Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Every Relationship Ends

There is no such thing as a relationship that lasts forever.

A comedian I worked with put it best: “What’s the reward for a successful relationship? One of you gets to watch the other die. The prize is loneliness.”

Every relationship ends.

They end, but they also never stop, not while you‘re part of them.

We tell ourselves there is happily ever after. “When the wedding is over, things will settle down.” “Once work gets less crazy, he’ll pay more attention to me.”

People change. Circumstances change. You are never at the finish line. I’m now at the age where my friends are starting to get divorced. In at least three cases, the divorce caught me completely by surprise. I remember thinking “What happened? You guys MADE it.”

If this couple can’t make it work, what hope for the rest of us?

There are two things we must understand.

- Every relationship ends.

- It can end an any time. It doesn‘t matter whether you‘ve been together five weeks, five years, or five decades…there is no point at which you can say ‘we made it.’

There's no question, I feel sad when I think of this.

But I also choose to see it as liberating.

There are many of us out there who worry about our relationships. We think if we say the right things or do the right things or be the right person we can make our things work. We also think if the relationship falters, it’s because we’re bad, broken, or unlovable. Sometimes we even get angry at our partners for things not working. We're doing everything we can and they just won't respond the way we want them to.

By reminding myself all relationships end, I take a lot of pressure off myself.

I don’t have to stress about whether or not we will last as a couple. I can let go of trying to hold the relationship together and enjoy what’s there instead of worrying about the future.

None of us can ever know what’s going to happen.

So instead of worrying about the relationship, I can concentrate on the person I’m in the relationship with.

Relationships might not last forever, but as long as we’re there, we can do the best we can for ourselves and for the other person.

Valar Morghulis. All things must die. With human lives, we judge them on the quality of their life, not the length of it.

Let’s do the same with our relationships.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dating Fundamentals: Self-Disclosure

(This is a re-edit of a Suicide Girls article that ran in 2009)

Successful dating is like basketball. It’s all about fundamentals (*).

Too many people are looking for a trick or secret weapon to dating success when ninety-five percent of the time, all they need to do is refine what they already have. Today we’re going to talk about a basic conversational building block called self-disclosure.

I know what you’re thinking: How dumb to you have to be to screw up talking? The answer is, you don’t have to be dumb at all. Often some of the smartest people I know have the most trouble talking to people. This is because they’re the type of person who is always trying to “win“ the conversation. They want to be the one with the most knowledge or the most trenchant comeback. Many times they are successful--and many times it doesn’t do them a bit of good. The prize for these conversational victories is the title of social imbecile. Instead of a blue ribbon, they get a scarlet letter (I am a trained professional writer. Do not attempt this imagery at home.).

I don’t blame these people. Our culture seems to assume social ability is somehow innate. The truth is, conversation is a learnable skill, just like long division or the challenge levels in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Which brings us back to self-disclosure, which is to conversation what X-Wing fighters are to the Rebel Alliance--effective, adaptable, and ubiquitous.

How do you self-disclose? Easy-Peasy. You pick a subject--ANY subject--and relate it to yourself by talking about your feelings on the subject. Then you shut your gob and give the other person a chance to talk. Rinse and repeat.

It looks something like this:

GUY: My favorite animal is the wolf. I like them because they’re tough, but they’re also social creatures. And they howl, which is what I’m told my singing sounds like in the shower.

GAL: I love singing in the shower too! My boyfriend hates it.

GUY: I don’t have a boyfriend, but the woman I’m sleeping with does. It’s a real pain in the ass.

Pretty simple, right? The two biggest mistakes people make are lack of emotional content (“The new Transformers movie opens this summer” vs. “I can’t believe what those fuckers did to Soundwave in the last one.”) and not tying the content to themselves (“Many cultures consider suicide a noble ending” vs. “I hate myself and want to die.”).

The secret is to talk in the first person. Not only will you sound more confident and expressive, it will help you avoid sounding judgmental, which is the conversational kiss of death. “I‘m a fan of good driving” is a far more effective connection-builder than “People should learn to drive” or (God help you) “Your driving sucks.”

The important thing to realize about self-disclosure is you aren’t talking about yourself for the sake of talking. There’s no showing off, defending yourself, or rationalizing. The goal is to lay down how you honestly feel. When you do this, people become more comfortable opening up right back, and in dating, comfort is the name of the game.

Don’t believe me?

Good. If you‘re smart enough to know not to believe everything you read, then you‘re probably smart enough to realize the best way to find out if something is true is to try it for yourself. It’s counter-intuitive to accept that the best way to connect with others is by talking about yourself, so a little skepticism is perfectly natural.

Here then is your challenge. Your job is to have a conversation with someone. Over the course of this conversation, you are to learn as much as you can about them using ONLY self-disclosure. You are not allowed to tell them what to do. You are not allowed to ask questions. All you do is a) talk about your own experience and b) listen.

Post your results and questions in the comments section below.

(*) All of which are covered in my book Dating for Shy Guys, available in slush piles of finer Literary Agencies everywhere.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It Never Ends...

I used to think there was an endpoint to this relationship stuff.

I thought once I got a girlfriend, I was home free.

I’ve heard others tell similar stories. The guy who just wants to get laid. The woman who dreams of walking down the aisle. Everything in between, before, and beyond.

The truth is, it never ends.

You will never have it all figured out.

Something always changes.

You will never be able to step back, take a look at your relationship and say, “There. Finished.”

If you do, you are on the road to stagnation.

You relationships should be changing and evolving, not because you’re forcing it, but because that’s what relationships do. Just like everything else.

That’s a wonderful thing.

It frees you.

Instead of trying to hold things in place, you can scan the horizon and see how you can both most enjoy the next adventure.

It’s coming whether you want it or not. Might as well embrace it.

It’s a lot of fun.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Be Sexier Now (Part 2): Working From The Inside Out

I mentioned in a previous column that the most inexperienced daters usually improve their relationships by making changes from the outside in.

However most people find that scoring themselves on external results will only take them so far. There are countless changes one can make; at a certain point, most of us start to feel that there is only so many changes we can make before we aren’t ourselves anymore.

Not only that, there’s the inevitable diminishing returns: Romantic victories are awesome at first. But as time goes on, it takes more and more to recreate the high of those first successes. As time passes, we start to burn out. We get sick of endlessly chasing the dragon of the next and more spectacular conquest, of being emotional slaves to the normal highs and lows of dating.

Eventually, most of us find our priorities start to shift to working from the inside out. We no longer what sexy to be something we do, but something we are.

Working from the inside out isn’t as easy as working from the outside in. The steps aren’t as specific and the results aren’t always as measurable. Yet for me, it was only once I started dealing with the inside that I began to find myself flowing with the rhythm of my own life.

The inside is about self-acceptance, about being comfortable with who you are and understanding that you’re a worthwhile person. It’s easy to give lip service to it, but not so easy to put into practice. Sometimes it feels like going backwards as you are forced to face things in yourself you need to deal with.

These things don’t come overnight.

But they come.

With it comes the realization of who you are. It becomes easier to let go of worrying about what other people might think, and discover what you need for yourself.

You start to learn that you don’t have to become sexy because you already are. It’s all a matter of getting out of your own way. Instead of trying to add things to your personality and make yourself over, it becomes a process of letting go, allowing the things that prevent your natural sexiness from shining through to drop away.

This doesn’t mean you won’t change or evolve or stop learning. It doesn’t mean you can repeat ineffective behaviour and get different results. You still have to put in time and effort to get what you want.

But that time and effort happens in the flow of life. Instead of being about the things you do, being sexy because about the person you are.

Because there is a secret I know about you, and with time you will learn it for yourself.

You are already sexy. You already have everything you need. At a certain point, striving for more is like searching the house for your car keys when they’re already in your hand.

The trouble is, this is the kind of knowledge you can’t just read. You have to experience it.

So get out there and experience. You’re going to meet a lot of new people.

And one of the most interesting of those new people is going to be yourself.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Be Sexier Now (Part 1: Working From the Outside In)

Everybody wants to be sexy.

Guess what? It’s a learnable skill.

No matter where you’re starting from, you can always get better.

When it comes to building your attractiveness, there are two approaches:

1- Working from the outside in

2 - Working from the inside out.

In the first strategy, you add tools to your arsenal to become more sexy. The second approach involves assuming you are ALREADY sexy and all you have to do is get out of your own way.

Which is better? I’m of the opinion they both work just fine, and rather than wasting time worrying about which is ‘best,’ I’d instead recommend playing with both and seeing what works best for you.

I have found the most inexperienced people (and that includes myself, once upon a time) find it easiest to start with the outside-in method because it’s less abstract and more specific than working from inside out.

The nice thing abour working from the outside in is it is a lot easier and you tend to see results faster. It also gives you concrete things to do.

Which leads to the question. What do you work on?

The nice thing about working on the external things is that there are endless possibilities.

For example, you can start with the physical things. You can sign up for a gym and start improving your health. You can work on dressing differently or experminent with different ways of carrying yourself. You can take vocal lessons.

You can work on your social confidence. Practice talking to strangers or even hit on a cutie at the bar. Join clubs; expand your circle of friends; start a dating profile on the internet.

You can build your mind. Scour the internet or the bookstore for items on the art and science of attraction and relationships. You don’t have to agree with everything, but it never hurts to know what’s out there. Learn about your sexual bits and pieces, how they work, and the issues that face the members of your preferred gender.

It doesn’t matter where you start. All that matters is that you start somewhere.

Don’t just read the books though. Knowing how something is done is not the same thing as knowing how to do it. Go out and practice. Make the mistakes. Reap the rewards.


Dedicate yourself this week to making one change. Pick something small--initiating a conversation with one stranger (or one a day), getting a new haircut, improving your body language.

Work on it for a week. What happens? What do you think of yourself? How does it feel knowing it is possible to make changes?

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.