Friday, January 13, 2012

Self Promotion

After a little hiatus, I'm back blogging for Girl Power Hour. Here's the most recent installment, about why dating is inherently awkward, how self-promotion is terrifying and why we need to reign in that fear to date effectively. Enjoy!

Girl Power Hour: Dating Dish | Self Promotion (Samantha Scholfield)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How to Handle Awkward Questions About Your Love Life (or Lack Thereof)

When things fizzle in a relationship, there's a step after the actual parting of ways that can seem like cruel and unusual punishment: having to tell everyone that our relationship status has changed. Relaying the news to our inner circles is usually fairly painless, but if our relationship was a long one and especially if shared family holidays and work parties were involved, the post break-up aftermath can seem never-ending and a particularly hellish form of torture. Well meaning friends, co-workers and family members all want to know what happened, want to give us advice and sometimes seem hell-bent on setting us up immediately with their neighbor's best friend's cousin's son/daughter. 

When the absolute last thing we want to do is rehash what happened and jump into something new, how do we navigate this social mine-field without alienating people and coming across like a hot mess when we freak out when asked one question too many?

1) Keep your cool. Even though it royally sucks to have to field questions about what happened (especially when you JUST managed to not think about your ex every five minutes), most of the people you ask said questions mean well and care about you. Plaster a smile on your face, assure them you're fine and that things just "didn't work out."

2) Change the subject. When dealing with a socially sensitive questioner, sometimes a simple change of subject can be enough to dissuade any further discussion on the topic: "Nope - I'm not really dating anyone special. So - how about that game last night?"

3) Control the conversation. Even though the questions are directed at you, an easy trick to deflect the attention and move into new (less annoying and painful) territory is to give a short answer to their question, and then turn the questions on them: "I'm doing great, thanks - and how are you and Robert doing? Where are you going on vacation this year?" Hopefully they'll be so distracted talking about their vacation plans, they'll forget to focus on you.

4) If they persist, be firm. Your break-up is no one's business but yours, and you are perfectly within your right to not talk about it if you don't want to. When dealing with a more pushy questioner who won't drop the subject, despite your attempts to talk about something else, sometimes a firmer hand is required: "I appreciate your concern, but I'd really rather not talk about this anymore. Why don't you tell me about your new project at work?"

5) If all else fails, walk away. Finding an excuse to leave the conversation is a perfectly acceptable response to being grilled about what happened between you and your ex. Simply say "Excuse me, but I just saw my friend walk in the door / need another drink / need to use the bathroom" and bail.

Although the conversations about your well-being will be frequent and numerous at first, they'll mercifully die out quickly as word gets around. There will always be the family members who ask you point blank why you haven't found someone yet over the sweet potatoes at a family dinner, but hopefully those conversational gems are few and far between and can be viewed as humorous rather than bringing up a whole boatload of memories you're trying to bounce back from -- as is the case right after a break-up.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on, where I'm the dating expert.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Facebook Flirting 101

Facebook isn’t the college reunion it was five years ago, when privacy was tighter than a spandex leotard and you could post just about anything without fear that a picture of you pole-dancing at that one party in college would surface during a job interview ten years later. Now it’s a free-for-all, highly visible, real-time accounting of our lives — both personal and professional — that requires us to keep our profiles G-rated, un-tagged and highly edited if we don’t want our professional lives to crash and burn. When you add the potentially explosive and unknown quantity of new romance into the mix, it’s necessary to keep a tight leash on FB interaction to keep our online personas from imploding.

Since we all flirt, we all have Facebook profiles and we all have jobs we’d like to keep, here are some helpful tips for how to handle some of the more common challenges of flirting in the modern Facebook age.

1. Keep your cyber-stalking habits on stealth mode. When you’re cruising through all 45 of your crush’s photo albums on FB, don’t go crazy with the picture commenting. Same goes for “liking” - it’s a little less intense, but too many instances of “John likes this”, and things will get weird fast. I once accepted a friend request from this guy I was in a class with, and he wrote a comment on almost every single one of my over 400 pictures. Weird? Yes — unfriending happened quickly thereafter. Besides looking obsessive, it makes the object of your affection wonder why you don’t have something better to do with your time. Keep the comments to only one or two of the truly exceptional pictures. If you must respond to status updates, make sure you don’t do it more than once every couple weeks.

2. Think before you post (on your profile). If you’re jonesing to shout to the world about how in love you are, email or message your amor instead. When you’re dealing with your profile, the only time it’s acceptable to post anything about someone else is if it’s anonymous — “Went on a fantastic date last night.” is perfect — it’s cute and holds a bit of enticing mystery. “Went on a fantastic date with [insert link to their profile here] and am counting down the minutes until I see her again” is TMI.

3. Think (even harder) before you post on their profile. Keep anything you post on their profile completely G-rated, non-flirty and devoid of insinuation or detail. First off, flirtations are much hotter when they’re done over text (see Texting Etiquette 101) over the phone, in person, or over email. When flirting happens on FB where everyone from their grandmother to their high-school ex-boyfriend to their creepy co-worker can see that you posted: “You’re a really good kisser and I can’t wait until our next date”, it’s bad. Posting links to something funny or mentioning you saw their doppelgänger on the street yesterday is fine — openly flirting and gushing about how awesome they are on the equivalent of a stage in front of their 500 closest friends, frenemies, family and co-workers is highly ill-advised.

4. When you get cyber bitch-slapped (i.e. unfriended), handle it with grace. Respect their choice and keep your reactions mature. If you absolutely must know why they did it, send them one respectful, emotionless email asking what happened: “Hey - I noticed I no longer see your profile. Did I do something to offend you?” They may have deleted their profile, they may be culling “friends” to avoid Facebook-whore status and keep their circle to only those 300 people closest to them, or maybe you did something to piss them off — it’s hard to tell. Whatever the reason, your best course of action is to accept it and move on.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When Online Dates Fail

Sometimes — even when the chemistry online is so hot any other outcome but life-long bliss seems impossible — when you meet said online profile in person, it can be a there’s-no-way-this-would-ever-work-out disaster. This isn’t anyone’s fault. The Internet can only give us so many hints about whether or not we’ll be compatible, attracted to and/or have chemistry with someone when we meet them in the physical realm. Beyond the obvious problems that can potentially arise from dishonest or exaggerated profiles, there are things you get in person — how you feel around them, smell, body language, how attractive they are to you in three dimensions — that you can’t get through IMing, emailing and profile stalking.

So what happens when you encounter an online-arranged date fail? When things don’t stack up in person and you know it, how long do you hang in there before bailing, and what do you say?

I think most would agree that hanging in there for 20-30 minutes is both long enough to show respect for the person who took time out of their day to come meet with you and also to give any potential bonding a fair shot, but isn’t so long that either you or they will feel like they wasted their whole afternoon on a date that went nowhere. The 20-30 minute goal is a perfect argument for why first online dates should be drinks or coffee based, and not meal based. Unless you’re grabbing hot dogs from a street stand, a meal will almost definitely commit you to more than 30 minutes. Anyone who has gone on a few bad online dates knows the wisdom of not roping yourself into an extended period of time with someone you may actively have anti-chemistry with.

As far as how to politely and respectfully bail after you’ve burned your tongue on your coffee in an effort to speed the 20 minutes along, I’m from the camp of just being honest — not brutally so, but honest enough that your feelings are clear about any potential future dates with this person. Something like the following works well: “Hey, thanks for the drink” (if they bought) or “Thanks for meeting me for coffee”, followed by, “It was really nice to meet you, but I’m just not feeling a connection, romantically. I wish you the best.” You’re being straight up about not feeling anything for them, which isn’t arguable — you feel how you feel. Being honest during the date and letting them know where you stand is a more stand-up way to deal with non-connection than to not return emails or phone calls in a few days when they ask you for a second installment.

Sometimes, the anti-romantic chemistry is present on both sides, and being honest will result in a friendship — one you may not have fostered if one or both of you turned to the unanswered emails and phone calls route. If one of you feels it and the other doesn’t, being honest may feel a bit brutal, but will ultimately be respected more than the alternative. I know I’d much rather hear it straight than be ignored.

Yours in stand-up honesty, S

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Facebook Awkwardness

Facebook Relationship Status = Dating Free Zone

Changing one’s Facebook relationship status seems like an innocent enough thing to do…Until you realize that you’re announcing that status of your sex life to not only your 500 closest friends (some of whom you haven’t spoken to since 4th grade), but also various judging family members, voyeuristic co-workers and “It’s complicated” exes. When you’re announcing a new relationship, the comments are congratulatory and not overly annoying. When you end something? That’s when it gets bad. That little broken heart shows up on every single of your Facebook friends’ newsfeeds and you’re forced to deal with all manner of well-meaning (but very quickly overwhelming) pity-party comments and questions over your relationship fail.

But besides the public scrutiny, there is a whole other giant pile of issues surrounding the emotionally-charged mine-field of the relationship status checkboxes.

Changing it requires an often-awkward conversation where questions arise like “Are we changing them simultaneously so one of us doesn’t look like a loser in denial?”, “Are we ready to change them? If not, what does that mean?”. And the most awkward of all: What if the person you’re dating changes it without discussing it with you, and suddenly you’re listed as “in a relationship” with someone you aren’t in a relationship with? Ack.

After you’ve broken up, when is the optimal time to change it? Doing it too soon is kind of a slap in the face to your ex and waiting to change it looks like a serious case of denial. It’s also usually a raw, emotional time and it often takes a few days to make sure the important people in your life know that you’re no longer in a relationship. Announcing the news on FB can be like dropping a drama-filled pity-party bomb - something you so don’t want to deal with when you’re in the post-break-up turmoil zone. Double ack.

The solution — provided by a brilliant friend who has dealt with all manner of Facebook relationship status shenanigans — is to make your Facebook profile a dating-free zone. Relationship status is left blank, no matter the situation, thereby avoiding all of the above problems. When asked by relationship-status-updating suitors, my friend simply states that it’s her policy to keep her private life private and she never has and never will update her relationship status. As a diplomatic but save-yourself-some-major-hassle policies go, this one is as solid as they come. Here’s to bringing back a little privacy for the sake of our sanity.

Yours in Facebook TMI, S