Six Strategies to Handle Awkward Silence on a Date

Do you find yourself loathing the dreadful "awkward silence" that accompanies some first dates? Between nervousness and the pressure to keep the conversation flowing, these painful pauses between two new people can feel pretty uncomfortable.

Navigating awkward silence on a date can be challenging, but with the conversation tools, you can keep the conversation flowing smoothly and maintain a comfortable atmosphere. Here are six strategies to help you handle those moments of silence:

Opt for Open-Ended Questions

It’s pretty much always great advice to ask questions on a date, but the type of question matters. If you want to keep the conversation going, ask your date questions that encourage them to talk.

Try to think of questions that might prompt your date to tell a story or give their opinion about something. By asking open-ended questions, you’ll encourage your date to share more about themselves.

If you want to keep the conversation going, ask your date questions that encourage them to talk.

Instead of asking questions like "Do you like hiking?" which can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," frame your questions in a way that invites your date to elaborate. For example, you could ask, "What do you like most about hiking?" or “How did you get into hiking?” Asking in this way encourages your date to share their thoughts and experiences, leading to a more engaging conversation.

Share Personal Stories

Sharing personal stories or anecdotes can help break the silence and create a connection between you and your date. Share a funny or interesting story from your own life that relates to the topic you've been discussing.

For example, if you’ve been chatting about your favorite childhood movies, you could share a story of how you reenacted the scenes with your friends. A fun anecdote of your own can also encourage our date to take a trip down memory lane and share a story about their life in return.

Sharing your own lighthearted anecdote can encourage your date to open up with their own stories.

Be careful not to overshare too early in your dating relationship. Sharing too much too fast might make your date uncomfortable and sabotage your chances of connecting with one another. It’s okay—and encouraged—to get personal, but it’s also best to keep it lighthearted.

Play a Game

Injecting a bit of fun and playfulness into your date can turn an ordinary evening into a night to remember. Consider starting off with a lighthearted game or activity that sets the tone for laughter and bonding.

For instance, "Two Truths and a Lie" can be a fantastic icebreaker. It's a chance for you and your date to learn more about each other in a playful way. You'll share three statements about yourselves: two of them true and one a lie. As you take turns guessing which statement is the lie, you'll have a chance to tell fun stories and deepen your connection.

Another option is to play "Would You Rather." This game offers a delightful opportunity to explore each other's preferences and quirks. Would you rather spend a day exploring a bustling city or relaxing on a remote beach? Would you rather have the ability to time travel or read minds? These questions can lead to intriguing conversations and provide insight into your date's personality.

Icebreaker games like "Two Truths and a Lie" or "Would You Rather?" can help you avoid awkward silence by adding some structure to the conversation.

As always, keep it light. Try to steer clear of heavier topics like money, politics, and medical issues for now. The goal is to create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere where you can both let your guards down and be yourselves. It's a chance to share laughs, make memories, and strengthen your connection.

Talk About Your Surroundings

Use your surroundings as conversation starters. Imagine you're at a cozy cafe with your date. You could start by remarking on the charming decor – perhaps the vintage posters on the walls or the soothing color scheme. This opens up opportunities to ask questions like, "Do you have a favorite type of ambiance when you go out for coffee?" or "What's the most unique cafe you've ever been to?"

If you're at a restaurant, take note of the menu options. You might comment on the variety of dishes available or the chef's special for the evening. This could lead to discussions about food preferences, favorite cuisines, or memorable dining experiences. Ask your date about their favorite dish or what they like to cook at home.

Talking about what's happening around you can help you and your date stay in the moment.

Talking with your date about the things going on around you not only keeps the conversation flowing but also shows that you're interested in sharing the experience with them. Plus, it can create a comfortable atmosphere where both of you feel more at ease expressing yourselves in the moment.

Express Genuine Interest

When you're on a date, what's more appealing than someone who is truly interested in what you have to say, who actively engages with your thoughts and experiences, and who listens with intent rather than just waiting for their turn to speak?

Showing genuine interest in your date's thoughts, opinions, and experiences is not just a nicety; it's the only real way to form a connection. It's about more than just nodding along politely—it's about actively engaging with what they're saying, asking insightful questions, and showing that you value their perspective.

Active listening is key here. That means giving your date your full attention, making eye contact, and really focusing on what they're saying rather than letting your mind wander. Resist the urge to interrupt or interject with your own thoughts; instead, give them space to express themselves fully.

Showing genuine interest in your date's thoughts, opinions, and experiences is not just a nicety; it's the only real way to form a connection.

Asking follow-up questions is another crucial aspect of showing genuine interest. This demonstrates that you're not just passively listening, but actively engaging with what they're saying and trying to understand them better.

Expect Some Silence

Awkward silence can sometimes sneak up on us during a date. You know, when the conversation hits a lull, and suddenly you're both just sitting there, not sure what to say next. It's a moment that can make even the most confident person feel a little uneasy.

But “awkward” silence isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite natural and even a sign of comfort between two people. When you're truly comfortable with someone, you don't always feel the need to fill every moment with chatter. Sometimes, just being together in silence can be enough.

So, next time you find yourself in the midst of an awkward silence, take a deep breath and relax. Instead of scrambling to come up with something to say, try to embrace the moment for what it is. Maybe take the opportunity for some quiet reflection or simply enjoy each other's company without the pressure of constant conversation.

 Quiet moments are natural and can be a sign of comfort between two people.

When you're on a date with someone new, don't worry about a little bit of a lull in conversation. By incorporating these strategies into your dates, you can navigate awkward silence with confidence and ensure that both you and your date have a positive and enjoyable experience.

a person's hands as they hold their phone wondering if raya and other luxury dating apps are worth it

Is Raya Worth It? A Review of Luxury Dating Apps

Finding someone can be hard, and any tool that can help you navigate the murky waters of the dating scene is welcome, right? There are endless apps and sites aimed at singles who are looking for someone special.

The most popular services are mass-market dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, but there are more exclusive options for high-end clientele. But what if—just like their free and low-cost counterparts—these luxury platforms are more headache than they’re worth?

Why Users Are Leaving Apps

It’s no surprise that the issues plaguing dating apps exist pretty much across the board. The market is dominated by Bumble and Match Group, the company that owns Hinge, Tinder, OKCupid, and several other platforms. Most of these apps share a similar swipe-to-match format, making the user experience largely indistinguishable.

This popular format heavily features users’ photos. This is part of why dating apps foster a very appearance-focused environment, making it harder for users to feel comfortable as they look for connections. As one person tells The Guardian, “The apps are algorithmic doom barrels.

“It does not matter how handsome or beautiful or charming you are, there is this underlying tension that you are 10 swipes away from a person that outranks you on the conventional beauty and charisma scale. It’s enough to make you feel all the insecurities that you haven’t needed to swallow since you were a teenager and a whole realm of new adult ones.”
Dating App User, 29

This is far from the only issue with the apps’ designs. A lawsuit was brought against Match Group claiming that the company’s apps are designed to be addictive. Experts have found that dating apps light up the same areas of the brain as slot machines and addictive substances.

Despite apps’ gamification strategies, it appears that users are actually leaving once-popular platforms en masse. Despite plans for new features and specialty services, the apps are still struggling.

According to the New York Times, this is because users, especially young people, are looking to social media for online connections. Users are also less willing to pay for premium features that don’t yield premium results.

Are Luxury Dating Apps Better?

The services designed to be luxury experiences really aren’t all that different. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine at a glance which services are designed for relationship-minded singles.

Many platforms cater instead to sugar dating, semi-transactional relationships in which one partner receives gifts and/or a financial allowance in exchange for their romantic companionship. These relationships are typically between a younger and older partner, most commonly an older man and younger woman.

While there are plenty of scammy sugar dating sites to sift through, you’ll find few legitimate options. When it comes to the app market, there are a few to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. These are some that we discovered:


Luxy is an app that offers bespoke matches based on exclusivity. Getting onto the platform is a feat in itself, with more than three-fourths of applicants being turned away during the 24-hour review period. Verified millionaires and those who pay to use the app can skip this waiting period.

Luxy’s acceptance criteria include “soft factors” like occupation, education, and profile photos. This ensures exclusivity, but it also means that tons of eligible applicants are never seen by others on the app. Many people attain a highly successful lifestyle through nontraditional paths, and these people will find it harder to qualify for Luxy.

One interesting thing about Luxy is that it very explicitly bans “sugar dating”. The app positions itself as a place for millionaires to meet millionaires. However, the app’s income verification is optional, making it difficult to ensure that only the top 1% of singles are present on the app. ID verification is done using an AI-powered software.

  • Exclusive membership pool
  • Sugar dating is banned.
  • Low acceptance rate
  • AI used for ID verification.
  • Income verification is optional.
  • Paying members can skip the 24-hour verification period.


Raya is one of the most exclusive online dating platforms operating today. For starters, you can’t just apply to join. First, a current Raya member has to refer you, then you’ll be invited to apply for membership. After that, you’ll be invited to join if your application is accepted.

While you don’t have to be a celebrity to make the cut, it certainly helps. The app, meant for creative professionals, requires its users to hand over their Instagram account as part of the application process.

While the company hasn’t published any specific requirements, it’s rumored that users need a minimum number of followers. Of the people who follow you, there need to be enough current Raya members present to seal the deal.

Once you make it onto the app, it’s a lot like the swipe-left, swipe-right format of other popular dating apps. Profiles are photo-centric, and writing a bio is optional. Raya does require an Instagram handle, providing users a small glimpse of their potential matches off the app.

  • Truly exclusive
  • Membership of high-level professionals
  • Celebrity-spotting
  • Instagram handles provide more information about other users.
  • Only for creative industries
  • Invasive sign-up process
  • Need to have Raya members in your Instagram follower list.
  • User experience is similar to other dating apps.

The League

When you join The League, it can go a few different ways. Most people download the app and join the waitlist, which can take a few months. Other lucky users can skip the line by paying for a membership or being referred by a friend on the app.

It’s worth noting that The League is owned by Match Group, the company currently under fire for its apps addictive features. While there are features of the app that are unique to The League, the basic concept is quite similar to the typical swiping format.

The main difference is the number of profiles you’ll see. Members of the free version of The League are only shown three potential matches per day, while the highest tier of membership, which costs hundreds of dollars per week, affords users seven profiles to peruse each day.

The information on all these profiles is taken from users’ LinkedIn profiles, which are manually screened by reviewers to determine eligibility. Once your profile is reviewed, you’ll be admitted to The League if you live in one of the cities they’re located in.

  • Exclusive membership
  • In-person events
  • Members are all vetted.
  • You’ll need to update your LinkedIn to apply.
  • Paid features are expensive and don’t offer much more than the free version.
  • Match Group has been sued for addictive app features.

All in all, it seems like luxury sites and apps are just as hit-or-miss as their mass-market counterparts, just with a higher price tag. If you’re looking for true luxury dating experience, look no further than a skilled matchmaker.

What We Offer

At Executive Matchmakers, we provide something more than just a database of members to endlessly sift through. We provide stellar introductions with eligible potential partners.

Private: We understand the sensitive nature of working with a matchmaker, which is why your membership will be kept private. We don’t post your profile, name, or photos, so you can join with the peace of mind that only a professional matchmaker can offer.

Personalized: There are no generic profiles or sifting through members. With Executive Matchmakers, you can date your way. Using our Signature Match process, we tailor your search to your unique personal preferences.

Commitment-Minded: Our service is designed for those who are ready to get off the dating treadmill and into a happy, fulfilling, long-term relationship. For successful singles who aren’t willing to compromise on quality, there’s no better choice than Executive Matchmakers.

Six Signs You Should See Them Again

There’s so much advice out there about how to have a successful first date, but what do you do after that? Unpacking the experience of meeting someone new is often more complicated than we would like. It’s pretty rare that a date is completely perfect from start to finish.

Awkward silences, miscommunications, and mismatched expectations can all make first dates a bumpy ride, but they don’t necessarily mean there’s no potential connection to pursue. If you’re not sure whether you should go on a second date, don’t worry. Here are a few signs it’s worth seeing them again.

Good Sign: You Had Great Conversation

If your first date was marked by effortless conversation where words just seemed to flow, that's a fantastic sign! It means you're comfortable with each other, and that's a solid foundation for more dates.

Having a great conversation is more simple than you might think. According to several experts, including Morra Aarons-Mele, author of Hiding In the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), the secret is to listen as much or more than you talk.

“If you just talk a lot you might get exhausted, but if you ask questions and listen and draw people out, they’ll think you’re a great conversationalist.”
Morra Aarons-Mele

A smooth conversation makes the date more relaxed and fun, and that makes it easier for both of you to be yourselves. This can clue you into your compatibility as partners. While we recommend keeping it positive and relatively light, letting the conversation flow where it may can reveal the answer to any number of questions about your connection.

Good Sign: You Discovered Shared Interests

Did you discover that you both have a passion for hiking, a love for movie musicals, or an obsession with trying out new cuisines? Finding common ground can be like striking gold. It gives you something to bond over and ensures that future dates won't be short of fun activities to do together.

When you find common ground, it's easier to feel comfortable with each other and enjoy meaningful conversations. Shared interests provide a foundation for deeper connections to develop over time. When you have things in common, you're more likely to understand each other's perspectives and enjoy spending time together.

Shared interests can often reflect underlying values and goals. Discovering that you have similar priorities can be reassuring and increase the potential for a long-term relationship.

Good Sign: There was Chemistry

Chemistry is like a spark that makes you feel drawn to each other. Did you find yourself laughing at their jokes, feeling a flutter in your stomach when they smiled, or just enjoying their company? If so, you might have stumbled upon something special.

“Chemistry” in the dating world isn’t just chemical reactions. It’s a combination of things like physical attraction, shared interests, and engaging conversation. When you have chemistry, conversations feel easy, and you're excited to spend more time together.

While this is a great early sign, it’s important to remember that chemistry alone will not sustain your relationship for long. For surface-level interactions, this is enough, but a serious relationship thrives on a deeper connection. Often, an initial spark is simply lust, and this will fade over time if not supported by a strong foundation.

Good Sign: There was Mutual Respect

Pay attention to how your date treats you and others. Do they listen attentively when you speak? Are they courteous to the waiter? Respect and consideration are non-negotiables in any relationship. If your date checks these boxes, it's definitely a green light for a second outing.

Respect fosters open communication, trust, and empathy, which are essential elements for a successful relationship. When both individuals show respect for each other's opinions, boundaries, and feelings, it creates a sense of safety and comfort. This indicates that you value each other as individuals and are interested in building a connection based on mutual understanding and consideration.

Good Sign: You Have Shared Values

While opposites may attract, shared values are the glue that holds relationships together in the long run. Did you discover that you both value honesty, kindness, or adventure? When your core beliefs align, it paves the way for a deeper connection and a stronger bond.

The old adage that opposites attract is more myth than reality, as it turns out. In a study published by the journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers found that couples share about 89% of traits. This includes things like how often they smoke or drink water, as well as deeper traits like political compass and religious beliefs.

Good Sign: You Want To See Them Again

The biggest tell-tale sign? You find yourself eagerly looking forward to seeing them again. Whether it's because you can't wait to hear about their latest travel adventure or simply because being around them makes you happy, that anticipation speaks volumes.

While the chemical cocktail created by lust in your brain is often nothing more than that, sometimes it can indicate the beginning of something deeper. When you begin falling in love, it changes your brain.

"When you fall in love, your body produces a cocktail of chemicals, including dopamine (for wanting more), noradrenaline (for excitement, focus, and attention), testosterone (for sexual interest and drive), and a drop in serotonin (which can cause that low-key obsessive feeling). These chemicals make us feel happy, giddy, energetic, euphoric, and youthful."
Kelifern Pomeranz, PsyD, psychologist and sex therapist

So don’t worry if you feel nervous about asking for a second date. Those butterflies in your stomach are trying to tell you this is an opportunity to connect with someone special.

In the end, trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you that a second date is worth exploring, then go for it! After all, love and connection are all about taking chances and following your heart. So why not see where the road leads? Who knows, it might just be the start of something beautiful.

How to Ask Someone for a Date

How to Ask Someone on a Date

On the surface, asking someone out seems easy enough; it’s a simple question. But ask around and you’ll find out there’s definitely a wrong way to go about getting a first date.

If you’re dying to ask your crush to dinner but you’re struggling to get the words out, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this practical guide to getting a date with your special someone.

Who Should You Ask?

This might seem obvious, but there’s more to a great date than being with someone who is attractive. If you want to have a good time and potentially a serious relationship, you should ask someone you're genuinely interested in getting to know better. This creates a strong foundation for meaningful conversation and connection.

Think about whether there's compatibility between you and the person you're asking out. Your intended having similar values, goals, and a lifestyle that aligns well with yours are all good signs. Beyond that, you should look for signs of mutual interest. This pops up most commonly as reciprocal conversations, shared interests, and open, positive body language.

When to Ask Someone Out

Timing is important when asking someone out. Choosing the right moment can make the invitation feel more natural and comfortable for both of you. Try to find a time when you're already spending time together. You’ll feel more comfortable and confident when you're both enjoying each other's company and the conversation is flowing smoothly.

Avoid situations where the other person might feel pressured or uncomfortable, such as when they're busy or preoccupied with something else. It's best to wait for a moment when both of you are relaxed and able to focus on the conversation without distractions.

Choosing a Place

Think about where you'd like to go or what you'd like to do on the date. Choose a location or activity that aligns with both of your interests and preferences. It could be something casual like grabbing coffee or more adventurous like going axe-throwing.

First Date Ideas

Coffee or Tea Date: Meet up at a local coffee shop for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. It's a classic casual option that allows for easy conversation. Opting for a location close to a bustling town center will give you the option to go window shopping together when you finish your cuppas.

Walk in the Park: While the sun is shining, take a leisurely stroll through a nearby park or botanical garden. Flowers in bloom make springtime walks all the more romantic. It's a low-pressure way to get to know each other while enjoying the outdoors.

Ice Cream or Dessert: Grab an ice cream cone or indulge in some delectable chocolate cake at a nearby ice cream parlor or bakery. It's a cute and simple date that’s sure to create sugar-sweet memories.

Visit a Bookstore: Browse through books together at a bookstore or library. You can discuss your favorite genres and even recommend reads to each other. Learning about someone’s reading interests can provide a unique insight into their personality and hobbies.

Art Gallery or Museum: Explore an art gallery or small museum in your area. Looking at beautiful things together is sure to stir up a spirit of wonder and curiosity—perfect for knocking a first date out of the park.

Attend a Local Event: Check out a local event such as a farmer's market, street fair, or live music performance. Many places host food and culture festivals that are great opportunities to uncover hidden gems in your city or town. It's a fun way to experience something new together and engage with your community.

Mini Golf: Challenge each other to a friendly game of mini golf. It's a classic date night activity for good reason—it’s active, lighthearted, and allows for playful competition.

Craft Workshop or Paint-Along: Get creative together by attending a DIY craft night at a local art studio or specialty craft store. You can make something fun while getting to know each other's artistic side. Paint and sip events are popular, but it’s worth checking out your area for other options, like candle making, ceramics painting, or even beginner floral arranging tutorials.

Authentic Communication is Everything

Authenticity is key. Be genuine and true to yourself when asking someone out. Trying to be someone you're not will only lead to complications later on.

Be mindful of the other person's boundaries and comfort level. If they seem hesitant or uninterested, don't pressure them. Respect their decision and move forward gracefully. A date is only fun when both parties are happy to be there.

Don’t be afraid to make your intentions known. Be clear and direct when asking them out. Avoid vague phrases like “we should hang out sometime”. This approach makes it more difficult to nail down a time and activity. Instead, clearly express your intentions and give them the opportunity to respond honestly.

Don’t be afraid to make your intentions known. Avoid vague phrases like “we should hang out sometime”.

What to Say When Asking Someone Out

These are just a few of the million ways to ask someone out on a date. Try out these different approaches to see which one fits you and your potential date’s situation best. Whatever your approach, it’s important to be direct and extend an invitation.

Simple Approach: "Hey, I've really enjoyed talking with you. Would you like to go out for dinner sometime this week?"

Casual Invite: "I was thinking about trying out this new coffee shop this weekend. Would you like to join me?"

Specific Plan: "I heard about this cool art exhibit happening downtown next Saturday. Would you be interested in going together?"

Interest-Based Invite: "I remember you mentioned you're into film. Would you be up for going to a movie together this Sunday?"

Event Invitation: "There's a concert happening next Friday that I've been wanting to check out. Would you be interested in going with me?"

Group Setting: "A few friends and I are planning to go bowling this Friday. Would you like to come along?"

Adventurous Invite: "I've been wanting to try out this new Thai restaurant. Would you be up for tackling it with me?"

How to Handle Rejection Gracefully

Not everyone you ask out will say yes, and that's totally fine. If someone turns down your invitation, it's important to respond with grace and respect.

It's okay to feel disappointed if someone says no. That's a natural reaction, but it's not the end of the world. Thank the person for their honesty and for considering your invitation. Showing appreciation for their candor is a mature way to handle the situation.

Keep treating them with kindness and respect afterward. Just because they said no doesn't mean your interaction has to be awkward or uncomfortable. Be friendly, keep things light, and don't let the rejection sour your attitude towards them.

If you feel like you need to know why they said no, be polite and prepared to accept the answer they give you. Arguing isn’t likely to change their answer or make them more keen to spend time with you in the future.

Confirm the Details

If they agree to go on a date with you, make sure to follow up and confirm the details. Plan the specifics of the date together and ensure you both have a clear understanding of what to expect.

Asking someone on a date can feel scary, but at the end of the day it’s just a question. You can do this. Be brave, find the right moment, and tell them you’re interested. You’ll never know what sparks might fly until you ask them out.

TED Talks on Love and Relationships

These TED Talks Will Change Your Love Life

Looking for a few minutes of relationship wisdom? These speakers offer diverse perspectives on love, dating, and relationships—and this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

 In a world where dating and relationships are only growing more complex, it’s comforting to have so many knowledgeable people to lean on. Whether you want to up your flirting game, find the one, or learn the signs of a potentially volatile relationship, these TED speakers have you covered. 

“True love that is not backed up by the right action is not true love.”

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite TED talks about dating, love, and relationships. Read on for some sage wisdom, right from the experts themselves. 

Katie Hood - The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love

“It’s important to remember it’s not how a relationship starts that matters, it’s how it evolves.”

Katie Hood the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships TED Talk

Not all love is healthy love. In this TED Talk, Katie Hood, the former CEO of the One Love Foundation, outlines the warning signs of unhealthy love. These are red flag behaviors that if unaddressed can escalate and become abusive. 

She highlights five features of unhealthy love to look out for: intensity, isolation, extreme jealousy, belittling, and volatility. These things can be hard to spot at the beginning of a relationship, but Hood says keeping an eye out for them is essential for your well-being. Abusive relationships become more difficult to leave over time, so it’s important to know the signs.

Jean Smith - The Science of Flirting: Being a H.O.T. A.P.E.

“This is where people often get it wrong: they want to attract everybody. But no, you just want to attract those people who match with you.”

Jean Smith Ted Talk on The Science of Flirting

Social anthropologist Jean Smith has a method for flirting and recognizing when someone is flirting with you. She calls it the H.O.T. A.P.E. method. After researching the flirting behaviors of four major cities—New York, London, Paris, and Stockholm—she discovered patterns in the way singles try to attract one another.

The six-letter acronym provides a blueprint for flirting as well as a way to tell if someone is a good potential partner for you. If the H.O.T. A.P.E. method fails, it’s probably a sign to look for a connection elsewhere.

Dr. Terri Orbuch - Is It Lust or Is It Love?

“You’ve heard the phrase ‘love is blind?’ Well at the beginning of a relationship, lust makes you blind.”

Terri Orbuch TED Talk on Lust or Love

Relationship researcher Dr. Terri Orbuch outlines the difference between love and lust. While the states seem similar at first glance, Dr. Orbuch illustrates how love and lust are two different things altogether.

She explains the four key differences between love and lust, highlighting how each affects a relationship. Love, she says, is a more complicated state than lust. While lust is at its highest at the beginning of a relationship, love gets stronger as your connection grows.

Femi Ogunjinmi - How To Tell If Someone Truly Loves You

“When we examine love in a break-up, I believe one of three things has happened. It's either: one, there was no love at the beginning of the relationship to start with; two, there was something bigger than the love that broke the relationship; or three, the love declined.”

Femi Ogunjinmi TED Talk on How to Tell if Someone Truly Loves You

In this powerful talk, relationship coach Femi Ogunjinmi illustrates that true love is a choice you make. Instead of a static state of being, to be in love is an active decision, something you have to choose and work for. True love, Ogunjinmi says, is seen in your actions toward your partner. 

He highlights different kinds of love and explains how they’re different from the commitment and care required by a serious romantic relationship. Agape love, he says, is the truest form of love, and it is the only way to sustain a relationship.

Bela Gandhi - The Big Secret to Finding Lasting Love

“Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with tall, or younger, or attractive. Attraction is really important in romantic relationships. But what I am saying is when you choose for the qualities that make you happiest in your romantic relationships, it will lead to the best most soulful love of your life.”

Bela Gandhi TED Talk on The Big Secret to Finding Lasting Love

Nobody teaches you to find a partner. In her career, Bela Gandhi discovered that singles’ dating checklists were oftentimes stopping them from finding love. Instead of the usual fare—“tall” is the common request from ladies, while guys want someone “attractive”—she’s teaching singles to redesign their checklists.

By looking at non-physical traits and examining the other important relationships in her clients’ lives, she helps them reimagine their “dream partner” and find their true dating priorities. Gandhi’s goal is to get her clients to stop looking for what they want in a partner and start looking for what she calls “elevator” qualities. And her approach seems to work—as of the day she gave this talk, none of her clients have gotten divorced.

Brené Brown - The Power of Vulnerability

“What we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is neurobiologically how we’re wired; it’s why we’re here.”

Brene Brown TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown is a storyteller and researcher who studies human connection: the ways we get it and what stands in the way of connection. Her research led her to look closer at what people who practice “whole-hearted living” all have in common. This group of people, “the whole-hearted”, she comes to define as those who repeatedly show the courage to be imperfect, in their lives and relationships. They also seem to understand that vulnerability is crucial for connection. Examples of what people consider acts of vulnerability include being the first to say “I love you” in a new relationship, being the one to initiate sex with their partner, and being willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. Brown says, “These people show the willingness to do something when there are no guarantees.”  

Nancy Benitez - How to Find Your Perfect Partner

“I needed to take a long look at all my fails, at all my unhappiness, and not depend on anyone else. If I wanted anything to change, I needed to change. I chose to be the victor and no longer the victim.”

Nancy Benitez How to Find Your Perfect Partner

After a stint on an online dating platform that didn’t lead to the fulfilling love she was looking for, men’s dating coach Nancy Benitez decided to try a different approach. Instead of looking for a partner somewhere around her, she started looking inward to find her perfect partner. 

In this talk, she highlights the questions she used to gain clarity on her journey. She advises questioning yourself and your patterns. In order to change your life, you need to change your mindset. By practicing self-reflection and allowing the journey to unfold naturally, you can find beautiful, strong, authentic connections.

Ronit Ranjan - How To Find Love Again

“I realized the vulnerability is the solution. I realized that the very love I’m looking for from outside is nowhere. It’s right here in front of me, but I’m too caught up looking here and there. But I need to look within.”

Ronit Ranjan TED Talk on How to Find Love Again

Even if we’re fortunate to spend most of our lives with the same partner, most of us will fall in love many times throughout our lives. Beginning with his earliest heartbreaks, life coach Ronit Ranjan illustrates that looking for a relationship is not the same as looking for the right relationship. By trying to force a connection with incompatible people, he discovered the secret to finding fulfilling love.

By getting comfortable being alone, Ranjan learned to do the difficult internal work necessary to find the right relationship. In this talk, he breaks down the process into three steps to help you reach a place where you’re ready to find love again

Anne Power - Attachment Theory is the Science of Love

“You may say there are no new ideas about love, and I would say this isn’t romance. It’s science. Attachment theory sees love as part of our evolutionary design.”

Anne Power TED Talk Attachment Theory is the Science of Love

In this enlightening talk, therapist Anne Power explains the history and science of attachment theory. Our ideas of love begin to form early in life, and researchers have spent decades studying the causes and effects of our childhood and adult attachment styles.

Understanding your own attachment style and how it might impact your relationship can save you headaches and heartbreak down the line. Power explains the basics of attachment with three points: all of our behavior makes sense in context, feeling safe with others enables us to learn, and you can find safety by slowing down and thinking clearly.

Amanda McCracken - How Longing Keeps Us From Healthy Relationships

“I will tell my daughter: You cannot be attracted to a healthy and loving relationship until you stop longing for the perfect one. “

AManda McCraken TED Talk on How Longing Keeps Us From Healthy Relationships

Can you be in love with longing? Amanda McCracken thinks so. After her essay exploring her personal decision to wait for a committed relationship to have sex for the first time went viral, 35-year-old McCracken began to wonder if she might be in love with the idea of perfection she could never actually find.

Intimacy requires being vulnerable, and that can be scary. Longing allows us to hide from our fear of making the wrong choice, but if it’s not kept in check it can also stop us from finding the relationship we’re longing for. Making a change is hard, but it’s the only way to create the life you want to live.

Michelle Drouin - Online Love & Infidelity. We're in the Game, What Are the Rules?

“Today’s world is a totally new world. Not only the rules have changed, but it is an entirely new game. Mobile phones, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—they have changed the game.” 

Michelle Drouin TED Talk on Online Love and Infidelity

The internet has permanently changed the way dating works. Instead of approaching in person, younger people especially are approaching each other digitally. Dating sites and apps have made the options in our dating pools essentially endless. So in this new dating landscape, what are the rules?

Dr. Michelle Drouin, a developmental psychologist, has studied just this. People misrepresent themselves online all the time, and this has a disturbing effect on our relationships. She describes the ways people communicate online, what it means to keep someone on the “back burner”, and so much more.  

Want more advice on how you can up your game? Check out our blog for advice on first-date outfits, making conversation, vulnerability, and so much more. 

8 Questions to Ask Yourself After a Date

When you’re single and looking for a relationship, figuring out exactly what you want can be tough. Superficial requirements make their way onto your relationship checklist, and it can be difficult to ditch those dealbreakers once you’ve racked them up.

The superficiality trap isn’t the only reason it can be difficult to tell who might be a good partner. Traits that seem ideal in theory might not be attractive in reality. Things like attachment style and past relationship experiences lead many of us to naturally gravitate toward partners who aren’t great relationship choices.

So after you part ways, how do you know if you should see them again? Tricky as it can be, figuring out whether a second date is a good idea is a skill that we can all benefit from in our dating life.

Logan Ury is a relationship expert, dating coach, and behavior scientist. She created a list of eight questions to ask yourself after a date. The point of these questions is to evaluate the date based on how you feel. Ury says that judging based on your emotions, not your expectations, will give you a better idea of whether your date might eventually lead to a relationship.

“We spend dates asking ourselves "Do they check all the boxes?" instead of focusing on how they make us feel. Checklists aren't inherently bad, but most people's lists focus on the wrong things - superficial traits that are not correlated with long-term relationship success.” -Logan Ury, behavior scientist and dating coach

Taking a few minutes to reflect will help you figure out if you want to see that person again or if you're better off moving on. Here are eight questions to ask yourself after a date, according to a relationship scientist.

1. What side of me did they bring out?

Thinking about what aspects of yourself came out during the date can help you understand how you felt around the other person. Did you feel like you could be yourself, or did you act differently? It's important because it shows if the relationship is bringing out your true self or if there are things you need to think about. Your self-awareness can help in evaluating the compatibility and potential of your connection.

2. How did my body feel during the date? Stiff, relaxed, or somewhere in between?

Your emotions can affect your body. Thinking about how your body reacted can help you understand your feelings better. If you were anxious or stressed on your date, you might have felt tense. If you were happy and enjoying yourself, you likely felt more comfortable physically. 

It’s normal to have some nerves when you’re seeing someone new. However,  if your body is communicating discomfort, it’s worth taking time to reflect on why you felt this way.

Your body language can also give you valuable insight. For example, if you noticed that you were leaning in and making eye contact easily, it could mean that you were engaged and interested in the conversation. However, body language like crossing your arms and fidgeting in your seat could be a sign of discomfort or disinterest.

3. Do I feel more energized or de-energized than I did before the date?

This question can help you gauge your emotional response to your date’s relational energy. Mostly used in organizational psychology, this term can also apply to the way interacting with someone leaves you feeling. People with positive relational energy will leave you feeling happier and more energized, while negative relational energy can be draining. 

If you feel more energized, it likely means you had a good time, enjoyed the conversation, and felt a connection with your date. On the other hand, feeling de-energized might suggest that the date was draining, uninteresting, or uncomfortable.

4. Is there something about them that I’m curious about?

Curiosity is a fundamental aspect of building rapport and understanding with someone new. If there's something about them that makes you want to ask lots of questions, it's a sign of chemistry and potential compatibility. It shows that you're genuinely interested in getting to know them better, beyond surface-level interactions.

5. Did they make me laugh?

For many of us, a similar sense of humor is an important factor in deciding whether there's potential for a relationship to develop further. Genuine laughter is a sure sign of a great date. It shows you enjoyed each other's company and probably have some things in common. It's another sign that you felt relaxed and comfortable around your date.

6. Did I feel heard?

Feeling heard means that your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives were acknowledged and respected by your date. Effective communication and feeling understood are essential components of a healthy relationship. If you didn't feel heard, it might indicate a lack of mutual understanding or empathy, which could be a red flag in a relationship.

Pay attention to whether your interest and curiosity are returned.  If your date didn’t ask any questions about you, they might not be ready to connect with you on a deeper level. They might just need more time to warm up, but this is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re ready for a serious relationship.

7. Did I feel attractive in their presence?

Reflecting on whether you felt attractive in someone's presence can help you consider a few things. Firstly, you can tell a lot about your chemistry. If you felt attractive, your date likely seemed interested in you, and vice versa. 

This question can also highlight any insecurities or doubts you may have about yourself. We all have insecurities. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but sometimes self-doubt can make it harder to connect with others. Asking yourself if you felt attractive can help you update your date night wardrobe with items that make you feel confident in your appearance.

8. Did I feel captivated, bored, or something in between?

Thinking about how you felt during and after a date can tell you a lot about whether you really clicked with the person. If you felt interested and connected, that's a good sign. It suggests there was genuine interest and chemistry, and it could point to future compatibility. 

On the other hand, if you felt bored, it might imply a lack of compatibility or engagement. Dating comes with its fair share of awkward moments, but if you really didn’t click at all, then it might be time to look elsewhere for your long-term partner.

The Importance of Reflection

In the early stages of dating someone, it’s important to stay attuned to your feelings. Often we get so caught up in an idea of who our new interest might be that we don’t get to know who they actually are. To counteract this, we recommend our clients meet their matchmaking introductions in person three times before making any final decisions.

This approach called the Three Date Rule, allows both you and your date to get more comfortable and familiar with one another. Nerves and mismatched expectations can easily get in your way on a first date. By giving yourselves more time to decide how you feel, you can make a more informed decision about potential partners.

Checking in with your feelings after each date can help you stay grounded and keep your expectations realistic. Instead of clouding your first impression with nervousness and unmet expectations, these eight questions can help you reflect on how you genuinely feel about your date. Ury says this is a crucial step in finding a happy, loving partnership. Relationships can’t survive on expectations; you have to like each other, too.

Single man standing in the middle of a crowd

Overcoming Avoidant Attachment

Having strong connections with others is vital for our happiness and overall health. Our relationships with others have the power to deeply enrich our lives, as well as extend them. For some, emotional intimacy happens quite naturally. However, cultivating close relationships can be a struggle for many people.

One reason this might be the case is their attachment style. Attachment, in psychology, refers to the deep emotional bonds we form with others. People who are avoidantly attached may find it difficult to navigate relationships. Although you might face extra relationship hurdles because of an avoidant attachment style, it is still possible to cultivate a happy, healthy, loving relationship. 

Read on to learn more about avoidant attachment, the ways it can affect your relationships, and how you can overcome avoidant behaviors to have stronger connections in your life.

What is Attachment Style?

Attachment theory was proposed in the 1960s by psychologist John Bowlby. Originally conceived as a two-part explanation of infant and child behavior, the model was expanded upon several times to paint a fuller picture of attachment throughout both childhood and adulthood.

Our first attachments were formed as infants to our caregivers. These are parents, grandparents, or anyone who is consistently responsible for an infant/child’s well-being. 

A child’s attachment to their caregiver is a major factor in several areas of their cognitive, social, and emotional development. It forms the basis of their early coping skills, and it can have lifelong effects on their ability to have stable relationships with others.

Your attachment style describes how you form emotional bonds with people and how you behave in relationships long after childhood. It has to do with the way you were cared for early in life, but it’s not set in stone. Your life experiences as you grow into adulthood and throughout your life can also shape your attachment style in adult romantic relationships.

Attachment styles can be sorted into two basic categories—secure and insecure. 

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment helps children grow into well-adjusted adults. When a child is securely attached to their parent/caregiver, they trust that they can depend on their caregiver for protection and comfort. They know they can rely on their caregiver to have their basic needs met. 

These children see their caregiver as a “secure base” from which they can explore the world. They feel safe leaving their base because they trust their caregiver will be there when they return. They may be upset when their parent or caregiver leaves them, but they can compose themselves and are not upset or angry with their parent when reunited.

Securely attached adults behave similarly. They might miss their partner when they’re away, but they can cope well with their feelings. They trust that they can rely on their partner for support and companionship, and they are easily able to create and respect healthy boundaries.

Insecure Attachment

Someone with an insecure attachment style might have difficulty trusting others in relationships. For any number of reasons, they weren’t able to view their caregivers as a “secure base” in early childhood. This could be because they had emotionally unavailable parents, or they were raised by someone who was unable to care for them well. 

Insecure attachment can be further broken down into two groups: anxious and avoidant. Some struggle with disorganized attachment, which includes traits of both insecure attachment styles.

When a child is anxiously attached, they may stick close to their caregiver. If they’re separated, the child will often become inconsolable, even after their caregiver returns. They may also have trouble with regulating negative emotions in general, as well. 

In adulthood, these anxious patterns can appear as a strong need for closeness and intimacy in a relationship. Anxiously attached adults may need frequent reassurance that others like them. They may fear abandonment and worry that their partner will leave them. 

Insecure attachment styles have been linked to a higher likelihood of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety disorders. People who form insecure attachments often also struggle with low self-esteem. They may find intimacy difficult and have a hard time trusting others.

What is Avoidant Attachment? 

Children may develop avoidant attachment as a result of their needs and/or emotions being dismissed or downplayed by their caregivers. This can lead children to believe that their needs are not as important as others’, and they may learn to disregard them instead of asking for help. Avoidantly attached children learn that they must rely on themselves for comfort and support.

In adulthood, this can be further broken down into fearful-avoidant attachment and dismissive-avoidant attachment.

People with dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to overlook the value of intimacy and closeness. This can make vulnerability very difficult, thus dismissively attached people are prone to isolation. They often have short, casual relationships that don’t carry the risk of emotional intimacy. Anything deeper is likely to cause distress, and thus to be avoided. This is due to a lack of trust in others.

As Dr. Morgan Anderson, psychologist, attachment expert, and author of Love Magnet: Get Off the Dating Rollercoaster and Attract the Love You Deserve says, 

“If your brain has associated intimacy, closeness, dating, or relationships with pain, then it wants to keep you the hell away from it. . . . This is often why people take two steps toward love and then three steps back. Their brain sends out the message of ‘Alert! Alert! Intimacy is near! Must exit immediately or do something stupid to mess this up!’’

People who form fearful-avoidant attachments may be more likely to start leaning on others for comfort, and then withdraw. These individuals tend to isolate more out of a fear of rejection than their dismissive counterparts. This leads them to seek out intimate relationships but to jump ship when it’s time for a deeper commitment.

How to Heal Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant behaviors can get in the way of your relationship truly flourishing, or they might stop it in its tracks before it even begins. 

If avoidant attachment has caused issues in your past relationships, there is hope for your current and future connections. You can learn new coping mechanisms and disrupt old patterns of thinking. Secure attachment can become second nature to you with time and effort.

If You Form Fearful-Avoidant Attachments

Learning to overcome avoidant attachment is a journey that simply can’t take place overnight. Part of this is getting more comfortable expressing vulnerability in your relationships. However, much of the work that comes with healing fearful-avoidant attachment is going to be on your relationship with yourself. 

For this, Dr. Morgan has some tough love:

“The truth is that your lack of self-worth is causing your poor habits, and your poor habits are maintaining your low self-worth.”

According to Dr. Morgan, having high self-worth is the foundation for attracting the loving connections you deserve. She says the journey to restoring your self-worth begins with establishing good self-care practices.

When you’re forming new habits, Dr. Morgan stresses the importance of doing things that are genuinely beneficial to your well-being. While taking a bubble bath every night can be fun and relaxing, warm water can’t do all the heavy lifting here. To get to the root of what you need, Dr. Morgan recommends asking yourself this question: 

“What habits, boundaries, and methods of communication do I need in order to be the version of me that kicks ass, takes names, and feels at peace?”

She says that one of the most effective ways to rebuild your self-worth is by changing your day-to-day actions. When you practice good self-care and allow those habits to affect different areas of your life, it has the power to change you on a fundamental level.

Your new habits will allow you to behave like someone who loves themself unapologetically. When you start behaving this way, according to Dr. Morgan, your thoughts and beliefs about yourself will eventually follow suit. 

If You Form Dismissive-Avoidant Attachments

Many dismissively attached people are perfectly happy being self-reliant. However, being hyperindependent can be incredibly lonely. When you’re trying to build your capacity for intimacy, it might be hard to know where to begin. Looking more closely at your need for total independence is the first step.

One way to start chipping away at your walls is to start saying “yes” to things that are a bit outside your comfort zone. For example, if you have difficulty showing emotion in front of others, try watching a sappy movie with someone you trust. This will let you safely allow yourself to shed a few tears without getting too deep just yet.

Being vulnerable is scary for folks who form dismissive attachments. However, over time, you can teach yourself to trust intimacy from your loved ones. This allows the people you love to support you through life’s struggles, and it lets them fully celebrate your wins as well.

Final Thoughts

Some of us tend to avoid closeness because we fear we’re not good enough. Others have gotten used to handling things on their own. Whatever the reason, avoidant attachment can make relationships hard to navigate. 

You don’t have to do it alone. Talking to a professional, whether a licensed therapist or a certified dating coach, can help you understand your attachment issues. Knowledge is power, so consider doing your own reading as well. Dr. Morgan Anderson’s Love Magnet is a great place to start.

With patience and time, you can learn to heal your avoidant attachment. You can face your fears and learn to let people in. And by doing that, you can enjoy deeper connections and a more fulfilling life.

couple in hotel room

Why Do People Cheat in Relationships?

Anyone who has been cheated on knows how emotionally devastating it can be. Many of us have gone searching for a reason our partner cheated, or—heartbreakingly—believed we were the cause of the infidelity. 

Unfortunately, cheating happens; research found that in 2018 and 2019, 20% of men and 13% of women admitted to sleeping with someone other than their spouse while they were married. 

Despite the pain, understanding why people cheat can give us insight into relationships and human behavior. We’re discussing what cheating is, why it happens, and how to move forward after cheating rocks your relationship. 

Whether you're trying to heal from infidelity or curious about the complex dynamics at play, we've got you covered. Cheating can shake up a relationship, but there are ways to move forward and grow from it. Let's explore the key things to know about cheating and how to regain control after it’s happened to you.

What Is Cheating?

Every relationship is unique, so it makes sense that everyone has their own definition of what qualifies as infidelity. Some define cheating as strictly sexual, while others see it more broadly to include things like emotional affairs. Even a solo act like watching pornography is considered a no-go to some. Ultimately, cheating is whatever you and your partner agree it is. 

As dating and relationship therapist, Dr. Gary Brown, puts it, "If you have an agreement with your partner that your relationship is monogamous, and you have an emotional and/or sexual affair with someone else, then you are violating your agreement with your partner — and you have cheated.”

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, without open communication between partners, the lines around what counts as "cheating" can get a little blurry. As you’ll see, cheating isn’t always cut-and-dry; one person’s expectations could be totally different from their partner’s. That’s why it’s important to have honest conversations about boundaries. Talking about what cheating means in your relationship can help you avoid misunderstandings and heartbreak down the line.

Types of Cheating

According to psychologist Gregory Kushnick, cheating comes in a few forms. He says it’s about where you direct your energy and your support. If those things are flowing away from someone’s partner and toward another sexual and/or romantic prospect, then it’s cheating.

“Cheating can be physical, emotional, and/or digital. Cheating involves channeling sexual energy or deep, emotional support toward someone who could potentially represent a sexual partner. It usually, but not always, involves some form of deceit and neglect of your partner's needs.” - Dr. Gary Kushnick, PsyD

 Physical Cheating: This includes secret rendezvous, one-off hookups, and, for some, less obvious things like getting a secret lap dance at a strip club. Many people place other kinds of physical intimacy in this category as well, not just sex. This includes things like kissing, cuddling, and intimate touches.

Essentially, physical cheating is any touch that you’ve agreed not to share with anyone outside of your committed relationship. While the offenses in this category vary widely in severity, it is the one that is most universally regarded as crossing a relationship boundary.

Emotional Cheating: An emotional affair can do just as much damage as a physical one, sometimes even more. In a relationship, emotional intimacy is incredibly important. Developing an intimate emotional connection with someone new can hurt and alienate your partner.

This is not to say that other relationships should have no emotional intimacy at all. In platonic relationships, it’s important to build a level of emotional intimacy. However, this can become inappropriate if your partner is left out of the loop. It can also be considered an emotional affair if the new relationship comes at the expense of your emotional connection with your partner.

Digital Cheating: As the name suggests, this is cheating that happens in digital spaces. This could include things like exchanging steamy photos or having phone sex with someone other than your partner. Many consider spending time in adult Internet chat rooms or other NSFW interactions online to be digital cheating as well. 

For some, pornography may fall under this label as well. While consuming porn is likely a solo act, it isn’t always totally innocent. If your viewing habits are a secret from your partner, it could be hurtful for them to find out. This may be especially true if the performers you typically watch don’t resemble your partner at all.

Intellectual Cheating: This one is a bit tricky to define. Many people consider their romantic partner to be their best friend, as well. Intellectual cheating happens when one partner in a relationship begins to rely on someone else for the same friendship and companionship that they once received from their partner. 

This is not the same thing as sharing interests with friends. While not every interest or intellectual philosophy needs to be shared between partners, it can be hurtful to be excluded. According to sex and relationship therapist Laura Berman, PhD, Intellectual cheating happens when someone begins sharing ideas and interests with a third party, even though their partner is also interested. Ultimately, it comes down to directing energy away from your partner, Berman says.

Do Cheaters Love Their Partners?

Life is complicated, and so are relationships. While cheating can happen because partners have fallen out of love, in reality, cheaters often do love their partners. A committed relationship is a lifelong project, and nobody is perfect. That said, it is always your choice whether or not to forgive a partner who has cheated, regardless of the circumstances. 

Opportunistic cheating happens when someone who genuinely loves and feels attached to their partner commits infidelity. These situations are typically one-off scenarios. As social psychologist Theresa E. DiDonato says, "Not every act of infidelity is premeditated and driven by dissatisfaction with a current relationship…Maybe they were drinking or in some other way thrown into an opportunity they didn't anticipate."

No matter the situation, experts say cheating is the result of poor impulse control and selfishness. As licensed marriage and family therapist, Jeff Yoo puts it, “All humans can be tempted. It comes down to the core of who the individual is.”

Why Do People Decide to Cheat?

People cheat in relationships for many different reasons. It’s important to remember that whatever their reason, it’s not your fault. 

Insecurity - it’s not about you.

There is an element of this in most cases where infidelity is an issue. When someone has low self-esteem, they might seek approval from any source they can. This approval-seeking could lead them to do things they otherwise might not even consider, like crossing a boundary in their relationship. 

For instance, a big argument with their partner might cause someone to feel like they’re not good enough. This could lead them to seek approval and affection from someone else. On a normal day, this might never happen. However, in a vulnerable state, the validation of someone else’s affection can make cheating seem more enticing.

Attachment issues

Attachment style has a big influence on how we behave in relationships. Someone’s attachment style alone can’t determine whether they’ll cheat in a relationship, but it can offer some insight when infidelity does happen. For example, cheating may be a way for an avoidantly attached partner to regain a sense of control and safety in the relationship. 

Being in love requires a lot of vulnerability, which can be scary. Someone with an avoidant attachment style responds to this call for openness with an instinct to run away, or to avoid the situation. This can make communication difficult, leading to resentment and setting the stage for infidelity.


It’s sad but many people don’t believe themselves to be worthy of love. This is most often learned from past experiences where parents, trusted loved ones, or previous relationship partners have treated them poorly. Unless we can break patterns in our relationship choices, we learn to accept the treatment we receive. 

Sometimes, when a person is used to being in this kind of relationship, they haven’t learned how to behave in a healthy, peaceful relationship. They may cross a boundary in your relationship as a misguided way to “test” your love; your reaction to their infidelity is a way to confirm what they already believe about themself. 

Inability to End the Relationship

In some cases, someone may cheat because they believe it will make you break up with them. Instead of having a conversation about their concerns in the relationship, this kind of cheater chooses to force your hand by doing something that will make you stand up and say it’s time to go your separate ways.

How to Move Forward After Being Cheated On

While relationships sometimes do survive infidelity, cheating is often a catastrophic betrayal. Dealing with the emotional fallout of infidelity while grieving the end of a relationship can be overwhelming. It’s important to take steps to protect your mental health. 

It’s okay to take things slowly. Being cheated on can be difficult to bounce back from, so be patient with yourself. Don’t force yourself to get back out there before you’re ready. Your time will come; just take it one day at a time. 

The end of a relationship is an opportunity to begin a new chapter of your life. Try to take some time to reflect on your past relationships, and acknowledge the ways you’ve grown through heartbreak. Don’t forget that you can choose how to move forward now, too. 

You can choose to be loved by people who value you and treat you well. We often internalize things from life experiences that can lead us to relationship trouble later on. If you find that your past relationships bear similarities, it’s worth looking closer. 

When you recognize and understand the patterns that are holding you back, you can interrupt them. This is a vital part of the healing process and the path to a happy, healthy relationship.

In Conclusion

Someone’s reason for cheating isn’t always obvious or straightforward. It could be because they feel insecure, have issues with how they connect to others, or they’re just not sure how to handle being loved. Sometimes, people cheat because they're trying to push their partner away.

If you've been cheated on, it's important to take care of yourself and not rush into anything. Take your time to heal and think about what you want for yourself moving forward.

Cheating hurts, but it can also teach us about ourselves and what we need in a healthy relationship. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, and understanding the “why” behind infidelity can help you find that in the future.

brain sex organ sexual excitement

Why Your Brain is the Most Powerful Sex Organ

We think of sex as something that our bodies do, but most of the action starts in the brain. Our minds and bodies are intricately linked.  From feeling attraction to reaching the peak of pleasure, it's all connected to what's happening in our heads. The brain acts like a conductor, moving things along at just the right time to keep the sexual response cycle going.

Sexual Response Cycle

According to pioneering sexuality researchers Masters and Johnson, the body’s responses to sexual stimulation happen in four sequential phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. In every stage, millions of chemical reactions light up different parts of the brain. 

Excitement: During the excitement phase, the body starts getting ready for sex. This phase begins when any erotic physical or mental stimulation leads to sexual arousal. Sexual arousal can be separated into two components: the psychological (i.e., sexual thoughts) and the physiological (i.e., bodily reactions like erection and vaginal lubrication).

Plateau: As the body enters the plateau phase, changes that began in the excitement phase continue to intensify. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure all continue to increase. Blood flow to the genitals continues to increase, making them more sensitive to stimulation. Muscles in the abdomen and pelvic region become tense.

Orgasm: This is both the most well-known and the shortest phase of sex. Muscle tension built in the plateau phase is released suddenly and forcefully. Occurring at the peak of sexual pleasure, orgasm is usually less than one minute long

Resolution: After orgasm, the body begins returning to a normal resting state. During the resolution phase, engorged body parts return to their normal size and color. 

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts in this process (pun intended). In order to reliably pull off such an elaborate operation, the brain and body work together like a well-oiled machine. 

Your Brain is Wired For Sex

From arousal to orgasm, sexual activity is a storm of chemical reactions and firing neurons. The mechanisms involved in sexual behavior are located throughout both the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

central nervous system
Changes that happen to the body during sex are controlled by the nervous system, including the brain.

The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain controls higher functions like thoughts, emotions, and planning. It sends and receives signals from the rest of the body via the spinal cord. The spinal cord is connected to the peripheral nervous system.

The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is made up of millions of nerves and ganglia that branch out from the spinal cord into the rest of the body. This includes nerves connected to the skin, which can become more sensitive due to increased blood flow. This is also what causes the flush reaction commonly associated with sex. 

What Happens in Your Brain?

During sexual activity, parts of your brain that control higher reasoning are less active. Instead, the limbic system, which contains the brain’s reward circuit, is in the driver’s seat. According to Jason Krellman, PhD, assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Medical Center, this means that sex is “driven more by instinct and emotion than rational thought.”

The amygdala is a small almond-shaped structure that processes some of your most primal instincts. It’s connected to your olfactory sense, or your sense of smell, where many scientists theorize it detects pheromones from potential sexual partners. If your amygdala likes the way your lover smells, then it sends information to your orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).

The orbitofrontal cortex, among many things, is responsible for making pleasure feel good

It takes information from what you see, hear, and feel, along with signals from your nervous system, to figure out how you should react to the pleasurable things around you. This includes things like food, drink, and importantly, sexual pleasure. It does this using something called hedonic motivation.    

Hedonic motivation is what creates that “one thing led to another” energy. Your brain is wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. During hedonic processing, your orbitofrontal cortex makes the pleasure signals in your brain stronger and louder, encouraging you to continue.

When you start getting turned on, different parts of your brain kick into action to prepare your body for sex. The cingulate cortex and insula handle autonomic responses—things that happen in your body without you thinking about it. They talk to the brainstem and hypothalamus, which manage the release of sex hormones and control various nervous system functions, including the flow of blood to the genitals, vaginal lubrication, and erection. 

As you get close to orgasm, the part of your brain that manages your body's movements (the cerebellum) starts sending signals to your thighs, glutes, and abs, telling them to start tensing up. This increases both blood flow and nerve activity in the pelvic region. 

The tension builds until it reaches a peak, and then it's let go with a burst of feel-good chemicals. When you orgasm, the muscles in your pelvic floor squeeze in a rhythmic pattern, usually about 5-8 times together. At the same time, your brain gets a flood of dopamine and oxytocin, making you feel pleasure and a sense of closeness. This is why you may feel closer to a sexual partner after orgasm. 

Sexual Dysfunction

It’s normal not to be in the mood sometimes, but persistent feelings of being unable to have or enjoy sex can become a problem. If you find that you’re unable to perform or sex is uncomfortable for you, even when you want to get it on, you’re likely experiencing a form of sexual dysfunction. 

Sexual dysfunction can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Stress
  • Diabetes, heart disease, and other medical conditions
  • Hormonal changes
  • Trauma
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Certain prescription medications

Sexual dysfunction can manifest in various ways in both men and women. While these issues mostly affect the body, their root cause is often in the brain. 

For example, stress can cause both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation issues. After a traumatic brain injury, 30% of men struggle with erectile dysfunction, and a staggering 40% have problems with orgasm. This further highlights the brain’s critical role in sexual activity.

Women may struggle with issues like vaginal dryness, vaginismus, or other issues that can make sex uncomfortable, even painful. While these issues often have an underlying physical cause—such as hormonal changes brought on by menopause—they are also likely to be influenced by stress and fatigue. 

Treating Sexual Dysfunction

Since sexual dysfunction can be caused by many things, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment. In many cases, consulting a healthcare professional is the first step to treating sexual dysfunction disorders. 

Stress Management: Stress is a major factor in many people’s sexual dysfunction, so taking steps to manage it can have a huge positive impact on your sex life. Techniques like deep breathing exercises, visualization, and practicing mindfulness can help you healthily cope with stress. Spending time with loved ones has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress.

Medications: Several medications have been developed to help both men and women treat sexual dysfunction. Viagra and Cialis, among the most well-known of these drugs, are used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. For women struggling with sexual desire, there are two options, Addyi and Vyleesi. Unfortunately, both drugs have only been approved by the FDA for use by pre-menopausal women.

Assistive Devices: There is a massive selection of devices to make sex easier and more enjoyable for those suffering from sexual dysfunction. A wearable harness that holds a prosthetic penis can allow men with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation issues to continue with sex even when things aren’t going to plan below the belt. For women, using a vibrator or a dilator set can help with dryness and vaginismus, respectively.

Therapy: There are many reasons therapy can be helpful to treat sexual dysfunction.  Sometimes, the cause of sexual dysfunction is rooted in our past experiences. Other times, we don’t even know why sex is uncomfortable or difficult to enjoy. A licensed therapist can be an incredibly valuable resource for answering the questions you may have about your own body, sexuality, and pleasure.  

Our brains play a big role in how we experience sex. It's not just about the physical stuff—our brain chemicals and neural pathways work together to create pleasure and connection. 

Recognizing the brain as a crucial part of our sex life helps us understand intimacy better and leads to a more thoughtful and satisfying sexual journey. As you explore desire and connection, try to appreciate how your mind and body interact. Ultimately, our brains are the real architects of our most intimate moments.

couple meeting at bar

12 Alternatives to the Question “What Do You Do for Work?

Tips For Great First Date Conversation

First-date conversations are tricky. The difference between dull, boring small talk and asking overly personal questions can be difficult to see in the moment. Often, singles opt for the safe bet and spend their dates talking about their jobs. Discussing what you do for work isn't a bad place to start, but can we do better? Yes!

Don’t waste a great opportunity to genuinely connect with your date. This is the time to get to know them, not just learn about their job. Asking interesting questions can help keep the connection going and reveal the shining personality of your new love interest. Read on for our advice for having great conversations and some fun thought-provoking questions to get you started.

Start With “How Was Your Day?”

Dating and relationship coach and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, Fran Greene recommends starting off simply. By asking your date how their day went, you can show them right away that you’re interested in hearing their perspective. It can also help your date get more comfortable talking to you. “It sets the stage for your date to start talking about something they know,” she says. From this point, they can share as much or as little as they’d like.

Stay Positive

It’s true that your mindset matters. The way you think about things can profoundly affect your behavior. That means that believing your date will go poorly makes you more likely to behave in a way that makes your date go poorly. You can avoid this self-fulfilling prophecy by being conscious of your negative thoughts and trying to reframe them in a more positive light. For instance, you might find yourself worrying that your date won’t like your outfit, your hair, or your jokes. You can try to change your mindset by reminding yourself that you look and feel great in your outfit. 

You are funny, smart, and charming, but your date won’t see that if you allow negative thoughts to control your behavior.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening means being fully present, giving your date your undivided attention, and genuinely hearing what they have to say. When your date speaks, pay attention to their words, the emotions behind them, and their body language. Get rid of distractions and make eye contact to show that you’re interested in the conversation. Active listening sends a powerful message to your date that they are valued, and what they have to say matters to you.

12 First Date Questions

The key to great first-date conversation is giving your date opportunities to talk about things they enjoy. These questions will keep the conversation positive and allow both of you to show off your best selves.

1. Do you have any passion projects that you're excited about right now?

Learning about someone's passion projects can give you a sense of their drive and what they find fulfilling outside of their job and regular responsibilities. Asking the question in this way also invites them to share something they are enthusiastic about, hopefully sparking an interesting conversation about your date’s passions.

2. What is something you've always wanted to do but were afraid to?

This question invites your date to share something personal and potentially vulnerable. It shows that you are interested in getting to know them on a deeper level. Discussing your fears and aspirations in a lighthearted way can lead to a more genuine and meaningful conversation.

3. If you learned a giant meteor was going to hit the Earth in 48 hours, how would you spend your time?

This is a silly question that will encourage your date to reflect on their values and priorities. Their choices and the reasons behind them could give you a fuller understanding of who they are. Depending on the answer, it may help you understand if your values are aligned. If their priorities align with yours, it could be a positive sign of compatibility.

4. If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?

This is a fun and lighthearted way to find out more about your date’s values and interests. By inviting your date to share details about someone they admire or find interesting, you can learn more about what they’re paying attention to regularly. For example, if they name a political figure, you can infer that political action is important to them. 

5. What is one thing you know now that you wish you had learned at 18?

We all find things out the hard way sometimes, and your date is bound to have a story or two about lessons learned. This allows your date to tell an anecdote from their past and to show off some of the ways they’ve grown. This honesty creates a sense of openness and authenticity, fostering a stronger connection between you.

6. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done recently?

Asking this will give you some insight into what your date likes to do for fun. They might tell you about a recent beach vacation, a sunrise hike, reorganizing their pantry, or something entirely unexpected. You may be able to discern how adventurous or spontaneous they are. Their answer could also give you insight into whether they’re a social butterfly or a more quiet type, what kind of activities they enjoy, and so much more.

7. What’s your favorite meal?

Food is a universal topic. Asking about your date’s favorite meal can serve as a great conversation starter and a way to bond over shared culinary experiences. Their answer may also tell you more about their background. They might love an old family recipe, or maybe they’re still in love with a dish they tried on a trip abroad.

8. What is something that people are always surprised to learn about you?

People often have hidden talents, unexpected quirks in their personalities, or unique life experiences. This question allows your date to talk about something they might not think to bring up otherwise, letting you see another facet of their unique personality.

9. What was your dream job when you were a kid?

While this question is likely to segue into a conversation about careers, it introduces the topic in a fun and light-hearted way. Kids’ career aspirations typically range from unrealistic to outlandish. Superhero, Movie star, and Professional Athlete are all popular answers. Whether this sparks a deeper conversation or just a good laugh, it’ll be a fun chat.

10. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Talking about personal advice can help build a sense of connection with your date. It creates a shared space for vulnerability and understanding without crossing boundaries. Your date might tell you about someone they love who helped them, giving insight into their life. This question can help you have a more intimate and meaningful conversation without veering too far into heavy subjects.

11. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a long day?

How someone chooses to relax says a lot about their interests, hobbies, and social habits. You could discover they like to unwind by going for a relaxing three-mile run, or they could reveal that the time they spend with loved ones is the most relaxing part of their day. 

12. Who is the person you talk to the most? 

This question can tell you about the important relationships in your date’s life. Do they talk to their best friend most? The way someone talks about their friends can be very revealing of their character, so pay attention. You might also learn that their #1 conversation partner is their boss, their mom, or their cat. 

When in Doubt, Be Yourself

Knowing what to ask on a first date can be difficult sometimes but don’t get too hung up on doing things “right”. Be yourself and keep your intentions well-meaning. The art of asking good questions is about having a genuine curiosity to want to know someone on a deeper level, not about getting the scoop on their past or sniffing around for red flags. Unconventional questions will help you see a less rehearsed side of your date, which will help gauge if a real connection is possible.