3 things to doIt’s easy to pile on poor Valentine’s Day. And if it makes you feel any better, a rather small slice of the population is really psyched about it.

If you’re single, chances are you roll your eyes, flip couples the bird, and want to go “eff yourself,” as this video advises, via Jezebel.

If you’re in a long-term relationship, maybe very long, this holiday makes you nostalgic for the days when romance was new, before either of you peed with the door open, and when you had time or interest in having sex more than once a month.

Then again, if you’ve just started dating someone, Valentine’s Day is too much pressure. What if he thinks it means more than it does? What if it doesn’t mean enough?

And if you’re one half of an unhappy couple, this Hallmark holiday hits a nerve: Another year of not being in the relationship you always thought you’d be in. You may suffer a bout of brief, intense existentialist grief.

Basically, the only ones doing what you think the holiday is about (roses, chocolate, sex) are, if we want to get technical, people in the first 12 to 18 months of their relationship, who are still trying to impress each other, and guaranteed to get laid. Or, those blessed to be in one of those wonderful relationships where the magic burns for years. They’re rare, but they do exist.

Anyway, look, that’s not a LOT of people having sexy time today.

Valentine’s Day is not an exclusive club; it’s a holiday to celebrate love in all its forms, from the short, sexy bursts to the long, mellow partnerships, to the kinds of love we share with people we’re not dating. (Check out this study on how just being kind and loving to people at work is linked with improved productivity.)

But of course my heart is with the single people who see red at Valentine’s Day, and not in a good way. Here are the things I recommend you do and NOT do today:

1. Don’t hate. It’s not only pointless to hate on a holiday; it’s disingenous; like saying you hate money just because you don’t happen to have any. Don’t pretend that of all days, today you “hate” love because Valentine’s Day ruined it for you. C’mon.

>>DO: Take a risk. You want something exciting? Try doing something exciting. One Feb 14th, I wrote a note on a cocktail napkin on slid it across a cafe table to a handsome thing. I never heard from him. Don’t matter. It was thrilling and empowering and kind (because though he never called, don’t tell me I didn’t make his day). I felt…romantic, without anything else having to happen. (Also: Read why you should be getting rejected more.)

2. Don’t go out with your girlfriends and dance in a circle. Sure, it’s fun. But the dopiest thing ever is when a bunch of single ladies who would like to meet potential mates do the one thing that will ensure they don’t: Turn in the lady wagons. Who-hoo! Girl power! No. This is dumb. Don’t form a big resentful clot in the middle of the room, telling dudes to talk to the hand. Why act like men suck, when, if we’re being honest, you’d like a nice one?

>>DO: Go out to meet people. If you’re smart, you’ll go out with just a few friends or, if you travel in a gaggle, split off and mingle. Or, forget the girlfriend outing altogether, and do something really bold: Go sit at the bar by yourself just long enough to enjoy a glass of wine. Remind yourself that you’re open to what may or may not happen.

3. Don’t text your recent ex. I shouldn’t have to explain this. But, no matter how it ended, if you broke up within the past six months, steer clear. Of course, unless he has come back with a dozen roses and wants you back, and you’re happy about it. But if you both ended it for all the right reasons, going back now for a moment of comfort could cost you more later.

>>DO: Go on a date with a stranger. Yup. I promise you, there’s someone online who’s free tonight. And don’t give me this crap about how it seems desperate. You can drop a line in the water and see if you get a bite. You don’t have to meet The One. But you can go out on one date with one new person, and say that on Valentine’s Day, you made a fucking effort, and you had a reason to put lipstick on.

The moment when you’re headed out the door and the night is nothing but potential—that’s fun. And romantic. And brave.  And way better than a margarita-sodden rendition of “I Will Survive.” Again.


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Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a bad idea to point out your flaws on a first date. Or a second date. Or on your dating profile. Or, when you’re on The Bachelor. Despite what you may think, your pain does not make you interesting, or attractive. And recounting your past hurts makes you a self-involved bore.

When you lead with your own tale of woe and personal injury, you’re basically saying to the world, and your date, I’m a yawning black hole of need and pain. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

howard-stern-2Howard Stern, a big fan of The Bachelor and talks about it on his show, was recapping the story of the chick who was sent home after her first date with Juan Pablo, because of this fatal error: She killed the romantic mood by putting her insecurities front and center.

Uh-oh. And? (You can hear the dude trying to stop her from going there.)

Well (sniff), she had had her heart broken by a former fiance, and she was so sad, and is over it now (not), but really wants to make sure there’s a connection.

Translation: I want to be absolutely sure you won’t hurt me like he did. 

This is what I call the World Owes Me approach. The World Owes Me: Love, security, a perfect mate. You dump your heartache like a busted old alarm clock onto the table and ask the guy to fix it, and to promise it will never break again.

It makes as much sense as asking a new friend for $100 because your last friend never paid you back.

It’s no mystery why she did it; she was trying to bring the man closer, to find in him a trustworthy soul to love, care for, and protect her. But: She doesn’t know this man. And he doesn’t know her. Stern said, These girls have daddy issues, and he’s probably right. He wants to desire her, but she’s more concerned with being “safe” from emotional harm, and in so doing skewers the desire.

My ex-boyfriend wronged me. If there’s a bigger boner shrinker, I don’t know it.

I know it’s hard to hear this, but I’ll say it anyway: The world does not owe you love, affection, intimacy, or a perfect partner. This is Earth, not a fine dining establishment, and you cannot just order up a dish and then be all bent out of shape when it doesn’t just show up as you sit there, starving. We’re all brown bagging it.

The world is full, however, of the potential for love. And you have the potential to love and be loved—if you’re willing to take the risk of getting hurt in the process.  However, when you define yourself as damaged and drag around your heart like an open wound, you attract pity and sorrow, not love. No one wants damaged goods.

As Esther Perel says in her fab TED Talk, “There is no neediness in desire.”

This doesn’t mean someone can’t or won’t care for you, period. It doesn’t mean that you should pretend you were never hurt by anyone. No one’s buying that act. But the urge to spill your guts out and earn someone’s pity does not work in your favor.

I have seen this in too many online profiles: Daters using the essay portion of the online dating process as a back history of past disappointments and rage, even a warning to others (“If you think football’s that important, don’t bother!” or “Two timers need not apply!”).

If your online profile is a chronology of your personal injuries and presents you as a victim, you need to rewrite it. Previously married and want to own up? Fine. But you should not be working out any unresolved emotional issues ON YOUR DATING PROFILE or ON DATES.

Save it for your therapist. Your mother. Me, even. But please, spare your dates—and give desire a chance to thrive.



Not every great date will turn into a great relationship.

Q. I just suffered some serious dating whiplash: I met a girl, and we went on three dates. First date – short but great, easy and fun. Second date – meal and cinema, easy and fun, hand holding and kissing. Third date – drinks and fun, lots of chatting, lots of kissing. 12 hours later, the next morning – a text to say we weren’t right for each other, then another later saying she’d just got out of a relationship. I know it was only 3 dates, but I got my hopes up very high.  -Confused.

Dear Confused,

I’m so, so sorry. You had a few nice dates and probably were beginning to like her. Then? She hits the brakes—hard.

Good news: You will get over it. Bad news: It could happen again.

This, as you may know and are just reminding yourself, is what makes dating dating, and not marriage-on-sight. You were doing what dating IS: Trying each other on for size. For whatever reason, she decided it wasn’t a fit.

But we had fun! We made out! I know, I know. And this is not to say she didn’t have fun; something was happening that you don’t know about and will likely never know about because…she’s someone you don’t know! She’s a virtual stranger with whom you shared some time, and at this very early phase in the game, there’s no way to know what else was at play in her world.

Though it won’t make you feel any better, let’s consider what likely happened, and unless it’s something insane it’s one of these:

She was already seeing someone else, and decided to spend more time with that person instead;

She is just out of a relationship, and…

–is sorting things out with her ex

–realized it’s too soon to be consorting with new beaus, and hit the brakes on herself

–her ex came back; she’s considering another go. 

Or, she enjoyed you, but is being just completely honest: It’s not a fit for the long haul and she doesn’t want to waste your time.  

Unless she’s involved in some kind of high-stakes organized crime and decided to spare your life, it’s one of those three. And yes, while the sudden rejection is dizzying, it is what it is. (As you know from reading my post about another gent who got “blindsided.”)

In other words, it’s likely about her and her life, and has little to do with you.

The thing too many daters do is use any kind of rejection as a mirror to inspect themselves in. And while it’s worth taking a look at yourself of course (do I dive in too quickly, am I all over her, am I ramping up too fast), chances are, honestly, this was out of your hands.

(Though speaking of hands, the only thing I remotely question is holding hands on date #2. Call me crazy, but holding hands is a pretty public statement, and usually reserved for those who are IN a relationship, which you, at this stage, were not. Did you reach for her hand? Or did she slip hers into yours?)

There’s nothing to “do” about it of course, except try again. And again. (Why you should get rejected more.)

But there is something I beg you NOT to do: Do not let this experience embitter you against dating/chicks, or pen another chapter in the story you’re writing for yourself called “I’ll Never Meet Anyone” or “Bitches, Teases, and Whores: Story of My Life.”

You suffered the expected pangs of having your ego bruised. It’ll heal up.

My hope for you is that you chalk it up to the process, and, as counterintuitive as it may seem, allow it to teach you empathy and also compassion—for her and for yourself. This isn’t easy. Dating isn’t easy, being married isn’t easy. None of it is. The most you can do is give someone the very best of yourself to the next lovely person you meet.

politifact-photos-PencilI haven’t written a blog in weeks. Why? Because I was: Busy. Reading. Working on proposals. Getting organized. Watching “Orange is the New Black.”

This is a lie.

Of course, I was doing those things. But that’s not why I haven’t blogged. Not even close.

The truth is that I’m a fucking perfectionist. The very worst kind because I’ve pretended I wasn’t one. And I’m ready to come out and admit it.

For a long time I’ve pretended I wasn’t. That I was cool, laid back,  all about work-in-progress and just-get-it-done. I sent emails with typos, knowing there were typos. See? Not a perfectionist.

I looked around my apartment. In 300 square feet, messy happens quick. I’d leave socks on the floor. Laundry drying on a rack until it was time to do laundry again. This didn’t look like the home of a perfectionist (and in fact I kinda wished it did). Clearly no perfectionist lives here!

Wrong. There is a difference between perfectionist and lazy and sometimes I am lazy, and that’s the truth.

What’s also true is that I was busy NOT doing stuff: Not blogging, not effectively managing my projects, not writing a proposal for a book I hadn’t pitched yet. And it’s making me feel guilty, unhappy, and generally anxious.

A CEO I admire, Jan Bruce of meQuilibrium, talked in a Fox News segment recently about how perfectionism gets in the way of goals and actions. And an insightful piece in the Wall Street Journal points to research on how mood repair is behind pesky procrastination: Basically, that the idea of taking on a task makes you feel so shitty that you turn to Facebook, TV, a nap—anything to make you feel better now, and you end up paying more later.

The great irony is that I know all the reasons why perfectionism is a losing game, and why those attempt to win end up stressed, anxious, depressed.  I know all about it. I wrote about it in a feature, “How to Be (Im)Perfect,” for Body+Soul magazine.

I’m great at explaining why YOU shouldn’t be a perfectionist.

Meanwhile, I’ve been one the whole damn time. I’m like the preacher who says don’t drink and then gets soused after church. Or, I don’t know, the politician who goes after prostitution tooth and nail, while fucking whores. (Imagine!) I’m like–well, like actual real people that exist. And you don’t need to look further than the date of my last blog post to know it’s true.

As a content strategist and media coach, I tell my clients how not to get hung up on getting it just right before going with it. Ha! hahaha. “Don’t worry about crafting full blown articles!” I say. And then, I turn around and put it off or take hours to produce a full-blown article, which–as more than one person has told me–are too damn long.

So this year, I’m turning over a new leaf, albeit halfway through January. I’m going to stop letting perfectionism stop me from moving ahead in my writing, my life–and I urge you to do the same. You’re doing it for the same reasons I have:

  • Because if you can’t do something amazing, you may be caught in the act of not being amazing. So you skip it.
  • Because people might disagree with you, hate you, skewer you.
  • Because you may offend someone / make a mistake / say the wrong thing.
  • Because you might just suck.
  • Because you are asking yourself bigger questions, like: What if my efforts are in vain? What if my life is pointless?

I am guessing you have plenty of reasons, and excuses, too.

So let’s stop this shit and just do it. I’m going to leave this typo in–thisng onxe–just because. It’s driving me crazy and you crazy and so we’ll start there.

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normal-rejection Q. I went on two dates with a girl, both of which were really fun, so I asked her out again. And out of the blue, I get a text message from her declining, saying that she appreciates the offer but is “feeling we’re not really compatible for the long term.” WTF? Of course, I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want me, but my confidence has been shaken. It’s now making me wonder about this other girl I have been on four dates with. I’m just afraid of being blindsided again. 

WTF Freddie 

My dear Freddie,

I’m sorry that you got the dreaded “see ya never” note. I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those myself. More than one! It’s never easy to take. There’s nothing to “do” about this, really. She said it clear as day: She’s not into it, and she’s moving on. There’s a lot that sucks about being in your position, but ambiguity isn’t one of them. Because she’s made the decision for you.

I do want to question your choice of the word “blindsided,” however. I know you’re feeling shafted in a big way right now. But having it end two dates in does not qualify for being blindsided. Blindsided is when you’ve been married 15 years, have three kids, and everything seems sweet as pie, and one day your wife goes out to get her roots done and never comes back.

Of course you never saw it coming, because you couldn’t have seen much coming at that point! You weren’t even out of the driveway yet!

I don’t say this to minimize your disappointment, but to remind you what dating is: It’s taking a risk every time, knowing you can and will get rejected, more than once. (Read why you should get rejected more).

The very thing that makes dating hard is what makes it exciting: Because you never know. The same thing goes for relationships in the long term. Of course, when you commit, you should kinda know—but you don’t always.

You might reasonably expect that if two dates went well, then you should have a third. Maybe a fourth. But where does it end? Should she go on 10 dates, and then end it? She’s doing a kind thing to cut her losses and save you some time when she’s not feeling it. I can’t tell you how many people say they feel slighted that someone didn’t “give them a chance.” But there comes a point when you just know this isn’t the fit for you. And you may not have realized it, but she did. And now you do.

What puzzles me is that now you’re “wondering about” this other lady in your life that you’re seeing. Wondering what, exactly? Whether she and this other girl and everyone else you’ve starred on OK Cupid have convened under secret cover to plot the systematic takedown of your self esteem?

You know this isn’t true. But you also know that to love and to date is to risk, every single goddamned time. No one, not even the love of your life, should you find her, can promise you you’ll never get hurt.

You’ve got to ask yourself: Are you seeking a partner…or mass acceptance and approval by other women? Is the goal never to be rejected by any of them and then fill a multi-bedroom house with sister wives? My guess is no.

If you want someone you can love, and maybe even marry (if that’s your thing, and it might not be), then by design that means you’ll pass on most people. Almost all of them. You will get weeded out, and you will let others go. At some point, the pool of folks narrows. Worry less about what this “means” and instead, thank her. She’s just done you a favor.


Image courtesy wikihow. Click to learn their tips for playing hard to get!

Q. After dating this guy for a month, I asked him where we stood, and he said somewhere between casual and exclusive. I was okay with that, but after three months I called it off. I wanted more. Then I started initiating hangouts, and sometimes we had sex. I thought if I reminded him of how charming and fun I was, he would come around. But I’m tired of the FWB thing. I suggested we just be friends. Anytime we hang out he wants sex and I always say no. Then he shoots me texts and I initiate again, and the cycle continues. Is this helping me get him back (playing hard to get) or just annoying to him? –Ms. C.

Dear Ms. C,

I have bad news for you: You’re no closer to getting what you want from this man. You are out treading water in romantically ambiguous waters with no shoreline in sight. You think by flailing harder you’ll get somewhere. But you will not. Not like this.

I say this because I KNOW those waters. I have spent some time paddling around there myself. I have done that whole, hey let me remind you of how cool I am and maybe you’ll decide to be with me. Except this never, ever works.

The reason is this: You’re not in control. You gave it up when you started initiating after calling it off, effectively teaching him not to believe anything you say or do, in the blind hope that he’ll come to his senses and commit to you. While you’re thinking he may change his mind, he’s thinking you’ll change yours-and while he hasn’t, you have. Because you keep showing up.

The only person you’re playing hard to get with is yourself, because you keep denying what you want, and pretending you’re ok with less.

Essentially, you’re acting like the hot apps platter that gets passed around the room. Every time you get to him, you hope he’ll sample from the tray-which he does. Only you’re hoping if you give him enough samples, he’ll follow you around. But no one follows the hot apps platter around; it comes to you. You’ve shown him that he doesn’t have to do anything or take any action whatsoever, because sooner or later, the platter will happen by again, he’ll surely help himself to whatever’s on offer.


Don’t act like a tray of hors d’oeuvres, when you want to be a main course.

You can’t get the three-course meal you want because you’re acting like an hors d’oeuvre.

Look, you say he’s a nice, funny guy with whom you click, and you want to be with him. He isn’t the problem here. He’s just some dude, taking what he can get from nice girls he kinda likes.

The problem is that you have not committed to what you want, and you’re not being honest about it. You don’t want him as a friend. You want him as your boyfriend. You’re settling for what you can get, and that puts you in a very weak position. This is going nowhere productive. (By the way, what does “somewhere between casual and exclusive” mean? You’re either one or the other. There is no gradient.)

In my very popular post about Having the Talk, I say that the one who asks first loses-especially in something so new. You jumped the gun asking for security so early on, and I would have encouraged you to let it ride a bit. After anywhere from 3 to 6 months of dating, when you’re getting some momentum, yes, then it’s the time to say, “Here’s what I want.” And if that person cannot or will not deliver on it, then it’s time to say goodbye.

You asked early, said what you wanted, then proceeded to show him that you were not to be taken at your word. Take him at his word: He doesn’t want anything serious!

Hard to get someone to chase you when you’re busy chasing them. You have demonstrated you are willing to settle for what he’ll give you–a friendly hangout, or whatever. And so he will always try to get what he wants: Sex without strings. Sure, he likes you. But he doesn’t love you. You know this. You’d be better off wanting to try this web-site or others whenever you feel you’re needing to satisfy some needs.

I would cease all communication, and never reach out to him again. I wouldn’t respond when he writes or texts. It’s time for you to stand by what it is you really want. You owe yourself that. You owe him nothing. Unfriend, unfollow, see ya later. No good can come of this.

If he all of a sudden comes to life and demands to know why you’re not responding, then you tell him, “I’m not interested in spending time with people I’m not serious about.” Bang. End of story. If he wants to be taken seriously, he has your number.

I know it’s a heartbreak; you were really trying to give it a chance. But you also weren’t being honest with yourself or him in thought or deed. You don’t need him as “just a friend.” To my mind, someone who’s flaky, noncommittal, lazy, and only wants what’s delivered to him not only makes for a lousy boyfriend, but a lousy friend. Take the time you would spend with him to focus on yourself. If you have the need, browse through Lovegasm and treat yourself, alone, to some sex toys or some tantalization. But do not fall back to him.

You do not need friends like this in your life. You do not need men like this in your life. You deserve above all to have someone who’s hungry for more, and will chase you down with unrelenting fervor to make it happen.

eadce194e1c80717908b0a1e924866abSince I’ve been single, which hasn’t been all that long, I’ve been on three dates. And would you believe two of the three were rocking a hat. Two!

And not a hat meant to keep your head warm, nor a hipster/barista’s “I didn’t shower” knit cap, mind you. But a gentleman’s hat. And while any single piece of clothing isn’t going to make or break a person necessarily (though there are exceptions), a man who’s dressed like a grown up, not an undergrad, wins big points. Ladies, there are men who make a fucking effort and, yes, it does matter.

I’ll say the same for women (as I said here), that first impressions count. Period. As you and I well know plenty of women balk at the idea that they should be judged by their appearance or attire. They think of it as unfeminist. They get enraged at the idea. But I think that’s silly. A bunch of bunk. Sorry–you can’t look like a slob and expect men to be attracted to you. Doesn’t work that way. Show me a person who gets really pissed off at the idea of being judged by their looks and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t like their looks.

Of course we all care about MORE than just looks. You’ve got to have more to offer than just eye candy. That goes without saying. But the looks up front do matter. And what makes me happy is to see men stepping up in that area as well.

But yes, hats are back. And I for one, am charmed by it. It harkens back to another era, when men wouldn’t be seen without one. Rakish looking men from the 1920s; dashing, fast-talking men from the Twilight Zone; Indiana Jones (need I say more?). I yearn for the days when men dressed to go out, before the sporting-goods-passing-as-wardrobe era. Which is why I honor the man who makes the effort.

The first date was a retired air force sergeant in his early 40s who told me, since we’d never met, to look for the guy in the porkpie hat. And there he was, waiting for me in the wine bar with a glass of red for me (points for classy). He turned out to be quite the gentleman: tall and comfortable in his own skin, worldly and kind, sensitive. I could tell he wore his hat with a sense of humor, not a thumb-your-nose, “Oh I’m so ironic” way. He genuinely liked wearing it, and I thought that was cool.

You gotta have a certain level of self confidence to rock a hat, to be sure. And you can’t take yourself too seriously. Wearing a topper indoors requires an innate or highly cultivated sense of style and self. True, too, men don’t really get to have too much fun with what they wear–what are their options, really. Button down? Khaki pants? Bore. But if you’re willing to go beyond the Standard American Dress, it says something about you.

Which is why I gotta hand it to my other hatted date, who met me at Cafe Tallulah, a stylish French bistro with easy charm, perfect lighting, and dollar oysters til 8pm. He wore a shirt, vest, tie, and a classic men’s hat, and drank scotch on the rocks. We spent two hours together, talking about our careers, families, the dating terrain in Manhattan. What we found important in other people and potential partners. And I made sure I complimented him, too–I knew he’d stepped up his game for the sole purpose of meeting me, and that alone was a lovely compliment to me.

Men, if you feel like you don’t know how to dress properly, don’t stress. There’s plenty of inspiration and ideas online nowadays that make it easier to develop your style. This online clothing store in particular has plenty of trendy and on-fashion clothing items and accessories to make sure you look your very best, on and off a date.

So if you want to date people, start dating. Stop with the whole bullshit “yeah we’re just hanging out” thing, rolling up to the bar or restaurant in unwashed jeans. It undermines your efforts to do what you want most: To meet someone who matters. The only way to make a shift in an uneventful dating life is to make it an event. Something you not just show up for, but dress for.