Tag Archives: dating

When texting is no longer reciprocal.
“Does she still like me?”

“Duet” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It would be a miracle to find another person to whom you’re attracted and who shares the same expectations and attitude toward relationships that you do. One person may feel hurt when his texts aren’t responded to often enough. The other person may feel dejected when she doesn’t get a gift for her birthday. The list of small frustrations that can cause disappointment is endless.

To have a great relationship, these differences are of minor significance. Partners can and should differ as to their preferences in how much to text, as they do in every other aspect of life. Relationships succeed best when both sides accept many of the harmless differences. What is important is communicating your more important desires and wishes in a way that avoids the following:

1. Attacking the other person, which puts him or her on the defensive and closes off productive and meaningful conversation. “You’re so rude! Why do you wait so long to text me back?”

2. Controlling the other person, which is belittling and demeaning and ignores the other person’s point of view. “When I text you, I want you to get right back to me. Do you understand?”

3. Whining about the situation — a childish and needy attitude — , which is used as a means to manipulate the other. “I miss hearing from you. Are you too busy for me?”

4. Silently holding a grudge, which builds up resentment and resolves nothing.

You can manipulate or badger someone into a desired behavior. But when someone’s actions are emotionally coerced, the strength and autonomy of the individual is undermined. The result is resentment in lieu of passion.

It’s much better to entice the other person with your independence and full life. If necessary, express your desires honestly while being mindful of the other person’s feelings and autonomy.

When addressing your frustrations, start the conversation with a sense of self-respect as well as consideration for the other person. Most important are a tone of voice and body language that embody your respect for the other person’s autonomy as well as your own desires.

In summary,

1. Respect yourself and the fact that you have personal needs and desires.

2. Respect the other person’s autonomy and right to have different attitudes and freely make decisions.

3. Express your desires with a positive specific request.

4. Ask the other person what he or she thinks about your request.

For example, “Hey, I really enjoy hearing back from you when I text you. Lately, you haven’t responded very much. Am I texting you too much?”

Or “It seems as though you’ve been pretty busy lately. What’s going on?”

Some people think they need to be aloof and hard-to-get to be attractive. Others wear their emotions on their sleeve. Both can be off-putting. What matters is how you manifest your feelings for someone. You can express your desire as long as you aren’t desperate and needy, on the one hand, or controlling and manipulative, on the other. There is nothing more attractive than someone who can express desire or love while still maintaining a sense of self and having the self-discipline to resist engaging in a mediocre relationship.

“I really think you’re special and enjoy spending time with you. Lately, I get the sense that you are backing off, and would like to know if that’s right.”

Whether this relationship works out or not, it’s important to start relationships with clear and positive communication to to be able to figure out how to reconcile your different expectations. Whether you’ve just been dating for a month or married for 25 years, communicating openly with respect is the way to keep the relationship improving.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

“My boyfriend won’t schedule ahead. So I get all anxious wondering when I’ll see him next.”

"Jump"—Marylin by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Jump”—Marylin by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

You have given your boyfriend too much power in the relationship. By anxiously waiting to accommodate his desires and his schedule, you give him the power to determine when he gets to see you. It is time to stop that. Not only is this bad for your own wellbeing, it makes the relationship unbalanced, nonreciprocal, and unsustainable.

Many people in a non-committed relationship will wait until the last minute to make plans because they have the expectation that something better might come along. If you continue to be totally available at his whim and convenience, he will lose desire and respect for you.

Eliminate anxious questioning and nagging, which are worse than ineffective. If you feel like you’re being kept waiting by someone who doesn’t like to plan ahead, you should definitely make other plans — lots of other plans. In fact, fill up your schedule, despite the fact that you would prefer to be with him over going to the gym, going to a movie with a friend, or catching up on reading. What you’d actually prefer is that he’d want to be with you badly enough that he would be able to commit ahead of time.

Allow him to become the one who wonders when he will get to see you next. Eventually he will discover that you are not available unless he plans ahead. He’ll learn this through your specific actions and his own surprise and disappointment when you are already booked up. Uncertainty and respect fan the flames of desire.

If he cannot take the time to schedule time with you then you will know that he really is only interested in you as a default date. It would be better to find this out sooner rather than later and move forward with your dignity and self respect intact.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Is ‘playing hard to get’ just a game?”

Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Watch “How to ask for more affection, intimacy and sex…and…how not to.”

“Whenever I try to talk about where our relationship is going, he backs away.”

"Improvisation" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Improvisation” by Mimi Stuart ©

Tiresome and trapped

The more you try to analyze and question the status of the relationship, the more he’ll feel trapped rather than desire for you. So avoid becoming a tiresome obligation to the one you desire.

While it is crucial to be able to express important needs and preferences, people who talk too often about the status of their relationship appear needy and end up pushing the potential partner away.

Taken for granted

If you want to talk about the relationship because you worry that you are being taken for granted, then change the patterns that have become convenient and well known to him. People pay attention to actions, not words.

Make more space for both of you, but avoid anger and bitterness. When you understand that accepting mediocrity in your relationship will breed contempt, you’ll understand that creating more space is not playing a game. Creating a little distance while maintaining your self-control will make him pay attention and increase his appreciation of you and the relationship.

Develop and maintain a life of your own.

Don’t drop existing plans in order to spend time with him. Maintain your friendships and interests, and let him plan ahead to see you. When you drop everything to see him, he will sense that you intend for him to fill a void and a need in your life. That is not very appealing.

Good relationships grow organically and take time. Have fun and take pleasure in the process, but don’t drop the rest of your life, your friends or your interests — ever. Who wants to be with a person who makes you their entire world? You want to be with a person because they have their own different and exciting world.

Getting committed

Don’t allow another person to call all the shots. If you want someone to commit fully, then don’t have all the fun with that person before he is more fully committed. If you are there and available all of the time, then desire and the need for bonding are absent. Simply back off and use more discretion about how much time you spend together.

But when you are together, make it enjoyable and exciting – the time should be special. This way he will want to be with you, but he’ll also know that you will only invest yourself more fully with someone who is really serious about you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Read “It hurts that my fiancé thinks I am smothering him. He wants me to let him catch his breath after he gets off work. I’m scared that I’m going to lose him because I’m needy or clingy.”

Watch “Seven keys to a great relationship.”

Enjoying the Moment:
“I wonder if he’ll like me.”

“Joy” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So what I really meant was…

“I’ll just enjoy our time together and not worry about where this goes.”

Worrying about whether someone likes you will not make you more likeable and the evening more enjoyable.

If you enjoy the moment, however, then there will be nothing to regret, whether this is your only date or the beginning of a long relationship.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Does she like me? She doesn’t text me like she did at the beginning.”

Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD:
“I am Afraid to Date Again. I am considering Online Dating instead of the Real Thing.”

"Delicious Samba" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

There is a delicate balance to be maintained between the need to process the trauma of divorce to recuperate, heal, and recover) and the need to maintain the interpersonal skills essential to dating and, later, to bonding and pair-formation (pairing). The main problem may be the temporary suspension of the ability to trust, to open up, to render oneself emotionally vulnerable, and to reciprocate. The pain of divorce is so enormous and so all-consuming that narcissistic defenses kick in and the new divorcee is often unable to empathize and selflessly interact with potential partners. My advice is: listen to your inner voice. You know best. Do not let yourself be coerced, cajoled, and pushed into dating prematurely. You will know when you are ready.

The only reason and justification to date online is if you have no access to venues where you can date “real” people face-to-face, instead of mere avatars. Online dating is a disaster waiting to happen. To start with, it is unsafe as it affords no way to establish the identity of your interlocutor or correspondent. It also denies you access to critical information, such as your potential partner’s body language; the pattern of his social interactions; his behavior in unexpected settings and circumstances; his non-scripted reactions; even his smell and how he truly looks, dresses, and conducts himself in public and in private. Frequently in online dating, the partners use each other as “blank screens” onto which they project dreams, wishes, and unfulfilled needs and yearnings. They are bound to be disappointed when online push comes to offline shove.

Divorced adults are surrounded with eligible partners: at work, on the street, in the elevator, the clinic, next to the traffic lights, buying a newspaper, pushing a shopping cart at the mall. The problem is that of mindset, not of opportunity. Divorcees are in such agony that many of them withdraw and “block out” new information, potentials, and possibilities. Additionally, their narcissistic defenses kick in and they feel entitled to “something or someone better”. They become overly selective, pose unrealistic demands, and subject people they have recently met to a battery of tests that all but guarantee failure. It’s like they are self-defeatingly punishing wannabe partners and would-be mates and spouses for the sins of, and abusive misbehavior and maltreatment meted out by their exes.

Some special topics:

Informing the Children

How should you inform your children that you are dating again?

It depends on:

1. Whether the divorce was consensual and amicable or ugly and rupturous
2. Who is perceived by the child to have been the “guilty” party
3. How old the kids are and
4. Whether one of the parents or both use the child to taunt, torment, and punish their counterparties.

The parent should explain to his children his or her emotional needs. The parent should not supplicate, ask for the child’s permission, or pose as the child’s equal or “partner”. He or she should simply share. The child should be kept fully informed at all times regarding developments that may affect it: a date that is turning into something more serious and may alter living or custody arrangements, for instance. The parent should make clear his or her priorities and, as much as possible, foster the child’s sense of safety, emotional stability, and certainty that he is loved. But, the child should not have a veto power over the parent’s predilections, choices, and, ultimately, decisions.

Dating in different age groups

The mechanics are the same, but the expectations are different. The divorced 20-odd years old is probably still looking for a partner to establish a family with, as her main priority. Her 50-something years old counterparts are more concerned with companionship, personal growth, and issues related to old age and security. Consequently, these two age groups are bound to home in on different profiles of potential mates.

Mr. or Mrs. Right

According to many studies, women look for these qualities in men:

1. Good Judgment;
2. Intelligence;
3. Faithfulness;
4. Affectionate behavior;
5. Financial Responsibility.

Men seem to place a premium on these qualities in a woman:

1. Physical Attraction and Sexual Availability;
2. Good-naturedness;
3. Faithfulness;
4. Protective Affectionateness;
5. Dependability.

The infatuation with Mr. Right or Ms. Right, common in the West, is very counterproductive and narcissistic. The romantic delusion that there exists, somewhere, a perfect match, a soulmate, a lost identical twin leads to paralysis, as we keep searching for the best rather than seize upon the good. It is the optimum that we should seek, not the illusory maximum. Dating and pairing is the art of compromise: of overlooking his shortcomings and deficiencies in order to benefit from your prospective partner’s good traits and qualities.

Having friends with benefits

There’s nothing wrong with short-term, interim, intermittent, and less committed liaisons that involve sexual gratification as well as companionship. It provides for an oasis of much-needed calm in between more demanding, serious, and sometimes onerous relationships. As long as this does not become a permanent and predominant pattern, it should be regarded as a welcome addition to the emotional and psychosexual arsenal of singles and the divorced.

From Bar-room to Bedroom

The sooner, the better. If he strikes you as a “candidate”, if she strikes you as a potential partner, it is time to hit the sack. Sexual incompatibility is the reason for a majority of breakups and divorces. Better to get this issue out of the way before things get more serious. If you find that he repels you sexually; if you find her unimaginative or frigid; if you find him clumsy and irritating; if you find her perfunctory or domineering – better put an end to it now, before you commit yourselves and get entangled emotionally.

Of course, all the precautions apply: gather information about your prospective partners from his/her friends, family, and colleagues; insist on protected, safe sex; make clear, in advance, what you are willing to do and where do you draw the line. But, otherwise, go for it now, before it is too late. Find out if you are a true couple in bed as well as away from the sheets.

by Sam Vaknin, PhD, the author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” — a far-reaching book about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and abusive behavior — and other books about personality disorders.

Read “When Facebook erodes real-life relationships: ‘I’m only checking in with friends and seeing what they’re up to.’”

Read “Bragging on a First Date: ‘I graduated with top honors and live on Snobhill.’”

Read “How can I Trust Again?” by Sam Vaknin, PhD.

Bragging on a First Date:
“I graduated with honors, won the state championship in tennis, and drive a Ferrari.”

"Capriccio" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Bragging backfires

People brag in order to impress others. However, reciting your resumé and accomplishments on a first date actually can do the opposite. It suggests that you are compensating for low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. It also attracts people who want you to pull them into a false sense of superiority.

Enjoy the conversation

1. Retain some mystery. It’s actually more impressive and fun to meet someone who remains a mystery and who prefers engaging in conversation rather than in impressing others.

2. Relax. Instead of flashing your credentials and flexing your muscles, relax and be yourself. Be curious without interviewing aggressively. Balance talking and listening.

3. Be honest. If you disagree with an opinion, say so diplomatically.

4. Feel good about yourself. Flirting is healthy—although you don’t need to go overboard.

5. Take it easy. Getting to know someone is like dancing together for the first time. If you jump into your fanciest moves without getting a feel for your dance partner first, you will be dancing on your own.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Symptoms of Narcissism.”