Kathryn's Blog

The best way I’ve found yet to learn how to detect liars.

I watch Dr. Phil.  Actually, I’ve followed him since he was first on Oprah.  He’s certainly not perfect, and I don’t at all like some of the grand-standing he’s done.  But like Oprah, he has done a tremendous service to people everywhere in de-mystifying therapy and the getting-help process.

What I have learned inadvertently from watching Dr. Phil is how to detect liars better.  Phil is particularly good at seeing through crap and pinning liars to the wall.  And watching him at it, day after day, has been like a graduate seminar in how not to fall for the ways liars usually evade detection. 

The “best” of liars are entirely believable, and therefore the most dangerous.  In mental health terms, they are character disordered.  People who are character disordered are extremely hard for “the rest of us” to understand and detect.  The short definition of character disorder that works for me is that “normal neurotics,” folks like most of us, feel too much responsibility and too much guilt.  Those who are character disordered don’t feel enough responsibility or enough guilt.  The jails are full of character disordered folks: they swear “I didn’t do it.”  Higher functioning character disordered folks can do very well in professions like politics or sales.  We normal neurotics do not have a natural understanding of the character disordered personality.  We can’t understand how a person can do what a character disordered person does because it is so far out of our realm of gut-level understanding.  Character disordered folks don’t feel guilt, or at least, not enough to stop them.

You can watch a character disordered guy in action on a recent Dr. Phil show.  Fred Brito (the liar in question) is so good that it is worth buying the tape.  The show was titled “Faking it?” and appeared on December 31, 2007. Fred Brito is so slick that even his appearance on the show was an attempted con, to sell books he hasn’t really written.  Watch carefully to see a skilled liar in action, how he evades to avoid getting pinned down, tells partial truths to avoid telling the whole truth, denies a tiny part of a largely true accusation of misbehavior as if it was all false.  Phil does pretty well keeping up with Fred, but you can ell that Fred simply doesn’t get Phil’s side of the discussion, he is so character disordered and convinced of his view of the world.  Watch it. Watch it over and over. And if you can’t find this particular Dr. Phil show, then just Google “Fred Brito.” There’s plenty out there to see.

The show with Fred Brito is not the only example you can see by regularly watching. Phil has liars on almost every day, and they exhibit the same behaviors as Fred does, though usually less skillfully than Fred Brito.  As you watch show after show, you will find yourself starting to easily pick up on the liar’s techniques.

For dramatic contrast, stay tuned for the second guest on the show with Fred: Linda.  While Linda too is a con and deeply disturbed, she is not character disordered.  She knows what she does is wrong, feels guilt, and wants to change.  Far different than the way Fred presents.  As crazy as Linda’s behavior is, you can feel some empathy for her.

Not Fred.  People like Fred make the rest of us feel crazy.  They are master manipulators.  Watch Fred carefully to see how a facile liar puts one over.


What is a plagiarized profile and why should I care?

Most of us love the Internet or we wouldn’t be on it at all, right?  But there are some things about computers and the Net that make lying and plagiarizing oh-too-easy to resist for lots of folks.

Deciding to look for love online is highly anxiety-provoking.  While it feels safer that a real singles event or heading out to a bar, feeling vulnerable and exposed is part of the deal. Access to hundreds and thousands of singles also means there’s a feeling of competition for the best of the lot.  And it is natural to want to present oneself in the best possible light. A great photo, a snappy headline and appealing profile essay go a long way towards bringing in attention.

If a single is not a great writer, lots of other people are, and those others are putting their best efforts right out where anyone can find them, on Internet dating sites.  And once the individual finds an appealing paragraph, he or she doesn’t even have to retype, just use the copy and paste functions on their computer.  And they do.

Same with pictures.  Copy and paste, and there you go: Suddenly, you look just like a model.  Too pretty to be true?  Maybe he or she is.  Raise the red flags.

If you suspect that you are reading a profile that is a little too good to be true, try Googling some of the phrases or sentences.  But probably the best method is to keep your eyes open and your brain focused.  Actually READ lots of profiles on your dating site and watch for repeated phrases or paragraphs.  Read your first email exchanges closely to see if your correspondent can keep up the quality of writing he or she showed in their profile.  Ask questions about interests or accomplishments and watch for unanswered questions or evasions.

A directly plagiarized profile and picture is different than one where an individual has gotten help writing about themselves or had professional photos taken.  There is nothing wrong with hiring help to present yourself in the best possible light – if the result is still true.  Nothing wrong with getting a new outfit for a date or a new haircut and style, right?  But getting someone else to stand in for you?  Uh uh.

Plagiarizing parts or all of a profile is a form of stealing and lying.  The individual does not have permission to use another’s creative writing.  That’s the stealing part.  They are also presenting someone else’s self-portrait as their own.  That’s the lying part.  Again, as with other forms of lying, there is an attempt to get an advantage over the other and to deceive.

Remember that lying is a statement about the liar.  They are willing to deceive to gain an advantage.  And they feel as if the truth is not good enough.


Why should I tell the truth when everyone else online is lying?

First off, not everyone on dating sites is lying.  No one can say how many for sure, but some folks are totally honest and accurate.  My husband Drew and I both were.  We have copies of our profiles and the emails we exchanged before we met, and neither of us has detected that the other lied in any way.  In fact, Drew is so honest that I am careful about what I ask him.  Sometimes I don’t want to know if a dress really is becoming or not, I just want to be told I look nice.

But like everything else, singles on dating sites exhibit the whole range of lying behavior, from “white lies” to small distortions to deliberate lies to bald faced whoppers.  White lies are the inaccurate but kindly meant things we say not to hurt someone’s feelings, like “You look lovely,” even when a change of clothes is called for.  Distortions might be to call oneself “above average” in looks or intelligence when average or below might be more accurate statistically.  The individual may or may not be fully aware of the distortion.  Deliberate lies are planned and calculated to mislead and deceive the listener.  Bald faced whoppers tend towards the fantastical and occur when the person knowingly fabricates to mislead or control the listener.

The most important reason to tell the truth is because that is a statement about you: You are honest. Why should you present yourself as a liar, even if the reader can’t tell immediately? What would you think about somebody else who said they were two or three inches taller than they really are, or whose picture was ten years and fifty pounds out of date?  After you got angry about being fooled, you’d likely notice that the liar was trying to shore up his or her dismal self-assessment.  Do you want to be seen as pathetic?

Think about why you would be angry: You would feel tricked, wouldn’t you?  The liar has kept information from you that, if you had it, you might have made other decisions.  A lie seems mean.  Also, no one likes being tricked.  Being the victim of a trick feels humiliating, like the trickster thinks you are stupid enough to fall for the subterfuge.  You may also feel controlled, because indeed the trickster has lied for control or advantage over you.  Do you really want your date to be angry because you tricked him or her?

If you are honest, you’ll have less to remember and will be more able to concentrate and focus on your date.  You need to have as many of your faculties available as possible, because you need to be assessing if THEY are telling the truth, and whether or not you want to see them again. You’ll have plenty to do and do not need your lies and worries about detection to distract you.

The very best reason I have heard not to lie is that someone you know may see your profile on your dating site, know that you are lying, and tell others.  It is bad enough for only your date to find out you are a liar.  What if just about everyone you know knew, or everyone you worked with?  It’s happened.  Protect yourself.  Tell the truth.


Why do singles who are looking for love lie?

Basically, people lie to get some control in a situation.  They may feel out of control (not “good enough” to compete by telling the truth) or the situation may feel out of control (they feel vulnerable to the actions of others).  Lying gives the liar a feeling of advantage that they do not have by telling the truth.

It’s easy to see why looking for love on an Internet dating site would encourage lying.  First, putting oneself out in the dating market feels competitive, and naturally stirs up worries about not measuring up, not being “good enough.”  Folks understandably feel vulnerable to the actions of strangers, as well.  And Internet dating sites add other powerful ingredients to the mix: Anonymity (particularly if you don’t post a photo) and the lack of “real time and space” checks.  Basically, people lie because they think it gives them an advantage over others and because it is easy to deceive, at least in the beginning.  They lie because they can.

Just like in real life, you’ll run into people who are absolutely, strait-arrow honest about everything, then folks who maybe fudge about what they think are little things that won’t be noticed.  Bigger liars tell bigger lies, and some folks lie about absolutely everything, even when telling the truth would be much easier.

Lying on a dating site or in your communications is very short- sighted, though.  The purpose of signing up on a dating site is to form a romantic, perhaps life-long relationship.  The foundation for good marriages is trust, so by lying, one or both of the participants are setting the relationship up to fail before they even meet.

While lying in other Internet venues may be relatively harmless (like making up a completely new character on a gaming site, like an Avatar, that bears no relation at all to your real self), the implied goal of dating online is to eventually meet in the real world and build a real relationship.  The biggest problem with lying for daters is that the lies may and probably will be found out at some point.  Maybe on the first date.

If you are serious about finding true love through an Internet dating site, IT IS TO YOUR GREATEST ADVANTAGE to tell the truth. Even if the truth is painful, puts you to a disadvantage, or makes you feel vulnerable, truth-telling is the very best quality any single can put forward.  And truth-telling is free.  It doesn’t cost you a cent.  Whereas lying can be very, very expensive.


Linda gets some coaching magic

I got a message a couple of weeks ago from my client Linda. She had just resurfaced – we had talked a couple of times six months ago, and now work had settled down and she was ready to get going. I’d written a profile essay for Linda, and she got professional photos, but she reported that something seemed wrong. She could tell that over 40 men had viewed her profile, some very good looking candidates, but she had gotten no emails at all, not even a paltry wink. She asked me to take a look at her profile and see if I had any idea what might be going on.

Well. Did I.

Linda’s Match.com presentation was terrible! She still had old not so good photos mixed with the new ones, which were not all great either. The profile essay bore no resemblance to what I had written at all. Every sentence had a “but” in it, which erases everything that comes before. Negative.

I know Linda has a great sense of humor and is funny in person, but (here’s another “but”) that humor did not translate well in writing. It was self-depreciating, negative, and just plain silly. And this is a well-educated professional woman! Her professional photos were largely more attractive than the ones she had previously, and had far better backgrounds. But she had a professional one that had the same silly attempt-to-be-funny pose and expression as one of the earlier ones I had her get rid of.

Linda defended her work, even though it wasn’t getting the results she wanted. She said that the essay I wrote “didn’t sound like her,” even though it was accurate. I suggested that she completely change the presentation, including her screen name, use my essay, and take out all but the most attractive photos, then see what happens.

She did, over a weekend.

Silence. Then I got a call the following Wednesday. Not only was the new profile working much better, she had a date for the weekend!
Now is that Romance Coach magic or what?

Is your profile getting the results you want? Could you use my magic touch like Linda? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to set up a profile review and see the magic.


What do singles on dating sites lie about?

Probably a better question would be “What don’t they lie about?”  The anonymity that dating sites provide, combined with the anxiety about putting oneself “out there” as interested in love and the worry that no one will be interested back, provides a hot bed for stretching the truth.

Most common lies are about age, weight, height, and marital status. People lie about their age, height and weight because most dating sites ask for that information and then sort singles using the data they enter.  Since online daters with any experience at all on the dating sites know that individuals search for possible dates using age, height and weight parameters, they are easily tempted to shave off years and pounds (men AND women) and add vertical inches (men).  Particularly, if someone has just passed their decade birthday, it is all too tempting to bump themselves down, 41 becomes 37 or 38, 72 becomes 65.  Weight is hard to judge accurately by sight, so 5 or 10 pounds less may pass easily.  Height is another matter.  Just about everyone knows how tall they are and what taller or shorter than themselves looks like.  And most folks will look at shoes and heel height too.

Interestingly, many folks are able to justify what others would call lies.  Routinely I hear people say that they look and feel younger than their calendar age, so saying they are younger than they are does not feel like a lie.  Having the valued “positive self-esteem” can mean nurturing an inflated self-image.  Research finds that most people judge themselves as more intelligent and attractive than average, which is statistically impossible.  On the flip side, few women know that only 15% of men are six feet or more tall.  And few men may be aware that the average American woman wears a size 14.

Men seem to lie more about their marital status, whether they are looking to “fool around” on their wives or are in the process of leaving or divorcing.  Guesses have been as high as 30% of folks on dating sites are married.  I don’t hear much about that now.  Sites such as AshleyMadison.com have sprung up for married people who want to cheat, so perhaps those who were on the regular sites and lying have gone elsewhere.  But, men and women known that stating they are looking for a long-term relationship or marriage makes them more marketable, even when what they are looking for may be a one-night stand.

Another form of lying is by using an old picture or one that is not accurate.  Most men have learned what a glamor shot looks like and avoid them like the plague.  Guys will often be wearing hats in their photo, which of course can conceal the hair that’s not there.  I’ve heard many stories about people who have walked right by their prospective sweetheart on the first date because they looked so different from their photo.

Lying about anything to a prospective partner is not a good idea at all.  You are talking about a possible mate for life here, and lying, especially about easily checked facts, is just plain stupid.  Getting a tiny edge by lying about age or height and then being found out to be a liar sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it?


The George Constanza Rule

Long time singles often get very patterned in their behavior which only serves to keep them single. One of my clients – a VERY long term single—told me that he was trying the George Constanza rule to try to break free of some of his old habits. Just in case you have not already made the connection, George Constanza was one of the main characters on the old Jerry Seinfeld Show. George was a loser and knew it. Here’s a youtube video of George discovering the George Constanza rule and trying it out:

And then on a date:

—a little long, but watch it to see what “George” says about guys who followed the advice.

What if you decided to use the George Constanza rule? What might you do that is the opposite of what you usually do? What else could you apply the George Constanza rule to?


What does lying say about the liar?

Catching a person in a lie means they are a liar.  No way around it.

The level of the lie makes a difference, of course.  “White lies” are probably excusable.  White lies are the social niceties we say when the truth would bring hurt or pain.  White lies are about kindness, preserving the feelings of the listener.  In an Internet dating situation, it could be responding to a first email with “Thanks for the compliment of your interest in me.  I don’t see a match here, but I certainly wish you luck in your search.”  When you are not complimented at all, and you wouldn’t wish the poor sap on your worst enemy.  Someone who insists on truth-telling at this level can make everyday life a real pain.

Small distortions are the inch or two taller, the 5 to 10 pounds lighter, or the somewhat-fitter-than-reality.  These kind of lies tend not to be perceived readily by the teller.  Think of it as how we wished we were, or maybe how we really are on our best days.  They are not meant to be harmful to the receiver and are generally not perceived to be malicious.  They are a statement about the teller, though, that how he or she presents them self, rather than being strictly factual, is somewhat distorted.  Depending on how large the distortion is, the perpetrator can seem optimistic, a bit deluded, or pathetic.

Deliberate lies are those the teller fabricates to mislead the listener and gain an advantage.  This kind of lying is knowing and conscious: The liar is fully aware of the lie and tells it anyway.  The most dramatic consequences are that lying in this way definitely makes the liar out as devious and not truthful.  For the recipient, the lying deprives them of information they would want to know to aid in their decision-making process.  Just about everyone would agree that this form of lying is malicious and aimed at creating an advantage for the liar and deceiving the recipient.  In Internet dating situations, this kind of lie can be about age (no one ever states they are older than their factual age—if they are over 21, that is), marital status, living situation, just about anything about the individual of which he or she is ashamed or feels at a disadvantage with the truth.  Deliberate liars usually think they can get away with the lie. The lies tend to be believable, as opposed to bald faced lies or small distortions.

Bald faced whoppers actually are easier to detect that deliberate lies.  Whoppers usually have a “too good (or fantastic) to be true” element.  Hang around a bald faced liar long enough and you start having questions.  Bald faced liars are slippery for good reason: They don’t want you to see the real person behind the lies.  And the lying can be addictive.  These people will lie even when the truth is easier.  Often, these folks believe their own lies and can be hard to detect by what we normally think of as signs of lying.  Except for the content of the lie, their behavior may be completely believable.

Another kind of lie is particularly insidious because the liar actually does nothing at all: He or she simply doesn’t tell you something you would want to know: These are lies of omission. While technically the liar hasn’t lied because they have not said anything, their withholding of information is definitely intentional, misleading, and deceptive.  If caught, they will tend to say, “Well, you never asked,” or “I didn’t think it was important.”  Yet they are well aware that depriving you of the information puts them to an advantage.


How can I protect myself from scammers?

While you are looking:

Don’t advertise that you are sad and lonely.  Don’t brag about how well-off you are.
Choose a well-run, well-known dating site that works to protect you.  I always recommend Match.com. 
Do not broadcast sexuality.  Screen names and profiles that hint at sex may signal that you can be manipulated.  People who have sex foremost in their minds tend not to use as much judgment.
Do not use any versions of your name in your screen name.  Avoid identifying information in your profile.
A good dating site will help you protect your anonymity, even providing private phone hook ups.
Be suspicious of how the person writes and/or speaks.  Does he/she write like a non-native English speaker? Do they have a strong non-USA accent?  Do they claim to be American but temporarily out of the country?  Be particularly watchful for Nigeria – many scams have Nigerian connections.
Report any questionable behavior and/or requests for money to the dating site.
Set yourself up with an anonymous email address. 
Immediately stop a correspondence if you feel unsure, unsafe or threatened
Block communication to people who abuse the online dating system and report them to the dating site.  Abuse includes married people who pose as single or of legal age when they are not, who send harassing or offensive emails, who behave badly after meeting in person, who may be criminals or behave suspiciously, those who fake profiles, who solicit and/or ask for money.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Once you have met someone online:

It’s okay to ask and even snoop.  It’s your responsibility to yourself.  This is your life we are talking about.
  Get as many details as possible before you meet in real time and space.  This is the time to ask questions.  And asking now will make the first date feel less like an interview.
Consider a web cam or Skype “first date.”  Web cams don’t lie.
Ask to meet their family and friends.
Ask and verify where they went to school and where they work.
Ask for a background check and offer to have one done on you, too, for their benefit.  But background checks only help if you are sure that you have their right identifying information in the first place.  So don’t put all your trust in a “clean” check.
When you ask questions, be sure to notice if your online date answers.  Are they vague, roundabout, or evasive?  Do they answer your questions by questioning you?
Do some looking around yourself.  Google your date’s name as soon as you know it. 
Get a “dating buddy.”  Find somebody who is single and looking like you are and share the details of your correspondences.  A fresh pair of eyes who is not involved in the romance might see things you don’t. 
Be suspicious of too quick protestations of undying love and/or marriage proposals.
Remember the online dater’s Golden Rule: Never, never, never give money to someone you essentially don’t know.


How do scammers work on singles?

Scammers scam singles in predictable ways. 

1.  The scammer(s) approaches YOU first, with a good-looking facade and an almost unbelievable offer.

2.  We are vulnerable in some way to the offer.  For instance, a story like “I am an engineer [or a Russian beauty], I saw your picture, and I think you are wonderful,” with a handsome/gorgeous photo of him/her attached, touches a soft spot, even if you are way older/less goregous than the writer, clearly not a match, and ought to know better.  The preposterousness of the offer is characteristic.

3.  They figure out and tell us what we want to hear.  By the bucket full.

4.  When they think you are hooked, they’ll start some cautious, low level hints about the need for money.  Thy have incredibly bad luck, one crisis after another that money can fix.  Sometimes, it’s that they are caught short in Nigeria and need you to cash a money order.  Or they have to have an operation and don’t have the money.  Or they want desperately to fly in to meet you but need money to buy the ticket.

5.  If you do send money, you will continue to hear whatever the scammer thinks is working, but they will NEVER follow through on what they seem to be promising: To love you forever, marry, live happily with you, whatever.  Essentially, you are paying them to tell you what you want to hear.  And if you stop paying, they’ll stop telling.

6.  Here’s how to tell if they are more interested in you than the money: Make it absolutely clear that you do not have or will not send any money whatsoever, and stick to it.  Expect your correspondent to up the ante and put more pressure on you to cough up the dough.  But don’t.

7.  If they stick around and no longer put pressure on you for money or elicit it in any way, MAYBE they are sincere.  But my guess is that they will simply work to get you more deeply hooked in and then try again.

None of us want to be made fools of in our love searches, yet unfortunately there are folks out there who are all too willing to take advantage of our vulnerabilities.  While all of us looking for love want something for ourselves in the bargain, most of us understand that you give to get, and that the best kind of love relationship is highly reciprocal, with both partners giving (and therefore getting) generously.  Those who make us feel foolish are pretty much on the take and not the give.  They’ll say or do whatever it takes to get what they want.

Primarily, some people will want to get either money or sex from you, or both.  Their behavior is solely directed at what they want, and if they get an inkling that you will not give either easily, they won’t be able to get away fast enough.


I have the money, why shouldn’t I send it?

If your Internet Sweetie starts asking you for money, what do you know right off the bat?  That there is some kind of problem here with their ability to manage money, at the very least.  Why are they having to ask you, a stranger, to help them financially? 

People tell you about themselves constantly, you just have to be willing to listen.  When you are looking for love, you need to have your antennae tuned up and working, paying attention to every detail your prospective partner puts forth and following up on anything that is questionable.  Them asking you for money is VERY questionable.  And not just because you are a stranger.

Here is someone you essentially don’t know who has approached you first and is asking you for money, right?  If that happened on the street, you’d think they were a beggar or a con, correct?  This person has identified you as someone who has something they want (money) and they are setting about to get it. 

If this person is willing to ask strangers for money, then they either are terrible at managing their own money (getting and keeping it legally) or have no personal ethics (it’s okay to manipulate perfect strangers to give you money for nothing) or most likely, both.  That’s a big, interesting piece of information.  Think about it: You are looking for a mate to share your life with.  Do you really want someone who can’t manage or earn money and manipulate strangers to get it?  What kind of Prince or Princess Charming is that?

Let’s look at your end of the deal: By sending money to someone you have never met, you are essentially paying them to say nice things about you, tell you what you want (or ache) to hear.  Want to test that out?  Refuse to send money, no matter how desperate the pleas and see how long they keep writing/saying those sweet nothings that are now costing you a pretty penny or two.

Less commonly but not unheard of, you may meet your scammer in real time and space.  They may look you in the eye, kiss you and more, and then start the scam.  The more deeply that they can get you involved, the more likely they will be able to get you to part from your money.  Typically, some kind of crisis or business deal will come up, they will plead that they have the money, just not the access to it “right now,” the money is tied up somewhere, can you lend some?  If you refuse, they may increase the pressure, offering something you really want (like marriage), or pull back until you are frantic with worry.  These techniques are also used by scammers who you will never meet in real time or space, but the strategies are more effective in the flesh, because sexual involvement makes your investment more intense and you more manipulatable.

The biggest reason not to give money is that you will never know if you are loved for you or your wallet if you do.  Essentially paying someone to be intimate with you is just a baby step from prostitution.  Is that what you really want?  Or shouldn’t you be doing what you can to make yourself marketable as a mate without your paying being part of the equation?


Is my Sweetheart a scammer?

Here are the most blatant indicators of a scam artist: 1. They contact you first;  2.  They have a gorgeous photo;  3.  They have incredibly bad luck that only your money can fix;  4.  Often they will claim to be an American, but write English poorly and/or speak with a strong foreign accent, and may have Nigerian connections.

A scammer will be reluctant to give you too much detail.  Give yourself permission to ask lots of questions.  In particular, ask your potential Sweetie about his/her background and listen for the answers.  If he/she avoids the questions or gives vague answers, follow up: Ask the question again, and then ask “Why aren’t you answering my question?” if the evasions continue.  Scams often originate outside of the USA.  If he/she says he grew up in Buffalo, Google Buffalo, find out some details, and then ask some questions to see what his/her knowledge of Buffalo really is.

Watch and listen for inconsistencies.  Says she/he went to college?  Where?  Again, Google the school, find out some things about it that anyone who attended there should know, and then ask questions. Often scammers pump up their credentials or downright fabricate them. Does he/she give you “facts” that you can check out?  Where does he/she work?  Call the workplace and asked to be connected.  STAY ON THE PHONE and see if your real Sweetie answers. 

Are there gaps in his/her personal “resume” that are unexplained?  Ask about family and his/her relationship to them.  Here’s the magic one: Ask him/her to write a history of their own intimate relationships.  How they handle the question is as important as what they write.  Do they resist doing the exercise, or do they take it seriously?

Do they avoid connecting you to realities in their own life?  Do you EVER talk to or meet any of their friends or family?  Are you sure that these folks ARE really friends or family?  Does your Sweetheart avoid leaving you alone with others?

Does he/she avow love and push for marriage very fast, maybe even before you have met? A fast proposal suggests they are up to something.  Manipulating you, for instance.

How clear is she/he about his/her financial situation?  Do they brag about how much they are worth, or claim to be “between jobs” or starting a new business?  The big one, a huge flappy red banner: Do they ever ask you for money?  Ask for facts: Where are his/her investments?  How does he/she plan financially?  If you are starting to talk seriously about the long term, ask to see income tax returns and bank account statements.  No, it’s not too intrusive.  We are talking about your future.

Does he/she lie about their age?  Yes, many people shave off a few years to make it into the next decade lower and your search.  But any kind of lying should be a red flag.  And your Sweetie may be changing his birthdate so that you (or the courts) can’t trace him/or.  Also beware of more than one social security number.  Falsifying your age or social security number can get you into big trouble, along with signaling nefarious activity and intent.


What would make me vulnerable to a scam?

The most likely factor that makes you a target for scammers is that they think you have something worth going after.  Usually, that means money – you have it or can be persuaded to get it.  You don’t have to have much, just the ability to get it and the willingness to give it away.

The attempt to swindle somebody is the common denominator of a scam.  In most Internet dating scams, you’ll never actually meet the scammer.  The whole scenario will be conducted by email and perhaps phone.  Promises made to meet are always avoided, used primarily to keep you involved and to manipulate you for money, to buy a mythical plane ticket, for example.

Sometimes, the scam will involve what feels more like a traditional courtship, where you meet and get physically involved with the scammer.  They may even press to get married.  But the goal is always to get your money.  They give you what you want (romance, attention) so that you’ll give them what they want (money). These scammers may get an extra thrill out of the power of the romantic chase, and of course, they get sex and your adoration.

You have to be willing to be scammed.  You are led into believing that you will get what you want – love—for just a little financial help.  You buy into the lies and manipulations, no matter how ridiculous they are, because a big part of you wants to hear and believe the sweetness they infer.  If you are a rather ordinary single, middle-aged or older, why would some handsome dude or nubile nymphet be interested in you?  Most likely, FOR YOUR MONEY.  Your loneliness or hunger for romantic attention can easily dupe your rationality. 

You are willing to suspend disbelief and fall for grand gestures and protestations of true love from someone you have never met or know in isolation and for a very short time.  Flowers and gifts may have been paid for with a stolen credit card.  Anyone can propose marriage: See quick proposals as an attempt to get control, and fast.

You do not set a firm limit on giving money.  Usually these manipulations start early and small.  Red flags should go up immediately with even the smallest financial requests or innuendos of monetary distress.  Never, never, never send or give money to someone you have never met or barely know.

Certain life realities contribute to scam susceptibility:  1. People who are elderly or in other circumstances that make them lonely; 2. Separated, recently divorced or widowed men and women;  3.  People who are overweight;  3.  Singles who are disabled or with a serious health condition like AIDS or MS;  4.  People who are looking for sex.  Scammers are aware of these vulnerabilities and may actively seed out folks in these groups.  An Internet dating site for large people, for instance, or a disabled dating site, could prove easy pickings for a sophisticated scammer.


Joe’s Lesson on Color

Like many singles, Joe worries that he is not attractive enough. I actually met Joe in person when I traveled to California last fall. He is not a bad looking guy at all, but tends to present himself in ways that make him invisible. He certainly doesn’t attract women. I asked him to describe how he usually dressed, and he wrote a detailed description. Here is my response:

Good work. That gives me a picture beyond that one time we met. I agree, that shirt you had on was not the best.

I think you would look better in solid colors. I’d like to suggest bright colors, but that is a guess. Ideally you would have your “colors done” by a professional. Here’s from a photographer in your area (Joe lives in San Diego):

Attention: Before getting headshots, I highly recommend getting your colors done. Here are 2 places I know of that provide this service.

San Diego: Color Me Special - Winter, Autumn, Summer, Spring? Find out what colors bring out the best in you. Contact Denise Welsh at to schedule an appointment.

I’ve gone with men to have this done. While a bit awkward, since it is usually done in a salon with lots of women around, the results are very helpful and keep you from making purchasing mistakes when buying clothes. It could be valuable for you too in that men rarely allow themselves this kind of personal attention.

Here are two other resources I found online:


Get over that these are written for women—they buy the books.

Even though this will feel a bit weird, it’s about raising your confidence in how you look, as well as making you more attractive to women (and attracting more attention from them). I’ll bet your anxiety just shot up. When you dress in colors that are becoming to you, people notice and comment, though they may not realize what spurs the comments. Like “Have you lost weight? Have you been on vacation? You look great!” You may already have a bit of sense about what looks good, like the blue shirt you told me about, because people tell you.

Once you get a better feel for the colors that look good, take a look at your closet and see what fits those colors. Think about adding some inexpensive shirts to try what works for you: Here’s a resource I found.

Scroll down the site and look at those colors! And the prices are peanuts. I am going to order my husband some. He is a “winter” (dark—though graying—hair, brown eyes, olive skin) and looks great in royal blue, sapphire, black, Irish green, jade dome, and even pink like heliconia. He really resisted the pinks (I bought him a polo shirt that he wouldn’t wear for years), but when he wore it and got lots of compliments, it went to the top of the pile. Now he wears it when he really wants to have fun. He also says he wears pink when he has meetings with women, because they always noticed and comment. He works with a lot of women. Drew has become more interested in color over the years. He does stained glass for fun, and color is a major part of that.

(I ordered 10 shirts for Drew—total cost $53 including postage—and they came THE NEXT DAY, so you get to see. Aren’t they gorgeous?)


What colors on that list of shirts do you think would look good on you?


Joe takes a big step forward!

My client Joe is pretty typical of men that I work with: in his late 40’s, he has been single for a long time and has developed behavior patterns that keep him that way. Like other guys, he has had difficulty seeing the need to change what he does, even though the definition of crazy is doing the same damned thing over and over and expecting different results. But Joe is motivated, even though hard-headed, so this note from him yesterday was pretty earth-shattering:

Things to do;

Get my colors done. It doesn’t sound horrible and while it will be out of my normal patterns I am sure I can handle it.
I am sure that my $8 haircuts aren’t helping me much so I am thinking a change there wouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately I usually go 3 months between visits so it will take a bit of time before I have something that they can work with.
Put together a wardrobe that fits my colors.
Have a professional photographer take some shots.

Thanks for the link for the shirts I am sure that will come in handy.

Now, this email was #38 in a chain of notes we have been sending back and forth since July. We have found that Joe does better with emailed coaching than phone work. He has more time to think about the lessons and respond. This represents a huge step for Joe. He is stubborn, but I am persistent.

Joe’s email was in response to the previous coaching email, which you can read and learn from too. See my next blog posting “Joe’s lesson on color.”


Three notes, three stories

I just want to share with you some emails that came in yesterday. I do so love getting updates, news, and just plain “thank you’s.” They are too good not to share:

This is from one of the folks who kindly posted reviews on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Greetings! I have finally posted my review on Amazon. Sorry I took so long.  I want to thank you so much for the free book. Lots of luck making your millions! I don’t need your services of free time with you on the phone because I am just so happy to just get the gift of your book. Also, I wanted to help you in any way I could to show you how I appreciate you newsletters and your workshops over the years. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

Aw. Isn’t that lovely? I adore hearing what an impact I have had on people’s lives.

This was from a woman I’ll call Lee. She’s been seeing Rob for almost two years. He’s in his 50’s and NEVER had a relationship, plus is living with and taking care of his mother. So the going has been very slow:

I was having dinner with Rob tonight; we were talking about places where we’d like to travel.  I said that some places would be nice to go with another couple.  He then asked me if I had ever been to London, England.  I said yes.  He said that that was the only trip he didn’t take with his parents:  when they asked him to go to London with them, he said no, that he wanted to save it for his honeymoon.  He had always thought of London as a place where honeymooners went.  I was shocked.  Are you?  Lee

That was such a shock, such an uncharacteristic thing for Rob to say, that I wrote back:

Well you are going to have to pick me up off the floor. That was the second “Knock me down” shock that I had had in one day. Actually the third, but those are another story.

Back from Lee: You’re too funny, Kathryn!

Lee has worked SO HARD to change her patterns and adjust to Rob’s speed and personality. Sounds to me like the work is paying off.

And last is a short note from Becca:

Things with Nate are good. Julie is good. We are starting our second year sharing the house (him on 2nd floor, me and Julie on first). It seems to work well for us!

Becca and I first talked almost five years ago. She met Nate fairly quickly, but their courtship and growing relationship has had bumps. Becca asks to talk to me now and then when a bump seems really rugged. I think the match is a good one, though the transitions have been hard, and Becca has done very well. and I do like their solution for getting under the same roof, though on different floors!


Antoher one gets married!

I got a call yesterday from a client I hadn’t heard from for a couple of months—the reason? He was getting married! He wanted to “just gossip” and fill me in on the happenings, which I was more than happy to hear. The really big news, beyond the wedding, was that he was moving, more that 1000 miles, to where his now-wife owns a house and just got a new job. Since he has neither a house or a job, this made perfect sense, but frankly, if I hadn’t been sitting, I would have fallen onto the floor.

This guy has come a LONG WAY. When we first starting working together, he was late 30’s, unempoyed, living with his parents, and thousands of dollars in debt. He was aching to be married, but understandably, had a lot of gound to cover to make himself marketable. Additionally, his fantasy was to live with a new wife and family essentially next door to his parents. I said “You need a job. You need to pay down your debt. And you need your own place to live.” Yeow. And I suggested that he would need to take a prospective spouse’s desires into consideration about where they would live.

He got a job. He started paying down the debt. He moved out of his parents’ home, sort of: the pressure from them and the ease of being taken care of were pretty seductive. He found a Sweetheart, courted her, and now they are married. But the news of the move was astounding.

He said “It makes sense, and I think it will be good for us to have some distance from my family.” Ya think? Here’s a story he told me that illustrated the need: He wrote a stack of thank you notes for wedding gifts, one of which was from me, including a heartfelt note about how he couldn’t have done it without my help. In a rush, he handed the unsealed and unstamped cards to his mother and asked her to mail them. What did she do? She opened and read them all! “Who’s this Kathryn Lord person?” she asked.

Do you think 1000 miles is enough? Let’s hope so.

Anyway, just think: if this fella could do it, so can YOU!


The reviews keep on coming—“Find a Sweetheart Soon” gets raves!

I’ve already posted the first of the reviews that are now on the for my book “Find a Sweetheart Soon!” and two more got put up in the last week. I am so THRILLED to see readers’ reactions! Before rewritting “Find a Sweetheart Soon!” over this past few months, I sold the book only through my website, and as a result missed out on the reviews that Amazon encourages. I LOVE reading Amazon reviews and always look at them when I am buying something. What consumers actually write says so much more about the product than the description, which is written by the publisher, a press agent, or the author. See here the latest, and if you have read “Find a Sweetheart Soon!” and write your own review!  Yea!

Naomi has been a fan for awhile, and it shows:

READY, SET, GO—NO EXCUSES!!!What fun! Remember how exciting it was to do arts and crafts when you were little? Well, you will feel like a kid again putting together you very own “Love Trip Planner.” Kathryn Lord guides and directs singles to be their very best and helps to improve their quality of life and their chances of meeting a mate. You feel her love coming through each page. The book is full of thoughtful information for critical introspection. Each chapter builds upon the others through a series of practical exercises. And as a bonus, at the end of the book, you will laugh out loud when you read “165 ways to BLEEP your lover!” You will shake your head in agreement that you have probably used most of the entertaining reasons “not to” yourself at one time or another. What the book really offers, however, is a creative way to get to the heart of what is holding singles back from moving forward, and creating the life they want. So, are you ready to let go of your single status? With this book you will find that there really are no excuses anymore for anybody looking to find their true love. Get the book, do the exercises, get results!!

Ginger’s words mean a lot. She clearly knows what’s out there in terms of help for singles, and her words of praise tell me that I am on the right track.

One of the best guides I’ve readI have read just about every book out there on dating, especially internet dating, and this is one of the very best and most useful. Not only am I an internet dater, I’m also a writer and wrote an article about getting back into dating in your 50s. For the article I surveyed the millions of books out there on the subject and Kathryn’s is really one of the top ones on how to actually get yourself back out there, especially on the internet. One of the things I like the best about it is the realistic approach it takes. So many of these books are “pie in the sky” idealistic ones that are written for 20 year olds or raving beauties or people who are so highly driven/charged that it’s really not too hard for them to work it. For me, as the 50-something custodial mother of teens who has been somewhat badly burned by my divorce, it takes a pretty strong dose of support to get me past the hurdles and back on the scene. Kathryn’s book provides this—and all the jolly, fun parts too, like suggestions on making a “map” of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I heartily endorse this book!

Thanks, Ginger and Naomi!


Find a Sweetheart Soon on Amazon!

The reviews have started for “Find a Sweetheart Soon!” And they are GREAT!

Wow oh wow, I am so THANKFUL for these lovely reviews, for all of you taking the time to request a book, then read and write. And what I particularly like from what these first two reviews say is that is realistic and practical, descriptors that I hear about me all the time. For sure, I do not want to be unrealistic and impractical. How would that help you, right? So here are the first two, .

This first review was unprompted by me at all, was posted on September 1:

It is a great step by step instruction manual. Discover how to ‘sharpen’ the image you present to the opposite sex & how to eliminate or lessen the obstacles that prevent you from returning to the dating field. Lots of practical advice. I enjoyed the ‘homework’ that helped me decide on what I wanted in my life & how to get it!

(The reviewer Marcy titled the book “Very practical” and gave it four stars.)

Here’s the second one:

I have read just about every book out there on dating, especially internet dating, and this is one of the very best and most useful. Not only am I an internet dater, I’m also a writer and wrote an article about getting back into dating in your 50s. For the article I surveyed the millions of books out there on the subject and Kathryn’s is really one of the top ones on how to actually get yourself back out there, especially on the internet. One of the things I like the best about it is the realistic approach it takes. So many of these books are “pie in the sky” idealistic ones that are written for 20 year olds or raving beauties or people who are so highly driven/charged that it’s really not too hard for them to work it. For me, as the 50-something custodial mother of teens who has been somewhat badly burned by my divorce, it takes a pretty strong dose of support to get me past the hurdles and back on the scene. Kathryn’s book provides this—and all the jolly, fun parts too, like suggestions on making a “map” of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I heartily endorse this book!

(Ginger’s review is titled “One of the best guides I’ve read” and she gave it five stars! Ginger has been a loyal fan for years and has been generous with her advice and feedback on my writing.)


The Sigh, with a P. S. Wow wow!

After warning Kevin that is a book for women getting ready to date, I sent him the copy he requested. It does seem that Kevin read the book and thoroughly combed through my blog, which any reader knows is CRAMMED with free information about just about anything related to an older single’s search for love. Here’s part of Kevin’s email back:

Unfortunately after reading your book and blogs nothing you have said has spoken directly to my heart. Specifically you are going to tell me (SAQ #10) that as a “older man” that I have unrealistic expectations seeking out a younger women. I also have either tried or are still trying many other online dating sites (Christian or “mainstream”) with either no response or a much lower class of women then I am looking for. As far as going to churches, in every case the women I asked out either was already in a relationship or was moving away and did not want to do “long distance”. Most of the rest of the women including most women “my age” (I am 38) I do not find attractive. I believe I deserve better and don’t feel that unless I get it that I would be happy in a relationship anyway.

And my response:

Hmmm. That’s an interesting reaction, Kevin. It’s got me thinking and I am going to write an article on what you wrote for the next *eMAIL to eMATE* that will come out today or tomorrow. Unfortunately, there is often a big discrepancy between what people want, are attracted to, and what they think they deserve, and then what they can actually GET.  Sounds like you are in that place. Your choices are to improve yourself and what you have to offer enough so that what you have to offer you can trade for what you want, or adjust what you want to what you can get.  There is no “magic site” or matchmaker who can do that for you.

Kevin is complaining about one of the biggest mistakes that I see singles making in their search for love: overestimating their value on the mate market, then becoming frustrated as a result. Then these folks cling to what they want, are attracted to, and think they deserve, and go on an odessy to find the magic dating site that will give them what they are looking for.

I get the same question over and over: “What’s the best dating site for me?” News flash: There is no such site. Pick the site which most clearly aims at what you are trying to achieve, then work it and accept the results. Readers know that my favorite is Match.com: Really big, really clean, really successful. And the same complaint: “Why can’t I find quality (attractive, high class, well-educated, wealthy, tall, skinny, etc., etc.) men/women?” News flash: There are lots of people with some of those qualities, very rarely ones with all of those qualities, and why would they be interested in you?

So given Kevin’s critique, and even though he had read SAQ #10. How do I figure out what my “market” is?, it would be helpful to him and everyone else to have a bit of a refresher. Plus, SAQ #9 How realistic should I be about what I am looking for? is the logical lead in to SAQ #10.

P. S.  Wow wow! Look what I just got from Kevin:

You are correct. And my choice is to “upgrade myself” to get what I really want. I will not accept a relationship that in the short or long run won’t make my happy. Their is no “magic” in life, just hard work!!

Now, there is practical and realistic. Congratulations, Kevin! Good work.


Get the dirt, one way or another

In SAQ #11 How will I know if he/she is really free (not married)? I wrote suggestions on what to look for and how to look, including this one: 6. Use the Internet. Do a Google search on his or her name. Just about everyone can now be found one way or another onli. Whitepages.com is a good place to start. PeopleFinders.com found me for free, listed five previous places I had live (all correct except for one), and listed my husband as a relative. A sharp-eyed reader wrote right back with an additional resource—and a good story, printed below with her permission:

Another good search engine for finding people is Dogpile. Since it doesn’t appear to have so many paid advertisements ranking higher in results, it turns up more info. A friend of mine found an old boyfriend of hers from years ago, by searching him on Dogpile. Oddly enough: he now lives in the town where she grew up, and she lives now in the town where he grew up! (in different states) Both of them are divorced now, with teenaged kids. She’s thrilled to have found him, even if she’s not sure how they will manage to get back together, living in 2 different states. She was laid off last year, and is looking for a job. It would be hard for either of them to move, but who knows??? Anything can happen!

And for something completely different: If you melt when you hear a French accent, yearn to live in France, and love the idea of growing your own food, have I got resources for you, or what? In today’s New York Times is “With Help Online, French Farmers Now Playing the Field.” Believe it or not, I almost missed reading it, thinking the article was about farming. It’s about the French equivalents of Farmersonly.com, but with, how do you say? Je ne sais quoi (that’s about the limit of my French). Ladies, and guys, too, since some of the farmers are women, it might pay to read the article and follow up on some of the dating sites listed.


SAQ #12: Why should I hire a romance coach?

Well, of course that is a nutty question to ask a Romance Coach, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why I seldom hear it. And here’s the short answer: Hiring a Romance Coach will help you have better results – increase your chances of finding the best partner possible. Who wouldn’t want the very best results they could get? You are looking for a person with whom to spend the rest of your life.

Let’s say you want to learn a new skill like playing tennis, or the piano. While we all know that you can go out and buy a piano or tennis racquet and even learn how to plunk out a few tunes or have a fun game or two, we also accept that the better you want to be at something, the more likely it is that you are going to need help to get there. That’s why people hire piano teachers and tennis coaches. They help you get better results.

Since finding love has seemed a private venture, unless family or friends took charge, professional help finding love is a relatively new consideration. But as more and more adults have found themselves single and Internet dating sites have opened up a world of opportunity (and risk), going unaided into the fray seems less and less like a good idea.

I can help you present yourself more attractively, get ready to date so that you will feel confident and relaxed, learn the ropes of Internet dating and dating sites so that you can pick the best one for you and use it to your best advantage, screen potential dates as well as prospect for the hidden gems you might have missed. I can help you write the best first emails, get more emails back, and then build to your first meetings. Clients well into courtship and even marriage keep in touch and occasionally ask to talk on the phone, because they know of my expertise in relationships as well as meetings and courtship.

Now, you tell me: why would you NOT hire a Romance Coach? Me, for instance.  Doesn’t it seem sort of nutty not to?


SAQ #11. How will I know if he/she is really free (not married)?

Well, you won’t, at least at the first contact and/or early on in your Sweetheart negotiations.  But don’t accept at face value what your correspondent says about marital status, or about anything else, for that matter. Keep your lie detector antennae switched on, at least until you have done some fact checking. Remember, just about anyone you meet online is a stranger, and the Internet makes it very easy for one to invent or reinvent themselves over and over.

On the other hand, I hear less and less about married folks posing as single and cruising the main line dating sites. It used to be more of a problem (“used to be” in the dark ages of Internet dating 10 or more years ago). But the creation of sites specifically for married folks wanting to fool around (AshleyMadision.com is the best known – where there is a need, a service will spring up) has given those folks wanting to cheat a place to go. That leaves the cads for whom fooling an unsuspecting single is part of the fun – and they tend to be a lot more clever at hiding their marital status.  I’ve written a lot about a kind of character I call “The Cyber Lothario,” and I’ve reprinted my article in #5 below about these fellas.  One of my clients got taken in by just such a character, though not while she was working with me. Actually, that’s a very good reason to hire me: I have a fabulous BS detector.

But, just in case, here are some guidelines:

1.  If you KNOW they are married, don’t do it. Sometimes they tell you (they are separated, getting a divorce, living in the same house but in different bedrooms, staying together until the kids get out of the house), but most often they don’t. Though you suspect it.

2.  Pay attention to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, check it out. Ask questions, and pay attention to HOW they answer as well as what they say. Are they outraged that you would ask? Most people who are honestly looking for love online understand the importance of checking for honesty and will understand and answer questions. Do they evade or give mushy answers? It takes two for deception, one to lie, the other one to be willing to be fooled.

3.  Watch for the obvious: Wedding ring? Tan line or indentation where a ring should be? Refusing to give out a home address or phone number? Insists on calling you and does not allow you to call him/her? Only available at odd times, never on weekends or holidays?

4.  Keep things public. Follow the guidelines that have developed for Internet daters, all of whom are meeting strangers just like you are. Meet in a public place. If your “date” resists being seen by others or avoids introducing you to friends, family, or his/her workplace, then he or she is hiding you, and likely hiding something FROM you.

5.  Ground the budding relationship in reality. Ask about details, like workplace, home address, family and friends. Ask to meet important others. Call the individual at his/her stated workplace. Be sure to see where he/she lives. Isolation from the real world is romantic, but also breeds fantasy and vulnerability.

6.  Use the Internet. Do a Google search on his or her name. Just about everyone can now be found one way or another online. Whitepages.com is a good place to start. PeopleFinders.com found me for free, listed five previous places I had live (all correct except for one), and listed my husband as a relative.

7.  Involve someone else. Your eyes may be clouded by fantasy and lust. Check out details with a suspicious and caring friend – or a romance coach like me, experienced in detecting BS. After all, how much is your heart, your safety, and your future worth?


Good news for older singles—Maybe

A short piece in a recent New York Times caught my interest, about the increase in older men compared with older women: the numbers of men 65 and older increased by 21% between 2000 and 2010, nearly twice as many as women of the same age (11.2%). Author Stephanie Coontz writes a hopeful companion piece “A More Resilient Male?”, and Susan Jacoby cautions against too much rejoicing in “A Blip vs. the Long Haul.” But older men surviving at twice the rate of women would seem to be good news for both.

The expectations of older women have really changed over the last 60+ years. My grandmother was widowed at 48, and while an attractive and appealing lady, to my knowledge, never dated or even entertained the thought before she died at 81. My mother, her daughter, was widowed at 75 and remarried at age 81. I met my now-husband Drew online when I was 48. While statistics show that I am more likely to be widowed than he is, given the trends and the fact that he is in better shape than I am, who knows? At some point, one of us will be single again. And perhaps on the market.


Questions for serious couples to consider

I’ve got quite a few clients who are now in serious relationships, and even some weddings on the calendar. One asked for some guidance for him and his Sweetie on what they should be asking themselves in preparation for a life together. Most of my focus so far has been just helping a single find someone. How nice to now be able to consider “What next?”

In response, I’ve started gathering questions. It’s amazing to see how many come up. In an attempt to organize the bunch, I’ve seen them fall into some categories.  Here they are below:

The Future
Your home

What do you think? What are questions that you would want to ask and get answered before you commit, legally or otherwise?  Send your contributions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Marriage Thrives!

Did you know that in South Africa, same sex marriage has been legal since 2006? Now tell me, is it strange to think that South Africa is more progressive than the United States about allowing consenting, loving adults to be legally and publicly joined? Or what?

Did you see the July 24th New York Times’ Styles section? The WHOLE SECTION was devoted to celebrating gay couples’ and their newly legal right to wed in New York State. Here’s a great photo essay I just found. I always scan the section of wedding announcements (usually looking for those who met online, or at least, those willing to admit to it), and as various states have legalized same sex unions, more and more of the couples in the Style section were gay. This week, about half were, and many had been couples for many, many years.

Wherever you stand on the issue, it is hard to be against wanting to celebrate finding a loving partner. Yea for New York state! And yea for Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa. More are ahead. Maryland seems to be heading that way, and Obama has softened his position.

PS My dear Aunt Glenice who reads every word I write) emailed to tell me that Illinois where she lives also has legalized same sex marriage.  She attended the wedding of her favorite neighbors, two ladies.  Yea, Aunt Glenice!


SAQ #10. How do I figure out what my “market” is?

In the August 1 issue of *eMAIL to eMATE*, I wrote about the need to be realistic about your partner search. You can read that article here. Essentially, singles need to be realistic about what kind of partners they can realistically expect to attract. Otherwise, they are going to end up very frustrated and alone.

Here’s how to establish your market worth: Search your dating site and make a list of at least twenty desirable potential Sweethearts. Go ahead and rank order them, the most desirable first on the list. Then start emailing these folks, five or six at a time, and wait for the results. If you haven’t gotten any responses within a few days, a week at the most, then send out another batch of first emails. If you get all the way through your list and you have gotten no replies, you are aiming too high for what you have to offer. Expand your parameters a bit (easing off the requirements you had in the first round), make another list, and start sending out those first emails again. Once you start getting good, solid responses to your emails, you have determined your market. You are contacting the sort of people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

Now, this SHOULD be the last step in a thorough preparation. You should have already gotten yourself as ready as possible to find love. My book “Find a Sweetheart Soon!” takes singles through a careful process of getting ready, designed to remove possible obstacles before they are encountered. You should have already mounted a quality profile on the best dating site. I can help you with your profiles, making sure they are attractive in both words and photos. Since your profile is your sole means of attracting your best love, it is crucial that it be the best you can make it. You should know how to craft an appealing first email – your only chance to make a first impression. Have you done these steps?

Let’s talk a little about “expanding your parameters” that I mentioned above. Here are the common mistakes that I see singles making: persistently contacting much younger singles (more often men looking at women 10 years or more younger) despite the lack of responses. Women specifying men over 6 feet tall (only 15% of American men are six feet or over). Getting distracted by “handsome” or “gorgeous” and not even looking at the profile essays. Given that dating sites provide so many possible choices, why would a young woman prefer a man 10 or more years older than she is, unless he had something great to offer in exchange (think “money”)? There are lots of great men who would make wonderful husbands and are between 5 and 6 feet tall (like 85% of available men). Handsome and gorgeous may be nice “eye candy,” but nothing about handsome or gorgeous has anything to do with ability to be a good mate.

To use selling a house as a metaphor for your worth on the dating market, you most likely will get just what the market thinks you are worth. You are most likely to overvalue what you have to offer. It is a bit of a blow to see the reality, but accepting reality is most likely to get you paired up.


SAQ #9 How realistic should I be about what I am looking for?

In short: VERY.

The more realistic you are about who you are and what you have to offer, the better. If you have assessed yourself accurately, then you will be better able to judge what you can get for what you have in exchange.

Internet dating has really brought to the forefront the market aspect of looking for love. It’s not that dissimilar from buying a house. A house is worth what someone is willing to pay. A really nice house (with a savvy seller) will hold out for the very highest price.

When you go house shopping, the place that a realtor will start with you is figuring out what kind of money you have to offer. What are you bringing to the table? There is no point in showing you houses that you can never hope to purchase.

Venturing onto a dating site is like going house hunting without a realtor. You plunk yourself down in the site and then try to sift through all the candidates. Since none have an obvious price tag, and you likely have a rather distorted sense of your own worth, why not try for the best? Of course, everyone else is doing that, too, so the top 5 or 10 percent of the candidates get close to 100% of the emails. Since those folks are getting a clear indication that they have a lot of “worth” in this market, they are going to hold out for the very best offers. Is it any surprise that so many first emails go unanswered?

We tend to have a pretty high – and unrealistic – estimation of what we have to offer. In surveys, most people rate themselves as above average in appearance, which is of course impossible. In truth, most of us are in the middle of any attractiveness scale.

There is nothing wrong with going for the top candidates on a dating site, but be realistic: It is probably a long shot. A very long shot. You will probably not get a reply. It is not the fault of the candidate. You misjudged, so learn from the experience and try again. Start moving down from the 10’s to the 9’s and 8’s, then 7’s and 6’s, until you start getting strong positive responses from those you are contacting.

The reality that you cannot get 10’s or even 9’s or 8’s to respond to you is not the dating site’s fault. They aren’t your market. Once you find your market – which could easily be 5’s or 6’s, because most of us are in that range – then settle in and have a good time. You’ve found the buyers who are interested in what you have to offer.

P. S. A Romance Coach (me, for instance) would be very helpful to you in figuring out your “market value” and even how to improve it. Why not get a consult with me? Signing up is easy—see that blue box over there on the left, under my picture? Click “Set a meeting” and you’ll be walked right through.


The ethics of honesty

Here’s New York Times piece, this time from The Ethicist column that appears weekly in the Sunday magazine section.

A writer asks: I am an H.I.V.-positive man who, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, has had an undetectable viral load for the past three years. I have no sexually transmitted infections. Though I always practice safe sex, I feel an obligation to disclose my status to any potential partner well before engaging in any sexual contact. My doctors disagree, citing evidence that people in my condition are sexually noninfectious. Others make a buyer-beware type of argument. Am I right, or are they?

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by this letter, and I was not alone. If you follow the link and ready the Ethicist’s answer, click the “Comments” link and read what other readers sent in. Of course, we only know what is written, but assuming everything is true, why would any doctor give this kind of advice? One thing we have learned from the AIDS epidemic is that sex can kill you, and for sure, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you” does not apply to the sexual history of a potential partner.

The real threat of death by one’s sexual behavior has pushed us to learn to talk about uncomfortable matters early on in relationships. That is good.

Secrets are like untreated infections: they make you sick. Nothing is more curative than openness. As the Ethicist writes: “Your doctors can make all the predictions they want, but you — and your partners — have to live with the outcome.”


Not truth, not a lie, but something inbetween

A few weeks ago, there was a short article in the New York Times’ Style section called “I’m not real, but neither are you.”  It was about a new dating site (sort of) called cloudgirlfriend.com The site helps you build a fantasy profile, complete with photos they provide (which were rather spooky— the women’s ones were all gorgeous, young, and with huge unworldly photo shopped eyes), then matches you with other fantasy profiles. I joined (not without trepidation) and was immediately sent matches to scroll through. In the first ten, three of the photos were exactly the same, though the written material was different, which was pretty eerie.

Anyway, the premise is to allow someone to build a fantasy self, similar to people joining Second Life, then meet others in cyberspace doing the exact same thing. It’s a fabulous idea, melding dating sites with fantasy, having the fantasy be open and above board . Interestingly, quite a number of folks who have met on Second Life have met up in real life and gone on to form real relationships and even marriages. In the documentary I was a consultant for “When Strangers Click,” the last story was about such a couple. Click here to see a film clip.

This kind of site has a blatant acknowledgement that the individual presentations are not “real.” There is an up-front agreement between members that nothing in the profiles should be taken as “true.” The fantasy characters (as in Second Life) do have some aspects of “truth” to them, though: fantasy allows members to express parts of themselves that otherwise are hidden or negated by “true circumstances” like physical appearances.

I’d like to see this idea taken a step beyond. I regularly work with singles who really worry about being recognized on dating sites. Usually these folks are not married, not worrying about being found out. They tend to be prominent people in their communities who would be easily recognized. They feel both exposed in a private matter, and are concerned that it would seem rather unseemly for someone in their position to be on a dating site.

A dating site built on the premise of fantasy profiles, that everyone going in KNOWS that the picture is not “real,” but that there would be a blend of reality from the written words, could be of real service to these folks. As well, a fantasy photo that is “me, though better,” would cut through the 90% of us who are not the 10’s getting all the attention.



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