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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 1

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Getting married is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life.

Ironically, a lot of people must be getting it wrong because the divorce rate in America is over fifty percent. Personally, I waited a long time before getting married. In fact, I waited so long that most of my nieces and nephews got married and had kids before their Uncle Bob even popped the question. I waited so long that no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married at holiday get-togethers. Not even my mother. Now, that’s a long time.

Looking back I realized that I had my reasons for the delay and in retrospect I’m glad I waited. Although my wife and I are older parents now of a young son and we need to factor time into family-based decisions, I’m happy that I waited for two main reasons. First, I was not ready to get married until a few months before we met and more importantly, she is the right person for me. It’s that simple. I do not look back with regret or question myself with mental what if’s— like would I have wanted to get married if we’d met when I was thirty? We’re here now. And now is the best time because now is all that matters. Without getting philosophical, let me share some of what I learned about the overall process and feelings about getting married with you.

Know who you are and what you want.

Although I was blessed with growing up with a mother, father, and an older brother, I really did not have a mentor. In fact, beyond living in a loving household with strong values and good people, I was always considered the odd duck. As a result, I learned most of what I know now by sorting through things on my own. And in many cases that took me a longer time than others. When it came to women, I did not have any sisters or female cousins so I was a slow learner and often mystified by these strange female creatures.

I left for college at the age of seventeen and over the next few decades learned a lot about women, and most it the hard way. I had a number of girlfriends, random hook ups, and rejections, but I really did not know who I was or what I was looking for until later in life and a few years before is was too late. I enjoyed living the good life in New York City with a good career and all the sex. Why would I want to give that up? So, I didn’t. Friends got married. Friends had kids. Guys cheated on their wives. Friends got divorced. I remained single.

I did get involved a few long-term relationships and stayed with two-live in partners for too long. As a result we burned valuable time. They both ultimately walked out on me, and in the long run both times I was better off. I continued dating and really hit the jackpot when online dating became the norm. I never realized how easy it was to meet so many great women in New York. But then something hit me. I realized that I had become somewhat of a selfish lout. I was getting bored with myself and finally ready to get married. Now that’s not the greatest path to this realization nor does it bide well for a potential partner, but that’s how it happened for me. And more importantly, I somehow knew I had to create room in my heart for someone new. And that was it. So maybe I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

I told my mother I’d be getting married soon. Of course she was excited and wanted to know the woman’s name. I told her I did not know her name yet, but I knew it would happen soon. She gave me a strange look, but the following year I introduced my mother to my future wife. I’m not saying things happen exactly like this for everyone or that this is how things should happen, but this is what happened to me. Somehow, I knew when I was ready to share and I knew deep down inside that I needed to make room for someone else in my heart for marriage to be successful. I don’t think I would have been happy being married until I experienced this epiphany.

I never thought I would get married until I decided that I wanted to get married and I never thought about being a parent until I was ready to become a parent. And so far, things are working out nicely. I’m still self-centered to a certain extent. But I don’t have as much time to think only about myself or my needs now, and as a result, my capacity to love others has increased exponentially. And, that’s a good thing.

The bottom line is that when it comes to marriage; follow your own internal compass. No matter what your age is, don’t let yourself be swayed by your family, friends, or society. When you are ready to get married, you’ll know it. And, hopefully you will have created a huge space in your heart to share with your life partner.

Next time we’ll tackle the basics of getting engaged. Until then, love yourself, amigos.

Building Your Digital Dating Presence Part 3 - Photos and Names

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 23, 2016


Many people, particularly men, scan the online profiles by solely looking at the photos. They will only read the profiles of good-looking singles or profiles with ‘sexy’ pictures and do not bother opening profiles of people they don’t find attractive. So choosing the right photos is critical.

Yes, you need a photo. Rule number one: if you want to succeed at online dating, you must include photos in your profile. No matter how eloquent, clever, or interesting your bio reads, if you do not post at least one photo, your chances of meeting someone are severely hampered. Ask yourself, would you honestly take the time to connect with someone online that did not post a photo?  Wouldn’t you wonder why the person didn’t include a photo? Probably even the most well-meaning of us would assume something was wrong; either the person was unattractive and embarrassed about their appearance or they were hiding something of a possibly negative nature/ So, even if the reason for not posting a picture were benign, it is much better not to stay hidden because most people probably wouldn’t take the chance to find out.

There may be truly exceptional cases, though. For example, once a woman who had not posted her photo contacted me. She told me that she liked what she read about me and that she had not included her photo because she was the CEO of a well-known corporation. However, she offered to email her photo. I don’t think I would have agreed to meet if she hadn’t. But, I understood why she wanted to stay incognito.

How many photos do you need?  When it comes to deciding how many photos and which ones to choose, the old ‘not too few and not too many’ adage comes to mind. Profiles featuring a dozen photos can be a sign of self-confidence, or taken to the extreme, narcissism. Again, a little mystery goes a long way when meeting someone new. A good rule of thumb for posting is three to five photos. You can pour through your current photos, maybe ask a friend to help you choose the best shots, or shoot a fresh set on your own or even professionally. Any method works as long as you keep in mind that the photos, like your profile, are not for you. These photos are sales tools, carefully selected to attract new people into your life.

First, you’ll need a headshot that provides a clear picture of your face. That means a current photo without sunglasses or your favorite hat. If you’re a guy, women want to see your eyes, your teeth, and your hair. A warm smile can go a long way in a headshot. If you want to project a more circumspect, moody vibe, that’s cool, however try including another photo of you smiling. You should also choose a photo of yourself in a social setting. Some good options are of you attending an event, such as a wedding, a family celebration, a conference or an outing, or a dinner. One of the photos should show other people with whom you are having a good time so that people know you are social and have fun and enjoy being in the company of others. Another possibility, if you are athletic, is to include an action shot of you participating in a favorite activity, preferably outdoors. If you’re in good shape, consider having a photo of you at the beach, hiking, or playing a sport showing off your fitness. This can include shots of you boating, skiing, running, or even playing with your dog at the beach. You get the picture. You want the world to see that you’re fit, active, healthy, and fun. If you are not athletically inclined or have body issues, choose a photo of you doing things you are passionate about, possibly playing an instrument, painting, or whatever tells some truths about the authentic you.

Finally, consider a ‘wildcard’ photo with you doing something unexpected like a cultural event or concert, standing in front of the Pyramids, or at a Halloween party where you can show off your bad-girl outfit. If you’re over forty, there’s a good chance that you’ve been married or have kids. If so, consider including a photo with your children if it feels right for you, but only choose photos that give your prospects an authentic sense of who you are.

Do you think I’m sexy? Here’s a word of caution about posting sexy photos, especially when you’re over forty. Let’s start with the guys. Keep your shirts on and no flexing. It’s okay to show a picture of yourself surfing or involved in a physical activity where you normally do not wear a shirt. But, there are not many situations where shirts are not required.

Now for the gals. It’s okay to be proud of your body and to be comfortable showing it off. But, keep in mind that sexy photos usually result in sexual responses. Regardless of age guys are hopelessly visual creatures. Many grown men still go crazy when they see photos of women dressed in lingerie or a Brazilian bikini. So sure, if you are a woman, you’ll get a lot of responses when you post sexy photos. Sex is good and it sells. But, come on, you’ll want quality responses versus the sheer number of hits you’ll get from a hot photo if you are serious about meeting someone to have a meaningful relationship.

The money shot. After honing down the number of pictures to post, you need to choose a primary photo. This is your most important photo because it’s the one people see first. So it should be the photo you are most comfortable with and the one that best communicates your personal brand. For many people, the primary photo is the headshot. Pick the photograph that you like best. Then ask a friend for their input and when you make a decision, stick with your primary photo for while. This way you will also get a sense of how much interest you are garnering before changing it.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

You might think the first step in creating an engaging online profile is choosing a catchy headline and user name. Actually the best time to come up with those handles is after crafting your bio and selecting the right photos. You want to make sure your user name fits the rest of your profile and isn’t too random or cutesy. Try to come up with something simple, positive, and fun without being too silly and without using your real name. Although my name is Robert, a few of my friends called me Maximum Bob, the name of an Elmore Leonard novel. My birthday is on the twenty-second of the month. So I used Maximum22. It’s not Shakespeare, but it sounds positive and many women playfully referred to me as Max in their correspondence. So it worked for me.

Now, for a headline. Here is where people either try too hard or don’t put any effort into this key component of your profile. Some dating websites and apps do not require a headline, but for the ones that do, again try your best to come up with something short and represents who you are and what you’re looking for. And what works best is to use a short set of words rather than a long multisyllabic words. Once you have some ideas, test them out on a friend. By now, you’re probably buying a nice lunch for all your friends’ help with your profile and photos. But, you should be ready to post your profile and get the party started! And again, don’t sign up for more than three online services at a time. Managing all the responses, particularly if you are an attractive woman or man, takes time. You want to avoid being overwhelmed and overexposed.

You may think that the rules for setting up a successful online profile and presence are not that different when you are over forty. In many ways it’s true. The rules are basically the same, but when you are over forty, you want to show just a tad more class and restraint, at least when posting online. You can always fly your freak flag in person. 

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 2

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Stay Positive – It’s important to be in a good frame of mind when writing your profile because your mood impacts your decisions about what or what not you include in your profile. How we feel about ourselves is often communicated by what we post online. So, it’s important to focus on the positive. Think of your bio as both an introduction and a conversation starter. Would you like meeting someone new who starts by saying, “I don’t like… I don’t like…” or with a list of negative things to say? It’s a buzz kill that short-circuits people’s interest. So try not to include all the things you don’t like in your profile. Everyone has pet peeves and personal characteristics that rub them the wrong way. But, your online bio is not the place for them. Unless you have an overarching deal-breaker such as being allergic to dogs or not wanting to date a smoker, do your very best to eliminate the negatives from your profile.

Finally, self-perception, how we feel about ourselves, is also communicated by what’s posted online. Just as a list of negatives of what turns us off is not desirable, also avoid including anything negative about yourself. Focus on your good qualities. Talk to your friends to come up with a list. Then ask a friend to read it and give you feedback. A short list of positives communicates confidence. A list that is too long reeks of narcissism.

Honesty - Another critical component of your profile is honesty. Many online daters have been known to stretch the truth about their height, weight, occupation, and of course, their age. I don’t condone it but in some ways it’s understandable. For example, people age differently. If a forty-one year-old woman in great shape identifies herself as thirty-nine it probably won’t be a deal-breaker. But, if things work out over the long term, eventually she’ll find herself in a situation where she needs to tell the truth. The bottom line is that if you are less than truthful about any aspect of who you are, you’re taking a chance. Your true height, weight, occupation, marital and financial status will eventually surface, so be prepared for the possibility of losing someone due to what you may consider only to be a white lie. You never know what the deal breakers are for other people.

One area of your profile where dishonesty will not be tolerated is your current relationship status. You always need to be absolutely truthful about your current relationship status. Always let your connections know if you are separated, divorced, or even in an open marriage. The other person deserves your respect, and that means knowing your dating status. The same honesty applies to kids. You cannot hide this fact, nor should you. Another area where honesty is helpful is letting the market know if you’re interested in dating casually or looking for a relationship. When it comes to online dating, it’s best to stay open-minded. Many casual daters meet their match online and evolve into a committed relationship. And that’s a good thing. On the other hand don’t let honesty keep you from showcasing the very best version of you to the online dating universe. Take a tip from politicians and savvy marketers who know ways to shape the truth. Maybe due to your current financial situation you have not been able to travel as much as you did previously. That does not mean you cannot profess your love of travel and penchant for snorkeling in the Caribbean. You can also mention far off places you’d like to visit. In any case, when it comes to travel, you can set your sights higher than the neighborhood amusement park if you want to communicate your sense of adventure and lust for exotic locales, especially if you’re interested in meeting someone who shares a similar interest.

Food is another area where you can have fun. Most singles eventually share a meal on a date. Since everyone experiences food through their own personal lens, sharing your likes and experiences is where honesty can help you find a better match. In today’s culture food tells a lot about a person. That makes it a topic worth considering for your bio. Beyond the cliché, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, food is definitely an area for bonding that bridges many cultures, lifestyles, and financial status.  Consider a mention of your fondness for Asian fusion, your favorite restaurant, or that special dish you like to cook. A woman who prefers five star dining is probably not going to enjoy a night out with a guy who chows down on fast food every day. Also mention if you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or whatever food restrictions you feel is important to share. These days, food choices might become a commonality that makes it easier to connect with someone new.

Your Wish List Your profile should include a short list of the qualities you’re seeking in a partner. The keyword is short, meaning no more than two or three characteristics in a partner that are important to you. I realize that over the years many people have compiled built lengthy lists of must-haves for their prospective partners. These lists include everything from income level and profession to their date’s taste in shoes. Long detailed lists like these do not guarantee success in online dating. Rather, it may become an obstacle by narrowing the range of people that are “acceptable” to date. If you’ve decided that online dating is for you, I suggest putting that list aside or trimming it down to a few mission critical must-haves. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for the same results you’ve gotten in traditional offline dating—a general frustration that there aren’t any people worthwhile to date. If there is one definitive truth about online dating, it’s that you’ll meet lots of people you never would have met if you had not signed up for the service. That’s a good starting point. So, limit the list, keep your profile positive, and remain open-minded.

To be continued…

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 1: Getting Started

Robert Manni - Monday, June 06, 2016


“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, THE REPUBLIC

Before jumping into the digital dating fray, take a deep breath, exhale, and relax. Dating is supposed to be fun, right? As Plato knew so many centuries ago, how we begin often determines our chances for success. Our first steps are critical in making that all-important first impression and drawing the kind of person to you that you want to date. Too often singles rush into online dating fueled by emotional triggers like eagerness, anxiety, and desire. They quickly sign up for a plethora of web services and apps based solely on their friends’ experiences without fully considering which services best fit their particular needs. Then they slap together a profile, upload it, and hope for the best. This kind of approach will rarely bring success. To avoid wasting time attracting and engaging with the wrong people, your digital platform should clearly communicate who your are, what you want, and what you offer to the thousands of singles who will be looking at your profile online. If you take the time to set yourself up the right way, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment and have much better odds for attracting your ideal mate.

HOW MANY DATING SERVICES ARE RIGHT FOR YOU?

Initially, talking to your friends is a good way to get some candid views of what’s out there. They can tell you the pros and cons of the apps and sites they use, but before signing up for any of them. It’s important to determine how much time you really have for dating and how many websites and apps you can handle or else you can get overwhelmed. I suggest choosing no more than three services or apps when starting out. If offered, try a trial membership before committing. This way you can get a feel for the various features before committing to a membership. Keep your initial list to a minimum. Managing a number of subscriptions takes time, so limiting the number makes the process manageable. It also protects your profile from overexposure. Other daters who’ve subscribed to multiple dating services will certainly see your profile as it pops up. Due to the algorithms used by most dating websites, new profiles or profiles with changes usually zoom to the top. If you are over forty and plastered all over dozens dating websites, other prospects may view you as desperate. Another practical consideration is money. Almost all the dating websites and apps charge fees and this can add up quite quickly. Better to reserve more funds for all of those dates you’re going to score. Remember, after you get comfortable with the nuances of online dating, you can always sign up on additional websites.

YOUR PROFILE

Do Your Research - A great way to get started is by looking at other profiles and seeing what others have done that you like. Ask yourself what kind of information was shared and how it was framed that sparked your interest. This includes not only what others included, but also what was left out of these profiles that made you want to know more about that particular person. Scanning profiles doesn’t take long and it can be fun. It’s a worthwhile investment that can help prepare you to craft a winning profile.

Keep it Brief and to the Point - Putting together a crisp, to-the-point bio may sound easy, but many daters over forty including professionals, business executives, and teachers struggle when crafting their online dating ‘resume’. Many are uncertain where to begin and what to highlight in their profile. They over-think the process and weave long, wordy, tedious biographies instead of short, easily digestible profiles. Age is certainly a factor in this. The older we get, the more we’ve seen and done. Many of us may have already gone through first marriages and careers and are already into the second and third chapters of our lives. So it’s better to keep this biography streamlined. Focus on current interests and only include details that are important to you now. Remember, the profile is a reflection of the person who writes it. So regardless of good looks or personal accomplishments, if what they post is overly long, ponderous bio, readers will subconsciously wonder if he or she is boring, too. That’s why it is important to keep your copy focused and on the short side. Everything included should only reinforce your personal brand image.

 On the flip side, keeping things brief does not mean writing so little that things appear disjointed, and for some brevity is a euphemism for laziness. For example, there are a lot of guys who don’t take their profile seriously. They throw a few sentences together and post it with a few random photos. They assume that everyone will know who they are and what they are all about, but, the point is, everyone doesn’t, and most won’t waste time trying to find out when there are so many other profiles that are clearer and easier to read. A dater’s bio and photos are the most critical components of your online dating presence, so it’s worth the time to craft them to a level of the people they want to meet. So, what should you include?

Cover the basics about yourself, the type of person you are looking for, and what you have to offer. That means sharing what you do for a living, where you live, your interests, and the kind of people with whom you like to socialize. A few short paragraphs are all that’s necessary. Keep your profile crisp, short, and fun. Leaving a little mystery and something for the imagination can work wonders.

To be continued…


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