By Barbara Katz
Online dating is a lot like air travel – everyone complains about the experience, but in the end, if you obey a few common-sense guidelines, it usually gets you where you want to go. Today, close to 50% of couples meet through dating sites.
Finding your true love online may take longer than you wish and involve some frustrations and set-backs. But if you navigate with the right attitude, you’ll get where you're going a lot more smoothly.
Dating starts with authenticity and self-discovery. If you truly know who you are and what you’re looking for in a new partner, you’ll simplify the process. You will filter out less compatible matches from the start and recognize “The One” sooner when he or she responds to your profile.
Singles who are wishy-washy and haven’t put much thought into defining who they are and what they're looking for typically attract the same. Confident online daters whose profiles and attitudes show they mean business usually have more serious daters respond to their profile.
The key is to send a more focused, personal and authentic message. It should align with who you are, how you want to be perceived, and who you want to meet. Your online profile, your photo, even your headline and profile name, should all support that consistent message.
How do you pull this off? Three steps.
Start by discovering who you are. Take your time. Sit down with a pen and paper, and interview yourself.
Ask yourself: What kind of relationship are you looking for? What are your “must-haves” and “must-not-haves” in your next relationship? How do you want to feel when you’re with the person? (Examples: relaxed and at ease, accepted for who you are, like you have a soft place to land at the end of a trying day).
Be specific: What are the passions, hobbies, interests and ambitions that define you? What are your best qualities? What makes you different, endearing, quirky? (If possible, ask friends or family members for their input. They may help you see some things more clearly about yourself.)
Next, focus on who you're looking for. Sure, you'll make exceptions for anyone who’s rich, gorgeous and fun, but try to nail down your “target market.” How old should they be, how close to you should they live, how active should they be? Is his or her level of education and income important to you?
The point of these questions is not to commit yourself to one single specific type of person, but to establish a baseline profile of who you’re looking for. This provides a model for evaluating the people you are about to meet in your dating adventure. How close do they come to what you’re looking for? This step helps you avoid many false starts, and helps you recognize more fitting partners sooner when your paths cross.
Be similarly specific about what you're looking for. Not just someone who likes long walks on a beach – 95% of the world loves that. Maybe you're looking for someone who will walk on the beach after a Hawaiian pig roast to which you hang-glided from the summit of a volcano. Use expressive details to help your One and Only recognize themselves more clearly. (If you don't know what you want, how will they know?)
Remember to use language that more accurately describes what you mean, rather than using catch-all phases. For example, what a “down-to-earth” person means for you may not be the same definition that others have.
Finally, make sure your headline and photos support the authentic you. Get professional photos taken, if necessary. And don't settle for me-too headlines like “Looking for Love.” Go for something creative and enticing, geared not to the bland mass audience, but to just the right person: “Willing to meet you on a lonely moor near Pemberley.” The right person will get your message.
Be authentic. Be proud of who you are. And you’re more likely to attract someone who already respects who you are and where you're going.
By Barbara Katz
Flirting without an agenda puts everyone at ease, including you!
You see someone you’re attracted to at the theatre, the supermarket or a coffee shop. You wish you could go up to them and start a conversation, the way confident people do in the movies. But this is the real world, you’re not a Hollywood star, and so the moment passes.
Does this situation sound familiar? It's a common affliction with singles, those who haven't given up on finding new romance, but aren't quite sure how to kick-start it. It's not as if a grown man or woman can just flirt, as they might have done in their more assured youth. Or can they?
Well, why not?
Flirting is a fun, liberating activity for people of any age. You don't have to be a super model or even overly outgoing to be a confident flirt. You just have to understand the principles of flirting.
Flirting is a state of mind. People who know how to flirt enjoy meeting other people, taking the initiative and striking up conversations wherever they go. The result may lead to friendship or a romance – or it may not. No problem. When you flirt because you enjoy it, it frees you to be in "the moment," to be authentic and to have fun.
Flirting without an agenda puts others at ease. People don't mind talking to you if they think you're genuinely interested in them, rather than solely aiming for an outcome. Focus on the other person. The better you get at asking playful, open-ended questions, and showing genuine interest in their responses, the better you'll become at creating genuine rapport - without which, nothing can possibly happen.
The more interesting and thought-provoking your questions, the more likely you will have a memorable and intriguing interaction. For example, you might ask, “If you could be anyone of the opposite sex for a day (living or deceased), who would you be, and why?” or “What’s one thing that never fails to make you smile?” Another great ice-breaker is “Complete this sentence: I am the most __________ person you will ever meet.”
Flirting with a graceful exit puts you at ease. Flirting can be a beginning, or it can be an end in itself. It is not a contract that says you have to get a phone number, give a phone number, or ask someone out.
Know how to bow out with grace and dignity. If you sense someone is not open to you initiating a conversation, respect their feelings. Be aware when the conversation is coming to a natural end, don’t overstay your welcome, and genuinely thank the other person for interacting with you.
Above all, be yourself and focus on the experience rather than the outcome. And only if you feel that the other person is open and receptive to the idea should you ask if you can see them again.
Don't think that flirting isn't appreciated. Almost everyone loves the acknowledgement that people find them attractive. They appreciate it when others make the first move. So keep in mind that you have very little to lose, and everything to gain.
Successful flirting is based on the idea that you only lose when you stop trying. As long as you are starting conversations, putting your best self forward, and taking genuine interest in other people’s stories and opinions, your efforts will eventually result in success.
Even if it doesn't directly win you a new romantic partner, learning to open up and approach others will gain you many new friends. And who knows who they know…?
By Barbara Katz
Since the dawn of man the “Dance of Intimacy” known as flirting has existed, helping boy meet girl to satisfy the need for personal closeness and our deeper instincts for survival as a species. But our basic urges have evolved beyond mere survival, into a seemingly complicated array of behaviours and protocols that would make even Casanova’s head hurt.
It’s not supposed to be this way. “Flirting is universal,” says relationships expert Laura Schaefer (author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All
Time). Whether you live in Brampton or Bolivia, Schaefer says people all have the same moves when it comes to attracting attention: “smiling, arching their eyebrows, then averting their gaze.
Flirting is an essential skill that enhances ones happiness and their sense of connection. Even in the stately Victorian era, flirting had a place: why do you think women dropped handkerchiefs, or waved those accordion fans? Those fans were the ultimate hand-held device, the killer app of courtly love.
According to Schaefer, a fan placed near the heart was a silent, subtle signal that said, “You have won my love.” Opening a fan wide meant "Wait for me." A half-opened fan pressed to the lips suggested, “You may kiss me.” If the man didn’t follow the protocol, the lady might open and close the fan several times quickly, an arch reprimand that warned: “Watch it. You are behaving cruelly.”
Despite evolution, the universal signals of flirting are less structured than in Victorian times. Today,
the “rules of engagement” are more varied and less codified than they have been in the past – which may explain why so many people have difficulty feeling like they have mastered its techniques.
Some people flirt just for the fun of it, enjoying saucy conversations and meeting new people. They may be a married couple trying to revive the fun and romance. For others, flirting is the means to an end: to find the love of their life (or at least for the rest of the month).
Today we flirt in clubs, restaurants and arenas, in book stores and supermarkets and even while driving in heavy traffic. Spotting who’s available and interested from across the room and mustering the courage to speak to them can be more stressful than in past times.
Beyond a smile and the arched eyebrow, we don't know the common signals that allow us to interpret others’ intentions. Flirting may be instinctual, but it’s a complex ritual that only a few people master. And the opportunity for error is huge.
For example, let’s consider the single adult female in a familiar nocturnal environment – at a party or club with other single friends - to exemplify this flirting conundrum. The ladies chat amiable, usually in a tight circle or “impenetrable fortress”. After all, it’s noisy in this jungle, and you have to stand close and speak loudly to hear each other.
At the edge of the clearing, two males of the species scan the horizon for likely mates. Their gaze falls upon the females mentioned above. They like the looks of the individual females, but they notice how the group is standing very close together, presumably for mutual protection.
The males consider joining the conversation, but they see no way through the stronghold-like wall of female backs. If they approach, they fear looking foolish or being rejected.
Instead, they scan the room for solitary individuals who are less well-fortified. They move on silently, the males’ presence went undetected by the group of females, who are still busy talking in their circle.
This is a common irony of the dating scene today, when the “rules” are less defined. These women were likely there to meet men. Yet they didn’t realize that their body language and group dynamics were actively blocking the very people they wanted to meet.
This is why awareness of flirting is so important. Not only does it make it easier for you to approach other people – but you also realize that you have to make it easier for them to approach you. Flirting is not so much about “hunting in the wild” as it is showing that you are open to being approached, and having the confidence to take a few chances.
The fear of rejection can be overwhelming and may stop some dead in their tracks - robbing them of opportunities to make a wanted connection. Often our intensions are not clearly conveyed making it difficult for a potential suitor to know whether to approach.
Overcoming the fear of rejection is one of the hardest flirting skills for both men and women alike to master. Most people are wary of flirting because they feel that they don't know what to say. They worry that they'll be considered too “forward” or even pushy. Flirting may breed other fears as well – the fear of saying the wrong thing, attracting the wrong people, or of making one’s self open to be approached and yet attracting no one at all.
Ironically, when you think about a great flirting experience you’ve had – one where you felt completely at ease, were in the moment with light playfulness and were being your authentic self, it all happened because someone took the risk to make the first move, someone took the first step in the Dance of Intimacy. This “bold move” was what opened the door for the possibility of what could be.
Once you understand the art of flirting, things become much simpler. When you know how to catch a person’s eye, read body language, and start a conversation, then flirting isn't “forward” – it's just socializing. At its best, flirting becomes empowering and increases your self-confidence and self-esteem as you interact with new people. Regardless of the eventual outcome, it’s always flattering when someone you find attractive shows interest in you.
These are just a few glimpses of how people flirt in the 21st century. It’s not just for biological reasons that flirting has emerged as one of the most important skills developed by the human race. The techniques of flirting can ignite new relationships or enhance established ones. They can boost your confidence, win new friends and introduce you to new experiences.
Whether we are club-hoppers, introverts, fan-waving Victorians or someone overcoming their fears to make a “bold move”, we are all social beings. We all seek connections with others. Learning to flirt can be truly empowering and life-changing. Flirting is not a “cure” for being single. It's oxygen for a healthier, happier life.
By Barbara Katz
Does the thought of flirting over the holidays send you into the fetal position curled up under your coffee table? Or perhaps it conjures up images of a wolf stalking its prey?
Whatever your preconceptions, it’s time to change your perspective on flirting. Because if you change your perspective, you can change your outcomes.
And if you want to meet new people, what better time than the
holidays, the one time a year when it's permissible to be "merry," and there's a party on every corner?
No matter what age you are, flirting is something that happens
naturally. The urge to flirt is stamped on our DNA.
Since the beginning of history, humans have wanted to connect with each other. Not just in an emotional way, but to continue the lineage of the species. We are all descendants of successful flirters.
So flirting shouldn’t be nerve-racking or scary. At its best, flirting is fun, light-hearted and empowering. It's simply connecting with another person to say, “I find you attractive, and I am open to having a conversation.”
You don't need mistletoe to do your flirting for you. Here are five tips for more effective flirting at your next Christmas party.
1. Feel Good Before You Go Out
Let’s face it. If you are in a bad mood before you go out on the town, no amount of forced smiles and looking interested in conversations will hide it. You will be sending out a vibe of “back off, I’m having a bad day” that would scare off the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Before you step out to your holiday festivities, do something that puts a smile on your face and makes you feel good.
Maybe it’s working out, or going for a walk. Perhaps it’s having a tug of war with your dog or cranking up “Bohemian Rhapsody” in your car and singing at the top of your lungs. Do whatever makes you feel good so that you can genuinely be in a happy mood when you arrive.
Like it or not, the moment you step into the party your body language will radiate the emotions you are feeling.
2. Be Approachable
You’ve seen people at social gatherings who just slouch by the egg nog, texting on their phone, never looking up. Or people who look like they want to fade into the walls, or try to take up as little physical space as possible.
Who would want to approach these people, let alone flirt with them? Their body language is all closed up. Subconsciously they are sending the message, “I’m not open to being approached.”
The easiest way to let people know you are open is to smile and make eye contact. A cute, cheeky grin and a twinkle in your eye helps, too. It makes people wonder what you’re up to and makes them curious to come over and talk with you.
Use open, confident body language, such as standing tall with your chest out and arms in a more open position. This sends the subconscious message, “I’m open to meeting new people.”
3. Master the “Dreaded Opening Line”
Flirting starts to become "real" when one person is brave enough to approach another. Beware of corny opening lines such as: “Do you come here often?” or “I’m not the best photographer in the world, but I can picture us together.” Why? Because these are clichés. And more importantly, they aren't you.
The best “opening line” is the simplest: “Hello, my name is John [or Jane]. What’s yours?” Yes, that’s it! A friendly “Hello” with a genuine smile also works wonders. The important point is that you actually break the ice and make contact in a friendly, authentic way. Being confident and real is extremely appealing -- to both sexes.
4. Ask fun, light, open-ended questions
Once you're talking with other people, being genuinely curious about them makes you more attractive.
Ask fun, playful opening questions such as, "What's your favorite holiday cartoon?", or even, “If you hitchhiked with Santa on Christmas Eve, where would you ask to be dropped off, and why?”
Questions like these will open the door to interesting and memorable conversations. They also help the flow of the conversation meander in many possible directions, so both of you can share in a fun, genuine way.
5. Be in the moment, with no agenda
When you arrive at a party with a self-imposed agenda such as, “I’m going to get a date before I leave this event,” you put pressure on yourself. You can get so focused on the end goal that you forget to be in the moment and enjoy the person in front of you. Does that sound like fun to you? Would you want to flirt with someone who's on a mission?
Above all, stay away from the mistletoe. Demanding a kiss for standing under decorative shrubbery smacks of coercion - and pressure is the enemy of flirting.
Going out with no expectations allows the event to unfold freely without your trying to guide it in any one direction. You are freer to allow your authentic, attractive self to shine through. And your holiday - and even your New Year - can be merry and bright.
About The Author
Barbara Katz is an interpersonal communications professional who specializes in communication between the sexes.
She is dedicated to helping people recognize that flirting is a fun, playful empowering activity. Through workshops, presentations, articles and other media she teaches people new skills and strategies to increase their self confidence when connecting with others.