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


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.


Breaking Up With Your Deal Breakers

Breaking Up With Your Deal Breakers

Today I want to talk about breaking up with your deal breakers. The term deal breaker can refer to a lot of things, so for the purpose of this article, let’s define it as criteria you use to disqualify a potential match before ever even meeting them.

I’ve compiled a list of deal breakers (in no particular order) I’ve heard over the years, both understandable and ridiculous. 

  • Divorce
  • Religion
  • Political Affiliation
  • Dietary Restrictions
  • Body Shape
  • Height
  • Zodiac Sign
  • Education Level
  • Smokers
  • Cat Owners
  • Children
  • Distance
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Virginity
  • Age
  • Career Type

I once had a client refuse a first date after learning his match was lactose intolerant. I know a woman who has a strict no Geminis policy. The list could go on for days. 

The first step to breaking up with your deal breakers is to write out a list of all your perceived deal breakers. Take some time to really mull this over and create a comprehensive list. You’re the only person who will ever see this, so don’t be afraid to list even the deal breakers you’re ashamed to admit.

It doesn’t matter if your deal breakers are big or small. Just add them all to the list. Don’t worry, we will whittle it down later. 

Boundaries v. Barriers

Now, it’s time to categorize your deal breakers into Boundaries and Barriers. Boundaries are good; they keep us safe. Barriers on the other hand, get in our way and block us from achieving our goals. 

For instance, rejecting a long distance relationship is a Boundary—excluding anyone who doesn’t reside within a 5-mile radius of your front door is a Barrier.

There are people who have been in COVID lockdown for a year now. With facetime and Zoom, long-distance will soon be an extinct deal breaker anyway. 

Keep in mind, a lot of this depends on you and your situation as much as the other person. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I will not date anyone with a cat.

  • Boundary: if you have a severe allergy
  • Barrier: if you just prefer dogs

I will only date Catholics.

  • Boundary: if you’re a practicing Catholic
  • Barrier: if you haven’t been to mass since you were a child

I will not date someone who has children.

  • Boundary: if you don’t have or want kids
  • Barrier: if you have kids from a previous relationship

Now, I want you to reflect on your list. Organize each item on your deal breaker list into either the Boundary or Barrier column. After you decipher your Boundaries and Barriers, you can start breaking up with your deal breakers one by one.

Breaking Up with Your Deal Breakers

Next, I want you to rank your list of Boundaries in order of importance. Then, do the same with your Barriers.

Those Barriers are starting to seem a little trivial now, huh? Some of them may even feel ridiculous. That’s a good thing! That means breaking up with your deal breakers is going to be easier than you thought.

Starting with the lowest-ranked Barrier, think through each of your deal breakers. Go deep. Make another list of pros and cons for each if you need to. Ask yourself the following question:

If you met a beautiful woman tomorrow who possessed a myriad of positive characteristics, would this one single thing eliminate her in your mind as a possible mate?

If the answer is yes, then you’re not ready to let go of that deal breaker just yet.

But if the answer is no, or even maybe with a qualifier, then let’s work through it.

Is there an underlying reason for your deal breakers? Try to get to the core of your reason for wanting or needing that trait in a partner.

What if it’s less about you needing to date a Catholic, and more that you desire a partner with faith and a good moral compass? Perhaps you don’t necessarily need someone with a graduate degree, as long as they’re intelligent and ambitious. Both of those things alone can broaden your pool of potential daters significantly. 

Your Matchmaker will be able to shed some light on your particular situation and teach you how to increase your scope of potential matches.


Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce: How to Prepare for a New Chapter

According to researchers, divorce is the second most stressful life event one can experience. Preceded only by the death of a loved one and followed by a health crisis. Dating after divorce can be equally stressful if you’re not prepared. 

The first thing you should consider is how dating has evolved tremendously over the last decade. Tinder came on the scene in September 2012, followed by Bumble in 2014.

So, chances are things will be very different from first dates you’ve experienced in the past. Gone are the days of buying her flowers and picking her up at her front door for a first date

When to Get Back Out There

Unfortunately, I cannot definitively say when someone is ready to start dating after divorce. Every relationship is different; every person is different. Only you will know when you’re ready; move at your own pace.

Your friends and family will encourage you to move on and play the field. They mean well, but you know yourself better than anyone else does. Trust your gut. It’s okay if you’re not ready. 

You should wait until your marriage is officially over, including all the legalities: separation of assets, custody agreements, alimony, etc.

If you are emotionally over your ex, but the paperwork isn’t quite dry, I would advise you to just put off seriously considering another relationship for those last few months. 

Things start to get messy when you start something new without tying up all of your loose ends first. 

Secondly, ask yourself—is it really another relationship you want? Don’t fire up the dating apps just because you’re feeling a bit lonely on Sunday evening. Are you looking for validation in the form of shirtless bathroom selfies or are you truly ready to open your heart and life up to another person?

When a marriage dissolves, so does the dream of a life together. You planned forever with someone; imagined growing old with her. Then, suddenly it’s all gone. You have to take the time to mourn the loss, just as you would a death.

As painful as it is, let yourself experience the grief. Don’t try to mask it with new women—that will only delay your healing.

After about a year, most people feel ready to move on. But you should still expect some intense feelings to pop up from time to time. Trauma has a way of doing that. Allow yourself to have those mini meltdowns. It is a natural part of the healing process and it means you’re one step closer to dating after divorce.

Use this time alone to learn about yourself. Reflect on your failed marriage. Will you do anything differently next time? What characteristics will you look for when you’re ready to start dating after divorce? 

What to Expect When You're Dating After Divorce

It’s normal to struggle with how to step out of the husband role and into the boyfriend position.

This woman has not made a commitment to you yet. You have not stood in front of God and your loved ones to say vows. You are not her husband.

Let me say that one more time—you are not her husband.

Maybe someday you will be her husband, but don’t rush it. Don’t force it. Relish your time as the boyfriend. Learn about yourself, your partner, and how you fit into one another’s lives. Use this time to see if she is someone you could spend forever with.

Don’t use intimacy to manipulate the situation. Some people use physical touch with multiple partners as a way to escape their emotions. Others combine sex and monogamy in an attempt to make the relationship progress more quickly.

Both usually end in disaster.

When you’re used to being one-half of a whole, it’s very difficult to learn how to be on your own. It’s a lonely process full of self-doubt.

There will be women who seem perfect for weeks and they will disappear out of thin air. This is called ghosting.

Try Something New

I would wager you learned a thing or two about yourself during your divorce that you didn’t know before. I challenge you to continue doing that. Expand your horizons. Try new things. Work on yourself. See a therapist. Start a new hobby.

Explore your deal breakers and really discern if they are things you need in a partner or just preferences you want. Go out with women you normally wouldn’t consider.

Give personality and common interest your primary attention, and make physical attraction a secondary criteria. Science has shown that attraction grows over time. Our brains release a cocktail of happy hormones whenever we are around people who make us laugh and feel good. 

The more time you spend with that person, the better she looks.

You may find that you’re attracted to women who look nothing like your ex. Trauma has a way of doing that too.

Trust that if your Matchmaker suggests someone, there is a definitive reason that the two of you were paired. This is your chance to meet all different types of women from various backgrounds and cultures.

Give it a shot. I dare you.


Handle Rejection Like a Boss

How to Handle Rejection Like a Boss

The first step in learning how to handle rejection like a boss is to reframe the way you talk about and think about rejection.

You did not get rejected. Your proposal was rejected.

If you proposed going on a date and they declined, that’s okay.

If you proposed taking your relationship to the next level and they ghosted, that’s okay.

Unless you shared way too much information and downloaded your life story, they barely even know you. They are more or less a stranger, so don’t let them define you. Allow their disinterest or disapproval to roll right off your back.

Even if you proposed marriage and they ran away crying, it’s still going to be okay. 

Rejection is not a reflection of you or your character.

Don't Take it Personally

It wasn’t a good match, but that doesn’t mean either of you are bad people.

Even after a few dates, you don’t know someone well enough to make a full judgement; that’s why we always encourage our clients to give each match a minimum of three dates.

It is likely there are a number of both external and internal factors that contributed to the rejection. And you probably have control over little to none of them. For instance, maybe they’re already in a relationship, or they just got dumped.

Neither of those things have anything to do with you. It’s not that they don’t want to date you. They don’t want to date anyone. If you learn to handle rejection like a boss, it won’t negatively affect you.

There’s a good chance it’s not even about you. Don’t spend your time worrying about things that are out of your control. On the other hand, you should be open to listening to their reason rejecting you as well as any respectful feedback. 

Feel the Feelings

A study at the University of Michigan using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans, found that rejection actually activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain.

According to Dr. Winch, this suggests an evolutionary advantage to experiencing the pain of rejection.

"This phenomenon is a legacy of our hunter-gatherer past, when we lived in nomadic tribes. Back when a person couldn't survive alone without their tribe, "rejection served as an early warning system that alerted us we were in danger of being ostracized—of being voted off the island."

If someone reacts to your proposal with abuse or threats, if they try to belittle or degrade you—just get out of the situation as quickly and safely as you can. All that should do is prove you don’t want to be with someone who behaves that way. Don’t spend a moment of your time worrying about them or their issues.

I truly hope that hasn’t been your experience. And if you’ve ever rejected someone’s proposal in that way, shame on you.

Just because your rejection wasn’t abusive, doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Take some time to sit with your feelings

Work on Yourself

Dr. Guy Winch is a psychologist and the author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.

According to Dr. Winch, the best thing to do after a break up is: make a list of all the negative qualities or bad habits that you didn’t appreciate about your ex. Whenever you feel sad or lonely, every time you get the urge to call, read through the list.

This will also help you to manifest positive traits in your next relationship

It’s important to be strong in your self-esteem and confidence, otherwise every superficial interaction will have undue influence over your well-being.

On the other hand, you should be open to listening to their reason rejecting you as well as any respectful feedback. Reflect on the situation. Did you make a remark that made them uncomfortable? Did you listen to your best friend’s well-intended but bad advice?

You can own your part of the rejection, and accept responsibility without getting into a negative self-talk mindframe. 

Next time, you’ll be able to handle rejection like a boss. 

In the words of Ariana Grande—

Thank you, next.


Feeling Lonely

Are You Feeling Lonely or Are You Just Alone?

One can be standing in an arena full of people and still be feeling lonely. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. On the other hand, you’re capable of feeling completely fulfilled even when you’re all by yourself

Today, I want to focus on providing strategies that will help you achieve the latter. 

According to Psychology Today, long-term feelings of loneliness can have the same physical impact on the body as smoking or obesity. Extended social isolation can even lead to PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.

It's Okay if You're Feeling Lonely

As we move through the Holiday Season, I want you to be mindful of your emotional state. Studies show people are more likely to suffer from depression during this time of year. And recently single people are particularly vulnerable to feeling lonely and hopeless.

When you’re used to being one-half of a whole, it can be difficult to learn how to be your own person.

You’re used to having a partner and having help. You used to negotiate chores and manage a household, but now you’re stuck doing everything by yourself.

It’s okay to feel frustrated and inadequate for those few moments, as long as you know that’s not actually true. You have to love yourself first and foremost. 

When you have a moment of weakness, allow yourself to exist in that moment. We often run from uncomfortable feelings, but I encourage you to sit with them for a beat and examine the root. These moments are a natural part of the healing process and necessary for learning how to be by yourself. 

Focus on Being Alone

If you don’t have children in the home, your newfound silence can feel deafening. An empty house can be the loneliest place on earth if you’re not careful.

It’s important that you learn to find security in the silence. Sit with it. Explore it. Whether you call it meditation, prayer, or quiet time, science has proven that dedicating time to silently focusing inward has phenomenal health benefits for the brain and body.

Use this quiet time to learn how to be happy alone. Learn how to be comfortable in your own presence. Fall in love with yourself. Engage in self-care. Finish all those projects you’ve been putting off. Do something that’s good for your soul, like volunteering or donating to a good cause. Try a new hobby. Reach out to an old friend. Start a new healthy habit.

Instead of dwelling on what’s missing in your life, fill your time with positive things.

Getting Back Out There

Whether you’re fresh off a tough break up or you’re dealing with the death of a spouse, or the heartbreak of divorce, putting yourself back out there is scary. 

It can feel like a lonely process full of uncertainty and self-doubt, but you’re not alone. Our team is dedicated to helping you navigate this journey as comfortably as possible. In addition to our proven matchmaking skills, we can provide one-on-one coaching, expectation management, and professional advice.

Reflect on your previous relationships and dating habits. What will you do differently next time? Consider what, if anything, led to the destruction of your relationship? How can you keep that from happening again?

What is it about dating that keeps you up at night? Have these hard conversations with your Matchmaker.

If it has been more than 10 years since you’ve been single, be prepared for some changes to the dating scene. Online dating and dating apps have really affected the culture and attitudes of a lot of daters. Disappearing acts like Ghosting are unfortunately a common occurrence in the digital dating space.

However, people are less likely to engage in poor dating behavior if there is a Matchmaker or other third party involved.