Category Archives: Dating

Having strong boundaries and dating deal breakers–and sticking to them!

laymitrustgiftglowinghands I was thinking earlier about dating and how some people have very strict guidelines for what they want in a relationship. Sometimes we call them deal breakers….

In my own experience, I have an ideal in mind. I know that there are certain qualities that are essential to me. BUT, in the past, I have almost always let them slide. I have dated too many people who weren’t a good match for me, and I knew it from the start. Maybe there was something they did that I found ethically unacceptable, or a belief they held that I thought was really awful, or any other personality trait. Knowing that something made me uncomfortable, I’d still date someone that I knew wasn’t a good match. Why? I always thought I was being very open-minded and I was great at compromising. How about…I wasn’t being true to the qualities that mattered to me? I’m not talking about a cute butt or nice wavy hair, but about core religious or political values, life goals…things that matter.

I’ve always been super shy, so I was just so glad that someone wanted to date me, that I never stopped to wait for someone who was more my type! On the other hand, I know people who will refuse to start a relationship when they know there is a deal breaker. I just turned fuzzy and waived what should have been deal breakers for me, but people who have stronger self-esteem, more patience, and more respect for themselves seem to be better at making choices that will enhance their lives in the long run.

There’s something to be said for giving everyone a chance, but there’s also something to be said for holding strong to the qualities that are very important to us. That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn–very painfully–in life.

I know my tendency to “over compromise” and to be very long-suffering has a lot to do with my having dated more than one abusive man. If one of them did something that would scare away a girl with more sense, I’d just ignore it and keep trying to make the relationship good. Lost cause!

I am learning to be the woman who says “that is not good for me, and it’s not what I’m looking for in a relationship” when it’s obvious that the relationship is not going to go well.

Trust your instincts, but don’t miss out on good people!

Your friends are a big influence on you. Choose them wisely!

Your friends are a big influence on you.
Choose them wisely!

I’m reading my latest copy of Reader’s Digest again and found a part of an article that really spoke to me. (As often happens because there is so much to learn from the experiences and wisdom of others!) This was an article called “The Man With Perfect Manners.” It looks very similar to the author Paul Ford’s post online, although it isn’t exactly the same.

Even though the article and post are about etiquette, it was a different aspect of the article that made me think. To quote: “Politeness leaves doors open. I’ve met so many people whom, if I had trusted my first impressions, I would never have wanted to meet again. Yet many of them are now great friends.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I am divorced from a sociopath. Before I realized what he was, I saw many warning signs, but ignored them because they didn’t seem reasonable in light of the words he was telling me when he was flattering me. I know wish I had paid attention. There is truly safety and wisdom in trusting your instincts! But here this article gave me reason to reconsider relying on first impressions. I guess it’s safe to say if you sense a predator, trust those instincts, but if you simply don’t feel a connection, stay open-minded? Maybe that is a good line to draw between the two extremes.

Anyway, predators aside, Ford offers good advice. I have some good friends that I initially did not like. One of them, I’ve been friends with for 25 years now, and another was my closest friend through high school and for many years. I know people who’ve met their spouse and been unimpressed, yet met them again later and fell in love. (In fact, the author of the article has the same story.) He points out that we shouldn’t discount someone just because they are having an off day.

One reason I take this personally is because I was a downer for a long time after escaping my ex-abuser. Even my friends got sick of me. When I’m not depressed and in shock, I’m a fun/funny and interesting person, (or at least some people would say!) I’d hate it if I met a potential friend or date who is a great choice for me, but they avoided me because the better version of me wasn’t showing that day. And, I’d be sorry to miss out on a great friend just because I met them on one of their bad days. There are so many experiences in life, that it’s hard to set a specific rule that works for all situations. Do I trust my instincts or do I give a second chance? There are good reasons for both choices, but I really want to be careful about weeding out the safe people and more astute about weeding out the dangerous people in the future. It’s something to think about…

Wasting time keeps you from reaching your dreams!

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things.  Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you!I’ve been thinking today about wasting time. Not wasting time as in procrastinating, or being lazy, but wasting time as in staying in situations that are pointless. How many of us have stayed in a bad relationship, or an unsatisfying job, or continued doing things we didn’t really want to do just because we were used to doing them and didn’t know how to change…or worse, were afraid to face changes? I know I have!

I spent nearly all of my twenties dating someone who was perfectly nice–someone that I got along with really well…but I had no romantic feelings for him. I knew I wanted to get married and have kids one day, and I knew it would not be with him, but I just kept staying even though I knew I wanted more. We were extremely compatible and had all of the same hobbies, so I feared moving on and losing what I did have. I thought it was easier to keep dating that person and continue having a built-in partner for social occasions than it would be to become single and look for someone I did have romantic feelings for. In many ways, it was. In fact, I still haven’t found someone that was such a great match for sharing all my interests. But on the other hand, I haven’t found someone that was a good partner either. Sometimes I wonder, did spending so much time in a dead-end platonic relationship seriously hurt my chances to meet the right person for me? While I was wasting time, were all the smarter women marrying the men I would have liked better? I have a sneaking suspicion that I wasted many good years that would have been better spent single and meeting a better match for me. Not that life is over and I’m ready for the retirement home or anything, but did I miss out? I definitely didn’t make much progress towards my real goal!

I feel the same way about many areas of my life. Did I waste time switching my college major a few times? Did I waste time at jobs I didn’t like? Did I waste time staying at home instead of working on a career when I was married? While I did have many good experiences, I knew I was unfulfilled, and I just stayed that way instead of taking steps to get what I really wanted. I think the journey through life is very important, but…you have to be ON that journey instead of sitting in the rest area while your goals are still waiting down the road!

I want to live a life of movement towards my dreams instead of being stagnant. Every moment we are feeling unhappy and not doing anything about it is a moment wasted…a moment that isn’t being spent doing the things we want to do with the people we want to be with. It is time to make changes and reach for what we want instead of just waiting!

10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives–book review

Click here to purchase Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

A lot of women make poor choices to keep a man around or to avoid being alone. (Been there, done that!) Being alone is scary, and when you don’t have a lot of money, it’s hard to make it on your own sometimes. A lot of women get trapped by these types of fears and waste their time in bad relationships. I bought this book when I was in an abusive marriage and I was trapped by these thoughts. I was scared to go out on my own, to live on my own, to be alone. I thought I couldn’t make enough money to pay my bills without a partner. I thought I’d be sad and lonely without someone to come home to. I thought being miserable was a less scary choice than being alone. WRONG! This no-nonsense book helped knock some sense in to me. Yes, it was still lonely and scary to leave and be by myself, but it got much easier. In fact, now I like being single.

The chapter titles in this book are:

1. Stupid Attachment
2. Stupid Courtship
3. Stupid Devotion
4. Stupid Passion
5. Stupid Cohabitation
6. Stupid Expectations
7. Stupid Conception
8. Stupid Subjugation
9. Stupid Helplessness
10. Stupid Forgiving

Dr. Laura gives sensible and practical advice explaining why we all of the above choices are not healthy for us, (or our children.) Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections of a couple paragraphs to a couple pages each, so it’s easy to read a little at a time without getting lost. Here are some of the main ideas: You don’t need a man to define you, you don’t have to lower your standards to keep one around, you should not let one back in your life after he abuses you, you should not let one hurt your kids or prevent you from being a good mother. The point is you can be strong on your own and keep your dignity instead of degrading yourself for a pseudo relationship. Dr. Laura encourages you to be strong and have good boundaries and self-respect…and hold out for good relationships. She also brings up important questions about why we would end up in bad relationships in the first place–what needs are we trying to fill? I think this is a good book for those of us who have settled for less than we wanted or deserved in the past!

How I’m learning how NOT to be a predator magnet!

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

So after I started recognizing all the qualities that were drawing abusive people, narcissists and con-artists towards me, I knew something needed to change! I was shy, a wallflower, non-assertive, lonely, and lacking self-esteem, but I think my two biggest issues were I had zero to no boundaries and I was kind of desperate. In fact, I didn’t start dating abusive men until my late 20’s. Before that, I’d dated all nice guys. What changed? I honestly think it was the biological clock issue. The guy I dated through most of my 20s was not the kind of person I wanted to marry. But, as I got closer to 30, I started panicking! Instead of waiting for a man who really fit my values and gave me time to get to know him, I fell for the charm and insistence of a man who turned out to be a narcissist. He wanted me to move in with him and get engaged pretty fast, and I went with it. I should have had some boundaries and given myself time to really know that person. I used to have a lot of strict dating rules, but I let go of them over the years. I have to admit, when I was more strict, (especially about sex early in the relationship,) I did not end up with jerks. Hmmm….

So this is where I need to learn about boundaries as well as learn to say “no” without guilt or explanation. How sad that it never occurred to me before that I could say “no” to people without feeling like I had done something wrong! I also realized it was okay to be a bit choosy. I don’t have to date whatever guy asks me out. I can say “no” and wait for someone who is a better match. (Duh!)

I started reading about boundaries, co-dependency, good relationships, self-esteem, success and more. Here are some of the things I learned could help me avoid being targeted by bullies and predators:

“No” is a complete sentence.

I don’t always have to defend myself or my choices. If you get caught up defending your valid life choices, the bully is going to back you in a corner demanding you explain yourself. Nope. I don’t need to explain a thing! Bullies want a reaction and they want you to keep talking. Sometimes, moving on without a word is the smartest response. Furthermore, engaging and defending yourself makes you seem weaker because you care too much about what others say rather than remaining confident in your own truth. The more you say, they more a bully can find to pick on.

I need to STOP telling people too much too soon. Bullies will take your insecurities and run with them! And the more you tell people, the more they have to work with when they want to mock, stalk or prey on you. People with poor boundaries violate their own privacy by giving away too much information which shows predators that they are easy targets.

I need to practice self-control. Instead of letting myself get caught up in romance, I need to limit myself and give myself time to think instead of rushing in. The romantic predator is hoping to overwhelm you and push you into a relationship to get you hooked before you know what is going on.

I need to beware of making hasty decisions–especially if someone is pushing me–and stop being afraid to ask questions.

I need to recognize my needs and desires and speak up for them. Predators want an easy target. If you start being a “pain” and asking for equal rights, they are probably going to move to someone less difficult to control. Plus, if I don’t know what I want, how am I going to meet the right people?

I need to stop being mousy and start being bold.

Those guidelines work with an emotional predator, but from a crime perspective, we are less likely to be targeted if we move with purpose and look around us to let the predators know we’ve seen them. This article has some really interesting information. For instance, studies show that the way we walk is hugely important to how predators choose us. It shows our confidence levels. To quote the article, “What distinguished the likely victims from the rest of the pedestrians was their posture, body language, pace, length of their stride, and overall awareness of their environment. Criminals judge a person’s level of self confidence by the style of their walk, such as a walk that lacks interactional synchrony, wholeness, organized movements, and a flowing motion. This signified to the perpetrators that the pedestrian lacks self confidence. On the other hand, those who walked fast and fluidly were less likely to be victimized.”

But this is the part that really surprised me: “Even though it is thought that women who dress provocatively are the most likely to be rape, studies show that women with passive, submissive personalities are more likely to get raped. These women tend to wear clothes that are concealing such as high neckline, long pants and long sleeves. This may sound ironic but, predatory men can identify submissive women by their style of dress.” Wow. If we dress like we are timid, even if we think we are covering up and protecting ourselves, it’s a signal to a rapist that we are actually more easy to prey upon!

I think all of these things come down to inner strength and confidence. If we have it, we project it. We trust ourselves, we value our own privacy and personal boundaries, we walk without fear, and we dress with confidence. Just small changes in the way we view our selves can show predators that maybe we aren’t such great targets after all.

I have been thinking a lot about how to protect myself emotionally, but the information about the importance of the way we walk has me thinking. Protecting yourself from predators isn’t just about setting guidelines in your mind. It’s about every part of you and the image you project physically and emotionally. Live like you matter. That’s something I never used to do.

Dating Mr Darcy–The Smart Girl’s Guide to Sensible Romance by Sarah Arthur

Click here to purchase Dating Mr. Darcy

This book offers some really good, sensible advice for choosing a spouse–based on examples from the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice. I’m a big fan of both Austen and that book so I thought this sounded like a fun and interesting book to read. While it does offer good ideas for encouraging a compatible, mature relationship, I found it to be a bit simplified and really religious. That doesn’t mean there is nothing of value in it, but you have to pick and choose which parts can help you and which ones can’t. I would not recommend this book to someone who is an atheist or who doesn’t have at least some Christian beliefs, because religious growth is central to the book and it ends with a strong emphasis on building your relationship with God so that you can better relate to others.

The reason I say the book is simplified is because the author gives tips on making the most of your relationship with family members that may be annoying and dysfunctional. She doesn’t explore the reality that some families are *too* broken to fit with her advice. Her point of view is very much that of a woman who grew up in an idyllic home. (I did not, so it’s hard for me to relate and I will be skipping her much of her advice related to family.) But of course, many people do grow up in happy homes, so those sections will be more helpful for them. She focuses on the idea that our families set the tone for how we will relate to a future lover, which is often true, but doesn’t leave room for other circumstances, (say, a parent who is an addict or dangerous for some reason.)

Now, done complaining and moving on to the good! This is indeed a very sensible book. I have a theory that we have so many failed marriages today because of popular movies and music tricking us into thinking love is always romantic and easy. Well, it’s not. And the dashing romantic date is not necessarily the one that will make a good partner. In this book of dating advice, Sarah Arthur focuses on emotional intelligence and qualities that will last once the initial sex-appeal wears off. People who follow her advice probably are very level-headed people who make wise marriage decisions. For example, she says we need to examine our romance and ask ourselves “are you personally maintaining a healthy sense of your own identity, particularly when it comes to your family, friends, and faith?…Do you have a clear understanding of who this guy really is when it comes to his family, friends, and faith?” (p. xvii.) And this is really the main idea of the book. We need to nurture our relationships with our family, friends and God and watch those same relationships with the men we are interested in.

Overall, this is a thoughtful and introspective book, but it’s fun and light-hearted with lots of references to and examples from Pride and Prejudice.

The section titles are:

Part One: Pressure and Promiscuity

Part Two: Family–Respect, Communication, Integrity

Part Three: Friends–Communication, Respect, Loyalty

Part Four: Faith–Righteousness, Grace

Part Five: The Art of Reflection–Solitude, Self-Analysis, Confession, Moving Forward

Dating realities part two: You don’t have to fall in love with everyone you date



You don’t have to fall in love with everyone you date….

Perhaps this seems like common sense to some people, but some of us have trouble with it. Sometimes we feel like if initially like someone, we have to keep making it work. Or we feel if we’ve invested some time, we should keep trying. Or, some of us might be so desperate for a date, that we’ll take anything that comes along–even if it’s not what we really want!

It can be tempting to hang on to a dead-end relationship, or even keep trying to create a relationship when it’s obviously not happening, just because being single isn’t always so great. Or you remember the early spark and keep trying to recreate it when it’s clear the situation is hopeless. I once read an article about the ways men and women approach relationships. It said that women are more likely to keep trying once they’ve invested some time while men are more likely to cut their losses and get out once it’s clear that things aren’t really going to work out. We all need to be brave enough to do that!

Some people might be perfectly nice and still not be the one for us. It might be hard to break up with them for that reason. But the reality is: you don’t have to fall in love with everyone you date. Don’t be afraid to let go of the wrong relationships or potential relationships, and don’t feel obliged to continue them. They just distract you from where you really need to be.


Backsliding while learning to have boundaries

Dating checklist: 1. Don't be desperate 2. Don't settle 3. Don't hang on too long to something that's pointless

Dating checklist:
1. Don’t be desperate
2. Don’t settle
3. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless

Boy have I done some dumb things lately, but I learned a lot too. I like that I was able to at least realize I was making bad decisions, even though I don’t have willpower to avoid them yet. Knowing and backing out are good first steps! And I’m moving forward. So here’s what I did:

First of all. I’m single. I have been in relationships most of my life since I was 19, so I’m not a fan of being single. I have been alone for two years since I kicked an abuser out of my life and I’m ready to not be alone. I want cuddles and friendship and later more, but I’m also very busy and don’t get out much. So when someone shows interest, I respond. I’ve met a couple people I was very interested in this year, but things just fizzled out. Most recently, someone I would not normally be interested in contacted me online and we started sending long messages. That was fun! I love being able to have long conversations and get really excited about them and I haven’t had that in too long. (In fact, I very much regret losing someone really wonderful, with whom I could talk until dawn and still be energized, due to bad timing a few years ago.) The person I was e-mailing with expressed gladness about our messages and what began as my only replying to be nice led to my being interested…because the other person expressed interest first. FIRST mistake! I should be interested in people because I am interested–not because I’m desperate for anyone to notice me!

It turned out that the person and I had some differences that should have been deal breakers, and I could tell he realized that and started backing off. But, I was so happy to have someone to talk with again, that I insisted the differences didn’t need to be a problem, even though if I were honest with myself, they were. SECOND mistake! I kind of convinced this person that we should continue pursuing whatever possibility there might be, but things never were the same. We went from fun long messages to small talk and finally flirting. I went from being the educated woman with all kinds of intellectual interests to the ditz who threw out some sexy talk to keep someone pseudo-interested. And I knew it! THIRD mistake!

I could tell this person wasn’t really engaging in conversation and I wasn’t really setting myself up as a valuable lady anymore. I’d start stupid little chats when I was bored and sometimes realized that he was barely answering. So I kept trying. FOURTH mistake! Oh, but he sure noticed during late nights when the chats got a bit steamy. Then he paid attention. And even though that is totally not who I am with virtual strangers, I had fun with it. FIFTH mistake!

This person was totally nice but he’s still a male and even though I knew in my head that he wasn’t really into me, I was bored/lonely/whatever enough to keep flirting and being my normally optimistic self. And of course that will keep a man “interested” on a superficial level. SIXTH mistake!

I told this person if we were going to pursue things, I’d like to move to phone calls and meet soon, but I had to nag him for a call. SEVENTH mistake! And there wasn’t much chemistry during the call, (although I’m shy, so that might be understandable.) When I hung up, I thought “ughh!” that was NOT what I want. (And it wasn’t like the guy I missed out on some years ago.) And I still kept trying! EIGHTH mistake! Guess what? Just because there is some interest at first, doesn’t mean you have to pathetically chase it when it’s clearly dissolving! And yet I did.

As things got out of hand, I realized this was not the real me, or how I wanted to be seen or what I really wanted. I realized I was making myself the easy go-to girl while this person was clearly dating people he respected more because they weren’t making fools of themselves. What was I thinking?! I know better than this! I prod my girlfriends when they do dumb things like this…and yet I did it. The authors of The Rules would be shaking their heads at me. The authors of He’s Just Not That Into You would write a chapter about me. And I know these books to be fully accurate and I usually trust them. But I was silly this time despite knowing the truth.

And you know what else I did? I passed up two dates with men who would be good choices for me…because I was talking to this guy. One of the guys I turned down was a great match and very enthusiastic about meeting me and THAT is what I really want. I’ve lost count of how many mistakes I made!

While I was going through this dumb phase, I knew I was doing everything all wrong. Quite frankly, I once broke up with an ex-boyfriend who was short, overweight and balding because I couldn’t feel attraction, and yet this person had the same qualities, (although to be fair, this guy wears it well.) So I made a list of what I really want and tried to remind myself that this person was not going to turn into what I really wanted, and even though I’m very broad-minded, he clearly was not that into me.

And, as soon as I pulled back from getting steamy in chat and said I couldn’t sleep with him…guess who lost ALL interest and got a bit mad at me? Yep. I had a feeling that was all he wanted–especially since our chats were mostly at night and he always turned them that direction. GAZZIOLLIONTH mistake!

So what have I learned? (Or re-learned?) Oh so much! But here are a few things:

First of all, I will always be open-minded to imperfection, but the spark has to be there–as well as genuine, enthusiastic interest on both sides that doesn’t require me to dumb myself down or do some chasing. Don’t be desperate. Don’t settle. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless. I’ve been in good relationships and the real thing doesn’t leave you constantly wondering if the other person is interested–this whatever-it-was left me in that state, and try as I might, I wasn’t fooling myself. (But I did make a fool out of myself!)

So, I realize I have so much more to learn about respecting myself, valuing myself and letting others value the real me, expecting and getting respect, maintaining boundaries and more. But, I’m open to that and I’m refreshed in my desire to constantly improve!

Value yourself because people often treat you the way you show them to treat you

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Humility and selflessness are good qualities! Greed and materialism are bad qualities! Right? Yes…sort of. I want to blog about something I’ve noticed a few times now, and a lesson I learned from it.

As a codependent, I’ve always put my needs and myself last in relationships. I asked my then husband-to-be to buy me a cheap ring because I didn’t want to be selfish. After we married he was the breadwinner, so I lived cheaply and encouraged him to splurge on himself. I kept the house immaculate and catered to him because I felt like I owed him and didn’t have much value since I was “just” a housewife. Guess how he treated me? Like a maid.

On the other hand, my husband was head over heels in love with his ex-girlfriend. (Yes, that made for an awkward marriage!) She had demanded the best of everything…and she got it. She was no better than me, but she asked to be treated like a queen and she was. I quietly pushed attention and gifts away from myself and taught him that I was not as valuable as she was. He never felt like I was a prize like she was, because he had to work for her and compete for her attention, whereas I was the sure bet that he settled for.

I also had a long-term ex-boyfriend that was a financial drain on me. I kept bailing him out of his money troubles and he used MY money to buy me gifts. He would have fun hiking outside all day while I went to work. I got tired of that eventually and left. He soon fell in love with another girl…who made him work for her. Eight years later he’s still chasing that impossible dream. He waits on her hand and foot and spends huge amounts of money trying to win her affections. She isn’t a mean girl, but she wants a man to treat her well and as such, even though we are very similar for looks, intelligence and education, she’s a prize and I’m a shrinking violet.

Both of those men treated me completely differently than they treated the women who valued themselves and asked to be valued. It made me realize that hey, maybe I should expect a little dazzle too! What a conflict with my nature–which is to be shy and introverted and to feel guilty asking for things. Maybe there is something to the traditional courtship gifts of jewelry and roses? Maybe men need to see women as a prize to win over rather than the humble little mouse who doesn’t ask for anything? I think some of these traits are hard-wired into our biology. Maybe someone isn’t going to treat you like a valuable prize unless you let them know that you are worth having.

Now I’m never going to be a material girl, but I’m certainly not going to put myself last anymore. I’m a prize myself and how I view my value determines how others will as well. Lesson learned!


Dating realities part one: If he wanted to talk to you…he would

There are a lot of dating books out there for a reason. I’ve read a lot of them, I’ve reviewed and recommended a lot of them, and I’ve learned enough that I could probably write my own…and I STILL don’t know what I’m doing! But, I am very sure of some key facts and I’m going to share them here. Here’s part one:

If he wanted to talk to you, he would

If he wanted to talk to you, he would

It’s that simple. Do you know how many times women trade messages and frantic phone calls wondering why a man hasn’t contacted them for days and then making excuses for why he hasn’t? Let’s stop sugar-coating it. Unless he’s in a coma or backpacking in Siberia, he can call you if he wants to. Even if he’s busy, he can find a minute to talk to you. Even if he’s on a pay-as-you-go cell phone, he could find a way to talk to you if he wanted to. As I tell my female friends, (and myself,) if he wanted to talk to you, he would. An interested man doesn’t forget that you exist for days at a time. And…he doesn’t just remember you days later when he’s bored and horny at midnight.

Now, you don’t have to spend every waking hour or even a few minutes every single day with someone, but a person who wants to stay in touch…does. And a person who isn’t interested in dating you…doesn’t.

Instead of calling all your girlfriends to analyze why you didn’t hear from the cute guy you met last Friday, how about going out and living your life? If he hasn’t called you, he probably isn’t feeling it, so why waste another minute of time? If he does call you, that’s great too. But the point is, enjoy your life and don’t live it around someone else. If someone wants to be in your life, they will find a way and if they don’t want to be in your life, you can’t force them to be. So…step away from your phone!

This is easier said than done, of course. I have a sticky note next to my wall phone, (and I can see it from here,) telling me the exact same thing I’m saying here: if he wanted to talk to you, he would. So, I’m reminding myself of that again and I’m sharing that lesson here before I go have a nice evening 🙂