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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

This Week:
Fixing Valentine's Day Mistake
Common Mistakes by Online Daters

I blew Valentine’s Day! Is there anything I can do to make up for it now?


Well, it depends on the circumstances surrounding your “failure” to put on a proper Valentine’s Day. But rest assured, more than likely you can salvage it. Remember this… it’s never too late to put a spark back in the relationship. Many people feel V-Day or anniversaries are the large spark you put in a relationship. However, I think it’s more meaningful and productive to put small sparks in the relationship consistently over time. I mean, which would you rather have at work: (a) your boss telling you in a big production and only once a year that you’re appreciated and valuable to the company, or (b) your boss telling you in small ways everyday that you’re appreciated and valuable to the company? Most people I know would pick (b).

Likewise, love and relationships are work – because they take work to succeed. You can’t expect to make up for a year’s “neglect” with one lavish gesture on V-Day or an anniversary. So, here’s some verbal and non-verbal ways that could well help you salvage the spirit of V-Day and constantly remind your partner what he or she means to you all through the year. Plus, these are painless and take almost no effort. How can you lose?!

1. Say “I love you” everyday. Yes, the hype is true. This works wonders.

2. Talk more to your partner. This also works wonders, and, guys, it’s also one of the easiest things you can do to improve your sex life.

3. Spontaneously, and without trying to make yourself look like a martyr, you do a chore that your partner usually does, such as the laundry, pick up the kids, fix dinner, or loading the dishwasher. Better still, don’t do this just once – try to do something that lessens your partner’s work load at least two or three times a week. Your efforts will get noticed and be deeply appreciated.

4. Make a point at least once a week to tell your partner about some characteristic or talent that you respect about him or her.

5. Tell your partner what color(s) he or she looks especially attractive in. Both men and women enjoy looking attractive for their partners, and both cherish any information that will help them do this. I should mention that doing this usually gives the person a huge boost to his or her self esteem – and a healthy self esteem means a healthy love life.

6. Caress your partner’s hair more often than you do now. I recommend at least three times a week. If you haven’t been doing this at all, start doing it now.

7. Have a good hard, laugh with your partner at least once a week. Go to a movie, comedy club, watch home movies, play a board game, have a tickle fight, or just make each other crack up. Choose a weapon of levity and use it.

8. Once a week when you come through the door or when you see your partner, say “It’s so good to see you.” If you want to increase your batting average, then follow up this statement with a sincere explanation of why it’s good to see him or her.

9. Sincerely ask your partner for advice or feedback on something. In other words, express to your loved one that you value his or her opinion.

10. Finally, another little thing that works wonders – Guys, hold the door open for your partner… and Ladies, slightly stroke his cheek when he does this to silently say “thanks.”

What are the common mistakes most online daters make when they meet someone new?
There are already some outstanding articles on Online Dating Magazine that address this (Online Dating Safety | Meeting Face to Face | 10 Dating Tips for Men) Nevertheless, I still see and hear that people are not being as safe as they should while online. Most everyone knows basic “do’s” and “don’ts” of online dating, so let me give you five tips to increase your safety and your online experience that come from common mistakes I see even experienced online commit:

» Too fast.
Many online daters on both casual and long-term relationship sites seem to get too suggestive and sexual with each online too fast.

» No manners.
Many online daters either never respond back or take forever to do so. If a guy or gal winks, IMs, or emails you, take time to respond back promptly – especially if you’re not interested. Yes, you heard me correctly – even if you’re not interested in that person. A polite “no” typically goes further than a cold “no.” Men and women can handle rejection, but if you never writ someone back, then it’s difficult for that person to know if he or she should stop writing because they’re not your type, or if they should keep writing because they assume you didn’t see the original message due to “technological difficulties” on the site yet again.

» Little white lies.
It hurts and damages trust when a person is lied to on any level. Many online daters tend to misrepresent facts about themselves such as age, weight, or income level in order to increase their attractiveness to others. And what’s worse is the fact that everyone assumes this type of misrepresentation is pervasive. What happens then is that otherwise truthful and ethical online daters participate in "reciprocal" misrepresentation so they too can gain a competitive edge and look for love on a “level playing field.”

» Leading people on.
This is related to “too fast” and “little white lies.” Many online daters lead multiple people on at once by giving others an inflated sense of interest level. Don’t let someone believe you’re seriously interested in them if you’re not OR that you’re coming to visit them on your next long weekend if you’re not OR that you’ve “never felt this way before about someone” when it just ain’t so. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

» Do your homework.
People still don’t consistently post good photos in order to attract a prospective date, and people still don’t consistently read others’ online profiles before contacting someone – even though that will make them more attractive to that person.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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