Self-confidence is sexy?

You might be surprised to hear this… but I’ve found that self-confidence tends to be the most important thing a man wants in a woman.

In fact, men consistently tell me it’s one of the sexiest traits a woman can have. I continuously hear from my male clients that – when a self-confident woman walks into a room – their eyes are drawn to her and they almost always find her beautiful and appealing.

Here’s a guideline to gauge how high you score on the self-confidence scale.

A self-confident woman:

  1. Knows what she wants. She knows herself and what’s important to help her feel happy about her life.
  2. Asks for what she wants from a man in a clear way and includes enough information so the man can succeed in providing it.
  3. Has the confidence to ask a man for something and be comfortable receiving it.
  4. Thanks men when they help her.
  5. Treats herself kindly.
  6. Has friends, family, and activities that she’s passionate about.
  7. Feels comfortable in her own skin (no matter her shape, size, etc.)
  8. Knows she deserves people in her life who treat her as well as she treats herself.

Here’s what a self-confident woman doesn’t do:

  1. Talk down to a man.
  2. Fills her life so full there’s no room for a man to provide anything for her.
  3. Assume he can read her mind.
  4. Have no interests of her own (is waiting for a man to fill her life or encourage her to start doing something).
  5. Constantly need reassurance that she’s worthy.
  6. Point out things that are wrong with her (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.).

Did you know that feeling self-confident is often a learned behavior (not just a natural way to be)? It’s something everyone can learn how to do. I know this because it’s something I taught myself and continue to teach my clients.

Are there things on the list that you’d like to feel more confident about?  Let me know what you discover.

Conversation signals: Are yours working?

Words from Christine…

I enjoy responding to magazine and radio inquiries on dating topics. It gives me an opportunity to pull my thoughts together on specific relationship questions, and even better, to research a bit and learn new things.

relationship1aMy most recent response was to an inquiry about misinterpreting conversation signals in dating and relationships. As a coach, I see this a lot! And often, it’s caused by how differently men and women communicate. Here are some thoughts for you:

  • Women generally stop talking to someone because they’re mad at them. Therefore, a woman may believe that when a man isn’t talking he must be mad.
  • Men generally talk when they have something to say. Such as sharing the news, describing an accomplishment, or asking for a solution to a problem. If none of this is happening right now, he may not feel the need to talk.
  • Women are always thinking. And a man can truly think about nothing (he can turn off his brain to let him relax and recharge). So, a woman may be thinking about 12 things at once. And when she asks a man what he’s thinking, she may not believe him when he says “nothing”.
  • One of the main reasons women talk is to feel better (and relationship2athis isn’t one of the reasons men talk). So, when a man hears the woman describing a problem, he’ll often offer a solution right away. Guess what happens then? (You may have already figured this out.) The woman can end up even more upset. At this point, what she really needs is just a listening ear (and women, it’s good to let the man know this and to also thank him for listening when you’re done).
  • A man reaps huge benefits if, when the woman is talking about a problem, he responds with, “tell me more about that”. When I give this advice to men, it usually makes their head hurt because it wouldn’t work for them. These same men almost always tell me later (in an amazed voice), “it worked, she didn’t get mad at me and she felt better!”
  • Men generally say what they mean. Women – when a man tells you something about himself, believe it! Women clients often tell me what they think he really meant, and they’re usually wrong. Conversely, women tend to speak in innuendoes and subtleties which leave men confused about what they really want. It’s important for a woman to first figure out what she wants and then say it in a way a man will understand. A male client once explained to me that the best way to talk to a man is to treat him like Twitter. No more than 140 characters at a time.

I’ll close with two more misconceptions. One is a myth I hear about a lot, which is, if a man cares enough about me he’ll just know what I want and I won’t have to tell him. The reality? He won’t “just know” unless you honestly tell him what you want. The other basic truth I’ll share is – sometimes no one gets to be right! Agree to disagree.

Your New Year’s resolution: Adjusting expectations

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions “stick”. Here they all are:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

Our most recent post talked about points 3 and 4, while point 1 and point 2 were covered in earlier posts.

So now let’s focus on the last item – adjusting expectations.

When you began your New Year’s resolution journey, it was based on specific circumstances in your life.

However, you may find these circumstances changing as you move through each step of the resolution – partly because you have changed and partly because life continues to move on.

There is a wonderful saying that “you can’t step in the same spot a second time in a moving stream”.

So, treat your life as a moving stream. Reevaluate the circumstances of your life on a regular basis to see if the steps you’ve laid out and your ultimate goal still fit how you’re feeling today.

Be prepared to consider adjustments to your goals during your reevaluation process. And then, discuss these adjustments with your confidant (from point 3) to: (1) Make sure they aren’t just reactions and (2) ensure they’re still in your best interests.

Following each of these steps makes it very likely that you’ll be able to keep your resolutions. Including the one about actively dating very soon!

Your New Year’s resolution: Finding a cheerleader

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions stick:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

Our previous posts talked about point 1 and point 2. In this post, I’d like to explore the third and fourth points: (3) Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person. (4) Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.

And let’s stick with the example used in the prior posts, which is, a New Year’s resolution to “start actively dating”.

There can be lots of uncertainty, pressure, and anxiety with dating, so it’s definitely not a time to “go solo”. Tell someone – family or friend or coach or minister – about your goal so it feels like a real promise.

Then, once you have a target date to complete your first task, let your confidant know. When resistance comes up, share it with them.

When it feels too difficult to do the next thing on your list (you aren’t in the mood or had a bad day at work), call your confidant for an extra boost. The odds of them having a bad day on the same day is slim, so they’ll probably be able to give the encouragement you need.  The more successes you experience, the fewer bad days you’ll have.

Be your own cheerleader. Reward yourself for each accomplishment. Prepare ahead of time a list of 5-10 things that feel like rewards to you. For example – watching a favorite TV show, walking, playing with your pet, getting a manicure/pedicure – you get the idea. Then you’ll have your reward at the ready when you finish a task (or need encouragement to finish).

Pressure and anxiety may come as you create lists and pick your activities. To ease this, remember that making one decision at a time feels much less difficult than making many at once. Some helpful ways to think are:

  • I’m deciding to do this one thing because it will bring me happiness when I’m  doing it.
  • I’m going to try one new thing at a time.
  • Even if I end up not liking it, it’s only a couple hours out of my life and I‘ll still be learning something.
  • This activity is bringing me closer to my goal of doing things I like with someone I enjoy doing it with.

If you skimp on this part, it’s harder to reach your goal because you start to feel overwhelmed (which can cause you to stop everything). Completing each step one-at-a-time builds a firm foundation for the next step.

Your New Year’s resolution: Taking it a step at a time

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions stick:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

In our previous post, we covered the first point. In this post, I’d like to talk about the second point:

*Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.*

When you make small goals, it takes the overwhelm out of resolution-keeping.

For example, if your resolution was to “start actively dating”, with the hope of “meeting someone to do things with” – you could start making small goals by asking yourself a series of questions. For example:

(1) What would you like to do with this someone?

  • Go to the movies?
  • Have good conversations over dinner?
  • Play cards and board games?
  • Go walking?

(2) What qualities would you like this someone to have? For example:

  • Enjoy the same movies I do – musicals, action, happy endings.
  • They ask me questions and listen to my answers. They know about things I don’t know, and are interested in learning about the things I know.
  • Learn new games.
  • Power walking vs. strolling through parks.

(3) How can you find places to meet people who share your activities? For example:

  • This is a wonderful source of activities. Just join and start marking the things you enjoy within your zip code and voila you will have a list of more things than you could ever do.
  • Google to search for activities in your area.
  • Ask friends and people at work.
  • Look through the calendar of events at your place of worship.

Armed with the answers from a list like this, you’re now equipped to pick an activity to try.

New Year’s resolutions: Dating? NOT!

Words from Joel…

Before you move into actively seeking a mate or a date it’s good, as my colleague Christine points out, to ask why would  I start dating?

Many men and women I’ve met feel some kind of peer pressure to be a couple. Women, in particular, voice the concern that they will not be invited to social gatherings if they show up single. I have enough anecdotal evidence to convince me this really does happen. Single men, on the other hand, are sought out eagerly to fill empty seats at dinner. I can’t explain it.

Men I know, and some women too, want to feed a hunger for sex. That’s a powerful urge, one not easily satisfied. I get it.

So there are many reasons to seek a partner and I agree with Christine’s analysis posted here earlier in every particular.

But let me offer some ideas why you should NOT be dating.

  • You really like a lot of time alone. Reading books, writing, watching TV. It’s much easier if you don’t have think about someone else and the time you SHOULD be spending with them. Not everyone is equally social and some of us just aren’t social at all. We are loners. That’s not the same as lonely.
  • You don’t negotiate well. You have your ways of doing and being and really don’t want to change. What you eat, how you eat. What you talk about or don’t. Politics. Religion. If you’re set in concrete in your attitudes and actions you may not be a good candidate for a partnership.
  • You don’t have time or energy to work at dating. Finding a romantic partner is like looking for a job. You have to persist, organize and accept rejection. Unless you are truly committed, you will only suffer frustration.
  • You aren’t really over a previous relationship. Jumping in too early will not turn out well. It can take years to get over a failed relationship. One measure I like is how often do you miss that previous relationship or get angry about it. If you can’t go more than a week without angst about the past, you probably aren’t ready.

Which is to say there may be good reasons for you NOT to date. My recommendation, only get started if you’re sure you’re ready and willing to invest the time and emotional energy required.

Your New Year’s resolution: Will it make your life better?

Words from Christine…

So, now that we’re into the month of February. . . how are you feeling about your New Year’s resolutions?

Resolutions are another way of creating important boundaries in your life. You might even consider creating resolutions throughout the year (not just at the beginning). Bottom line – when something becomes a big enough problem and you truly want a change, this is the time to make a resolution.

The tricky part of all resolutions is – how you do you make one that sticks? I’ve found these five points to be quite helpful:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

In this post, let’s just talk about point 1:

*Be convinced it will make your life better.*

With any resolution, it’s important to make sure you’re honest with yourself about the underlying reason. For example, let’s say your resolution is to start actively dating (and find a partner). In this case, you’d need to ask yourself – why do I want to start dating?

Let’s suppose your answer to this is – you’re lonely. You want to find a partner so you won’t be lonely anymore… you’ll have someone to go places with and someone to talk to.

Are you convinced that dating (and finding a partner) will make your life better? Will it solve your loneliness? To answer this second question, you might have to dig a little deeper.

  • Why are you lonely? How did you end up feeling this way?
  • Will dating (and finding a partner) automatically solve your loneliness? Is it as simple as having someone at the movies or at the dinner table? Or is there something deeper going on with you?

There are lots of possible answers to these questions.

  • I’ve seen cases where it really was that simple – having a partner took care of the loneliness because the woman (or man) had done work on themselves before they dated.
  • Alternatively, I’ve coached men and women who came to me because – they previously had found a partner – and were surprised to find themselves still lonely while in the relationship!
  • Some of my clients have learned through coaching they need to make friends with themselves first. This leads them to finding they enjoy their own company, and that by itself reduces loneliness. And there’s a bonus to this one: (1) Once you know and like yourself better, you’re also much better prepared to find the right partner for your personality and needs and (2) befriending yourself can help you feel less needy and desperate about meeting someone, which can in turn lead you to meet other singles who also don’t feel needy or desperate.
  • Other clients found they needed to enlarge their circle of friends before doing the hard work and taking the risk of dating. Creating a support system around yourself can help you feel more confident and comfortable about dating. And making new friends will open doors to new things and new people.

Does your resolution this year involve dating? Or something else? How convinced are you that it will make your life better? What are you willing to do to make this resolution a reality? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Shopping for women (or men) online

Joel: I know, I know, “shop for women” is… off putting. But that’s the best term I can think of. (Your suggestions welcome.) Point being… I look for certain things and I suspect most men do. Crafting your online profile so it creates appeal for the REAL you is one element that will help you succeed.

For me, a major factor is cheerfulness. Does her text and photos convey a happy person? That certainly includes smiling photos. I remember a few that actually looked like the woman was scowling, even angry. I wondered why she posted it.

I also look for women who have pictures of themselves in ordinary situations, without makeup, in casual clothes, exercise clothes (yoga pants welcome!), gardening…. whatever. I conclude a woman who posts unbeautiful pictures has confidence and is happy with herself. What will you post to convey that about yourself?

Christine: I think shopping is the perfect term! In fact, I’ve often said to female clients: Think about looking for and interviewing potential dates (especially when using online dating) as “shopping for men”.

And here’s why:

  • Shopping is often a pleasurable activity for women.
  • Shopping often feels leisurely and calm.
  • Shopping means we have lots of choices.
  • Shopping includes trying out a variety of options so we can compare and contrast to see exactly how we feel about each one.
  • And finally, each of these elements is a good way to bring our authentic selves along (which is essential for successful dating).

Sending wishes to you for a New Year full of wonderful relationships

Words from Christine…

My message today isn’t about New Year’s resolutions. It’s about truly focusing on what would make you happy and then taking small steps each day toward that happiness.

I believe people can make a list that will guide them towards this goal. If you’re not sure how to begin your list, I’ve included some ideas below that have worked well for my clients (and for me).

First of all, here are the top three traits women look for in a man: honesty, reliability, and his ability to communicate. In addition to these you might consider:

  • I can “be myself” when I’m with him.
  • I like how I feel when I’m around him.
  • He makes it obvious that my happiness and well-being are important to him.
  • He knows the difference between conversations and confrontations.
  • He is willing to make compromises.
  • He is warm and loving.
  • He makes me laugh.
  • He likes including me in other parts of his life.

Which of these “jump out” for you? If you get stuck making your list, ask a close friend to help – someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses well. Let the list be a “living” thing. Pull it out often to see if it still fits.

You’re on your way to proactively creating happiness for yourself in the New Year. If you’d like to share your list with us, we’d love to see it!

Ways for singles to beat the holiday doldrums

Words from Christine…

Are you single and…

  • Your family lives far away?
  • This isn’t your year to have the children?
  • Your ex got custody of the “friends” you shared when you were together?
  • You want to do something different this season?

Are you feeling jolly or humbug about the holidays? Being single during December can pose challenges that you don’t have to think about during other times in the year. People who are newly single may struggle as they try to figure out what to do when there isn’t a built-in place to go for the holidays.

I was single a long time between my two marriages, so I needed to keep coming up with activities to keep the holiday doldrums away. I found that being proactive not only guaranteed I’d have something to do, it also gave me something to look forward to. During these times, I found a variety of things helpful, such as:

Find other singles who don’t have holiday plans, and ask them to invite their singles friends, too. Perhaps you could have a potluck dinner and movie. How about watching White Christmas?

Organize a caroling event in your neighborhood.

Visit neighborhood lights. Your local newspaper or city hall will list those neighborhoods who pull out all the stops in holiday decorating. You can go alone or assemble a group of friends and drive (or walk) through these streets. The neighborhoods often have music playing and some even hand out cookies and candy canes – your evening can become quite festive!

Attend services at your local house of worship on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Visit the animals at your local shelter. It gives attention and love to the animals, and your heart will be filled with warmth and happiness through this connection.

Give back to the community:

  • Many charities (fire and police department, scouting organizations, churches, etc.) ask for gift donations for children. They need volunteers to sort and wrap these.
  • Soup kitchens always need volunteers. In my area, the kitchens are closed on Christmas Day, but need volunteers before and after Christmas Day.
  • Hospital visits can be heartwarming – for both the patients and yourself. I have a friend who does this on a regular basis. Once a month she puts glitter on her face, grabs her magic wand and a bag of goodies (hairbands, friendship bracelets, matchbox cars, etc.) and goes to the children’s hospital to bring cheer to sick children.

What treasure is out there, just waiting to bring you warmth and fulfillment this holiday season? Let us know what you discover… we’d love to hear your stories!