Relationship Warning Signs

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

We’ve all had our painful relationships and dating missteps.  Being cheated on or lied to is sadly not unusual. The important thing is to learn, vow to do things differently next time, and move on.  One way to have a better outcome next time is to recognize any warning signs you overlooked.

relationship_trapYears ago I had a very painful end to a relationship with a man I thought was my forever-after man.  The entire time we went out he was seeing someone else and lying to us both about it.  While there was no excuse for his deception, I clearly missed the signs that something was amiss.  One indication was that in four months of serious dating I never went to his house.  He was living with his parents, something he did not want me to know.  In addition, he would over-react to situations and suspect me of seeing someone else.  There was inequality in the relationship: he could be absent for several days with a vague “I’ll be too busy” explanation, while he objected to my being unavailable for more than a day.  Even when I learned of the other woman, he lied about their relationship, telling me she was his unbalanced cousin.  Finally, now I see that his over-attentiveness throughout our time together was based in his fear that it wouldn’t last or that I would find him out.

It’s so important that we stay alert and in the moment.  Don’t casually dismiss the concerns raised by your friends.  Take time alone to reflect and process, and pay attention to what’s not being said.  Remember that our inner knowing is often first expressed as physical discomfort of some sort, so listen to what your body is telling you.

Try “Yes” for a Change

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

CrowdI’ve been working with singles for years, and I’m still surprised how often they’re quick to shoot down an idea.  The most common complaint is that they can’t meet anyone they want to date.  They meet singles, but not any “good ones.”  These folks ask for ideas, but when I suggest something they immediately dismiss it, as if it’s a moral conviction like not eating meat. 

Here are some common refusals:

  • “I don’t do online dating.”  Well, maybe they should.  Not all dating sites are the same, and new websites are created all the time. There are several dating sites that have emerged in the six years I’ve been married to Roger.
  • “No one good ever goes to that dance.”  I hear that about Calculated Couples, the singles dance I met Roger at.  I heard it back then, too. Thank heavens I realized that on any given night, anyone could show up.  It’s just not accurate that only losers go to an event, as long as you show up.  (You’re not a loser, are you?)
  • “Church groups are all the same.  No thanks.”  This typically comes from someone who hasn’t been to church in 20 years.  And have they really tried every church to validate this belief?
  • “I could never speed date.  Are you kidding?”  Why not?  It’s a three minute conversation with someone.  If they do half the talking, that leaves you just 90 seconds to fill.  If you’re really panicked, bring a list of questions.  I’ve seen it done, so you won’t be the first.

The next time you’re inclined to fuss about the way things are, remember the old adage: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  Try saying “yes’ and see what happens.

What’s Expected of You?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

“Young women in particular seem to feel that they have to do what is expected of them.” Shmuley Boteach, author of Kosher Sex

Rabbi Boteach made this observation in 2000, and I still see evidence of its validity today – and not just from younger women.  Single women of all ages comment that the impression they have is that dating is about having sex.  What’s up with that?

I know society has become less formal over the years, and that’s okay.  Even I laugh at the thought of Ward Cleaver wearing a tie to a baseball game.  (Ward was the Beaver’s dad on Leave it to Beaver, for those too young to remember.)  But does that mean we have to move to the opposite extreme and engage in the most physically intimate behavior we can, short of giving birth, just because it’s our third date?  Would you feel comfortable sharing your most intimate secrets with someone that you’ve only spent time with three times?  I doubt it.  So why would it be acceptable to share your body intimately with that person?  Is your body less sacred than the rest of you?  Ask anyone who’s recovered from a major disease or accident and I suspect you’ll get new perspective on what a treasure your body is.

Having sex should never be an obligation or something we submit to because it’s expected of us or so we’ll get asked out again.  It is possible to commit to having only sane sex, which is when emotional and physical intimacy develop at the same pace, in the context of an exclusive, loving relationship.  It’s the best way I know of to date, and you’re worth the best.

Honesty is a Non-Negotiable

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

I’m always amazed to see how much lying happens on television and in the movies.  Want to impress someone you’re attracted to?  No problem, just make something up.  (E.g., the series opener of About a Boy) What’s the thought process here?  Unless it’s a one-night stand, they’re eventually bound to find out your real age, that you have a child (or don’t), or that you’re not a doctor.  What then?  No matter what’s transpired between you, the whole thing started with a lie.  For best results: honesty is a must.  Openness is optional.

Think Before You Text!

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

I’m amazed at the prevalence of texting reported by my dating coaching clients.  Breaking up, arguing, or handling any sensitive matters are not appropriate or effective uses of text messaging, regardless of your age.  Just as we have commonly understood rules of etiquette for email messages, such as using all caps is unacceptable (equivalent to shouting), I propose that we adopt guidelines for selecting our means of communication, considering the variables listed across the top row of the table below.

Texting (or use of a third party) is fine for short, simple messages that are not sensitive and do not require dialogue for the message to be accepted.  Written communication is ideal for detailed or complex messages provided the content is not overly sensitive.  Face to face works for all types of messages because it incorporates both verbal and non-verbal communication and makes it easier to clear up any misunderstanding or lack of clarity.  It allows a dialogue to take place, facilitating a higher level of communication.   I know it takes more time and courage, but the end results are worth it.

When we need to talk it out or deliver a complex or difficult message, face to face communication is essential.  Please do not take the easy way out with a text message or, possibly worse, not communicating at all.  I advise my clients, should they receive such a text message, not to engage the other party.  Instead, suggest a time and place when you can sit down together.  What goes around really does come around.  Be the man or woman of integrity you believe yourself to be (and want to attract) and have a face to face conversation.  It’ll be a better planet if you do.

Method

Length of Message

Complexity of Message

Sensitivity of Message

Need for Dialogue

Texting

short

low

low

low

Email

short – medium

medium – high

low – medium

low – medium

Letter/Memo

all

all

low – medium

low

Phone call

short – medium

low – medium

low – medium*

medium – high

Face to face

all

all

all

all

Social media

short – medium

short – medium

low

low

Third-party

short

low

low

low

* We can use the phone for highly sensitive messages if face to face is not possible.

Email and phone calls can be used for long messages if necessary, depending on the recipients’ preferences.

Change it Up to Get a Better Result

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

I hear lots of complaints from singles about who’s “out there.”  Both genders lament that the other half is too focused on appearance, and they feel they can’t meet expectations.  Men get concerned when a woman asks what he does for a living, and the women think all men want is sex.  If this sounds familiar, do the math and pay attention to how often these things really happen. If it’s not that often, then stop complaining; but if it’s a pattern, remember that you’re common variable in each instance. And you’re the only one you can change – you can’t do anything about them.  How about holding off making judgments and giving the conversation more time?  How can you change it up to meet different people?  Are your expectations realistic?  Be proactive and reduce your frustration by changing what you do get a different result.

Where Are Your Problem Areas?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

People often tell me that the reason they can’t get a date is that they’re not attractive enough.  Interestingly, and sadly, I hear this from women and men alike.  Usually the women think they’re too heavy, and the men believe they’re too short.  In all honesty, I assure you I’ve never met anyone that I agreed with on this point.  Appearance is not the issue.  The next time you’re in a crowded place with men and women, take a good look at the couples.  Most people are pleasant looking, but they’re not knock-outs.  And while some seem well matched to each other, I frequently see all kinds of combinations.  She will be stunning while he is average.  The man will be shorter than the woman, yet it’s evident the woman adores him.  And on it goes. 

CrowdThere is someone for everyone, and we only need one to be our special someone.  What I gently suggest to people is to examine what’s taking place between their ears and what’s coming out of their mouths.  These tend to be our problem areas: the thoughts we hold and how they’re reflected in the things we say.  Appreciation, praise, and humor are attractors; complaints, negativity, and cynicism repel people.

Do your best to look and feel your best, display gratitude and confidence with a smile, and you’ll see a difference in how people see you.

Timing is Everything

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

They say timing is everything, and I certainly think that applies to dating.  Just as so many things are fast-tracked today (the Internet, hiring procedures, college courses, and weight loss, to name a few), for many people dating is also in the fast lane. I continue to watch sitcom characters have sex on the first date and think nothing of it.

Based on my clients’ experiences and my conversations with singles, there’s a lot to think about.  When people become physically intimate with someone they don’t know well, they usually come to regret it, as they discover things that cause them to end the relationship.  I still stand by the sane sex model, which is based on postponing sex until we’re in an exclusive, loving relationship.  I know exclusivity and love aren’t easy to achieve.  That’s okay – you’re worth the wait and so is the experience of being intimate with someone who is devoted to you!

Ask yourself: Is it really in my best interest not to wait for an exclusive, loving relationship? 

Sex for the Right Reasons

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Sane Sex for Singles

StairsAs you can imagine, people I knew were quite interested in my book as I was writing it.  A former human resources director writing a book about dating and sex?!  I remember a friend telling me that she wished my book was already available, because a friend of hers was making poor decisions.  This friend had agreed to sleep with a man she’d just met because he’d helped her do something around her house.  It wasn’t a major project, like re-tile her bathroom (not that that would warrant having sex with someone), but something minor like move a heavy object.  

I’m all for gratitude and expressing appreciation, but can you see that sharing yourself in the most physically intimate way possible as a way to say “thank you” is just too much?  Ask yourself: Am I honoring myself and my body by agreeing to be intimate in this situation?

Time to Update the Safe Sex Message

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

 

http://www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu/condomgraph.html

I was asked recently what my bigger-than-I-could-ever-imagine-happening dream is.  I’m happy to say that I was able to answer immediately:  I’d like to see the safe sex campaign updated for the new millennium and replaced with a sane sex movement.

For decades, the government and health officials have been encouraging people to practice safe sex.  This means only having sex with the protection of a condom, unless we know for certain that we and our partner are disease-free. Safe sex is a good thing, because it protects us physically, but I’d like to see us raise the bar and promote sane sex, which is more likely to safeguard us emotionally as well.  This is a big dream, not just because it involves my book and spreading my message on a large scale, but also because we haven’t done all that well with safe sex.  When I wrote my book, the most recent studies reported that about twenty percent of college-age adults failed to engage in safe sex with the percentage increasing to well over 60% for Baby Boomers.  I was alarmed to learn recently that a 2010 study conducted by Indiana University found that over 50% of college students and about 90% of people over age 45 said they had not used a condom during their past ten experiences! (http://www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu/)

Researchers suggest that the nascent surge in online dating and use of sexual performance drugs has increased sexual activity among single adults.  Combine these trends with failure to use condoms and it’s easy to understand why the incidence of STDs continues to rise.  I think now is a perfect time to promote sane sex.  Why couldn’t the major online dating sites, which publish tips for successful dating, also promulgate the notion of committing to sane sex?

I can see it now: bumper stickers, buttons and screen savers declaring: I practice sane sex.  How about you?