More Dates than Taylor Swift

Taylor & Her Dates

On a recent trip home to Chicago, while we were all sitting around the dinner table, my very sassy six-year-old niece rolled her eyes, telling the family, “Amy has more dates than Taylor Swift!” We all thought it was very funny, although I’m not sure where she is getting her information from since I’ve only introduced her to one guy in all of her six years on this planet. However, I have a confession to make: It’s true–I really did go on more dates than Taylor Swift this summer.

Let me begin by saying, I’ve always been, and still remain, a one-man kind of woman. However, my therapist, Dr. Pat Allen, invented a concept she calls “duty dating.” Before entering a committed relationship, Dr. Allen encourages women to date multiple men to practice their dating skills, and more importantly, to keep from obsessing over one person. She explains, “Duty dating is when you hope the guy dies in the restaurant bathroom.” She also says that because it could take up to three dates for the chemistry to grow, surprisingly, many of these “duty dates” ultimately turn into long-term relationships.

Personally, I don’t need any more practice dating, and I’m too easily annoyed to go out with guys I’m not interested in. However, I do feel as though maybe I wasted time being so loyal to men who weren’t worthy; so this time around, I took Dr. Pat’s advice to heart and decided I wasn’t going to commit myself so easily.

As I’m writing this, I realize I’m sounding a bit boy crazy. For anyone who knows me, for two whole years, I stayed in almost every night, writing a book and didn’t have much of a social life. After I took a little hiatus from writing, I began to see someone exclusively for six months. During this time, I was working on my personal training credential and took a life-coaching course, so there still wasn’t much time for going out. When that relationship ended at the beginning of this summer, I felt like I had to make up for lost time.

So, in the true spirit of Taylor Swift, I decided to “Shake It Off” and have a really fun and WILD summer. The universe clearly didn’t want me pining away over anyone either because as soon as I stepped on the scene, I was like a magnet. I had men following me out of restaurants. My guy friends were professing their love for me. Two guys even got in a fight over who was going to buy me a drink at a bar. I felt bad for the guy who broke his hand, but I didn’t go out with either one of those two.

I want to be clear that I don’t think I was in such high demand because I’m so amazing—I think the lesson is that when you’re strong enough to let go, new opportunities will always present themselves. I believe the universe was showing me it was in support of my decision to move forward and was keeping my calendar full so I didn’t look back.

I must admit, it did take me a few weeks to get a hang of this “duty dating” concept. First, I accidentally sent a very personal text to the wrong guy. I was completely mortified, but it did make us closer and give us something to laugh about. The next evening I had dinner with someone else and called him by the wrong name. I even mistakenly double booked a couple times. Although it was against my nature, I did finally get the hang of dating more than one guy at a time. Out of all the dates I had this summer, there was only one guy I actually hoped died in the bathroom.

As summer is winding down, I find myself returning to my authentic self—the girl who would rather be home with her nose in a book than out at a nightclub. Although I understand Dr. Allen’s theory, as an introvert, I was starting to find all that dating to be a bit exhausting and found myself craving some more quiet nights at home. However, I do think “duty dating” has its place, for instance, after a breakup, or if there’s no one that is really standing out from the crowd, then keep dating until you find a guy who does. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that if you meet someone that you have a special connection with, you should focus on him and only him–unless he’s not giving you enough attention. In that case, “duty date” your heart out!

But Would He Die for You???

Sookie & Bill

I’ve dated a few guys who would probably kill for me but only one that would actually die for me.

Years after we broke up, my long-term ex-boyfriend and I still have a very special bond. Awhile back, I was seeing someone who was threatened by my friendship with my ex, who now lives across the country. Over dinner, my then boyfriend (who I only saw for three months) demanded I stopped talking to my ex, who is practically family at this point. I remember bursting out in tears in the middle of a fancy restaurant. I’m not normally that emotional of a person, but I couldn’t imagine life if I couldn’t be friends with my ex, whom I’ve known for over a decade and is one of the most amazing people on the planet. (On a side note, I also feel as though this conversation triggered an old wound in me. When I was younger, I had a pattern of dating controlling, possessive men—a pattern that I thought I had since broken. Thankfully, this time I didn’t stick around too long after I saw the red flags.) I explained to my new boyfriend how I had met my ex at a time I was really young and feeling lost and alone, living all by myself in Los Angeles, far away from my family and how I feel an enormous amount of gratitude towards him. In my opinion, no man has a right to ask me to give up this friendship, unless he is able to provide the unconditional love and emotional support I receive from my ex. Even then, I would hope he understands the nature of our friendship.

Someone recently asked me why I felt my relationship with my long term ex had been so successful. Without skipping a beat, I answered, “He never let me down—not even once.” A man of his word, he kept every single promise he made. Not to mention, he made me feel safe and protected and had my back like no other. He always put me above everything else–no one or nothing was more important to him than me and my happiness. Even to this day, he still one of the first people I call when something good happens or if I need a shoulder to cry on.

While it’s definitely not his favorite subject, I will often talk to my ex about the guys I date. Although he’s always quick to remind me that I’m the prize, he will usually take the guy’s side, telling me I’m too hard on men. My response is always, “but you would never have done something like that!” He’ll agree, and I’ll rest my case.

I was recently telling my long-term ex and confidant how I asked the guy I had been seeing not to call or text me anymore. My ex thought I was being a little extreme and felt it was a situation that could be worked out. I explained that my intention wasn’t to be harsh, but that I simply wanted to move on.

My ex asked me what had happened, why the change of heart? In all seriousness, I answered, “Well, I don’t think he would die for me.”

My ex started laughing, “Where do you get these antiquated ideas? You expect all these guys to fight for you and to die for you. No one does that anymore.”

Knowing exactly where I got those ideas from, I responded, “That’s not true. You would die for me,” quickly adding, “Not that I would want you to…but I know that you would.”

Downplaying his chivalrous nature, my ex said, “ I suppose if a bullet was headed in your direction, I would jump in front of it to save you, but could we please avoid any situations like that?”

I giggled, “See, you set the bar high! My next boyfriend has to love me just as much, if not more, than you love me.”

And I wasn’t just flattering the guy, I really meant it. When you’ve had someone who made you his whole world, why would you settle for anything less?

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Inside the World of Professional Pick-up Artists

Pick-up Artist Ken

Photo Credit: Twenty20.com/@ichapin

While it was quite a departure from the spiritual-based workshops I usually attend, I was recently invited to observe the Pick-up Artist Super Conference, which was held where else but in Las Vegas, the pick-up capital of the world. Love Systems, a company whose mission is to help men “succeed” with the ladies, hosted the conference. The company claims that their training will help men attract, date, and seduce more high-quality women. Love Systems is so confident in its techniques, that the company offers a money-back guarantee. Apparently, the art of picking up women is serious business!

Men from all over the world paid thousands of dollars to attend the conference, which consisted of various lectures and workshops during the day. Then, at night, the attendees go out to the Las Vegas clubs with the Love Systems instructors while they put their newfound pick-up artist skills to the test. I had the pleasure of both sitting in on several daytime workshops and also going clubbing with the guys one of the nights. I honestly didn’t know what to expect going in, but I’m happy to report the conference was much less sleazy than it sounds.

Most of the workshops focused on building up the men’s confidence and self-esteem. When you think about it, men really have to put themselves out there when trying to meet a woman–not only do they have to possess the confidence to approach, but they also need to learn not to take rejection personally. One of the workshops talked about how to raise your energetic state and even suggested an “Inner Game” routine that included working out and watching comedies to warm up before going out to meet girls or going on a date. We girls just put on makeup and figure out which dress to wear.

Almost every single presentation emphasized leadership skills because women, myself included, love a take-charge kind of a guy. What girl doesn’t appreciate a man who plans ahead, makes reservations, or calls her first? The men also learned how to approach and communicate with women, as well as understanding female psychology. The seminar on texting taught the guys how to create deep conversation and really connect via text message. Over in the “breakthrough room,” the attendees practiced skills such as storytelling (women do enjoy a man who can keep them entertained) as well as body language. The body language workshop encouraged the men to really make a woman feel seen—I can’t argue with that advice, but I got a kick out of seeing the men practice gazing into each other’s eyes. You would think that these men would feel silly practicing these techniques on each other, but they all seemed really into it.

Of course, the pick-up artist super conference wouldn’t be complete without offering some more risqué workshops than how to gaze in a woman’s eyes. Unfortunately, I had to fly back to L.A. before the “Strippers and Hired Guns” seminar. Wondering what’s a “hired gun?” I had to Google it myself–a “hired gun” is a woman whom you want to pick up but is at work—i.e., waitresses, bartenders, bottle service girls. I did, however, sit in on what sounded like the most scandalous seminar of the weekend called “Same Night Lays.” The instructor explained how he felt that texting a girl after you meet her to arrange a date was too much work, so he set out to be the best pick-up artist in the area of “same night lays.” I suppose, every pick-up artist must have his own niche! The information he presented wasn’t revolutionary, but in case you were wondering what is the best way to find someone to sleep with you that very night—he basically advised men to approach as many women as possible and not to let the rejection deter them from their goal of taking someone, anyone, home. Ultimately, one of these girls is bound to say yes, and oh yeah, don’t forget you have to ask her to leave the bar with you. Just FYI, the pick-up artist terminology for whatever a man says to women to get her to leave the venue with him is called a “pulling statement.” And if you can’t get anyone to go home with you, you’ll be known as an “AFC,” average frustrated chump.

Of course, someone like me who craves a deep connection wouldn’t be a fan of this technique, but “same night lays” are a goal for some men; and there are many sexually liberated women out there who do enjoy the thrill of hooking up with a guy they’ve just met, so I can’t fault Love Systems for including this seminar on its agenda. This method probably does work for some, but my personal opinion is any girl with standards isn’t going to want to go home with the guy who has been rejected by every other girl at the bar. And I would really hope that most men are looking for someone they really like versus just taking anyone home, but apparently there are men out there like this. So, ladies, be careful!

All in all, however, I felt that most of the techniques being taught at the Pick-up Artist Super Conference were positive. It seemed as though the men just really want to connect with us women and learn what makes us tick, and the Love Systems instructors genuinely wanted to help. I noticed that the attendees all looked very happy with the conference. As I was talking to the owner of Love Systems, one man walked up with a smile so big he was practically glowing. He thanked the owner for the weekend, gushing about what an amazing service Love Systems was providing. What I gathered from the weekend was that these men really put a lot of time, money, and effort into understanding us better, which is actually pretty endearing. I walked away from the Pick-up Artist Super Conference realizing that we women do have more power than we know♥

Is a Kiss Really Just a Kiss?

Chrissy Licking John

Several years ago my girlfriend and I met a group of guys from New York at a hotel bar here in L.A. The guys were about to have dinner and invited us to join them. Just minutes after we sat down, one of the men said something extremely rude to my girlfriend, causing her to run out of the restaurant in tears, and I immediately followed her. One of the more well-mannered guys chased after us, apologizing for his belligerent friend and told me he really wanted to see me again.

I had plans the rest of the weekend, so I didn’t end up meeting up with him that trip. Shortly after he went back to the East coast, he texted me that he would be coming to L.A. to visit some friends and asked if he could take me to dinner. At this point, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him–I had only met him for five minutes, but he was tall, nice-looking, and seemed really into me, so I told him, yes, I would have dinner with him.

After his trip was booked, he sent me a message, “You’re mine all weekend,” and that’s when the anxiety set in. I had only committed to dinner, not an entire weekend!

As fate would have it, a longtime Pilates client asked me to housesit that weekend…AND gave me a 10pm curfew. It was also allergy season, and I had a serious case of the sneezes.

Let me start by saying that this guy did everything right. He came with a gift, a necklace with stones in my favorite color, pink. He took me to the best restaurants in town. He booked a room at a swanky hotel. I wanted to like him–I really did–but I just wasn’t feeling the butterflies and fireworks I need to feel in order to get physical. So after dinner, when my date dropped me off at the house and tried to kiss me, I turned my face and gave him my cheek. He actually called me out on it, asking me why I wouldn’t kiss him. Not wanting to hurt the guy’s feelings, I told him I had a cold–I had been sneezing all night.

I could feel his disappointment, and I felt horrible too. I’m just not the kind of girl who does anything she doesn’t want to, including kissing guys I don’t want to kiss. I think it’s important to mention that if he lived in L.A., I wouldn’t have the guilt about not kissing him at the end of the night. However, since this guy had bought a plane ticket and flown across the country to take me to dinner, I was feeling his pain.

I have a girlfriend who loves fine dining and will sometimes go out with guys she has absolutely no interest in. As much as I love food, I find it exhausting to be fighting someone off me all night. From my experience, most guys will usually try to kiss and squeeze a girl after they’ve bought her dinner. So I do my best to avoid awkward situations. My friend, however, thinks it’s not a big deal to close your eyes and give the guy a quick peck at the end of the night. I, on the other hand, don’t even like sharing lipgloss with my girlfriends, so I’m a little more particular about whose lips I let put on mine.

My fine dining friend was not alone in thinking I should give the poor guy a peck. Nearly every girl I spoke to felt I at least owed him a kiss. So I started to ask myself, what would be the harm in letting him give me a little peck? Well, he might try to take things further; and even worse than my own discomfort, I would be misleading him.

Not feeling like a peck was the solution, I decided to ask my best platonic guy friend for his opinion. He simply said, “Amy, you don’t have to kiss anybody you don’t want to kiss,” and in that instant, I felt free of all the guilt and all the anxiety I had been feeling.

It’s interesting to me that the one guy I asked let me off the hook, while all the women felt I owed the guy a kiss. This makes me think that it’s not uncommon for a woman to feel indebted to a man who has taken her on a date or spent money on her. I think it’s important to realize that no matter how nice or generous someone is to us, we don’t owe anyone anything more than our gratitude and appreciation. That doesn’t mean I think we should use men for free dinner, shopping sprees, or vacations if we’re not into them, but if you go on a date with a pure heart and intentions, you don’t have to feel guilty if it doesn’t work out; and you certainly aren’t obligated to get physical with someone if you’re not feeling it.

If you’re feeling sorry for my friend from the East coast, this story does have a happy ending. He did end up finding a girl who wanted to kiss him, not just for the night, but for the rest of her life ♥

The Old Shoe Syndrome

Old Shoe Banner 2

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but back in my younger years when I was not so wise, I accidentally dated a married man. Honestly, I would have never guessed this guy was somebody’s husband since he paraded me around town, introducing me to all his friends, and even took me to Las Vegas with no apparent fear of getting caught. Later on, he would explain that, “Guys don’t tell!” Our time together was brief, only a summer, but the experience left a lasting impression on me.

Aside from the fact he failed to mention he was married, this guy was just my type—he was big and strong with a sweet, gentle way about him. He always looked at me with such tenderness in his eyes and spoke to me in a very loving manner. He never stopped smiling, even when he lost thousands of dollars at the blackjack table. I think what I loved most about him is that he always seemed so excited to be around me, and that energy was infectious. The two of us were so happy, we were beaming—random people would stop us everywhere we went to tell us what a lovely couple we were.

After Labor Day, I noticed he wasn’t asking to see me as often. Something didn’t feel right, but I decided not to say anything and chose to just let everything play out. In the meantime, I tried to stay busy and distract myself.

Sure enough, one night while I was at a club with a friend, I ran into my married man with his supermodel wife! Turns out, his beautiful wife had been out of the country visiting her family for the summer, which explained why he had been so available the preceding months, but less so when the season changed. Not one to make a scene, when a mutual friend introduced me to the couple, I acted like I had just met him for the first time, and then went home to bawl my eyes out.

The next day when he called, the first thing he asked was, “Do you want to hit me?” Surprisingly, anger wasn’t an emotion I was feeling at the time. I was just very sad, and to be honest, I felt like a fool.

I distinctly remember telling him that I felt sorry for his wife. He said, “HER? Why do you feel sorry for HER?” That was not the kind question I felt warranted an answer, so after a long pause, I asked him what I needed to know–I asked him if he still loved her. I will never forget his response as long as I live. It went something like this:

“You know that old pair of shoes you have in your closet that you wear all the time? You love those shoes; they’re really comfortable, but sometimes you just want to go out wearing a shiny new pair of shoes.”

And that was the day I vowed I would never be anyone’s old shoes!

Before I continue, I just want to say that by writing this, I am in no way putting down this woman or implying there was anything she could have done to keep her husband from straying. However, the “old shoe” image stuck in my head all these years, and I wanted to make sure that no one ever looked or spoke about me in that way.

So here are my tips to make sure your guy always looks at you like a brand new pair of Louboutin’s:

1. Don’t look at him like he’s an old shoe either.

If you’re bored with him, chances are he’s probably bored with you too. A Course in Miracles says the only thing we are lacking in any situation is what we are not giving. So no matter how long you’ve been together, always look to see the wonder and magic in him, and he’ll surely see it in you too.

2. Be endlessly fascinating.

Don’t ever stop growing and learning–not just for him, but also for yourself. You always want to have interests and hobbies and a life outside of your relationship. Not only will you be a far more captivating dinner companion, but also the passion you feel for your projects will spill over into your relationship. You will be giving off a much more exciting energy, and he will definitely want to be a part of the excitement.

3. Go on adventures together.

The more new experiences you have together, the more in love you will feel. Not only will you be making memories that last a lifetime, but shared new experiences actually increase dopamine in the brain, which in turn will make you fall more deeply in love with each other. So book that vacation, go skydiving, or take a class together.

“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” 

~Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

4. Give him the space to grow.

Just as you want to have your own interests and hobbies, you want to encourage your guy when he wants to try new things as well. People should always be growing and evolving. You wouldn’t want to be the same two people you were when you met.

For example, a girlfriend of mine was with the same boyfriend since college. When she expressed an interest in spirituality and started to meditate, her boyfriend made fun of her. Then she was offered a modeling job, and he told her not to take it. He wasn’t giving her the space to blossom into the woman she aspired to be, so she ultimately ended the relationship. You become an old shoe when you try to hold a person back from new experiences and opportunities.

5. Don’t ever stop having sex.

Of course, sex makes a relationship more exciting, but it also releases feel good and bonding chemicals. I’ve heard more than one relationship expert say that contrary to popular belief, it is actually better (and more fun) to work on your sex life than the relationship itself. As Dr. Tammy Nelson puts it, “When you’re having great sex, no one really cares who is taking out the garbage.” All those little things that bother you about your partner will fall away if the sex is making you happy. Keep your sex life exciting, and you’ll always be like a brand new pair of shoes.

6. Don’t ever lose your wild!

When you met your guy, chances are you were out dancing on the bar or swinging from the chandeliers. Now that things have settled in, maybe you’re baking cupcakes and watching movies. You don’t have to stop baking cupcakes or watching movies, but be sure not to lose that wild spirit and sense of fun that drew him to you in the beginning.

 “Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they’re supposed to run wild until they find someone just as wild to run with.”

~Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City ♥

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Do You Believe in Love at First Sight, or Should I Walk by Again?

CityofLove

Photo Credit: Madalena Pestana

“When I met you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.”~Arrigo Boito

If you ask me if I believe in love at first sight, my answer will unequivocally be YES! The reason I feel so strongly is because I’ve experienced it myself. Now I know some of you might be skeptical, but if you don’t take my word for it, many well-respected scientists will back me up that love at first sight is an actual phenomenon.

While observing partner selection in the animal kingdom, Charles Darwin noted that animals not only are capable of feeling romantic love, but many times, much like humans, they fall in love immediately. Anthropologist and human behavior researcher Dr. Helen Fisher says, “Indeed, feelings of intense romantic passion can awaken the first moment you see someone who fits within your mental concept of the perfect partner—love at first sight.” She says it only takes one second to decide that you are attracted to someone and three minutes form a strong opinion about the person. Other scientists say that sometimes it only takes one-fifth of a second to fall in love.

I realize that when you first lock eyes with someone, you can’t possibly know his hopes and dreams and deepest yearnings. However, spiritual author Marianne Williamson says that you will never really know a person unless you love him first.

And I believe that, yes, you can look at a person and in an instant see all the magic he possesses inside. I believe that you can immediately feel a sense of inner knowing that this person will have a very special place in your life. It’s not just about the way someone looks; and it’s not superficial by any means. Maybe it’s something about a man’s smile or the twinkle in his eye that provides you with a glimpse of his true nature. To put it simply, spirit recognizes spirit. I believe if you look close enough, you can see right through to a person’s heart and soul. In yoga, we have a term for this, “Namaste;” the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

Since women are naturally intuitive creatures, I thought maybe we would be more susceptible at falling in love at first sight. A woman might not know anything about a man, but she could look at him and know that she will be falling in love with him. Interestingly enough, research shows that men are equally, if not more susceptible, since they are visual creatures, who naturally tend to fall in love with what they see.

However, love at first sight goes beyond attraction, or lust for that matter. From a biological standpoint, love activates different centers (and chemicals) of the brain than lust or attraction do. Lust and attraction activate the pleasure center of the brain, which by the way, so does food! The brain in love gives meaning to pleasure and creates feelings of euphoria and a desire to bond. So while a man might see a beautiful woman and lust after her, he won’t have the same feelings of attachment that he would for a woman he actually falls in love with. Thankfully, you can feel both love and lust for the same person; and if you’ve only fallen in lust at first sight, it is possible for lust to turn into love over time.

Of course, love at first sight is not the only way to fall in love. Some people are more logical or cautious and do need to spend more time with someone in order to get those loving feelings and chemicals going. That being said, most relationships, including ones started in the blink of an eye, will grow and deepen over time.

In addition to the number of couples I’ve spoken to who told me they knew right away that their partner was the one, Plato’s mythical theory of soulmates left a lasting impression on me. Plato philosophized that humans were originally each born as a “beast with two backs” (and two faces, four arms and four legs). Fearing the power of these earthly creatures, Zeus decided to separate the beast with two backs, splitting them each in half with bolts of lightning. Humans were then forced to walk upright, scouring the Earth for their other half. If they were lucky enough to find one another, there would be an unspoken understanding between the two, and the couple would feel a joy unlike anything they’ve ever known…so don’t you think if you finally found your beast, you would recognize him?♥