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Daily Archives: February 14, 2012

How Differences Strengthen Your Relationship

Diversity can make a couple dynamic. But opposites may not always attract forever.

“What matters is how they actively deal with their emotional response to the differences,” says psychologist Alan Fruzzetti, Ph.D., author of The High-Conflict Couple.

Neutralize these potential problems now to ensure a long and happy future together.

You’re Jewish, She’s Catholic

Cause for concern: 3.5 out of 5
You’re both faithful; that’s a big connection. A study of 50 married couples found the same level of intimacy with interfaith and same-religion couples. The mixed couples just took care to understand and respect each other’s religion.

Ask her this: “So, then, baptism or bris?”

Make plans now to avoid a future holy war, says Susan Campbell, Ph.D., the author of Saying What’s Real.

You’re GOP, She’s a Donkey

Cause for concern: 1 out of 5
“Approach political discussions with an attitude of curiosity about what makes her tick, rather than attempting to change her mind,” says Lee Raffel, M.S.W., the author of I Hate Conflict! Spouses influence each other and develop similar political attitudes as their marriage progresses according to University of California researchers.

Ask her this: “Want to go Lincoln-Douglas style?”

Debate is good for your health. Couples who suppressed their anger the most were twice as likely to die during a 17-year study as more expressive couples.

She Racks Up Debt, You Save

Cause for concern: 5 out of 5
Financial issues are among the leading causes of divorce (22 percent said money was a factor), second only to abuse, in a 2007 poll. “When there’s no meeting of the minds about money, there’s no trust,” says Raffel. As the saver, you’ll feel burdened and betrayed, which can translate to suspicion and hypervigilance. Then she’ll become defiant or dishonest. Cue vicious cycle.

Ask her this: “Mind if I sneak a peek at your financials, baby?”

If you’re talking rug rats, exchange credit reports and bank statements to find your dual financial footing. That could scare her straight or calm you down. Not at audit-ready intimacy? Learn her fiscal policy by asking how she’s handling her 401(k) in this stormy economy.

She Wants a Clan, You Want 2 Kids

Cause for concern: 4 out of 5
“Motherhood is a critical, key role that’s sometimes an aspect of a woman’s identity,” says Elizabeth Saenger, Ph.D., a psychologist based in New York City. “If she’s not able to have that, she may feel incomplete.” But if the brood’s too big for you, resentment may flare.

Ask her this: “Would you settle for two kids and a regular Yahtzee night?”

Understand why she wants a large family (e.g., she came from one) and why you prefer it smaller (e.g., financial worry), then look for options that may satisfy you both, such as adopting her family traditions or starting a smart savings plan.

She’s a Neat Freak, You’re a Slob

Cause for concern: 2 out of 5
She doesn’t want to nag. Really. “Have her make a list of the messes that irk her most,” says Raffel. “Then see to it that they’re taken care of.” Perform daily acts of spontaneous tidiness to please her. Even small sacrifices may mean more to women when they’re born of sincerity, say the authors of a 2007 study.

Ask her this: “Can we bring another woman home?”

If you’re married or spend more than 4 nights a week together, spring for a cleaning service. A man creates 7 additional hours of housework a week for his wife, according to University of Michigan researchers.

 

Courtesy of www.MensHealth.com
Copyright Rodale Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

Make Every Date an Unforgettable Adventure

You’re creative! Talented! Full of ideas! In fact, you’re a bottomless pit of innovation, curiosity, and fun! Then why are you such a boring date? Dinner? A movie? A walk in the park? Yawn. What next? A carriage ride? Noooooo . . .

Here’s a little secret: If you really want to impress a woman, show her something new. Give her an experience she’s never had before. Trust me: If you do it properly, she’ll return the favor later that night.

The trick is to set up a situation that can spark intimacy-building conversation. “A great date is about ‘me too’ moments,” says Nicholas Boothman, author of How to Make Someone Love You Forever in 90 Minutes or Less. “It’s also about self-disclosure, where you grow closer by exchanging ideas, feelings, hopes, and vulnerabilities.”

Here, then, are five dates every man has in his arsenal—and the ways you can elevate them to a new level.

Dinner and a Movie

Your Upgrade: Shift the Scenes
With just a little ingenuity, you can invigorate this crusty old standby. First of all, rearrange the order: See the movie before dinner. Then “replace the popcorn and soda with an appetizer that bridges itself with the movie,” says Eric Marlowe Garrison, a Manhattan-based sex therapist and dating coach. Catching an Italian flick? “Wrap a few slices of prosciutto around some honeydew, and sneak in two plastic wine glasses and a couple of splits of vino.” Sure, it’s against the rules, but that’s the point. Have fun with it.

Seeing the early show and then sitting down for a later meal can also put you on common ground, no matter how different your days may have been, says Garrison. “And it provides some good conversation openers.” Ask her what her favorite movie was as a kid and what it is now, or which director she feels could best tell her story. The idea, Garrison stresses, is to create an evening with a sense of romantic fluidity, with one thing leading to the other.

Evening Stroll in the Park

Your Upgrade: Give Her the Universe, Too
It’s one thing to point up at the sky and blurt out, “Big Dipper!” That’ll likely be the beginning and end of that conversation. Instead, show her some celestial sights up close.

A glimpse of Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s moons through even the most modest equipment should make her melt, not only because they’re gorgeous to look at, but also because seeing them firsthand makes them real in a way no Hubble photo can. Plus, it’s a natural way to start a conversation about Big Stuff. “Looking at the night sky is great for encouraging discussion about those things we all think about but don’t discuss much in daily life,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., a Washington, DC–based sex educator and the author of Pleasuring: The Secrets to Sexual Satisfaction. “It can range from where we come from to what else is out there.”

You don’t want to wrestle with ungainly gear that you have trouble operating, so err on the side of simple, says Artie Kunhardt of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Kunhardt suggests buying a star chart, a pair of 7 x 50 binoculars, and a small photo tripod. (Find gear at telescope.com.)

Kunhardt also recommends printing out a chart of that evening’s celestial highlights (create custom charts at skyandtelescope.com). Use this in addition to the star chart, which doesn’t show the exact positions of the stars because they change on a nightly basis. Then kick back and show her that heaven exists.

Watching the Sunset

Your Upgrade: Paint It
Dates are filled with potentially romantic moments. Sadly, many of these moments are clichés—the carriage ride through the park, the New Year’s Eve kiss, sunset on the beach. This can work against you. “When we try too hard or in predictable ways to create intimacy, we generally fail,” says Scott Stanley, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver and the author of The Power of Commitment. “Intimacy is about revealing the self, but the ‘self’ isn’t revealed on command.”

That’s why a paint set might just totally kick the bottle of wine’s ass as the must-have accessory for a cool fall sunset. You’re both painting the same thing, but your final products are going to be completely different, Stanley says. Talking about why her sun is all the way to the left when yours is in the middle, for instance, will be a far more revealing conversation than the usual tell-me-about-your-parents fare.

“Being creative together reveals parts of the self—your values, dreams, fears,” Stanley says. “And no one has to be interrogated or feel threatened or exposed. It comes out very organically in creative expression.”

Before you stake out your picturesque view, head to dickblick.com for your paints, easels, and canvases. Helpful tip: Stick with quick-drying acrylics and bring a tube of white. Painters use white to soften and mix colors and, of course, fix mistakes.

Sunday Drive

Your Upgrade: Stage Home Invasions
Take advantage of the glut of for-sale homes on the market and go on an open-house tour. Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., the coauthor of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido, says such adventures are great for setting up scores of insightful exchanges. “You get to see that person’s taste, and because you’re looking at homes, this brings up memories for both of you, and interesting things to discuss,” she says

As you scan the open-house ads in the paper, go for variety—from modest older homes that might help you explore each other’s past and more immediate nesting urges to the higher-dollar starter mansions that reveal your aspirations. “Looking at homes is a great way to encourage a natural, organic conversation about what you want from the future—how you see your lives unfolding,” says Herb Goldberg, Ph.D., the author of What Men Still Don’t Know About Women, Relationships, and Love.

Smacking Golf Balls

Your Upgrade: Shoot Clay Birds
Hitting the driving range may be fun, but it’s not anything she hasn’t done a million times before. But exploding a bunch of clay disks with a shotgun? Now, that will surprise her. “Most women have never shot before, and they’re fascinated once they do,” says Paula d’Autremont, a manager at the Angeles Shooting Ranges, in Lake View Terrace, California. “And I would say 90 percent of the women who come here are better shots than the men. A woman wants to take her time and do it right, while men mostly want to shoot off a whole box of ammo.”

Wacky as this might sound, a friendly round of competitive trapshooting is a great first date. “If you’re sitting in a restaurant staring at each other, it’s a lot of pressure on the conversation,” says Stanley. “But dealing with a target and equipment is so structured and focusing. Put your anxiety into that, and the conversation flows freely.”

Many public outdoor ranges rent equipment, provide lessons, and let you get to it. Go to mynsca.com to find a range near you.

 

Courtesy of www.MensHealth.com
Copyright Rodale Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.