Friday, February 25, 2011


The DTR (“Define the Relationship”): that often awkward, nervous-sweat-inducing but necessary conversation that every couple must have (besides perhaps an arranged marriage). How many dates must pass before the talk? What’s the best way to do it? What if they’re not feeling the same way and the DTR causes a premature end to your (or their) live-in-the-now happiness?

When to DTR: This varies from relationship to relationship, so instead of following some arbitrary timeline, do it when it feels right. The DTR should happen when you start feeling ready to take things to the next level. If you’re feeling excited about them and want to see what happens in an exclusive setting, bring it up.

The other situation in which to DTR is if you’re getting the impression that they’re way more into you than you are into them (and/or feel like maybe they’re thinking exclusivity when you’re not). Put yourself in their shoes and treat them well, even if you think their assumptions about your relationship are out of line. Being honest about where you stand and getting everyone on the same page is huge, especially when feelings get involved.

How to DTR: Couching the DTR as a serious talk may be mistaken for the break-up speech, so avoid talking about having the DTR before you actually do. If the person you’re with hears “I want to talk about something with you”, they’ll be on the defensive to protect themselves in case what you have to say isn’t good — no one loves getting dumped. Instead, bring it up the next time you’re both happy and comfortable and in a low-key but positive way: “Hey — I like you. I want to see where this will go. How are you feeling about us?” Then, have a conversation and figure out where you both stand. If you’re in the same place, brilliant. If not, talk about it.

When you want to go from many to one: If you’re currently dating multiple people and would like to be dating just one, hen you mention you’d like to be exclusive with them that one person will pick up on the fact that they were not (up until the DTR) the sole member of your happy-time club. If they subscribe to the popular belief that until the DTR, everything is fair game, they’ll be fine with this. If they don’t, listen and talk it through. Hopefully they’ll see your side.

A successful DTR requires both grace and tact, and an understanding of the position of the person you’re DTRing. Honesty, respect and communication are golden. No one likes to feel like they’ve been played, or to be in a position where they’re getting hurt or are hurting someone else. Don’t fall prey to wussiness or a douchebaggery: talk about where you stand when you get to the point of moving forward or out.

Yours in happy DTRing, S

Thursday, February 17, 2011

5 Party Mingling Don'ts (or How to Make the Party Awkward)

Parties, depending on how social we're feeling on a particular day, are either something to be looked forward to and enjoyed with a "Best. Night. Ever" fervor, or are social nightmares to be dreaded and may cause psychosomatic flu-like symptoms hours before the event, keeping us (happily) contained to our couches watching re-runs of Sex and the City. No matter where we fall on this scale, we all have good days and bad days. After attending a party a couple weeks ago where all of the following five "don'ts" occurred more than once, here are some basic tips to (hopefully) make the upcoming party season as un-nightmarish and "Best. Night. Ever," as possible.

1) Avoid being a personal space invader. Sometimes, when we're in a small space with a lot of people, it's impossible not to get too close -- and that's fine. The forced invasion of personal space even provides something to joke and laugh about. But when there's plenty of room and someone gets thisclose (and they're not your best friend or significant other), it's very uncool. Culturally, personal space can vary, but a good rule of thumb is between a two and three feet away when you're having a conversation with someone at a party.

2) Don't be "That Girl/Guy" at the party. Whether it be alcohol or something more in the illegal realm, getting wasted to the point of blacking out or being out of control is rarely cool, especially when the person in question keeps swearing that they're not, in fact, over their limit.

3) Don't be a conversation hogger. Meeting new people is one of the best things about attending a party. Sometimes you can walk away with a new BFF, date and/or a giant pile of warm fuzzy feelings from an enjoyable night with awesome people. And sometimes, you can get stuck in a truly cringe-inducing conversation, where the other person is talking just to hear the sound of their own voice and although is asking you questions, isn't listening to a word you say. Nothing kills a conversation faster than having the person you're talking to ask you the same question multiple times because they weren't paying attention.

4) Avoid double dipping in mixed company. Going for the hummus, guacamole or delicious seven layered bean dip with the chip you just took a bite out of may be cool around your closest pals, but doing it at a party where you don't know everyone is not advised, for obvious reasons.

5) Don't gossip. Parties are great places for overhearing (read eavesdropping), and when you don't know everyone there, it's waaaaay to easy to get caught saying something you probably shouldn't be saying and having the person you're discussing find out. It's also a good idea to keep your (negative) opinions about the other party-goers to yourself -- you never know who might know the person you're talking about. Sticking to the old "Don't say anything if you don't have something nice to say," is a solid plan.

Potholes like the above are easy to avoid once we're aware of them (or have been guilty of them and felt moronic enough afterwards to avoid repeating the mistake). Even on those shy or "I don't want to go out" days, pulling together a good attitude about party-going and being social will make a huge difference as to whether or not the experience will rock . Parties are fantastic places to meet new people, make new connections and have a great time -- especially if we're enjoying the single life. Every cool new person we meet is going to know other cool people they can introduce us to, drastically widening our social circles and hugely upping the odds of finding our next date.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When Dumping Isn't Awkward: A Nice Story

Stoked About Getting Dumped

We all fall into one of two categories: the dumpers and the dumpees. There is some overlap, but most of us have a preference when it comes to ending a relationship, fling, or changing the status of “friends with benefits” to “just friends”. The dumpers are the people who dump before they can get dumped, or — more nicely put — they are more proactive and end something when an end is needed.

The dumpees (usually my M.O.) beat the dead horse of a relationship until they get dumped so they don’t have to confront the problem, or in other words, they want to be absolutely sure that the relationship should end so they keep it going for as long as it takes to eliminate all possibility of regret.Yes, I generalize. Obviously there are exceptions and often — as is the case with relationships — extenuating circumstances. Only rarely does breaking something off work out so that both parties walk away happy.

This rare circumstance found a friend of mine recently.

My friend (we’ll call her Betsy), had gone on about ten dates with this guy she had originally scoped out on an online dating site (one far less superior to PickV, so it’s not even worth mentioning), but didn’t hear back from when she sent him an email. Used to the crap-shoot that can be online dating emailing, she let it go and moved on. That weekend, she was at a friend’s house party and much to her surprise, so was this guy. Her friend introduced them, not knowing that they already had a connection, and as soon as their mutual friend left them to talk, the guy said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t email you back. It’s been a crazy week at work, and I haven’t had any time for anything but eating, sleeping and working. I was going to email you back next week, but this is way better. Hi.” Betsy smiled. The guy smiled. A connection was born.

After about four months and ten dates (the first of which Betsy swears was in her top five best dates ever), things fizzled, as they do. Both Betsy and the guy had other online-born connections that they would occasionally go out with, and Betsy and the guy kept having schedule conflicts, which didn’t allow them to bond as quickly as some of the other connections they both had. End result: after a few months, Betsy was feeling like it was time to call it, and try a friendship with the guy instead. She liked him as a person, but the romantic spark hadn’t lasted past the first date.

She was nervous about talking to him, since she didn’t know where he stood or what he was feeling. She is also a fan of being the dumpee, so switching sides and initiating an end was a new situation for her. She finally psyched herself up enough to make the phone call (she decided doing it in person was too intense for their particular situation), and when she got him on the phone, he seemed really happy to hear from her — relieved, almost. Cringing, she started into her pre-prepared talk, but only got as far as “So, I’ve been thinking…” before the connection cut out and she was unable to get him back on the phone. A couple hours later, after trying him twice more to no avail, she received an email from him: “Betsy — I wanted to talk to you about this earlier when you called, but now my phone is dead and after it cut out I couldn’t call you back. I really didn’t want to do this over email (I like you more than that), but I think we should just be friends. I think you’re a great person, but I’m just not feeling a spark. Let me know if you still want to hang. I totally get if you don’t, so no pressure, OK?”

How stoked was Betsy? Very stoked. It’s so… nice when things work out like this and no one gets hurt, right? Here’s to hoping that the next time you find that the spark has fizzled, whichever side you prefer (dumper or dumpee), things work out every time as well as Betsy and her dude.

Yours in pleasant endings, S