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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Are You Really Paying Attention to Your Relationship?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Image courtesy of Nina Matthews

This one is for the guys, not all guys because guys are changing and many of them get it. But a lot of us still don’t, so ladies, feel free to forward this or slip a copy under the sports section of his morning paper.  It could pay off.  In a recent column I waxed on about the merits of guys paying attention as a secret to improving their relationship skills. You would think that something as simple as this wouldn’t come as a surprise. But guys can get distracted easily, usually by themselves, and sometimes need a nudge to focus more on the ‘us’ than the ‘I’. 

So, how did ‘paying attention’ enter my consciousness and change the way I was approaching my relationships?  Here’s what happened.  After a few dates with a woman I was interested in, I inquired about what qualities I needed to be a good boyfriend. This is something I had never done before, but I probably should have, because she immediately replied, “Just pay attention.” I narrowed my eyes like an ape does when he scratches his head with his oversized index finger. “That’s it?” I asked.  She smiled at me like I was a school boy and said, “Yes.” That was when the light went on, or in advertising terms, when I had my V-8 moment.

If you keep this precious nugget buried in your subconscious, I promise that you cannot go wrong. Women are interested in the effort almost as much as the outcome, so if you consistently demonstrate that you value her, you will invariably make good decisions and she will notice, big time. Why? Because women always pay attention. They have one goal- to make your time together as fulfilling as possible. That’s it, amigo. She doesn’t receive any pleasure from pointing out your shortcomings, and she doesn’t want to change you. Well, maybe a little. She just wants the best and who can blame her. So, if she’s with you, she sees your possibilities. Is that so bad?

So, gentlemen, how do you we pay attention? I think you know, but here are a few examples: ask her about her day and then listen, and whatever you do, don’t try and solve her problems. She doesn’t need you for that. Try and point out something new about her on a regular basis. And fellas, not, ’you look hot in that those shorts’. Think more of how she does things in her own special way or how thoughtful she was for picking up your dry cleaning and that six-pack because she knows you dig that seasonal brew (hey, she sounds like a keeper).  Or better yet, do that for her. You know the drill. Just do your best to pay a little more attention to her each day, and I promise you that it will pay back higher dividends than most of those stocks you’ve invested in.

What do you think? Are you paying attention?

What Are the Two Words Men Need to Know to Succeed With Women?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Image courtesy of Marco Bellucci

I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity with that infomercial-style headline. Hey, I work in advertising, so delivering a compelling promise is half the challenge in hooking a consumer. And we’re all consumers, thirsty for answers that make our lives easier in an increasingly complicated world. And, I’ve got a big one for the fellas. So ladies, even if he prefers box scores, market summaries, and porn over reading a blog, you might pass this column along and remind him of what we already know all too well.

The key to success with women is….drum roll please…..paying attention. Those two words will do wonders for any guy. Guaranteed or your money back. Men have strength of focus, but it’s usually about them and all of the things they are dealing with. It’s understandable, to a point. Men are under siege these days, even if much of it is their own doing. You see, they haven’t been paying attention to how society has been evolving around them, and more importantly, how women have stepped up.

Forgive me if I appear to be pandering to the ladies, but we must admit that for the most part, women invest more of themselves in a relationship than men. I don’t know if it’s in their love DNA or where it comes from, but women do pay attention. From straightening their guy’s tie, to reminding him to send a birthday card to his Mom, women put in that extra effort at what we consider the little things. But little things add up to big things that make or break relationships. Women differentiate men by how much they pay attention. Think about some guys that women find sexy. The dudes that men roll their eyes at when they hear their names─and I’m not naming names. But consider the actors who always show up in chick flicks, like Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Oops. Their characters have one thing in common. They pay attention, especially to their relationships.

Paying attention used to be called being sensitive, but that’s sounds like a wuss term. Paying attention is more active, but since guys rarely pay attention; I need to emphasize key points to achieve results. I’m doing this for us so I’m sure you understand.

Is your guy paying attention?

What Happened to Men?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Image courtesy of Horia Varlan

That’s a question that’s been tossed about quite a bit these changing days.  Over the past fifty years our lives have changed dramatically.  Science and technology relentlessly march onward and women have ascended and are slowly, but unwaveringly getting more of their deserved due.  And men? In many ways, they’ve become the whipping boys for all of the world’s ills. And who can defend them for centuries of war, misogyny, and ego-driven careless behavior? That’s a challenged, but they’re just wired differently in a lot of ways and conditioned by vastly different messages about how to behave and what is cool and manly.

While channel-surfing recently, I noticed that almost without fail, the movies targeting male audiences were seeped in mindless violence and gratuitous sex.  Most of the movies aimed at women were about relationships and participating in communal activities. The messaging couldn’t have been further apart.  And we wonder why there is so much strife and misunderstanding between the sexes. It should come as no surprise. The communications gap between the sexes grows whenever stereotypes are reinforced.  But as women are provided with more opportunities for full expression and equality, they’ve encroached on what had typically been male-dominated territory. Today, women are more educated than men, more represented in the work force, and are now portrayed as action stars, so even that last bastion of perceived macho maleness that men have held for so many years is also under siege.

What's A Man To Do?

Today’s men need to relax and see the opportunity. Most of what women do that men object to is rooted in a goal of improving the relationship. Whether it’s coaxing men to pay attention and or not try and solve a woman’s problems for her, it all has the same goal of mutual satisfaction and sharing.  But in these days of retargeting media and basically pushing images and products in front of us only based on past behavior and preferences, it’s harder than ever for men to evolve.  If they like hot rods and wrestling, they are going to be pummeled with advertising for beer, tires, and chicken wings.  It’s hard to change your mind when the media is attacking your subconscious with every move you make. Guys will have to work to transcend the stereotypes they’ve created for themselves.  When they do, they’ll see that things have never been better. Women want to share, not necessarily take over.  They pursue men (that’s a nice change), earn their way, and do not expect a man to create a life or career for them. They are capable, more fit and beautiful than ever, smarter and increasingly capable, and sexually liberated.  

How Bad Is That, Fellas?

I’ll be delving deeper into this topic in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned, and please don’t think this is only about men needing to reconsider their perspective…

Is Harlem the New Brooklyn?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Image courtesy of David.R.Carroll

Seems like every five years or so another undiscovered, gentrified neighborhood emerges from the scrap heap of old-school construction, independently owned shops, and a bouillabaisse of ethnicities. For the past decade it’s gone section by section through Brooklyn. From Brooklyn Heights to The Slope to Billyburg, and more recently a resurgent Bushwick, Brooklyn has become the place to live in New York.

While Manhattan gentrifies with a Baby Gap, Starbucks, and Duane Reade on every corner and the usual suburban white table cloth restaurants like Olive Garden and Chuck E Cheese showing up for the tourist and even some tri-state inhabitants,  Brooklyn has been a beacon to disgruntled Manhattanites fed up with the homogenization of its once proud neighborhoods. And, although many real estate experts are touting Midtown West Side as the next place, I can tell you first hand that it is noisy, increasingly expensive, and clogged with traffic.

So, if you don’t want to move to Bushwick or Sunset Park, where can a New Yorker go to get that neighborhood feel, a culture hodgepodge, and access to the greatest park in the world?

I moved to Harlem, or as they call my “new” neighborhood, SoHa. I live off Frederick Douglass Boulevard, which I had no idea where it was until I took the C train uptown to check out the hood. FDB runs north past Central Park, picking up where Central Park West ends at 110th Street. SoHa, on the West Side at least, runs between 110th and 125th. There are lots of surprises in store if you decide to check it out. First, one of the best things about Harlem is that there are no true high rises so there is lots of blue sky, sunshine, and great views.  Depending on what avenue you live on, there is almost instant access to Central Park and Morningside Park. Columbia University is right up the hill and St. John the Divine is a breathtaking piece of architecture. There are wild peacocks roaming freely on their grounds, too.  Subway access is great with the A, C, B, and D all within a short walk and the price of real estate per square foot is about sixty percent of that which is ten blocks south and west.

But the real allure to SoHa is the exquisite mix of people and cultures and businesses that make it feel like a real New York neighborhood. My neighborhood is a mix of Senegalese, African Americans, Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and an endless wagon train of Upper West Siders and families fed up with the prices and congestion in their former neighborhoods. FDB has a string of restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating and of course now Starbucks has planted its flag with a sprinkling of shops.

So, do you really need to move to Brooklyn to experience that local neighborhood flavor? Let me know. I’m off for a run in Central Park.


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