all your criteria and they appear to be someone you could take home to meet your family, you're still wasting your time if they're not ready for a commitment, whatever the reason is. Some people go around with a bumper sticker saying, "Happiness Is Being Single" -- and they really mean it. You need to know ASAP if someone is commitment-minded or determinedly single.

Apart from the bumper sticker crowd, commitment-mindedness is usually treated as a private matter and a tricky subject to broach. The amazing thing is that people are more likely to give a candid answer to a casual acquaintance than to someone they're starting to date. You just have to ask while you're still a casual acquaintance.

Here's how it works. You run into Studly Tom or Sexy Suzanne at the coffee machine and say, "Oh, hi. How was your commute this morning? Did you get around that jam-up on the Lakeside Interchange?" Then sip your coffee, smile, and say "You should see how all the girls/(guys) look at you. I bet you're really enjoying the single life..."

Their immediate response will be telling. A player will simply revel in this idle flattery. Someone who'd like to be through with playing, on the other hand, may be flattered but will also look vaguely uncomfortable, as if the shoe doesn't quite fit, and may even tell you, "Actually, it gets a little old." Either way, you've got your answer. Of course, if they just glare at you and walk off, that's an answer, too -- they're not interested in you, and it doesn't matter how they feel about relationships.

If you delay, the opportunity for surprise and candor is irretrievably lost. Anytime after the other person has shown overt interest in you or vice versa -- even before your first date -- the subject of relationships suddenly becomes heavy. From then on, there's no way to make your question sound casual, and their responses will be at best guarded, and at worst calculated to the "right" answer. Trust me. Try this my way.

On the other hand, your first date is a perfect and normal time to find out about the person's goals and plans. Their answer will hopefully be consistent with wanting a long-term relationship, such as, "I'm working on my MBA and saving for a house down payment." On the other hand, if they tell you they're saving up to sail their own boat around the world, or taking acting lessons and want to be a movie star, their dazzling smile should suddenly change in your eyes to a big, flashing red light.

Your first date is also a good time to learn more about someone's general inclination toward longterm commitments. Just by chatting about mutual interests and background, you can find out whether someone's had long-term relationships in the past and whether or not they're close to their family.

It's easy. Just start with a little self-disclosure: "I don't get to see my family as much as I'd like -- didn't you say your folks live in Chicago? Do you get to see them much?" What they answer will give you some early clues about how they value family relationships.

The Checklist

Even if a new person passes the Commitment-Mindedness checks and you feel intensely attracted, keep your head. Never go out with someone blindly and assume they're perfect until events prove otherwise. Enjoy being with them, but keep gathering information. If you're headed toward a committed relationship with someone, you'll need to have answers to all of the following questions.


  1. Are they honest? When you're with them, notice whether or not they lie to other people. (If so, odds are they'll lie to you.)
  2. Are they responsible? Do they take good care of their plants, pets, and children if any?
  3. Do they show up when they say they will, or call if they're running late? Could you count on them to be there if you needed them?
  4. Do they have lots of old friends? What do the friends say about him or her?
  5. Are they on speaking terms with ex-lovers and/or ex-spouses?
  6. Are they on loving terms with their parents and siblings?
  7. Do they seem financially stable, or are they wildly extravagant, or always scrambling to pay their bills, or into gambling?
  8. Do they take good care of their health, or do they drink too much or need drugs all the time?
  9. Do they get along with your friends?
  10. Do they appreciate you? Do they express their feelings to you? Are they willing to spend a lot of time with you?
  11. Do you feel secure about them in the relationship, or do you worry a lot about them straying?
  12. Do you feel happy and safe when you're just hanging out together, or are there a lot of awkward moments, or have you ever felt physically threatened?
  13. Do they show clear signs of being capable of sharing?
  14. Would you consider spending the rest of your life with them?
  15. Are they okay just the way they are, or are you going to have to make a lot of "improvements"?


The idea of the checklist is to find these things out BEFORE you're madly in love, so that if the answers are turning up negative, you can get out without a broken heart.

So speed up the process by arranging little tests. Lend him or her a book and see if it's returned without you having to ask. Ask him/her to feed your goldfish or water your plants while you're away and see if everything's alive or dead when you get home. Make dates far into the future and don't call to remind him or her when the time comes. See if he or she remembers.

Call on them if you need help with something, and see if they volunteer to help or tell you they're busy or it's your problem. You can quickly find whether you can depend on them or not.

Call their most recent ex and have a girl-to-girl or guy-to-guy chat. It may feel awkward, but it's actually easy, and you may be amazed at what you learn. Just say, "Hi, I'm Norm New Guy (or Norma Next), and I know you were together with Perfect Patty (or Tom Terrific) for quite a while. I'm starting to get pretty involved with her (him) and I wondered if you had any words of wisdom or warning for me, off the record..." Try it. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

Pass on anyone you can't trust or about whom you hear horrible stories from more than one source. Don't waste time with someone with whom you wouldn't want to share a checkbook or a credit card. Forget about anyone who is abusive, cold, critical, uncommunicative or unkind. Just get out, quickly and efficiently. (See "Ending It.")

I don't want you to waste a year of your life dating someone and then find out that they're crazy or married or a flake or a drug addict or under indictment.

Use "Self-disclosure"


If, however unlikely, it is you who is clearly in the wrong, an impending storm can often be averted by adroit "Self-Disclosure." Say you're a half-hour late (again), and your partner, doing a slow boil, starts up with "You know I like to be on time, and you're always late..."

Don't give excuses, and don't make promises. Jump right in with, "You know, it drives me crazy, too. I don't know how it happens. It seems that no matter how early I start, I always wind up late."

Then ask his or her advice. "What do you think I should do? Help me think of something. How do you manage to always be on time?"

Your partner, previously ready and willing to fight, may be skeptical and grumpy but will almost certainly calm down. With all disagreement over the problem suddenly gone, he or she is now involved with finding a solution.



Happy Valentine's Day 2010 !


 Why People Love ?

As you've probably found in your own life, being "in love" doesn't necessarily mean you've found true, long-lasting love. Ideally, falling in love leads to long-lasting love, but most often that doesn't happen. Let's look at what's involved with being "in love" first, and then I'll come back to "True Love" below.

Falling In Love

Recent studies on love have come up with a revealing insight into the "in love" feeling. The studies found that:

In order to be in love, a person has to have their love returned somewhat, but not altogether, while having reason to hope that their love will be returned totally at some time in the future.
This discovery explains some of the most ancient and perplexing riddles of romantic relationships, such as why "playing hard to get" works, why "absence makes the heart grow fonder," and why being in love is different than long- lasting love.

It explains why men and women who treat the opposite sex with indifference are so popular. Why the person you don't really care that much about is the one who's mad for you, and the one you're dying for is not.

If you're indifferent to someone, you give them little dribs and drabs of attention out of boredom or pity, right? Now we know that's precisely the formula for keeping someone in love with you. Of course, acting indifferent is easy when you don't care. The hard part is acting indifferent when you do care a lot.

The new research findings help explain another key element of the "in love" feeling. We've known for a long time that fantasy is one of the most important ingredients of love. A person in love has what pyschologists call "aggrandizing" fantasies about the one they love.

Ask anyone who's in love to tell you about their beloved, and you'll hear about someone too wonderful to be true. You smile, reminded of the old expression, "love is blind." The old expression is true because everyone in love has a fantasized image of the person they love.

Lovers since love began have been portrayed as pining away somewhere plucking the petals from flowers and daydreaming about their love object. That classic portrayal meshes perfectly with the new research findings: if you want to be the love object, you have to give your lover time to think about you, to fantasize about you -- without you being there. If you're in their face constantly, they have no opportunity to develop an "aggrandized" image of you.

Some of my best relationships with desirable, sought-after men bloomed when I had to go away for a while or the man had to go somewhere soon after we met. The reason, of course, was that the separation gave us time to fantasize about each other.

Two months after I started dating my husband regularly, I went to Romania as a guest of the Romanian government to research youth treatments. He was left to worry about what I was doing gallivanting behind the Iron Curtain. Actually, my trip was sexless, but he imagined me cavorting with some Romanian Lothario the whole time I was gone.

He had plenty of time to miss me and fantasize about me. He even got a chance to overdose on other ladies. Since I wasn't around, I always came out more favorably than the competition. He had only the fantasy me to compare with the real them. Being unavailable actually helped make me seem more interesting and desirable.

Separation almost always makes the heart grow fonder, and this works later on in your relationship as well as in the beginning. Always plan some time apart. It's good to give your loved one a chance to miss you once in awhile.

If you've read "Are You Giving Too Much Too Soon?" and wondered why I made such a big point of not over-giving, perhaps some lightbulbs will be coming on right about now. I'll say it again: Giving Too Much Too Soon is the biggest mistake made by both men and women in the early stages of their relationships. And learning to pace your giving -- your availability, the "I love you's," the gifts -- is the hardest thing to learn.

Perhaps now, though, knowing why indifference works and "absence makes the heart grow fonder," you'll be more motivated to follow my advice about not giving too much too soon. If you're at the beginning of a relationship and haven't read the "Giving" articles, please do so; and in the meantime, promise me that:

You won't call him or her on the phone every single night just to chat. Skip a night or two. Call intermittently.

Don't send her every cute card you find.

Don't bake his favorite oatmeal raisin cookies for him on every visit.

Keep reminding yourself of the old adage, "Play hard to get." Only instead of playing hard to get, be hard to get!

The next time he asks you out, tell him you'd love to see him but you already have plans. If you've been asking her out three nights a week, cut it back to just one night for a week or so. That's exactly what you'd be doing if you were popular and busy. And that's just what he or she wants -- not someone easy to get that no one else wants.

Or, if someone is acting indifferent toward you, curb your natural inclination to try harder to please them. You know now that the way to make them stop acting indifferent is to act even more indifferent than they are.

If making someone fall in love with you isn't enough reason to "play hard to get," there are other reasons you shouldn't fall in love too quickly. One is because you need time to get to know someone before you fall in love. Falling in lust is understandable, but don't let your love be so blind that you ignore the checklists in "Qualifying Someone". Another reason to pace yourself is to let a little true love develop along with the lust and the "in love" feelings.

True Love

True, long-lasting love is built on trust, communication, and shared experiences. People who are deeply in love seem to somehow identify with the inner core of their mate -- they're "on the same wavelength." Even if it's been 50 years since they had the first "in love" feelings, they still look and act in tune. They sit alike, talk alike, finish each other's sentences.

It's like they're linked with a special, deep form of communication. If you've ever been deeply and mutually in love with someone, you've probably experienced this. It's a magical feeling, and it's wonderful when it happens as if by magic. But you don't have to wait passively, hoping that the magic happens. If you have someone who meets your Criteria and passes the checklists in "Qualifying Someone", you can do more than you might think to create this magic in your relationship.

Read "The Amazing Power of Mirroring", where you'll find the secrets of creating rapport with someone and building their trust in you. Then go on to "Inner Languages", where you'll find how you can deepen your relationship with him or her and start to develop the special, deep form of communication that's the basis of True Love. And don't miss "Love-Building Strategies", which describes techniques for strengthening the bond of your relationship.

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Secrets For Understanding Your Mate
No two people are ever 100% compatible. If they were, they wouldn't add a thing to each other, and life would be pretty boring. But differences need to be understood in a relationship. If you haven't read "Inner Languages", now would be a good time. Inner Languages are a good introduction to the subtle differences between people which can add richness and variety to your life if understood but can cause friction if not.

While Inner Languages are important, other differences can also affect day-to-day interactions with your mate. Let's say you love instant gratification and your partner prefers to wait and think about something first. If that's the case, it's probably not a great idea to surprise your partner with weekend cruise ship tickets on Friday night, no matter how romantic it sounds to you. Being aware of, and sensitive to, your partner's patterns can help keep a relationship on track.

We're all familiar with instant vs. delayed gratification, but how about "Conformists" vs. "Non-conformists"? "Escapers" vs. "Dreamers"? "Gourmands" vs. "Gourmets"? These are ingrained patterns in most people which often go unnoticed, even by those close to them. Differences in these patterns can can cause tensions in a relationship, with both partners baffled and frustrated, feeling out of "sync" and worrying that they're falling out of love. If you know what to look for, though, the patterns are easy to recognize. Then you'll know how to handle your differences.

Is your partner a Conformist, someone who likes to be considered "in"? If so, and you've got an idea for doing something together, say going on a certain cruise, the smart way to introduce it is to say, "Everyone from Mick Jagger to Lee Iaccocca has done this cruise and loved it." On the other hand, if he or she is a Non-conformist, you'll talk yourself out of that cruise in one sentence by applying group pressure. Instead, get your partner to brainstorm with you about different kinds of trips until he or she finally suggests a cruise, and then say, "Hey, that would be different. Great idea! I'll research it for us."

If your partner is an Escaper, he or she is primarily motivated by getting away from something. A Dreamer, on the other hand, is drawn toward something. If you're different in this way, you may both want to get to the beach on a hot summer weekend, but your thoughts couldn't be further apart. One of you is thinking about getting away from heat, stress, and honking horns, while the other is already smelling suntan lotion and hearing the waves lap. If your partner is reluctant to go for some reason, you're much more likely to talk him or her into leaving if you know how to phrase your appeal.

A Gourmet is someone who prefers a small, exquisitely- prepared dish to a less-artistic but filling meal; a Gourmand is just the opposite. This trait extends beyond food. Planning a vacation, the "Gourmet" will prefer a shorter stay at an expensive, world-class resort; the "Gourmand" will want a longer vacation at an "All- Inclusive." The idea here is to learn your partner's pattern and anticipate it. Then, instead of feeling wounded when your obviously terrific idea for a vacation isn't instantly embraced, you'll expect a little difference of opinion and be prepared to compromise.

Compromise is a surprisingly difficult relationship issue, especially with people who've been single a long time. I can't tell you how many times my counseling clients have been shocked when I mention that, in a good relationship, they can expect to get their way maybe one-quarter of the time. The typical reaction is, "Wait a minute, whose side are you on?"

I have to explain that, in a close, stable relationship, each partner gets his or her way about one-quarter of the time, because about half the time, you wind up compromising and no one "wins." In a good relationship, of course, the love and fulfillment you get far outweighs the autonomy you lose, so compromises come easily and happily.

Avoiding Fights

Every relationship has its spats. Psychologists once thought that the best cure for anger was to get it out in the open and say what you think. Today, we know that letting anger out does not necessarily make you feel better. If the battle is with a loved one, it makes you feel worse.

After you've been with someone for a while, you begin to know what things will start a fight. With my husband, the ex-race car driver, all I have to do is criticize his driving. That's guaranteed to start a battle. Knowing how to set him off means I have a choice, to fight or not. You too will have a choice in your relationship. Be aware when you choose to start a fight.

When a disagreement becomes a bitter dispute over who's right and who's wrong, things are said that you can't take back. Harsh words spoken in anger are remembered long after, corroding the relationship. Frequent battles embitter the fighters. No matter who wins, both bear the scars.