Tag Archives: Advice

Texas Hold ‘Em Pick Up Strategies

Getting a good hand might take luck, but it takes skill to play a good game.

  1. Know what’s in your hand

    There is no absolute formula for a good pickup. It’s probability. Like estimating the probability of a winning hand from your pocket cards, your chances for a good pickup can be determined from your target’s position relative to yours and the person’s body language.

    If your target is right next to you and his or her body turns toward you, it’s like having a pair of aces. But that doesn’t mean you’ll win the hand. There might be an opponent on the dealer/target’s other side who’s already been dealt a straight. Sometimes you have to maneuver for a better position – e.g., consider the other player’s bet, call, wait for the dealer, then raise.

    Sometimes maneuvering gives you a better perspective of your odds. You can bluff your opponent, wait for the river card, and win the hand.

  2. You can’t judge a pokerface

    An experienced poker player probably won’t hint what’s in his or her hand when the flop is dealt. But if you look at the player’s feet, according to Joe Navarro’s What Every Body is Saying, it’s easier to tell if he or she is nervous. Active feet are happy. Feet pointed toward the door speak nerves.

    Similarly, your date might not reveal true feelings in his or her face. For example, if he or she looks away after you’ve made eye contact, he/she might be shy or simply unprepared. But if his/her feet are turned toward you, chances are there’s interest.

  3. “If you ‘buy-in’ cheap, don’t expect a big ‘pay-out.’”

    This one, applying to the guys more than women, comes from The Winner’s Guide to Dating (What I Learned about Love and Sex from Playing Texas Hold ’em), a cool illustrated book of one-liners by New Yorker Randall Klitz. This particular tip refers to going on a date. Dinner at Mickey D’s probably won’t seduce a girl as much as Au-Trendy-Hot-Spot.

    But if you’re a really good pickup artist, you don’t even have to plan a date to get laid. Sometimes, one drink at a bar is enough. Though, if you want beauty and brains, don’t go to dives unless you want to lower your probability for a win.

What Not to Do on a First Date

You know from first hand experience a lot of things you should and shouldn’t do the first time you go out with someone. Of course people do things that you have no control over that they probably need to pull the reins on. These include, but are not limited to, blatantly trying to determine if you’re “marriage material”, get close and cuddly too soon, trying to figure out how much money or debt you have, being self-centered, lying, and complaining.

But this isn’t about what others do. It’s about what you do. So, let’s get started.

Don’t over-think.

Here are a two things that can happen as a result of over-thinking that can ruin a perfectly good potential relationship:

  1. Assuming that one thing your date says means what you think it means. You may want to clarify before you jump off the love boat.
  2. Dwelling on a small detail. Get over it. It’s one little thing amidst a complex being. If you keep doing this you may never get a second date.

Don’t be a coward

Here are some examples of things your date might talk about that you really shouldn’t be scared of:

  • A health issue.
    As long as your date doesn’t go into detail about his or her health problem without you asking about it, and he/she’s not near death, there’s really no reason other than lack of interest not to try a second date – unless you’re a spineless loser.
  • What he or she wants out of a relationship.
    So what if your date doesn’t want to waste time. Don’t make a big deal out of someone stating what he or she wants. Of course there is inappropriate behavior such as crying a lot or having a crazy look in the eyes. That, of course, might be reason to run. In either case, don’t freak out. Just gently let your date know that it’s too soon to discuss those kind of details. As long as a person is matter-of-fact about what he or she wants, talking about relationship hopes is not out of line.
  • His or her shrink.
    A lot of people see therapists. Why should it not a deal-breaker? Really good, deep, emotionally-bonded friendships are not easy to come by. Women and men need to be able to talk about their feelings. Generally therapists are simply people who are paid to listen to our emotional vomit. (Boy, does it feel good afterward.)

Everything in moderation, of course. If your date has a difficult time getting off a topic, like a previous relationship or a childhood story, that’s another issue altogether.

Sometimes people are simply too nervous to be themselves. If you never get nervous, you’re not human. Don’t forget that it’s very easy to put your foot in your mouth or do things you wouldn’t normally do especially when you like someone. Have some grace for cryin’ out loud!

What you can do on a first date

If something your date says bugs you, have the person elaborate. Even if the subject has changed, you can say something like, “I’m sorry, but you mentioned…What exactly did you mean by that?…” This is especially important if you tend to jump to conclusions.

And if you really want a companion and not a one-nighter, don’t try to have sex on the first date. Okay? And if things just get too steamy, well, I hope you both will agree with the outcome.

It’s also okay to call after the date and clarify what was said or to let the person know if you’re not interested. Then you politely say Thank you and Goodbye. Then change your number. Just kidding…mostly.

The topic of this post was inspired by Rachel Greenwald’s Have Him At Hello. Not bad, this book.

How Much Is Too Much?

 

I met Sheila a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit, I am rather taken by her. She’s funny, fun to be around, smart, and attractive. What’s more, she’s new to town, ready and willing to try new things and go to places she’s not been before.

At this point, I can’t tell whether she sees me as just a friendly tour guide, or something more. I’m pretty cool about things, and either way, I’m happy, but I really want to know at some point. I figure pretty soon I might make some subtle advances and see if they’re returned, and that’s where the debate comes in. . .

My best female, friend, Brenda advises against this. Her philosophy seems to be to play the aloof card. In fact, with Sheila’s out of town on business and her birthday mere days away, I thought it might be nice to call and sing happy birthday on her answering machine. Is it a little goofy? Yes, but that’s me; that’s who I am. She seems to like me so far . . . right?

Brenda’s response, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO, you can’t do that!!! You’ll immediately place yourself in the friend category . . . Bad idea!!!”

“Well maybe I should just call, then?”, dejected by the strong admonition.

“No don’t call her, “ she nodded, convinced that this, too, was a bad idea.

“What? Am I just supposed to ignore her birthday?”, I replied, shocked at the advice I was hearing.  Brenda didn’t really have an answer for that . . .

I mean, I like this woman. Are we in 4th grade again? What am I supposed to do? Pull her hair? Call her names? I thought we were past all of this stuff as adults, and while I understand that panting like a loyal dog is not a way to win her heart, ignoring her doesn’t seem like a good thing either.

I’m a “do what I say I’m gonna do” kind of guy. If I tell you I will call. I will call. I don’t wait until the last second. If I want to take you out, I won’t wait past Wednesday to set something up. I just don’t see any point in pretending like I don’t care, if I do.

I realize, this philosophy can be taken too far, and may make some women uncomfortable. I know where that point is. I’m not gushing over her. I make eye contact, and get good eye contact in return. I keep plans light, and flexible, but I’m consistently available when I say I will be. If she wants to make plans, and I’m busy, I offer up another time or an alternate plan that works better with my schedule.

At the end of the day however, my heart is on my sleeve, and I believe I’m being told, that’s not a good thing. I think need to get some more clarity on where the line is.

Which brings me to my dilemma, ladies – especially the single ladies: How much aloof, is too much aloof? Do you ever get to a point where you cut him off because he’s too aloof? On the other hand, how much is too much? What are the rules, or are there any rules?

Your input is valuable . . .

 

Incidentally, I texted Sheila on her birthday . . . at the risk of losing my anonymity, it read like this . . .

“May your day be filled with fun.

May your belly be filled with laughs.

And may your mouth be filled with cake.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

I hope you’re doing something fun!!!”

 

Was it too much?

What is Love? Part 4 – How To Love Women

How to Love Women

This post is specifically for the guys. (Hey, I write for a men’s magazine.)

No matter where you are in your relationship with a woman, here are 4 things you can to do to make her feel éros.

  1. Listen to her
  2. Use touch
  3. Be gentle
  4. Speak with your body

Listen to her.

“I knew that,” you might think. But do you know how to listen to women? First, you have to turn off all your electronics, yes this includes the TV.

It’s pretty widely known that women – even the most logical thinking ones – need to talk about their feelings. Not always, but usually when their feelings get in the way of rationality.

Some women are really upfront about their feelings.

No matter how worked up she might be, do whatever it takes not to react. Because I guarantee that once a woman realizes that you are listening, she will calm down. A quiet response is always better than a loud reaction in these situations.

Some women are used to people reacting to them. They might say something like, “Why aren’t you reacting?” Your response could be, “Because I’m trying to understand exactly what you are trying to say.” Some women are über logical (like myself) and reason out loud trying to figure out their feelings. A logical type tends not to get hyper emotional, but she still needs you to listen.

This is how to listen:

  • Don’t assume to know what she’s saying. Emotions are not easy to express with words. All those chemicals reacting in her brain need help with translation, and that’s where taking time to really understand will help.
  • Use active listening skills.
    • Try to understand. If you need clarification, a good way to start asking for it is with, “Do you feel like…?” Restating in your own words is also helpful.
    • Pay attention to body language. The body says a lot more than words. Use your body language to show you’re listening by leaning closer or facing her.
    • Give feedback, but not advice. Show you understand with eye contact, nodding, and “mm-hmms”. Good feedback reinforces what she says. Let her get the words out even if she sounds irrational. Then, if you must suggest something, ask if you can share it so she doesn’t get immediately defensive.
  • Don’t make it about you. Even if a woman starts blaming you, she might be using you as a scapegoat for the real problem. And if it really is your fault, remember that nobody is perfect and eat some humble pie.

On a deeper level, what makes a good listener is agápe. (See Part 1.) Listening is an action, and it’s louder than words.

Use touch.

First, remember touch is not always related to sex. Second, you can’t just touch a woman without having her trust (unless you want slapped or a lawsuit.) Building that trust for some women takes time and energy. But be an excellent listener and you can build that trust quicker.

Once you have a woman’s trust, her body will be more receptive and that is good for both of you.

Don’t underestimate foreplay. Good foreplay turns women on. There are great books on the topic: the Kama Sutra, books by Lou Paget (my favorite), and another classic: The Joy of Sex. And by all means, flirt. Touch not only with your hands but with your leg under the dinner table or with your lips. Kissing is way of touching.

Be gentle.

To be a real emotional support, use gentleness. You know women don’t want Mr. Fix It showing up when facing delicate issues. Put away the hard hat and be gentle.

Being gentle also applies to your touch. If you think foreplay doesn’t do anything, you probably aren’t gentle enough. Pay attention to her body language, if or when it tells you your touch is too hard. How do you hold an egg? [Your answer here.] Exactly.

Gentleness isn’t called for in every situation. Sometimes women need you to be dominant. Though you can still be gentle while dominant.

Speak with your body.

Did your mom ever hug you? How did it make you feel? Hug your woman. Hold her.

Your face also says and means a lot. If you look intently at her while thinking about how much you care, the care will show. Remember, if you are not thinking about how much you care for her that will also show.

When women feel love…

You know what happens when you and your girl love each other. You build intimacy. Then éros will take hold, and it will all be over for you.

Take an active listening assessment.

Another good article on active listening is at MindTools.com.

What is Love? Part 3 – Where to find it

Where the Heck Is Love?

So, where the heck do you find love? Well, the word “love” was spread out across the field during the Super Bowl halftime show this year. Was it there? Maybe it was at the party you went to. Maybe not.

Of the three ingredients of éros – attraction, readiness, and compatibility – the third is the most difficult to find.

How do you figure out how compatible someone is with you? Live together? Yikes! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Prior knowledge is useful. You know what I mean if the one you want is someone you already know. She might even be someone else’s girlfriend. (Hey, if she’s not married, she’s a prospect. All you have to do is wait for the right moment. Anyway…)

Too often guys make the mistake of getting into a relationship with someone they don’t know at all, as in those cases when meeting a girl at the bar who spends the night, and the next night, and the next. Worse is getting comfortable with that person, getting married, having a kid, and realizing you don’t really like each other. Hey, it happens.

Raise the probability

Having “relationships” with women – not just sex – makes finding compatibility easier. Take the woman virtually everyone has experience with: Mom. Some guys find wives or girlfriends just like their mothers.

Most people, especially guys, probably don’t think about their parents as measuring sticks for finding love. Though that might be helpful, it’s probably a better idea to go by psychological types. (No, that’s not the same as “psycho”.)

It’s far beyond the scope of this article to explain what psychological types are. Besides, I explain it to some degree in the second half of my book, AlphaDog, Get The Bitch You Want (tongue in cheek). So let’s keep this as simple as possible.

Say for example you love football. I mean, you LOVE it. You can describe in detail how the Packers scored the first touchdown and dominated the Superbowl with 11 point leads. (Sorry, Steelers fans.) How do you find a partner in life who can appreciate your love for football? Tough question. But one thing you would want to look out for, if you’re the type of person to recall games in detail, is a certain quality in someone who appreciates details. For example, maybe her eyes light up as she listen to you explain the plays.

Since getting to know every single woman out there is impossible, there are obvious things you can do to raise the probability that a woman you meet is compatible with you, e.g., appreciates your passions.

  1. Be in the right place at the right time
  2. Get friends to help
  3. Use a matchmaker

Be in the right place at the right time.

A lot of couples in love got to know each other at school, working together, or among their circle of friends. It’s no mystery that you can meet the right person at the workplace, or through people you already know.

You can also be smarter about meeting new people.

Carl Jung, the “father” of clinical psychoanalysis, came up with two fundamental ways the human brain works: the way we take in information and the way we make decisions. Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a mother-daughter team, expanded on Jung’s theories and developed the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), a tool used to figure out what kind of job we should get and how we get along with each other. Alexander Avila has taken the MBTI to a more intimate level explaining how different types hypothetically interact during romance. He offers suggestions in his book, LoveTypes, on where you’re more likely to find your personality match.

Get friends to help.

Countless times, random guys have asked me if I have any single friends. This is great and all, but you think I’d hook up my friends with some guy I don’t know? Ask people you like – who know and like you – if they have single friends they can introduce you to.

Well, some friends might be poor judges, but getting friends to help exponentially raises the probability of finding someone. Works great especially when friends have that sixth sense (or a good working knowledge of personality type theory).

Use a matchmaker

If you’re out of luck on the friends-with-sixth-sense front, you could always hire a matchmaker. Matchmaking has been around for centuries. Hey, it must work.

(And, of course, there’s the Internet.)

It’s Out There

Love might have only been written on the Cowboys Stadium field. But it’s out there. Be smart about where you look.

How To Be a Great Kisser

I’ve kissed a lot of people. Lost count 20 years ago. No one has ever told me that I’m bad at it. Hence, following are some tips.

Your mouth is erogenous, a source point for sexual stimulation. To turn kissing into great foreplay, remember 3 things:

1. Slightly-parted soft lips

Your lips should start out completely relaxed. A kissy face (or duck lips) is not relaxed. Your lips have a sphincteral muscle, the orbicularis oris, used when puckering up. A pucker is fine when you’re giving a platonic peck or a gratuitous kiss on the cheek. But we’re talking about making out.

If you want to stimulate your lover’s pituitary gland, don’t pucker until your lips are touching his/hers.

Ever wonder how couples lock lips? This occurs when two people respond to each other’s touch through their lips. When they are comfortable with each other, their body language mirrors one another subconsciously. Watch two people in conversation and you’ll often see their body positions reflecting each other. Locked lips also mirror touch and puckering.

Try this: Brush his/her lips with yours while they’re completely relaxed. Relax your neck muscles so that you’re like a bobble head. Okay, the imagery isn’t romantic, but that’s the gist of the movement. Believe me, as long as your head doesn’t bobble as if hitting a bump in the road, your partner won’t be thinking bobble head unless of course he or she reads this article, too.

2. Relaxed tongue

Once you’re lips have locked, which can be a half-second quick, you can open your mouth more and use your tongue. Like your lips, your tongue should also start out relaxed. Your tongue should be able to reflect and respond to hers. Of course, you want her to also be responding to and reflecting you as well.

Don’t start using your tongue until after your lips have locked.

It’s so unromantic seeing a guy’s mouth when it looks like a bat coming in for a kill. Kissers want to feel your tongue, not see it.

Don’t poke his/her mouth with your tongue unless you’re playing. And don’t continually kiss with your entire tongue inside the other person’s mouth. That might be fun for a little bit, but kissing like that the whole time? Don’t rape his/her mouth.

Instead, use your tongue to feel the other person’s. If you don’t know what to do with it, move your tongue around his/hers as if you’re writing the first five letters of the alphabet. But make sure you’re not writing with the tip of your tongue. That will feel like poking. Go around your partner’s tongue is if his/her tongue is the center of each letter.

3. Reciprocation

The whole activity is about action and reaction. From pressing your lips against your partner’s to tongue play, you want to non-verbally create a connection.

Touch, respond, and reciprocate to connect. If your partner’s tongue is mushy, make yours mushy. If your tongue is so hard it can push buttons, the other person might retract. If he/she pulls back, you’re probably not being sensitive to touch and feel. Guys, think about how your want your balls touched rather than your staff. Girls, think of your breasts.

Don’t chomp like a stork. Enough said.

The whole point of reciprocating while kissing is giving back what you get. Of course, if you’re the initiator, hopefully your partner will do the same. But once it gets going, it should be constant receiving and giving.

In the middle of it all, sense his/her reaction and intensity. Then change it up. Get more intense, play with your tongue tip, or clean his/her teeth. Get creative and have fun.

Examples

When we were younger, we watched movies and TV shows to try to figure out how to kiss. Unfortunately, there really aren’t many good examples of great kissing. But there are some.

One example of a great kisser, if not of acting ability, is Keanu Reeves. Because of his kissing skill, you’ll see a lot of close-ups of him locking lips with his leading ladies. Unfortunately, not all of the actresses he kisses reciprocate well. Movies showing Reeve’s libido-inspired moves include The Matrix, Point Break, and A Walk In The Clouds.

Ingrid Bergman kissing Cary Grant in Notorious is also good to watch. The hotel room scene where she tries to seduce him with kisses is a great example of what to do with your lips when getting into a make-out session.

Hopefully, you won’t need to scour through movies to learn to kiss well. Mostly, remember to keep your mouth relaxed. If you feel like you’re tightening up, think of what it’s like to eat ice cream and suck away.

Get responses online

Meeting people online has its issues, but they are not impossible to deal with. You need tactics, as if you were an online pickup artist.

I met my boyfriend, Jason, on plentyoffish.com. I swore to myself it would be the last dating site I would ever join. Since I was still working on my book, and writing about personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), I decided to test myself. I wanted to see if I could find my perfect personality match through a person’s online profile.

Of course, I had to know about personality matching. I had read Dr. Alex Avila’s LoveTypes book. I learned my type, ENTP, aka “The Innovator,” is romantically compatible with ENTJ, aka “The General.”

It’s difficult to order a book, read it, and put it into practice in a matter of a few days. So, I’ll try to give a bared down tip…

  • Think about 3 things about your mind/life that are distinct to you compared to other people you know. For example, for me: 1. I dislike set schedules; 2. I love to be silly; 3. I’m very analytical and have to think to know my feelings.
  • Next, go to the dating site, and as you peruse people’s profiles, look for things that jump out at you that you think or know would work with you. For example, I know for myself it has always helped me to have someone in my life who was better at living by a schedule than me; so, in that sense I look for my opposite. Plus, since I’m analytical, smart people interest me. Funny, ’cause the initial impression of Jason’s photo was, “This guy is arrogant!” Sure enough, he’s arrogant because he’s smart–and I like him that way.
  • When you find something distinct about the person you can relate to, write a message that caters to that distinction without getting too personal. For me, I realized that Jason likes to debate. So, in my first message, I challenged him on his profile’s headline.

    Note: The more attention you pay to details, the more a person senses genuineness. For example, if a girl writes something like, “I love to go out for good food…” Don’t just write, “What kind of food?” Dig deeper. Assume “good food” is the difference between dining on the Baja peninsula and Taco Bell. Instead you could say something like, “Have you been to the Bistro on Main Street?” or whatever; you get the point, I hope.

In the meantime, check out Avila’s LoveTypes book. For a generalization on what that’s about, you can also read Parts IV and V in my AlphaDog book, also available on Kindle.

Good luck!

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This post was inspired by @YouWishYouWere on Twitter.

Sexting

Myself being a follower of proper work ethic, I once had an affair with my co-worker.  Possessing the typical spine-tingling bravado attributed to all things generally looked down upon, this affair in nearly every way was stereotypical:  Secret, awkward, and sexual.  However, one basic difference separated this affair from your typical make-out-in-the-backroom-and-behind-closed-doors deal.  This was an affair done solely through the phenomenon that is text messaging.

Like all liaisons, my flirtation started innocently enough: A playful trading of numbers during a shared lunch break (we both  happened to adore Baja Fresh) to see who could text whom faster.  We worked in a rather large chain bookstore in Santa Monica, and let me tell you– us booksellers are nerdy and bored, bored people.  We found the simplest of things amusing.   How was I to know that a simple G-rated text such as “Hi I can text faster than you” would, a week later, lead to the soft-core porn of “I want to bend you over and fuck you hard”?  (Imagine getting this message while driving away from an eight-hour work day and you can see that the thrill of a text message liaison can, at times, far out do the thrill of a real affair—danger involved alone.)

After all, I only texted the guy.  In our era of avoidance, text messaging is the ultimate vehicle for communication and evasion.   Hell, it’s even safer than instant messaging online.  With the internet being people’s second homes, getting someone’s screen-name involves a near knowledge or trust of the person.  Screenname means friendship… or the possibility of one.  (You could, after all, block the person or always have an away message up.)  And don’t even get me started on Facebook… once you are Facebook friends with someone they might as well be one of your drinking buddies, unless you are really diligent about what particular photos you display.  Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Giving out your cell number is no biggie.  And neither is texting.  It’s just another part of our obsession with communication without really communicating.

The beauty and secret lure of the text message is that you never have to acknowledge it.  Coworker and I could be working the same shift, texting one another the most flirtatious (later, dirty) of sentences and act perfectly natural around one another.  This was a reticent rule.  The text message world we visited outside of work could never be visited while we habited our bookstore or were within view of one another.   This way, we never, ever had to face up to what we were doing.  Our cellular connection took us to a world without consequences.

For a time.

Like the liaison itself, the breaking of the rules also started relatively innocently.  One night, as I lay down under faded purple plaid sheets dressed in my favorite college-days pajamas (an over-sized Winnie the Poo nightshirt) my cell made the familiar gurgle of exclamation that had already started to bring a smile on my face.  I knew who it would be.  Secretly I checked my suggestive text, and there was Coworker’s newest and latest “Long and hard or soft and gentle?”  I giggled and looked around, ashamed.  I didn’t tal like that, not with anyone else.  (And certainly not since.)  Yet, as my blush lessened, I suddenly felt free… wild.  Nobody could see!  Nobody could hear.  The only mood music was my roommate’s breathing.  With a sly grin, I texted him back.  We proceeded to have the strangest version of phone sex I have ever had.  My thumbs had calluses.

The next day, a customer wearing a bikini top came in and asked for a book on anal sex. (No.)  Coworker was stacking the ever-popular Men Are From Mars books near me.  I looked up and caught Coworker’s eye.  He winked.  I blushed.  We connected.

And suddenly our connection wasn’t so technological anymore.

Swiftly, a text message about how we should copulate standing up would come to mind when a customer told me they couldn’t reach a book in the C++ section.   Coworker started to bend the unspoken (and even un-texted) rule by texting me about how cute I looked in my skirt.  Pleased, I replied that he looked cute in his metrosexual way—he is still the only man I know who can pull off pink and tight jeans.

Yet our flirtation brought with its fling and fantasy, a problem.  The more we texted, the more we flirted, the more I liked Coworker.  It had started to become something other than sexual, something other than cellular.

I took the ever-bending line of our decorum and straight up broke it about a month in when I texted Coworker about something non-sexual while working.  I asked him about his ex-girlfriend with whom he had a dinner date that night after work.  Coworker was wearing a nice green plaid shirt; he looked good.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I was jealous.

While text messaging is just a bunch of letters showing up on your cell phone screen, the words can convey emotions.  I could feel the shock in his in reply to my text “Nervous about dinner tonight?”  Where was the sexual innuendo (“I’d do you for dinner” for example)?  Where was the flirtation?  This sounded needy.  This sounded…

Real.

“A little,” he replied.  “Surprised you asked.”

I opened a Dummies Guide To BBQ and hid my cell phone between recipes for grilling sauce as I replied, “Just interested.  Curious.”  I paused, watched as a customer across the store chose a book on Labradors.  “Do you still like her?”  I bit my lips and hit send.  My heart was beating as I put the Dummies book back in its place, and hid my cell back in my nametag.  The thrill of the forbidden (cell phones on the floor are a strict no-no) was overcome by the worry as to his reply.

My phone buzzed.  “Maybe.”  A few seconds later, just as I could feel a customer approaching (we develop a second sense for you guys):  “Yes.”

Suddenly, text messaging wasn’t so thrilling anymore.  It was painful.  Just like a real crush.  Holding back tears, I helped a nervous old lady who smelled like bad fish find Angelina Ballerina for her six-year-old granddaughter.  I then proceeded to lock myself in the backroom closet and cry.  Somehow, even through the barrier of wires and screens and bad connections, my heart had still managed to get hurt.

The next night a group of us went out to a late night dinner at Denny’s.  Coworker and I did not—could not—look one another in the eye.  I spent most of the time being passive aggressive and ignoring him.  He spent most of the time hitting on a lesbian in front of her girlfriend.  Both of us engaged in futile efforts of fun rather than facing the predicament: my obvious upset.

There is constant talk in our media today about how the internet requires new laws to control the freedom of communication it promotes—freedom of speech, freedom of downloading, freedom of porn, whatever.  But the internet, while breaking boundaries, can also create them.  Its wires can tangle up a heart just as easily as any “maybe I’ll call” from a guy or a wink from that foxy lady down the street.  When is that ever brought up?  We don’t discuss, not seriously, at least, how the medium of electronic media—be it my cell phone or even the internet—affects day to day human interaction.  Sure, we joke at a party that we spend more time on AIM than we do doing homework, we brag to our gal pals about how we Facebook stalked whatever cute guy caught our fancy and made the mistake of telling us his last name, or the casual study is released on CNN about how children need to spend more time in the park than watching the boob tube.  But what about us adults and our relationships?  Online dating is becoming more and more popular.  One of my friends is now living with a woman he met on Ok Cupid; and I now know two married couples who met on eHarmony.  So while technology has certainly helped the lonely and more socially inept, I do believe it can cause a whole new form of awkwardness.  Nobody “talks on the phone” anymore, none of us use up our minutes.  Now when we sign up for phone plans what matters is not unlimited daytime minutes, but unlimited texts.  And I know now that I am not the only one who flirts, dear heavens, conducts full blown relationship communication, with her cell.

And there’s the catch.  In the end, reality hits.  Sure, kids spend “too much time” watching television or playing with their Wii or whatnot.  But they are, thank God (or Zeus or whomever), forced to eventually go to school, grow up, talk to fellow geeks (and I write that with love).  I was—and so was Coworker—eventually forced to have real human interaction and feelings.  What the digital media does is simply put it off for a while.  But not forever.  In the end, pesky human need and curiosity always peeks over the fence, reaching through the wires and over the keyboard for a fellow human hand.

Breaking up, the right way

So you’ve reached that point in your relationship where you realize it’s just not working out. For one reason or another, it’s time to move on. Sometimes it’s easy to move on because the other person has proven, without a doubt, that they are not the one for you. Sometimes it’s not so easy because, “there’s nothing really wrong.” You don’t fight and you get along, but the spark is gone. Either way, you’ve made the decision to break things off and the time is now.

You should first congratulate yourself for making this decision. There are a lot of people who stay in unfulfilling relationships because they fear change, or don’t want to be alone, or don’t want to hurt the other person. You don’t owe it to anyone to stay in a relationship that isn’t working for you, and taking this step is scary. Take a deep breath and you’ll get through it.

Before talking to your partner, you need to ask yourself a very important question: is this really it? You should never break up with someone as a ploy to test their affections. People are emotionally weak, so toying with someone’s emotions like that is just cruel. If you want to break up, then know that this is a forever decision…you don’t get to change your mind next week. It’s not fair to the other person and it’s not good for you. So decide, right now, if you are happy saying goodbye forever. If the answer is no, then you’re not ready to break up. If there’s something in your relationship that you want to change, then communicate about changing it. Breakups are not a tool for fixing your relationship.

Once you’re certain that you want to break up, you need to have a reason ready to tell the other person. Most people need a solid reason why a relationship is ending for closure. We, as humans, tend to question every move we made when things go wrong. Maybe if I brought her flowers more often things would have been different. Maybe if I was more affectionate. If you are breaking up with someone, eliminate this misery: tell him or her exactly why you’re leaving. The reason should be something concrete and you should stress that there’s nothing that could change how you feel. For example, “I met someone else,” is a tangible reason, as is “I don’t like the way you treat me.” A crappy reasons is something like, “I just can’t be in a relationship right now.” There’s a reason you can’t be in a relationship right now, explain what it is! “I can’t be in a relationship right now because I’m too stressed about life and can’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated.” That’s a real reason.

After you’ve told them your reason and stressed that there’s nothing they could have done differently, don’t patronize them. Don’t tell them how wonderful they are or how you wish you would’ve met them later in life; such things are just cruel. Say you’re sorry for hurting them but don’t apologize for your decision. And whatever you do, do not ask if you can still be friends. There’s two reasons to avoid this common pitfall: 1) it’s not a clean break, you can’t go from lovers to friends over night and 2) it’s selfish.

Exes can be friends, but only after time. You both need the time to reset how you think about each other, how your lives are without each other. Trying to “hang out” the next weekend typically means you’ll end up sleeping with each other and you’ll need to break up all over again. A clean breaks means you stop seeing each other. Period. Allow time for your emotional health to be restored. Sometime down the road, you may be able to be friends, but not right away.

And here’s the thing, it’s the person who gets dumped that gets to decide if they want to be friends later on. As the dumper, you give up that right on account of your ripping out another person’s heart and dancing on it. The person who was dumped already feels powerless, this is the one thing that you owe him or her at this point. Let your ex have this decision.
Another thing you, as the dumper, cannot do is to act like you got dumped. Symptoms include wanting to continue talking multiple times during the following week, being “hurt” by the way your ex is acting now, and sending emails/text message/phone calls just to “say hi” or to “see how you’re doing”. If the person you dumps wants to talk to you (and he or she may if no sense of closure was reached), the call will come on its own. It’s not your responsibility to check up on your ex to make sure everything’s okay. News flash: it’s not okay. There is hurt and there is upset. There will probably be anger soon, and you don’t want to be caught up in that. Let well enough alone.

Breaking up with someone is difficult. In some ways, it may be more difficult than being dumped. If the guidelines in this post seem too harsh or strict, consider how unbalanced the relationship has become at that point. As the dumper, you’ve had time to think about your decision. You’ve pondered your life without your significant other and decided that it’s a good option. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about it for days or weeks, but you’ve come to your decision. Your boyfriend or girlfriend has no idea that this is coming, they will have no emotional or psychological preparation for life without you. One moment you’re a couple, the next you’re not. As the dumper, you owe them some dignity and caring in your final moments together. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.