The Ideal Dating Episodes of the Art of Manliness Podcast

We find ourselves on that vacation specializing in romance, when our ideas naturally tend towards the condition of our relationships. Maybe you’re single and wondering how to have better success with relationship. Or already dating someone, and considering upping your commitment level. Or perhaps you’re married and trying to keep the flame of love alive. 

Fortunately, for any relationship phase you are in, we have done a podcast episode that covers it and provides solid, expert-backed hints for enhancing where things are at now and creating the best possible next move. Below you’ll find a round-up of our finest relationship-focused shows that cover how to perform love well in certain phases of romance, in addition to navigating the overall principles of intimate relationships throughout the board.

Is That a Date or Not? The Issue With Ambiguity in Relationships

Dating has never been more ambiguous than it is now. People sort of end up with each other without specifically defining the character of their relationship, degree of commitment, or expectations for the future. What starts as hanging out, slides into spending the night, which slides into moving in together, and may even occasionally slide into marriage.

While maintaining your romantic relationships ambiguous may appear to make them safer and less complex, Scott Stanley has conducted research that shows that is not necessarily true. In this episode, Scott explains why relationship has gotten more ambiguous throughout the last twenty years and why that has led people to slip into relationships rather than explicitly committing and deciding to them.

Love Is Overrated

Do you end up making the same mistakes over and over again in your relationships?  Do you have a propensity to ignore red flags and always wind up in relationships that are not healthy for you?  Maybe you wind up in relationships where the chemistry is great, but a couple of months afterwards, you’re searching for any way out. 

My guests in this event, father-daughter duo and authors Michael and Sarah Bennett, assert that your problem is that you let yourself get suckered by love. The Bennetts supply a great deal of solid advice when it comes to establishing long-term and fulfilling relationships. 

3. The Surprising Benefits of Marriage for Men

Unfortunately, many contemporary men see marriage as an institution which, at best, stifles them, at worst, sets them up for divorce, and because of this, financial and emotional ruin. But study coming out lately indicates that union actually provides a good deal of advantages to men — from earning more money, to getting better sex, to enjoying a healthier and longer life. 

In this episode I talk to Brad Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, along with the Director of the National Marriage Project.  We discuss the impact marriage has on men, and why formally tying the knot really makes a substantial difference in comparison to being in a committed, non-married relationship. 

4. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts

If you are a guy on the precipice of union, or wish to get married, 1 worry you probably have is”Can my marriage last?”  While divorce rates have been decreasing because they reached their peak in the late 1970s and early’80s, there is still a perception out there that marriage is only a crapshoot — a game of Russian roulette — and that the odds favor you end up in a family court, or at best in a gloomy and loveless relationship. 

In this event, writer and marriage therapist Les Parrott asserts that does not have to be your destiny so long as you take a proactive approach to union. With some thought and intentionality, you can help make certain you get a joyful, loving, fulfilling relationship that lasts till death do you part. 

5. 

In this episode, I speak with Dr. Duana Welch about what social science has to say about how, why, when romance goes bad. We discuss the different reasons women and men cheat and how to stop it, how pornography affects relationships, and also the best way to break up with someone when a relationship goes sour.

6.  Date-onomics — How Demographics Are Affecting Courtship and Marriage

In the past forty years we have seen dramatic changes in how that people date and marry. Sexuality has become more permissive and young adults are putting off marriage more and longer. And plenty of ink has been spilt in an attempt to explain exactly why. People today talk about factors like changing values and the changing market.

My guest in this episode has a different spin on the subject: writer Jon Birger argues that it is perhaps changing demographics which have transformed mating patterns in the West. We also talk about some practical suggestions about how to best take advantage of demographics based upon your individual scenario. 

7. Better Conversations on Marriage and Money

Among the biggest sources of contention in marriages is cash. When you have two people come into union with quite different ideas about how money should be handled, saved, spent, etc., you are sure to have some battle. But it’s possible to decrease those money arguments. Like every marital difficulty, issues about money can be solved with a few constructive discussions. My guests in this event, Derek and Carrie Olsen, discuss the discussions you should be having with your partner not just about money, but also values and lifestyle generally. How Face-to-Face Contact Could Make You Healthier, Happier, and Smarter

Although this show is not just about relationships and dating, Susan Pinker and I do talk about the value of face-to-face connections in romantic relationships. We also get into how women and men socialize differently, and why online dating is not all that it is cracked up to be. Even the parts that are not about dating specifically will surely provide insight which will carry over into your relationship with your significant other. 

A growing number of today, we are communicating with the people we love through displays. While this has greatly improved the efficiency of communication, there are some inevitable drawbacks which come with the decrease in face-to-face conversation. Like the episode above, this is not explicitly about romantic relationships, but what Sherry Turkle and I talk will definitely enhance those relationships. We discuss what we’re missing when we do not speak with people in person, the downsides of communication via computers and smartphones, and what we can do to recover purposeful dialogue.

10.

In this episode I speak to evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller. We discuss some myths of relationship, the traits women find attractive in men, and definite steps men can take to boost their relationship value and have more success with women. A fascinating show whether you are married or single. 

What do women find attractive in men? What should you be searching for in a partner if you would like a long-lasting relationship? Are there any red flags to be watching for in a spouse?  Are married men happy or unhappy? My guest in this episode, Dr. Duana Welch, has spent her career exploring these questions. She highlights the bona fide research that is out there about dating and relationships. 

12. Mating Intelligence

Drs. Glen Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman talk with me about the cutting edge research from evolutionary psychology, intellect, imagination, personality, social psychology, and neuroscience to reveal what people find attractive in one another and what we can all do to maximize our mating intelligence so as to have more success in forming and maintaining relationships. 

13. How to Spot Red Flags in a Relationship

When many guys chalk up the odds of a successful union to the luck of the draw, my guest in this event, clinical psychologist Shawn Smith, asserts that by searching for certain red flags in a relationship, in addition to certain positive traits, you can avoid becoming involved in a draining union, and rather marry someone who will make your life simpler.  Shawn and I talk about the risks and benefits of love and the mistakes he has seen guys make over and over again in his counseling practice in regards to marriage and dating.

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The Top 8 Date Suggestions

There are basically two categories of dates.

You will find first dates with people you’ve never seen in the flesh, nor likely talked to on the telephone — those you met through an internet dating service.

Perhaps a classmate, or a barista in a coffee shop you frequent, or a gal you speak with in passing. It may even be a long-time buddy, who has already been nothing more than that. You know them a little (or a lot), but you have never gone on a genuine date (characterized by the three P’s: Planned beforehand, Paired off, Paid for) together. In this circumstance, in that you feel more confident on your chances with the individual, and are happy to spend more time together in a new context, you can decide on a first date which involves a bit more commitment.

It is that category of dates which the listing below is focused on.

A dynamite date in this class includes 5 components:

  • Affordable. Spending a great deal signals a huge commitment and high expectations, which could really be conducive to your date. Keeping things cheaper and casual not only sets the perfect vibe for her, but rewards you also; if the date does not go as planned, you are not out a major nut with nothing to show for it. Plus, it lets you keep first dates more regular, which, until you find your main squeeze, they need to be.
  • The opportunity to converse freely. No film dates — or concerts, plays, or comedy shows for that matter, no super loud restaurants or pubs, and really, no bowling either — it looks like a fantastic idea, but either you are up to bowl or she is, and it is quite tricky to find a cohesive conversation going. The entire point of this date is to get to know each other better, and you can not do that in case you’re unable to speak, or can speak, but can not hear each other.
  • Ample face-to-face moment. Men prefer interacting side-by-side, but women prefer to do it face-to-face; also, ample eye contact plays a massive part in building attraction. So don’t do an activity that is largely side-by-side in character (ice skating, kayaking) or where you end up one behind another (biking or hiking on a narrow trail).
  • Novelty. Do not just do something that you do on a normal basis anyway (e.g., visit a bar). A publication activity sets the butterflies aflutter.
  • A background that offers easy conversation fodder. There’ll be nary an awkward silence when there are loads of things happening around you to comment on and discuss.

There are loads of lists out there that will provide you 30 or 50″best” first dates — but these really consist largely of thoughts that would result in awesome second, third, or fourth dates. Using the criteria above for the best first date, you can narrow things down considerably. The 8 date ideas below are those that will set the best possible chances for getting a good, spark-catalyzing moment.

Museum

You will never run out of interesting things to say as you tour through a museum’s displays, and the background can elevate your conversation over the typical first date banalities. Plus, a wonderful art museum feels dang classy.

Mini Golf

Playing putt-putt has an almost cliché, too wholesome feel to it, but that may actually work in your favor — it shows that you don’t take things too seriously, which can be an attractive attribute. You’ll have tons of laughs over the course of 18 holes, and after it is possible to move on and treat her to — what else? — a few ice cream cones.

Drinks and trivia are equally fantastic inhibition looseners, and you will likely have a night of fun and laughs. Additionally, the element of competition adds a little emotional charge.

There are places offering pre-made ceramic pieces which you select and paint. It is surprisingly soothing and fun to do something creative together, and this is a fantastic date if she is more of a mellow, introverted type.

“Paint and Sip” areas are a related concept, and certainly a fine choice, but it is a lot easier to sit face and converse in a pottery painting place.

Spectating is admittedly somewhat side-by-side in character, but minor league matches are often so casual and laid-back that it is quite easy to turn to each other a whole lot to converse.

Picnic

Picnics have a great deal going for them as far as building allure. You demonstrate your ability and creativity in assembling the food you will bring (we have tips for the best spread here) and in the spot you decide to set up camp (showing you understand an impressive place, particularly one with a perfect view of the sunset, will score you big points — girls like a guy who has a scout-like understanding of terrain); do not go anywhere too secluded however, as that will not create a woman who does not know you very well yet comfy. Secondly, character is an incomparable backdrop for a date, as it has been proven to elicit all types of positive feelings.

Tea House/Room

What is great about the normal java date is that it packs tons of face-to-face time round the imbibing of hot drinks — which, believe it or not, has in fact been proven to induce warm inter-personal feelings. To retain those two components, but in a form that is less causal and abbreviated, consider visiting a tea house. None of these foo-fooey ones, with doilies and crumpets and overstuffed velvet chairs frequented by ladies in big hats, but a classy,”gender-neutral” type of place where you can taste gourmet teas at a zen-like atmosphere and bite tasty victuals.

Additionally, if the next Karate Kid movie taught me it is that tea ceremonies are a prelude to a first kiss.

Amusement Park

Nothing will quite get the butterflies fluttering like the laughs and excitement provided by an amusement park. In the darkened tunnels of the spook house, to the suspenseful climb up the rollercoaster hill, there’ll be a lot of hand-holding minutes to go around. Plus, an opportunity to show-off your he-man strength and acquire your grandma a giant stuffed animal.

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The Way to Ask Better Questions on a First Date

Engaging in small talk with anybody can be a small nerve-racking — you are on an improv point for two, and need to think of things to say on the fly, avoid awkward silences, and come off as moderately charming to boot.

Engaging in small talk on a first date can be particularly anxiety-ridden. While unspoken, you are being actively evaluated in your beauty (both in personality and looks). It is just like a”job” interview for the position of future significant other. Ace it, and it might be the beginning of a lifelong romance. Blow it, and you may never see that someone special.

No pressure, right?

As a help in being successful at this sort of high-stakes small talk, you will find loads of lists out there that indicate good questions to ask someone on a date.

These lists often fall into two categories: basic, stock questions (“Where are you from?” “What do you do for fun?”) , and more unique, out-there questions (“If you could only bring 3 things with you on a desert island, what would they be?”) .

The problem with the first set of questions is they’re boring; when somebody is communicating a lot, they get tired of being asked if they enjoy their job and how many siblings they have. The problem with the second group, is they can seem pretty arbitrary — and overly scripted — if you simply drop them into dialogue.

Luckily, it doesn’t need to be an either-or equation. There is a better way to ask first date questions which incorporates both kinds of them.

You do use the fundamental, inventory questions — common though they are, they form a comforting ritual which puts people at ease. Nonetheless, you use them as jumping off points, which permit you to segue to more intriguing questions.

This approach strikes a wonderful balance between seeming like you are trying too small, and coming off like you’re trying too hard.

You ask a normal stock question, then act like your date’s answer to this question just naturally made you think of another semi-related, more unique one. Needless to say, you had the question in your mind, and that is okay. The paradox of being charming is that so as to act natural, you truly need to be well-prepared; it is not that people do not know on some level your repertoire is somewhat”scripted,” it is just that if you implement it easily and engagingly enough, they do not care, and revel in coming along for the ride.

How to Request Better First Date Questions With the Standard-Question → Interesting-Follow-Up Method 

The beauty of this standard-question → interesting-follow-up strategy is that it’ll take your first date discussions to places where you will indirectly get to know a whole lot about another person, without directly — and awkwardly — needing to ask them,”What is your deepest fear?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Though your queries should be thought-provoking, your spouse should be able to answer them without missing too much of a beat; people feel dumb when they need to perform the”Hmmm, boy, well, oooh, that’s a tough one” thing, and struggle to think of a response. A good indicator of whether or not a question hits the sweet spot is just to ask yourself the question, and see if you enjoy thinking about it and can pretty easily imagine how you would respond.

Also, bear in mind that a conversation is not an interrogation — you do not need to ask question after question without sharing anything on your own. Your date will hopefully turn these questions back on you, and develop ones of their own. When they don’t, however, pepper in some comment about your own life; study has demonstrated that individuals who reveal more about themselves (whilst making such disclosures within appropriate guidelines) are enjoyed more than people who are more guarded. Needless to say, if your date is a conversational narcissist, it is probably an ill omen of things to come.

Ultimately, while the follow-up query does not have to precisely relate to the normal question you forward, obviously the more tightly it will relate, the more natural the segue will be. So select a follow-up in the present time, according to what your date has stated, and link it to something she provided in her response.

Interesting Follow-Ups:

  • Was it an enjoyable place for a child to grow up? As a kid did you wish you lived somewhere else?
  • Aside from that town/city, is there another place that feels like”home” to you?
  • If I had been seeing your hometown, what is the very best thing you would recommend doing or seeing?
    • What was your”individuality” in the household? You know, some children are the overachiever, or the goody-two-shoes, or the crazy one, or the peacemaker.
    • Are/were you nearer to a sibling in particular?
    • In what ways are you different from your siblings?

    Standard Question: What attracted you to this town?

    Interesting Follow-Ups: 

    • What’s proven to be the most different from the conceptions/expectations you had about this place before you moved here — everything you imagined it would be like before you arrived?
    • What is your favourite thing about living here?
    • What’s 1 thing about this town you were not sure about at first, but have grown to love?
    • What is one drawback of living here that you don’t believe you will ever get used to?

    Standard Question: Where did you go to college?

    Interesting Follow-Ups: 

    • Did school meet the expectations you had of what college would be like growing up?
    • What’s 1 thing you wished you’d known going into school? Have you got any doubts about how you did faculty?
    • What do you miss most about your school days?
    • Is your job now linked to your major?
    • Have you stayed in touch with your high school/college buddies?
    • How did you meet your best friend?
    • What would most surprise your high school/college friends about how you have changed since then?
    • What do you think’s been the hardest aspect of becoming an adult?

    Standard Question: What do you do for work? Do you enjoy it?

    • What is lacking about your job that prevents it from being a dream job?
    • What are your hours/schedule like? Do you enjoy that program or are you more of a morning person/night owl by nature?
    • What is a part of your morning routine that can help you’ve got a fantastic day?
    • How do you like to unwind when you buy home?  

    Standard Question: Do you have some favorite television shows?

     Interesting Follow-Ups: 

    • What is a tv show you believe got canceled too early?
    • What is a show you see when you can not determine what to watch?
    • Is there anything you can re-watch over and over again?

    Standard Question: what sort of music do you enjoy?

    • What is the best concert you ever attended? Worst?
    • What is the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever attended (e.g., 1 Management, 10th tier )?
    • What is a record you never get tired of?
    • Is there a genre of music you loved in high school, which you now can not stand?
    • What is on your fitness playlist?

    Standard Question: Read any good books lately?

    • What was your favourite book you had to read in high school?
    • Are there any books you love so much you have read them twice (or more)?
    • Is there a book, that is not always your favorite, but you find popping into your mind the most often?
      • What is a hobby you would like to get into if money/time was not an issue?
      • What style did you pick up and drop the fastest?

      Standard Question: Would you like to travel? Do you have any trips lately? 

      • Is there a particular place/destination you like to go to regularly/return to again and again?
      • Is there some place you seen that disappointed your expectations?
      • Is there a place you seen that exceeded your expectations?
      • When you are visiting a new town, what attraction do you must visit first?
      • If you had to live full time in an RV or on a sailboat, which would you pick?
      • Would you want to have a holiday to the mountains or the sea? Did you know that study says people who favor the hills are more introverted and individuals who prefer the beach are more extroverted? Do you consider yourself more introverted or extroverted?

      Just a generally very good question to ask: What is something you’re looking forward to in the not too distant future?

      Follow the standard-question → interesting-follow-up structure laid out above, and your discussions will flow easily, you will cover a lot of ground, and you will never run out of things to talk about on a first date!

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How to Give a Gift to a Woman

Editor’s Note: This is a guest article from Candace Moody.

Men have been giving gifts to girls since the first Neanderthal offered his crush a glistening wolf femur. But men haven’t yet developed a method for purchasing the girls in their lives meaningful gifts for special occasions. As a public service, I provide this gifting system for homo sapiens and homo inermis.

Gifts show affection and love and may also signal appreciation. Coincidentally, gifts also have been used throughout history to demonstrate wealth, achievement, and power. Trust me, when you become a excellent gift giver, your status and desirability as a romantic partner grow exponentially. The only thing women love more than getting a meaningful gift is showing it off to their envious friends.

Giving your significant other a present deepens the warmth, trust, affection, and intimacy in your relationship, and also raises her admiration of you. This kindling impact of gift giving should not be reserved just for major anniversaries and vacations, but used to keep the fire burning through your”regular” life together also.

What to Give

Gifts don’t have to cost a fortune (and may even be free, or close to it); many girls really do appreciate the gesture more than the cost. In actuality, a gift that costs too much can produce more angst than joy, especially if it strains the budget or cuts into other spending priorities she considers important. It truly is the thought that counts, so put some into your pick. 

If you’re starved for ideas, start a file somewhere with the answers to these questions. Ask them sometimes and subtly (not all at the same time), and record answers (such as the why) carefully:

  • Her dimensions. Note her dimensions and what style she prefers. (All these are not to be shared, mind you.) Also notice what celebrity’s attributes and figure she {} ; use that as a manual for store clerks to help them help you in buying things that will look great.
  • Her favourite colour (and why she enjoys it). Also record her favorite color and be sure to never buy something in it. Record the color you like to see her in (you know, the one which makes her glow and never fails to remind you how lovely she is). This colour can be a highly effective gifting component; should you tell her you love it upon her, she’ll love it too. Guaranteed. Cultures all over the planet have assigned meanings to flowers and used them to send messages to fans and rivals. Giving a lavender colored rose, by way of instance, signifies love at first sight. Powerful stuff.
  • Can she wear silver or gold? Request, and purchase her (almost) exclusively what she prefers.
  • What’s her birthstone?  And does she enjoy it? It is not guaranteed, so inquire. Notice it and buy jewelry that features the stone.
  • Speaking of jewellery, is there a culture or fashion she enjoys? Asian, Southwestern, Victorian, Victorian, ultra-modern minimalist. Make note of her likes for both jewelry and clothing purchases.
  • Her favourite designer, if she has one.
  • Her favorite food or meal. Cooking for her (or ordering ) is a terrific way to surprise and delight her.
  • Her favourite animal or the animal she (or you) think symbolizes her soul. Following is a guide to soul animals. Give her a gift that she can fulfill her or screen which inspires her to be her best or most effective self. Purchase a first edition for frame or her a quote by her favourite author. Or find a copy of a book she adored as a kid. Arrange for a binge-watching session, either independently with snacks and wine, or with girlfriends while you and the children are out of the home. Purchase her favourite movie so that she can watch any time.

Keep this manual handy for frequent reference. With it, you can always find an affordable way to show her you listen and understand what she likes. You will also have this list in mind while you go about your business. If you see something which fits her, purchase it and stash it to the upcoming gift-giving occasion. Purchasing at the last minute puts a whole lot of pressure on you; purchasing when you happen to find something way you will never need to panic. 

Some other guidelines:

Buy her things which have a story. Tell her about the artist that made the bracelet or glazed the pottery. Inform her about where you found it and you thought it’d be ideal for her. Find pieces which are exceptional, one of a sort, or which have a long history, and let her know that.

You may also give gifts which make life easier — as long as they are not too utilitarian. Giving her a publication of smoothie recipes is thoughtful; purchasing her a blender isn’t. Giving her a set of file folders with a gorgeous pattern for her home office is thoughtful; purchasing the most recent edition of Turbo Tax isn’t.

Do not forget that acts of support can make her heart sing. Repair something without being asked. Do the dishes, clean out the junk drawer, wash and fold a load of laundry, or perform another task that she dislikes or that normally would not be your job. (No excess charge for doing what you need to as your fair share.)

Or reservations. Hire a sitter for the night and plan a walk in the park or on the shore. Take on the preparation or logistics of something that she normally has to deal with. Tell her why you are doing it:”You deserve a night off.” “You have been working so hard recently.” “I only wanted to steal a few hours of your time.” It’ll cost you nothing and bring you a great deal of gratitude in return.

Purchase her items whose only quality is they make life more beautiful. Scented soaps, practical items with beautiful designs (believe desk accessories or a bud vase for the office). A set of (just ) two wine glasses, coffee mugs, or dessert dishes for the both of you to share at particular moments. Replace something nasty, old, or utilitarian with something amazing: baking or kitchen utensils, water bottles or teacups, calendars or planners, even something as little as a bookmark can pleasure her. Consider something she uses frequently. Let her know that she deserves beautiful things around her daily. 

For more ideas on the best way best to speak her particular gifting language (through acts of service and other methods), read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages

When to Provide

Timing and demonstration matter hugely as to how your gift will be obtained. Below are a few ideas on timing.

Surprise her, but just when she has time to become completely present. Do not give her a present:

  • When she is in the middle of a catastrophe (dog/cat throwing up, baby yelling, children fighting, appliance or automobile broken down)
  • When she is rushing out the door on her way to work or something significant
  • When she walks in the door from a stressful day 
  • Right after a struggle or other psychological breakdown
  • Right after she expresses very negative emotions or self-hate
  • Right after she asks for something from you (more focus, complete a job, or some other version of”you are not doing enough”)
  • When she is exhausted
  • In the very last minute of a significant event (anniversary, birthday, etc.) — do not let her assume you have done nothing special for the Whole day

This is how to time your present for optimum joy and appreciation:

  • Morning is a excellent time, assuming she has the energy and time to appreciate it. She will think fondly of you all of the time you are apart. If mornings are too busy, tell her you’ve got something amazing for her that she will find this evening. She will glow all day. On her pillow in the morning when she wakes, or before bed. At her place at the dinner or breakfast table (hopefully, a place you have set or a dinner you have prepared).
  • Allow some time to pass an argument or other psychological conversation. Based on her character or how bad the debate was, let a couple of hours, a day, a few days pass, but do it before a week has passed. Tell her you have been thinking about what she said and remind her how much she means to you. Tell her you purchased this since it caught your attention while she was in your mind. If it’s possible, connect the present to something she said specifically:”You are right — you deserve to have more time to spend on you; here is something to pamper yourself with tonight.”
  • Strategy for a quiet moment. Set a video on to your children so that you won’t be interrupted. Do the dishes or clean up after dinner so that she can do something for herself. Turn off the TV and ask her to get a couple of minutes of her focus. Wake her up a couple of minutes early on a weekend so you can cuddle. Make some deliberate space so she can concentrate on you and your present.
  • Select a day that would ordinarily be miserable for her. The anniversary of a family member’s death, the first day of college, or the day you ship your oldest off to college. Let her know that you know how she feels and that you would like to give her something positive to think about on this day.
  • Choose a day or date that has little or no expectations.  Giving gifts on birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day is evident and obviously recommended. Your stock is really going to soar, but if you find other events to celebrate which are more unexpected. Surprise her on a Wednesday or the last day of this month. While”just because” is a sufficient reason, these events make for especially good times to present an unexpected gift:
    • The anniversary of your first date
    • The anniversary of the day you suggested
    • The anniversary of the date you initially (your favored romantic event or action )
    • Her first day on a new job
    • A large business or professional achievement
    • A personal landmark, like changing a custom or taking on a challenge

If you are unsure about specific dates, then ask — she will most likely know. (Write them down; after she’s told you, she will assume recalling it means as much to you as it does to her.) If you would like extra points, celebrate occasions that you may know (and, coincidentally, you alone can confirm ). “Thursday, March 12th was the day I realized that I had been in love with you.”  

How to Provide

Presentation matters. You do not have to have good wrapping skills to make a gift look unique, but you do need to put some thought into your presentation:

Do Not:

  • Leave price tags on
  • Deliver the present from the plastic bag from the shop
  • Use wrapping paper in the Incorrect holiday or season
  • Get really catchy with concealing the present that it gets overlooked, thrown away, or swallowed

Do:

  • Keep receipts (for substantial purchases) if she needs to return the product or exchange for another size/color
  • Use gift bags or ask the store to wrap the present if you are not confident doing it yourself
  • Place an unwrapped gift carefully where she can see it and love its presentation before picking it up (put on the pillow or in her place setting with one rose)
  • Insert a small card stating simply:”For you” or”For the woman I love”
  • Request your young kids to wrap the present or make a card
  • Let your cute child deliver the gift, stating something like”Daddy said to Provide this to the prettiest mommy on earth”
  • Have it delivered to the office (check her schedule or inquire about it to make sure she will be in when it is delivered)
  • Present it when you are in public with a great time: out to dinner, in a park, or in any other outing

If you do not have another bank account for buying gifts, consider saving up and paying money for your present. If she must pay the invoice for your gift, it certainly kills the buzz (particularly if she’ll think you under-paid for it). If finances are a problem, save up your spare change to spend on her (you can also let her know that is your plan).

What if your very best effort falls flat? It is possible the gift of clothes, jewelry, or other thing won’t be a fantastic match for her personal style. Should this happen, it is as hard for her as it is for you. She wants very much to honor your present without encouraging more buys like it. You will have to read her body language quite carefully; you should be able to tell the difference between love and not-so-much-love to your attempt.

If you can see it does not work for her, it is fine to admit it out loud. If we swap it and find something which you love? I would like you to feel as beautiful wearing it as I think you seem.” If she buys your gift, listen to (or ask) what she likes better about her selection. Make notes, learn, and grow. She’ll definitely give you credit for trying.

If you will need the bumper sticker version of this whole manual, here it is:”Simple. Personal. Meaningful.” It will work every time.

__________________________________________

She’s been married for several years into the love of her life and a fantastic gift giver. Find her at candacemoody.com.

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How to Accept Your Partner’s Flaws

After the heady substances of new love — that transform one’s sweetheart in the very picture of human perfection — wear off, every spouse discovers that no matter how compatible they are, there’s a least one thing, and sometimes many, that every dislikes from the other. Each owns some habit, behavior, or personality quirk that annoys, infuriates, or disappoints another person.  

As the relationship continues, the pair may remain very much in love, but their individual idiosyncrasies can become a source of continuing conflict. Each spouse wants the other to alter X behavior, and every spouse, even if they attempt to make the requested change, often fails at doing this. And the conflict persists.

“If she really loved me,” he believes,”she’d change.” Yet changing a deeply ingrained behaviour can be nearly impossible; the disappointed party should ask how successfully he himself was at shifting among his deeply set character traits. Indeed, research indicates that almost 70 percent of marital conflicts are endless and unresolvable — they last a couple’s entire life through.

The only alternative to the typically fruitless expectation of having one’s spouse to change, is to just accept that they are never likely to. To take their idiosyncrasies as part of the, and your, life. Yet this can look like its quixotic pursuit; someone can want to take their significant other’s flaws, and {} struggle to move this feeling of approval in their head to their heart.

Allow me to suggest a paradigm that I believe is helpful in creating this mindset change. Through it, you can come to not just accept your spouse’s”flaws,” but even love them.

We typically think about what we love about our spouse, and the things we dislike, as being sorted into two quite separate categories. The truth, however, is they’re often inextricably linked.

A wife loves her husband is a man’s man, who is rugged and stoic and makes her feel secure, but she moans that he is not more empathetic and emotionally expressive. The power that fuels his very manly side, however, is exactly the exact same that inhibits his tenderness.

A husband loves his spouse is creative and artistic, but he dislikes how flaky she’s about keeping plans. The power that gives her that more esoteric side, however, is the exact same one which makes her mind a bit more spontaneous and sprinkled.

The same energy that produces the side of somebody that you love, is often also responsible for the side that drives you mad. You thus should not pine for an impossible situation where it’s possible to retain that which you love, and excise the part you don’t; you can not pick up one end of the pole, without picking up another! As soon as you realize that someone’s defects are only another manifestation of the same energy in them that you love, these flaws become easier to take.

By way of instance, Kate really struggles with being on time — she is perennially late for most everything. She enjoys the rush of cutting it of attempting to beat the clock. I’m somebody who likes to be punctual, however, so this trend of hers can bug me — particularly when it comes to grabbing a flight! She would like to get to the airport without a moment to spare, while I am 100% what we affectionately call”Nervous Travel Dad.” However, I do not let Kate’s lack of punctuality irritate me too much, since I recognize that it is driven by the identical excitement-seeking facet of her character that adds a terrific dash of fun and experience to our own lives, and which I adore.

On the other hand, my battle with depression and with a depression, mercurial disposition can be hard on Kate. It’d be easier on our relationship if I had been always in a good mood daily. But, Kate admits that without this significant streak in my personality, I would not be the person she loves. She sees my melancholic and pessimistic disposition as only the opposite end of a pole which also makes me more conscientious and empathetic, and not as flighty and shallow.

This is not to say that you need to accept someone’s flaws 100%. Sometimes they are not tied to anything really positive, or the negative impact a specific energy can have on the connection can outweigh its positive effect.

While it’s generally unreasonable to expect everyone to fundamentally alter their fundamental personality traits — a job that’s almost impossible to do — you can reasonably expect your spouse to mitigate their drawbacks a little.

So for instance, Kate actually tries to be on time (or at least just a small bit late) to get something that’s important to me/us.

Ultimately, as soon as you understand that the pieces of a person you dislike only come together with the parts you love, and that you would not cut out the energy which drives the latter so as to solve the former, it is a lot easier to accept and even celebrate one’s romantic partner (and friends for that matter) for who they are. When you pick up one end of the rod, you pick the other up, and if it is a good one, you hold onto it and do not let it go.

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The Way to Test Your Relationship Without Moving In Together

During the past few decades, it has become increasingly more common for couples to move in together while they are dating. They frequently opt for this living arrangement as it feels convenient, and because they want to”test” the connection before deciding whether or not to get married. Couples figure that by experiencing what it is like to reside in close proximity and perform daily routines together, they could make a better decision regarding their compatibility and long-term prospects, to be able to prevent someday getting a divorce.

While the idea creates a lot of sense in the abstract, many research studies have shown that living together before marriage does not reduce a couple’s chances of divorce. At all. How can that be?

There are probably a few factors at play, but a major one is that people who cohabitate often wind up sliding farther in their relationship, as opposed to deliberating deciding to create progressively deepening commitments. Feeling; then slip into staying together from a feeling of comfort and complacency; then slide into becoming married, imagining,”Well, we have been together this long; I guess that is another step to take.” In living together, their lives — pets, invoices, friends, patterns — get so intertwined that it gets easier to stay with the arrangement — even when the connection is less than perfect — compared to break things off. They may therefore ultimately marry someone from sheer familiarity, as opposed to ardent love.

It appears that whatever positive advantage comes from getting to know someone by means of living together, it’s outweighed by the danger of staying together because of inertia as opposed to brilliant connection.

Are there then other techniques to”test” the strength of your connection, without at the same time significantly increasing the difficulty of dividing ? To make a better-informed decision about your future with a person, while still preserving more of your liberty before you do?

Luckily, there are.

Truly,”testing” is not the best word hereif you are in a mindset where you are literally wanting to test a connection, you most likely already have doubts about it, which probably means it is already on shaky grounds, and knowingly placing it on trial, so to speak, is likely going to make matters worse.

We are using”test” here not as an encouragement to pin down your connection for dissection — snuffing out its life in the process — but only as a method of deepening and enlarging the natural course of getting to know somebody. To select the relationship from restricted, greenhouse-like conditions and expose it to more components. Testing your connection should not be about putting it under a cynical, hypercritical microscope, but only becoming more explorative — seeing if, as a couple, you are suited for handling life’s great adventure together.

To this end, below you will find ways of turning over more stones in your connection, so that you may observe what you find there — if red flags or endearing qualities — and gain a larger perspective regarding who your partner really is.

1. Interact With Your Respective Friends and Family

Stanley finds that when two people begin dating, they could frequently cordon off themselves into an isolated bubble. This might be particularly true in the time of dating programs, where the connection may not grow from a preexistent, shared social landscape; instead, two different individuals, possibly new to a town and lacking a true friend or family group, set up through the electronic ether. Then they spend their time only interacting with one another. But engaging exclusively within a dyadic, intimate, chemistry-driven circumstance is only going to elicit a relatively narrow selection of behaviours, giving each partner a restricted view of one another. As Stanley explained to me: 

Let’s say two people meet online, they are communicating, they are texting a lot, and then perhaps they begin having a great deal of phone calls, and then they are dating, and they are spending every moment together. That is all great. But there’s a whole lot of things you do not learn about a person if you don’t see how they treat other folks. Yeah, they are excited about you. They are sexually attracted to you. [But] they are not necessarily gonna be sexually attracted to you, so how can they treat people which are just people who are important in their lifetime? Since that might be how you are gonna get treated.

Observing how your girlfriend disagrees with her friends, and your friends; her loved ones, and your family; is going to give a good deal more insight into who she really is, than how she interacts with you. So resist the cliché of being the couple who gets into each other, they ghost everybody else in their lives.

It’s arguably particularly important to see how your girlfriend participates with her own family. Being back with the people she grew up with will often trigger behaviors she may likewise be great at keeping under control around you. As a satirical headline The Onion hilariously put itWoman Nervous for Boyfriend to Meet with the Person She Becomes About Parents.

Needless to say, how a person treats their loved ones might not be indicative of precisely how she will treat you (people have particular hang-ups with family members which are mostly context specific), but there’ll invariably be broad, inherent patterns in her behaviour towards them that will almost surely manifest themselves in your relationship also.

2. Interact in a Large Selection of Situations 

Building on the stage above, new(ish) couples often only find each other in a restricted assortment of structured, type of scripted scenarios — going to dinner, going to the movies, watching television at each other’s flats, etc.. These predictable situations produce quite predictable sets of behaviour.

To get to know someone to a larger extent, it is helpful to see how she {} the unexpected — how she copes with stress and being outside her comfort zone — and the degree to which you have the ability to work through curveballs together. 

Navigate new sorts of experiences and interact with various types of people.

3. Get Clear on Your Values and Expectations 

Two people don’t need to be clones of one another to make a great go at marriage, but sharing core values surely raises a couple’s chances of lasting happiness, while conflicts in those regions become highly corrosive over time.

Conversations about your own values, beliefs, and expectations for your future life together should start fairly early in a relationship, obviously becoming progressively deeper and more detailed as it becomes clearer that a future together is a realistic chance.

Is faith important to you? Where would you like to live? Do you wish to live close to your parents? Would you go for your work? Do you want kids? Would you have a problem with me working long hours or being on the road a whole lot? Do you think in budgeting? What is your spending philosophy?

On the subject of having children — which can turn into a huge sticking point for married couples — Stanley said:”You can not believe the amount of marriage counselors” who have worked with couples in which”they are struggling over this issue and they have been married for a couple of years and they knew it ahead or they did not know it. In any event, it’s like you guys could have talked about this.”

Realize there are a few limitations to those value-uncovering conversations, however.

First, even when you’re discussing your expectations and beliefs, the high-inducing, mind-altering chemistry of love can lead partners to gloss over differences that arise. They are so giddy, the possible source of conflict does not seem like that big a deal;”love conquers all,” they believe they guess their partner will change their mind on that issue as soon as they’re hitched. But people seldom change their core values and beliefs.

Since the cocktail of love is so heady, it is important to understand — to be radically clear — about what your non-negotiables are before you get in a connection; then as soon as you fall head over heels, your old self can talk some sense into your punch-drunk self.

The second thing, is that while it can be helpful to talk about hypotheticals, it is hard from the position of the current to know with surety the choices you will really make later on.   

It is thus important not just to listen to what your significant other states, but to also see what she does. She is of course not likely to behave in the current every situation you will face in the future, but her behaviour in a variety of situations will reveal her actual values — the underlying beliefs that might not be able to predict precisely what decisions she will make down the street, but will provide you an idea about what direction she, along with your shared lives, will proceed.

4. Travel Together 

But journey deserves its own entry as it also includes a distinctive relationship-testing element of its {} . Plotting out a substantial trip takes some real work and is a fantastic opportunity to observe how you work together as a team — if you are in a position to sacrifice and compromise and communicate. As Stanley observed, it is a chance you might not otherwise get before you are prepping to walk down the aisle:

You likely would learn a few things in traveling with the individual, but you may learn a good deal in intending to travel with the individual. Because planning’s a major thing in life. And a great deal of couples actually do not become a serious mode of creating a plan together until it is their wedding. And that’s a fairly weird, intense point to kind of practice on.

Taking a premarital preparation/counseling course is not something to just mindlessly check off to meet a minister’s requirement for officiating your wedding, or to receive a discount on a marriage license. Earnestly engaging in this kind of program can help ease the crucial value-disclosing discussions described above, identify possible problems and disagreements, and educate relationship-strengthening tools. As Stanley asserts here:

While marital experts debate everything, there’s strong evidence that finishing premarital training (education, counseling, whatever it is called) together can improve your chances in marriage. Though this does not guarantee marital bliss, there’s considerably more potential upside than downside. The one downside I occasionally consider is actually an upsidedown: you could learn something about about your spouse or relationship that you did not fully appreciate before — something that could lead you to get more help or move slower. As a result of this, I suggest that you look for premarital training as far in front of a wedding date as possible. Why? As the further in advance you finish it, the more you have an opportunity to discover something that could lead you to change your mind about marrying each other.

Premarital preparation courses can be found in the kind of church-sponsored events and neighborhood workshops. If you do not know of one, ask a union counselor/therapist for a recommendation. While performing an in-person workshop can help keep you accountable, if you are devoted to working through the process, you may even try reading a marriage prep book or performing an internet program together; Stanley urges this one, this one, and this one (he is involved with the latter).

For more insights on the injuries of”slipping, deciding” and the importance of seeking clarity over ambiguity in relationships, be sure to listen to my podcast with Dr. Stanley:

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7 Romantic, Non-Lame, Can’t-Miss DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Gal

Valentine’s Day is two weeks; have you wondered what you are going to get to your lady love?

Chocolates and flowers are fairly dull and cliche. Jewelry is expensive, and both unoriginal. She might swear she wants”nothing,” but what she generally means is that she does not want anything large . She is probably still hoping for a few little acknowledgment of this holiday, even only a card. And if she thinks she is okay with your skipping even that, she would still be thrilled — particularly so given the surprise — to obtain something from you. Everybody prefers to be thought of and appreciated, rather than not.

What to do?

Something super low in price but super high in thoughtfulness.

To peruse the mountain of DIY V-Day gift ideas out there would be to get lost in an avalanche of lame-ness — stuff that is too cheesy and too foo-fooey for most men to think about making. A couple of gems do exist at the rough, however, and we have collected the best ideas for you below.

By our lights, this is the best idea in the group. It is both romantic and trendy, and produces a wonderful bit of wall art that she will actually need to hang up. It’s always an remarkable truth that two people who grew up hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from one another, ultimately meet up, connect, and join their lives together ever after. You can produce a print which showcases this wondrous serendipity, where one side shows a map of where you are from, and one side shows a map of where she is from. Another option is to make a 3-paneled heart, that also puts a map of where you live now in the center. Primer Magazine includes a free downloadable Photoshop file for both a 2-panel and 3-panel heart, and walks you through the process of bringing these prints to life.

Complete instructions here.

Wire Heart Ring

A simple ring which will still elicit a true”Awww,” out of your grandma. All you basically need is cable, two kinds of pliers, and a document. It’s not the toughest procedure, but if you’ve never worked with wire before, it may take you a couple of attempts to really nail it.

Complete instructions here.

Framed Book Page Print

If your primary squeeze is into reading, a literary-themed gift could be just the ticket. You may find framed pages of novels overlaid with images/text available (the one from the picture above is). But they are also not tough to make yourself.  Considering the nature of the vacation, a page from one of her favourite romantic-themed books (paging Jane Austen), overlaid with a romantic picture or quotation, is obviously apropos. 

Complete instructions here.

Valentine Light Bulb

A sentimental shelf or desk decoration, for less than $5. You hollow out an incandescent lightbulb, substituting its innards with a cord heart”filament,” and then attach it to a wooden base. It is simple but sweet. And eye twinkle and crinkle inducing.

Complete instructions here.

Carving initials into a tree is a classic romantic gesture. Unfortunately, it is not actually great for your tree, and unless the tree is near your house, your lover won’t get to see it very often. This simple project evokes the romance of this timeless gesture, but produces a bit which could be placed on a mantle and gazed at indefinitely. You can actually buy wood rounds just like you see above from a craft shop, but you can also make your own from a lost backyard tree branch. (Follow the exact directions we gave for creating wood coasters. ) Then all you need is a wood burning tool, and you have a Valentine’s gift that costs nothing, but will make your gal swoon.

Complete instructions (minus how to create the wood round) here.

X Things I Love About You Jar

Your spouse wants to be appreciated a lot more than she needs some material bauble. You don’t need to do 100. “10 Things I Love About You” will do. If you’re feeling ambitious, 52 is a wonderful number; then she is able to open and read one of those messages once a week for a year. There are a myriad of ways you can jazz up the jar if you would like, such as etching something on the glass.

Homemade Card

A card may often really be sufficient, especially a homemade card, especially a homemade card which involves a wonderful pun, and which is emblazoned with an authentic physical thing on the front. The ideas above are fairly clever and will make sure to create her smile.

See more card ideas, and suggestions on making the cards here.

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