dating tips, dating advice, dating, single, singles

“If he had a girlfriend she would sit across the breakfast table from him with fork in hand, and every day she would be impaled on the four steel tines of his intelligence and his perception and his ambition and his self-regard.”
– Holy Fire, by Bruce Sterling

As my mentor Sonia Nevis, Ph.D. says, “It is easier to live life with joined energy.”

Many single people long to be joined with someone in a relationship that will last. Being single & dating is definitely a gruesome process that requires courage.
Single women often stay way too long in half-baked relationships because of the fear of returning to the hard work of dating.

It is hardest to be single when you are physically ill. A terrible feeling of loneliness sets in and it is easy to overdose on your experience of very real vulnerability. Be sure to create a solid support system for yourself, one in which sexuality doesn’t gum up the works.

Healthy Things for Single People to Look for on Dates:

Single people consider printing this out to remind yourself what you are looking for!

1. Do They Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say?
A wonderful laugh-out-loud book that teaches this lesson is the mystery Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen. You have to love an author who makes a Hooters waitress a heroine.

2. Dialogue
If something seems nutty, bring it up. If a real dialogue emerges instead of a defensive, deflecting monologue, WOW.

3. Are Your Boundaries Respected?
Boundaries can change if they are respected to begin with. Boundaries should not be apologized for, they are a good reality check and a way to take the temperature of the relationship.

4. Someone Who Takes Responsibility
From the ages of 13-27, a lot of latitude can be granted. Particularly after the age of 27, an adult needs to take more responsibility if they mistreat someone else or are narcissistic. If the point of love is to be able to grow and become a better person, then taking responsibility and being able to hear honest feedback about yourself is important.

5. They have friends of the same sex

6. Will slowed down sexuality be acceptable? This may sound very old-fashioned but fast sexuality easily clouds perceptions. Take time to find out if she/he is worth the investment of your knowing them. Restricting yourself to oral sex is not slowed down sexuality.

7. A willingness to problem solve and offers respect for your point of view

8. They’re Grown Up
This means they honestly face painful situations which leads to building character

9. Do they respect you enough that you can influence them?
Being able to influence someone else is the ultimate test of respect.

25 Ways for Those Who are Single & Dating to be on Guard for:

Who's out there

“For surely I was not a bad person? I had accepted what had been offered; now I saw that what had been offered had been insufficient, and worse, that I had over-invested in something that was intrinsically worthless, or at best of no consequence.” – words of Elizabeth the heroine from The Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner

Even as a kid, I never really liked the Disney version of Cinderella. She should have walked to the ball under her own steam and she could have stayed past midnight without any trouble. I always loved Grimm’s Fairy Tales—even better than 50′s/60′s television. The fairy tales give glimpses of a darker reality, the shadow side of tricky, flimsy people who at a later date become substantial as they learn from the complicatedness of life’s struggles. Too many children have swallowed Disney whole and expect life to be sanitized. Read Grimm’s fairytales to be more alert to emotional danger.

1. Manipulation and Blame
Someone stuck in the Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor game, someone who is obsessed with manipulating others, or someone who is an active addict; they are all looking for someone else to play games with. (Note how the main character is manipulated by the wealthiest woman in town in Empire Falls by Richard Russo). (See relationship triangles page & learn this game).

Stay on the lookout for those who never make statements of responsibility, or those who find comfort blaming everyone else. These are NOT people of substance. Stay alert to your own willingness to be a target for blame.

2. Charm
Run because underneath charm is emptiness and narcissism. Your role will be the boring one of the constant audience; not very engaging for an entire lifetime. Rent the movie Mansfield Park (by a British Female Director of Jane Austen’s Novel which illustrates this point. People allow themselves to be seduced by charm because it’s glorious to leap over awkward beginnings in relationships. In the long run, you will be disappointed.

3. Desperation
No one will be attracted to desperate neediness if they are in their right mind. Give up the Rescuer role, thinking that you will be a good person by fixing them up. Let them hire a therapist instead, where relationship boundaries require them to do 50% of the work. Rescuing is you doing 60-98% of the work-bad idea. A client informed me that Dr. Phil says put out an “I want to be with you” vibe instead of “I need to be with you.”

4. If Heterosexual – Determine their relationship with their opposite sex parent (Freud had a few things right). If a person is gay, it may have more to do with the same sex parent. Check out both relationships to be on the safe side. Extremes such as excessive adoration, disgust, or indifference in parental relationships can be trouble. Basically you want someone who gets along with their parents. The point being that if a son had a hateful relationship with his mother, you may take her place in the future. A good book to teach you how your childhood experience leaks into the present in your partnership is: Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix.

5. Never Feel Sorry for Anybody
Nothing good comes from this, erase it from your emotional vocabulary. Feeling sorry for someone is a treacherous place to be because it lacks respect. Respect is more important than love in keeping a long term relationship working. Respect offers more room to not like aspects of someone, it offers the respect of being different. Love too often disguises a desire for a clone.

6. Women, Stop the Myth
Stop the myth that any man is better than none. With or Without a Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives by Karen Gail Lewis, is about single women taking control of their lives.

7. Expectations
The problems with expectations are twofold; you can have too few or too many. It is important to strike a balance. Either of these polarities can get you into trouble. There are three wonderful books that illustrate the problem of too few expectations (look under homework and go to books listed on this web site)

Don’t bury the other person in all your unmet childhood needs. Try to keep your list of expectations from erasing all the possibilities. If the man has a good heart, a good mind, keeps game playing to a minimum and has a decent relationship with his mother, what more could you want?

See the expectations section on this web site.

8. Isolating Behavior
If your new love interest maneuvers you into leaving all your friends behind instead of being interested in meeting them, be careful, something is amiss.

9. Self-destructiveness
It’s simple, if you smell it stay away. Often accompanies active addictions or dry drunks.

10. Emotional Sadism or Masochism
Examine your own masochism if you are in a relationship you know is unhealthy and you stay anyway. Those who enjoy being sadistic do not try to examine themselves, so they will not be on this web site.

11. Remember Nice is Not the Same as Good
Why do people find it so easy to confuse these two? The big bad wolf was really nice to Little Red Riding Hood.

12. Don’t Become “Enchanted”
The role of rescuer to a lost boy/girl can be enchanting. In reality you will come to feel like a mother or father instead of a lover. Consider the well-known relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. who addressed each other as mother and father. It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to suspect that their marriage was not warm and wonderful.

13. Serious Mental Illness
Everyone deserves love. Water seeks its own level in couples; don’t point the finger at someone else unless you are willing to look at yourself. Blame is so convenient. Rather than blaming, take responsibility. For example, if either of you requires medication, it is that person’s duty to explore this option. Spilling all over people you love is not a birthright. Remember the tragic life of Van Gogh. Imagine the burden Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, must have carried for Vincent’s entire life.

14. Survival Conclusions or Personal Myths
We all more or less grow up unfinished. We often fill in the gaps with ways to cope or ways to believe about life and relationships that are twisted up to fill in the gaps. Work to be more self-aware. One example might be having a mother or father who abandoned you growing up, which is not grounds for entitlement to drown your lover in neediness. Survival conclusions have an expiration date.

15. Cope Instead of Persuade
Reality really is your best friend. So you risked the question, “Do you love me?” and got the answer you didn’t want. Instead of insisting that the other person deny his or her reality just to reassure you falsely, deal with the truth. It is better to know than to go on pretending.

dating tips, dating advice, dating, single, singles

16. The Enmeshment of Codependency is not Love
Please read about codependency section under anxiety.

17. “Love me no matter what”
This is an extremely emotionally dangerous requirement. This is a set up for the drama triangle. This is a crazy thing to demand of another adult if you are 18 or over.

18. Mirroring the system
An example of this would be the person you date is a problem drinker and your alcohol intake increases when you are with them. It’s important to maintain your own boundaries, to recognize when you’ve lost track of your own values or sense of self in loving somebody else.

19. No Remorse
Someone without this quality is dangerous to be around. It’s someone who doesn’t have a heart.

20. Beware the Distancer
There are many who make an art of never really sharing their heart, who only feel safe buried in distance. Don’t make the mistake of believing you’ll be the one special enough to break through.

21. Bitterness
There is an ugliness to living with this that is suffocating.

22. Monologues
Do they consistently erase or discount your reality with long-winded monologues? When authentic dialogue and respectful disagreement are missing, that’s a problem.

23. Narcissism
There is a range to self centeredness. If you end up feeling that you are never on the stage but always in the audience that is a problem. Feeling invisible or erased means the relationship is too lopsided in favoring the other. Be sure to ask yourself; How easy was it for you to allow this to happen?

24. Lack of self awareness
In their 20′s someone can easily lack self awareness, after 30 that’s pretty unattractive. It is honest self awareness that helps us honestly face our dark sides & grow up.

25. They don’t respect your differences
You have to be able to be yourself. Don’t lose your identity. Pleasing someone else should not involve losing track of yourself.

In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article (Nov. 11, 2003) titled “Still Single? You’re Not Alone” by Joe Donatelli, he refers to a poll. Their survey reported 30% of all singles polled are not looking for a long-term relationship. The most important factor people were looking for was intelligence. Men valued looks most highly and women valued finances. In this article, the author suggests finding out, “Does this person make me happy?” which seems very sage advice.


Unfortunately our culture is so frantic that there is not enough time for single people to build friendships. The time it takes to build new friendships is undervalued. James Hillman, a wonderful man of ideas, calls friendship a calling. If you are single make friendship a priority and appreciate the time it takes to build one.

After you leave high school and college, the ease of friendships is gone and the work of reaching out and issuing invitations regardless of the wince of rejection is important. It helps friendship build if both of you can admit you are wrong. Friendship is one way for singles to practice finding character in relationships.

Single people need to remember that friendship is also a way to notice what makes relationships work. It is a place to practice greater courage and honesty: two ingredients that will stand the test of time. Real friendship should not translate into the American habit of running away because there is conflict.

As a single, if you have a major conflict, stay in the discomfort in order to practice & learn from the truth. Grow instead of disappearing from each other’s lives.

Learn from real friendships that have depth and character because of the opportunity for being authentic. Ask yourself: what is one unspoken thought you might risk sharing with a friend, one which might take your friendship to a deeper level.

A Balancing Act

Loving someone else is an act of courage. My daughter loved Fred Astaire-Ginger Rodgers movies as much as I did. I would caution her, “Remember, only in the movies do two people fall in love with each other the same amount at the same time. Most often in life one person loves the other person more, sometimes for months or even years. I loved my friend Marty more for a decade before she grew to appreciate me truly.”

It is important for single people to remember that giving too much love can be an imposition instead of seeing love as a gift to be appreciated.

Single people should arm themselves with Mona’s Law from Tales of the City (Tales of the City Series, V. 1) by Armistead Maupen. It is not possible to have a great job, a great apartment and a great boyfriend all at the same time. If two of the three or three of the three are missing you will score higher on the misery index. The wiser individual will know that sometimes you must act the opposite of how you feel to get what you want.

It is dangerous for single people to suffocate the one you love. If you clutch too tightly, you will lose them. Love is a dance between intimacy and independence. Both are required for authentic closeness.

You will chase a healthy person away if you insist that love is 24-7, so learn to back up. Single people must learn to be anchored within and not be emotionally dependent. Only infants should insist on the ongoing-ness of attention.


Neither of these extreme positions is what single people want in a healthy relationship. Every relationship can have some adoration and some being ignored with most time spent in the middle ground of the dance: learning about each other, caring, too busy to call every day, knowing, not knowing, asking and telling, etc.

Single people get anxious and want to push for a conclusion prematurely which is a mistake. Allow enough time for things to take shape.

Online Dating

On June 29, 2003 The New York Times declared on the front page: Online Dating Sheds Its Stigma as Online dating is now a staple of dating life, and is no longer considered disreputable.

According to the 2010 US Census there are 87 million singles in the U.S. and 40 million have tried online dating. The NYTimes on 10/06/11 reported that people 55 & older are the largest age group doing online dating. SilverSingles even offers customer service help to set up your profile. Online dating is an ordinary tool to use for the arduous task of finding someone.

TED Tallk

Wondering Why You’re Not Married?
Read this blogpost by Tracy McMilllan

Movies About Jane Austen Novels to Remind You to Find Someone with Character:

(or better yet make time to read the books)

Persuasion (2007) BBC TV version with Sally Hawkins.


Pride & Prejudice (2005) Starring Keira Knightly.


Emma (1996) Starring Gwyneth Paltrow & Ewan McGregor.


Mansfield Park (1995) Directed by Patricia Rozema.


Sense & Sensibility (1995) Starring Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet.


How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by John Van Epp

If I’m So Wonderful, Why am I Still Single? by Susan Page

Stop Wondering If You’ll Ever Meet Him: A Revolutionary Approach for Putting the Date Back into Dating by Cassaday & Cassady

Why Mr. Right Can’t Find You: The Surprising Answers that will Change your Life…and His by J.M. Kearnss

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari


• Read the 3 books listed under Women Who Choose Men Who are MIA on the Books Page.

• If you feel that you never get what you really want or need, ask yourself what you get out of hiding your needs? What is your part in not getting what you want?

• Go back to high school and list the men in your life. Begin with your father and ask yourself what you were lucky and unlucky to receive? What was the part you played?

• Then, with what you learned, examine your history for any patterns. Notice what was repeated, what you have yet to learn.

• Make a collage of you with three parts – past, present, and future. This is one way to get grounded in who you are without requiring a man to validate your existence.

• Wanting the comfort of a man is very reasonable. Validation is only reasonable if you are in high school. As Fritz Perls noted, “Growing up is honestly facing painful situations.”

• Be active. Volunteer, go to church, join organizations as a way of meeting people with the added benefit of making your world a more vital place.

• Watch all 9 movies about love listed on the movies page of this website.

Web sites to Expand your Pittsburgh Connections – as Ways to Meet New People. – Helps groups of people with shared interests plan events.

In November there is the No Baggage Ball – a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis – where you meet a new single person at each of 5 courses in a dinner. (412-321-4422)

Hash House Harriers – 6:30 PM Mondays beginning in May. Trail running & social group ages 21-60. (412-381-6709)

Singles Who Run Pittsburgh – 5:30 – 9 PM Tuesdays. The PG writer John Hayes organizes a gathering of runners and walkers for 2 – 6 miles then socialize. (412-474-7903)