Archive for July, 2009

For the Guys

Some of my male readers began to give me strange looks after my last post, and I certainly do not want the other half of the population to feel neglected. Guys, here are some first date suggestions for you. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

1. Be confident: Women are very attracted to confident (not cocky) men. If you struggle with self-esteem, get some counseling. Learn your strengths. You are unique and have a lot to offer. Your problem is not so much your shortcomings (everyone has them) as your lack of confidence in your strengths.

2. Pursue her: Make the first move. Then allow her a counter-move. Do not wait for her to show interest in you before you pursue her. Yes, this is more risky for you because you may be rejected, but you are a man, and women love when a man is willing to take a risk that protects her heart. Once you ask her out, allow her the option of saying yes or no. If she says no, respect her boundaries. Do not try to act like her friend and wait around until she changes her mind. You will be relegated to the dreaded friend zone in her eyes. And she will end up feeling obligated and resentful because you are acting like her friend when you really want something else. Trust me, this will never get you the girl. Move on to someone who is into you. If she says yes, then it is up to you to make the next move again.

3. Take her somewhere unique: No girl gets excited about going to Chili’s on a first date. Dinner dates are cliche, and many women will be highly impressed if you come up with a more unusual date idea: the art museum, trivia, botanical gardens, or a concert. Planning these sorts of dates shows that you are willing to put in effort and that you want her to feel special. Though dinner is not my personal preference for a first date, going out to dinner is fine as long as you select a restaurant with character and originality.

4. Offer two options: You want to appear confident and assertive, yet you want her to feel that you care about her interests and opinions. When you offer two options, you are able to exhibit both decisiveness and concern for her. Come up with two date ideas, and offer her a choice: “comedy or drama?” will let you know what type of movie she likes. Have two picked out before you ask, or you will end up asking her more questions and thereby appear indecisive. If you’ve picked out two lovely restaurants, ask her if she prefers “Thai or Parisian?” Offer her two days of the week: “Are you free on Thursday or Saturday?”

5. Do not feed her lines: Women can smell insincerity a mile away, though we are often too gracious to call you on it. Be advised that we will share it with our girlfriends via phone or text the minute we go to the restroom to “freshen up.” Be genuine and compliment her if you like, as women appreciate encouragement, but if you give all women the same cheesy pick up lines (“Was that an earthquake or did you just rock my world?”), she may pretend to be flattered, but she will see right through your pretense and lose respect for you. Specific compliments (“I love that dress on you. The blue really makes your eyes sparkle.”) are better than general ones (“You look nice.”).

6. Physical touch: Guys have asked me if they should kiss a girl on a first date. You want her to know you are interested (again, avoid the repugnant friend zone), yet you do not want to come on too strong. Some women will be more forward than others. I recommend using physical touch in other ways on a first date: touch her back, her shoulder, or hold her hand. Protect her heart by waiting to kiss her until you are sure you want to date her for a while. A kiss to a woman means emotional involvement, so try to respect that fact. If it feels right, go for it, but just remember that kissing means something different to a woman than it does to a man. My Christian readers will have a different take on this issue than my non-Christian readers.

7. Do not go after a woman who is involved with another guy: It sounds self-evident, but I see it all the time. Guys get interested in a woman who is involved with a jerk, and they think they can rescue her. All you will do by befriending her is become her friend. By pursuing her, you will make her feel suffocated and disrespected. She is not available for you, so leave her alone.

8. Call her: If you are interested in her after your date, call her within a couple of days. Do not wait for her to pursue you. Be a man and pick up the phone. By doing so, you are exhibiting confidence, decisiveness, assertiveness, and respect. These are all qualities that women find very attractive.

9. Do not later ask her for information about her single friends: If it does not work out between the two of you, do not ask her if her dark-haired friend is single. Surely you can meet women in other ways, or at the least, find out from another source if said femme is unattached. I know it sounds obvious, but this happened to me recently. It just makes you come across as immature.

Good luck with your love life. Let me know how it goes.

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First Date Rules

In a few short days, a dear friend of mine has a first date with a new guy she met online. She says that she hates playing The Game and wants to Just Be Herself, but unfortunately, many women tend to make some basic first date faux pas. I am certainly not a relationship expert, but I have imparted a list of guidelines for my friend that are helpful for first dates.

I do believe you should be authentic. Do not be deliberately elusive or dishonest. However, you do not want to give him all of you on a first date. You want to guard your precious heart from becoming involved too quickly, and you want him to be intrigued by you so that he will want to know you better.

1. Be confident: Let’s face it, even the most beautiful women loathe aspects of their appearance. But on a first date, do not say anything self-deprecating. If you are not secure and confident, try pretending that you are. Act as if you believe you are a worthwhile person who feels competent and attractive.

2. Be mysterious: Focus on the present, and do not delve into past relationships, especially relationship failures or who did what to whom. If asked directly, give a brief and casual reply, but keep the focus of the conversation on your life in the present. You want to keep a man curious about you, and you want to guard your heart. When he asks you questions about your inner being, it is tempting to open up to him and spill your whole life story, but once he knows all about you, he will be bored and you will wonder why he never calls again. If the relationship progresses, you will have plenty of time for him to get to know you.

3. Remember you are doing him a favor: This rule goes along with having confidence. Go on the date with a mindset that he gets to experience the pleasure of your company. If you feel like he is doing you a favor by taking you out, you may need to work on your self-esteem a bit. Most women struggle with self-esteem, but most women have many awesome qualities. Focus on those good qualities. He asked you out for a reason.

4. Do not offer your phone number or email unless asked directly: If he does not already have your contact information, do not offer it freely. Make him work for it. The way cognitive dissonance works is that thinking changes to match behavior. If he has to make effort and actively pursue you, he will value you more.

5. End the date first: You want to leave him wanting more, so try to be the one to conclude the date. When the dinner or activity is over, tell him it is time for you to go. You do not have to give a reason or flimsy excuse. It is simply time for the date to end. You may feel like you want to spend five more hours staring into his eyes and telling him your deepest feelings, but again, you want to maintain an air of mystery. Make him work to get to know you. Leave him curious and he will call you again.

6. Do not mention your future with him: At the conclusion of the date, do not say that you will talk to him soon or see him again. These are his lines. If he asks you directly if you would like to go out again, you may say yes if you are interested. Otherwise, you may simply thank him for the date and leave it at that.

7. Do not contact him after the date: Do not follow up with him via email, text, phone call, my space, or facebook. Pursuing you and being the leader of the relationship is his job. Do not take his responsibility away from him. Over the hours and days following the date, you will likely convince yourself to just send him a quick note to thank him and surreptitiously remind him that you exist and are interested, but refrain from it. If he is interested in you, he will contact you.

8. Keep it short: When he does contact you to set up a second date, keep the conversation short, around five minutes long. Again, you will leave him wanting more, and he will pursue you harder. Act pleasant, do not ask him what he has been doing all week (you know you just want to see why he did not call you sooner, but let it go), and let him lead the conversation. If he does not contact you, do not worry or take it personally. Perhaps he has other women or obligations in his life, or maybe he simply is not right for you.

Buyer Beware Part II

When I was a teen, I longed for my mom to instill wisdom and advice about dating, cosmetics, fashion, and life. Sadly, she was not able to impart any such advice, likely becuase she simply did not have the knowledge to give. And perhaps I did not know how to articulate my needs to her.

So, my life has been a constant quest of trial and error to figure out what works.

As for dating, romantic relationships are surely my Achilles heel. While I have the ability to discern other people’s relational issues with clarity, and while I am highly insightful about others’ relationships, I feel inept when it comes to my own. I wonder why the knowledge and self-confidence that serve me so well in other facets of my life seem to fail me when it comes to my own interpersonal (mis)adventures with men.

On the other hand, I have found a few things in life that work. It is not much, but it is something.

1. Women’s Ultra Mega Vitamins by GNC: I am a vegetarian, so I like to supplement my diet with extra vitamins. I take one or two vitamins every day, and these are the best I have found. When I switch to another brand, I feel lethargic, and when I switch back to the GNC brand, I feel energetic and healthy. I buy the kind without iron, as it can mess with my digestive system. A bottle of 180 caplets, which lasts 6 months if you take one per day, is $33.

2. Time Wise Age Fighting Moisturizer by Mary Kay: I am very skeptical of more expensive brands, as many of them are not superior to generic brands. I am picky about what I put on my face as I have sensitive skin and tend to break out easily. My old roommate is a Mary Kay sales rep, and while she never pushed the products on me, she does have amazing skin. This lotion makes my skin smooth and soft, and not oily at all. Even though I tend to have dry skin, I choose the combination to oily skin version of this lotion. I did break out a bit during the first week of use, but my roommate told me that any time you switch moisturizers, the impurities in your skin will come out. I have not had any problems since, and I love the way my skin looks and feels. A 3 oz. bottle is $22.

3. Time Wise Firming Eye Cream by Mary Kay: This product is by far the best eye cream I have tried. The skin under my eyes used to be dark and puffy, and I always felt self-conscious about it. Since using this eye cream, I have no puffyness and very little darkness under my eyes. I wish my mom had told me as a teenager to use eye cream every night, as it truly does make a difference, especially when used long-term. I know two women in their forties who have used eye cream since they were teens, and the skin under their eyes looks so youthful and smooth. You are never too young to use moisturizer and eye cream. This product is much higher quality than drugstore brands, yet it is not quite as pricey as what you can buy at Sephora. A 0.5 ounce bottle costs $30.

Buyer Beware Part I

I have never been one to jump on the bandwagon of popular thought and trends. As an INTJ (Myers-Briggs personality), authority based on rank or title has no weight with me. I do not often succumb to slogans or sales pitches. If an idea or position makes sense to me, it will be adopted; if it does not make sense, it will not be adopted, regardless of who generated the idea. Authority per se does not impress me, though I highly respect people when it is earned.

I am fascinated by psychology and have studied it most of my life. I am particularly interested in marketing ploys that advertisers use to sell products.

Since I eschew product hype and branding, I am reluctant to advertise products to my friends and acquaintances. On the other hand, it is difficult to ascertain which products are truly beneficial, because marketers would have you believe that everything is dazzling, spectacular, and has fewer calories. I appreciate when a friend or fellow blogger passes on useful suggestions about great products. Hence, I will share some products that I enjoy.

1. Charlie’s Soap: This laundry detergent is non-toxic, biodegradable, and makes clothes smell truly fresh and clean, not just cloyingly perfumed. I have a hard time finding laundry detergent that will effectively clean my sweaty workout clothes, but this detergent is wonderful. I purchased a gallon jug (good for 128 loads) at Whole Foods for $18.

2. Amazing Concealer by Amazing Cosmetics: The skin under my eyes is dark, but this concealer covers it perfectly. It is smooth and not drying, thick but not clumpy, it brightens the eye area and does not cake or cause breakouts. It blends nicely and looks natural. It is moderately pricey at $42, but I use it every day and one tube has lasted nearly a year.

3. bare Minerals foundation by Bare Escentuals: My face is a bit dry and breaks out easily, so I am very particular about what I put on it. This mineral foundation gives me an even, bright, healthy skin tone. Bare Minerals feels weightless but provides good coverage, it is not drying or oily, it does not exacerbate my sensitive skin, and people remark that I do not appear to be wearing makeup. I enjoy all the Bare Escentuals products but I highly recommend the foundation at $25 per jar.

More to come.