5 Signs You’re Terrible At Online Dating (And How To Change That)

Online dating can seem a lot like online shopping, (So much selection! So much fun to scroll through shoes, er.. men!), but the similarities end there. If you’re treating finding a relationship like a casual browse for sale items, it’s time to shape up! Take a look at these signs that you’re headed for trouble with your online dating profile and what you can do to fix it.

Problem: You have a strict list of criteria that you’re not willing to budge on

We hear from our girlfriends all the time that we shouldn’t compromise on what we want in a partner. But who’s perfect? I certainly wouldn’t want to be held up against that standard. Be realistic with your “dealbreakers.” Does he really have to be at least 6 feet tall? Will that matter when you’re 70? Having a strict list of criteria that you’re unwilling to compromise on, (“I would never date someone who drives a jeep,” or “He’s just a carpenter.”), means that you’re discounting a huge number of people right out of the gate that could be great for you. Having hard and fast rules about who you are willing to date will only hurt you in the long run.

Exercise: Try going on a date with someone that your friends pick for you. No arguments!

Problem: You focus on the negative

Your profile reads like a laundry list of everything you don’t want in a partner, relationship, or on your pizza. While you might think you’re being specific, all that negativity is off-putting to any potential partner. Online dating is all about being positive. You should always be honest, but no one wants to date a complainer. This goes for messages too. Stay away from negativity in your first interactions and instead focus on what you like to do and who you want to date.

Exercise: Start a new conversation where you don’t make any negative comments in your chats.

Problem: You go online exclusively for validation or positive reinforcement

Swipe, swipe, swipe, get match, experience surge of endorphins, repeat.

We all know that little twinge of excitement you get when you get a message, match with someone, or when you get likes on a photo; it can be a little addictive. Some argue that there are online daters out there who aren’t even interested in a relationship, but only in making themselves feel good with a bit of attention. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the little ego boost when you get a new message notification, if you’re barely serious about finding someone, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Channel that positive feeling you get from online interactions into meeting someone new; it might be just the thing you need to approach dating with fresh energy!

Exercise: Actually go on a date. Just one 🙂

Problem: You stop responding just because it feels like too much work

We’re all busy, and it can be hard to feel motivated to continue that conversation. I’ll be real with you: online dating can be a lot of work. This might mean you have to have a few boring conversations or go on a couple of bad dates before you find one that makes it worth it, but bottom line: you have to put in the effort if you expect anyone else to. If you stop responding to messages or go AWOL on someone, you’ve stalled before you even get rolling. As challenging as it may be, if you want to be successful, you have to keep your energy up, keep responding, and keep going on dates. It WILL pay off in the long run.

Exercise: Don’t let 24 hours go by without sending a reply.

Problem: You stand people up

This is just bad manners. If you’ve committed to making plans with someone else, show up. If you really can’t make it anymore (and I mean really, not just that you decided to stay home and watch Netflix instead), then give them as much heads up as possible. Think about how much energy and preparation goes into a first date, and be respectful of other people’s time. Nothing leads to Online Dating Burnout and feeling discouraged faster than feeling like you’re wasting your time.

Exercise: Don’t back out of any dates for a whole month.

5 Telling Trips To Take With A New Partner

Going on a trip with a new partner can be a great way to get to know them better. You’re both out of normal context, maybe out of your comfort zone a bit, and you’re having to interact in a new way. Here are 5 trips you can take with a new partner to see if he’ll be able to go the distance:

1) Camping

See what he really looks like after sitting in the dirt for two days – that’s what it boils down to. Almost no one looks their best when they’re out in the bush without showers or mirrors. Now you can see what he really looks like without creature comforts and prep time. Is someone unhappy with the idea of not being able to do his hair, or conversely, way too excited about not having to brush his teeth? That could be a bad sign. Does he somehow manage to look even hotter in a flannel with the smell of campfire in his hair, though? Hold on to him!

2) Weekend getaway where you have to cooperate to do physical activity

Whoever said riding a tandem bike is a fun time was full of garbage. It looks so picturesque to see two tourists riding along, sweetly peddling together around the sites. In reality, they’re about two seconds away from breaking off the bike’s handlebars and having an American Gladiator-style battle to the death in front of the Santa Monica Pier. Activities or trips that require cooperation to do an activity are the fastest way to tell how compatible you are with someone. Can’t cooperate long enough to paddle a canoe together? Might be time to rethink things.

3) Travelling to a developing country

Maybe not something you’d undertake in a brand new relationship, but traveling to a country where you have to rough it a bit will tell you a lot about a person. Being in a situation where you might not be completely comfortable because neither of you speak the language, your safety isn’t guaranteed, or your accommodation isn’t fancy can be very telling about someone’s character. Is he grossed out by unfamiliar food in Bali? Scared to ride a chicken bus in Costa Rica? Uncomfortable bartering for a taxi in Mexico City? Traveling to these kinds of places requires a sense of adventure and a little bit of street smarts. If those things matter to you, putting yourselves in a situation like that is a good litmus test to see if you’re compatible in the long run.

4) A weekend visiting his family

How someone acts around their family may be very different from how they interact with friends and the rest of their social circle. Maybe he refuses to help with the dishes and secretly resents his brother, or maybe he loves fishing with his step sister and taking his adopted grandma to get her hair done? Either way, spending a good chunk of time together with his family will give you some insight into what he’s really like. Plus you get to hear all of the family drama that only comes out after a couple of glasses of wine!

5) Anywhere when it’s mostly just your friends that are going

No one likes to babysit their boyfriend who is being a grumpy cat because he doesn’t have a bro to talk to. Dating someone who gets along with your friends and is comfortable in new social situations is top notch in my books. Even if it might not be as fun for him as a snowboarding trip with his buddies, taking the time to do something or go on a trip that’s important to you, (hello, weekend your best friend’s cabin!), shows that you’re a priority to him. This means you’ll have to reciprocate though!

Important Love Lessons From Orange Is The New Black

With the season 3 premiere of Orange is the New Black just around the corner, it’s high time to refresh ourselves on the wonderful, complicated, messy, relationships that form when one is behind bars.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always formulating my contingency plan for if and when the unthinkable happens, my past catches up with me, and I end up behind bars. When I watch OINTB, I study it like a manual, for how to survive in prison. So far, I’ve gleaned lots of great tips like, don’t mess with the person who makes your food, and use maxi pads to make eye masks! #lifelessons

Not to be overlooked, however, are all of the great relationship lessons we learn from watching Piper and her band of merry inmates bumble their way through incarceration. There are some real feels tucked up under Big Boo’s tough facade and Nikki’s biting sarcasm. Despite the dysfunction and absurdity of a lot of the drama, people are people, and these ones are surprisingly relatable.

So what love lessons did we learn from Orange is the New Black?

(WARNING: Spoilers ahead)

You can’t keep your prison wife locked up with you forever

Real Life Lesson: If you love them, let them go.

OITNB1

One touching Orange is the New Black moment was when Tricia taught us that you can’t force someone to stay with you. When she uses extreme (and illegal), measures to try and keep her prison wife Mercy locked up in order to avoid losing her, we realize just how desperate it is when we do these things in real life. It’s obvious that she’s doing it to assuage her own insecurity and fear of being alone, and we all know that that never really works out. In the end, Tricia has to let Mercy go, and just trust that she’ll still be there on the other side.

Don’t lie about which corrections officer is your baby daddy

Real Life Lesson: Lying about something important is never going to end well

pornstache

Big lies, little lies, they all catch up with us in the end. At first, when we’re backed into a corner and things seem really bad, we might think it’s a good idea to tell a lie. When Daya tells everyone that she’s pregnant and the father is officer Mendez in order to save her real love, Officer Bennett, I think even she knows it’s not going to work out long term. Rather than make the situation any better, instead she only succeeds in creating the pitiable, albeit hilarious, situation with Mendez falling in love with her and committing to taking care of her baby. We’re still unsure how that quagmire will play out.

Your fiancé is probably going to cheat on you while you’re in prison

Real Life Lesson: Romantic partners are fallible

oitnb3

Larry and Piper both cheat on each other while she’s in the clink. The lesson? People need love and reassurance, sometimes in physical form, when they’re in stressful situations. It’s hard to communicate properly and resolve things when there’s a (in this case literal), wall between you.

If you suspect that your ex-drug dealing lover was the one who ratted you out to the police, you’re probably right

Real Life Lesson: People can change, but they probably won’t

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Alex and Piper’s relationship was tumultuous from the beginning. Piper practiced willful ignorance and allowed herself to be manipulated in exchange for attention and excitement, and Alex always preyed on Piper’s insecurities and took advantage of her naiveté. When the time came, Alex sold her up the river to save her own skin. No surprises there. Both parties are at fault, really, but it’s worth recognizing that most people show you who they really are from the beginning. Alex was always looking out for number one. Only time will tell if either of them are worth trusting.

That guy who you’ve been stalking for the past year is probably not going to marry you

Real Life Lesson: He’s just not that into you

o-LORNA-MORELLO-facebook

Sweet, sweet Morello, with her online credit card scams and her creep-tastic bubble baths. We’re kind of rooting for her, even though she’s obviously a bit loony tunes. Taking a field trip from prison to break into her ex’s house and wear his new girlfriend’s bath robe? Too far. Hers is a very extreme case of “He’s just not that into you.” It’s true though, that when we get caught up in a fantasy world, we don’t want to recognize the truth that someone might not be on the same page as we are in the relationship. It’s easier to keep ignoring the increasingly obvious signs and keep planning the wedding. Wake up girlfriend!

The newest season of Orange is the New Black will be released on Netflix on June 12th! #excitement

Lessons From My First Love

What do I think of when I look back on my first love? I think about first time walking down the street holding hands, first nicknames, first time saying “I love you,” (and hearing it back). My super smart, slightly nerdy, first boyfriend with whom I had a lof of fun and laughs, (and cries), will forever have a special place in my heart. My rearview mirror is fogging up with all of the adolescent mushy feelings that brings up. It’s so easy to look back fondly and only remember the good times in a relationship, especially with a first love. The power of nostalgia is strong.

The truth though, is that underneath that layer of warm fuzzies, there are some cold hard lessons to be remembered. We learn things from every relationship, but there are some things you learn particularly well the first time around that are worth remembering. After all, you fought, (literally), for those truths and it would be a shame to waste that hard-won wisdom. Here are some of the lessons I learned from my first love:

 

Always be friends first.

I don’t mean you have to be friends before you date, I mean, you have to be friends first and foremost, and in a romantic relationship second. Spending the rest of your lives together, (or even just all your weekends for the foreseeable future), is a long freaking time, so you better get along. It sounds cliché, but you shouldn’t have to try to like the same things that they do, or pretend to have those same interests to spend time with them. If you ask yourself, “Would I be hanging out with this person even if we weren’t in a relationship together?,” and the answer is “probably not,” or “not sure,” then you might have some reevaluating to do.

 

Make sure his mom likes you.

Okay, maybe this one is obvious, but it was a major takeaway for me. All men are subconsciously in love with their mothers, (hello Oedipus), and so you need her approval to get anywhere with him; she is the ultimate caregiver and provider. She created him. Are you kidding? You can’t compete with that. Put yourself at odds with The Mom and you will never come out on top. Respect the role that she plays in his life, (however big or small), and you will have a happier, more copacetic relationship in the long run.

 

Keep your relationship relatively private.

You don’t need to put yourselves on display to prove anything. In fact, doing so puts you under a microscope that could stop your relationship from progressing naturally. While at first, wanting to proclaim your love from the rooftops seems adorable, posting a million photos of the two of you together, or the constant need for public reassurances might be a sign of insecurity. Instead, keep the “relationship status” off Facebook, and let things evolve out of the spotlight.

 

And finally, if it’s over, let it be over.

All of those late night texts, staying “friends,” possessiveness and neediness masquerading as concern – these are signs of a relationship that’s not over when it should be. It’s easy to fall into that trap when you’re breaking or broken up. I remember not being able to conceive of my first relationship being over and that he wouldn’t be a part of my life anymore. I let things drag out for much longer than they should have when what I really needed was time to be alone.  Learning that for the first time took about 8 months longer than it should have. Do yourself a favor and, as hard as it seems, cut things off cold turkey when they’re over. Remember the love, then let it go; you’ll both be happier in the long run.

How To Avoid Online Dating Burnout

So, you’ve been online dating for a while now. At first, it was super exciting. But then, online dating burnout happened. Now, you’re not so sure it’s worth the effort. And it IS an effort. It takes a lot of your energy to find someone you’re interested in, arrange a meeting, make yourself look presentable, show up, go through the time of getting to know someone, and sometimes (read: most of the time), it doesn’t turn out to be the be-all end-all relationship you were looking for.

So, how do you keep your energy up, make sure that you’re putting your best self out there, and avoid the Burn Out?

Read on.

Keep your profile fresh and up to date.

Swapping out your profile pic gives you an instant lift in attention and messages. Someone who has glanced at your profile before might be attracted by that new photo showing a different side of you, (literally). It changes the first impression you make on the site. We recommend testing out a few different main images over time and seeing which gets you the best results. Also, updating your profile information like your description and interests could be the difference between someone deciding to send you that first message or passing you by. Keep them current and engaging. Oh, you both have chicken wings or craft beer listed as an interest? Icebreaker + first date idea in one!

Have a sense of humor about it.

Now that you’ve boosted the attention you’re getting online, how do you avoid mediocre dates that leave you feeling discouraged? Well, bottom line, you can’t. You’re probably going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the right frog for you, so it’s best if you can accept it and try and laugh about it. You’re meeting strangers from the internet for crying out loud – it’s bound to be hilarious! That guy with the horrible breath, or the one who couldn’t stop talking about his Etsy store where he sells sweaters for guinea pigs? Sounds like great fodder for girls night! You’re not going to jive with everyone. There’s probably someone you went out with that thought you were nuts for spending so much time restoring classic VW vans or for hating Seinfeld, so, it’s mutual. There’s someone out there for everyone, (yes, everyone), and if that wasn’t the right date for you, laugh about it, forget about it, and move on.

Do the things you want to do anyway.

Want to check out a new coffee shop that opened up in your neighborhood, or take a walking tour of your historic downtown? Do them with a date! Even if it doesn’t end up working out, at least you’re getting to do things that you wanted to do, regardless. It’s easy to get burned out if you feel like you’re going on a million of the same date over and over again. Be a little selfish; do something that you’re excited about. Life’s too short to waste your time!

Take everything with a grain of salt, manage your expectations, play it cool.

We’ve all felt it, where it seems like this person is perfect and exceptional and might be The One, only to have them drop off the face of the earth for whatever reason. It’s easy to get really excited about a new conversation or someone you had a great date with, but proceed with caution. It sounds cynical to say, but don’t get too attached too early. You’re still just getting to know them in the beginning; they might be on a completely different page. Don’t take it personally. Keep it cool and take it easy at first. Don’t play games, but don’t throw your whole heart into the ring until you’re sure things are on solid footing.

And of course, remember that he or she IS out there.

This is the hardest part, but you have to keep your eye on the prize. Lots of people I know who have burned out from online dating did so because they lost their focus. “Why am I spending so much time and energy on getting dressed up, going out, and making conversation with a stranger? Again?” Well, frankly, because that’s how you’re going to meet the one person that finally makes it all worthwhile; because you decided that you were over being alone; because what you were doing before wasn’t working; because you’re ready for something different. While it can definitely be challenging, remember what you want to get out of this process, and use that to motivate yourself. It’s the promise of that happily ever after that keeps us going; the “what if?” that keeps us all logging back in. Because who knows, your perfect match just may join tomorrow, better be ready 😉

Don’t Just “Survive” Being Single This Fall…Do This Instead

Fall is the hardest time of year for us sad singletons. The weather is turning a disappointing grey color, and you’re starting to feel like a fat, unloved lump. Christmas party season is looming and all you can think about is your uncle Bob’s classic carol “Still no boyfriend?? STILL no boyfriend?” You hear the incessant “tick tock!” of your ovaries, silently disapproving of your lack of progress, and the black hole in your chest where your heart used to live seems to insatiably suck up endless repeat views of PS – I Love You on Netflix. You’re basically sure that you’re about to shrivel up and die if you don’t….

Hold the phone!

I’m sorry, but is anyone else as sick as I am of being painted as the sad, lonely, single person? “Survive” being single? How about we f**cking kill it at being single this fall? Oh, what’s that?

Being single means I don’t have to care about someone else’s preferences all the time when it comes to dinner, movies, my hair, whatever?

I can choose to come home after spin class and eat $20 worth of buffalo mozzarella for dinner and the only one judging me is the dog? (And let’s be real, he’s just jealous). Sign me up!

I get to sleep in on Saturday mornings rather than get up and be the supportive girlfriend slash cheerleader for my boyfriend’s mediocre rugby team?

Sounds great!

I don’t have to worry about flirting with the hot hipster barista whose dogeared copy of Kurt Vonegut, peeking out of the back pocket of his skinny jeans, makes me fall deeper in love with him every morning?

Perfect.

Here are some things you can do with your fall if you don’t have a boyfriend to consider:

Learn something

I’m taking a few classes this fall because I feel like I finally have the time. Whether its for professional development, or just out of interest, there are plenty of things out there that will make you feel like you’ve finally accomplished something by surfing the internet. (Coursera.org offers online classes on a variety of subjects presented by well-known universities, for free!)

Get fit

You know what I don’t feel like doing in the beautiful sunshine of the summer months? Going to the gym. The gym boring and has terrible fluorescent lighting that is infinitely less pleasant than real sunlight. Now that its raining again though, its time to hit the mat. Yoga, spin, TR – its on. Your six pack is just waiting to be discovered.

Read all the things

My stack of books to read is growing ever higher. Pretty soon I likely won’t need to bother with furniture at all, I can just eat, sleep, and shower on a platform of unread novels. Luckily the fall is the perfect time of year to dig into a good book. This month’s reading list: Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham, and Dataclysm – Christian Rudder.

Dance your face off

Fall is a great time to see concerts. Have you noticed that its like every band you ever wanted to see finally decided to come to town? A lot of musicians pick up or start their touring schedule in the fall, so its a great time to see live music. With so many awesome music streaming and sharing services out there, getting pumped about a concert about is only a click away!

So, don’t stress about not finding a date to thanksgiving dinner, or the possibility of standing alone under the mistletoe, silently weeping into a pint glass of eggnog, just put it out of your mind. Desperation doesn’t look good on anyone. Instead, enjoy all the great things about being single this fall; spending time with friends and family, leftover Halloween candy, and hipster coffee babes in christmas sweaters.

There are plenty of great things about being in a relationship, and we all (or most of us, realistically), want to end up in one one day. BUT, there are also a lot of great perks to being single. One of the major ones being that you get to focus on you.

The key to “surviving” being single this fall? Be awesome, and fantastic, and fun, and beautiful, and do it all for yourself.

Autumn Recipes To Make Your Date Fall Hard

One of my favorite things about the fall is being able to hang out inside guilt-free. As soon as the rain starts, I whip out my slippers and couch blankets and get ready to dig in for several months of indoor comfort.Now that fall has er, …fallen, it feels just right to cozy up inside with someone special and warm your belly with a delicious dinner.

Whether you’ve been dating for a while or you’re just getting to know someone, putting in the effort to make them a meal really shows that you’re into them. Staying in and making something together is one of the most intimate and romantic dates I can think of. You can keep your playroom Christian Grey, I’ll take the spatula!

That being said, some of us out there aren’t super familiar with the culinary arts. Chiffonade? Ramekin? Huh? Cooking for someone else can be a bit high pressure if you’re not that confident in the kitchen, but never fear! I’ve got your back when it comes to great recipes that are guaranteed to impress. The ones I’ve chosen here range from “easy peasy” to “ambitious,” so pick your poison, and start steaming up the windows!

1) Easy peasy: Charcuterie and Cheese Board

Not so much a ‘recipe’ as an assemblage of ingredients, a Charcuterie board is one of my favorite things to make when I’ve got someone coming over. It involves no cooking, and sounds impressive when you offer it. Not to mention, its the perfect thing to nibble at when you’re curled up on the couch together. Pick your favorite meats and cheeses (splurge on a couple fancy ones!), throw out some baguette or nice crackers, a couple grapes, a fruit chutney or savory jam, and you’re good to go!

Image courtesy of: http://www.marcussamuelsson.com
Image courtesy of: http://www.marcussamuelsson.com

Find some great ideas here:

http://www.marcussamuelsson.com/what-to-eat-and-drink-2/how-to-arrange-a-charcuterie-plate

and here:

http://www.insockmonkeyslippers.com/5-tips-for-a-fabulous-charcuterie-board#_a5y_p=2426336

2) Getting warmer: Apple, Onion, and Bacon Pizza

Image courtesy of: http://www.mygourmetconnection.com
Image courtesy of: http://www.mygourmetconnection.com

Homemade pizza is an underrated gem in any cook’s repertoire. Sure, ordering in can be convenient sometimes, but you can do better for your date night! Delivery is not nearly as romantic as tossing a circle of dough in the air for your partner while Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” blasts from your iPod speakers. Home making your pizza is also criminally easy, especially if you use pre-made dough from a bakery or grocery store. Just stretch, top, and slide in the oven for 20 minutes! The trick to making it special is to get creative with your ingredients. Here, bacon, onion and apple combine hearty fall flavors in the perfect pie to share between two.

Check out this recipe for inspo: http://www.mygourmetconnection.com/recipes/main-courses/pasta-pizza/bacon-apple-cider-caramelized-onion-pizza.php

3) The training wheels come off: Wild Mushroom Risotto

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Image courtesy of jamieoliver.com

A chantrelle or porcini risotto is a perfect celebration of the rustic richness of fall, when many wild mushrooms are just coming into their season. Despite what you might have been lead to believe, risotto is really easy to make. It doesn’t involve the exact measuring of other rice cooking wizardry, and is therefore infinitely more error-proof. Sauté some onions and mushrooms in a pan, add your arborio rice, maybe some lemon zest and herbs, slowly simmer while stirring in the stock over a half an hour or so, finish with an obscene amount of parmesan cheese. Perfection!

Here’s an excellent recipe to follow:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/rice-recipes/grilled-mushroom-risotto

4) The most ambitious: Mussels. Or clams. Sauteed in white wine. With butter.

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Image courtesy of bonappetite.com

He will swoon.

Fall is actually the perfect season for shellfish because they do well in colder water. (A good rule of thumb is that the season for shellfish is any month with an “R” in its name.) Mussels may seem high maintenance, but are actually super straightforward to make. They even give you a clear sign by opening up when they’re done, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking them! Just sauté all your ingredients in a big pan, add your mussels and white wine, and cover for about 10 minutes to steam them open. Finish the broth with a little butter, and some herbs, and serve with crusty french bread!

Find a great recipe here:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mussels-with-white-wine (Forget the aioli if you want to keep it simple)

Some handy tips to keep in mind: Make sure to rinse your mussels in fresh water before cooking to let them spit out any sand or grit they might be holding onto. Also, don’t forget to “debeard,” your mussels, (really quick and easy, but you can find super helpful videos on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uttfm2dbHeM to guide you). Finally, always toss away any mussels that don’t open during cooking – better safe than sorry!

Happy fall feasting!

Is The City Making You Single?

I’m just going to come out and say it: its easier to find a date in a small town.

That’s right. I’m willing to admit, I’m lousy at big city dating. I’m a self-identified small town enthusiast; a big city girl with provincial leanings. Having lived in both a small town, (population 2000), and also a city literally 10 thousand times bigger, (population 2.5 million), I have experienced single life first hand in both of these very different dating environments.

So lets do a little amateur qualitative analysis to compare:

Over the two and a half years that I lived in a small town, I had 2 boyfriends. One I dated for about a year and half, the other for about 6 months. I was in a relationship for approximately 80% of my time there. Both times I met the boyfriend within a month of moving to town.

Since living in the city for almost as long, I’ve had a boyfriend for roughly 10% of the time, (I think I’m stretching it to even call him a “boyfriend…”), and I met him after living in the city for almost a year. I’ve dated, but nothing has really stuck.

So what’s the deal?

At first glance, living in a big city might seem like the best option if you’re looking for love. There are lots of great things about urban life: there’s tons to do, tons of people to meet, and tons of late night take-out options. You can mix up your social circle and have a varied friend group with lots of chances to meet new people. There are so many options! It’s possible to meet someone cool in your summer softball league, when you’re taking advantage of that stand up paddle boarding Groupon, or at any one of the many outdoor music venues, right?

Wrong.

Time and time again, urban singles bemoan how hard it is to meet someone “real,” how they feel lonelier, and how they are missing a feeling of connection to those around them. Cities operate in the paradoxical way of bringing together a large amount of people in a relatively concentrated way, but also increasing feelings of distance between individuals on a personal level. It can be very hard to connect with others, let alone find your perfect match.

After some thorough pencil chewing and head scratching, I believe that my interesting conundrum of only being able to successfully form relationships in a small town comes down to a few characteristics that make all the difference. Here are the applicable differences between big cities and small towns:

1) There is less choice

This seems counter intuitive  but bear with me. Studies have shown that subjects who are given less choice in a variety of situations tend to perform better and are more satisfied with their selection than those who are offered greater choice overall. While this seems like it should be worse when it comes to dating, what it means is that sometimes having a huge pool of singles to choose from can actually lead to us feeling overwhelmed by all the options or constantly second guessing ourselves. Small towns with fewer available singles means less choice overall but could mean more successful relationships in the long run, (as my anecdotal evidence suggests.)

2) Everyone knows everyone

What’s the easiest way to break the ice ? Talk about something you have in common. Having common ground to chat about when you first meet someone is a great low-pressure way to start a conversation and see if there’s any chemistry. If you live in a small town, you probably know where the other person works, have mutual friends, or have seen them out playing pick up hockey on their unicycle, whatever. Perfect conversation starter.

The only downside of this? Everyone knows everything about everyone. That guy you’re chatting up has probably dated your friend’s sister, or got fired last year from the restaurant you just started working at. Its hard to keep things private when news travels fast and gossip is the local currency. No real way to get around it.

3) People smile at each other

How often do you smile at a complete stranger? Probably pretty infrequently. Cities have a bad reputation when it comes to strangers interacting with each other. This is not the case in small towns. When you pass someone on the street, you look them in the eye, smile, and nod, almost without fail. This might seem like common courtesy to some, but one that’s not so common in our urban every day.

Smiling has all kinds of positive effects on your body and brain. Keeping a smile on your face makes you feel good and makes others more attracted to you. Smiling at someone else encourages them to reciprocate and gives you both feelings of connection and happiness.

 So what’s a girl to do?

I encourage you all to join me in embracing your inner small town girl. Say hi to new people, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by choice, and keep your head up! I’ll be the nut job smiling at you when we pass on the street 😉

To Share or Not To Share? A Pre-Post Social Media Checklist

We share a lot on social media. Its an important way that we interact with each other. It’s how we form and inform our online personalities, (I mean, if it’s not documented on Facebook, then it might as well not have happened, right?), and it is a useful social networking tool. But everyone knows someone (or maybe you are that someone), who, on occasion, shares way too much.

We all like to keep up on what’s happening with our networks, but sometimes, (and we all have a friend like this), certain posts can verge on annoying. Sharing too much, too often, or the wrong things might have your exasperated friends blocking your posts ASAP, just so they don’t have to deal with another chain message or emoji storm. I know there are times when I’ve looked back on something and cringed, thinking, “Really? Did I really need to share that with everyone?” Sometimes I wish I’d filtered myself – and I don’t mean in Lo-Fi.

To help you navigate these muddy waters, we’ve compiled a checklist you can measure against future posts to see if it’s really the best thing to put out there for the whole world, (or even just your Friends of Friends), to see.

 

Q. What time is it?

A. Late night? Stop.

We might not be using our best decision making skills if it’s late and we’ve had one or two several cocktails. It always seems like a fun idea at the time to post three bathroom selfies with a trio of pouty faces, but the next morning might have you second guessing that life choice. Steer clear of anything where you could be described as a “hot mess” and you’ll avoid having to do damage control the next day.

 

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Q. Who will be reading it?

A. Your entire network? Reign it in.

You should always consider your audience. I don’t know about you, but I have my grandma on Facebook, and she has a lot of time on her hands. I probably don’t want to share every crude thought that has ever crossed my mind, because I know she’ll see it. The same goes for coworkers. Do they need to know all the details of my recent messy breakup? Probably not. If your post is going out to anyone with sensitive ears or who you would classify as just an “acquaintance,” its best to keep it pretty mellow. Funny memes and recent home renovations only, please.

 

Q. How serious is your subject matter?

A. You only talk about it when you’re feel particularly feisty? No good.

This is a fine line to walk. Some of us feel passionately about issues and we want to shout about them from the rooftop, er, newsfeed, but there’s a time and place, and its usually not social media. We’ve all been there, embroiled in a twitter debate with someone we haven’t seen face-to-face in years, and we usually realize that its not worth the thumb cramps. Trying to convince others of your views on vaccinations, divorce, or the State of Israel over Facebook is probably a) not going to work, and b) just going to come across as self righteous or obnoxious.

On a scale of seriousness, with 1 being a hilarious Buzzfeed article, and 10 being a post encouraging people to cure their cancer with a vegan diet, try to not share anything over a 5. Save the serious stuff for real talks with real friends.

 

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Q. What are other people getting out of my post?

A. Nothing exciting/entertaining/interesting? Ditch it.

This is a big one, and the one that can help you stay out of the “being horribly annoying” zone. Is your FB post a charming travel anecdote from a recent trip? Are you entertaining your friends with a hilarious observation about bus etiquette? Are you trying to collect contacts because you put your phone in the washing machine, (again)?

Or are you just trying to get attention?

Attention seeking posts are pretty obvious. If what you’re sharing is only interesting to you, or possibly just you and your grandma, don’t do it. Keep the humblebrags, vaguebooking, and TMI-ing to yourself. We’ll all thank you.

And speaking of TMI…

 

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Q. Is anyone going to make a face when they read my post?

A. Maybe…? Get rid of it.

Anything from shares about bodily fluids, (parents of toddlers – I’m looking at you), to super closeups of kissing couples can cause this reaction. If there is anything even vaguely distasteful about what you want to post, you’re better off leaving it off social media.

 

There. Hopefully, asking yourself these questions before you post will help you keep friends, and keep social media a happy, engaging, entertaining place for all of us grumpy cats.

Happy Posting!

 

Christmas Gifts For Him (That Are Also For You…)

It can be hard to come up with the perfect gift for that special guy in your life. You want it to be thoughtful, but practical, and you want him to really love it.

Sometimes though, you might also have a hidden agenda…

I tend to use gift giving to make a project out of my male partner. I take the opportunity to get him something that I think will help him to grow in the mature man I want him to know he can be. I’ve done this many times, (and I’m sure I’m not the only one…). Buying him a grown up wallet to replace that Velcro one he’s been toting around since high school? Been there. Getting him a subscription to The Economist instead of Snowboarder Monthly so he can start reading “serious” things. Done that.

Of course, we mean well, but in our effort to nudge our boyfriends into reaching their full potential, or at least own a decent pair of pants, we can sometimes get a bit carried away. The countless boards that come up in a Pinterest search for “good boyfriend gifts” is proof of this. Evidently we all imagine our partners living in a beautiful world of distressed leather messenger bags, writing on custom stationery, and sipping perfectly crafted bourbon cocktails. But I mean, how many monogrammed vintage shaving brushes can one man get before he goes insane?

Sure, you could take the easy route, too. Most men would love to unwrap a video game or gadget during the holidays and happily spend the next several hours (days… years…) glued to their new screen, but I think there can be a better balance. There are gifts out there that he will love to get, and you will love to give.

Tickets: Whether it’s just buying him passes to a movie, tickets to a concert, or going all out and getting him seats at his team’s next home game, he’ll love a gift where he gets to go out and do something. Bonus – you get to be his plus one!

A great book: If your guy is a reader, get him a book you know he’ll love. Something he can relax with over an eggnog during his holiday time off. Maybe the latest installment in a series you’ve both become obsessed with? The plus side is that you get to read it when he’s finished! Funny how that worked out…

An iPad:  Been looking for an excuse to purchase that big ticket electronics item? Well look no further. Getting “Us” an iPad is a great way to hit that gadget gift sweet spot and also buy something that you’ll be excited to use too. Sorry PS4 – maybe next year.

Kitchen tools:  If your guy’s a chef (or wants to be), buy him a tool that will get him cooking. If he loves to barbecue for example, get him an indoor grill that he can use even in the winter. The upside for you? Having delicious dinners made for you on the regular, duh.

A beard trimmer: Okay, this one might be falling back into the not-so-subtle, boyfriend-as-project zone, but hey, guys need to take care of their facial hair. The obvious perks for you include not being able to taste what he had for lunch when you go in for a kiss and not having your grandma ask why you’re dating a homeless man. We think it’s a win/win.

Happy holidays and merry gift-giving, everyone!