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Toni Coleman

Toni Coleman

Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach with over 20 years of experience helping singles and couples achieve their relationship goals. As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including: The Chicago Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel newspapers and Family Circle, Woman's Day, Cosmo Style, Star, and Nirvana magazines. She has been featured on ABC News (abcnews.com); Discovery Health Channel (discovery.com); AOL Online (aolnews.com); Global Internet radio (planetearthradio.com); and (The Larry Elder show) (larryelder.warnerbros.com.) As a weekly contributing commentator on the KTRS Radio Morning Show, (St. Louis, MO), Toni offers dating tips and relationship advice in response to listener feedback.

Hooking up vs lasting love – It’s your choice

“hooking up”

“friends with benefits”

“booty call”

These terms have become all too familiar in today’s dating world. Are they words that you can relate to? Have you lived them in some way? If so, how have you felt about the experience(s) both during and after? Chances are that you have mixed feelings at best. Depending on your age and sex, you may give a somewhat different response to this question. Whatever your answer, a close look at this “dating experience” that impacts so many singles in so many ways may be useful to you as you think about what your long-term relationship goals are and what you REALLY want from a relationship.

So what exactly do these terms mean?

“Hooking up” is getting together for sex. There is generally no formal “date” involved.

“Friends with benefits” usually refers to two people who are “friends” who also have sex together. Again, there’s a distinction between what they share and “dating.”

“Booty call” usually describes the act of a man (woman) calling up another person to come over for sex. The sex doesn’t follow dinner, a movie or other “quality” time together, getting to really know each other. It’s physical.

Do you define this activity (even loosely) as dating? Has this become a new intimacy for some or many of you? If so, it’s important to look at how/if it meets your needs and if it aligns with your basic values and relationship wants and goals.

Begin by asking yourself some core questions, such as:

  • Am I comfortable with intimacy?
  • Am I comfortable with a purely physical relationship?
  • Am I able to be physically involved with someone while remaining emotionally detached?
  • How do I feel about myself when I engage in this behavior?
  • Am I doing this to please someone or win his or her affection?
  • Is monogamy and marriage my goal?

If your answers reflect discordance between how you feel and what you do, it would be helpful to understand the reasons behind your behavior. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “It’s convenient”
  • “It’s easy”
  • “It’s safe”
  • “It requires no commitment on my part”

In addition to these explanations, some singles express a belief that “everyone does it” or “it’s expected.” Therefore, they often report engaging in it, but not feeling really ok or satisfied afterwards. Others use it as a substitute for real intimacy, referencing their difficulties in meeting and dating in general.

Then there are the people who have sex hoping it will lead to love. This too is a desire for intimacy that can lead to sadness and disappointment and the possibility of contacting a dangerous and life-altering infection. It reminds me of the line in a song, “if I can love you good enough on the outside to make you feel it on the inside, then maybe you will stay…”

Once you have determined what you really want from a relationship you can begin to make clear, thought out choices that will open the path that points in the direction you wish to go. Until you do so, you face the possibility of more disappointing and short-lived encounters that leave you feeling more alone and less hopeful about the possibility for lasting happy love.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

The Metrosexual Man vs The Cowboy – What do women want?

He always looks perfectly put together. He can be in a t-shirt and jeans or heading out to a black-tie event. His hair never has a bad day. His nails are clean and buffed. His clothes are perfectly pressed and exquisitely coordinated. He smells like flowers and spice. Is he gay? No, he’s the new metrosexual man.

As many of you know by now, the term “metrosexual” was coined by a journalist (and gay man) named Mark Simpson, to describe a new kind of urban male who is straight, but in touch with his feminine side and not afraid to show it. Essentially, metrosexuals are guys who take on behaviors and show an interest in things that have traditionally belonged in the female domain.

You may have a metrosexual brother, male friend or boyfriend (ex). These are the guys you can shop till you drop with. They can discuss fashion, will notice your great new shoes, buy their grooming products from the same places you do and have no qualms about having a manicure, pedicure or facial. You can actually TALK to these guys about something other than sports, cars and other traditionally male interests. These are the guys you can take to the opera, symphony and ballet. The perfect man, right? Depends on whom you talk to.

Let’s step back a minute and look at the where and how of the existence of the metrosexual man. Simply put, he is a by-product of feminism and the changing roles and related expectations of women. As women have moved into (previously) male dominated environments and roles, it has caused a shift in the male-female balance. Women are now active participants in industry, politics and the professions- to name a few. However, as they have left their old jobs as homemakers and full-time domestic caregivers, they left a lot of empty space to be filled. Childcare providers and the domestic cleaning industry could provide some of this. The problem was all the “other” stuff women had always done.

Men were therefore called upon to contribute more to the raising of children, housework, cooking, shopping, etc. Their sons were being exposed a new role model, a dad who took on jobs and chores that had traditionally belonged to mom. Young boys themselves were also being tapped to do housework and help with siblings, exposing them to a new way of being a male in our society. Women had become more independent and financially and professionally successful. Men had become more domestic and had to soften their style as they moved into more traditionally feminine roles.

A new social order had evolved that worked for everyone, right? Not necessarily. We never take on something new without giving something up. So, what has been discarded? Clearly defined social roles and the expectations that come with them- for starters. Suddenly there was a new blueprint for how men and women should relate- especially in the world of dating. However, it was unclear and depending upon whom you asked, you would get a different answer. Usher in the confusion and frustration surrounding dating in the new millennium.

Women ask questions such as:

  • who asks who out
  • who calls who
  • who pays
  • who makes decisions about where to go, etc.
  • What are the expectations at the end of the date
  • how soon should we become intimate

Women comment on:

  • his lack of initiative in calling or asking her out
  • his expectation that they will go dutch
  • how he never offers to pick her up
  • his overall lack of assertiveness
  • his saying he will call, but not following through
  • his too polished style which lacks a certain spark of masculinity
  • his taking longer to get ready than she does
  • his crudeness or over aggressive style
  • his expectation that they will have sex

Men ask questions such as:

  • what do women want
  • why should a guy have to ask a girl out
  • why should the guy always pay
  • why do women say they want sensitivity, etc., but see guys like that as wimps
  • why do women give out such mixed signals in general
  • why do women seem to reject nice guys and go for jerks
  • why can’t a woman be the aggressor

Men comment on:

  • women acting spoiled
  • women wanting their independence, etc. but not wanting equal responsibility and weight
  • women expecting a lot from men, but offering little in return
  • women not knowing what they want
  • women playing games
  • women’s attraction to “bad boys”

Both women and men verbalize that they are okay with the current roles that have evolved for them in our society, yet I hear both talk wistfully about how it was in previous generations. Back then; everyone KNEW what was expected from him or her. Life was predictable. Dating was much simpler and “safer”. Men were men and women were raised to be wives and homemakers.

We have gained something and we have lost something. One thing for sure, we can never have it both ways.

What’s the answer? It is never simple. However, it does involve better communication in general between men and women. Singles need to clarify for themselves (first), what kind of partner they seek and what their expectations from a relationship really are. Once a person is clear about what they must have and what they can’t live with, they need to go out and HONESTLY seek that. Knowing what you want is good. If you turn off someone by your frankness, he/she was not the someone for you.

So, begin with a self-assessment. Then go out and pursue interests and environments, which maximize your chances of meeting compatible singles. And remember, there is no perfect person. He may be overly fussy with his hair, take longer in the bathroom than most women, be less ambitious in his work life than you are and put your cooking to shame. However, if he’s sensitive to YOUR needs, easy to talk to and fun to be with, great with kids and very supportive of your goals, he may be the guy of your dreams.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Making the connection – Tips for getting noticed

Chances are that you have had a wide variety of experiences in your quest for meeting singles. These can range from an event that yields several nice interactions and at least one offer to get together for a date, to going home feeling frustrated and convinced you are destined to be a dating failure.

If you had made a note of your mood, your general attitude, your level of comfort, (and other related factors) after each experience, you would have some very useful information. For the attributes you carry along with you to these social gatherings will have a great impact on the outcome of each.

The following are tips for helping you to present the best you to others. As you read each, do a quick inventory of how you rate in that area. It’s always helpful to ask friends to weigh in with their observations. The more information, the better.

1. Present yourself as confident and in possession of a healthy self-esteem.

In general, people are attracted to those who appear confident and who feel good about themselves. Certainly, this is a turn-on for you as well. If you feel desirable and sexy, it makes sense that others will too.

If low self-esteem is a problem for you, this should be the first area you work on in yourself. It is not necessary to have over the top confidence, just a sense that you are someone that has a lot of positives to offer others.

Do some reading, take a class that teaches assertiveness and/or practice daily affirmations. Remember also that when you treat yourself with respect and adhere to healthy boundaries with others, you will foster a healthy sense of self.

2. Be Yourself

NEVER try to be someone you are not. Not only do you come across as insincere, you also will present as uncomfortable and make others feel this way right along with you.

Trying to be cool, aggressive, (etc.), generally just makes you awkward and unapproachable. Relax, be natural, be the you that your friends and others who know and like you, see and appreciate.

Think back to the times you have witnessed someone “acting” in a social situation, and the general reaction of those around them. Then think about the people you know who are good at meeting others. These are the people who present their true (best) side.

3. Smile and Show Enthusiasm

Certainly you have encountered strangers who were sullen and appeared negative and unapproachable. A smile can change all that.

Have an open and inviting expression. Make good eye contact. People are DRAWN to others like this. Let that attractive stranger know you are open to meeting them and happy to be there. If they have an interest back, this will pave the way for a first interaction.

If you don’t feel like smiling it may be a good idea to sit this one out at home with a movie or a good book or a low-key get together with a good friend.

4. Present Your Best Appearance

Always make your best effort in your grooming and choice of clothing. Attractive is just that. It’s not about having beautiful features or a fantastic body. It’s all about presenting what you have in the best light possible.

This also includes presenting an attractive personality. Be friendly, not pushy. Be open, not indiscreet. Have opinions, don’t be a know-it-all. Always remember to consider others’ feelings and needs. These interactions are not just about you.

5. Have Some Good Openings Lines Available

Hint: Natural conversation is best.

Some possible ones to consider:

  • Do you know so and so?
  • I noticed you were enjoying the music a lot, isn’t this a great band?
  • Your drink looks good- what is it?
  • I noticed you standing here alone and thought you may want some company.

Of course, the direct approach is ok too.

  • Hi, I’m so and so, what is your name?

Remember that there are no rules anymore about who goes first. If you see someone who interests you, go for it. Just remember that they may not return your feelings. Then you move away gracefully, look around for someone else that attracts you, and make an overture towards them.

Also remember that rejection is part of the process. If you let the fear keep you from taking that first step, you will greatly lessen your chances of meeting and connecting with compatible singles.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Haunted – Burying the ghosts of lost love

Late at night, as you read quietly, before you fall off to sleep…

During a busy afternoon as you run through a crowd, hurrying back to your office or home….

Sitting in a movie theater, a restaurant or waiting for the light to turn…

A sudden thought or image rises within you. It can come as a small nagging feeling or as a wave of emotion that threatens to overwhelm and drown you in the grief of a memory. Either way it’s clear; here comes his/her ghost again.

For those who are haunted by a past relationship, the instinctive response is often to run away from these feelings or to pretend they just aren’t there. It is also not uncommon to react by setting your system on “anger mode” and seeing everything and everyone in a negative light. Shutting down all ability to handle even the simple routine tasks of daily life is another response, and one that signals depression. This one needs to be addressed quickly, as it can leave a trail of destruction in it’s path.

These defense mechanisms are employed as a way of coping and to “get through the day.” However, when these responses become prolonged and ingrained, we can get stuck in the grieving process that accompanies loss. This is where the ghosts come in.

All loss, especially the absence of someone with whom we were intimate, results in sadness, anger, denial, fear, depression and guilt. These feelings are normal. However, how we respond to them will make the difference in how well we recover and move on to a new and healthy life.

In order to work through the grief and finally lay those ghosts to rest, you may need some help with the important do’s and don’ts of grieving. The following is a basic primer to get you started.

Things To Do:

Acknowledge Feelings

Denial can provide a very short-term way to cope with loss, but will compound the bottling up of destructive feelings that need to find a healthy outlet for expression.

Allowing yourself to feel, helps you to understand that what you are feeling is normal and therefore, you are not “crazy” or alone. It also opens the way to learning how to cope and move towards a positive resolution. Over time you will learn that feelings won’t kill you, and that you are strong and able to confront them and move on.

Express Anger Safely and Productively

Fear of our own anger is normal. This is why we have so much difficulty expressing it to others. We imbue it with a power that is beyond our control and something that can only be destructive.

Therefore, we stuff everything inside. Pressure builds and we explode, and out comes the “anger monster”; a creation of our own inability to deal with anger when it is at a lower, more manageable level.

There are safe ways to express these feelings. Crying, talking to friends, writing down the feelings and even engaging in some physically demanding labor are all healthy ways to release your anger.

Take Care Of Yourself

This seems to be one of the things we most neglect when loss strikes. Not caring for even basic needs is one of the faces of grief. It can also be a sign of a dangerous depression. Therefore, it has to be a priority.

Basic needs are what usually require attention. These include: adequate sleep, eating right, taking care of minimal household and financial responsibilities and attention to personal grooming.

In addition, exercise not only provides a great outlet for stress, it has been proven in clinical trials to be effective in lessening depression in a significant number of people. Regular exercise can also offer assistance to those who have difficulty sleeping and heightens self-esteem.

Build and Strengthen Social Supports

A strong social support system is always important. During a time of extremes loss, it is vital to recovery.

Do you have good, supportive friends? Do they have time and energy that they can offer to you during this period of grieving?

What about religious ties? A church, temple or other community of like-minded believers?

Do you have good support from any family members?

What about organizations that you have participated in and given your time and energy to? Can they now give something back to you?

These are a few of the supports that you can turn to. Make sure you PLAN well for weekends, holidays and other significant days. Let people know you want to get together and that you want to get out regularly and stay active and involved. This allows others to offer their support and remember to include you in group activities, etc.

Give Yourself Time

Getting over the loss of someone you love takes time. It is a process. It doesn’t take “forever.” You will move on and recover. But beware of that feeling that is often expressed of “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s been months and I’m still not over it.”

The months SEEM like forever, but you know they are a relatively short period of time. You need to give yourself that time or run the strong risk of getting stuck for (perhaps years) in the quicksand of grief.

Set Realistic Goals

This is a time to prioritize and decide what you most want and need and to make a realistic plan for achieving it.

Goals will keep you focused and on-track. They will provide a compass as you navigate your way to a new life. They will help you to achieve success and to boost your self-esteem. This achievement will help you to feel strong and capable of beginning a new life.

Things To Avoid

When enveloped in grief and loss, we have to be careful not to respond in dysfunctional ways. Some classic examples of poor coping behaviors include:

  • overuse of alcohol
  • use of illegal drugs
  • ignoring signs of serious depression
  • sexual acting out
  • recklessness with finances
  • ignoring basic safety and placing self in risky situations

These are all the result of low self-esteem, guilt and feelings of hopelessness. With good supports and the utilization of healthy ways to express feelings, you will be at far less risk of using these self-injurious behaviors.

Remember, we must be willing to accept grief as a possible price of experiencing love. Many, many people have gone through the process of loss and despair and come out strong, whole and ready for a new life. Along the way, they often come to know themselves better and to understand what they most need and want from their relationships. Armed with this new experience and knowledge they are then ready to form new, healthy and lasting relationships.

New life with online dating ? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Do it and they will come – Pursuing new adventures to find Mr/Ms right

Are you tired of the whole dating scene? Have you spent many hours (years) going to parties and events with the hope of meeting compatible and available singles? If so, now may be time to think about doing something different. Really different.

After all, we tend to move about socially in the same close-knit circles. The same guys/women at a friend’s party or at the functions held by our church or synagogue. Even the happy hour crowd can become all too familiar. Don’t despair. There are lots of new and exciting ways to meet people if you are willing to do a little local research and are game for some new adventures.

Before I get into the specifics, I need to emphasize the importance of having a basic plan. Primarily this involves a budget for time and money investment. It also requires that you really think about what would meet YOUR needs, as you get ready to commit to some new leisure activities and interests.

A good way to start is to spend a little time thinking about those things you always wanted to try or to learn about. For instance, have you had a desire to try hiking, biking, swimming or other athletic pursuits? What about something a little more exotic like caving, skydiving or scuba? Perhaps cultural pursuits are more to your liking, but you don’t know anyone you can share these with. If so, you may feel uncomfortable or just not interested in going out and doing them alone.

With some ideas in mind, (or maybe no specific list), you are ready to begin to gather information about local available resources.

Major metropolitan areas are rich in singles events. These are hosted by for profit companies as well as singles groups/clubs that are affiliated with religious and other private organizations. You can begin your search by looking through local newspapers and checking out the listings with you county, city or community center. A web search is also a great way to gather information. Just use keywords that include singles, activities, events, and the name of your local metropolitan area. If you live in an outer, less populated area, don’t give up. Look into what is available in the nearest large city. Also, note the trips for singles that allow you to meet people from around the country.

Once you have identified regional and local groups and organizations, begin to go through all their listings. Be open to hearing/reading about everything that is available. This process can give you a lot of ideas and will let you know what all your choices are. The list can be almost overwhelming! Many singles are searching for new adventures and this has led to an explosion of activities and events being offered.

The following is a “rough” list of what you may find:

  • Sports – volleyball, basketball, tennis, golf, sailing, horseback riding, and sports leagues for a number of team sports
  • Athletic – hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, camping, walking groups
  • Exotic athletic events – scuba, caving, skydiving, mountain climbing, hang gliding, paintballing
  • New Skill Learning – pistol-shooting classes
  • Cultural – museum tours, theatre, ballet, symphony, opera
  • Social – scavenger hunts, wine tasting at vineyards, group dinners

After you have made your picks, check to see that you can work them into your schedule and budget. Remember, as you make your final selection(s), that this is supposed to be FUN for you. Choose something that you believe you would enjoy and that would be basically within your ability to participate in. (i.e.) If you are terrified of heights, avoid skydiving.

Keep in mind that challenging athletic pursuits tend to bring out the (true) best and worst sides of us all. Not only will you give yourself an experience that can help you develop greater confidence and self-esteem, you will also learn more about yourself and how you relate to others. This will be true of the other participants as well. Therefore, you will get a much more candid snapshot of the singles you meet during these activities/events. You will also maximize your opportunity to meet like-minded singles, who share at least one of your interests.

So, pull some of those old dreams or recent fantasies out of mothballs. Let yourself play. Along the way you just may find a new favorite passion, a great friend or new love.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

The friend Crush – Is this love or friendship?

He’s your good friend. She’s your best confidant. You have known each other for a few years and have shared meals, movies, hobbies and vacations. You have confided to each other about your latest love interest and turned to one another for support when the relationship(s) failed. You can’t imagine life without your good friend.

But for a while….

You’ve felt jealous of his dates. You’ve been overprotective of her since she has been seeing the jerk. You’ve been having very strong feelings of attraction and a desire for something more than friendship. Could it be that your feelings for him/her have grown into something more? If so, your relationship may have developed into a “friend crush.”

You don’t know what to do. You know you want to continue spending time together- more time. But it’s getting hard. You fantasize about having more with this person and are beginning to feel like a jealous would-be partner. Do you pretend everything is the same? Do you start distancing yourself- hoping your feelings will go back to the way they were? Do you actually TALK directly and honestly with your friend about how you feel?

What will happen to the relationship if you make the WRONG choice?

Just as all people are unique, so are the characteristics of their relationships with others. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this increasingly common dilemma. So, let’s take a look at your options. You can:

  • ignore your feelings, keep your boundaries in check and pretend everything is status quo.
    In order to choose this option, you must be able to deny your feelings so well that even you don’t know what they are. You will also have to continue being comfortable on the sidelines while someone else has the relationship with this person that you desire. You will most likely be asked what you think of this or that person and be expected to be happy and supportive of your friend when they meet the right someone for them. In return for all this, you will still have your friend.
  • begin to spend less time with your friend (crush) while seeking out new friendships to pursue and strengthen.
    This option will most likely cause confusion and hurt on the part of your friend who will wonder what happened. They may be understanding and accepting of your need to spread your wings and support you in doing what you need to do. Either way, you will see less of them and your relationship can weaken and perhaps disappear altogether as they move on with new people. If you can distance yourself for a while and no longer feel the romantic butterflies, you can always give them a call and may be able to pick up somewhere near where you left off.
  • continue the relationship with your own hidden agendas – a desire for romantic intimacy and the hope that the person will realize that they feel the same way.
    If they become involved with someone else in the meantime, you can work to sabotage their new relationship or you can leave them wondering where all your anger and hurt feelings are coming from. You can spend a lot of time and energy handling it this way, without anything to show for your efforts but the loss of a good friend.
  • have an open and honest discussion with your friend regarding your new feelings for them.
    This is the choice that seems to be the hardest for folks to make. Often what I hear from people in this position is that they fear “ruining the friendship” if they discuss their feelings honestly. While this is a very understandable concern, it isn’t well thought out. It is emotional, not rational. Look again at the other options. Every one will bring about a change in your current friendship.

Why?

Once your feelings have changed, so does the relationship. Ignoring them, hiding them or distancing yourself will lessen your closeness and the positive dynamics that flow between good friends. You can’t go back. You need to decide how you want to move forward or if this is an option for you. It is also possible in choosing this option that you will learn that they have similar feelings for you that they were afraid to reveal. Therefore choosing this option could result in romance and a love relationship based on true friendship.

Intimacy exists in all close relationships. It is the ability to be completely open and vulnerable to another without fear of harm or rejection. So, by definition, we cannot be intimate with another while hiding or denying our true feelings and needs to them.

The choice will always be yours. Choosing wisely is about really knowing the options, the consequences they bring and what will be best for you and your friend.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

True love and Chemistry – Exploring Myth and Reality

When you think about the qualities found in a true “soul mate” relationship, what one word comes up most often on the top of your list?

Is it CHEMISTRY? Probably.

Just the mention of this term conjures up powerful feelings and images for anyone who has ever been in or seeking a love relationship. It is often described as a feeling that leaves you breathless, excited and weak in the knees. Palms sweat, the heart races and the body tingles with nervous anticipation.

It is believed by virtually everyone that true love cannot exist without chemistry. Therefore, the conclusion most would-be lovers come to is that if they experience these intense feelings towards someone, they have the basis for an ideal and lasting relationship.

Right? Maybe not. For this definition of chemistry is limited to one’s physical response to another person. It lacks an entire dimension that resides in our values, beliefs, personalities and worldview

In order to know you have the right connection with a potential (or existing) partner, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of what real chemistry consists of, instead of embracing only the myths that surround it. This can be difficult to do. This intense, physical passion is the stuff that Oscar winning movies and best-selling books are made of. So, take a step back for a minute and see if you recognize yourself in the following.

Sarah is a thirty something, very attractive and successful, professional female. She has been in a relationship for over a year with a man who is unfaithful, disrespectful and incapable (unwilling) to make any commitment to her. Yet, when he makes late night “booty calls”, forgets her birthday, or stands her up repeatedly – she remains available and willing, in spite of her general unhappiness and upset over their “relationship”. Why? “I think I have mistaken great sex for love. I feel this intense chemistry and physical intimacy when we are having sex, even though he offers me nothing else. Over time, it has left me unhappy and feeling badly about myself.”

John is an attractive, intelligent, 30 something male who owns his own successful business. He’s dating a woman that he thinks he is in love with. He has knowledge that she has been out with other men. She cancels dates and is often critical and emotionally distant. She refuses to discuss commitment or taking the relationship to the next level. Yet, she turns to John for emotional, physical and financial help whenever she feels she needs it. Why does John continue to see her? “She’s beautiful and the sex is great. We have such strong physical chemistry. It’s almost like an addiction for me. My friends can’t stand her and even I know she’s not really a “keeper”, but it’s hard to walk away.

These vignettes are great examples of how physical chemistry can be mistaken for the real thing. The attraction on one level is strong, yet these are not relationships that have the right elements to grow into happy and satisfying partnerships.

So, what is missing?

Kahlil Gibran defines it as “spiritual affinity”. It’s the hidden element of chemistry. It’s when two beings meet and connect on a deeper level. It can only be felt in the heart and soul. It’s about friendship, respect, humor and the feelings of warmth and contentment that come when you are in his/her presence.

People often report finding one without the other. This is understandably a cause of great frustration and confusion about whom should we choose and why. In order to understand this better, it is helpful to know how and when each facet of chemistry occurs.

Physical attraction (or lust) generally begins during our first contact with someone. It can DEVELOP into something more over time, yet some pull is there from the beginning. The chemical that results from this attraction (and intensifies it) is phenyl ethylamine – or PEA. It is a naturally occurring substance in the brain. Essentially, it is a natural amphetamine. It stimulates us and increases both physical and emotional energy. The attraction causes us to produce more PEA, which results in those dizzying feelings associated with romantic love. Another substance that is released by PEA is dopamine. This chemical increases a desire to be physically close and intimately connected.

When these chemicals are being secreted in larger doses, they send signals from the brain to the other organs of the body. If you wonder why you or someone is attracted to the “wrong” person, it may be because you are high on the physical response to these substances, which overwhelm your ability to use your head and exercise “good judgment and common sense”.

“Spiritual affinity” develops over time and repeated contact. When these feelings begin to emerge, the brain produces endorphins. These are more like morphine and result in an increased sense of calm that reduces anxiety and helps to build attachment. As relationships move into this phase they are characterized by more comfort, commitment and friendship.

Generally speaking, all “soul mate relationships” require at least some measure of each of these. The important thing to remember is that they come in stages, which is not to say that the physical attraction passes as one moves into a deeper connection. However, it changes. We cannot sustain those intense emotions as we travel down the road to commitment and a shared life. However, in healthy relationships those moments of intensity can and do occur for brief intervals at intermittent times.

Remember not to confuse great sex or deep friendship with romantic love. Instead, look for a measure of both of these in your feelings for another. For then you have the ingredients that lasting love is made from.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Your online profile ad – Write for success

Where are all the good men/women? You go to parties, sign up for various activities and ask friends and family if they know anyone they can introduce you to. Yet, your dating life has been more than a little disappointing. What is a guy/girl supposed to do to find quality people?

Begin by continuing to do what you have been doing. These are all good ways to meet people. However, you may need to expand your search to the world of online dating. This would allow you to expand your search and come into contact with interested and available singles you would never meet in the existing circles in which you now move.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I have already tried this with little or mixed success.” Maybe this too has become a source of disappointment and frustration and even despair. If so, you could be going about it the wrong way, or be in need of some information to put you on a track to better success. The first important step is writing your online profile “ad” and choosing a good site to place it on.

The following are tips to help you write a great online profile.

Be Yourself

The goal of your ad is to attract the kind of person who would be compatible with you. You are looking for someone who shares your goals, values, sense of humor, lifestyle and perhaps religion or other specific criteria. If you put in information that is not true to who you are, you could send potentially good dates on to the next ad. You may also attract the kind of person you are not interested in.

Be Sincere

Nothing is more attractive than sincerity. Think about it. Isn’t this a turn-on for you? If you are funny, be funny. If you are serious, be that. Use honesty in describing your traits and desires in a potential mate. If there is something that is a must-have for you in any future relationship, highlight it. Remember that when and if you move to the next step, the other person will experience you as you really are, regardless of what the picture you drew for them in your ad looked like.

Write Like You Talk

This goes right along with being you. Don’t make your ad seem too contrived or rehearsed. You will loose that feeling of sincerity. Write a few drafts and just let the thoughts flow. Then go back and edit it. Make sure you spell check and check again. There is no bigger turn-off than someone who appears to have poor grammar or spelling.

Be Specific, But Leave Out Hang-Ups and Other Negatives

This is a first step. You want to put your true best forward. The picture you paint should be upbeat and positive. Everyone has a past. It’s not wise too tell too much too soon. If you feel something is important, than put it in. A good example is “single mom”, “divorced father of two”, etc. Leave out the part about looking for someone to help me heal from a painful divorce.

Do not mention past relationships except to inform that you had one.

Highlight Your Uniqueness

There are things about us all that make us uniquely who we are. Let your ad portray this. If you have a special talent, interesting career or pastime, let people know about it. If it’s important to you, it tells others much. If someone out there shares it, they will be drawn to what you have written.

Find a unique way to highlight yourself. If you look like someone well known, put that in. Just remember, if you look like Woody Allen, don’t portray yourself as a Robert Redford type.

Avoid classic turn-offs

If you place a heavy emphasis on finding someone who is “beautiful” or “wealthy”, you will turn off many people- often the very people who hope to attract. No one wants to be wanted for his or her looks or bank account. It also says something about you. How about superficial?

Use a Picture

This is very important. Ads that don’t have one get far fewer responses. Many singles are having a professional picture made of them. You want to look like your BEST self. A professional can usually do a much better job at a very reasonable cost if you shop around a bit.

Post Your Ad On The Right Site

There are so many choices out there. Look for one that has a large membership of people who appear to be compatible with you. Make sure they have an enforced safety and privacy policy. There are specialty sites for people who seek a partner with a very particular passion or lifestyle. These include but are not limited to: animal lovers, vegetarians, advanced degreed professionals, and sites for people seeking those of the same faith.

If your requirements include someone within a close geographical distance, look for the sites that offer you a good selection.

Once you have given it careful thought and a little research and energy, write and post your ad for success.

Remember, we attract what we are, not what we want.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!