On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness
I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it, and I’d like to have a chat with St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do. The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was his romantic legend a creation of Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this enigmatic man had been spun more times than a soggy towel around the dryer. Then a slew of corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, or jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced his “brand”. And since it’s a holiday we are now treated to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and that big red heart on their calendars.
What’s the one word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day?
Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you very clearly that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, making you feel less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, then you have to up your game and deliver the goods - big time. Women love flowers and chocolates, and like receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And although she’s digs jewelry, on February 14th it must be diamonds or gold, and it better sparkle. All men love seeing their woman dolled up in new lingerie, but if her outfit is really for him, who buys it for Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be unsettling. And he probably forgot what size she wears and does not want to make a mistake. You’ve seen guys wandering around the store checking out other women’s boobs trying to figure out if they could be the same size as his girlfriend’s. And trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl. Pressure.
So how do we get through this annual ordeal?
I have no clear answer. And to ratchet up my own personal helping of pressure, my wife’s birthday is on February 12th. I’m totally screwed. Okay, breathe. There’s hope. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is if they can rally the troops and muster up the moxie for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt out there. And when you hit the bars keep your eyes focused on those ladies on the lookout for some man-meat and off the hockey game playing on the big screen. If you’re a man who is in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something fresh. Buy her some well-deserved pampering at a top shelf spa or offer to cook her a romantic dinner. If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. K.I.S.S., as they say. Keep it simple, stupid! As for me, I might end up caulking the bathroom tile before taking her out to her favorite raw food restaurant. But, I’ll do that on her birthday. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.
Some say that for men, finding a willing sex partner has never been easier. But it’s not quite a glamorous as the media leads us to believe. After all, not every guy has six-pack abs, lots of bank and hooks up with a new hottie on Tinder every Friday night.
And although lot of young guys aspire to be a “Don Jon” style ladies man, many young bucks get sidetracked by porn, the ease of technology and watching too much sports. As a result, “hanging out” has become the new definition of dating. As a result many dudes think they have their swerve on, but are pretty limited when it comes to conversational skills and social élan. And that’s no way to discover real intimacy with a prospective partner. Enter your Guy’s Guy with a handful of tried and true tips that can help any guy show respect for his partner while getting his ticket punched along the way. And, trust me, if you follow these guidelines word will get around with the ladies that you are one righteous hombre. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when meeting a lady of high interest. Drum roll please.
1. She wants to go to bed with you.
Women are like banks that prequalify lenders. That doesn’t mean everyone gets the loan, but if she agrees to a date, you're in a good position. Stated another way, when a woman agrees to go out on an actual (not hanging out) date with a guy, chances are she’s already thought about having sex with him. Women pay attention and they think ahead. And they don’t like wasting time. At this point it’s up to the guy not to screw things up. But, in the majority of cases that’s exactly what happens. They find ways to drop the ball, and like rookie running backs, they end up on the sidelines, hoping and waiting for their number to get called again. Keep this in mind and you are on a fast track to success.
2. Date like a Guy’s Guy.
Although she’s fitter than you and capable of tapping you out with an arm bar, today's women pine for men to treat them like ladies. That means being a gentlemen and asking her (not texting her) out by phone, or better yet, in person. That also means having a plan in mind that matches her interests. That requires some active listening on your part. She mentioned loving sushi? Need I say more about where to take her on that first real date?
When you greet her, tell her she looks pretty. Put the damn phone down and pay attention to her during dinner. Pick up the tab. Afterwards, hail a cab for her. If things go well and she invites you back to her place, good for you. That said, play it cool and don’t push her. She will let you know how you are doing, but don’t expect the whole enchilada on the first night (more to come on that). Read the signals and know when to go home. On the way home or the next day send her a thank you text. Tell her you had a great time and would like to see her again. Then follow up. That’s all, my friend.
3. Be patient, be creative.
Good things come to those who wait and improvise. Quick story... One summer a few years back I connected with a hottie on Match. She had curves, piercing black eyes and legs to die for. Oh, I wanted her badly. The first time we met, we shared coffee at a café in the East Village. That was it. She knew she was smoking hot and I was unsure she wanted to see me again. That week I asked her out again and we met for a casual dinner. Following a late night drink she gave me a quick “goodnight” peck on the cheek. My balls ached the entire cab ride home. We met for drinks again that week with the same conclusion. Grrr.
I needed to try something different. I asked her to join me at a Fourth of July parade in the little seaside town where I have a small beach house. On a star-spangled sunny morning we stood side by side taking in the colorful wholesome, real Americana event. She was originally from Taiwan and I noticed how her eyes light up during the parade. She was totally into the pageantry. Afterwards I suggested we stop at my place for a soft drink. As we looked out at the sea I slipped my arms around her and leaned in for a kiss. She accepted my lips eagerly and a few minutes later we were rumpling my sheets like tigers in heat. Patience and creativity had paid off.
4. Clean up your crib.
I’ll keep this short. Women appreciate a guy with clean sheets and a clean bathroom. I’ve lived in a few dumps in my day and have not always followed this rule. And on occasion I’m sure it prevented me from sealing the deal. Over time I learned that when your place sparkles, you have a much better shot at making hay with a lady. Case closed.
5. A little romance goes a long way.
The women I know really appreciate when a guy does something thoughtful. A bouquet of flowers (no special occasion required), a bottle of her favorite wine, and cooking her dinner can go a long way in sparking a woman’s interest in pleasing a guy. Think about it… And do it because you want to please her, not just for the reward.
6. Be appreciative and take care of her needs.
It took me awhile to get this one straight, but once I saw the light, my love life and sex life really took off. As a guy I know how desperate we can get when we want to get off. But there is a big difference between getting off and making love. You can get off by yourself. You need a special lady to make love. And if you take care of her needs first and consistently, she’ll probably give you get everything you’ve dreamt about.
There’s more, lots more where that came from, but let’s put a wrap on this for now. A few insightful nuggets can go a long way in the evolution of a horn dog guy to a mature loving man.
With the multitude of dating sites and coaches available, if you’ve got a pulse and can clean up nice, you’ll get a date.
And every so often one of those dates turns into a relationship. That’s where things get tricky. We spend so much time focused on dating that many of us are not prepared to address the slippery slope of a partnership and how to make it work.
Enter Guy’s Guy. I’ve been there and done that by way of many dates, a few educational long-term relationships, and a marriage that’s going on five years. Along the way, and as my partners would aptly point out, I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. But I’ve learned, and in most cases I learned the hard way. And each time I got knocked on my butt, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again. Now I’ve got a partner who is my friend, lover, and teacher. With that in mind, here are my building blocks for maintaining a successful relationship.
1. Pay attention.
If you’re a guy, you probably suck at this. Women pay attention to everything, at times to the point of madness. But ultimately, paying attention is a good thing. We’re all super busy and focused on ourselves. I get it. But if we want to succeed in love, we need to see it as a two way street and behave in a respectful manner to our partner. That means always checking in with them on a regular basis. A simple, “How was your day?” is a good start. And mean it. And listen to what she says without feeling that you have to solve all of her problems for her. Just listen.
That’s a good start, but it’s not that simple. If you are guy in a relationship eventually you will get called on your shit. Let’s say your partner points out your selfishness too often, and it bugs you. But maybe she has a point. And maybe the reason she told you is she thinks you’re worth the trouble. If she didn’t care, she’d bide her time before dumping you. Most guys have been blindsided and dumped, and many times they don’t know why. This is why. So don’t take her criticism personally. She’s paying attention and she cares about the relationship. But, don’t think you can point out all of her peccadilloes in the same way. She’s already well aware of them. That’s because she pays attention.
2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
If you’re female, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of constantly criticizing your partner’s faults. He probably doesn’t pay attention enough and as a result is prone to repeating his mistakes. But I’ll bet he’s trying. So lighten up if you can. If you believe in your relationship and your partner, it’s paramount to take a deep breath before going on the offensive. Ask him what he was thinking when he does something that defies logic. Like, when he took the bed apart and left all the pieces on the floor and then went out for two hours. Maybe he went to the hardware store to buy new bolts. Whatever. Just give him an opportunity to explain and you might be surprised by his response. If you value your relationship, listen before pointing your finger.
3. Share values.
Long lasting relationships are usually built on a foundation of shared values. That means how both of you view the world and the people who inhabit it. Yes, opposites attract and can provide a nice counterbalance personality-wise, but when it comes to values, it helps if you are seeing the picture through a similar lens. How you view people, friends, family, and even money are important factors to consider when wading into deeper relationships waters.
Let’s take money. When one partner is a free spender and comfortable with debt, how does it impact their partner if he or she comes from the school of “if I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it”? Problems can quickly ensue and many times divergent money values cause irreconcilable harm to a relationship. Think about your successful and failed relationships and I’m sure you’ll see a pattern between longer-term compatibility and shared values. When values match up, there is a much better chance for success. Think about it.
4. Keep the lines of communication open.
When you are in committed relationship there will be times when no one feels like talking. Maybe one partner has become resentful while the other has no idea about those feelings. Eventually the repressed toxins build up and explode. Things are said. Feelings are hurt. Damage is done. If only you knew how he or she felt. But, that’s how many relationships fail. If this sounds familiar, remember, no one can read your mind. If there is something bothering you, discuss it. If you hold your feelings in and suffer silently, your relationship is at risk. Always maintain a healthy dialogue.
5. Always be dating.
It’s easy to take our relationships for granted. Over time, the thrill of new love evolves. This can actually be a good thing. Sure, you want the sight of your partner to be a source of joy and you want the sex to get better and better. It can, although there will have to be some adjustments. The key is keeping things fresh, like when you started dating. And that means never taking your lover for granted. I’ve been married for a few years now and I’ve learned that nothing is a sure thing, even a marriage. You have to constantly learn about your partner and up your game if you want to keep them happy with the direction of the relationship. Nowadays, people don’t settle. Not in life, not in jobs, not in marriage. We want what we want, and that’s not a bad thing. The key to keeping things fresh is romancing your partner. Little surprises, lots of love and affection, and a genuine smile when you see their face are all recommended. I know it’s not that easy, but if you keep this in mind, I’m sure you’ll stay ahead of the game.
There is more, lots more when it comes to keeping a relationship rolling, but the bottom line is to respect yourself, your partner, and your relationship. It all flows from there. What you decide to do is your business, but please keep love in mind whenever you are thinking about your relationship. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
This week's Guy's Guy and Gal of the Week are Serge and Carole Manni, my folks, who have been married for 64 years.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
When it comes to dating, truer words have never been spoken. First dates can be exhilarating, anxiety-driven, fun-filled or disastrous affairs. We’ve all been there and we’ve all had some successes and a few massive fails. That’s part of the reason we keep coming back for more—you just never know what’s in that box of chocolates, Forrest. Whether you’re a guy or a lady, there are a number of ways not punch your ticket and move on to the promised land—the second date. Assuming that there’s enough chemistry to make the initial connection, here is my Guy’s Guy list of first date pitfalls to avoid in order to make it to the second date.
Don’t show up late.
A Guy’s Guy shows up first. He never leaves a lady he’s interested in sitting alone at the bar all dressed up, nursing a cocktail. It’s rude, it’s just plain dumb and it’s an invitation for other men to move in on your turf. If you’re a lady, it’s fine to show up to fifteen minutes beyond the anointed time. Anything later and you risk the same fate as the aforementioned guy.
Don’t drink too much.
Alcohol can be a great social lubricant, especially following a hard day at work. A glass of wine, a craft beer, or a cocktail are all fun choices. If the conversation’s flowing and you can handle your booze, it’s okay to call for a refill. But after two drinks, things can go downhill quickly. It’s way too early to start sharing details of your sex life or personal history. One time, on a particularly memorable first date, after two drinks the woman professed her love for oral sex. Take one guess what was on my mind for the remainder of the evening. Yeah. You get the picture.
Have an exit strategy.
Let’s say you finally meet the guy who sent those snappy text messages and he’s less than charming in person. The lack of sparkles prompts you to hatch your escape plan, but it’s if not easy because he’s a nervous chatterbox who won’t shut up. So you make up a lie about having an interview the next morning while reaching for your bag. Awkward. It’s much better to lay the groundwork at the beginning of the date by telling him that you can only stay for one drink. This way you’re having a great time and decide to hang out, he’s going to feel like he’s the man who convinced you to change your plans. Everybody wins.
Don’t talk about your ex.
If you want to start things off on the right foot, avoid droning on about your failed relationships. This goes for guys and gals—nobody you’ve just met wants to hear the gory details of your past. Keep it light and find things to discuss that are all about the “now”. It’s all that matters anyway.
Don’t have sex with him/her.
A Guy’s Guy believes that when it comes to sex, all decisions should always be in the hands of two consenting adults. It’ll happen when it happens. Ladies: it’s perfectly fine to leave something for the imagination, or maybe even the next date. Guys: please demonstrate self-control on that first date. The woman will notice and she’ll secretly thank you for being a gentleman.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. With a little planning, mindfulness and common sense, you can have a great time on that first date and maybe even turn it into the first step of a new relationship. Good luck.
Think you can make it through that first date like a pro?
How many times have you told a friend or colleague something of importance only to see their eyes glaze over while you pour your heart out?
Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s them. But we’ve all been “them”. What I mean is, our crazy world and its demands set our minds on overdrive for most of the day. So unfortunately when someone is speaking to us, many times we’re either thinking of our response or what we want for lunch or that we have to pick up the dry cleaning or sex. It’s a sign of the times. Too often people talk at each other. If you don’t believe me, next time you are sitting alone, fiddling with your Samsung Galaxy, eavesdrop on those people at the adjacent table or seated close by on the train. You’ll probably hear one person dominating what is supposed to be a conversation, but is really a download. That fact is, life is tough and we all need to be heard.
But take heed. It doesn’t have to be this way. You, yes, you, can turn one of these verbal dumping sessions into a positive experience. It takes a little work, but it can be done. Here are my Guy’s Guy tips for active listening. We’ll use the example of two BFF’s here, but the template works in business, also.
1. Take a deep breath.
Let’s say your bestie has just lost her job or she’s having major love issues with her partner. She probably wants someone to hear her out and empathize with her struggle. She may or may not want your suggestions right now. She simply needs to hurl and you're within range, so you need to prepare yourself. Remember, we all face trouble at one time or another and it is helpful to tell them to a friend. Inhale, exhale, and get hip to the situation. It’s your time to listen.
2. Shut up.
Now that you know what the conversation is all about, you want to clam up and hear her out. If you feel it is necessary to slow her down or if you need a break, ask her something like, “so how do you feel about that?” This may get hear thinking about how to fix her problem. The same holds true in business, especially a service business. You need to find out where the pain points are before you can add value and sell a client a solution. So, do your best to keep your lips zipped and let the other person have their say before adding your two cents. It’s part of being a friend or a good business partner.
3. Think about what she is saying.
That’s code for actively listening instead of tuning out or thinking about that cute guy with the long fingers in your yoga class who reminds you of Daniel Day-Lewis. The reality is that your friend is confiding in you for a reason. She needs someone to talk to, and more importantly, she thinks highly enough of you to give you with the honor of dumping her data on you. So be the good friend you signed up to be and deploy some psychic energy so that you can help her out.
4. Ask what she’s going to do.
This will also get her thinking about solutions or what she needs. This is also a good time to ask her if she wants your point of view. If she agrees, you might start out with questions that crystallize the issue what she wants to get out of it.
Let’s say she lost her job and she’s on a rant about her a-hole boss who pushed her out. Maybe ask what would bring her the most joy career wise and the type of work would make her happy. Just your asking her this question may help her realize that she never really liked being in advertising and that she’s always wanted to open up a flower shop.
5. Ask how you can help.
This is what friends do. This is also what smart people in business do. They look for ways to be of service to their friends, colleagues and clients. Yes, I know business always comes down to making money, but business is conducted between people, so you’ve got to sharpen those people skills to get ahead, and better yet, to be of service.
At some point you’ll be the one who needs a shoulder to lean on, so be generous and sympathetic when someone starts downloading on you. Of course if their M. O. is to do this every time you get together, then you might not want to hang with them. Unfortunately, when this happens in business, you’ll either need to suck it up, or find a new client.
Are you a good listener?
This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the people who work in retail or the customer service field. They listen to people’s problems all day. They probably need someone to talk to when they get off work.
It’s the best of times and the worst of times.
The preponderance of technology into modern life has pulled the world closer together while at the same time creating more separation. Dating is a prime example of this technological fall out with both men and women paying a price. So let’s take a quick look at how technology and social media have enabled dating and also made it more challenging to find mate.
The good stuff.
Hooray for online dating. Everyone is busy and people don’t have the time to troll the bars and clubs to find their mate. Women can hang with their BFF’s while occasionally checking their phones for the next group of guys who reach out and tell them they’re hot. And dudes can score dates with hot women while sitting at home in their tighty whiteys. Dating online is fast, empowering and fun. If you’re a guy, all you need is spell check, a photo with your shirt on and the patience to mindfully read woman’s person’s profile. After a short message or email you exchange digits and you’re off and running.
When you get together everything can change quickly. But so what if there aren’t any sparks? When you meet online, you can end it with one keystroke— delete. It’s generally considered that people we meet online are disposal and replaceable. That’s not necessarily fair, but it’s how the game is played. So if you can check your feelings at the door, you have a shot at finding a match. And millions do every day. My wife likes to say that she found me online and there are so many others who have found their soul mate online.
Things to keep in mind.
Not everyone has a thick skin and can deal with the cut and dry aspects of online dating. So we need to remind ourselves that there is a human being with real feelings and emotions person behind their online persona. Just because you met online doesn’t make he or she less deserving of your respect. Keep your standards high and don’t forget the words— please, excuse me, and thank you. And if she’s interested and it’s not a match at least let her know that there were no sparkles if she asks.
Another consideration is that, an itchy trigger finger on that delete button could prevent you from getting to know someone who is worth a little extra effort. Not everyone is consistently at the top of his or her game when flirting online or during that first meet up. That’s not to suggest that you waste your time on an obviously bad fit. But if you think about some of your best friends or lovers, did those relationships always begin under the best circumstances?
Between Facebook, Twitter and Tinder we live in an age of maximum exposure. And once something finds its way online, it’s there forever. Keep that in mind next time you think it’s acceptable to sext pics of your junk to a lady or before you take that selfie while drinking from that bottle of chocolate whipped cream vodka. These might not be images you want to share with a prospective mate or potential employer.
Technology and social media can be a dater’s best friend or worst enemy. Always remember that dating is a face-to-face activity. Keep it real, amigo.
This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is any dude who picks up the phone and asks a woman out instead of hitting her up by text to see if she wants to hang out.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
Every day, month and year guys make the same basic errors in their efforts to woo a woman. With the advent of more and more technology, sometimes guys don’t even have to speak with a woman before “hanging out” with her in the hopes of getting some you know what. It’s a sad state of affairs that I felt compelled to tackle this post, but a Guy’s Guy does what’s necessary in the service of his fellow men and women. Because in a Guy’s Guy world, men and women win when they can both be at their best. So listen up fellas, and ladies, let me know how you feel about these five basic rules for men who are dating.
You treat your best buds right. You split the last beer in the six- pack. You spring for the pizza delivered to your crib during the game. But when it comes to women, you send them photos of your junk when you need a booty call. Not good. A rule of thumb is to treat the woman you are with, whether she is your girlfriend or someone you just met, with the same courtesy, generosity and respect that you do to your very best male friend. She is a person, and an equal, who in most ways is just like you. And in most cases she’ll start off on her best foot by putting your needs before hers. Now of course not every woman fits this bill, but the women you want to be with do.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, pick up the phone and give her a call. It doesn’t matter if you’re set up a time to get together or confirming the location of your date. Notice, I said date, not hanging out. Women like hanging out, but they want to date a real man. So take a break from all the texting and call her. If your call goes to voicemail, leave a message. Don’t hang up assuming she’ll see your number and call back. And whatever it was that you wanted to talk about, make sure you tell her that you wanted to hear her voice. And if that’s not the case, why the hell are you seeing her anyway?
Be On Time.
See point one. Being on time is a sign of respect. Being late without a damn good excuse means that her time is not as valuable as yours. Women know this and do not like it when guys leave them sitting and waiting alone at a crowded bar or restaurant. If you make a habit of being late for your lady, other guys’ll hit her on, and eventually she’ll consider the dudes who have their game on. That brings us to our next point.
Never Take A Woman For Granted.
So she really digs you and you’ve rumpled the sheets with her in every position imaginable. That does not mean she should be taken lightly or for granted. In fact, you should be treat her even better for all the things she’s done for you in and out of bed. This is an easy trap to fall into. I’ve been there myself a few times before being dumped, and deservingly so.
Let Freedom Ring.
Being possessive or controlling is a sign of insecurity. Too many guys get their hackles up when another male takes a look at, or God forbid, says something to the women they’re with. Hey, I do not condone hitting on someone else’s date, but let’s keep things light and friendly. Not every guy is looking to jump your lady’s bones. And if you are that concerned about it, what do you do when she’s at work or out with her friends? My advice is to be confident and secure in that she chose you. Now it’s up to you to keep her interested and not screw things up.
The list of dating tips for guys goes on and on. Frankly, I’m just getting warmed up. If you take one thing away from this pointed rant it’s to treat others the way you want to be treated. And when it comes to a woman, treat her twice as well as you treat yourself. You’ll get lots of dates and the word will get around that you’re a guy who “gets it”.
Are you taking care of the basics when getting your dating game on?
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