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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

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…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 3)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 23, 2016

I was still determined to master the art of online dating by using my skills as a long-term marketer and advertiser. I reminded myself that my profile was not for me. I was not the customer. My profile was for the person I wanted to date.

So I reviewed my profile and once again asked myself what I wanted, what made me different, and what I had to offer a woman. It’s easy to be self-critical, but we’re all special in some ways. I identified the qualities that I thought separated me from the herd and asked a few women I knew if they agreed. I asked them what they looked for in a man. Most of them wanted to date a guy with a job, a dream, confidence, and a sense of humor, kindness, and relatively good looks.  I used this feedback in my profile and made sure there were no typos or grammatical errors. I also changed my specs for the type of women I was interested in meeting. I realized I wanted to date women who knew what they wanted, shared my values, and were emotionally available. Finally, I expanded my geographic search parameters beyond the world of Manhattan and the ‘lists’. You may have read about women’s lengthy lists of must-have qualities men need to have to be even considered datable. My advice? Shake it off. Be yourself because nothing beats authenticity. Ultimately, everyone wants to be with someone who’s interested in the real person, not the “best front” we sometimes present during our initial weeks of a courtship.

Then I went back online. I decided to keep my contact rules in place before meeting anyone in person. If things did not feel right when we met, I wouldn’t waste our time. I’d share a drink and move on. However, even if there was no spark or the possibility of a romantic connection, it was important to treat the women I met respectfully. In today’s digital dating scene, it’s easy to disappear like a ghost or simply delete someone with a keystroke, but we’re dealing with people who are just like us. People who have feelings and who are also searching for a connection. So if there was no real chemistry with my date, I did my best to keep the conversation going until she finished her cocktail. It was the least I could do. As a result, some of the women that I met became friends. In fact, a few of them even set me up on dates with their cute friends. It pays to be nice.

With my newly updated profile, I was getting better responses from women than when I first signed up. When I saw someone I was attracted to, I read her profile a few times to get a sense of whom she really was. I made sure her bio wasn’t laced with, “Me, me, me…” or  “I don’t like…” I’d send a brief note— never a wink or a poke. I’d also mention something she had included in her profile—maybe that Korean dish she made or her recent trip to a yoga retreat. I might also add something about me that wasn’t in my profile. If she replied, I’d respond with another short note and my phone number, full name and personal email address. This way she could Google me to make sure I wasn’t an axe-murderer. If everything checked out, I’d suggest that all important phone call. Most women sent back their phone number so I could initiate the first call.

If the call went well, I’d suggest meeting for a glass of wine or coffee depending on her preference. A word of caution—no matter how great things might feel during the email and phone call, don’t invite someone to dinner without first meeting them in person. As mentioned, the vibe could change dramatically when meeting for the first time, and first dates can take bad turns. If you have dinner with someone you’ve never met and there’s no chemistry, it can make for a long, uncomfortable, and often awkward evening.

As I continued to date, I also continued to fine-tune my set of rules. I found that when meeting someone new, it was best to make it a short night. If things were clicking, I’d suggest a second glass of wine. If things were really going well, I’d offer to take her someplace else for a quick bite. Then I’d call it a night and hail her a cab. I found that a show of restraint added a sprinkle of mystery and stoked the anticipation of a second date. Soon I was dating more and more interesting women—clothing designers, entrepreneurs, fitness models, photojournalists, and teachers, along with selected professionals and corporate types. Most importantly, I was connecting with almost every woman. After a few months of non-stop dating, I got into a relationship with an attractive woman, took a break from the site, and dated for a year. After the relationship ran its course, I logged back on the site, reviewed my profile yet again, made a few more tweaks and in no time began dating like crazy for another year. My online dating system was working like a well-oiled machine.  Having a clear set of rules helped, but I soon found out that, as in life, when it comes to online dating there are no unbreakable rules.

Like other indulgences, online dating has a shelf life. I reached a point where I was content. My system was doing a lion’s share of the work. Dating had become easy. And as soulless as it sounds to me now, at the time, I thought I’d be happy dating for the rest of my life. Everything changed though late one night when I logged onto the site. A new woman had winked at me. She was pretty, even if her photo was a random late night selfie without makeup. I was intrigued by her photo and by the carefree flow of her profile. So I began the usual process. I emailed her and she replied the following day. We exchanged another email. The vibe felt right so I sent her my number and suggested a phone call. However, this woman did not think that a phone call was necessary. She suggested that we meet in person. I wrote back, trying my best to arrange a phone call, but she again declined. What about my rules?  I needed to make a decision.

I was torn. My rules worked. Why should I change? I read her profile again and stared at her cute photo before my intuition kicked in. This feels right, so, what the hell? It’s just a rule that I made up. We skipped the call and met on a balmy July evening. Things went well. Real well. And I wanted to see her again. I followed up by text after our date and we got together again the following week. Out of curiosity I looked up her profile again, but it was gone. When we got together for dinner I asked why her profile was hidden. She told me that she’d only signed up on the site for a three-day trial. Since she had a good time she wanted to give us a chance. She saw no reason to stay active on the site. I wisely deleted my account shortly after and we were engaged one year later. We’ve been married for six years. I know now that online dating is an art, not a science. It’s okay to go with your gut and break your rules now and then.

The bottom line is that if you pay attention to what you are putting out and who you are, online dating can be fun and fruitful. You might stub your toe and get your heart broken a few times along the way, but you can win. Always show respect for yourself and the people you meet. And, don’t take anything too seriously. Remember; dating and meeting new people can be an adventure, not something that creates anxiety. If you take the time to build your personal brand (know yourself, what you want, and what you have to offer), communicate clearly both online and in person, and display the confidence from a well-lived life, you’ll be on your way to making the right connections.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 16, 2016

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. I couldn’t agree more.

Take my experience for instance in online dating. After being with a woman for five years, one day she said that the relationship was over. I’d always thought that when a woman had issues with the relationship, her guy would be the first person to know. I assumed that the woman would want to have, you know—the talk. But in this case, she packed up her bags and was gone. I found out a few weeks later that she had already moved in with another guy. I was blindsided and devastated. Man, I was pissed off. But once I had time to really think about our relationship, my emotions shifted from pain to relief. I realized our relationship really hadn’t been working and I owned up to my share of why it went wrong. I asked myself if I wanted to be with a woman who was unhappy and didn’t want to be with me. And the answer was, of course, I didn’t. I was glad it was over.

It took some time, but I licked my wounds and self-assessed. I definitely did not want to make the same mistakes again. When I felt I was ready to meet new women, I realized, most of my friends were married and had kids, so they were not going out to meet women with me. So, initially I returned to my old habits of trolling the bars, gyms, classes, and bookstores alone. Hunting as a lone wolf soon proved to be a tough world for a guy over forty, especially after years of being in a live-in relationship. So much had changed that soon, there was no fun going out on my own. After a few lonely Friday and Saturday nights, I had to do something new. I decided to give online dating a try.

I signed up at the most popular online dating site. Like most guys, I slapped together my profile and anxiously dove into the fray. At first, I perused only the women with pretty pictures and pursued dates solely based on women’s photos. As a result, I met a lot of attractive women. I’d sit across from them thinking, they’re nice looking, but where’s the ‘spark’? Something was definitely wrong. I was not using the head perched on my shoulders to make my decisions. I was wasting a lot of time and money meeting the wrong women. I needed a reboot. The best thing I did was to take a break and hide my profile. I reviewed my personal brand (who I was, what I was looking for, and what I had to offer) and reworked my profile making sure it had the right messaging and photos to attract the type of partner I was looking for. This was the first important step in developing an online routine that finally worked for me.

After reposting my profile with a new headline, photo, and bio I went back to the work of dating. I set a few directional rules for myself. I decided not to invest too much time with online connections I met online before deciding whether or not to move forward. I’d exchange a few emails, maybe starting with a compliment or question about something in her profile. Then, if I liked her response I’d decide to talk on the phone. The call was always helpful. Nowadays, after a text or a tweet, people meet up without having a call. I wouldn’t take that chance too readily. The energy exchanged when emailing or texting is quite different than what we experience on a call. I’ve had experiences where the emails would flow with wit and élan, then come to an awkward silence when I got them on the phone. And even if that first call lasted an hour it did not guarantee success. Very often the energy dramatically changes, again, when we meet someone in person for the first time. I’ve found that we can’t control chemistry, and it’s impossible to predict. I paid attention to how the energy felt at every touch point—from first contact online to email, then to a phone call before asking a woman for a date. All this saved a lot of time and disappointment.

In time, I learned that, like my initial foray into online dating, other people also charged in without figuring out what they wanted from the experience. There were a lot of lonely people out there. And many of them were over forty and desperate for love and attention. They’d sign up on a dating website in haste and plunge into the unchartered online dating waters like new members of the Polar Bear Club on January 1st. After a few failed dates and often the icy chill of rejection, many singles withdrew from these websites as quickly as they dove in.

Here’s an example of what happened while I was developing my online dating chops. I met a woman for a date at a bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. She was a senior-level television executive. She was attractive, successful, and immaculately dressed in a white designer suit. We’d exchanged two short emails and a quick phone call before agreeing to meet after work. Everything felt good and I was looking forward to our date. Over small talk and a glass of wine I sensed the tension in her voice and body. I asked her about her job, thinking that she’d had a tough day. She told me she worked in television ad sales and she was having a banner year. So I asked her how long she’d been dating online. She said I was her first date. She’d signed up for the service the day after her long-term boyfriend dumped her. Initially, I thought that was a favorable omen for rebound sex, but she was so out of sync that I didn’t want to get intimate with someone in her vulnerable state of mind. I asked her if she had considered taking some time for herself before jumping back into the dating scene. Her eyes welled up with tears. Then she said, “I don’t want to be alone.” Sadly, this attractive, high-powered television executive was an emotional shambles.

This was not the first time I met someone who was obviously not ready to date. I consoled her over a Chardonnay before grabbing the check and hailing her a cab. The following day, Ms. TV Executive sent me a lovely email, thanking me for being so understanding. But our short night was another reminder that I needed to do a better job when screening dates. I was still doing something wrong. Many of the women I had met were fun online and on the phone, but uptight and anxious in person. Between learning about their lists of must-haves or surviving first dates that felt like job interviews, this online dating thing was quickly lose its appeal. I realized that I kept going out with women who reminded me of my ex—corporate stars who were not enjoying the ride. It was time for another break from the site.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, May 06, 2016

When I was in my twenties, I met women the old fashioned way. This was before the age of ubiquitous cell phones, female wingmen, and dating apps. In the old days, drumming up the nerve to approach a woman took courage.

Like a lot of young men I wasn’t always comfortable in my own skin.  If I saw a lady who appealed to me, I’d drum up the courage to greet her with a friendly hello. Then, hopefully, I’d come up with something to say, an interesting question, or anything to keep things going. It was a challenge, but over time, I developed a decent rap. Sometimes I’d lose my nerve and stand at the bar too long nursing my Amstel Light. So, I’d lose out to some other guy who’d beat me to the punch. I met a lot of women and sure, I got shot down plenty of times too, but it was all part of putting myself on the front lines.

In many ways, meeting women the old fashioned way was a lot like sales. To succeed you needed to know who you were and what you had to offer. You had to qualify your prospect quickly so you wouldn’t waste time with someone who was married or in a committed relationship. Most importantly, you needed to know how to strike up a conversation and close the deal. So, I learned how to ask the right kind of questions, and stay positive in the face of rejection, and how to overcome obstacles to make a connection. Over time, I became fearless and experienced a lot of success. I met women in bars, gyms, laundry mats, libraries, bookstores, buses, airplanes, or just about anywhere. And, beyond ‘winning’ at the mating game, meeting women was fun.

But the times have changed. Technology has now made men lazy. These days, a guy can score dates with smart, successful, attractive women while sitting at home in his tighty-whiteys by just plinking on his laptop. All of the apps and websites have made it very convenient for men to meet women. You could say that technology has made dating much, much easier. But, hold on. From what I can tell, technology can only take you so far. Whether you are a man or woman, to make a real connection with a member of the opposite sex you still need self-confidence, conversational skills, a sense of humor, and a dash of self-deprecation.

There's still a lot to be said from those days when a man had to learn how to approach a woman, face-to-face, literally on the front lines. Men used to study ‘pick-up’ lines and share the best ones with their pals. It took a lot of nerve to step up to the plate and simply be you.

Here is a scenario of how things might have played out back in the day. A guy walks into a bar. He scans the room and takes the seat next to a pretty woman sitting alone nursing a glass of wine. He settles in and orders a beer. Out of the corner of his eye he casually checks out the woman seated next to him. Sensing his gaze, she takes out a cigarette. He strikes a match and holds it out for her. She exhales smoke, smiles and thanks him. “Hi, I’m Lou,” he says. “Cindy,” she responds. From here, anything could happen. That’s how lots of guys met women before technology took over our lives and smoking was banned in bars.

If that scene were replayed today, the woman at the bar would probably be on her phone texting or checking emails. She might not notice the guy sitting next to her and he might not even look up from his phone to notice her. The guy would probably order a beer, place his phone on the bar and stare up at the bar’s two-dozen giant television screens. Between sips of beer, he’d check his phone. Maybe he’d check his online dating app to see if anyone in the bar was on the same service. Then, when his friends would show up, all the guys would stand around drinking, watching the games and discussing their fantasy sports teams. Meanwhile, the attractive woman seated next to them, would greet her cute friend’s arrival and the ladies would probably chat over a drink before moving to a table to discuss their jobs and talk about why there are no good men around.

While technology has made things really convenient in a lot of ways, the problem is that people, today, are distracted by waves of ubiquitous media. Most people have trouble being present in the world directly around them and this makes it hard for them to connect. These days, when young people go out, an impenetrable wall of phones, apps, emails, texts, TV’s and a closed circle of friends usually surround them. In most cases, they don’t organically engage with new people. This brings along a new set of challenges to dating in today’s tech-driven culture. It seems that to succeed in today’s fast-paced scene, you need a blend of digital dexterity and that, all-important, old school charm. The digital portion of the equation is relatively easy to pick up. But knowing how to strike up a good conversation and converse with confidence and finesse takes time. But it’s worth it. In this area, daters over forty a big advantage over younger daters who rely too heavily on their cell phones, iPads, and laptops to communicate.

The trick is to learn your way around today’s digital dating landscape while deploying your old school charm. If you want to succeed, you need to stay up-to-date on the multitude of digital dating tools and apps. It’s critical that you learn how to communicate quickly and effectively through your digital device. His will get you half way to the finish line. I’ve learned that to win, you still need to be fluent in the art of conversation and flirtation. That can only take place in person. After all, no matter how much game and witty repartee you may demonstrate in your texts or emails, eventually you’ll find yourself face to face with the object of your desire. That’s the only place where real chemistry can happen.  

To be continued…

How to Man Up for a Breakup

Robert Manni - Friday, April 22, 2016

Is breaking up really so hard to do? There are lots of articles and blog posts in cyberspace providing today’s young bucks with the latest tips on how to meet, connect, and score with the ladies. That’s a good thing because the behavior of fellas is under scrutiny, and in some cases attacked.  I recently launched my debut novel, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE, where Max Hallyday, the main character, is convinced by his ex to write a column about men for her start up girl power mag. His column is called, “The Guys’ Guy’s…” yeah, you get the rest. Yes, I wrote a novel with some tough love advice for the ladies sprinkled with some seasoned saltiness, but I’m no Miss Manners for dudes. Hopwever, I’ll take on a tough topic and shed wisdom on the flip side of hooking up. Here are my five older bull essentials for breaking up.

1. Be mindful. Think things through before you make your move. I’m referring to how to end a real relationship like a man, not how to disappear into thin air after a Jager-fueled one-night stand with a woman you met in the bar after the Rangers game. This means that you’ve dated the woman in question for at least a month and the two of you have done your share of partying and sheet rumpling. She’s displayed her body to you and you know damn well that she is interested in being more than friends with benefits or a random hook up. If this is the case and you’re just not feeling it, it’s time to do step up and do the right thing. After all, you like her, and if she were a guy friend, you would not disrespect him. So once you’ve made up you mind about your feelings (you do have feelings), there’s no turning back.

2. Make the break in person and pick the right location. First, no texting or phone calls. And although it sounds like something out of a spy movie, it’s easier to break the news in a public location, and in a best case scenario, outdoors where there is a busy crowd in motion. I’d avoid sitting face-to-face in a restaurant unless you want to see what her radicchio with balsamic vinaigrette dressing looks like after it’s been dumped on your shirt.  Pick someplace romantic, like Central Park, where you can sit side by side and watch all the good-looking people run, walk, and bike past the two of you.  This will remind her of our world in motion, full of desirable, potential new partners. 

3. Be direct and do not place blame. Okay, she’s a great girl and you really enjoy hanging out with her. But, although you’ve giving the relationship a proper chance, you’re just not feeling it. That’s okay, bro. It happens. Over time you’ll become more circumspect and more adept at qualifying your partners early on while at the same time learning to be more sensitive to a woman’s feelings. But ultimately, the heart wants what it wants, and if the tables were turned, she’d move on also. Every situation is different, so I can’t suggest you the words for you to use, but you need to be straight up and let her go like a real man. So take a deep breath and tell her the truth without getting into the weeds with details, even if she farts under the covers. The bottom line is that although you really dig her, you don’t see the potential for a long-term relationship. It’s not about you, or her. Focus on the ‘us’, and remember that ‘us’ takes two. 

4. Be kind. Truism. Women do not like getting dumped. And that means they don’t like it a lot more than guys don’t like it. Guys become accustomed to rejection since in the majority of cases, even though women are doing the capturing; men still do most of the hunting. No woman wants to be rejected, especially after she has shared her body and bared her soul to a guy. Once a woman opens up the window to her emotions, she’s vulnerable. It’s important that you realize that at that juncture she will do her best to make the relationship work. She wants your happy place to be with her, so how bad is that? Just be nice and do whatever you can to not hurt her any more than she feels that you are already hurting her, even if ultimately, you’re doing her a favor. And when it’s over, that’s it. No slinking back for a little something, something when your inner horn doggie wants a treat. Let her go.

5. Relax. No matter how bad you may feel if and when her waterworks start flowing, ultimately she does not want to be with a guy who isn’t totally into her. And trust me, if she is as cool as you think she is, she will shake you off (after you leave) and move on faster than you think. And if she turns on you, brace yourself and be understanding.  She may also have issues about letting go. The key is to be gentle, but firm. After all, would you want to be with someone who does not share the same feelings about you? I think not. And that’s the truth, amigo.

When It's Time, Are You Ready To Deliver The News Like A Man?

5 Signs He's Taking the Relationship Seriously

Robert Manni - Friday, March 18, 2016

Whether it’s in business or a relationship, getting blindsided and dumped sucks. And who hasn’t been there at least once in their lives?

You may have thought things were all rosy after a series of seemingly great meetings or dates, but the other party or person may have had a completely different take on the situation. After five interviews and meeting everyone from the CEO to the maintenance dude, you assumed the job was yours, but they never called you back. Or after that torrid weekend at the beach you thought it was true love, but he thought it was a summer fling. And he never returned your texts after that.

Unfortunately, that’s how life works, amigos, so it’s important to take stock of your business and your relationships on a regular basis. For the purposes of this post, your Guy’s Guy will share his musings on the ways women can get a read on where they stand with that special someone they’ve been dating for a few weeks or months. Let’s call this The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Knowing It’s For Real.

So, here are five crystal clear signs your man is taking you and your relationship seriously.

1. He takes himself off the dating sites – This is huuuge. One of the toughest decisions a guy can make after he connects with a special woman is suspending his profile on all the dating apps and sites. For a lot of men this can be harder than quitting porn. Guys are visual and there is nothing like sitting back with a cold one in your tightey whiteys while surfing the dating dates for a fresh crop of female photos and profiles. I know it sounds cold, but guys like looking and playing, and these sites and apps can be addictive to men, and for women, also. So if your guy takes himself off these sites on his own, consider that a check plus. If you ask him why his profile is still active and he tells he will shut them down and does, that’s a check. If he either avoids the question or answers in Trump-like double speak, consider that a red flag. It means he’s not taking your relationship as seriously as you may have thought. Your move.

2. He asks you to go on vacation with him – When you think about it, going on vacation with someone is technically only an extended date with luggage and back-to-back sleepovers. If you’ve been seeing someone for a few months you’ve probably already slept with them or spent a weekend together. But taking a trip with someone for the first time can be a big thing. Everyone has their own style of traveling and if a couple is incompatible when they’re on the road, it could be a deal breaker. So, just the fact that he’s asked you to hop on a plane with him is a really good sign. Now all you need to do is show up, pack wisely, and be the very best version of you. You can do that.

3. He wants to introduce you to his squad – Another seemingly insignificant gesture is actually a big deal to guys. Sure you meet new people and get introduced every day on the job, but meeting a guy’s crew is for him an invitation into his inner sanctum. And depending on his taste in friends, it is not always a pretty place. Which is another good reason why meeting his friends is a good thing for assessing your relationship. Say yes if he asks you to meet his boys at the bar. You’ll learn a lot while enjoying free drinks.

4. He invites you home for a holiday – Similar to meeting his friends, meeting his family is another telling adventure and a sign that he is taking you and your relationship seriously. You will definitely learn a lot about your guy and what makes him tick once you meet his family, but the main thing is that he thinks enough of you to invite you in the first place. Do the smart thing and show up. The drinks are free again, but this time don’t get drunk.

5. He pays attention – This is the key sign that your guy is really into you. It’s all about the little things and noticing the details women notice about their guy. Whether it’s remembering which Chardonnay you prefer, noticing and complimenting your new blouse, or knowing how tired you feel after that series of big meetings, if he’s paying attention to the details of your life he’s showing you respect and is focused on making the relationship work.

Sure there are more ways of finding out if your guy is taking you and your relationship seriously, but I think these five behaviors are reliable bellwethers for clocking his interest level and for your consideration of him as keeper material.

This Week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is, drum roll please…. me. After three dates I asked my wife what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. She smiled and said, “pay attention”. That was a wake up call. I took myself off of the dating sites, focused on building this relationship I was interested in, and eventually asked for her hand in marriage exactly one year to the day later. Hey, you’ve gotta have some game to be a Guy’s Guy.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Spring Cleaning

Robert Manni - Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring cleaning. Throwing out the old, and discovering the new.

Whether it’s about love, sex, dating or relationships spring is the perfect time for Guy’s Guys to take stock of who they are and where they want to be. Summer, the beach, and bikini weather is right around the corner.  And as the temperature rises, the skirts get shorter. You know the rest. Why reassess? Because it’s healthy, it will keep you on your path, and it could motivate you to connect with some great women. Here are five quick things to keep Guy’s Guys moving forward this spring.

1. Review your contacts.

Like a big old bear, it’s easy to hibernate during the winter. Same old, same old. And it can carry over to your dating life. Oh, it’s Friday night again? Let's hit the same sports bar and ogle the same women.You have your go-to hook ups, but are you really accomplishing anything beyond sharing a few laughs, watching every college football bowl game, and chilling with your buds and a friend with benefits? Ask yourselfis this the best you can do? If the answer is no, take stock in where you are versus your goals—in your career, fitness, or relationships and get cracking. If you find that your lady friends are locked into in the friend zone, then maybe it’s time to dust off your online dating profile. There are many, many fish in the sea, amigo, and that means lots of lovely ladies looking for nice guys. Don’t let your profile get stale and don’t stay posted-up for too long. Take a breather now and then before getting climbing back in the saddle.

2. Ask new women out.

Like a big old bear, it's easy to hibernate during the winter. Oh, it's Friday night again? Let's hit up the same sports bar and ogle the same women. You have your go-to hookups, but are you really accomplishing anything beyond sharing a few laughs, watching every college football bowl game, and chilling with your buds and a friend with benefits? Ask yourself: is this the best you can do? If the answer is "no," take stock in where you are versus where you want to be—your career, fitness or relationship goals; and get crackin'. If you find that your lady friends are locked into the dreaded friend zone, maybe it's time to dust off your online dating profile. There are many, many fish in the sea, amigo, and that means lots of lovely ladies looking for nice guys. Don't let your profile get stale, and don't stay posted-up for too long. Take a breather now and then before climbing back in the saddle.

3. Cut your losses.

Maybe you've maintained your comfort zone by sharing a relationship with someone you like, but don't like enough. This relationship is more than friends with benefits, but it's become a convenience for both of you. You know something is missing. Hey, knocking boots is fun, but if either the sex or the conversation is lacking, it may be time for the talk. Be a gentleman, but consider moving on.

4. Review your diet.

Sickness begins in the gut. Trust me or do your own research; you'll see that I'm right. And our tendency is to consume lots of comfort food and drink during those cold, dark months. Now that the weather's warm and you want to be active, reassess what you're ingesting. Like a lot of single guys, I've gone through phases where I've sustained myself on ketchup and beer and canned soup. We're creatures of habit. If you can't cut the junk and your small-batch bourbon, at least add fruits and veggies and water to your daily intake. You'll see a difference in your mood and in your waistline. Plus, the ladies notice what you eat and what it does to your body. Just sayin'.

5. Relax.

This is a marathon, not a sprint so you've got time to adapt. Spring is the perfect time to take a deep breath, shift gears and try something new. And whatever you do, don't let the media or your friends and family play the fear card with you. Take life by the cajones. There's really nothing to fear but fear itself. Meet lots of new women, reassess your lifestyle and diet, eliminate people and situations that are no longer useful, and chill. Live your life to the fullest. Now that's being a Guy's Guy.

What are you doing to better yourself this spring?

Guys' Guy's Rules to Recharge Your Dating Life

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 03, 2016

Spring is right around the corner. Birds will chirp, bees buzz for honey and the animal kingdom gets frisky. It’s time for love, people.

But finding love can be a challenge. Every single person hunting for a partner faces obstacles and hurdles, even in springtime. They might overbook their schedules, get too jammed up with work, or simply be too tired and wiped out by the end of the week to go out. Men, women, it doesn’t matter. Every so often we need to take a step back and take stock of our dating life and how we’re performing based on our expectations. Think of it as your heart’s annual review. So this year, let’s get it done in time for spring.

For many daters it’s either feast or famine when it comes to love, with dates either coming in bunches or no action whatsoever. Maybe all that swiping left and right has led to digital dating app burnout or maybe they’re just stuck. The reasons are less important than the fact that every now and then we all need to step outside ourselves and take inventory of the possible things we may be doing that prevent us from making the right love connections.

With this in mind, your Guy’s Guy again dons his thinking cap and slips on his Cupid’s arrow quiver once again to help singles take stock of some dating do’s and don’ts before heading back onto the field. Think of it as a halftime pep talk where plays are discussed, strategies are tweaked and players are reminded of who they are and what they stand for before whooping, hollering and charging back to the field to kick some ass and take some names. Okay, maybe they're not literally kicking ass. It’s more like taking names and scoring digits before making a hot connection.

Here are seven tips to power up your dating life. Drum roll please…

1. Know your brand – The most successful daters know who they are, what they stand for, and how they stand out from their competition. It’s marketing 101. You establish an authentic personal brand based on an honest assessment of who you are inside and outside, what you have to offer, and why you are uniquely qualified to be a someone’s special someone. You don't have to be a supermodel to catch a great guy. But you do need to take a look deep inside and figure out who you are, what makes you tick, and why you are an awesome catch. And then show off your confident self.

This goes for men as well as the ladies. Too many guys drink beer on their couch, watching Rangers games and getting fat, thinking they should be banging models every night. Hint: it’s not going to happen unless your name is Leo or you have a Trump-sized bank account. And, even if you carry those assets, if you are a jerk, your dating triumphs will be short-lived. All daters need to be honest about who they are and what they have to offer. That’s not a bad thing; we are all different. We are all special and we are all deserving of love. Never forget that, amigos.

2. Re-establish your goals – Following your self-assessment, ask yourself what you really want out of dating and a partner. If you’re looking for a partner, remind yourself every so often while booking dates. Or maybe you want to have fun and play the field for a while. That’s cool too, as long as you don’t lead people on who are looking for something more than a hook up.

3. Don’t overbook your schedule – Let’s face it. Some people can’t bear the thought of spending even a few hours sitting quietly at home. They want to live, live, live until they die, or so they think. The reality is that being super busy all the time and double and triple booking your schedule does not make your life any more successful or meaningful. It just makes you busy, sometimes so busy that you can’t see the forest through the trees. Too many dates and activities can hinder your ability to get to know yourself and potential partners who you want to get to know on the inside so you can understand who they are. I’m not suggesting you stay home five nights a week and miss out on all that fun. I’m merely recommending that you make time for yourself so you don’t lose track of your personal brand and stated dating goals.

4. Be open-minded – Everyone has a “type”. That’s all well and good provided that you don’t get too wrapped up in the packaging. Let’s face it; too many single young ladies turn into middle-aged single ladies because they have an endlessly growing list of attributes and must-haves for the men they date. Sure, this can be the result of having real dating experience and knowing the types of guys to avoid. I get it, but at the same time there often is a direct relationship between the length of the list and the shortage of men who fit all the desired criteria. It’s tricky, but it’s important for singles to keep an open-mind if they expect to meet interesting people and make new connections. My most successful relationships did not begin with matching a list to a person. They all began by taking a chance on getting to know someone new who was smart, attractive and nice.

5. Be kind, but firm – Karma really is a bitch and it never hurts to do the right thing. So if you feel you have given someone a fair shot and it’s simply not working for you, then by all means, let him or her know that you are not feeling sparkles. Then move on. Sure, you could also just disappear and not respond to their texts, but how would you feel if someone treated you that way? Be firm, but do your best to treat people respectfully. At the same time, respect yourself and don't waste your precious time by trying to fix guys. It's not your job.

6. Online to offline, every time – Winters can get cold in the Northeast and Midwest, but if you don’t go out, your chances of making a love connection are diminished. You need to use your time wisely, and that’s where the online dating apps and websites come in handy. I know from my personal experience that I initially connected with lots of attractive and very cool women while I sat in front of my laptop in my tighty-whiteys. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, nowadays that seems to be the norm. The tricky part is migrating your online connections into the offline, or “real” world. This is a mission critical step to dating success. You want to meet your digital connections in person as soon as possible and not waste time with too many texts, apps, emails and other tools in the digital landscape. If you ultimately want a real life partner to rumple the sheets with, you need to get out and make a connection in person.

7. Don’t settle or give up. Dating is not for the faint of heart. It can feel tough, cold, and heartless. But when two people click, it can be blissful and make all of your previous longing, loneliness and heartache worthwhile. The key is never giving up and never settling for less than your worth. You are a special person. You deserve love. If love emanates from you, you will attract love. If you get dumped or get hurt, brush yourself off and claim your worth. No one with self-esteem wants to be with someone who doesn't want to be with him or her. It’s that simple.

Be the light. Raise your vibration and the energy grid to meet the one who is worthy of you from that purview. Forget what’s passed and never be hard on yourself. Love yourself. Love the world. Be love. It can happen. It will happen.

This weeks GUY’S GUYS, AND GAL’S GALS OF THE WEEK are all the daters who were rewarded for their patience when a special someone finally came into their lives. Staying positive and keeping an open heart are the keys to dating successfully and making lasting connections.

How to Date Like a Champ in 2016

Robert Manni - Friday, January 22, 2016

It is the best of times and the worst of times…for dating. Modern life moves quickly. We want what we want, and we want it right now. We don’t have time to suffer fools when searching for our perfect match. With the advent of dating apps and websites, if you master the moves of the digital dating game, your pipeline of prospects can be filled to the brim. After all, you can set up a month’s worth of dates while sitting at home in your tighty-whiteys watching the Rangers game. And if you don’t dig that new connection, they’re gone with a keystroke. So what’s the problem, Guy’s Guy?

Like I said, it’s both the best and worst of times for dating. When we indulge in too much of a good thing, like ice cream, expensive bourbon, or for some guys strip clubs and recreational drugs, we lose our appreciation, our purpose, and our cash. To succeed at dating in 2016 we have to manage our minds, our hearts, and our balls or else we can waste a lot of time, effort, and money.

So, here is a Guys' Guy's refresher course for dating like a pro in today’s whacked out singles scene. And this goes for the ladies also. Drum roll please…

Know who you are and what you want – In many ways, dating successfully is like running a solid advertising campaign. You need to know who you are, what makes special, and what your target market is looking for. Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised, amigo, by how many singles are flailing about in a desperate effort to find someone to care for them. It’s sad. Don’t date those people, at least not until they figure out who they are and what they want. Focus on you, your personal brand, and what you want.

Making tech work for you – I’m assuming most guys, and many women, favor digital apps for making connections. They may be efficient, but digital apps alone will not make you a winner in the dating game. Between Tinder, Match, OK Cupid, Bumble, Tangle, Hinge, and the like, you don’t need to be Ryan Gosling or a genius to connect online with a lot of really cool women. All you need to do is fill out your profile built around a positive overview of you and the type of person you’re searching for. Include a photo of yourself smiling, not smirking, with your shirt on and without your Mets cap worn backwards. If you want to date casually, say so. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t work for guys unless they are on Tinder hitting on chicks in bars also looking for a hook up. Use spell check, be polite and ask open-ended questions that lead to an offline meet up. That means, being you and not behaving like the thousands of lazy horn dogs using digital apps for one reason to get laid.

Limit yourself to three dating apps at a time. Otherwise things can get out of hand quickly. You can get overloaded with prospects, which may sound like a good thing, but really isn’t. If you don’t take the time to sort through your prospects mindfully (I keep using that word for a reason), you may eliminate a potential keeper because of a minor nit like maybe she’s a Patriots fan. Don’t be that guy.

Offline is where we live - To make tech really work for you you’ll need your offline game in order. That means polishing your social skills and displaying casual confidence and integrity like knowing how to look into her eyes so she sees that you’re paying attention (without being creepy), and polishing your ability to close the deal. Of course you want to make a more intimate connection under the sheets, so you need to learn how to be intimate before getting intimate. So your goal in any dating engagement should be to move the landscape from online to offline. That’s how you will get to know one another in a real way.

And, you can’t build your offline game if you’re eyes are glued to your phone. Push yourself to chat up ladies where they livein the bars, after yoga class, waiting for coffee, in a bookstore, or anywhere women hang out. The point is, after you make a connection with a woman online or offline, you’ll spend 99% of your time together offline. Learn how to approach and talk to women. That means being friendly, smiling, and engaging in light conversation anywhere and everywhere women live. It’s called being a human being and it’s fun because most women are nice, even if they may not look that friendly with their puffy coats and ear buds on while riding the C train.

Be kind, be honest, make an effort – As described earlier, you can score dates in your tighty-whiteys, but don’t let that make you lazy and unappreciative. When dating a new woman, remember that she is a lady and deserves to be treated as such. If you are interested, explore her tastes, make a plan, and pick up the check on that first date if you ask her out. Yes, it’s old school, but most women will appreciate this rare display of chivalry and will not quibble over the check. If she insists on paying half (probably so she doesn’t think she owes you any favors), let her. It’s that simple. And if your date or the chemistry is not what you hoped for, don’t just bounce. You made a commitment to share a half hour with another well-intended human being. You can cut it off after one quick drink. And who knows? In that short time things could change or new information may surface that shifts the landscape. Maybe she becomes a friend, or she may have business contacts, or better yet she has some hot girlfriends that might make a better match for you. Just be nice. It’s not that difficult, amigo.

There’s more; lots more when it comes to dating in 2016. But if you take to heart what I’ve described above, I think you will find yourself in a really good place to manage your dating life like a champ. And that’s you, isn’t it?

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is George Clooney. Why him, you ask? He was a long-term bachelor, but never a jerk to women as far as we know. He is smooth and unshakeable. He excels in the art of conversation. He is a philanthropist and an accomplished actor. And, oh by the way, he finally married a brilliant career woman who doesn’t need his star power. Yeah, he’s a certified Guy's Guy.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Love - An Exploration of the Heart

Robert Manni - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jagger had it right when he sang, “Love, it’s a bitch”.

Sure, it makes the world go around and can make your heart go pitter, patter, but love can also break your heart and cause a lot of pain. How can we maintain a loving heart in a world filled with so much hateful behavior? At times it’s hard to love our fellow man. But, it’s not all bad. If you look deep inside, there is a light that shines. It’s a spark, that part of you that comes from God. And it keeps burning no matter what.

This week, your Guy’s Guy is taking on love, with all the hurt and happiness that accompanies it. This one’s is not about my novel, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love per se, but it runs along a parallel path by exploring the different kinds of love we experience—romantic, friendship, family love, and the love of humanity and all its flaws. Hopefully, we’ll come to the same conclusion; ultimately love is all we have, and we need to do everything we can to express it every day.

Let’s take a look at the various forms of love, to see if we can find common ground, and ways to understand how we can keep our love alive.

1. Family - The old saying states that you can’t choose your family. But I’ve also read in spiritual texts that before incarnating we choose our parents and family based on lessons we need to learn.

This makes more sense to me, because human ascension requires certain experiences for growth. I’m sure many people would welcome the opportunity to choose their families again because not every familial situation brings joy. Throughout history, family members have done horrible things to their relatives. Not all, but some. That’s just how it goes. And I think you’d agree that at times, everyone’s family seems like it’s totally screwed up. But however we became connected to our families, we’re here now and in it together, so we need to find ways to make the best of it. I’ve learned this the hard way.

Maybe your family is like mine. I like speaking my mind, and for years I assumed you could talk to your family honestly about anything. But I was wrong. My family is made up of good, well-intended people. The problem is, they don’t get me—at all. Compounding the issue, my brood doesn’t share its feelings. Over the years, this has created frustration and occasional outbursts. Over time, I reluctantly decided to shut up and look elsewhere for understanding, validation, and honesty. At family functions I bite my tongue (for the most part) and I’ve learned that it’s better to simply love them than try to get them to understand me. There wasn’t one incident that switched on the light. It took time, lots of time, to understand that although these nice people are my family, it doesn’t mean that they think the same way I do or live their lives the way I do. And, it’s okay. I’ll love them unconditionally regardless. In my heart I thank them for their love and the lessons they are teaching me. I love them.

2. Friends – What’s the old saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. At times, they can feel like one and the same.

I’ve done my very best to maintain long-term friendships, and as you know, that’s not always easy. Some people change and evolve, and others travel a different path. But that’s okay. If my friends and I remain on the same page with how we relate, laugh, and treat others, we’re good. But of course, that’s not always the case. Everyone relates to their friends differently. Some never initiate a call, but they are always there if you come up with an idea. There can be misunderstandings, and for some, it’s easier to talk behind a friend’s back than engage in an honest conversation about a point of contention.

I have a friend of over thirty years who for some reason did not respond to my wedding invitation. Ironically, I had been his best man. Eventually I called him two days before the wedding. When I asked if he was attending, he danced and dodged about things that were going on in his life. He couldn't bring himself to just say “no”. Instead he said, “I might stop by.” WTF? Initially I was understandably irked and cut him out of my life. But over time, he began reaching out and acting very cordial and differential to me. Still no mention of the wedding. I finally got together with him this summer when he arranged a road trip and bought concert tickets for our old crew. I showed up and had a nice time. Still no mention of my wedding. I had to make a decision. We’d been friends for decades, but it just wasn’t in him to deal with that issue. Like me, he is a flawed individual, although we do things differently. So, although I don’t go out of my way to see him anymore, I let the ”issue” pass. In my heart, I love him as a person, and for the good times we shared. I’ve moved on. That’s all there is.

You have to make smart choices about friends and which ones are worth keeping. You’re not going to change them, so you either accept them as they are or move on. Sometimes, the choices are tough, but if you use your heart as a guide you’ll make the right decisions. And, you can still love them for the times you shared.

3. Romance – Love hurts. No matter how you look at it, we’ve all felt the pain of a broken heart.

The good news is that relationships are great teachers. The practice of opening our hearts is a great practice. I have loved and lost, loved and lusted, and simply loved. I most enjoy loving and lusting. The biggest challenge for most people when it comes to love is letting go. In retrospect, every time I got dumped turned into ultimate good fortune. I managed to avoid marriage until a few years ago, and I am glad I did.

My last long-term girlfriend dumped me. I suspect she was cheating on me with a colleague. She didn’t cop to it, but all the signs were there. They took unnecessary business trips together and then he and his wife, at the time, took us to a concert, and it felt weird. When the end came, I was at initially devastated. My heart did not want to let go. But, it was time, so I shed a tear or two and moved on. They got married and I dated like crazy before finally meeting my wife. Now I’m beyond grateful that all of this happened. I had my fun, got away from an unfulfilling relationship, and met the right person for me.

Looking back on all of my relationships, I can honestly say that at the time I loved all of these women and regardless of the dirty details of the break-ups, I harbor no negative feelings for them. In fact I love them as people and hope they are happy. We had our good times and I am grateful. It’s so much easier this way. After all, who wants to be in a relationship with someone who does not share the same feelings toward them? It’s easier to simply love.

4 . The Human Race – People do screwed-up, crazy, mean shit to each other every day.

It upsets me, especially the little stuff, because it is so unnecessary. Here's an example: I hire a plumber to replace my water heater. They do the job, but while at my place, promise to come back a replace a cartridge in my leaky faucet. Since he did not have one on the truck, the guy who did the work said he would come back in a few days, give me the plastic cartridge for free and charge me 15 minutes time to fix it. I’ve been calling the main office on a daily basis for over a week now to get this done. Unfortunately, I’m forced to deal with the same repressed, passive-aggressive person who always answers the phone. She keeps finding reasons for why the work has not been scheduled yet. “I told my boss”. ”He doesn’t come in to the office much”. “I gave her the message”. “We’re very busy right now”. She’s got a new excuse every time I call. And she never calls me back. It’s obvious that she has no interest in helping me. In fact, in her own strange way she’s getting off on exerting her minuscule bit of power in life by preventing me from having my faucet repaired. What can I do?

I decided to thank her internally for helping to teach myself how to control my temper and develop patience. I’m almost choking on my words, but I love her. I may feel like giving her a wedgie, but I realize that she has her own issues. I recognize that we both come from the same loving spark of God. And so, I will love her, no matter how difficult it feels. And, I’ll check out YouTube and most likely fix the faucet myself.

There’s so much more to love. For me, the key is to recognize that we all come from the same spark. It’s not up to us to decide who is worthy or not of love because we are all equally deserving. I know it can be a challenge, but love is why we are here. Learn how to love everyone.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is ex-Beatle, John Lennon, who so aptly said, “It matters not who you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love”.

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