Profile Pics

Top 20 Tips for Profile Pics

Last week, we discussed the importance of profile pics. Today, I want to go a little further by providing actionable tips and tricks to help you take the most flattering photos for your dating profile.

Different online services and dating apps have different capabilities, but if you’re able to, you should include at least three photos in your profile. Use your profile pics to show who you really are.

Top 20 Tips for Profile Pics

1. The first picture should be a nice clear headshot, it’s ok to use colour or black and white, whatever you prefer and feels represents you well.

2. You should also have a full length shot that shows your physique. Take it at a flattering angle and avoid the dreaded bathroom/gym mirror selfie. 

Profile Pics

3. Your third photo is up to you! Use this one to highlight your personality.

4. Think about whether you want to take the photo indoors or outdoors. Clean up any clutter that may appear in the background.

5. There is no shame in standing in front of a blank wall, sometimes those make the best profile pics!

6. Be natural, relax, and smile.

7. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. If it feels awkward, or fits wrong, your discomfort may show in the photo.

8. Find a spot with natural lighting, and make sure there are no shadows hiding your face.

9. No Sunglasses. Let us see your eyes.

Profile Pics

10. Have some fun! Grab a friend that you feel totally comfortable with, and goof around a little, so your best self comes out in the picture.

11. Update your photos every three months.

12. Don’t post photos with other women. I once saw a man using a photo of himself and his ex-wife on their wedding day on his dating profile.

13. No group shots. Nobody wants to play a guessing game to figure out who’s who.

Profile Pics

14. Keep your clothes on! No bare chest guys I know it’s tempting, especially if you have a great physique, but it does far more damage than good.

15. No silly poses, goofy faces, or funny costumes.

16. Your profile pics should highlight your face, not any other body part. You know if I’m talking to you.

Profile Pics

17. I don’t care if you caught the Megalodon, no woman cares to see you holding up a dead fish.

18. Speaking of fish, no hatfishing! Unless you plan on wearing that backwards ballcap on a first date  (please don’t), take if off for your profile pics.

19. If you are bald, be proud and show the world. A lot of women only date bald men, so own it!  

20. Your hair and facial hair should be styled just as it will when you show up for a date.


Profile Pictures

Profile Pictures are Worth A Thousand Words

Today we’re covering one of my favourite topics—Profile Pictures!

I will admit, I am often guilty of being highly critical when it comes to crafting a dating profile. I like to think of it as a resume for love. Please forgive my passion, but I cannot stress enough, how important it is to put your best foot forward with a flattering photo.

Your photo is the first thing people see, and it’s what will make them want to swipe right or message you. We have done some experiments to see what gets the right attention and what attracts the wrong attention.

Did you know most people make up their mind about you within the first six seconds?

So, what are your profile pictures telling them at first glance? Your first goal is to just get them to give your profile a second look; pique their interest!

Profile Pictures Are a Must

Not having photos on your dating profile will get you all the wrong attention. If people think you want to be anonymous, then most will assume you are only after a casual sexual encounter. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then let’s make sure you post a really good photo that indicates this isn’t what you want. 

It is better to wait until you are ready to post your profile pictures and your bio is complete before you start browsing so that you start out on the right foot.

Without a photo, you will only attract unwanted attention, and this can be hard for some people to handle.

Your main photo should be you and you alone. No children, friends, family, or pets. Just a nice, clear photo of you. Pose naturally, smile, dress and wear your hair as you would for a typical first date.

Headshots are great, but you should also include a full-body photo in your profile.

Depending on how many photos you can upload to the site or app you’re using, you can include group shots, but make sure it’s not the first thing they see. Nobody wants to go hunting through a photo to find out which one you are.  

There are some apps that hide or blur your photos, so that you have to get to know someone before you make a snap judgement on their appearance.

It is a great tool to get you to pay a monthly subscription as most people are so curious they will pay just to see what someone looks like, and then you choose who you reveal your photo to. 

Keep Your Photos Updated

Ok, let’s get serious now, why would you want to put a photo up from five years ago? None of us are getting any younger, that’s a well-known fact! People are known to send the oldest and best photo they have, and it infuriates me. I am often sent a photo before a consultation to show me how a potential client represents themselves and when I meet them I do a double take!

When I ask how old the photo is, I inevitably hear a story about someone’s brother’s wedding from three years ago. It makes me crazy.

No wonder they are not getting any second dates! Usually, the first date doesn’t even last longer than 30-60 minutes, depending on how polite the other person is. I understand feeling self-conscious about aging, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you misrepresent yourself online.

Keep your photos current and make sure they’re an honest reflection of you. We are constantly changing. Anytime your style changes, you update your hair colour, gain or lose weight, etc. you should be updating your photos. If you’re clean shaven, don’t have a beard in all of your photos. 

You should also change your photos up every three months or so, after all it doesn’t reflect well if people see the same photos. They’re likely to think you are a serial dater. If a photo is not generating the right interest then change it sooner. Play around with your profile pictures and bio until you find what works. 


Declutter Your Mind

The Must-Have Spring Collection

It’s officially spring. That means it's time to do a little spring cleaning, cleanse your closets of all the stuff you’ve kept for too long, declutter your mind, and most importantly—purify your heart. 

Donate any old clothes to Goodwill or a family in your community. Got an old game of Battleship? You can take toys your kids have outgrown to local women’s and children’s shelter. Clean out the garage and put unwanted stuff out on the curb with a FREE sign. You’ll be shocked how much will be gone the next day. There are so many ways to get rid of the things we’ve collected in our lives, but no longer need.

Spring is the perfect fresh start to rid any excess baggage. As you’re Marie Kondo-ing your physical junk, be sure to inventory your emotional junk as well. So often we hold onto things—memories and maybes, and what-ifs—even those shoes from high school. Okay, maybe that one was just me.

Declutter Your Mind & Your Space

Use this time to declutter your mind and focus on yourself. Travel more. Adopt that dog you’ve always wanted but your ex was allergic to. Apply for your dream job. Throw caution to the wind, but use this time to work on you. Start checking items off your bucket list.

Do not go out on a date just yet or go back to the well and start texting old flames. Don’t start downloading the apps or building a dating profile until you’ve finished your spring cleaning.

Stay away from any means that would put you out there looking for a partner. This will be a challenge, but you can do it. You need this separation in your life to build your spring must-haves collection. You will never know what is tailored for you, what fits you best, if you do not focus on yourself first. Try you on for size.  

Clean Mind

We tend to hoard possessions until they become emotional weights we didn’t even realize we were carrying. This leaves less room in our lives for the essentials, the things that I call must-haves.

Every season, the fashion industry defines what the newest trends are. It's time for you to define yours, as it pertains to your most prized possession of all—your heart. Shoes, well, they come and go. Your heart on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. 

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

One bite at a time.

If the idea of taking on your physical and emotional junk overwhelms you, then take it one task at a time. 

Small, manageable doses are key to tackling any problem. If we tried to inventory the magnitude of baggage we’ve collected over the years, locked away in our closets and our hearts, it would send the strongest of us into a tailspin.  

Make lists of the things you want to change; keep it very specific. Every day attempt to work on at least one thing on your list. You don’t have to give yourself hard deadlines. Take the whole weekend to clean out your bedroom closet if you need to. No one is there telling you how quickly you should work through your list.

Make a game out of it. Reward yourself after each small victory.

We all tend to place unachievable, unrealistic goals on ourselves and it leads to disappointment and disaster. If you focus on each attainable bite-sized task instead, you’ll see how quickly they add up to big life changes. 

Pure Heart

Do you make excuses to yourself? Maybe you tell yourself it's best to stay in an imbalanced relationship because all of the time you’ve invested. Or because it's easier to stay than to put yourself back out there and try to find someone or someone at your age? 

Stop. If you are in an unhappy relationship, pause, and write down the things you wish you could change.  

Have you addressed these issues with your partner? If not, start today.

It’s time to make tough decisions that may include throwing out some of your emotional baggage. Work on improving yourself. Do all of the things in your own life that you wish your partner did for you.

Can't Lose

Once you get to the point where your list is checked off, no matter how long it has taken you, it’s time to party. Try on and out this new version of you. Pop a bottle of champagne and celebrate.

Walk that runway with your heart clean and open to what is to come. You can not find a partner without first clearing out the junk. After you have put in the work to declutter your mind and clear out all the junk that has held you down, you deserve it.

You are beautiful. You are handsome. There is someone for everyone. Your fairytale awaits, so get to cleaning out your closet. Rid your life of anything that holds you back from finding the one. Your person has been waiting on you. Tis the season! Never know what you will actually find when you clean out those closets for spring!


Body Language

How to Speak Fluent Body Language

Joe Navarro has written several books on body language and non-verbal communication. In his book, What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, Navarro discusses how non-verbal communication is guided by the limbic system, a very primitive part of our brains. 

The limbic system assesses danger and risk, preparing the body for fight, flight, freeze, or fawn reactions. It is also the portion of the brain responsible for the high we feel when we fall in love. 

Once you learn how to read key phrases of your partner’s body language, you’ll be better equipped to decipher their needs and fill their love tank.

According to Vanessa Van Edwards, Author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, there are over 800 non-verbal signals made during a 30-minute first date

The problem is, we’re not taught to be aware of the signals we’re subconsciously giving off or how to read and interpret others’ cues. It’s just one of those social skills we’re expected to pick up and adapt to which is difficult or even impossible for some.

Decoding Body Language

Being even marginally aware of body language, can lead to better connections and conversations. Some suggest as much as 80% of human communication is non-verbal.

Although it may be difficult to decode, there is good news. Body language is a more honest form of communication than verbal because so much of it is subconscious. Even the best poker faces can’t control micro-expressions. 

She’s leaning in; that’s good. But is she trying to get closer to you or just the charcuterie board?

Fellas, we already know that women have better intuition, so learning to read your date, may take some practice. 

It’s true that crossed arms and fidgeting can be a sign someone is disinterested, angry, or closed off. But it’s important to take the entire situation into account.

Is this your first date? It could just be a sign of anxiety. Did you cross your arms first? Perhaps they’re mirroring you; in this case it could indicate increased interest. 

Positive non-verbal communication can include blushing, fumbling over her words, playing with her hair, fiddling with her clothes, or touching her lips. Getting tongue-tied often means one is nervous and trying to make a good impression.

Did you know hair follicles release pheromones?

Pay attention to whether she opens her body toward you or away. Subtle touches are great signs. If she slaps your knee when you make her laugh, or touches your arm for emphasis, you can bet she’s into you. 

Mirroring

Mirroring is subconscious mimicking. You know the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? It’s true. If someone likes you, they will start to adopt your mannerisms and movements. 

We like people who are like us. Love and belonging are a vital part of our hierarchy of needs. It’s why cults exist and civilizations survive.

Now that you know this, you can alter your own behavior to mirror your date and build a stronger connection.

Don’t be creepy about it and follow her every move, but subtle things like mirroring the way she leans on her elbow, or fiddling with your tie after she adjusts her necklace. 

Know Your Angles

First and foremost, I want you to relax and sit comfortably on your date. Take a few deep breaths, because the most important thing is that you feel confident and secure.

Now, let’s think about how to make small adjustments to your posture so that you’re comfortable, but still giving off positive energy.

Tilt your head slightly when she speaks to show you’re listening intently. Try to maintain an open position and close some of the space between you.

Angle your body toward your date—head, shoulders, knees, and toes—pointed in her direction. Notice her body language, is she angled toward you or is she pointing directly at the door?

Touch Yourself

Your beard produces significantly more pheromones than your head. Increased testosterone causes facial hair growth, so twirl your mustache or stroke your beard, and watch the ladies come running.

On second thought, don’t touch your face during a Pandemic. But when it’s over, you should know how to use your hands to flirt. 

Touching your throat or neck indicates you’re not a threat. You can also mess with your hair, fiddle with your watch, adjust your glasses, etc.

Eyes Are Everything

Speaking of glasses, avoid wearing sunglasses.

Eye contact releases the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Studies show your eyes dilate when you look at someone you care about. Both of these are hidden behind shades.

I do want to issue a word of caution. Despite the heading, eye contact is not everything. There are a number of conditions and diagnoses which make eye contact difficult or impossible for people to maintain.

Even if she’s not staring longingly into your eyes, notice where she is focusing her line of sight. Has something just caught her attention briefly or is she signaling rejection?

Is she staring at your lips then coyly averting her gaze? It might be time to think about leaning in for the first kiss. 


Online Imposters

How to Spot Online Imposters

Fun fact about me: in my twenties, I tried online dating. Back then, online dating was new and taboo. Like Fight Club, the first rule was don’t talk about it; lie about where you met. It was as if I had become a member of some clandestine society, wearing this figurative offline cloak of secrecy. Not only did I not discuss it, I certainly would’ve never considered writing about it. But, here I am and frankly, the statute of limitations has expired. So let’s take a long hard look at online imposters and how to protect yourself from them.

More is Not Always Better

Keep in mind, two decades ago there were only a few players in the online dating market, a stark contrast from today.

It didn’t matter if you were seeking a fellow dog lover, or a faith-focused Christian, maybe even a partner who was living the farm life there was no online platform bigger than Match.com. Yet, their online community was a collective of all walks of life, so niche preferences didn’t make the cut on any drop-down fields when building a profile or searching the profiles of others.

While the online market is filled with countless additions since then, no matter what the URL they all do have something in common—online imposters.

They are filled with attractive men and women, seemingly looking for a committed relationship. They have bios that speak to every disservice or pain-point any reader has or ever will encounter in a relationship.  

This is the first of many red flags.

Can you relate? You read her profile and wonder how she can possibly be single? She’s only 66 miles away. You begin to think you’d travel for someone this incredible. Suddenly your distance deal breaker is negotiable because this woman shouldn’t be single, but you’re glad she is.  

Listen to Your Instincts

This is where I go back to my great-grandmother’s advice (this will be a common reference in my blogs) that lives with me 30+ years later.

If it’s too good to be true, it is.

If you are online, it’s safe to say you have yet to find one single person that captures just a few of your wants. Then all of a sudden, here comes someone who seemingly possesses everything you are looking for. It’s a catch-all sales tactic most often seen on late-night infomercials.    

Okay, so you messaged the wildly attractive no-way-they’re-real profile...no judgement here! I admire people who believe the glass is half-full. However, there are countless good-hearted people who have been scammed by online imposters, so I must advise you to be skeptical as you move forward. 

If within the first few messages you notice any of the following red flags, I urge you to end the conversation and move on: 

  • They give you a different name from the one on his profile.They’re likely on several sites under different aliases.
  • He invites you to message using an app like WhatsApp or Kik
  • They tell you they’re not officially divorced. It’s likely their spouse is not even aware they’re unofficially divorced.
  • Their original location was local, but after you connect, they are traveling abroad, usually urgently.
  • They ask what you do for a living, specifics about your family, what zip code you live in, but refuse to answer the same or similar questions. Ever hear of stranger danger?
  • Beware when you ask a specific, yet common question about their hometown. For example, I once asked a man from Chicago if he was a Cubs or Sox fan. He replied that he wasn’t into basketball.

If your intuition is alerting you to stranger danger, it’s time to listen.  

Spelling & Grammar

Many online imposters will use exceedingly poor spelling and grammar despite often boasting post-graduate degrees. Pay attention, this is where the journalist in me kicks in. It’s one thing to have a misspelling here and there. No telling, they may be on the go, in a hurry, or maybe they just have fat fingers, who knows? 

Does their language style and conversation skills match the profile they’re portrayed? The improper use of words and verb tenses, as well as bizarre punctuation are all big red flags. If your intuition hasn’t kicked in just yet, well, I’m trying to help you here!   

Why are there so many online imposters? What can they possibly gain? There are a million reasons why someone is online and maybe they’re bored just like you? But, other reasons can be far more dangerous and deceitful. 

Use Common Sense

If you met someone in a bar or a social event and they asked you deeply personal questions in a very short time period, it should sound an alarm. Gut-instinct is something we are all born with, but it's a conscious choice as to whether or not we listen and allow it to guide us.  

Be weary of anyone that asks you to talk in great detail about yourself. It’s easy to feel flattered that another person is eager to learn about you. No one can fault you for loving the attention, but don’t lose your sensibilities in the process. We have all been living in quarantine for the last year, so it’s easy to get caught up in compliments, if even you know they’re coming from an online imposter.  

These imposters are very good at what they do. They quickly build a connection with you from what you tell them. The information you give them in conversation is used to craft a script that speaks to your heart. They want to hook you and leave  you with the impression that this stranger truly cares about you.

I’m sorry, but...

Online Imposters Do Not Care About You

Sadly, they craft messaging around the very private information you share with them. You could go on wasting your time or worse, losing money. Some ask for you to send them unused gift cards, bank account information with the end goal—money. Don’t fall for the scheme. 

You are talking to a scam artist, not your future husband or wife. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received thousands of reports of romance scammers who created fake online relationships only to steal their victims’ money. 

Signs of a scam are always evolving, but the FTC boiled it down quickly:

  • Tell you they love you quickly.
  • Are from the U.S. but are overseas either for business or military.
  • Ask for money in an attempt to lure you off the dating site.
  • Promise to visit but an emergency prevents them from doing so.

Please be smart. While I’m warning you, I’m not the U.S. government, and even they know this is dangerous territory.  

View the FTC’s report here.

When you’re online, lead with your head, not your heart. All of the cues we are privy to in person: body language, mannerisms, eye contact or validation of one’s appearance are absent online. An online photo on a dating site isn’t confirmation that someone looks like that today or ever.

So, whatever method you opt to use to find love, be sure to properly vet them or employ others to do the work for you. It’s a jungle out there, so arm yourself with your weapons of gut-instinct and common sense. It will help save your heart and perhaps, your wallet!  

Stay safe in your quest for love, 

Jodi 

*If you feel as if you have been a victim of an online dating scam, please report your incident to reportfraud.ftc.gov and the respective online dating site.


False First Impressions

Lessons in Literature: False First Impressions

Have you ever wondered why we, as a culture, celebrate literary relationships like Romeo and Juliet despite their false first impressions, heinous miscommunication, tragic endings, and/or obvious character flaws?

I’ve spent some time in quarantine re-reading some of those (in)famous love stories, and I think it’s time we really examine the ins and outs of the relationships society has put on a pedestal. Is accidental double suicide really the ideal romance? I think we can do better.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite works of classic literature. Not just for the complex web of interpersonal relations, which we will dive into momentarily, but for the continuous lesson of false first impressions.

Like most writers, I’m an introvert. I listen more than I speak, and I’m cursed with what has lovingly been termed RBF. Many of my friendships began with them saying, “I thought you were mean the first time I met you.”

Nope, that’s just the way my face looks.

So, as someone who often feels like I don’t make the best initial impression, I can’t get enough of a novel that proves all the characters’ gut-instinct wrong.

Spoiler Alert—I don’t know if this needs to be said for a book that is nearly 225 years old, but just in case. 

False First Impressions

When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy first met, neither one of them liked the other. He basically called her ugly, and she kind of chewed him out in public. By the end, not only are they married, but they are Jane Austen’s version of #couplegoals. 

Alternatively, when Elizabeth meets Mr. Wickham, she’s smitten. We later learn the truth of his money-grabbing background which involved seducing young girls. In fact, he performs his bait and switch routine on Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia. The two end up married in order to protect the family’s reputation. 

After observing his best friend, Mr. Bingley, dance and converse with Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane Bennet, Mr. Darcy came to the conclusion that they weren’t a good match. He was so sure of his false first impression that he tells Mr. Bingley, “Jane’s just not that into you,” and they break up

Clearly Mr. Darcy wasn’t a trained Matchmaker, because as it turns out, Jane is very much into Mr. Bingley. She’s just not into public displays of affection in a time where showing too much ankle would get you slut-shamed. Go figure. 

Austen illustrates false positive and negative false first impressions to show how one’s intuition can’t always be trusted.

Dating is a process of gathering information about the other person. You keep learning new things about them until you decide if you want to commit to a relationship with them or not. If you learn new information that negates everything you thought you knew about that person, don’t ignore it. Dig deeper lest you fall into the trap of an imposter.

Rate the Relationship

Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy: 8/10

I see why they are the novel’s main couple. Their love story includes a decent amount of drama, secrets, and Shakespearean misunderstandings. In the end they overcome their initial bad impressions of one another.

Mr. Darcy falls for Elizabeth despite their socioeconomic differences and his lack of attraction to her. Elizabeth forgives him for meddling in her sister’s affairs after he takes actions to correct his mistakes.

These are key takeaways in our line of business. This is why we always advise a minimum of three dates. Physical attraction and chemistry often grow over time, but so many people write a good match off simply because there weren’t fireworks on the first date.

They’re not a perfect match, but they choose to practice loving one another and that’s what keeps a relationship strong. They accept each other’s flaws, and encourage one another to do better and make things right whenever possible.

Jane Bennet & Mr. Bingley: 10/10

This is my favorite couple, although I must admit, an entire book on their story would be quite boring to read. They’re both shy and a bit reserved, but they click and they work well as a team. If everyone would have just left them alone, they would have been married much earlier and it would have saved a lot of heartache. 

Lydia Bennet & Mr. Wickham: 4/10

Lydia is the youngest of the five sisters. She and Mr. Wickham run off together after he makes her his latest love scam victim. Before rumors and shame overtake the family, Mr. Darcy intervenes again, this time for the better. He pays off Mr. Wickham’s debts, and convinces him to marry Lydia. Their passion burns hot and fast. Those fires rarely last long.

Mr. & Mrs. Bennet: 1/10

Full disclosure—Mrs. Bennet is my least favorite character. Neither of them are shy about announcing to their own daughters which is their favorite child. Maybe that was common practice of the time, but it’s terrible parenting either way you spin it.

Mrs. Bennet is overly dramatic and constantly nagging everyone in sight or playing the victim. Mr. Bennet mocks her to her face and verbally abuses the whole family. Elizabeth says at one point that she couldn’t possibly have a favorable view of marriage after watching her parents’ union her entire life. These two make me grateful divorce is no longer taboo


Uncommunicated Expectations

Silent Suffering: Uncommunicated Expectations

A few weeks ago, I discussed putting yourself back out there and managing attention seeking behavior. Today, I want to talk about what happens after you’ve met someone. How do you effectively express your needs in a culture of uncommunicated expectations?

Let’s assume you’ve cozied up with a partner who shares similar goals. You’re mutually aligned in your desires, interests and big-picture life plans. This is where a lot of couples fall prey to comfortability. They stop putting in the work. 

Open Communication: Recommended Daily

Just because you’ve found your person, doesn’t mean your work is done and it’s smooth sailing till death do you part. Often the strongest, most compatible couples fall victim to uncommunicated expectations, miscommunication, and false assumptions.

Just as it was important to find someone that shared the same intentions, likes, or interests as you, it is equally important to ensure the expectations within those shared beliefs and ideals are communicated routinely.

It is just as important to address the uncommunicated expectations of your daily routines as it is the big life-altering decisions. Small false assumptions can slowly cripple a couple overtime. 

How often is it the small, every-day things that go wrong resulting in a disproportionately large reaction because you were fed up and just exploded?

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, but daily dialogue keeps the divorce attorneys at bay. 

Nourish your relationship with a daily check in. Before you go to sleep each night, open a dialogue with your partner. Make this part of your bedtime routine, and never go to bed angry again. Ask each other things like:

He Should Have Known

Your partner can not read your mind. You cannot expect them to know and remember all of your likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. 

For example, I once had a client who was absolutely irate that her match had taken her out on his boat for their third date. When I pushed her for clarification she explained that on their first date she told him, “I’m not a very outdoorsy person.”

She then felt as if he hadn’t listened to her and ultimately disrespected her by taking her to do something she (in her mind) had explicitly told him she would hate.

From the outside looking in, it’s clear this was just a matter of uncommunicated expectations. Don’t assume others will interpret your words correctly. Be specific when you communicate your needs, boundaries, etc.

At the center of all failed partnerships is a breakdown of communication, in part because we tend to assume things rather than talk about them. All too often we take each other and for granted and in that, we make assumptions about one another that we compartmentalize silently.

In fact, the better a couple knows one another, the more likely they are to make assumptions instead of asking the other person directly. And you know what they say about people who assume things...they make an ass out of you and me.

Do not assume, just ask.

No Days Off

People are constantly evolving, as are our relationships. It’s an organic process. That said, expectations of a relationship can change over time.  

Maybe you have to relocate for work and your partner is not moving with you. You never consciously entered into a long-distance relationship, but now here you are.

No matter what the pending distance you will soon face, it will challenge your commitment with a decline in the amount of quality time you will spend together. So, be sure to set and communicate newfound expectations, as it relates to this new facet of your relationship.  

How do you navigate this new normal? Do you now need to talk or FaceTime daily or multiple times a week? Whatever you both decide needs to be discussed before moving day. Without setting and discussing these expectations, especially when there are sudden and unexpected changes, no relationship, long-distance or otherwise, will survive.

When in Doubt Talk it Out

Have you ever heard someone say the cause of their divorce was too much communication? Because I haven’t.

Don’t assume your partner is aware of something if you haven’t discussed it. Conversely, don’t use your partner’s lack of awareness as a weapon. Often, couples will accuse one another of not being present in the relationship if the other was not aware of a particular conflict or issue. 

No one will ever fault you for talking through things to establish and clarify expectations. 

Couples that maintain strong bonds, long-term relationships, and successful marriages put all their cards on the table. They will communicate anything and everything to one another out of mutual respect and love. It is not an annual exercise, it’s a daily process that fortifies even the strongest of relationships.

So don’t let your relationship fall ill to uncommunicated expectations. Think of communication as a necessary part of your relationship’s daily upkeep. So be sure to get your daily dose of dialogue in. You will build a strong, lasting bond with your partner that will be able to withstand whatever changes come your way.


Conversation

30 Questions to Get the Conversation Going

In her book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, Vanessa Van Edwards, separates conversation into three categories based on how long you’ve spent with someone: five minutes, five hours, or five days.

I believe everyone opens up at their own pace, so I categorize interactions into small talk, ice breakers, and connection builders with each one digging a little deeper to get to know the other person better.

Below, I’ve compiled ten sample questions for each section. 

Conversation is a delicate dance of leading and following. It’s a matter of giving and receiving information. There’s an art to being vulnerable and asking probing questions without crossing a boundary or oversharing.

If you’re going to ask about deal breakers, be cautious in how you do so. You don’t want to give off negative energy.

For example, don’t ask your date who she voted for or to which political party she subscribes. At the same time, don’t announce those things about yourself. It’s too direct and very off-putting. Instead, focus on sharing your core values and learning about hers.

If your values align, the rest will follow. 

Start Small

If you’re an introvert like me, small talk probably isn’t your area of expertise. Unfortunately, it’s a highly-valued social skill in our society. So, I find it helpful to have a few open-ended questions on hand, to get the other person talking and let them dominate the conversation.

This allows me and my anxiety a break so I can do what I do best—listen. 

  1. Have you read anything interesting lately?
  2. Do you belong to any organizations?
  3. Who is your celebrity crush?
  4. What is an average day like for you?
  5. Do you do any volunteerism or charitable work?
  6. What is your favorite/dream travel destination?
  7. Tell me about the best and worst parts of your day.
  8. When you visit your hometown, what is the one place you have to stop at?
  9. Do you have any pet peeves?
  10. What does your ideal weekend look like?

Small talk doesn’t have to be meaningless chatter about the weather. You can use it to really get to know someone on a deeper level if you ask purpose-driven questions and practice active listening.

For instance, by asking someone how they would spend their ideal weekend, you can discern things like:

  • Are they a morning person or a night person?
  • Do they prefer their alone time or group settings?
  • Are they an introvert or an extrovert?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How do they like to spend their free time?

That doesn’t even include all of the inferences you can make from their non-verbal communication. And you didn’t have to barrage them with rapid fire questions. Also, be prepared to answer any question you ask in return.

Ice Breakers

I would advise you to limit yourself to one or two of these types of questions per date. They can range anywhere from whimsical to philanthropic, but one common thread is that they’re complex questions that require critical thinking.

These are those bizarre questions you see on interview lists like—What animal most closely describes your personality?

One question is fun, two is deep, three is just plain exhausting. They’re great questions, but like many great things, require moderation to be most enjoyable. 

  1. What skill or talent have you always wanted to master?
  2. Who is the most fascinating person you’ve ever met?
  3. Would you rather have the ability to speak any language or speak to animals?
  4. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
  5. Would you rather take several weekend getaways or one extravagant vacation?
  6. What do you do that other people think is annoying?
  7. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
  8. What is your most irrational fear?
  9. If you could solve one global crisis what would it be?
  10. What is the best gift you’ve ever given or received?

Connection Builders

These are deeper questions that can help you really get to know your date on a more intimate-level.

  1. What is your favorite book of all time?
  2. Tell me about your best friend.
  3. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
  4. Are you close with your family?
  5. What do you love most about your work?
  6. Do you have any side-hustles or passion projects?
  7. How do you want your legacy to be remembered?
  8. What is the one thing that will put you in a good mood, no matter what?
  9. Who is the most influential person in your life?
  10. What is your primary Love Language?

Use your best judgement: if it’s your first date and you’re really hitting it off, these are pretty safe topics. However, if she’s not keen to open up, if her body language is closed off, if she’s giving you short answers—my advice is to stick to lighter topics of conversation until she’s more comfortable.

If your date is slow to open up in conversation, don’t write her off or hold that against her. You never know what she’s experienced in her past. Putting yourself back out there can be difficult. Again, if you share similar values, it’s likely a good match. Just be patient and give it time. 


Imbalance in Your Relationship

Imbalance in Your Relationship: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Nothing in life is even, fair, or balanced. There is always a give and take, credits and debits. But what happens when there’s a significant imbalance in your relationship for a long period of time? When one of you isn’t pulling your weight and the other's love tank is running on fumes?

Relationships are never 50/50, despite couples unfairly using this as the golden rule. Sometimes the split is 60/40 or even a 25/75 ratio. Shifting efforts is common and expected.

When it becomes a problem is when those inequities remain imbalanced long-term. Partnerships don’t run on autopilot. Both parties must take the driver’s seats at times. Great partnerships have two sets of keys and you both need to drive from time to time.

You Get Out What You Put in

My great-grandmother would always give me this advice:

With anything you do, the outcome will always reflect the amount of effort you put into it.

If you’re not expending the energy it takes to keep your relationship going, it will suffer. 

Relationships aren’t passive pleasures. They require continual effort and constant work. When one person stops actively participating, both people feel the effects. One person can only carry the weight for so long before it fails.  

Don't Put Your Effort Into Overdrive

So what happens when there is an imbalance in your relationship and your partner is perfectly content with cruising along in the passenger seat? If your primary Love Language is quality time or acts of service, you probably tend to make life pretty easy for them.

Years ago, I had a boyfriend whose job required him to move every two years. It was a financially sound, yet nomadic life best suited for someone single. When we first met, we were only an hour apart. But soon, visiting him required a flight instead of a tank of gas.

Before every move, we set expectations of how often we needed to talk on the phone and see one another before he moved on to the next new town.

I should note, made a conscious decision to view each of his relocations as a positive thing. Now, we could experience so many new firsts together.

So, taking two planes to see him was an adventure resulting in new shared experiences instead viewing it as a detriment of distance. After years of this, I paused one day and realized how much inequity of effort there really was in my relationship. His life became so easy. He no longer had to get on a plane, or drive to see me because he knew, even expected, me to do all the leg work of travel. He no longer had to try, because he knew I would.

Does the Weight of Your Effort Need to Go on a Diet?

I realized that all of the growth, strength of this long-distance relationship was solely attributed to the heaviness of the sacrifices and effort that I put in.

So, I stopped. I went on an effort diet. I stopped getting on planes. I stopped driving hours through multiple states. I stopped getting a house sitter for my pets. I simply stopped putting that level of effort into us, with the belief that he would jump into the driver’s seat.  

Guess what? We crashed and burned. Connectivity and communication halted. It is not easy to let go of the heaviness of your efforts, but at what point do you demand to fix the imbalance in your relationship? When it was his turn, he dropped the ball. I often would talk to him about it, inviting him to visit or join in on various activities in my city to no avail.  

Could I have continued as I had been? Yes. But, why would anyone opt to stay with someone who consciously chooses to not try? As a result, our relationship faded away, but sometimes break ups are positive things

Divorce Your Effort

If there is an imbalance in your relationship, and things aren’t 50/50 don’t panic. Just like life, relationships consist of constant ebb and flow. If there is no shift in the weight of your effort compared to your partner’s for a significant length of time, that’s when you need to take action.

Relax your level of effort and allow your partner to take the wheel. 

You will quickly see whether they’re a true partner, or your relationship’s success falls solely on your shoulders. If that’s the case, disengage from the imbalance in your relationship and reinvest that effort into yourself.

Self care is healthy for you and for your future relationship. Then, you can focus on finding a partner who wants to invest in you. Never doubt it, you are worth the effort.


Putting Yourself Out There

Putting Yourself Out There: Ready for a Relationship or Just Want Attention?

If you are single, chances are you have been putting yourself out there in some form, whether it be with a matchmaking service, posting an online profile, or venturing out in public situations with a goal of meeting someone.

People can often be nomadic, roaming from various forums to find someone to connect with on whatever the level they can. She may be quick to seek out a companion. But she will often become much less hasty when it comes time to define what she truly wants.

So, before you go putting yourself out there, think about what it is that you are really seeking. And if you don’t know, maybe this will help you consider defining what you are looking for in the first place.

Don't Go Putting Yourself Out there for Just Anybody

For starters, if their dating profile says any iteration of the following—do yourself a favor and run.

I’m recently divorced, so I’m just seeing what’s out there. I’m not really sure what I want.

This is a red flag. If it’s your desire to find a lasting relationship, don’t waste your time on someone who is just playing the field.

It is easy to assume when someone openly discusses being single or talks about being lonely, that he or she in fact, wants a companion. But, that can mean different things to different people, so you need to define the context. 

Clarify expectations before you ever meet someone. This will go a long way in deciphering if it is even worth getting gussied up. Find out if they’re looking for a relationship or just a body to fill in the void of loneliness.

So many of us have been siloed because of the COVID Pandemic. What we’re craving now more than ever, is connectivity to one another. Unfortunately, this often causes people to act out with attention seeking behavior.

Don't be Fooled by Attention Seeking Behavior

Desiring the attention of others is simply the need to be heard or validated by another. It’s an intrinsic Maslovian need all humans share. But just because someone displays attention seeking behavior, it does not necessarily mean they want a relationship.

As we slowly transition back to our semi-normal lives, a lot of people have blurred the lines between truly wanting a relationship and just seeking attention. We have all lived in a bubble lacking the simple interactions that we used to take for granted.

Interacting with someone at the post office or talking to the salesclerk at our favorite store, perhaps greeting the Principal as we dropped our kids off at school—all these routine communications helped with the balance sheet we all have that tracks our need for human interaction.

For many people, these tedious interactions fed our appetite for attention, even when we weren’t consciously processing them as such.

But living for the last year without those day-to-day errands or interactions in our lives, our inherent nature to be validated in even the smallest of ways has met a deficit. These interactions for many have become extinct, forcing our attention balance sheets into the red.

This has created an influx of daters on the scene with varying intentions. You’re putting yourself out there with individuals who have both clear and murky intentions.

Don't Expect a Relationship to Fix All Your Problems

Be sure to clarify their intent before meeting. Are they looking for attention or a relationship?

A relationship is presumed to include positive and affirming attention. Although successful relationships are built on attentivity to one’s partner, it should not be construed that every relationship has this successful pairing. Meaning, if you have a relationship, you will therefore reap attention from your partner.

In fact, marriages often fail because a partner feels disconnected, isolated, or alone. This leads to a breakdown in communication, and lack of such. Much of this is tied to simply not paying attention to one’s partner and validating him or her in a positive way.

Keep in mind no one puts themselves out there without having some reason in mind for doing so. Do not be fooled. Often singles will say they do not know what they want, but put themselves in the peripheral of others who are fully in touch with their desires.

Think about what motivated you into putting yourself out there in the first place. Were you looking for true love or a bit of validation?

It is okay to be lonely, it is okay to want a relationship, it is okay to simply want the attention of another. Simply own it and say so. Putting yourself out there, means revealing your wants and needs.

So, speak your truth, regardless of your intentions. Align yourself with a partner seeking the same as you. No one can fault you for being honest.