Friends With Benefits turning into relationships

If surveys can be trusted, Friends With Benefits (FWB) relationships are on the rise. The most recent Singles in America study found that 47% of singles (40% of women, 53% of men) reported having had FWB relationship in the past. Each year an increase in these relationships turning into long term relationships is being reported, and 33% of singles say their FWB turned into a committed relationship.

There are a number of theories floating around about why and how this is occurring. For some, it’s all about our fast-paced world and the role of convenience, for others, it’s about social changes that allow for people to have casual sex and connect from there- as opposed to the old courtship model. Some say you can truly be yourself once you get the sex part over with- it’s all easier once you have been naked together. Sounds a little like a scene from Annie Hall.

Studies like this are casting doubt on all those warnings from experts about hook-ups and how guys don’t want girls who do, etc. I’m not persuaded that things have changed that much. I work with many young, very attractive and successful guys- and they often talk about how hard it is to meet “nice” girls who respect and like themselves, know who they are- and don’t sell themselves short by being too free with who they are intimate with. I know, sounds like a double-standard- but women also have many of these feelings and look guys who haven’t been with a lot of women.
Yes, the world has changed and folks can have a FWB’s relationship and fall madly in love and end up in a happy marriage. But what about all those unhappy endings that result from these? Those early morning moments of awkwardness, or slipping out in the middle of the night because you’d rather not wake up together, the I’ll call you about Saturday night that leads to hearing from him again when he wants a hook-up- and then there are those who walk away with something that will never go away- and it isn’t the guy- or girl I’m talking about.

Anyone can get lucky- but making good choices and respecting yourself will never go out of fashion and will help protect you from some of the hurt and fallout that can happen when we hook up with a friend. Feelings are not something we have complete control over. You can fall in love. You can get your heart broken when he (or she) meets the person of their dreams. If it’s just sex, take precautions and run like hell as soon as you feel something you know isn’t reciprocated.

Hell hath no fury like a woman with a Lulu app

It was probably just a matter of time. Someone was going to come up with an easy way for women to get back at men who have scorned them. Yes, sites have grown up over several years that allow women to rate their dates and provide the scoop on this or that man. But this one is an app. Meet a guy in a bar and go to your app. A new cute guy begins working in your company, app him. No more will women have to scroll through listings that may contain a guy’s name to find background and other information that she can piece together to decide if he is worth dating/pursuing. This is one stop shopping for anyone wanting to quickly weed out the good ones from the bad. Wow, what if women use this to get revenge, sabotage a guy’s chances because if they can’t have him, no one can- or just feel like being mean because he wasn’t into them?

It’s interesting that there are no sites/apps for men like this to check out women. If there are, I have never heard of them. I first heard about this one from a very successful, attractive guy who has women THROWING themselves at him- someone who is in the limelight and a guy “everyone wants to be seen with.” He said women are all over this app, and he is fairly sure he has been rated several times. He’s a very respectful and “nice” guy who has many women friends….no one is safe, no one.

Apparently the app has menu choices for what someone can say- in order to limit how far someone may want to go. It does add controls, but tell that to the guy who has been painted in a bad light as a bad date, boyfriend, etc. Women get to rate a guy based on their looks (ouch), sense of humor (subjective), willingness to commit (maybe not to HER), and their best and worst qualities, according to the rater.

Users log in through facebook and women can rate all their male facebook friends. Note to men, delete and block her immediately after break-up. Reviews are anonymous, but users must tell what the relationship was with the guy they are rating (choices provided). I thought we had the right to confront our accusers…

I am the mother of three sons (and a daughter) and this doesn’t sit well with me. My guess is that really cool, fair-minded girls wouldn’t use this thing- but their friends might and try to poison a great girl against my son (s). What’s next, wives rating husbands on their sexual skills, hygiene, work ethic, smarts or lack thereof?

Before using this app ladies, you may want to put yourself in a guy’s shoes. Would this be OK if it was the other way around or would words like pig and Neanderthal be connected to it? Relationships are built on respect and trust- talk about getting off on the wrong foot right out of the gate…

Secrets partners keep

The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch section ran an interesting piece titled “10 things your spouse won’t tell you;” and as a seasoned therapist and couples counselor- I can testify to how right on it is.

What 10 things did they list? Your spouse won’t tell you that:
• They spend more money on their lover than you (if they have one)
• They have a secret bank account (if they do)
• They have strong feelings for their “office spouse” (if this is so)
• They bought something they know you wouldn’t want them to, or they lied about the cost
• How much they earn- they often underestimate the amount more than inflate it
• They like the fact that they make more money than you (if they do)
• They hate being the breadwinner- many women feel this way but don’t tell their spouse
• They married you for money- if money played a big role as it often does, they won’t share this
• Honesty about money means more than fidelity- surveys showed this surprising preference
• They spend a lot on your gift to impress the beautiful saleswoman- men care about what attractive strangers think

The bottom line to this piece is that MONEY MATTERS. Hearts, flowers, chemistry and passion aside- money can make or break your dating. relationship or married life together. Make sure your finances are in order when you set a goal of meeting that right person. Check your credit score and address any issues, pay down credit card balances, school or other loans and work on building up savings. It may be very unromantic, but money matters and it has become a major part of attraction, chemistry and mate selection- for both sexes.

Is love at first sight just biology?

Researchers have found that people decide if someone is a potential mate within the first three minutes of a first date. Interestingly enough this is also true of folks who feel an instant rapport on a friendship level- these relationships tend to become close and lasting.

What’s key to these attractions appears to be biological, not logical as studies using animals have found. Apparently animals are drawn to those they are genetically compatible with. While there may be differences between humans and other animals, it’s certainly interesting to contemplate. Apparently these genetic similarities lead to an ability to know that this is the one. Certainly nature has a careful balance, and this programmed attraction may be designed to help the species thrive.

Therefore, there may be something to love at first sight, even though many happy and healthy unions needed more time to grow into something more and not everyone believes in this phenomenon. Interestingly, guys experience instant attraction more often, probably because they are so visual. Women need to know more about what is under that attractive exterior, so their attraction grows slower.

Does this mean that you should not have that second date if you didn’t feel this person is the one? Absolutely not. As a dating and relationship coach, I have encouraged folks to try second and third dates when they felt neutral about the person- not turned off, but not wowed either. What I have seen is that many of those first so-so dates lead to long-term and happy relationships.

Meeting compatible singles offline

Two night ago, my 22 year old son took me to the 9:30 club in DC to hear the Irish singer Glen Hansard (Falling slowly). The 9:30 club is a well known and established venue in DC that hosts national talent and is standing room only- which can be challenging at any age. It’s not a huge place, so no matter where folks stood, the entertainment was close and boy was it good.

As I stood in the crowd, involved in the music, I also observed all the people of varying ages around me- there were couples, many singles and some small groups. Anyone who is familiar with Irish performers will know that they like to involve the crowd and tell great stories- which helps the audience to feel connected to them and to one another. As I reflected on this, I thought about what a great way this could be to meet compatible others.

At the 9:30 club there is a break between the warm up act and the main one that lasts about 45 minutes. The way the place is set up, people can move around throughout the performance and it’s easy to mingle or share comments/observations with those around you. It’s laid back, comfortable and there is a bar for drinks- alcoholic and otherwise. No doubt there are many similar establishments around the country that host top performers like this.

Meeting someone this way guarantees that you will have at least one thing in common- a similar taste in music. It’s also likely that you would both be comfortable in an informal setting and willing and able to stand on your feet for several hours- then take the metro or grab a cab back home. It feels very different from the bar scene, and anyone could go alone and not feel alone.

If you love music, consider checking out the offerings in your area. Along with places like the 9:30 club, you may have access to free concerts in the park or paid outdoor venues (like the Barns at Wolf Trap) here in Northern VA, where you can get seats close to the stage or sit on the lawn and enjoy a picnic as you listen.

I’m always being asked about best ways to meet new people and this is one relatively safe, not terribly expensive, and fun way to meet compatible others.

Online dating tips from an expert

Last week I was interviewed on The Healthy Beauty Show at ‘1380 am the woman’ – the first woman-talk radio station which broadcasts from St Louis, MO. The hosts, Sonja and Kara asked me to share tips and advice on online dating, specifically the do’s and don’ts, red flags, what to include or leave out of a profile- and how to handle questions that ask your age or what age (range) the man you would like to meet falls into. The discussion got lively at times as Sonja and Kara shared some of their personal experiences in online dating and what challenges and turn-offs they encountered.

There is a lot of information out there about how to be a successful online dater- from writing a great profile, to handling that first email to moving your online connection off line for a first date. We tackled some beginning basics, but I will be on the show again in June to continue the discussion.

If you have found online dating to be a disappointment and would like to learn how to be more successful in both attracting and connecting with compatible others, check out my interview linked to Sonja’s blog on

Also, check back for the next time we discuss how you can have a more successful online dating experience.

Making a connection in a 4 minute date

Want some insight into how you can be more effective in connecting with that attractive man or woman? There is a new study that could give you an edge in your dating life.

New research from Stanford University examines the elements of how people bond in courtship situations. Conversations between heterosexual couples in 4 minute speed dating encounters were analyzed in order to better understand what helps people to feel a connection with someone they have just met.

Scholars Dan McFarland and Dan Jurafsky recently published their study results in the American Journal of Sociology. Their paper, “Making the Connection: Social bonding in Courtship Situations” emphasized the uncertainty about the meaning of signals that people send to others and how that influences their ability to forge interpersonal connections. This key element is very different from all the traditional ways we believe people bond socially- through shared traits, experiences, values, and world view. Therefore, this research was looking at something that draws people together that is not about looks, type of career, interests, etc.

They analyzed nearly 1,000 “dates” and found that words did matter, especially in how they were delivered, and when and for how long they shared during the encounter. Shared stories helped the connection as did participants varying the loudness and pitch of their speech. These findings highlight the importance of the nonverbal communication that we all use but rarely think about. The analysis looked at these measures against the backdrop of how the individuals rated their connection during the date and 4 minutes were found to be long enough for folks to have a meaningful encounter.

Women felt more connection when men used more feeling language, (words that were sympathetic and appreciative). They also felt more connection to men who actively engaged in and contributed to the conversation. What was interesting is that both sexes felt more connection when the topic focused mostly on the women. However if a man asked too many questions or the woman had to ask a lot of questions to keep the conversation going, this negatively impacted her connection with him.

The overall finding was that communication can change someone’s feelings about another person. The next time you want to establish a connection with someone you have just met, remember to be engaged, show interest, ask questions but not too many, jump in with energy and only to comment in a positive way on something they have shared- and vary the loudness/softness of your voice, as it communicates energy and keep their attention. No folks, it’s not about looks and success- it’s how well you connect in your communication with one another.

STD’s and boomer daters

It’s certainly true that “you can never go home again,” or in the case of single boomers- return to the dating world of one’s youth. Back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, AIDS didn’t exist, bacterial infections happened, but weren’t that common, and those nasty little viruses that can lead to cancer, a feeling of malaise, and physical and emotional discomfort, but generally don’t kill, – were virtually unheard of. It was a time of “free love,” when people were becoming more casual about sex, but also valued being in a relationship.

Fast forward to now when many boomers are single again after a marriage has ended through divorce or death- and they are out there dating for the first time in many years. The whole landscape is different- there are new rules, expectations, shifting roles, a lot of casual hook-ups with no strings, and there is much to relearn. Too bad the learning doesn’t start with a caution about how prevalent STD’s have become, and not just among the young.

There seems to be an assumption among boomers that older people are safer due to their long years of monogamy- and too often folks believe that if they are dating another boomer who is recently single, there is no risk. It only takes one casual encounter to put anyone at risk, whether they are 19 or 69. Casual sex is in and it’s everywhere, even amongst the gray haired set.

As a psychotherapist who works with many boomers I have encountered this quite a bit. I often find myself discussing risks with my older clients like I used to do with my very young ones. They are often surprised and unaware that this is something they will need to be on guard about.

Regardless of how old you are, how long it has been since you last dated, how old or recently attached/unattached your perspective partners are- you need to approach any sexual encounter with great caution. It just isn’t worth it – trust me, I hear the stories every day.

Meet Me at the airport

Just when you thought that there couldn’t be any new twists in the world of meeting and dating- along comes This new “dating “site allows users to connect with other travelers when they arrive at the airport and then hang out together until one of them has a plane to catch. If the connection is a good one, well, who knows?

MeetMeAtTheAirport entices visitors with romanticized come-ons about sharing drinks and conversation or even a nice dinner in the safety of a busy, and very public environment. It emphasizes that you will meet and encounter people who are from your geographic area and therefore have the opportunity to see them repeatedly, allowing for the possibility that love airport style, could blossom and grow. If you are a frequent flyer, you could work first dates into airport wait times that will always give you an out should you want one when your flight’s wheels are about to go up. They are also a great time saver for all you busy folks who have difficulty working fun and romance into your overbooked schedules and lives.

If you are really looking for excitement consider international dating, made possible by choosing to connect with flyers from abroad. The word adventure comes up often on this site – after all what is more adventurous than hooking up with strangers you may never see again in a place as public and transitory as an airport? Let’s face it, you can have a fun fling and if you decide you never want to see him/her again, it should be easy not to.

So for all you adventurous types or those who have all but given up on traditional meeting and dating, this could be just that something you have been looking for. You can check it out on

Don’t be a victim of Revenge Porn

When I read about the lawsuit against, a few old adages came to mind. Don’t get caught with your pants down, boys kiss and tell, and there is such a thing as overexposure.

Once again we are all wondering just how far the first amendment will let folks go. Now, anyone can post compromising photos of someone else online. First it was the snarky comments and so-called facts about an ex’s character flaws or bad behavior – and now, we get treated to someone’s “porn revenge.” What next, audio?

Apparently this has generated a flood of public and media attention which has led to the site shutting down due to traffic overload. Of course that is every site’s dream, so we should anticipate more of this virtual acting out in the future.

What no one is really talking about is the fact that these women GAVE these photos to their (then) boyfriends. They weren’t secretly photographed or otherwise coerced to offer nude pictures of themselves. However, they want to be held fully responsible for them being available online. Something is definitely not right with this picture.

Yes, I understand they felt safe sharing these personal images with their intimate other. At the time they couldn’t have known that they would break up and his payback would be indecent exposure. However, in a world where most relationships fail in the early stages of dating and the divorce rate is almost 50%, shouldn’t women have some sense that maybe this isn’t the best idea?

Ladies, listen up. If your guy asks for nude photos, tell him no. If he wants to admire you he can do it in person- without a camera. If you are married and he’s into making sex films or taking suggestive shots- make sure you get all these back (along with negatives and copies) as part of your divorce settlement.

The bottom line is that if there are compromising pictures or films of you out there- you really have no control over what happens to them. Once you turn them over to someone else, they are no longer yours. If you value your privacy and dignity, then safeguard it. What would your mother say???