The Art of Making Small Talk

the-art-of-making-small-talk

Looks like we’ve got a running theme this month: how to be more effective socially, both in “the real world” and in the realm of dating as well.

The latest entry comes courtesy of New York Magazine, which posted an interesting piece about getting better at talking with strangers. I am, evidently, one of those “maniacally extroverted” people who is perfectly comfortable talking to anyone about anything. Yet if I tried to explain to you how to do it, it would seem woefully inadequate.

a) Be open to meeting strangers because they’re often nice and interesting.

b) Be inquisitive about them.

c) Be well-read and well-informed so you can feel comfortable talking in the universal languages of news, sports, entertainment, current events, relationships, etc.

Be open to meeting strangers….
Be inquisitive about them.
Be well-read and well-informed…

Dale Carnegie did a great job with this in How to Win Friends and Influence People, but basically, people respond to warmth, enthusiasm, and being asked questions about themselves. This creates trust, while the exchange of information creates a bond, however small and temporary.

Enter Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You,” who suggested you “draw a conversational polygon between you, a stranger, and some third thing that you’re both experiencing. The benefits are obvious, namely that you come off less threatening or creepy than commenting directly on your prospective conversational partner (“nice shoes, want to fuck?”), and it’s less boring than saying something about the weather (“great weather we’re having, huh?”).

I guess one can call that a conversational technique. I just call it having a personality.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    missy

    This is an excellent article Evan personality is critical in meeting new people and strangers as well this draw a person in I’m a very extroverted person as well, what I’ve found out about myself is that I can pick up very quickly when the other person feel like your invading their space they have body language that lets off they don’t want to be bothered

  2. 2
    judy

    I think that attentiveness is always very welcome.  It’s not just relative to dating (but could be).  Giving up your seat on a bus for someone struggling (and not necessarily for some permanent problem), smiling at someone who seems down, asking them if you can help them (small gestures can mean so much), being kind and courteous (even on a “bad day”)and showing them that you are present to THEM.

    Everyone appreciates being listened to and understood and they know that by the answers (or questions) you give them.

  3. 3
    Barbara

    Thanks for sharing this great article, Evan.

    I’d have to say that, regarding the third component of striking up a conversation with a stranger, I prefer the description of it that author Kio Stark gave in his book “When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You,” which is quoted in the NY Magazine article your post is about.

    In your point c above, you paraphrased Stark by saying:

    “Be well-read and well-informed so you can feel comfortable talking in the universal languages of news, sports, entertainment, current events, relationships, etc.”

    But here’s what Stark said:

    “There’s you, there’s a stranger, there’s some third thing that you both might see and comment on, like a piece of public art or somebody preaching in the street or somebody wearing funny clothes.”

    Your paraphrase regulates the potential to become skilled at striking up conversations with strangers to the limited number of people who are “well-read and well-informed” in the “universal languages” you listed. In contrast, Stark’s original statement alludes to a way of being that is accessible to way more people–being curious.

    My scoring system for how great a method or philosophy or idea, etc. is is how many people can immediately put it into practice and benefit from it. The greatest concept or method or what have you not only benefits most or all of the people who use it but also benefits those who come into contact with those people and those who come in contact with those people —ad infinitum.

    When it comes to striking up a conversation with a stranger, a person can be illiterate and have no clue about current events but can still comment on something that is–at the moment the conversation begins–experienced through at least one of the senses of all the people participating in and witnessing the conversation.

    So, for instance, a five year old waiting with his mother for a valet to bring their Mercedes around can strike up an engaging conversation with the janitor who is mopping the area about the mangy grey cat that just walked past the ceiling-to-floor glass window in full view of the child, mother, and janitor.

    This is just one example of limitless ones to add to Stark’s that illustrates that being a skilled conversationalist has nothing to do with being “well read or well informed” but everything to do with how curious you are about the world around you–starting with your immediate environment and the people in it.

    As I’ve mentioned on your blog before, being actively curious is central to being a good conversationalist. It’s a quality anyone with the ability to tap into their five senses (or, at the very least their sixth one, the mind) can cultivate, not only those with high levels of formal education or awareness of current events.

  4. 4
    Barbara

    P.S.

    I reread your original post, Evan, and see that your points “a” and “b” were basically about being curious (you said “interested” and “inquisitive”). So I was wrong in thinking that you glossed over this (curiosity). My main point was that being “well read” and “well informed” about current events and aren’t requirements for being able to strike up a conversation with anyone, including strangers.

  5. 5
    JB

    I always love when I try and make small talk with a woman and the first question out of their mouth is “so what do you do?” and “I say I’m a cab driver. Why, does it matter?” and no, I’m not a cab driver……but what if I was? Then I’m sure it would be a very short conversation……lol It wouldn’t be “oh how did you get into that?”.

    1. 5.1
      cynthia

      It’s the same way a man will not waste his time talking to a morbidly obese unattractive woman.

      1. 5.1.1
        JB

        morbidly obese unattractive woman don’t waste their time talking to morbidly obese unattractive men either because they think they deserve thin men.

        I know guys with even “Fred Flintstone” type husky bodies and they tell me online they can’t even get an obese unattractive woman to email them back.

  6. 6
    judy

    JB 5 – interesting to read that.  I have a comfortable income and an extremely interesting job.  However, I like to keep my job private too so tell people that I sell shoes.  It sorts out a few people – people who care about a human being WOULD be able to make polite conversation.  Those who think that being a shoe salesgirl is beneath them……would not be my kind of person either.

    The reverse is true.  Try telling them (like I have) that I’m a woman pilot.  It stuns some people into silence.  And there are of course women pilots, right?

    So what conclusion would one make of that???

    Thoughts?

     

     

     

     

    1. 6.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @JB

      My favorite one is “How long have you been divorced?” This question frequently occurs in a conversation earlier than does an inquiry as to what a man does for a living. Is there some kind of unwritten female code that states that a man has to be divorced for X amount of time before he is treated like human being? Women can be over-the-top ridiculous when it comes to a man’s relationship status. I can assure the women on this site that the majority of the men who are past normal child bearing years do not care if a woman is divorced, separated, widowed, or has never been married. Heck, a lot of men do not care if a woman is still living with her husband. Men do not care what a woman does for a living or how many degrees she holds as long as she can support herself. Men do not date with finding Ms. Right in mind. Men date to enjoy a woman’s company, which may, or may not include sex.

      1. 6.1.1
        Barbara

        Yet Another Guy:

        If a man is divorced, I usually ask him how long. I don’t do it to assess him as a human being or potential boyfriend. Since we’re both divorced, the question makes a good point of conversation because we have being divorced in common. In addition, I ask because I’m curious by nature.

        It never occurred to me that a man would be offended by me asking “How long…” and no one I’ve dated has acted like he was. The question has led to some insightful conversations.

        Men have asked me the same question as well as “Why did you get a divorce?” Neither question ever either. We naturally project our way of being into the world onto other people, assuming they are like us, even if they aren’t. I also think my dates aren’t offended when I ask them these questions because I assume they won’t be. We get what we give.

        I don’t ask “Why did you get a divorce?” as a litmus tests but sometimes it turns out to be one. If a man is bitter over his divorce or, even more than that, talks about it as if all the blame belongs to his ex, that tells me something about him:

        If he’s bitter, he’s not ready for a new relationship–at least not one with me. If he thinks his ex was the sole problem in his marriage, he hasn’t self reflected about his role in the marriage’s dissolution and therefore he hasn’t accepted responsibility for that role and learned from his mistakes. In both cases, he wouldn’t be someone I’d want to consider as a potential partner.

        The same is true about a man who reveals to me that he had a habit of cheating on his wife–no matter what excuses he gives for his behavior or how many examples he gives of how his wife drove him to cheating. From my view, he should have divorced her long ago instead of serial cheating. Judgmental? Yes. But that’s really what I think. (I guess I’d make a concession for something like: “My wife had an illness that prevented her from having sex but I couldn’t divorce her because her financial well-being depended on us being married.” But I haven’t heard that one yet.)

        Conversely, a man who answers “Why…” with respect for his ex wife–even if he still doesn’t like some of the things she did and currently does–and if he is positively philosophical about his marriage experience and the lessons he learned from it, he’s the kind of man I could see as a potential partner for me.

        I also know that, because my view of my role in my divorce has evolved, today I answer the “Why” question differently than I did when I first started dating. I have more compassion for and I feel less bitterness toward my ex than I used to. So some of the men I’ve dated were probably turned off by my answer to that question.

        Is there some kind of unwritten female code that states that a man has to be divorced for X amount of time before he is treated like human being? 

        I try my best to treat everyone like a human being–whether it’s someone I’m dating or not. I don’t always succeed at being as respectful to others as I want to be but I’ll die trying.

        1. ScottH

          This is a common sentiment on this site and in society in general: ” If he thinks his/her ex was the sole problem in his marriage, he/she hasn’t self reflected about his/her role in the marriage’s dissolution and therefore hasn’t accepted responsibility for that role and learned from his/her mistakes. In both cases, s/he wouldn’t be someone I’d want to consider as a potential partner.”

          It always makes me wonder what percentage is the right amount to fess up to?  35-65% perhaps?  is that the “right” answer which might be the key to open your heart?  Less that 35% seems too little and maybe more than 65% would be too much.  Certainly if they’re mostly responsible for the demise of the relationship, they’re not a worthy person.

          But what if a person’s responsibility really is very low, or even zero?  Maybe they were married to someone who became a drug dealer (like Walter White), or was a child abuser, or developed an addiction to gambling or a substance and refused treatment, or decided that they needed to divorce and “find” themselves and NONE of this was the fault of their spouse?  If the innocent spouse says that none of it’s their fault, then people like you will think, “he hasn’t self reflected about his role in the marriage’s dissolution and therefore he hasn’t accepted responsibility and learned from it and  blah blah blah…”  

          I guess when I hear people talk in blah blah like above, I just roll my eyes and think that this person hasn’t opened their mind to one of many possibilities and hasn’t learned enough of life’s lessons and therefore isn’t ready for a relationship with me.

        2. ScottH

          Then again, EVERYBODY blames their ex which means that at least half of us are lying.

        3. GoWiththeFlow

          I think the big thing I look for is if that big emotional POW! from the divorce has dissipated and they can talk about it with some ease.  A woman I used to work with it once regaled me for an hour about how unfair and hard her divorce was, and what a selfish jerk her ex was.  Another co-worker who was sitting quietly nearby turned to me as soon as the divorcee left to fix her tear smudged makeup, and said, “Of course she forgot to mention that she’s been divorced for 13 years!”

          That’s what I want to avoid!

      2. 6.1.2
        Barbara

        YAG,

        I said:

        I don’t ask “Why did you get a divorce?” as a litmus tests but sometimes it turns out to be one.

        But that’s not really true. Just as I said in my comment, the way a man answers this questions says a lot about him. So I guess I do ask it as a test. But, like I said, if a man I was on date with was offended by me asking him this question, he never showed me that he was.

        I know what it feels like to be grilled during a date. Not good. I’ve had it done to me. So I do my best not to do it a man during our date, to ask him questions as a natural part of our conversation, not as if I’m checking off a list.

      3. 6.1.3
        Barbara

        YAG:

        The majority of the men who are past normal child bearing years do not care if a woman is divorced, separated, widowed, or has never been married. Heck, a lot of men do not care if a woman is still living with her husband…Men do not date with finding Ms. Right in mind. 

        A lot of women don’t care about the details you mentioned either. Personally, I don’t exclusively date divorced men. I’ve dated men who’ve never been married and one widower.

        But because I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I don’t date separated, married, or co-habitating men and I only message and respond to messages from men who clearly indicate that they too are looking for long-term, or, as you said, Ms. Right. Some of these same men also clearly state in their dating profiles that they do not want to date separated or married women.

        Men date to enjoy a woman’s company, which may, or may not include sex.

        Well, most of the mean I’ve dated don’t exactly fit your profile. They’ve given me the impression that they enjoyed my company AND definitely wanted to have sex with me eventually.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          By that comment, I meant that a man often desires a woman’s company for things other than sex. A man will usually not pursue a woman unless he desires her sexually from day one.

          Refusing to date separated people is more common with women than men. I do not know a single divorced, widowed, or never been married man who will not date a separated woman. I do know men my age who will not date women their age who have never been married.

          Refusing to date someone who is separated can often lead to missing an opportunity to date a good match because the highly desirable men and women are often paired by they time that they receive their decrees in my state. I live in a state where the state controls when a man and woman divorce can file for divorce. The average time from separation to the issuance of a decree is between fifteen to eighteen months for couples that are actively seeking a divorce. A man and woman can be divorced in as little as three months in a state that borders my state. The difference being that the state bordering my state does not have a mandatory separation period as a condition for no-fault absolute divorce and the divorce process is not as byzantine.

      4. 6.1.4
        Barbara

        YAG you said:

        I live in a state where the state controls when a man and woman divorce can file for divorce. The average time from separation to the issuance of a decree is between fifteen to eighteen months.

        ###

        I totally understand your view regarding women who exclude separated men from their dating pool. I was in the situation you describe the year before my divorce–separated, knowng without a doubt I’d never go back to my husband, and wanting to date (actually, aching to find the man I’d happily spend the rest of my life with).

        I”m a case in point for what you said about men:

        I dated men–one for a month, one for six weeks, one for four months, some on one or two dates in between those relationships–who didn’t care that I was separated. That was because they believed me when I said my marriage was over and only one of them was definitely looking for a lifetime relationship like I was.

        I just think there are so many men out there who aren’t separated that there is no reason for me to get involved with one who is. This is the same reason I don’t date long distance: There are plenty of datable men who live within an hour’s drive from me. So why add an unnecessary obstacle to us being together?

        When it comes to a married or separated man, the reasons I don’t date them are 1. a marrived man could lie and say he’s separated and 2. a separated man could go back to his wife. Both scenarios aren’t far fetched.

        I don’t want to get emotionally attached to a man like that only to discover our relationship will likely never result in my ultimate goal: a life-long exclusively committed relationship. Or to discover that the man I’ve grown attached to is a lying cheater who disrespects his wife.

         

         

         

        1. Barbara

          YAG:
          I meant the reason I don’t date separated (not married) men is because they could be lying about the fact that they are actually marred.

      5. 6.1.5
        Faithful4Life

        YAG:

        Yikes, you wrote (below this post, see your comment on Barbara’s further down):

        “Refusing to date someone who is separated can often lead to missing an opportunity to date a good match because the highly desirable men and women are often paired by they time that they receive their decrees in my state… The average time from separation to the issuance of a decree is between fifteen to eighteen months for couples that are actively seeking a divorce.” 

        Fifteen to eighteen months is not a long time. I don’t believe a person divorcing or divorced should start dating right away or for a good amount of time if they divorce. There are a lot of reasons for this. I believe in being committed to one’s marriage partner. That means that if we have troubles and for some reason they divorce me, I am still going to be committed to the marriage, despite their divorcing me. This is for many reasons. First, I am committed to working on my part of whatever led up to the divorce. I am committed to the growth, to the humility required in taking ownership and admitting mistakes, to making amends, to honoring the other, even if they have divorced me. I owe them that as a minimum, from one human being to another, for any and all ways I wronged them as their spouse. If they divorce me, sometimes the person in the position on my end will need time– sometimes much time– to be able to self reflect and see what they did wrong and to express sorrow and to seek to set it right. Then it takes time for the other spouse–the one who initiated the divorce— to see their ex-spouse’s actions, to see that they are sincere, that the growth is real, and time for their heart to soften. A divorce does not have to be the end of a relationship. I write all this to say that a person who starts dating shortly after separating or divorcing (and 1-2 years is very shortly) has given no time for the possible restoration of that marriage post divorce. For a person who takes marriage seriously, I would never be interested in someone who didn’t do every single thing possible to restore their marriage, even post divorce.

        I am disgusted by the idea of treating people as if they are replaceable with others. It is far better to be alone than to be in a relationship just to not be alone. People 1-2 years after divorce barely know what they want. They have often barely figured out what they did wrong. They usually have done little at that time to grow in the areas they failed. They often have not had the time to address seriously where they need growth. Finding another partner becomes a way of escaping acknowledgment of having failed in some way. Having suffered extensively myself and pushing through incredible distress to face the ugly stuff within myself, I am disappointed often with our culture that runs from pain and seeks solace in pleasure and lacks the courage to do the deep inner work. Sometimes there are huge, gaping moral problems and issues at hand in spouses. Problems that have answers, but that people will not sometimes (oftentimes?) address via the the hard moral work required for growth.

        Additionally, a person who divorces needs to find themselves. How can a person meeting them know who they are, if they haven’t taken any time to find out? To spend time reflecting and reassessing and praying (yes praying) and seeking guidance and wise counsel as necessary. I never want to be someone else’s guinea pig, for them to find out who they are by experimenting on me.

        Additionally, sex is a special thing. I don’t believe it should just be given to someone as people do in dating relationships, and I can’t think of anything worse than people having sex with a new partner while not having taken the time to process, reflect, grow, give their divorced spouse a chance, and their marriage a possible opportunity for healing.

        My life is not about my husband. My life is about why I believe I am here on this earth, my purpose, my calling. I want to complete what I am here to do. I would like to do it with my husband, the Love of my Life, but with or without him, I have to accomplish what I am here for– that is why I am here. I cannot invite just anyone into that, into the role of my spouse. The same goes for him. I want to help him fulfill his life calling, his life purpose. There is an extremely high level of compatibility required for this. Being in relationship is not the goal, or being in marriage. Fulfilling my life purpose is my goal, and sharing that with a like-mind partner is a plus.

        My husband divorced me, there was nothing I could do about it. He filed in another state where the divorce could be completed quickly (much sooner than 1-2 years). I did not block his way because I don’t believe in doing that, but in honoring others’ choices. He believed things about me that weren’t true, but I couldn’t set them right, and there was nothing I could do. I have been faithful to him after the divorce (meaning I have not pursued and am not considering other men and have no interest in dating). I value my vows and meant them. He still loves me very much. If he never comes back, I accept him and his choices. But, as you can see, I take marriage very seriously. If it ever happens one day that I should come to the belief that this door is closed, the last thing I would ever want is a man who started dating before his divorce was finalized, or shortly after. It has been over a year since my divorce was finalized and I think about my partner all the time. I pray for him and his blessing. I don’t believe it is humanly possible to just be over somebody in 1-2 years. I would never want to be with someone who can get over me that quickly, who could replace me so fast, as if their flesh was not a part of my flesh, as if us two did not become one. There is an almost dishonor and disgrace done to the ex-spouse by dating so quickly. Even when somebody dies, the widow or widower doesn’t start dating that quickly.

         

        1. Yet Another Guy

          I respectfully disagree with you. You are projecting your experience onto others. That is a problem I commonly encounter with divorced women. It sounds like you had romantic feelings for your spouse up until the day that you divorced. My ex and I took our commitment to each other as well as our children very seriously. However, keeping a commitment should not doom one to a lifetime of unhappiness. We put our individual happiness on the back burner for a very long time. We struggled through a decade of no intimate contact after five years of little to no intimate contact. While we no longer desired each other romantically, we kept our marriage closed for the benefit of our children. Nothing that we attempted to restore the marriage worked. We knew couples who met, married, and divorced during the last ten emotionally empty years of our marriage.

          The problem with our marriage was that I never truly desired her from an intimacy point of view, and she knew it. We married because our windows of opportunity to marry someone who had never been married and did not have children were closing. In essence, we settled for a less than optimum pairing. We got alone well as friends. We were excellent financial partners, but we were not meant to be lovers. To use an Evanism, we were between a 1 and a 3 on the chemistry scale and a 10 on the compatibility scale.

        2. Barbara

          Faithful4Life:

          There is simply no way you can be so sure about what’s best for everyone else and their marriages. If I had the ideas you have about what other people should and shouldn’t do my stomach would be perpetually in knots because I couldn’t bear to be around or know about people who didn’t live like I say they should.

          I’d rather be free of judging other people’s choices and instead focus on improving myself and my dating life and experiencing what I never would have in my marriage–happy couplehood.

        3. Faithful4Life

          Barbara,

          Mind if I call you out for judging me while rebuking me for judging?

          Everyone “judges” and to suggest we don’t is dishonest. We can’t operate day to day without making thousands of judgments, many subconsciously. “Morality is relative” until it’s your house someone breaks into; then you find out morality isn’t so “relative” any more. People can live in such a manner so as to sear their conscience, so that they can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, what is loving and what is unloving, etc, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right or wrong.

          If I have to judge for myself what is good and what is loving in my own life to be able to live at all (they are the same, real love cannot be separated from what is good), then whether or not I voice it, I have to by necessity have a belief on what I think is good for others. It is not logically possible to hold a value of goodness and love that I apply to myself and then to believe that that same measure of goodness and love does not apply to others. To say that I can hold my values, and you can hold yours, and they are both morally equal, is to say they are both morally equally irrelevant. If they are irrelevant, than why bother? Why shouldn’t your partner cheat on you multiple times and never tell you, and why should that be wrong? Remember, if my moral values and your moral values are equal, and if there is not true moral right and wrong, then there wouldn’t be anything wrong with your own partner cheating on you, giving you a STD, etc.

        4. Barbara

          Faithful4Life

          You’re right. I judged you. I’m sorry if you were offended.

      6. 6.1.6
        cynthia

        And men don’t have to get pregnant either or be saddled with a baby.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          I can assure you that that train left the station a long time ago.

        2. judy

          Cynthia 6.1.6

          I was horrified to read that comment.

          Some women LIKE having babies and some fathers are not “saddled with a baby” but enjoy being fathers.

      7. 6.1.7
        KK

        ScottH,

        I agree with everything you just said. Just because it’s common that there’s usually more than enough blame to go around in the demise of a marriage, it doesn’t mean it’s always the case. In fact, I think even though it’s less common that one spouse is completely at fault, it’s more common than most people believe.

        One caveat, though. If one spouse is completely at fault, it doesn’t give the other spouse a hall pass to pretend they aren’t still married. I think that when that is the case, it’s important to show some remorse for bad behavior even if you felt justified at the time. (I don’t want to get into a back and forth with you or anyone else on this). That said, I think that if someone is getting to know you and discovers you were unfaithful and show no remorse, it’s likely to be a relationship killer. On the other hand, if you choose to share details of your past marriage and admit you could’ve, should’ve, wished you had handled things differently, you’ll be seen in a much better light.

         

        1. Barbara

          I think even though it’s less common that one spouse [in a failed marriage] is completely at fault, it’s more common than most people believe.

          I think it’s healthy, no matter how badly your ex was or is, to ask yourself how you wound up marrying that person and why you stayed married for as long as you did. I’m talking about taking responsibility for your choices, not about accepting blame when you’re not at fault. By taking full responsibility for your role in your marriage, you can be clearer about how not to repeat the same mistakes in future relationships.

        2. KK

          Hi again Barbara,

          “I think it’s healthy, no matter how badly your ex was or is, to ask yourself how you wound up marrying that person…”

          I agree 100%.

          “…and why you stayed married for as long as you did”.

          That’s situational and I agree with that as well, if the shoe fits. In my case, I only stayed 6 months after I discovered his long term affair and more.

          “By taking full responsibility for your role in your marriage, you can be clearer about how not to repeat the same mistakes in future relationships”.

          My role was choosing poorly based on false information. However, had I known everything in advance that I learned 15+ years later, I never would’ve chosen him to begin with. To be more accurate, I wouldn’t have accepted him. Believe it or not, there are people who choose to lead double lives. One really nice looking one that satisfies their desires to be seen by others as a respectable, happy, successful family man and another really seedy one that fulfills some pretty deranged desires.

        3. Barbara

          KK

          Barbra: “I think it’s healthy, no matter how badly your ex was or is, to ask yourself how you wound up marrying that person…”
          I agree 100%.
          “…and why you stayed married for as long as you did”.
          That’s situational and I agree with that as well, if the shoe fits. In my case, I only stayed 6 months after I discovered his long term affair and more.

          ###


          No way I can judge your situation, KK. But, as for me, all my life, I’ve had a string of relationships that ranged from less than optimal to absolutely horrible, including my marriage. In my case, with each relationship there were red flags right from the start that I chose to ignore. Had I paid attention to the signs, instead being hear-no-evil-see-no-evil, I would have never gotten involved with those men in the first place.

          So now, based on Evan saying “Believe the negatives. Ignore the positives,” I stay focused on keeping my eyes wide open with men, to paying attention to what they do and not being blinded by how they look, what they say, or how horny I am.

        4. KK

          Barbara,

          “No way I can judge your situation, KK. But, as for me, all my life, I’ve had a string of relationships that ranged from less than optimal to absolutely horrible, including my marriage. In my case, with each relationship there were red flags right from the start that I chose to ignore”.

          We’ve had very different experiences. If I look at all my other past relationships (marriage excluded), they were good experiences for the most part. In each one, I could point out exactly what I did to contribute to it not working out, or more often just ending it because I realized it wasn’t what I wanted long term. The marriage was an exception. I didn’t contribute to it falling apart. I saw no red flags. In retrospect, only knowing what I know now, I could point out a few yellow flags; meaning I should’ve proceeded with caution. However, at the time, there was no way for me to know that those were yellow flags. One example: His best friend was a womanizer and had been divorced several times. They had been friends since childhood. Now, my ex made a point to condemn his friend’s lifestyle and said he was a faithful friend to him. I had no reason to think my ex may have been the same way based on his own actions so I didn’t hold it against him. In retrospect, I now see that as one thing I should’ve paid more attention to. 

        5. Barbara

          KK

          Regarding your ex husband you said:

          His best friend was a womanizer and been divorced several times.

          I can relate to that although my situation was different than yours. I ended my relationship with my last boyfriend almost a year ago. His friends frequented strip clubs and casinos and all the men in his family had substance abuse problems. For so many glaring reasons I was just stupid to date him. I was blinded by his adoration of me because I’d never gotten that from a man I found attractive.

          The saying “You are the sum of the company you keep” comes to mind. The company he kept was a fire alarm that I turned a deaf ear to. I  know better now.

           

           

      8. 6.1.8
        Barbara

        ScottH

        But what if a person’s responsibility really is very low, or even zero?  Maybe they were married to someone who became a drug dealer (like Walter White), or was a child abuser, or developed an addiction to gambling or a substance and refused treatment, or decided that they needed to divorce and “find” themselves and NONE of this was the fault of their spouse?

        Fault/blame and responsibility are not synonymous. I can take responsibility for ignoring red flags that indicated my partner was a bad one for me from the day I first met him without accepting blame for his bad behavior.

        I guess when I hear people talk in blah blah like above, I just roll my eyes and think that this person hasn’t opened their mind to one of many possibilities and hasn’t learned enough of life’s lessons and therefore isn’t ready for a relationship with me.

        It’s unfortunate that you felt the need to make a derisive comment about me–the author of the comment you referenced and someone you don’t personally know at all–and the state of my mind in order to prove your point.

      9. 6.1.9
        Rowan

        Not that you have to be divorced X amount of time, as people heal differently and at different rates. It’s the variable within that and how you’ve deal with them.

        Depends also what was going on within that relationship, did one not really want to separate… knowing how long they’ve been done with their relationship and the degree to which they have been able to distance themselves from the situation gives you some perspective on the type of experiences you’ll be exposed to with them. It’s sometimes a way to gauge healing. I’ve known of someone 10 years after the divorce that was still bitching and blaming…dude, at this point it’s not even about her anymore, it has a lot to do with you. It’s really about HEALING. Asking how long and why the relationship didn’t work, assessing the amount of responsibility accepted for their role (I acknowledge there are cases where 1 person is almost solely responsible), how much does it occupy their thoughts, etc…if these ex’s still have to deal with one another because of children. It speaks a bit to character and emotional intelligence.

        Different people have different parameters that they are comfortable with. I come from a counselling background so I probably read a situation differently than you do. It doesn’t make one person right and the other wrong. If we only dissect one variable it doesn’t give a true picture to other characteristics that must also be met. Everyone has their own deal breakers.

    2. 6.2
      JB

      Well Judy I guess the point I was trying to make and YAG made it as well is that for the most part men will almost never disqualify a woman for what she does for a living. It doesn’t matter if she’s a waitress or a brain surgeon whereas 99% of women will and do. We don’t mind being asked we just hate it when it’s the first question out of a woman’s mouth. Of course if I was a ________ (fill in the blank with a high status/income job title) it might even bother me more. You can make small talk about many other things depending on the situation assuming we’re not talking about online dating here.

      As far as the “how long have you been divorced?” question. Every woman has in their mind what’s an acceptable answer for THEM of course depending on what you look like and what you do for a living…lol

      1. 6.2.1
        Barbara

        JB

        99% of women will [disqualify a man for what she does for a living]… As far as the “how long have you been divorced?” question. Every woman has in their mind what’s an acceptable answer for THEM of course depending on what you look like and what you do for a living.

        I don’t have an “acceptable answer in mind” for “How long have you been divorced?” For me it’s a benign point of conversation and no man I’ve ever asked has seemed bother by the question. I just want to know a man is over his divorce, takes responsibility for his role in it, and has learned from it.

        While I do have to find a man attractive and have to know he’s self-sufficient, his job is irrelevant to me (within reason). However, it is true that, before I started following Evan’s advice, I wouldn’t have considered dating a man who didn’t have a college degree. Even so, I didn’t really care much about what kind of work he did. Now, I’m over the college degree requirement as well.

        Since following Evan’s advice, I’ve dated a college dean, electric lineman, social worker, custodian, short order cook, public school teacher, and executive business consultant, to name a few. I used to have a long list of must-haves. Now my core requirement for a man is he must respect himself, me and everyone else.

        1. Barbara

          I said:

          Now, I’m over the college degree requirement as well.

          I do have some biases, though. I won’t date a man who can’t hold an intelligent and midsize or longer conversation in writing and verbally.

        2. JB

          I think it’s great Barbara Evan gets women like you to understand and open their minds to many different types of men and not just those with a degree. Sadly though 99.9% of women online don’t follow Evans advice and think differently.

          I also wouldn’t expect anyone to date a person that can’t hold an intelligent conversation or one that suits their needs. It’s a known fact that women are now earning more degree’s than men all over the world. If they keep thinking like that they’ll be a lot of lonely women in the future.

      2. 6.2.2
        judy

        JB 6.2

        Yes I can understand that a man doesn’t like it when the first question a woman asks is about his income. (By the way, men often ask this of women too).

        As to the question of “how long have you been divorced”, it seems to me that there are different answers here.  Maybe the woman or man asking it already sees the date as a potential partner and wants to know if they can commit to each other at some stage.  For those not wise, it can also lead to a hateful discussion about their ex – always a bad idea to my mind.

        It strikes me that “how long have you been divorced” is rather a personal question and I would not really appreciate this at the beginning of a relationship.

        Also, one could assume some doubt on the part of the person asking it as if it assure him/her that the date is really available, or really available soon.

        I have been divorced a long time and have not remarried as yet.  The question I dread is the “WHY did you divorce?” and this is invasive and rude.  In a more mischievous mode, I would like to say “because he was a jerk” or “he was lousy in bed” or “he went to prison” or something really provocative but it seems a waste of time.

        1. Barbara

          JUDY:

          It strikes me that “how long have you been divorced” is rather a personal question and I would not really appreciate this at the beginning of a relationship…
          I have been divorced a long time and have not remarried as yet.  The question I dread is the “WHY did you divorce?”
          I’ve been separated a little of two years and divorced just over a year. I started dating as soon as I separated and neither question bothers me or any man I’ve asked.  I wouldn’t even consider a divorced man as potential relationship material who felt threatened or invaded or offended by either question when I myself have no qualms about answering them.
          After all, the man and I are both divorced and we became divorced at a certain point in time. I wouldn’t wait around for a few dates to pass to discover why he felt funny about talking about it. I’d move on to find a man who didn’t.
          Self-reflecting is a fundamental part of how I do my life. I think about why I do and did things and why certain things happen or happened to me. I couldn’t be with a man who didn’t have a high degree of commitment to self-awareness (as I define it) like I do and who didn’t feel it necessary to be up front about something as important as his divorce with a woman he hopes might be significant other material.
          I only date men who explicitly state that they are seeking a significant other. These men and I aren’t on the fence about what we ultimately want. So, right from the start, we want to know if the person we just met share this goal and are worthy of our time.
          I’m 55 and date men in my age bracket. My life is more than halfway over and finding lasting love is the one lifetime goal I set that I have yet to attain. So I’m protective of the effort and time I put into manifesting it because I don’t have time to waste.
          For some men, I’m clearly not someone they’d be interested in based on my answers to some of their basic questions. The same holds true for me concerning the way a man answers certain basic questions of mine. And I consider the questions how long have you been and why did you get divorced basic dating questions.
          I don’t ask these questions as if I’m quizzing a man. I ask them as a natural part of our initial messaging, Thanks to Evan’s advice, I try to be fun and playful with men. So I ask these questions this way, usually, not like a drill sergeant.
          Because finding a life-long partner is my ultimate goal for dating, I don’t waste several messages talking about how I like riding my bike only to discover that I’m sharing this generic information with a man I’d never want to date, let alone spend the rest of my life with. So, yes, I get the basic questions out of the way right from the start or very soon thereafter.

        2. Barbara

          JUDY:

          In my reply to you, I was wrong to indicate that I always ask a man “Why did you get a divorce?” before going on a date with him. But I do usually ask “How long have you been divorced?” fairly soon. The “why” might come up a little later but not much.

          As I said, I think these are reasonable questions to ask a man who says he’s looking for a long-term relationship. If he isn’t looking for that, he’s not someone I want to date.

  7. 7
    Barbara

    Hi Judy.

    It strikes me that “how long have you been divorced” is rather a personal question and I would not really appreciate this at the beginning of a relationship…

    I have been divorced a long time and have not remarried as yet.  The question I dread is the “WHY did you divorce?”

    I’ve been separated a little of two years and divorced just over a year. I started dating as soon as I separated and neither question bothers me or any man I’ve asked.  I wouldn’t even consider a divorced man as potential relationship material who felt threatened or invaded or offended by either question when I myself have no qualms about answering them.

    After all, the man and I are both divorced and we became divorced at a certain point in time. I wouldn’t wait around for a few dates to pass to discover why he felt funny about talking about it. I’d move on to find a man who didn’t.

    Self-reflecting is a fundamental part of how I do my life. I think about why I do and did things and why certain things happen or happened to me. I couldn’t be with a man who didn’t have a high degree of commitment to self-awareness (as I define it) like I do and who didn’t feel it necessary to be up front about something as important as his divorce with a woman he hopes might be significant other material.

    I only date men who explicitly state that they are seeking a significant other. These men and I aren’t on the fence about what we ultimately want. So, right from the start, we want to know if the person we just met share this goal and are worthy of our time.

    I’m 55 and date men in my age bracket. My life is more than halfway over and finding lasting love is the one lifetime goal I set that I have yet to attain. So I’m protective of the effort and time I put into manifesting it because I don’t have time to waste.

    For some men, I’m clearly not someone they’d be interested in based on my answers to some of their basic questions. The same holds true for me concerning the way a man answers certain basic questions of mine. And I consider the questions how long have you been and why did you get divorced basic dating questions.

    I don’t ask these questions as if I’m quizzing a man. I ask them as a natural part of our initial messaging, Thanks to Evan’s advice, I try to be fun and playful with men. So I ask these questions this way, usually, not like a drill sergeant.

    Because finding a life-long partner is my ultimate goal for dating, I don’t waste several messages talking about how I like riding my bike only to discover that I’m sharing this generic information with a man I’d never want to date, let alone spend the rest of my life with. So, yes, I get the basic questions out of the way right from the start or very soon thereafter.

    1. 7.1
      Yet Another Guy

      You just confirmed what I mentioned about men generally not caring about a woman’s relationship status. You stated that you started dating as soon as you separated. I can assure you that a recently separated man has to clear incredibly difficult hurdles or significantly lower his standards in order to secure a date via any of the on-line dating sites or in real life. You even admitted to not dating separated men. Why the double standard? I can assure you that I felt exactly the same way about my own marriage that you did about yours; however, securing a date as separated man could often be such a hassle as to not be worth it. Nothing short of providing each of these women with my ex’s number, so that they could verify that we were indeed divorcing due to irreconcilable differences would have worked. The crazy thing is that many of these women came back later and wanted to meet me. My answer was always the same, “You judged me based on my relationship status, not who I am as a man, and, in doing so, and you demonstrated that you are too shallow and self-centered for me to ever consider you a desirable mate. Prejudice is an unattractive quality.”

      When a woman judges a separated man based on his relationship status without taking the time ascertain the context in which his status resides, she is indeed prejudging him. He could be the best thing that ever happened to her. The woman ends most marriages. One can be assured that a man has been out of his marriage emotionally for a long time if he is the one who ends it. A man usually ends his marriage because he desires to be loved for being a man and does not want to cheat due to having a sense of morality. Non-moral men just have one or more extramarital affairs.

      1. 7.1.1
        KK

        YAG said,

        “I can assure you that a recently separated man has to clear incredibly difficult hurdles or significantly lower his standards in order to secure a date via any of the on-line dating sites or in real life”.

        There’s a reason for that. Smart women who also have a sense of self worth are not going to willingly put themselves in a complicated position. There’s a reason for the saying, “Timing is everything”.

        You’ll do yourself a huge favor if you don’t take it personally. : )

        “The crazy thing is that many of these women came back later and wanted to meet me. My answer was always the same, “You judged me based on my relationship status, not who I am as a man, and, in doing so, and you demonstrated that you are too shallow and self-centered for me to ever consider you a desirable mate. Prejudice is an unattractive quality.”

        These women don’t know you. You’re a stranger. They aren’t judging YOU. They are judging the situation; not wanting to get involved with someone who is still legally married. I think you’re being a little overly sensitive here. You could easily get involved with someone 2 years post divorce who feels the exact same way as the women you are so upset with. You’re only hurting yourself with this viewpoint.

        When a woman judges a separated man based on his relationship status without taking the time ascertain the context in which his status resides, she is indeed prejudging him”.

        She isn’t judging HIM. She is judging the situation. Not many women want to date a married man; even when divorce is nearing finalization.

        “One can be assured that a man has been out of his marriage emotionally for a long time if he is the one who ends it”.

        Being emotionally disconnected from your soon to be ex is not the same as being emotionally available or ready for a new relationship.

      2. 7.1.2
        JB

        Men could care less how long a woman has been married, how long she’s been divorced, how long she’s been separated etc…., if she’s “ready” for an emotional relationship etc……. Men simply don’t care. If we see it and we like it. (Preferably as long as hubby not in the picture) It’s on!

        When I tell women I’ve been divorced 18 yrs they bitch at me for not having remarried. When I tell them I was married 5.5 years they bitch because I wasn’t married “long enough” or as long as they were. The last woman I had a meet n greet (who was “separated”) with from Match finally told me a half hour in hubby still lives with her. That wasn’t the DEAL BREAKER I didn’t care but the fact that wasn’t attracted to her and she showed up looking like a homeless woman was.

      3. 7.1.3
        Barbara

        YAG

        You just confirmed what I mentioned about men generally not caring about a woman’s relationship status.

        I admitted to that in my comment to you when I said: 

        I‘m a case in point for what you said about men:

        I dated men–one for a month, one for six weeks, one for four months, some on one or two dates in between those relationships–who didn’t care that I was separated.

        I also said regarding men whose dating profiles explicitly state they are seeking a long term relationship:

        Some of these same men also clearly state in their dating profiles that they do not want to date separated or married women.

        We all can choose who we want to date and must accept the reality that some of the people we want to date won’t want to date us.

         

        It’s too bad you wouldn’t consider dating women who want to date you now that you’re divorced. As I mentioned earlier, my choice not to date separated men has nothing to do with who I think a particular man is as a person. It is about me protecting my heart. I’m generally a trusting person but I don’t want to open myself to a potentially heartbreaking or messy situation involving a wife.

        Now that women who formerly wouldn’t date you are open to doing so, if I were you, I’d give them a chance. It wasn’t you they didn’t like or was prejudiced against. It was that they couldn’t be certain you were actually available—not necessarily because they thought you were fully married and lying about being separated but because of what I mentioned above. Those women may have been like me. They want to date men who are clearly and legally available because they didn’t want to have their hearts broken.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          That is not going to happen. If a woman prejudges me based on a label, she is history.

          You are attempting to justify what is prejudicial behavior by wrapping it in an “I am just attempting to protect my heart” bow. That is not judging the situation. That is prejudging the man based on his current relationship status. You are justifying the behavior because divorce carries the risk of drama and/or reconciliation. Every divorce is unique, and every man is a unique individual. One would be left to believe that only women have feelings based on some of the comments to this blog entry. A man who is forced to endure the indignity that is associated with dating while separated is also a human being with feelings. If he is a smart man with standards, he remembers who prejudged him based on his status and who treated him with dignity. I can assure you that every woman who gave me the benefit of the doubt was treated well because that is who I am as a man. Most of the women that I met wanted a second date. Many of these women were originally hesitant to date me because my relationship status.

        2. Barbara

          YAG

          I’d date a man who refused to date me because I was separated as long as when he told me he didn’t date separated women he did it respectfully instead of insinuating that I was a bad person for dating. Under no circumstances would I want to date a man who looked down on me for any reason.

          I understand why some men refused to consider dating me while I was separated–they had some of the same thoughts I do about dating a separated person: It’s not about judging someone as good or bad. As I’ve repeatedly said in various ways, it’s about choosing from a safer dating pool.

          So I wouldn’t hold the fact that a man turned me down while I was separated against him if he approached me now that I’m divorced.

      4. 7.1.4
        Barbara

        YAG

        Weird formatting in my reply to you but hopefully it’s readable. There should be no italics or bold in some places where they are.

      5. 7.1.5
        Stacy2

        One can be assured that a man has been out of his marriage emotionally for a long time if he is the one who ends it.

        Doesn’t mean you’re ready for a new serious relationship. You may think so but nope, not true. This is why the term rebound was invented. It doesn’t make you a “bad” person.

        1. Barbara

           

          Stacy2

          From Psychology Today:

          Can a Rebound Relationship Be the Real Deal? New research blows up some common assumptions.

          It turns out that new research shows rebound relationships are surprisingly healthy. 

          Recent evidence suggests, in fact, that people who dive into rebound relationships get over their ex-partner more quickly and feel more confident in their date-ability (Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2014). This evidence builds nicely on research showing that individuals with high attachment anxiety are better able to sever their emotional attachment to an ex-partner when they start a new relationship (Spielmann, MacDonald, & Wilson, 2009).

          If the goal is to move on, it seems, starting something new helps.” http://bit.ly/2huRyua

        2. KK

          Barbara,

          You said you don’t date men who are separated.

          At 6.1.3 “But because I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I don’t date separated, married, or co-habitating men…”

        3. Stacy2

          @Barbara

          Eh, what does this suppose to prove? Sure it helps the rebounding person to be in a rebound relationship and “sever the emotional ties” with their ex and what not. But does this mean it is a good deal for the person they are rebounding with? No, not so.

        4. GoWiththeFlow

          Stacy2,

          Exactly!

          Being the rebounder is  great.  You get to feel attractive again, have your ego stroked, practice dating skills, have sex, put some happy experiences between your present and your past with your ex, and then move on with a smile.

          Being the rebound sucks.  You think you’re in a relationship, but you’re really not!

        5. Barbara

          Stacy2
          @Barbara

          Eh, what does this suppose to prove? Sure it helps the rebounding person to be in a rebound relationship and “sever the emotional ties” with their ex and what not. But does this mean it is a good deal for the person they are rebounding with? No, not so.

          So a newly separated person should wait to start dating when she is certain the person she dates won’t be hurt because of their relationship? As long as she’s upfront about her relationship status, the person she dates can choose whether or not to date her. She’s not holding a gun to his head to do it (presumably). He’s making his own adult decision to date her. That’s on him. Not her.

          Otherwise, How far does making a relationship a “good deal” for the other person go? Who can guarantee at the start of any relationship that either party will never be hurt? That’s the risk we take when we enter any relationship–someone might get hurt. If we’re wise, we learn from the experience.

          What’s more, the article I linked to actually says “rebound relationships” are no less healthy for both parties and just as likely to last and be happy ones as relationships between two people who are not rebounding. So, to answer your question “What is this suppose to prove?” The article provides research-based evidence that rebound relationships are typically just as successful as non-rebounding ones, stating:

          “Further, evidence on the stability of marriages which occur after the dissolution of a previous marriage showed no evidence of a “rebound effect” (Wolfinger, 2007). That’s right: Subsequent relationship success (i.e., does your rebound relationship last?) was not a function of whether the relationship was formed as a rebound or not.

          This evidence suggests that focusing on a new relationship might be a healthy solution to a difficult break-up—and that rebound relationships can be just as stable as others.” 
          http://bit.ly/2huRyua

          Maybe you don’t agree with the research but anyone can think any research is bogus. 

        6. KK

          Hi Barbara,

          In less than 2 seconds Google pulled up dozens of articles claiming the opposite. This was first on the list.

          http://www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/four-reasons-why-rebound-dating-is-more-dangerous-than-you-think-6509192

          Regardless of how your rebound relationship made you feel, ultimately it didn’t last. Feeling ready for a relationship doesn’t mean that you are. If you have such a pro stance on it, then why not date men who are separated if you trust that they are being honest with you? There’s a difference, in my opinion, to say that you dated as soon as you were separated, and in hindsight you now realize that wasn’t the best choice and therefore refuse to date anyone going through a separation / divorce as opposed to saying that you dated as soon as you separated, it was a great experience, but you refuse to date anyone separated, now that YOUR divorce is final.

        7. Stacy2

          @Barbara

          So a newly separated person should wait to start dating when she is certain the person she dates won’t be hurt because of their relationship? 

          That’s not what I said. IMO rebounding people are a good match for those who’re looking for something casual. When you’re on a rebound you’re still in the process of working out whatever went wrong in your marriage and you do not see clearly. I was in a 1 year long rebound relationship and thoroughly enjoyed the first 5 months of it. We both ended up getting hurt though in different ways (in retrospect I should’ve ended it 4-5 months in). Looking back at it now, i can see clearly why i was attracted to that specific person and it had nothing to do with his actual personality. I got a “better deal” out of it than he did that’s for sure.

        8. ScottH

          Read Evan’s rebound blog about Shana and Allan.  I actually refer to it often.  People who are on the rebound aren’t emotionally ready for a relationship and anybody unlucky enough to cross their path who hasn’t developed the sense of smell to detect an unavailable person could be in for a world of hurt.  Been there, done that a few times.  Crossed off my bucket list, thank you very much.  And there are SO many people on the rebound out there.  It’s a veritable mine field.

        9. Barbara

          Hi KK:

          Hi Barbara,

          In less than 2 seconds Google pulled up dozens of articles claiming the opposite [that rebound relationships are a bad idea]. This was first on the list.

          http://www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/four-reasons-why-rebound-dating-is-more-dangerous-than-you-think-6509192

          Yes, there’s information online to prove or refute anything. My point is there are a significant number of people who have had good rebound relationships, according to research studies. The Psychology Today link I provided leads to information from studies published in peer-reviewed research journals. Your link is to the blog of Miami advice columnist Nikki Novo, who doesn’t claim to be a research scientist. Personally, I think the studies are probably more valid than Novo’s personal opinions but I could be wrong.

          Regardless of how your rebound relationship made you feel, ultimately it didn’t last.

          NONE of the relationships I’ve had in my entire life have lasted more than a few months, except my 22-year marriage, which is one of the four rebound relationships I’ve ever had. As I mentioned previously, the other three occurred last year while I was separated.

          I repeat, my rebound marriage was my longest relationship. My second longest relationship was my first marriage. It lasted nine months during my early twenties and was not a rebound relationship. So, if “success” is measured by relationship longevity, my rebound second marriage was by far my most successful relationship.

          Feeling ready for a relationship doesn’t mean that you are. If you have such a pro stance on it, then why not date men who are separated if you trust that they are being honest with you? 

          I NEVER said I have an objective pro or con stance against dating while separating. You are intimating I said it. It’s a subjective personal choice I make to avoid dating separated people. Other people, like the men I dated while I was separated, are free to make a different choice or not. I can’t seem to state in a way that you hear me that I don’t care about the choices other people make—including the men I dated while separated—when it comes to dating or not dating separated people. I have no moral judgment about it. My decision to avoid separated men is not based on morality. It’s based on risk assessment. The men I dated made a different choice than I did regarding dating people who are separated. Again, they were free to choose to date me, just as I am free to choose to avoid dating separated men. I’m repeating myself because I feel like my point is not getting across to you.

          There’s a difference, in my opinion, to say that you dated as soon as you were separated, and in hindsight you now realize that wasn’t the best choice and therefore refuse to date anyone going through a separation / divorce as opposed to saying that you dated as soon as you separated, it was a great experience, but you refuse to date anyone separated, now that YOUR divorce is final.

          Once again, you are attributing statements to me that I never made. I never said dating as soon as I separated was a bad choice. The three longish (for me) term relationships I had while separated weren’t bad relationships because I was separated. They were bad relationships because I chose to date men who weren’t good relationship partners. The first had classic narcissist behavior personality traits. The second clearly stated in his dating profile that he wasn’t looking for a long term relationship, even though that’s what I wanted. The third had substance abuse issues among other serious problems.

          Whether I was separated or not, choosing to date men like those was stupid but also consistent with the bad choices I made in dating partners throughout my entire adult life and, I repeat, the overwhelming majority of my short-lived bad relationships–short and bad being the only kind of relationships I ever had, excluding my marriage, which was long and bad–were NOT rebound.

          To recap:

          1. I don’t care whether or not other people choose to date people who are separated. I believe they have the right to date whoever they want upon mutual agreement with their partner. I choose to avoid dating separated men. This choice is not attached to the choices other people make regarding the matter. The men who dated me while I was separated were free to choose to do that. Summation: I can’t control or dictate other people’s choices—including those made by men I date. I can only control my choices.

          2. Until I started following Evan’s advice, the only kind of relationships I had were bad ones, my marriage was no exception and neither were three relationships I had while separated.

          3. Those three relationships and my marriage were the only rebound relationships I’ve ever had.

           

          4. Before I married, my relationships rarely lasted more than month.

          5. My rebound marriage lasted 22 years—longer than any relationship I’ve ever had. [Regardless of how your rebound relationship made you feel, ultimately it didn’t last.] If a relationship’s success is measured by how long it “lasts,” my rebound marriage was my most successful relationship.

          The profound difference between the three bad relationships I had while separated and all my other relationships, which were ALSO bad, is that–due to me following Evan’s advice– those three became valuable lessons for me. Each partner was more loving toward me than the previous one even though none of them were good for me to date. Because I put Evan’s advice into practice with each experience, I grew more as a person than I did in any other relationship, including my marriage.

          So I don’t regret experiencing those three rebound relationships. I’ve become a smarter dater as a result of examining why I chose to date those men and have learned how to make wiser choices with men. As a result, the dating experiences I’ve had since I broke up with my last boyfriend have been with higher quality men than and have been the most enjoyable dates I’ve had in my life.

        10. Barbara

          P.S. KK
          (and Stacy2 and ScottH):

          This is an addendum to my other very long post in reply to you. You said:

          There’s a difference, in my opinion, to say that you dated as soon as you were separated, and in hindsight you now realize that wasn’t the best choice and therefore refuse to date anyone going through a separation / divorce as opposed to saying that you dated as soon as you separated, it was a great experience, but you refuse to date anyone separated, now that YOUR divorce is final.

          I never said I refuse to date anyone separated now that I’m divorced. You’re saying I said it.

          First, somewhere on this long thread, I amended my former statement about not ever dating separated men to say I avoid dating them. But I have messaged them and replied to their messages and I think I went on a date with one. So I haven’t been totally inflexible about dating them. It’s just as a general rule, I don’t.

          Second, I avoided dating separated men when I myself was separated. I didn’t just start doing it after my divorce. Elsewhere on this thread I explained my choice a few times: They might be married and lying about it or they might reconcile with their wives. That’s it. It’s not a wrong or right issue for me. It’s as matter of choosing from a less risky dating pool.

          The men who dated me while I was separated made a different choice than I did when choosing who to date. They were free to do that.

          In any case, if you or anyone is interested in information from studies published in peer-reviewed scientific research journals on the viability of rebound relationships–versus non-researched-based opinions about such relationships or anecdotes about individual couples–the Psychology Today article I originally referenced is one source:

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meet-catch-and-keep/201405/can-rebound-relationship-be-the-real-deal

      6. 7.1.6
        KK

        YAG,

        You stated, “I can assure you that every woman who gave me the benefit of the doubt was treated well because that is who I am as a man”.

        That’s great, I guess, but if those women that gave you the benefit of the doubt aren’t really what you’re looking for, what’s the point?

        You stated earlier, “I can assure you that a recently separated man has to clear incredibly difficult hurdles or significantly lower his standards in order to secure a date…”

        If you’re divorced now, and not in a relationship with someone who gave you the benefit of the doubt, doesn’t that just prove the other women right? That you weren’t ready for a relationship yet? Not because of who you are, but because of timing and less than great circumstances. 

        1. Yet Another Guy

          No, it was because I was not then, nor am I now willing to settle. I spent a long time in a marriage with very little chemistry. We were compatible. We still get along very well as friends, but we were never really lovers in the truest sense.

          As Evan and many other men have mentioned on this blog, men do not date with a relationship in mind. Evan stated that men look for sex and find love. There is a more than a grain of salt in that assertion. Not that I act on it, but if I do not feel the desire to undress a woman on the first date, there will be no second date. My desire for her has to be that strong, or I am continuing my search. Life is too short to spend it with someone with whom one does not have chemistry, and chemistry generally does not develop over a period of time for men.

        2. Barbara

          KK

          If you’re divorced now, and not in a relationship with someone who gave you the benefit of the doubt, doesn’t that just prove the other women right? That you weren’t ready for a relationship yet? Not because of who you are, but because of timing and less than great circumstances.

          Are you saying that if a person isn’t in a relationship right now that proves s/he isn’t ready for one?

        3. KK

          Hi Barbara,

          “Are you saying that if a person isn’t in a relationship right now that proves s/he isn’t ready for one?”

          No. I’m saying that people newly separated / divorced aren’t ready for one.

          In YAG’s particular case, newly divorced, he claims when he was separated he wasn’t treated fairly by the women he was interested in. He then stated that the less desirable women are the ones who gave him the benefit of the doubt, and he treated them nicely but wasn’t interested because he doesn’t want to settle. Taking all that into account, it seems to me he really wasn’t ready for a new relationship at that time. I know he feels differently, so I’m not going to argue with him but time has a funny way of changing your perspective and I hope he will feel less bitterness towards those women who weren’t interested in getting involved with him while he was still legally married, for his own sake.

        4. Barbara

          KK

          You said: “I’m saying that people newly separated / divorced aren’t ready for one [a relationship].”

          This is just an FYI from Psychology Today, in case you didn’t see it when it posted it to Stacy2:

          Can a Rebound Relationship Be the Real Deal? New research blows up some common assumptions.

          It turns out that new research shows rebound relationships are surprisingly healthy.

          Recent evidence suggests, in fact, that people who dive into rebound relationships get over their ex-partner more quickly and feel more confident in their date-ability (Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2014). This evidence builds nicely on research showing that individuals with high attachment anxiety are better able to sever their emotional attachment to an ex-partner when they start a new relationship (Spielmann, MacDonald, & Wilson, 2009).

          If the goal is to move on, it seems, starting something new helps.” http://bit.ly/2huRyua

        5. Barbara

          KK @Stacy2

          Regarding recently separated or divorced people not being ready for a relationship, I sure was. The minute I moved out of my ex’s house, I started online dating. I made lots of mistakes because I knew nothing about dating and never had. Being married for 22 years didn’t magically make me know things I’d never learned.

          I am a much wiser dater than I was when I first became separated. The main reasons I know more now are that I kept dating and kept seeking advice about dating while I kept dating. This simple formula enabled me to gain real-life dating experience, learn from my mistakes, and find the best dating coach I’ve run across: Evan.

          Not only did all the free advice he offers on this blog help me but “Why He Disappeared” and “Finding the One Online” were worth 100 times what they cost when it comes to how they helped me transform my life. I still reread parts of them now and put them into practice with men.

          I was talking to a woman today who has totally given up on her love life. She’s the kind of woman “Believe in Love” is written for. It was so hard to hear her complain about her situation and simultaneously refuse to even visit this blog, let alone purchase “Believe in Love” as I suggested. One of my faults is that I run out of patience with a person who complain about her life without taking any concrete action to do something to change it. In this case, I tried to bite my tongue and just listen to her. I wasn’t totally successful.

          Anyway, a ballet dancer can’t become a prima ballerina just by taking off time to get other areas of her life together. If she wants to become a great dancer–so good she could dance the lead in Swan Lake–she has to get on the floor and practice and out in front of audiences and dance. There is no amount of ballet textbooks she can read or dance videos she can watch or advice she can listen to or mental and spiritual and emotional preparation she can do that will ever replace actually dancing.

          This has been true of my experience with dating. Was I “ready” to start dating when I moved out on my own? Hell yes. I was ready three years before I left my husband. Did I know how to date? Hell no. But each date I went on was a lesson. Had I waited a year after my divorce to start dating, it would be three years after I left my ex husband before I went on my first date in 25 years. That would a year from now.

          Instead, I have over two years of dating experience under my belt and am hopeful that I will soon be in my fourth and longest lasting relationship since I left my ex husband.

          My hope is not magical thinking with no foundation beneath it. It’s based on the fact that, through dating in the real world, I’ve learned more about myself, my needs, and the kind of man I want than I ever knew; and I’ve learned how men typically think and why my past behavior was repelling the ones I wanted to attract. This knowledge helps me make better decisions when it comes to men, change my behavior for the better, and increasingly improve the quality of the men I choose to date. Not only that, I’m having fun dating and meeting new people, even when a second date doesn’t happen.

          Because I’m better at dating than I used to be and because I see the results of all the efforts I continually make to improve my love life, I have confidence that my personal Swan Lake Prima Ballerina moment–having a healthy and happy life-long romantic relationship–isn’t that far off.

        6. Barbara

          KK & Stacy@

          I said:

          I’ve learned how men typically think and why my past behavior was repelling the ones I wanted to attract.

          In case someone runs across this blog who isn’t familiar with Evan, I want to say for the record that he’s the one who taught me these things. Without following the advice he gives in “Why He Disappeared,” “Finding the One Online” and on this blog, I could have gone on endless dates and have who knows how many relationships start and end without ever knowing why the kind of love life I really wanted was always out of reach. 

        7. KK

          Barbara,
          You said you don’t date men who are separated.
          At 6.1.3 “But because I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I don’t date separated, married, or co-habitating men…”

        8. Barbara

          KK:

          Barbara,

          You said you don’t date men who are separated.

          At 6.1.3 “But because I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I don’t date separated, married, or co-habitating men…

          Yes. I also said:

          6.1.4:

          I dated men–one for a month, one for six weeks, one for four months, some on one or two dates in between those relationships–who didn’t care that I was separated. That was because they believed me when I said my marriage was over and only one of them was definitely looking for a lifetime relationship like I was.

          AND

          7.1.3

          We all can choose who we want to date and must accept the reality that some of the people we want to date won’t want to date us.

          ###

          I choose not to date separated me, not based on a moral code, but because they pose the risks of being married men lying about their marital status or men who ultimately reconcile with their wives.

          The men who dated me while knowing full well that I was separated made a different choice than I did.

          Also, as it happens I received a message from a separated man today that jogged my iffy memory. In fact, I have messaged separated men and responded to messages from them. I just don’t do it often. As they say “Never say never.”

          Generally, I avoid separated men just like I avoid men who are more than three years older or younger than me (which the man who contacted me is at 48). So I haven’t been totally inflexible about it.

      7. 7.1.7
        Barbara

        YAG

        See my comment to KK at 7.1.6. I realized that I have made exceptions to my separated men policy.

  8. 8
    FG

    While true that we are not what we do, there are different stages in life, and very different people too! Stating that men don’t care what a woman does is a simplistic view.

    Some men don’t care. I reckon very many do! The context also plays a large role. If in LA, CA, the waitress is obviously also an aspiring actress. If not, she’s way past her prime. 🙂 Gross exaggeration. But an ironic reflection of a partial reality. The situation has devolved a lot in the US. An otherwise competent and intelligent person may experience trouble finding employment commensurate with talent, education and the like.

    Generally, with caveat considerations of any generalization, people stick with their kind.  Whether social strata, education, means, people date within a group that represents a reasonable fit. An MD will not engage with a plumber. At least, not long term. Mentioned elsewhere: MD stats show that 50% of MDs intermarry. Leaving 50% available for lawyers LOL

    Giving due attention to current challenges, is the prospective mate interesting? The WalMart cashier, the waitress, the porn actress (never met one, but thought it makes for an interesting example), may have looks, and/or charm. Or not. Knew a much older couple. A cop who met a waitress at a coffee shop. They were a decent fit, and eventually married. Is there anything wrong with that relationship? Absolutely not!

    We initially make contact through small talk. There are exceptions: the conversation when meeting a work environment may be far more involved. What a person does may, for a large segment of the population, limit how far afield they can take the small talk. A woman can be passionate about something, and that makes a huge difference. Most guys seem content with televised sports and may be staunch supprters of a local team. So we leave the “what they do” area and enter “what interests them”.
    Nothing wrong with anyone who makes an honest living. If a prospective couple share a passion, that may suffice in keeping them afloat for decades to come. Met a an “edge of middle-age” couple who were both into online games. They played together, side by side. No doubt most lawyers or MDs would find their pursuit trivial and preposterously immature. The couple might respond in the same way when thinking about hitting balls into distant holes (golf). Different strokes!
    The whole point boils down to this: are we talking about the average Joe meeting an average gal? Or are we talking about a person who is somehow different, or exceptional?
    Who belongs in THEIR social circle? What drives them (if anything)? Do the prospective partners have common ground? Some? Enough? Or just a passing spark requiring satisfaction or itch needing to be scratched?

    Personally, I’m primarily interested in who the person might be! Their experience, their life, their accomplishments if any, their goals and ambitions, plans, interests… What they do is of import. Is money important? If a gal makes little or no money, and/or has cumulated zero assets, that puts the onus on me to pay for everything. Just as emotional dependency is a turn-off, financial dependence is not attractive.
    Financial discrepancies can occur. Suppose you plan a vacation that will cost $6K per person. Your partner can pony up $2K. Either you can make up the difference (so the vacation will cost you $10K, your 6 plus a $4K supplement), or you alter plans accordingly. Anything wrong? Not specifically. But if this is recurrent, from year to year, it may eventually get on your nerves. You also have other financial commitments. The skewed equation means you should, unfortunately, draw up papers in case of an eventual relationship failure. So our conclusion might be that if a man doesn’t care what a woman does, he’s not very serious, or he doesn’t have much! Or he has so much money that it won’t matter. Nice to be in that position, I guess.

  9. 9
    Tron Swanson

    I’ve never been one for small talk with strangers. I’m extremely introverted, and I’m happy being that way. I find that I connect best with fellow introverts. Unfortunately, not many people are as introverted as I am, and it’s made life somewhat difficult for me. I have no interest in changing, but it can be annoying to live in an extrovert’s world.

    1. 9.1
      Barbara

      Tron Swanson:

      New research suggests that very few people are strictly “introverted” or “extroverted” but that these character designations exist on two ends of a spectrum. The new name for people like me, who researchers say represent the majority of the population is “ambivert.” https://lonerwolf.com/ambivert/

      The term describes me. When I’m around people, I’ve trained myself to be more outgoing than used to feel natural for me. The more I exercise my “outgoing” muscle the more comfortable I feel around people and with striking up conversations with strangers. I actually enjoy doing it now.

      Still, sometimes, when I’d rather retreat in a corner at a large gathering, I  have to force myself to get in the mix. For instance, last week I was at a large semi-formal holiday party by myself in hopes of meeting men. I  LOVE to dance. But none of the men asked me to even though I kept dancing in place as a hint and just because music makes me dance. I had two options: Waste the cover charged I paid and go home having not danced at all or start dancing.

      I chose the latter and danced onto the floor. Because I just let loose and had fun (including kicking off my shoes because high heels are cruel inventions) a relative who showed up dubbed me “Wild Thing.”  Plus, I saw a male acquaintance who I’m not at all interested in and vice versa and, in fun, and because I didn’t have cash on me for the bar, I said for the first time in my life: “You ought to buy me a drink.” And he did. Now I’ll feel more comfortable saying that to a man I’m interested in. I didn’t meet a man but I had lots of fun and learned the skill of flirtatiously inviting a man to buy me a drink.

      But I still have strong introvert traits as well. While I can feed off of the energy of being around a group of people, I am most often energized by being alone in my own space.

    2. 9.2
      Barbara

      Also Tron:

      I was an actor for several years, mostly on stage. I was much more introverted than I am now. But when I was in a show I “acted” like whatever character I was playing. When the show ended and it was time for curtain calls I “acted” like and actor enjoying a curtain call.

      My point is when I originally wrote in my other comment to you that I “force” myself to be more outgoing, what I actually meant was that I “act” like, or pretend to be, an outgoing person. The more I’ve pretended to be outgoing, the more outgoing I’ve actually become.

      Also, btw, at the party I mentioned, a few men did ask me to dance. One who I hoped would, didn’t. When I followed Evan’s advice and moved closer to him and struck up a conversation about how the party is such a popular annual, he ultimately told me I’d out-dance him. C’est la vie.

  10. 10
    Tron Swanson

    Barbara:

    I honestly don’t think that I have any traits that could be considered extroverted. Outside of my career and women, I’ve led a reclusive life.

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