Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Be prepared

Dating is anxiety-provoking, exciting, common, and individualistic as well as potentially straightforward and simple. The best way to have a good time dating — not just on a date, but throughout the whole process — is to be relatively sane and happy before you begin. Notice, I did not focus on any particular date because you have surprisingly little control over that. After all, there is another person involved and lots of imponderables. I don’t say this to scare you, only to prepare you for what you already know in other situations:
Life is full of surprises, and even with great preparation, things can go wrong, and sometimes, with absolutely no preparation at all, things can go astonishingly well.
The point is not to throw up your hands in frustration, but to realize you do the best you can with what you’ve got and be prepared to go with the flow a bit, which gets us back to my first point: your initial state of mind and welfare. The happier you are, the more ready you are to date. If your life feels terrific, but you’d just love to have a special someone with whom to share it — in other words, if your motivation is more focused whimsy than desperate need — you’re prime dating material. If you’re unutterably lonesome, desperate, miserable, or need cheering up, this section is definitely for you. I’m gonna get you in shape to date. Just as an athlete prepares for an important event or the opening of the season, I’m going to coach you about how to prepare yourself to Don’t go there, even if you’re tempted, even if it seems logical; the disaster is predictable.

False Confidence

Just a word here about false confidence, the kind you purchase with alcohol or some other chemical. Don’t do it. You can’t gain confidence through some substance. It wears off, you get hung over, and it’s absolutely obvious in the worst kind of way. You may think you appear confident, but everyone else just thinks you’re drunk, high, a jerk, or all of the above. Think about how uncool you notice some people to be when you’re the designated driver —stone cold sober — and they’re three sheets to the wind. ’Nuff said. When I’m talking confidence, I’m talking the real McCoy that comes from knowing and trusting yourself, knowing that you’re not perfect but trusting that you’ll do the best you can with what you’ve got.

The secret to sex appeal

Think of the sexiest person you know. My guess is that if you take the person apart feature by feature, they may not be as good-looking as others you know with more perfect features but less √©lan (a cool French word for confidence, style, and poise). In any country but ours, people think of older women as incredibly sexy because they’ve come into their own and accepted themselves. Sex appeal is confidence, the ability not to ask anything of another but a willingness to offer yourself. What can be sexier?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

When you’re confident enough to date

Nobody feels sure about every part of his life, and all of us feel most insecure about dealing with the opposite sex because we feel vulnerable and really want things to go well. So don’t put off dating until you feel really, really sure of yourself, because you’ll find that, by then, you’re 90 years old. Just try to bolster your confidence enough so that you’re not whiny or so incredibly needy that you’re falling apart Sweaty palms and dry mouth and a bit of anxiety are okay. You want to know how much anxiety is okay and how much is too much, right? Not an unreasonable request since dating really can drain the confidence banks. If you’re feeling really rocky on your feet, stabilize before you venture forth. Don’t wait till everything is ducky, although ducky times are the very best times to get yourself out there. Clinging to someone for dear life isn’t sexy or stable enough to work for any length of time, and the only people you’ll attract in times of trouble are control freaks who really want and need to call all the shots. Also, don’t look for a parent figure or someone as a crutch to lean on when you’re starting the dating game, or you will find that dating is not at all fun and not a game but a desperate bid for survival. You’re ready to date if
  • You’ve got a stable place to live and a way to make a living.
  • You have a reasonably good working relationship with your parents (okay, so long as you’re not at war; a cease fire is good enough).
  • You have a friend or two hanging about.
  • You know how to make yourself reasonably happy.
  • You’d really like some tension and aggravation and excitement and fun and worry and uncertainty in your life.
If you can answer yes to the preceding conditions, well, bunkie, sounds like you’re ready. If you haven’t passed muster in any of the preceding, it’s time to work on your life and put off dating temporarily. If nothing else, having accomplished these things will give you a nearly giddy sense of confidence, and that’s not only the name of this chapter, but the name of the game.

Confidence builders

This post gives you some ideas about how you can go about building your confidence..

  • Catalog traits you like about yourself. Start with a pencil and paper and write down the things you like best about yourself. Be specific: No sentences like “I’m really a nice person”. What does that mean? It may mean that you’re really good to animals, handle a calculator like you were born with it in your hand, make a mean burrito for your friends, have a great singing voice, or always clean your plate. So if you mean that you don’t fly off the handle every time something goes wrong, write that. The more specific the items, the better for confidence building.
  • Help someone else. The ability to do something for someone else builds confidence because not only does the person you help say thank you and appreciate what you did for him, but he appreciates you in the process. So if you feel your confidence is a bit too soggy for serious interaction with the opposite sex, do someone a favor, find a volunteer activity, or deal with kids (so you can feel more powerful). The other terrific advantage of volunteer work is that you’re not locked in: You can feel good quickly and not feel like you have to stay doing something forever. Keeping some do-good stuff in your life is a way to be connected and keep a balance in your life, as well as maintain good feelings about yourself and the world at large.
  • Try a challenging activity. Try doing something you didn’t think you could do. Even if you don’t do a great job, you’ll feel much better about yourself when you try something really difficult. Even succeeding at something easy often doesn’t feel as good as attempting something hard. And if you succeed at the hard stuff? Well, gangbusters! It is actually okay to feel a sense of accomplishment by doing something you know you can do. It’s a good start for confidence. Just as feelings of incompetence seem to spread, so, too, can the more positive feelings. So get out there and get started.

Square breathing

One of the ways to calm yourself when things seem scary is to understand that our bodies are machines that were designed when our brains were smaller and our reflexes had to be quicker. Our lives are testimony to those of our ancestors who possessed quick reflexes; slower folk didn’t live long enough to pass their genes along. Breathing is the key to calmness. The fight or flight response — our age-old response to real or imagined threat — depends on delivering oxygen quickly and efficiently to muscles that need to be ready for action. During this adrenaline rush, your heart rate increases, the passageways to your lungs streamline, your blood vessels redirect blood supply, and you begin to sweat. Real or perceived danger (anxiety) throws the body into overdrive, literally. Calming the breathing slows everything down.
Ordinarily, we parallel breath, in and out. To enter into a more relaxed state, practice square breathing, which is inhaling to the count of four, holding to the count of four, exhaling to the count of four, and holding for four. With practice, you can increase the intervals and slow things down even more. Not only is square breathing good for confidence building, but it’s also good for relaxation, talking to the boss about a raise, preparing for a speech, and — ta-da! — going out on a date.

Confidence on the outside

To begin on the outside, you can develop a sense of personal style — knowing what looks good on you, your own personal statement, the attention to detail that sets you apart. Regardless of your age or economic circumstances or bone structure, you can make a statement that makes you feel good about yourself, and that is the best accessory you can have whether you’re looking for a job or a loan or a date. A fun and easy way to develop a sense of personal style is to liven up your wardrobe with clothing and accessories that accentuate the traits you like best.
If you’re not sure what becomes you, take a trusted friend to a dressing room or have someone whose style you admire go with you (of course, don’t try to copy someone else’s style, but if your friend has an eye for what looks good, he or she can probably help you). Public dressing rooms are also great places to ask strangers whether they think a style looks good on you. Strangers are often brutally frank and even make suggestions. You can also ask a salesperson, but be a little careful about trusting someone who’s working on commission. The good ones are honest, but knowing which clerks to trust is hard if you haven’t shopped much at a particular store.
If you’re feeling a bit scared about trying something new, shop at a resale or discount store. These places often allow you to get more bang for your buck. Don’t spend a fortune, but be willing to experiment a bit. You don’t have to do anything drastic to find a new look. If your wardrobe consists of dark, sober colors, try livening things up with a bright blouse or scarf or striped shirt or tie; if your idea of casual wear is limited to jeans and concert T-shirts, consider getting a pair of khakis and a shirt that can be worn with or without a tie. Look through a magazine and see what look may work for you. Trust your mirror:
Which clothes do you already own that are most you-ish and most flattering? In general, wear something you like and know you look good in for a first date instead of something very different from the real you or something brand new that might pinch or fall apart or chafe. Your lucky dress or tie or color is a better choice for a first date than that brand spanking new bolero jacket you bought because you thought it looked good on Zorro or the Jacksons (either Michael, Janet, or Andrew). Also, beware especially of new shoes. They can literally cramp your style faster than anything I know. It’s hard to stride confidently into a room if you have a gigantic blister on your heel or your toes are folded back onto each other like an accordion. Clothes should be comfortable. Wearing something that looks good but feels lousy (a tootight waistband or collar) is distracting and worrisome and unproductive. How you conduct yourself has a big impact on how other people act around you. Think about someone who’s really fun to be around. Usually that person makes you comfortable because he or she is comfortable in his or her own skin. Conversely, somebody who’s nervous and fidgety and needy makes you break out in hives. Remember, people accept your version of yourself until they know you better or have some reason not to. So put on that smile, shine those shoes, remind yourself why your momma loves you, and keep in mind that everybody’s nervous on a first date. If you can allow that nervousness to be only a tiny layer of a nice, deep coat of confidence, both you and your date can calm down and begin the hopefully enjoyable task of getting to know each other.

Confidence on the inside

When you begin building confidence on the inside, you inventory all the things you do well, from tying your shoelace to helping your mom cross the street to making a great cherry pie to sneezing really well. Everybody does something well, and the place to begin building confidence is on that sturdy foundation of being able to do something — anything — with a degree of proficiency.
If you can’t think of one thing you do well, then you’re probably having a pity party, which is toxic for confidence. You’re also not looking at yourself objectively, so have a friend help you recognize your talents. If a friend’s not available, ask your mother, who probably loves everything you do.

The Game for Confidence

So let’s talk about this confidence thing. Are some people — the gorgeous, smooth, and successful among us — born with it? Nope! These people got to be successful and smooth by appearing to be confident. And what about those who were smart enough to choose the right parents or get dipped in the gorgeous-gene pool? Well, I know some of the most stunning people on this earth, and most of them are surprisingly insecure and frightened — of losing their looks, of appearing stupid and superficial, of growing old, of putting on weight, of having no one love them for any reason other than their cheekbones, of having no one love them at all. I’m not suggesting that you petition to be hit upside the head with the ugly stick, just that you get on with your life, whatever you look like. Accept the ride home with the too-cute guy from your building who you never thought would ask you out — rather than worry why he’d ask you out. Introduce yourself to the fascinating woman you’d really like to know better. Or at least say “hi” to the person you see daily at the bus stop. Smart people do the best they can with what they’ve got, and they don’t whine too much in the process. Confidence is the ability to trust yourself and convey that sense to others, and appearance is half the battle. If you want to appear confident whether you feel confident or not, try the following

  • Stand up straight. Posture counts. A straight spine denotes purpose and strength (spineless means cowardly, after all). Face forward. Think military bearing rather than bent-over hag from Snow White, and you’ll get the picture.
  • Smile. Not only is a smile a good umbrella to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but it also convinces others you’re happy and healthy and wise. A frown makes you look like you’re worried or frightened.
  • Make eye contact. It’s all in the eyes. Showing that you’re not afraid to look someone in the eye means that you’re strong and truthful and willing to meet their scrutiny.

One of the most blatant tip-offs to a lie is the liar’s inability to make eye contact — unless we’re talking pathological liar here, and then you’re sunk anyway. Your momma knew that when she said, “Look me in the eye and tell me you were studying.”

  • Lean slightly forward. Whether you’re standing or sitting, leaning forward rather than pulling back denotes energy and forthrightness — and that signals strength and willingness. It also lets your energy move forward. Leaning forward is a bit aggressive or at least assertive rather than defensive or passive.
  • Shake hands firmly (yeah, women, too). Upon entering a new situation,walking confidently into someone else’s space and putting out your hand and firmly — not crushingly nor limply — offering a part of yourself in a friendly but assertive way says gobs and gobs of good things about you: You’re unafraid, you’re an equal, you’re friendly, you’re engaging. A firm handshake while you look someone in the eye works wonders in business and personal situations.

It’s okay to feel nervous or excited, especially in new situations. An actor will tell you that unless she feels that adrenaline rush, she’s not going to give a really top-notch performance. Make those nerves work for you. Remind yourself:

I’ve felt this way before, and I survived; what’s the worst thing that could happen, and how likely is that? It’s okay to feel a bit edgy. I can do this. Confidence is

both that quiet inner voice and that more obvious outer show. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the woman who wears the flashy, low cut dress and the man who brags about his conquests may be insecure and trying to convince other folks of his or her appeal rather than trusting the self. Anything you use to build confidence needs to go deeper and work for you, not against you. You don’t want to send an easily misread or misinterpreted signal. Doing something harmful to your basic sense of self doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand, positive activities build real self-assurance. When you whistle, for example, you hear yourself sounding happy, control your breathing, and entertain others. Pretending to be interested may teach you something; after all, you are listening. Pretending to be interesting makes you more informed; how else would you be more fascinating? Get it? Again, be sure that you’re not buying confidence through chemistry — alcohol or other drugs — because it’s short-lived, unproductive, and dangerous. If you don’t believe me, try being stone cold sober around a bunch of drunks. So how do you learn to trust yourself? You can begin either on the inside or the outside.

Handling Fear

The T-shirt that says No Fear is probably the only profound T-shirt in the history of the world.
Fear can paralyze you; it can stop you from looking for a job, looking for love, looking in the mirror. It can keep you from asking for what you want, saying what’s on your mind, saying “ouch” or “hurrah.” Fear eats away at your time, your energy, your very self, and it has no place in your life. Caution? Perhaps. Knowledge about why something isn’t good for you? Certainly. But fear is a waste of time; most often, it is the boogeyman of your imagination, the monster that says, “Boo!”
Fear is an awesome and formidable power that scary things don’t deserve, so turn on the lights and look at what you fear. Figure out what you can do to be strong and bypass or tame what frightens you. Don’t let fear have the power to control you. Take control of your fear.
What you already know is fine and comfortable and perhaps even useful, but if you spend your whole life with the familiar, you miss out on a lot of potential pleasure. The only way to truly appreciate what you have is to measure it against what else is available. You’re shopping in a one-room shack when a whole mall awaits you. To paraphrase Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet, and most poor dummies are feeding on crumbs.”
I’m talking about blasting off and going bravely where you haven’t been before:
a land where you rule by laughing, singing, having fun, meeting new people, encountering new situations, finding new muscles and a sense of perspective. Okay, okay, I can hear you now: “Blastoff is scary. What if I get blown up on the launch pad or end up where there’s no oxygen?” Go for it. Lose your fear, and focus on your curiosity and strength. Think of other new experiences you’ve had: your first day of school, the time you tried a mango, your first airplane trip, the time you let your friend talk you into riding the giant roller coaster, and so on. Admittedly, not all new experiences are fun, but think of what you miss when you let your fear of the unknown keep you from trying. You may miss things like lobster or chocolate or a Jacuzzi —and a lot of exhilaration.
Even Captain Kirk, Spock, every astronaut, and every gorgeous creature and manly stud has been fearful. The difference between being paralyzed and going for it is a basic faith in yourself. This faith is really what confidence is all about. Even when you’re not quite sure, the appearance of confidence can get you a long way. In the long run, looking like you know what you’re doing is almost as important as knowing what you’re doing. Almost. Remember the musical The King and I (which is based, by the way, on a true story)? Anna and her young son arrive in Siam, a strange foreign country in which they know no one. While they’re awaiting the summons of the king, who has a nasty reputation, Anna tells her son to whistle a happy tune to fool everybody into thinking that they’re not afraid. This isn’t just a movie moment. The truth is, if you pretend you’re not afraid, before you know it, you’re really not afraid.
Be afraid of not taking chances, not making mistakes. Look both ways before you cross the street, but don’t stand in the middle of the crosswalk and tremble; you’ll get run over.

Keeping a Dating Notebook

Throughout this blog, I include exercises you can do to find out more about yourself and what you want, as well as suggestions for noting your feelings and impressions. Treat this as both an opportunity and a project to find out more about yourself.
Buy yourself a spiral notebook and a pen and write down specifics. (Be sure to write in ink because it’s useful to go back and see what you were saying as opposed to erasing it, if you didn’t like it, because your musings can be a work in progress, a reflection of who you were and who you’re becoming.) Instead of writing in this text (I still haven’t recovered from the fact that my second grade teacher would never let me so much as underline in my blog), I want you to provide your own notebook, , but make sure no one else can casually pick it up and be privy to thoughts you might want to keep a bit more private. When you write something down, include information that will help you remember who you were at the time of notation, your feelings, your job, your wishes and dreams as well as the date, the time of day, who you were dating at the time, how old you were, and where you were living. This info can really be an ongoing log (sort of like Captain Kirk StarDate log as if your dating is entering a strange, new world, encountering exotic new species!).

The Big Three Things

Money matters
The days of men expecting or being expected to pay for everything have come and gone. It makes a women look modern, generous, and interested to at least offer and be willing to pick up the check, especially if she’s making a decent living. Even if not, offer to do what you can even if it’s a picnic in the park! Guys, offering to split the check makes you look cheap — I know she looks generous, but you’ll be labeled chintzy. Times are changing — but not overnight.

Ah sex, the fundamental things apply, except that we’re not quite so basic anymore when you add in earlier puberty, longer lives, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, hooking up, women being more sexually aggressive and assertive, drugs, and rock and roll. Relax, go at your own pace, always use protection, and remind yourself to be respectful of your partner and yourself since both of you are susceptible to — but not controlled by — hormones. When in doubt, wait! Choice is complicating but eventually empowering!

I’ve mentioned this so many times before, but be reasonable and cautious. Dating should be fun — not a walk on the wild side — so make sure you meet a stranger in a public place, make sure someone knows where you are, and use your cell phone initially — don’t give your home address or business phone number or address until you know each other really well. Wait to have sex until you feel safe enough to give out a home number. Use protection and floss after meals.

Cell phones and dating

To say cell phones have become ubiquitous doesn’t begin to explain how common they are. My daughter visited Thailand and was astonished to discover that in a country where the average income is $700, everybody had a cell phone!
With regard to dating, the first thing that you should know about a cell phone is that unless you’re late for a date or lost and trying to get in touch with your date by cell phone, turn it off! A date is not the time to show how popular you are by letting your date know how many people call you. That’s why voice mail was invented. The worst-case scenario I’ve ever seen was a couple walking down the street and holding hands, while both of them were talking on their cell phones, so you know they weren’t talking to each other. This kind of behavior really makes no sense. Cell phone addiction is evidence of that need for speed and urgency thing, always having to be in touch and feeling like you might be missing something if you’re not connected. I actually once did a story about countries where a person having sex is more likely to answer his or her cell phone. If this is you, stop! Get up from the couch, go look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “What are my priorities? When did I become so addicted to being that in touch?”
Another problem with cell phones is that everything on your cell phone bill is going to be listed by phone number. Anybody opening your cell phone bill is going to know exactly who you’ve been taking too, what time of day, and for how long. Star 69 and caller ID have also made both stalking and cheating something that you really can’t do with much success anymore. If you’re dating more than one person and being less than candid with either, chances are you’ll be busted by your trusty cell bill. Use the disposability and portability of cells to your advantage by only giving out your cell number until you’ve had a number of face-to-face dates and then only if you feel really secure.

Instant Messaging and Chat Rooms

Instant messaging
Instant messaging has become part of the Internet scene, enabling you to get in touch with somebody immediately and talk in real time to them in a completely artificial while seemingly urgent way. Instant messaging discourages self-censoring, voice clues, or reality-based feedback loop. If you’re angry with one another (or even if you’re not), you may end up typing something that you might not have said if you had a little longer to think it through. Although you do get an instant response, it’s not the same as a conversation, so things like tone, sense of humor, and irony really do get lost in typing. No matter how you cut it, communicating through the Internet really is simply typing.

Chat rooms
Chat rooms are another part of the fantasy world of the Internet. They’ve been known to be very disruptive to relationships even when they’re not suggestive or pornographic, and when they are, Nelly bar the door! And for those of you who view Internet porn as harmless or private, beware! Because Internet porn is so instantly available (it doesn’t even come in a wrapper anymore), it’s right there in front of your keyboard. Women tend to be grievously offended by it, and men tend to think, what’s the big deal? If Internet porn is part of your life and you’re dating, you need to think through what you’re really doing here, what your intent is, and what happens if you get caught. Remember that very few things are private anymore.

Online dating

Even when Internet dating was in its infancy, I understood the advantage and disadvantages of the computer as cupid — in a word, dramatically increasing the pool of potential dates, as well as offering options, which is never a bad thing. It gives people an opportunity to “meet” people from different social circles, creating the delightful sense that somebody wonderful is just around the corner (as long as one is able to resist endless corner peering). Then as now, it’s important to online date for a minimum amount of time before going in-life. My basic rule of thumb is that you should have no more than a couple of e-mail chats and phone calls over a couple of weeks before you meet somebody face to face.

The last time I checked, literally millions of people are online dating. On a more personal level, I know 12 couples who met online (not all of whom have admitted to having allowed a computer to match make). Here’s the good news and bad news about online dating.

  • The good news about online dating is that it does increase the number of possibilities and can be morale boosting to see how many people are around and available, plus it gives you an opportunity to shop.
  • The bad news is that it can be impersonal, time consuming, and addictive, with a large dollop of fantasy, and there’s a tendency to shop. People tend not to be incredibly honest about who they are, what they’re looking for, their weight, age, marital history, their past, their sex, whether they’re straight or gay, because it is fantasy. Married people have been known to pretend that they were single; gays, straight; older people, young; young people, older. But if nothing else, it’ll give you the sense that there are people out there.

Dating in Today's Politic

The terror attacks of September 11 have also changed the social landscape forever. The realization that life could be so dramatically fleeting and unpredictable meant folks rethought relationships suddenly: broke up, or committed to one another foregoing — perhaps forever — the sense that we all have all the time in the world. Dating in this context has taken on a level of intensity and urgency, with people often looking for instant meaning in an inappropriate way — make my life meaningful, make me happy, make it all worthwhile — a heavy burden indeed for a process that was invented to be light, delicate, and lengthy. Modern dating has always worked best as a carefree, pleasant, experience, at least initially, but that evaporated after September 11. Questioning whether coupledom or bringing children into this world was a good idea was offset by the questioning of the willingness to be alone if the world was about to end. The simple question of “Am I willing to spend the rest of my life with you?” has been altered by the fear factor in general and by the threat of terrorism on a daily basis. Intellectually, people may have understood that anybody could perish at anytime, but September 11 drove home that point in a dramatic and tragic way.

Dating in Today's Media

In addition to the census, demographic data, and the changing realities, television shows in the 21st century have significantly changed the dating landscape since popular notions perpetuated by the media, while originally fantasy, have a strange habit of morphing into our shared reality. Dating shows have always been a part of the TV landscape, but the bar has been raised, or lowered, depending on how you look at it. In addition to the traditional plethora of inane dating shows, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, Who Wants to Marry My Dad?, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and My Big, Fat, Ugly Fianc√© have not only made dating a blood sport but convinced the viewing public that hot tubs and serial necking in front of a TV camera are normal aspects of dating. Rules about no kissing on the first date and no sex until the third date seem laughably out of fashion if you watch television. Dating as a competitive sport — complete with body contact and backbiting — has cheapened, degraded, and sexualized dating as well as increased hostility in ways we’re not even completely aware of. Okay, so most of us probably look at television dating shows and say, “That’s ridiculous!” We know that a lot of editing and prompting goes on. But we are all influenced, subtly and not so subtly, by these shows in how we date, how we view the opposite sex, our own behavior, and what’s acceptable and what’s not. Reality TV has made competition, mean spiritedness, and just plain nastiness part of the social landscape between men and women, making the war between the sexes appear as a bombed-out landscape with few survivors and multiple casualties. Adding to the general confusion is the fact that so many television shows suggest that being gay is not only acceptable but hip and nearly ubiquitous, which has certainly increased the potential for at least considering yourself bisexual, or even more terrifying, having your partner consider him or herself bisexual. Thus dating has become a question of will or won’t your date come out of the closet after you get to know each other. Interestingly enough, the statistics on the percentage of the population reported and reporting as gay is unchanged since Alfred Kinsey’s studies 60 years ago. Thirty years ago, TV would have you believe no one was gay; today TV would allow you to assume everybody is gay.

Dating in Today's World

Dating has changed, marriage is changing, gender roles are changing. There are now more single people living by themselves than ever before in the history of the world. This tendency, coupled with the reality that life expectancy has nearly doubled in the last century, means that individuals are concluding that they can hold off on marriage or not marry at all, options that mean that dating doesn’t necessarily point in the direction of settling down as it once did and settling down could mean spending many decades with one person if they marry early, prompting them to proceed cautiously.

Statistically, more people are marrying and remarrying than ever before:

Concerns about fertility are balanced by women deciding that they can have children without the benefit of a partner, another factor that has radically altered the dating landscape. Some people who are raising children are dating but have never married and don’t intend to.

If all this makes your head spin, you are not alone.

Slow down yourself

Admittedly, human beings, when it comes to love, have always been impatient — even though Diana Ross, or at least her momma, said, “You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait!” People are under more pressures now to race dating at the speed of light when instead they should be taking very small baby steps, exercising due diligence, and noticing in minute detail what’s going on. I know that the temptation is to close your eyes and just go for it. Falling makes it seem much more fun, scary, exciting, and fast, but it’s not very productive if you’re looking for more than just cheap thrills. I sort of invented speed dating, accidentally, when I first had a TV show in 2000. Speed dating, as it has evolved, usually gives participants six or seven minutes with each potential date, but I gave them three minutes to convince somebody to go out with them, though I was there to offer encouragement or redirect the Burger King philosophy of life: Quick, hot, juicy, and your way work in some places, just not in dating! The need for speed is triggered by two equal and opposite tendencies: Ironically, couples are marrying earlier (obvious sexual urgency) and later (increasing fertility concerns), with women feeling that if they wait any longer they won’t have the option of raising children of their own.