eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:28:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 Family Dynamics that May Keep You Single http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/17/7-family-dynamics-may-keep-single/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/17/7-family-dynamics-may-keep-single/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:28:37 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18402 If we don’t understand where our emotional baggage comes from, and what it is, it’s almost impossible to break or change old patterns. Relationship expert Natalie Berthold joins us today with a guest blog about this exact area. Awareness is key, everyone. At least it can open the door to a different ending. Written by […]

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family dynamics in relationships 300x228 7 Family Dynamics that May Keep You SingleIf we don’t understand where our emotional baggage comes from, and what it is, it’s almost impossible to break or change old patterns. Relationship expert Natalie Berthold joins us today with a guest blog about this exact area. Awareness is key, everyone. At least it can open the door to a different ending.

Written by Natalie Berthold

You’re a catch. You pay your bills on time, you have no unsightly facial hairs, and are sensitive enough to feel mushy around dogs and babies. If one or more of the above is not true, no need to read further. You probably have some work to do on yourself.

Anyway, I meet a lot of clients who are seemingly stellar, yet they have the same old story:

We started things very quickly…and ended things just as quickly, I’m always single, I’m always the dumper or dumpee, none of the dudes/chicks on eHarmony ever follow up with me, I always meet men/women who are unavailable/uninterested/live in another state.

Whatever your pattern, everyone has them.  The tricky part is, most of our patterns are out of our control, so even my most seemingly aware clients fall into these traps. The majority of our patterning operates on family dynamics that have nothing to do with us. Yes, you heard me correctly, you could blame mom and dad for your spinster/bachelorhood! You see, we navigate life partly from our own experiences, but largely from the experiences of our parents, aunts/uncles, siblings, and grandparents before us. We are ‘pulled’ to follow them and their fates, and additionally, we repeat a lot of what they did out of love and loyalty. There are literally dozens and dozens of family dynamics that can affect you romantically, but I’ve outlined seven for you.

Here are 7 family dynamics that could be keeping you single:

1) Your mother and father got divorced (duh). Obviously this dynamic sets you up for a split in a way that children of parents who stayed together don’t. Additionally, when our parents divorce, we often consciously ally with one parent and subconsciously ally with the other, creating a messy cocktail of entanglements that leave very little room for our own romance.

2) Your mother or father had an ex-spouse before each other and it didn’t end well. Energetically, we can feel guilty towards an ex-spouse of a parent that was not treated fairly (especially if there were children involved from that marriage) and overly identify ourselves in that situation.

3) Your mother or father had a true love before each other that never came to fruition. If your parents had a true love that never made it off the ground, we erroneously think “who are we to have that”? Additionally, we can identify with the ex-lover and make for an interesting dynamic with our parents that is not very romance-friendly.

4) Your mother or father is now single (or your sibling, friends, and other relatives). We desperately want to belong to a tribe. If they are single, what the heck are they going to think of us if we find true love? Will they accept us? Will they kick us out of the tribe? Will we feel guilty for having a warm and fuzzy relationship when they can not?

5) You have a sibling or relative that died young and tragically. We tend not to want to surpass our parents and our siblings. If a sibling was denied the ability to get married (for whatever reason–mental retardation, death, etc) we will often shy away from having what they did not have the opportunity to have.

6) Your mother did not respect your father or visa versa. We learn from our same-sex parent how to turn fully into a partner. If it was not shown at home, it is hard to replicate that.

7) Your mother or father relied way too much on you to be their ‘partner’, ‘best friend’ or confidant. I see this ALL THE TIME. When you are your mom’s gal pal or your dad’s therapist, you are overstepping boundaries that leave very little space for your own partner to come in. Time to just be your parents’ child so you can have space for your own romantic life.

Don’t let the dynamics of the past affect your current life and future. We actually honor our family members when we are able to disentangle ourselves from their patterns, stop following them in that way, and live a life that is richer, fuller, and more fulfilled — and that means having a loving relationship. Go get him or her and make your family proud!

About the Author:

Natalie Berthold uses a variety of modalities, particularly Family Constellation Therapy, to get to the root of the issue. Natalie works with all issues, but specializes in disordered eating and limitations with health, career, and finances and relationships. When not working, Natalie is most likely found frolicking in the park with her two adorable rescue mutts, Argos and Athena. For more information, visit http://www.natalieberthold.com/.

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He Wants Fun and You Want Commitment: Can It Ever Work? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/16/wants-fun-want-commitment-can-ever-work/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/16/wants-fun-want-commitment-can-ever-work/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:03:42 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18391 It can be very hard to let go of someone you have feelings for when you realize your ultimate desires differ. Relationship expert Janet Ong Zimmerman does a brilliant job of breaking this situation down. As usual, she doesn’t mince words and you have to love that!  Written by Janet Ong Zimmerman, YourTango Sure, he’s nice. […]

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can you get a guy to commit 300x200 He Wants Fun and You Want Commitment: Can It Ever Work?It can be very hard to let go of someone you have feelings for when you realize your ultimate desires differ. Relationship expert Janet Ong Zimmerman does a brilliant job of breaking this situation down. As usual, she doesn’t mince words and you have to love that! 

Written by Janet Ong Zimmerman, YourTango

Sure, he’s nice. Sure, he’s funny. Sure, he’s handsome and the chemistry is great. But if you and your guy don’t want the same type of relationship, is that a deal breaker? Is a breakup in order over this? The short answer is “yes!”

Why? Because any time you’re with a guy who wants a different type of relationship, you are on the road to regret and heartbreak. You end up wasting precious months (or years) in a situation that was never going anywhere from day one. You end up feeling hurt, sad, and disappointed, even though the signs were there the entire time.

So, if a committed relationship is your ultimate goal and you find yourself in one of the following five scenarios … sorry! You’re on the road to relationship nowhere. Here’s what to do about it:

Scenario #1: He’s your hook-up buddy

When you’re just hooking up, the chances of this kind of arrangement turning into anything more are slim to none. Guys in this no-strings-attached scenario don’t take the relationship (or you) seriously. This arrangement keeps you both involved from a distance so neither of you ever shows true vulnerability. As a result, no real or lasting emotional intimacy takes hold. Committed relationships and marriages require real intimacy which can’t be built on a shallow connection.

Sure, hanging out and hooking up is fun and comfortable. But the more you do so, the more difficult real dating becomes. Why? Because dating requires openness and increased feelings of being vulnerable and exposed. Dating is about practicing connection at different levels and being seen for who you are. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. So do more of it!

If lasting love is what you seek, leave Mr. Hook-Up guy behind and start dating other people.

Scenario #2: You’re blinded by the chemistry

When you first meet a guy and really like him, don’t get caught up in the chemistry, his good looks or his smooth-talking ways. If he’s saying the right things and you’re not sure he means what he says, take time to learn whether you share core values, what his outlook on life is, how compatible you are, and the kind of relationship he is looking for. Don’t let him (or steamy chemistry) talk you into having sex too soon.

Set the pace by letting him woo you. In doing so, you learn his true intentions (i.e. if he’s looking for a commitment or marriage, if he wants to date others, etc.). Notice how you feel when you’re with him and when you’re apart. If he is the right guy, you will feel good about yourself and who he is.

Also, never talk yourself into remaining with him because he “seems” like a good catch.

Scenario #3: It’s a hot-and-cold love affair

On-again, off-again relationships are both fun and deeply frustrating, which is why most of them don’t end in commitment or marriage—they just end. Stop thinking you’re the exception. You’ll just waste even more of your precious time.

If your on-again, off-again guy contacts you and wants to get together, politely decline, even if you don’t have other plans. You might wonder, “What’s the harm?” Well, attracting the love you really want requires clarity in your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. So when you send mixed signals to the Universe, higher power, or God, you find yourself in the type of relationships you don’t really want over and over again.

Scenario #4: The relationship is starting to get serious

Congratulations, you’ve finally progressed from dating to being exclusive. Great, but continue watching what he says and does. If he tells you what you want to hear to keep you around, yet his actions don’t back up his promises, have the courage to see things for what they are. Don’t make excuses for him (i.e. he’s got a full schedule because he’s working so much and doesn’t have time to call me). And don’t pursue him either when you don’t hear from him.

If a guy is really into you, you will hear from him no matter what is going on in his life.

If he tells you he isn’t looking for a commitment—believe him! Stop hoping he’ll change his mind once he realizes how wonderful you are. And definitely don’t bend over backwards or compromise who you are trying to make him to like you more.

It’s hard to detach yourself from a guy you really like, but it’s far easier when you haven’t invested a ton of time and effort into a connection that’s going nowhere. Leave this relationship now and free your energy up to meet a guy who genuinely wants what you want.

Scenario #5: He needs to put a ring on it!

So, you’ve been in an exclusive relationship for a long time (maybe even a few years). Some couples are entirely okay with this. If the guy you love has no interest in marriage, but does want to spend his life with you, there are other factors to help decide if you should stay or end it. For example: whether you want to have children and raise them in a traditional (married) household. Or, whether you have a deep desire to experience marriage and all that comes with it.

It’s okay if you decide that being with him is more important than the official “I do” commitment. However, if you really want to get married, don’t let him talk you out of that dream. Marriage might be “just a piece of paper” to him, but, in truth, it does represent a deeper level of commitment—both people are more invested and, when sticky situations come up, there is more incentive to work things out.

How To End The Relationship And Move On:

If your heart and mind tell you that your relationship is going nowhere and it’s time to walk away, let these six things help you let go:

1. He is still a great guy; you just both want different things

Just because he doesn’t want commitment or marriage doesn’t make him a bad guy (and don’t tell him, or others, that he’s a bad guy just because you’re upset). Shift your attention and reflect inward on how you can improve your prospects of finding a man aligned with your relationship goals.

2. There is no ideal time to leave

Saying goodbye will never be easy. If your goals aren’t aligned, the time to leave is now. Walking away sooner than later will help ease your pain and preserve your self-esteem. If he tries to convince you to come back, remind yourself he isn’t capable or willing to give you what you want.

3. Time waits for no one

The more time you spend with a guy who doesn’t want they type of relationship you seek, the less time you’re available for meeting a man who shares your desire for commitment and marriage.

4. Continuing down the same path hurts both of you

When you send mixed signals (i.e. saying you want marriage, yet continuing to date a guy who doesn’t want commitment), you continue to attract more of the same hurt and frustration. Don’t live your life in limbo. Doing so only takes you (and your man) further away from what you each really want.

5. Get crystal clear

Focus on and take action towards what you truly want in a relationship. Don’t waste time with wishful thinking. Instead, determine the qualities you want in your ideal man and relationship (i.e. how that life and relationship will feel once you are in it). Then, use that vision as a guide that moves you forward.

6. Prepare to stretch your comfort zone

It’s time to do the inner work and prepare yourself for something bigger and better. When you feel discomfort in that process, know that the challenge helps you grow in a positive way. Seek support for the journey—the right resources, people, and situations. Remember to be kind and loving to yourself along the way.

Now that you’re ready to take action towards your heart’s desire, know that you’re further down the path toward meeting the guy of your dreams. And when you meet him, he’ll want the same type of relationship that you do.

More at YourTango:

Why You Absolutely Must Date More Than One Guy At A Time

6 Signs You’re In Love With An Emotionally Unavailable Man

5 Types Of Guys Who Are NOT Husband Material

5 Secrets To Cracking The Guy Code And Winning His Love Forever

 

Article originally posted at YourTango: He Wants Fun, You Want Commitment

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The Impact of ‘Virtual’ Relationships http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/16/virtual-relationships-positive-negative/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/16/virtual-relationships-positive-negative/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:49:57 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18371 We’re all so used to being tied to our iPhones these days, I think it’s important to be aware of the need for actual human connection. Too many of my friends are texting – and never calling anymore. I’m guilty of this as well. This guest blog from FOX News magazine’s Ashley Papa serves as a little […]

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virtual relationships 300x200 The Impact of Virtual RelationshipsWe’re all so used to being tied to our iPhones these days, I think it’s important to be aware of the need for actual human connection. Too many of my friends are texting – and never calling anymore. I’m guilty of this as well. This guest blog from FOX News magazine’s Ashley Papa serves as a little reminder to put down the phone once in awhile.

Written by Ashley Papa, FOX News Magazine

You text and email each other all day, and occasionally check each other’s Facebook and Instagram to see if they uploaded any new pictures of themselves.“He looks a little too happy in that one,” you judge. At night, you may talk on the phone or Skype. But it’s all good if you don’t, because he texts you “good night” then “XO.”

Does this sound like you and your relationship?

Technology has made it much easier for relationships to feel like they’ve gone “virtual,” especially if you’re receiving more X’s via phone than getting the real physical thing from your partner.

While it allows couples to stay in constant communication, some say technology actually harms our interpersonal interactions and replaces the in-person discovery and sexuality with the virtual kind.

“Call it chemistry, fireworks or pheromones, [but] humans are hard-wired to deal with each other in person,” says dating coach Hunt Ethridge. “What is said in communication is really only about 20 percent the actual words spoken or on a screen. The rest is about the body language and the tone.”

It’s also their touch, their smell, and their demeanor. What fun is it to learn all about your love interest by finding out what they like on Pinterest?

Getting to know people is about peeling back the layers, and involves a bit of mystery, says Ethridge. If you leave everything up to technology and social media, it leaves a lot up for interpretation.

University of Missouri researcher Russell Clayton, who did a study on the impact of social media platforms on relationships, says excessive use is also associated with negative relationship outcomes, including emotional and physical cheating and separation. Perhaps because at times when we were once forced to talk, (like on road trips, in waiting rooms, and even on dates) we’re being sucked into our phones instead.

While technology does enable spontaneous thoughtful interactions at any time (think a random flirty text during the work day), they shouldn’t be used in lieu of actual kissing or flirting.

And, when it comes to sorting out problems?

“Nothing complex should ever try to be figured out via text,” adds Ethridge. “You owe it to the other person to be there in-person.”

The bottom line: If you feel like your relationship is getting more digital and less physical, just put down the phone and wait until you are in each other’s presence to share feelings, flirt, and kiss.

More at FOX News Magazine:

If Your Boyfriend Starts Doing This, He’s in it for the Long Haul

6 Signs Your Boyfriend is Emotionally Unavailable

7 Signs He’s Not into You

 

Originally posted at Fox News Magazine: Are You in a Virtual Relationship?

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Why Singles Aren’t Harming Marriage. They’re Actually Helping It! http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/15/singles-arent-harming-marriage-theyre-actually-helping/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/15/singles-arent-harming-marriage-theyre-actually-helping/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:39:51 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18359 “In our day, marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual […]

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single people 300x196 Why Singles Aren’t Harming Marriage. They’re Actually Helping It!In our day, marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings.”— Pope Francis, Nov. 17, Vatican Radio

“Marriage today is being abandoned wholesale. Passion and pleasure in all things, especially sex, is the goal of the age and most people are convinced that marriage just cannot provide it.”— Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Oct. 15, New York Observer

I’ve quoted these two religious leaders not because they’re saying anything terribly shocking or upsetting, but because the sentiments they expressed are quite common. Single people are used to being told their lives are shallow, just as married people are accustomed to being held up as the moral ideal.

But in decades past, single people weren’t particularly threatening—they were seen as a marginal group of weirdos and losers.

Today, however, half of U.S. adults are unmarried. This is due in part to the fact that some people are choosing not to marry. But the more common reason is that most of us are marrying much later in life than our parents and grandparents did—the median age of first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, compared with the 1950s when it was 20 and 23 respectively.

The fact that many of us now spend a substantial portion of our adult life as single people has many commentators convinced that marriage is in crisis and that society in general is in decline—increasingly dominated by loose morals, lack of commitment, etc.

As I have written many times before, I reject the notion that being single is an indication of poor character. But regardless of one’s opinion on that point, the marriage advocates neglect an important fact: The divorce rate is declining, and has been for thirty years.

As University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers recently wrote in The New York Times, the percent of married couples filing for divorce peaked in 1979 and has fallen steadily ever since.

You know that statistic about half of all marriages ending in divorce? It’s the gold standard for op-eds and news stories bemoaning society’s moral decay. The problem is, it’s no longer true—and hasn’t been for decades.

Why? Economists point to three causes. First, birth control has reduced the number of shotgun weddings—and thus the number of unhappy couples bound together by obligation rather than love. The fact that Americans marry later in life is also key–research has found that the older you are on your wedding day, the lower your risk of divorce. Finally, we now marry for love.

In the past, staying single past age 30 would make you an outcast. If you were a woman, it could also make you destitute. Today we enjoy the wonderful luxury to wait until we’ve found the right match. This has not harmed marriage. To the contrary, it has made it stronger than it has been in decades.

Single people are not the enemies of marriage—most of them intend to marry someday. But the days the days of shaming singles to the altar are over. And that’s a very good thing for marriage.

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Why Singles Aren’t Harming Marriage. They’re Actually Helping It!About the Author:

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Do you have a question for Sara? Go to saraeckel.com/contact and ask.

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12 Warning Signs Your Online Prince Charming is a Fraud http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/15/10-warning-signs-online-prince-charming-fraud/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/15/10-warning-signs-online-prince-charming-fraud/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:41:47 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18331 We have posted many articles about being careful as you meet people online. While online dating is an amazing avenue to meet your match, you should be smart in this relatively newer way of finding love. I thought this post from author Sharon Lynn Wyeth was very thorough – and wanted to share it. Written by Sharon […]

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online scammers and how to protect yourself 300x224 12 Warning Signs Your Online Prince Charming is a FraudWe have posted many articles about being careful as you meet people online. While online dating is an amazing avenue to meet your match, you should be smart in this relatively newer way of finding love. I thought this post from author Sharon Lynn Wyeth was very thorough – and wanted to share it.

Written by Sharon Lynn Wyeth for YourTango

Here are warning signs and some advice so you don’t waste time with frauds, and instead can focus on the possibility of real love:

1. Look at their profile.

Start with what is stated on the Internet site. Scammers often are not specific in what they are looking for in a mate. Thus, more people will respond and fit their requirements. When making contact with you, they start by complimenting you on your looks. Wouldn’t we rather be complimented on accomplishments or what our goals are?

2. “I love you” statements.

This is a statement that everyone wishes to hear, but how do you know if it’s real? Charlatans tell you they love you before they have ever actually met you. Think about it. Some people can sound great on the phone, but when you meet them there is nothing there; or, physically they just don’t meet your standards. How can someone honestly love you before having met you in person?

3. Flattery before you’ve even met.

The other part of the “I love you” scam is when they will say something like, “Something in me shifted, and I love you,” or, “I think I have found my soul mate.” Again, they have yet to meet you, and there hasn’t been enough time to know you well enough to truly love you in the way you wish to be loved. How can someone want to spend the rest of their life with you when they have known you less than a month?

4. Using private email.

There is a reason they wish for you to contact them directly and not use e-mail via the dating site. You are using a dating site to protect your privacy and help you avoid scammers. Don’t fall for whatever their reason is to write to them directly prior to meeting them in person.

5. They don’t answer the questions asked in your emails.

It is almost as if some of their mail is sent automatically, like you are on their list and this is the next standard email that is sent out.

6. You want to meet, but they’ve conveniently moved.

Another indication that something problematic is going on is when there is distance between where you both live — and they aren’t advocating a meeting. When you indicate that you’ll be in their area and would like to get together, they can’t meet you. This is a great test; ask to meet them soon after the introduction. If there are continual excuses, then you know the person doesn’t really live where they say they do, and/or they are not truly interested in you.

7. It’s all about the money.

Most people who earn a decent living wish to be wanted for who they are, not for their income. Yet, scammers will often indicate that they make more than $150,000 a year. This way, when they get into a jam and request money, the unsuspecting person thinks their investment or loan will actually get reimbursed.

8. They ask about your income.

Shortly after the introduction, the person asks about your financials as they wish to know what kind of person they are dealing with. In other words, they are really wishing to find out if you are worth their time to scam as you have financial resources to share. Think about your friendships—do they ask you about your financials? Not many do.

9. They don’t call often.

They would rather write and they don’t usually answer the questions that you ask. If they do call, the conversations are short.

10. Their pictures are fake.

The pictures posted may or may not be the actual person. Ask the person to send you a picture of themselves via the mail.

11. Notice the background in the pictures posted online.

Are they indicating that they are wealthy? Does it show a big house, a new boat, or something else that yells wealth? Again, people who have real wealth do not advertise it. So, when a picture flagrantly indicates wealth, one needs to consider if that picture is even real. Did the person go to a boat dock and simply stand in front of a great looking boat and have their picture taken? Did they ask a realtor to show them an expensive house and then have their picture taken at the house?

12. They want to “borrow” money from you.

Many Americans find a foreign accent attractive. But, it is easy for a scam to be set up by a foreigner, even one who is not currently in the United States. One of the more popular scams is to pretend to be a resident who has either recently moved to the states in the last two years, or who is in the process of moving to the states. They get called back to their home country, or South Africa, to do a lucrative job, with either really important people or for a really good commission or a big paycheck.

Once overseas, something horrible happens that leaves them broke or close to broke—their money got stolen from their hotel, the taxi cab driver stole it, the airlines forced them to check their luggage and their money was in their carry-on bag that was now checked. Whatever the reason, a smart person or one who travels knows better than to let it occur.

They ask you for a temporary loan. Think about this. Why you? Don’t they have friends or family that could help them out if the situation was true? If they are asking someone that they barely know, it is either a scam or they have burnt their previous bridges. Either way, do you really want to get involved with this person? Ask yourself how desperate for a relationship you are. They are counting on that desperation.

In addition to the warning signs, here are some commonalities among scammers. Remember, they have a plethora of these, but not necessarily all of these traits.

Their name consists of two first names.
They don’t call often, as they would rather write.
They are not all over the Internet—you cannot find them on Facebook or any other sites.
They ask about your finances.
The facts that they give you do not check out. They are not on the alumni list of the college they said they attended, and so on.
They must travel overseas shortly after meeting you.
They state they love you before meeting you in person.
They state that they love you in less than a month.
They request money from you.
They make promises that are unrealistic.

 

More at YourTango:

6 Signs You’re In Love With An Emotionally Unavailable Man

10 Dating Tips I Wish I Followed While I Was Single

15 Subtle Ways He Shows He Loves You

How to Win Your Ex Back

 

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4 Things Savvy Daters Do During the Holidays http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/12/4-things-savvy-daters-holidays/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/12/4-things-savvy-daters-holidays/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 20:08:31 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18322 There’s something about the most wonderful time of the year that brings out the best and worst in single people. One day you’re feeling festive and bright at your colleague’s cookie exchange. Then you’re seized with deep longing as you stroll past the fake Christmas trees at your local big box store. “This year was […]

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holidays as a single advice 300x225 4 Things Savvy Daters Do During the HolidaysThere’s something about the most wonderful time of the year that brings out the best and worst in single people. One day you’re feeling festive and bright at your colleague’s cookie exchange. Then you’re seized with deep longing as you stroll past the fake Christmas trees at your local big box store. “This year was supposed to be different,” you tell yourself. This year you were supposed to have a holiday sweetie. This year you were supposed to enjoy all that couply comfort and joy – you know, decorating a tree with ornaments from your travels throughout the year, holding hands at your company party or baking matching gingerbread cookies to photograph and post on Facebook.

The holidays are hard on the hardiest of single souls. It’s all too easy to buy into the idea that the season is only meaningful if shared with someone special. Yet some single people sail through them just fine. Some even manage to enjoy them!

Here are some of their secrets:

1) They don’t let themselves feel bad for what they don’t have.

They don’t get misty-eyed with nostalgia for a version of the holidays they created in their heads years ago but doesn’t actually exist. They recognize that the occasional lonely ache in their gut is a temporary uncomfortable feeling and not their fate or identity. They remember that the holidays are also a time to observe religious rituals and celebrate with extended family. If they crave connection with others, they appreciate the chance to go shopping with their cousins, sing carols at their house of worship or participate in a food drive with a local charity.

And while the season might be more fun as an established couple, they take advantage of the opportunity to plan some holiday dates with new people. Some ideas: Go ice skating. Pick up some gingerbread lattes and drive around the neighborhoods with the best decorated houses. Research which lounges or cafes have fireplaces.

2) They create their own fun traditions.

They host an ugly sweater bar crawl or white elephant party for their friends or an afternoon tea for all the women in their family. Or they sign up for a Holiday 5K with their kids or take their nieces and nephews to a library tree lighting. After my parents divorced, my brothers and I started a Christmas dinner tradition of eating at a fancy Indian buffet. It beat feeling bad that we weren’t having the same honey-baked ham with my mom’s side of the family.

An added bonus of ratcheting up your social life during the holidays: You’re making sure you’ll get a lot of reciprocal invites during the rest of the year. Plus, you’ll be on email lists of different community and social organizations.

3) They use the holiday down time to get ready for the new year rush.

Dating activity tends to slow down when everyone gets busy with other obligations. Successful daters take advantage of this short off season to get physically and emotionally ready for the beginning of January when online dating subscriptions surge. They drop a few pounds, shop for date outfits, update their profiles or de-clutter their home and life. By the time all that red and green has been put away, they’re feeling fresh and raring to go.

4) They stay hopeful and positive.

This is an essential skill to have any time of year. But it’s especially valuable during those cold evenings when you’re feeling a little down as you walk back from that ugly sweater party by yourself. Successful daters know it’s a matter of when – not if – they will find love. They have faith in themselves that they are doing what they need to do to make it happen. Then they relax and get their sparkle on.

What strategies do you use to thrive during this time of year?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.

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It’s a Winter Date for Franny Agnes Lee http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/11/winter-date-franny-agnes-lee/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/11/winter-date-franny-agnes-lee/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 22:54:41 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18311 She’s braved a date in her bathing suit, hung out with an IRS auditor, and those are just two of her milder adventures. Our girl doesn’t quit — and I am convinced that she will absolutely find love. Some day. Maybe not this time out, as she engages in a snowball fight that goes south quickly. […]

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She’s braved a date in her bathing suit, hung out with an IRS auditor, and those are just two of her milder adventures. Our girl doesn’t quit — and I am convinced that she will absolutely find love. Some day. Maybe not this time out, as she engages in a snowball fight that goes south quickly.

ep 10 Its a Winter Date for Franny Agnes Lee

 

More Franny:

See Franny’s summer date gone awry!

Franny: Blind Date One

Franny: Blind Date Two

Franny: Blind Date Three

Franny: Blind Date Four

Franny: Blind Date Five

Franny: Blind Date Six

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Thoughts on Spending the Holidays Alone http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/09/thoughts-spending-holidays-alone/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/09/thoughts-spending-holidays-alone/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:34:38 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18294 “I am 30 years old, and I’ve spent every holiday as
 a single person. Being single is difficult anytime, but it feels worse 
during the holidays. All of my friends are married with children, so it’s 
difficult to socialize with them in general, because people usually spend
 more time with their partners and children. It […]

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being alone during the holidays 300x200 Thoughts on Spending the Holidays AloneI am 30 years old, and I’ve spent every holiday as
 a single person. Being single is difficult anytime, but it feels worse 
during the holidays. All of my friends are married with children, so it’s 
difficult to socialize with them in general, because people usually spend
 more time with their partners and children. It gets worse during the
 holidays, because holidays are about family. I also don’t have a family,
 so I’m alone. I always get invited to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas
 with my friends and their families. I did that once, and I didn’t want to
 do it again, because you see people with their families and then go home alone.
 It’s almost like it enhances the fact that I’m single. Once New Year’s is over, I feel
 much better and look forward to having a productive year.” — Tiffany

If American culture tends to make single people feel bad, Christmas is America on steroids. Yes, many people work hard to remind us of the “reason for the season.” We get holiday cards that proclaim the importance of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. We’re encouraged to give to the needy. And if we flip on the TV at the right time, we might get to see Charlie Brown and the Grinch discover what Christmas is all about.

But if the birth of a child, and the subsequent message to be peaceful and kind, was truly what the holidays were about, then they wouldn’t make so many people feel terrible.

The images blasting into our homes every December aren’t of people mopping floors at homeless shelters or visiting nursing homes. We don’t see people deciding to skip the shopping, make a quick online payment to a charity and then curl up with hot cocoa and a library book. Instead, we see high-gloss, 21st-century iterations of Norman Rockwell-style sentimentality: Friends and family members coming in from the cold carrying towering boxes of gifts. Wide-eyed toddlers in footed pajamas. Handsome husbands giving beaming wives diamond pendants. Couples having snowball fights.

Advertisers aren’t the only ones peddling gauzy images of holiday happiness—social media now enables us to market our lifestyles to each other.

It all adds up to a single message: Everyone is having a wonderful time, except you. Intellectually we understand this isn’t true—we know the goal of holiday advertising is not to promote peace on earth. But these images don’t hit us in the logical part of our brain; they strike a much deeper place than that.

So here’s my suggestion: If your life does not resemble a department store ad this year, own it. Ditch those pre-packaged ideas of how you’re supposed to feel. I don’t mean blab to all your friends about how much you loooove spending the holidays alone. I’m suggesting you make a conscious choice to drop out of the holiday happiness arms race. Watch movies. Get caught up on stuff. If you feel sad and lonely, that’s okay. As you note in your letter, it will pass.

You could even take it a step further by turning this dilemma into an interesting philosophical question. Ask yourself: “How can I connect with the true spirit of the holidays?” You know, the part that Linus tells Charlie Brown about. That could mean spending the day in some sort of service project – serving Christmas dinner to the homeless, joining the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count—but it doesn’t have to. It could also mean spending this time reflecting on how you would like to promote peace on earth and goodwill towards all. These are more than just greeting card concepts; they’re important. Click on the news any day, and that much is clear.

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Thoughts on Spending the Holidays AloneThe world is in a tough place right now, and many people are suffering. You may be suffering too, and while what you are dealing with is difficult, I think there’s also an opportunity there. You have a chance to experience the holidays stripped of the consumption and the glitz. It might not be fun, but it could be interesting.

How do you experience the holidays as a single person? Please go to saraeckel.com/contact and let me know.

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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How to Put Your Date at Ease (and Remove the Awkward Tension) http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/08/put-date-ease-remove-awkward-tension/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/08/put-date-ease-remove-awkward-tension/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 23:18:29 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18278 In five words, here’s how you make your date feel comfortable: games, compliments, stories, humor, and touch. The key to putting your date at ease is to distract the two of you from thinking too much about what the other is thinking. Try using each one of the elements below and your dating life will […]

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first date tips 300x199 How to Put Your Date at Ease (and Remove the Awkward Tension)In five words, here’s how you make your date feel comfortable: games, compliments, stories, humor, and touch. The key to putting your date at ease is to distract the two of you from thinking too much about what the other is thinking. Try using each one of the elements below and your dating life will go much more smoothly as a result!

1. Playing games (in a good way)

Having your first or second date at a restaurant for dinner is the perfect context for playing silly games which will put the two of you at ease, distracting you both with something harmless and fun. Play a people watching game where you take turns making up the rules. For example, you say, “I want you to show me which person in this room is the most likely to have gotten, say, the Employee of the Year award at work. (Analyze this: I’d probably ask something such as, “Which person here might be the most likely to have a dead body hidden in their floor boards?” What, pray tell, does that say about the relationship expert!?)

2. Compliments

First, I said “compliments,” not rapid-fire praise. In other words, toss out a quick compliment at the very beginning of the date, and toss another compliment your date’s way before the date is over. One or two thoughtful compliments will suffice; any more than that, and you’ll come across as disingenuous or overly anxious.

Examples: “You’re even more attractive in person than you are in your pictures;” “Wow, what a nice smile!”

3. Stories

The first five minutes of a first date are always the most awkward. After giving your new date a compliment, try launching into a brief and colorful story about something — anything. It doesn’t honestly matter that much what the story is about; all you’re really trying to do is to give your date something to focus on and to create a friendly dynamic to open the date.

Examples: “This restaurant reminds me of another restaurant where I saw the craziest thing happen [and insert a funny anecdote];” “I’m glad you wanted to see a movie, too, and I read a review that said [insert a snippet];” “This bar reminds me of a place I used to go when I [share a detail from your past].”

4. Humor

All I have to say is…God bless humor! Humor can actually make the difference between a good date and a bad one, so don’t hesitate to show your sense of humor and to crack whichever jokes you happen to think are funny. Humor helps put your date at ease, but it also serves another purpose: By showing your sense of humor, your date will, in turn, show his or hers to you and the two of you will quickly figure out if your senses of humor are compatible.

Examples: “I have a few quick questions to ask you just to make sure you’re not a psychopath; would you mind if I take notes while you answer?” “Okay, now is probably a good time for us to rate how the date is going on a scale of 1 to 10.” I promise, if you use humor, you will see your date start to relax and both of you can start to be a little bit more yourselves.

5. Touch

Before anyone starts getting any crazy ideas, the touch we’re talking about here is just the simplest physical gesture. The vast majority of people like to be touched, and most people will allow someone new to touch them the slightest bit. On the first or second date, extend a small physical gesture of warmth. Note: The goal is to convey emotional warmth, not sexual attraction or flirting. If the two of you are going to be a good fit, there will be plenty of time to show sexual attraction and flirt later!

Examples: Touch your date briefly on the shoulder, but don’t rub his or her back because that is too personal too soon for most people; touch or pat your date’s arm and make a comment such as, “I’m glad we’re getting the chance to hang out together.”

Successful dating is about keeping things as simple and organic as possible. By incorporating these suggestions into your dating routine, your dates will appreciate the natural way you put them at ease. Remember, it’s when people feel relaxed that they let their true personalities show. My wish for you is that you let yourself enjoy your first dates and focus on enjoying the surroundings, even when things feel a little forced or book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 How to Put Your Date at Ease (and Remove the Awkward Tension)uncomfortable. Sooner or later, all your efforts in dating will pay off!

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

 

 

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5 Signs You Are Headed for Dating Disaster http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/08/5-signs-headed-dating-disaster/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/12/08/5-signs-headed-dating-disaster/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:37:28 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18263 We post a lot of these types of blogs – red flags and potential warning signs in a partner – because when you are attracted to someone it is so easy to focus on the amazing feelings only. ‘He has no relationship with his mother? Well, that’s ok because he is so adorable.’ ‘She doesn’t […]

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signs you are dating a crazy person 300x199 5 Signs You Are Headed for Dating DisasterWe post a lot of these types of blogs – red flags and potential warning signs in a partner – because when you are attracted to someone it is so easy to focus on the amazing feelings only. ‘He has no relationship with his mother? Well, that’s ok because he is so adorable.’ ‘She doesn’t seem to have many close friends. Well, I don’t mind because I am so attracted to her.’ You get the point. Today’s guest blogger, dating expert Ravid Yosef, does a very good job writing about things to look for (and run from) in your romantic life.

Written by Ravid Yosef, YourTango

I hear a lot of dating stories, specifically from men, where they say they fell in love with someone and months or even years later, they found out they were dating a complete crazy person. They got bamboozled. Their partner pretended to be a certain way to catch them and then revealed their true self; a heartless narcissist and now they’re stuck there asking themselves, “Who are you and what did I get myself into?”

You want to be sympathetic towards these folks because they were blinded by love, but I don’t feel bad for them. I just think they weren’t paying attention. Whether you’re together a few months, or years, things happen in people’s lives that will show you their character. They will either shine, or reveal themselves to be who they really are. When these examples/instances come up, they will show you their integrity, authenticity, and their commitment in other places in their life. You just need to pay attention and I’m here to help you do that.

So here are 5 instances when a person’s character will reveal itself. Pay attention to how your partner acts in these types of situations and you’ll never get bamboozled again.

1. How do they treat their family and friends?

How do they show up for their family or friends? Are they supportive? Are they giving and helpful? Do they spend time with them? When they’re ill, do they take care of them and check in to make sure they’re doing ok? Are they kind? If they treat their family and friends badly or without compassion during their time of need, they will likely do the same with you eventually.

2. How do they talk about their ex?

Are they spiteful? Are they still angry? Do they only have bad things to say? This may be the way they talk about you one day. Was the demise of their previous relationships only the other person’s fault? Pay close attention to the answers.

3. What kind of parent are they?

If you’re dating someone with kids, the type of parent they are is a huge indicator of who they are as a person. Do they show up for their kids? Are they an active parent? Are their kids the most important thing in their life? Do they provide? If their own kids don’t come first, how will you ever come close to getting what you need?

4. How do they argue?

Do they freak out? Do they get overly emotional or very mean? Do they argue with you in public? That’s a huge no-no and a sign of disaster to come.

5. How do they deal with adversity at life and work?

Do they overreact? Are they super dramatic? Do they fall apart? Is the world ending? Do they deal with their adversity with grace, or do they get ugly? It’s ok to have a bad day, but do they get back up the next day and keep on going? This is how they’ll react to adversity in your relationship. If they like the drama, let them go!

Have you dated someone who displayed some of the above?

More at YourTango:

6 Signs You’re In Love With An Emotionally Unavailable Man

10 Dating Tips I Wish I Followed While I Was Single

15 Subtle Ways He Shows He Loves You

 

Originally posted at YourTango: 5 Signs You’re Dating a Crazy Person

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