Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When Your Type Has A Type, And It’s Not You

When I first moved to Virginia and got a house, I was thrilled that I suddenly had lots of dirt to decorate with whatever flowering thing I found at stores. Eagerly I glided with my cart through Grocery stores, Home Depot, Gardening centers, etc, piling high the shopping carts with all my earthy joys. I planted to my heart’s content.

By the end of the second summer I had ripped out everything the previous owner had planted in my yard (Beach theme? SO overdone here) and replaced them with all the delightful stuff I’d found. Exciting colors, amazing textures and anything that struck my fancy. If I thought it was cool or pretty, I bought it and stuck it in the dirt around my house.

By the time the fourth summer rolled around it occurred to me my yard looked like a floral experiment: exotic tropical flowers, whimsical wild field flowers, traditional English garden flowers: all crammed into a 20 foot by 50 foot space. It kinda worked. If nothing else it was a lot to take in and sometimes people would slow down when they drove by my house, just to look. I was proud of it.

But while shopping and planting, I had paid no attention to what each plant needed for shade, spacing, watering or their growing season. 

And I realized I had goals for my yard that I hadn’t considered when I started decorating it. I wanted beauty, of course. But I also wanted something manageable (something it had gone WAY beyond being). And most of all, I wanted a yard that attracted butterflies and humming birds.

Instead I had plants that needed a ton of watering right next to flowers that die with over-watering. I had heedlessly planted bulbs that need a frost each winter, next to hothouse succulents that die with even mildly chilly temperatures. There were flowering vines of all kinds growing everywhere that required clipping every couple days. Trumpet flowers pressing over climbing roses, each reaching for the sky in competition for the sun.

But worst of all I had wasps, hornets and flies stubbornly making their home in my yard all year long. In addition to my being allergic to their stingers, I wasn’t getting many of the butterflies I had hoped for and not a single hummingbird.

I knew I had made mistakes, but I wasn’t sure how to get my desired results.   

A Google search easily told me a long list of flowering plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. And I discovered a number of the plants I thought were pretty were attracting the wasps and flies as their pollinators. Who knew that I was thoughtlessly interfering with the sex lives of plants and insects by thinking I could have whatever I wanted!

I had to accept that nature would do its thing whether I thought it was fair or not. But, if I followed the rules of attraction for bugs I could get at least mostly what I wanted and avoid a messy, half-baked yard that needed constant upkeep. Once I accepted this method, it was a simple thing to choose my favorites of flowers that attract the bugs I like and let go of the plants that attracted the bugs I didn’t like. By the following summer, my yard had radically changed once again; this time to the fairy garden feel I wanted.

It turns out many things in life are like this: 
Including attracting the right mate.
Aside from the random celebrity that fits a somewhat different mold, I have come to realize I have a guy type. There is a collection of features that I have been consistently attracted to since I was a little girl watching Western movies with my grandpa. Dark haired, light colored eyes, oval face, straight nose, fuller lips with a lean, muscular build. Skin can be a shade lighter or darker but those other traits remain constant. This is my butterfly and hummingbird garden combination in a man.

One day about a year ago while kneeling in the dirt admiring my now successful garden, it occurred to me that I might need to evaluate what I was or was not doing to attract that kind of guy, just like I was now planting the right flowers to attract the right creatures.

Unfortunately there wasn’t an easy Google search with a list of proven things to tell me how to catch a man like that. But I decided I could look at other women who were attracting them and see what they had going for them. Any time I saw a guy who had my favorite feature package, I would see if he had a woman and size her up.

It turns out the height and body size of the women catching the men I like, isn’t too far off what I already am. Close to average female height, a slender somewhat athletic build, with at least average attractiveness. Their face shapes and eye colors all varied quite a bit and their skin tone could also be a shade lighter or darker.

From what I could see the only consistent factor was their hair. Curly or straight, long or short, the length and texture was less important that the color. The guys I like: like blondes. My hair is brown.

Most of them were not even natural blondes. Some had only streaks of blonde. Other girls had colors ranging from white to honey golden, to strawberry or dirty blonde and every shade in between. A few were bleached platinum. But 90% of the guys who made my heart flutter, had their arm around a light-haired chick. 

Now I could have gotten mad. I could have fought it and decided that any man who needed me to color my hair to love me, wasn't worthy of my love. 

But, didn't I have a preferred type too? Wasn't I guilty of overlooking certain blonde or red haired guys because a dark haired guy next to him caught my eye first? Did I consider myself a hypocrite or was I just attracted to what I liked? Could I blame anyone else for feeling the same way?

I decided I could shake my fist at the waspy women invading the garden I wanted for myself, complaining it's unjust. Or I could acknowledge that attraction is attraction- my opinions be dammed- and just become the delectable nectar that would bring me the results I wanted.

I poured over the pictures I had taken of myself over the years and realized with a shock that the two times I’d gotten boyfriends with my heart-throb combination, I had also been hitting the gym and highlighting my hair.  And around the time the relationships fizzled out, I had gotten a bit complacent with my fitness routine and grown out my natural reddish-brown hair color. Damn. 

Just for an extra test I threw up a couple slightly younger pictures of myself, more toned and with blonder tresses on my online dating profiles. In the hours and days that followed, in poured the “likes” and messages from guys who fit my boyfriend-worthy bill.

I was stunned. And I then I knocked out an hour long workout and made an appointment to get my hair colored. Somehow I was in denial. Was there a formula for attracting my preferred man, just like a formula for my ideal garden? 

 This was my garden card of attraction rules: Be fitter and be blonder? Was it really that easy? Was this what it was to work with biological urges, instead of fight them and insist that rules were made to be broken and a man should love me for my personality and heart and not my hair color or hip-to-waist ratio? I believe so.

I can’t tell other people what to plant in their yards, how to wear their hair, what size they should be or how they should model their lives. But as for myself, I am going to get the results I want by doing what I discover works. Luckily for me this doesn’t involve moving to another planting zone, having plastic surgery or wishing I could change my nationality (although I won’t say I’ve never considered all those options.) 

But I will say that if a little effort and sacrifice gets me the joy I want for a lovely garden and a partner who’s as attracted to me as I am to them- isn’t that worth it?  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Relationship: How Unrealistic Expectations Are Destroying Dating And Marriage

Online Dating Questions and Answers:
 (or in this case, a response to a comment):

"I find other women being too good for anyone and way too concerned with individuality and appearing to be more like a prize than an equal partner."
- Mike, 32

It might help if you remember that this generation of women dating right now were raised on Disney Princess stories and all imagine they're deserving the fairy tale life that they grew up thinking could be/should be reality. No previous generation if women had that level of expectations engrained into them. Each one believing they are "special and uniquely valuable just the way they are".

The goal might have been to help girls grow up with self-esteem and avoid abusive relationships, but I think it's created unrealistic expectations about "not settling" regardless of how much or little the women have to offer. 

So what IS realistic? Let's make a list.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Most Common Dating Dealbreakers (And How To Overcome Them!)

Some of the choices you're making, could be keeping you out of the dating pool. Maybe you don't realize it's a problem. Or maybe you're just in denial.

So here is your wake up call. Get out of De Nial and get back into the hot tub of potential love!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why You Should Meet People You Don't Want to Date

There are times when you will find yourself with an opportunity to meet or spend time with someone you don't think you'll have a ton in common with or are even terribly attracted to. As long as they don't seem crazy or dangerous, you might want to meet up with them anyway.

It's possible the meet will turn out great. It's also possible the experience will turn into a crazy horror story for later. But even if it fizzles, you'll get more practice at meeting new people.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In Relationships Guys Need All A's and Girls Need All C's

Now before you get upset and think that guys are getting an unfair advantage grade-wise in relationships, stop and check it out. We're talking alliteration, no need for arbitration so read on and then give your adjudication. (There, now you've got three new $10 words to throw around. You're welcome.)

Guys Need


It's a competitive world out there with everyone vying for the same jobs, romantic partners and career opportunities. Add that to the daily stresses and personal histories that bring down a man's sense of worth, he needs to feel he's a person of value who's making a difference. And that translates into validation for his doing the right things while still being mortal. Inside every man is a desire to be a super hero who saves the day.

Whether they have a glamorous job or not, tend to shy away from the lime-light or not, or are just one of the average good citizens, men want to know that others (especially their romantic partner) think highly of them. More than outright "love", many men say they want to feel respected and admired. If he has the esteem of his love interest, a man typically feels cared about and fulfilled.


I've been asking men to tell me their order of The Five Love Languages since I heard about it in 2007. The number of men I've talked to about this is now in the high hundreds. I would easily say that 98% of the straight men I spoke with placed Physical Touch as their #1 or #2 need. And it makes sense. In most areas of their life the only two times men touch people are either as a sign of trust (and help) or as an act of distrust (usually in the form of some kind of violence), this is seldom the same kind of casual touching that women often experience.

But men want to be touched beyond their sexual needs; they're just usually wanting it from a special someone and in their own specific way. In this I mean in ways that support whatever masculine view they have of themselves and how that translates into letting them feel cared about. There is definitely no one way about this and no correct way. The best way to find out what kind of affection a man needs, is to ask. 


Even with a healthy sense of self-esteem every guy's feeling of worth lags sometimes. While they may not want to admit to some of their faults and failings, guys know they're not perfect and that they screw up sometimes. Often guys hold back emotionally, physically and financially when they don't feel they're admired, touched enough (in their head this means not desired enough) and not accepted with their imperfections.

 When men feel they are accepted for who they are, they are more receptive to giving to others what they want from them- be that attention, emotional support or assistance. Generosity often flows when their opinions are validated, their humor is appreciated and their unique qualities are recognized and valued.

Women Need


Despite huge strides in the past few decades to narrow the gap between male/ females education and income levels, many women still feel like it's a man's world. Women have proven themselves worthy adversaries in every scientific, intellectual and academic field that they entered and now they're breaking records with entrepreneurship, company leadership and financial savvy. But this is still not the norm. And many women struggle to feel they get the advice, opportunities and backing they would get if they were a guy. By having a man who admires her strengths and helps her overcome her weaknesses, a woman is far more likely to achieve her goals and have a strong desire to return the favor for her sweetheart.

In order for a woman to feel loved, she needs to feel nurtured. And that means her man standing in her corner and offering the support, attention and enthusiasm he would show his favorite sport player. He needs to help her have the confidence to tackle whatever comes her way and deal with it with every bit of ingenuity and competency they both know she is capable of. If behind every successful man is a supportive woman, behind every successful woman should be a supportive man.


Between juggling a career, furthering their education and creating (and then raising) a family, a woman wears many hats. Throw in a mix of monthly hormone fluctuation and all the pressure women have to cram themselves into cookie cutter body types and personality norms, women need their man to understand that while sometimes they want snappy solutions, they often just want to feel heard and understood. Since the connection between both sides of a woman's brain is stronger than in men's, the two sides talk to each other more. This often means that women need to vocalize more in their daily lives as well. A patient, good listening man is a prize indeed.

Women usually find that their jobs are perceived differently by men who tend to be more analytical and utilitarian. But men need to realize that all of this juggling is very exhausting to women and both physically and emotionally draining. Of the women I've spoken to about The Five Love Languages, I would say 75% of straight women put Acts of Service and/or Words of Affirmation in their top 2 needs. A man who validates a woman's daily actions of selflessness and offers help to lighten her load will find her more likely to remain loving, loyal and affectionate to him.


Women and men don't always interpret closeness the same way. Never-the-less it can be agreed that a sense of trust, a feeling of emotional intimacy and a desire for the other's physical presence are some of the primary things that keep couples longing for each other. Women don't just want to be cuddled. Physical attention is only interpreted as romantic and fulfilling when it's accompanied by the sense that their partner really understands them, relates to them and values them.When they feel that their efforts are appreciated and their partner really wants to know the woman, she opens herself up to him and looks for ways to show how much that means to her.

Unity is the key. Open communication, good listening, validating of feelings and offering compassion are the ways to keep the spark alive and her at his side through thick and thin. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cut The Ego To Succeed

Wondering why you're not making progress in your life?

Chances are good you're getting in your own way. Whether we're talking about business, personal life or relationships you need to remember to be willing to work on yourself. Be fluid and changeable. Anything that doesn't evolve dies. Evolving means learning, growing and expanding.

As soon as you think you've got it all figured out, you stop the learning process. Once the learning stops, everything else comes crashing to a halt. And then you die. Seriously.

So how do you go about preventing that. First of all, get ride of that pesky ego that makes you overconfident.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dating: 10 Things That Will Get You Catfished

There's a guy, we'll call Steve. Steve is single, has a decent job, and over all is a good person. He's been chatting online with a cute blonde girl we'll call Denise. Her profile has a picture of her wearing a sexy prom dress. And while the written part is pretty bare, she does say she's into sports, fishing and casual sex. Steve and Denise exchanged a few emails on the dating site and agree to meet. She emails him her appartment address with plans to chat over a beer one night and "see where it goes".

Steve shows up around 10 p.m. excited and nervous at her front door. The door opens and an interracial man who could pass for a fullback football player answers the door. At first Steve thinks he's a room mate, a visiting friend, maybe even a boyfriend. But no, it turns out Denise is really Dennis. And Dennis is wanting to "experiment" with other dudes.

So where did Steve go wrong? How did he end up getting tricked into a date with a man, who wasn't even the right nationality? The evidence was all there if only Steve had know what to look for and taken the proper procautionary steps.

1. Empty profiles are a huge red flag. "Denise's" profile was a dead give away that "she" was not all she seemed. She only had one undated photo and didn't put much effort or info in her profile. The person should talk a little about themselves. If they don't feel comfortable sharing even their most basic information, chances are really good they're a fake. People who have something to hide keep their profiles as bare as possible so they don't have to remember a bunch of lies and can make up their story on the fly taylored to whoever contacts them.

2. Photographic evidence is a must. Anytime there is only one picture you are running the risk of it being "borrowed". Could be from a friend's page, an old yearbook, some random website or an Express clothing catalogue. Pictures should have at least a year and it should look legit. Group shots where you aren't sure which person in the picture the profile belongs to or worse, no pictures at all- should be an automatic dispualification. Also, pictures are often "outdated", aka...really, really old. Or manipulative. Pictures taken from a high vantage point, only from the neck up or seriously cropped, should warn you off. If they offer to email you or text you photos... tell them to take a hike. These people are notoriously already married, are criminals or have shady intentions.

If they have multiple pictures, compare them to each other. Which ever picure shows them looking the fattest, baldest, oldest etc... assume it's the most recent. You're not dating the hotter, younger version of what they used to be in their glory days, you're getting the present date version which may not be exactly what you bargained for.

3. Ask for verification. Especialy with a poorly drafted profile, Steve didn't confirm Denise was who she said she was. Aside from Googling someone, most people have some form of social media that confirms they exist. And in the form they're claiming. They don't have to necessarily "add you", but they should have a site or two you can look at that will confirm the picture and name on their dating profile is a living person. Take advantage of that.

4. Do a voice check. Even if the person is able to provide you with a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and a Youtube video of them doing the funky chicken dance at their cousin's wedding, make sure you have at least one 5 minute long phone conversation. This gives you a chance to test out their gender, possible age range, something of their personality and whether you'll have anything to say to each other. If you're leery of giving out your phone number to a stranger, get a Google number. That will afford you some privacy but still enable you to have that very valuable phone call.

5. Agree that it's a "meet", not a "date". Dates can be stressful, ripe with anticipation and expectation. They're also specific for hope and intent for some kind of future, even if it's just one sucessful night stand. Calling this a "meet" downgrades it to just saying hello in person. No pressure, no expectations and no comittments. It will take the pressure off and make it easier for you both to be yourselves and interaction naturally.

6. Agree to meet in public places only. I can't tell you how many problems and dangerous situations I've heard from online daters that would have been avoided if only the people had agreed to meet in a public location during business hours where other people (potential witnesses) are around. If you're not trying to spend money before you know if you like each other (meet for food or movies etc.), plenty of stores work as a great place to get some face time in the flesh. Book stores, special interest (sports, hobbies, etc.) shops, department stores, inside a mall... anywhere you can safely leave without causing a scene if the person is faking their idenity. I once met up with someone from online in the lumber section of Home Depot.

You have absolutely no protection or safety net if you meet at a home, hotel or secluded location. If you hit it off walking arounding talking in the running shoe store, you can always leave afterwards to go...wherever.

7. Keep your personal stuff safe. Cars, homes, purses, wallets, phones, keys. These are not just things we need to function in our daily lives, they're valuable sources of private information we don't want just anyone having access to. Meet someone inside a store, not in your car in the parking lot. I've heard of at least three incidents now where someone met in a parkinglot and their catfish was so bold as to get into their car, uninvited. If a person knows where you live or what your car and license plate are, they will be extremely difficult to get rid of should they turn out to be a physcopathic stalker. Stories abound of people being robbed, car jacked, etc. because they didn't properly check someone out before letting them into their private world too soon.  

Keep your personal items close by and when possible, keep them on your person.

8. Never make promises before you meet. The 2000's are the Brave New World of online hook ups. And while there are pros and cons of that, you must always, always put safety first. You can agree that you find each other attractive online and may be interested in getting to know them better, but you're opening yourself for a world of hurt, disapointment and danger if you agree to have a weekend fling or let someone move in rent free in exchange for regular sex, before you even know if they are who they say they are. Online chemistry, even phone chemistry doesn't always translate into in-person chemistry. And after all, if you're looking to have a real human interaction with them (maybe even a relationship) how you get along in person is the most important thing.

This is especially important of one or both of you are planning to travel to meet. Have a backup plan (somewhere to stay or a way to get home) in the event that your potential dream date turns into a nightmare.

9. Call them out for being a phony. Too many people are afraid to hurt someone's feelings if they meet and it turns out they fudged facts like 10 years from their age and 50 pounds from their gut on their profile. It's been my experience that the only people who meet and then imediately ask if their profile pictures look like them in person... do not in fact look like their profile pictures. At the very least, politely tell the person you're disapointed they're not who they said they were and that their lying prevented you from wanting to get to know them better. Honesty is the best policy. There are no online dating police. If people don't keep each other in line by stating the obvious, they're just going to turn around a catfish the next person without remorse. Do your part to keep people honest.

And finally...