Finding Time to Date When You’re Super Busy

finding-time-to-dateReader J suggested a post about advice for finding time to date …

I liked your post today “Fitting a Social Calendar into a Busy Life” and I have an idea for a related post. What about one about dating? I know you’ve been off the market for a while, but I imagine you’ve had some experience in the arena! Specifically, making time to date when you’re a busy, professional woman and/or how to meet men when you’re a busy, professional woman.

We’ve talked a bit before about where to find guys to date, as well as on dating at the office, but in terms of general advice on dating when you’re busy, I don’t really think we’ve gone there.  So let’s get into it a bit.  (And, my usual caveat applies: apologies in advance for every time I say “he” or “him” or “the guy” — I really do mean “your prospective date” or “the person you’re dating.”)  (Pictured: Hearts and Candy, originally uploaded to Flickr by Rdoke.)

I’ll start by saying that I met my husband in 2007, when I was a fifth-year associate — it would have been a ton easier had I met him in law school or even at the office, but, alas.  So it can be done — but it isn’t easy.

A few tips from my experience:

- If you’re going to do it, do it. Commit to spending a little bit of time every day doing something to further the hunt, whether it’s reading a self-help book, shopping for boys online, saying “YES” to that friend’s party when you’d really rather just stay home and do your laundry, or, if you have to work on the weekend, to taking your work to a coffee shop to work rather than at your apartment or office (work permitting). In fact, my super-dorky story is that after a party in 2005, my friend C and I (both single and overachieving) decided our Project of 2006 was going to be to Get Married.  We set up time for weekly status updates (yes, seriously!) and would report in to each other on what we were doing to find a guy.

- Don’t worry too much about putting your picture on online dating sites. I remember worrying — but what if someone at the office sees?  Honestly: if they’re on an online dating site it’s because they, themselves, are looking to do online dating.  Pot, kettle.  That said, you may want to rethink putting super-sexy pictures of yourself online, or saying things in your profile that you wouldn’t want people at work to know about you otherwise.  E.g., “Killing time at the firm until Prince Charming comes along!”  (Just a tip: in addition to being inappropriate in case your boss sees it, that particular statement is also not likely to net you many dates, either.)

- Don’t email forever with your prospective date. Too many people live in their heads and are content to send you these incredibly long emails — and while it’s great that you can connect on an intellectual level, it’s better to just get together in person and see if you and the guy connect in real life.  Furthermore, writing super long emails takes WAY more time than just meeting a guy for coffee or a drink after work.

- Talk to the prospective date on the phone for at least 15 minutes before you meet. I called this my “psycho test.”  Go with your gut here — if you get even the slightest bad feeling from this guy, do not meet him in person.

- Be safe. Stick to public places until you know the guy really well (i.e., several dates!), and be careful and safe once you get intimate with someone.

I also read a number of self-help books (and, like a proper dork, even took notes on them) and found these three to be particularly helpful, if anyone is interested:

  • Superflirt, by Tracey Cox — if you live in your head and your idea of “flirting” is to glance at a guy from across a room, this is the book for you — it’s all about body language.  How to tell if he’s interested, how to tell HIM you’re interested, and even, if you worry that things aren’t going well, how to get you both on the same vibe/wavelength.  (It also is very helpful from a career perspective, because it helps you learn what may be misinterpreted as flirting when you just mean to convey professional interest.)
  • Love Smart: Find the One You Want–Fix the One You Got, by Dr. Phil McGraw.  (I know, cheesy!) I had these ridiculously specific ideas of what “the perfect man” would look like for me.  (I entirely blame the plethora of rom-coms that I’ve watched over the years!) and this book was great for focusing my attention on what things are actually important to me, which I hadn’t really put into words before that.  I learned, for example, that it was really important to me that a man have longstanding, good relationships with his friends and family — much more so than what school he went to or what part of the country he came from or some of the other idiotic things I was trying to look for.
  • He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys, by Greg Gehrendt and Liz Tuccillo.  (And you thought the LAST one was cheesy…)  This book hits you over the head, again and again, with one simple message:  you will know when a guy likes you. If you have to analyze his behavior or make excuses for him (e.g., “he’s just too scared because we’re such a great match that he’s taking it slow!”) then — newsflash — he does not like you.  This book was particularly liberating to me in two different ways.  The first way was the freedom to stop wasting time and energy on guys who, really, were not into me.  I particularly remember one guy who I’d been on like 5+ dates who still wasn’t calling me more than once a week and who, in one brief phone call, actually seemed to resent the fact that he had to make another dinner date with me.  I emailed him after the call saying, “Look, maybe you’re having a bad night, but I feel like you’re not really into me.  I think we could be a good match, but I kind of want a guy who, you know, likes me.  So maybe we should just cut our losses?”  And he called back about 2 minutes after I had sent the message to tell me — very apologetically — that no, he really wasn’t into me, and maybe we should just break things off.  (He had KNOWN IT all along!)  It sounds heartbreaking and hard now, but honestly — liberating.  I still wish him well — we’d met through a friend we had in common, and I occasionally still see him on Facebook or whatnot — but thank GOD I didn’t waste more of my time with that one.  The second way this book was helpful was when I met my husband.  It’s one thing to read the book and see that guys aren’t treating you the way you’d like them to — but it’s a completely different thing when you meet one who actually DOES treat you the way the book says they will.

Ultimately, I found that online dating kind of “primed me” to be looking for a relationship.  After a year or so of online dating, I met guys in the Real World as well — at the pizza place, at the airport check-in counter, etc. Again, I’ll be honest here:  This dating-intensive period took me a lot of time (goodbye, hobbies!) and a lot of mental space.  I met a lot of jerks — in fact, the last 2 guys I dated were the one I mention above (Mr. I Knew I Didn’t Like You But Thought I’d Date You Anyway) as well as one guy who I found out after the fact was actually engaged the whole time we were dating (Mr. But He’s Catholic And Smart And From My Home Town So Clearly The Stars Will Align).  So in August 2007, I decided that the mental space was better spent elsewhere, and turned my full attention to my career.

And about 2 weeks later I met my husband at a friend’s birthday party at a bar.  (My friend C, incidentally, was engaged by the end of 2006 and is still happily married — they just welcomed baby #2.)

Obviously, everyone has a different story.  Readers, what are your tips for dating when you’ve got a busy schedule?  Which online dating services would you particularly recommend?  Anyone else care to share their misadventures in dating?

 

Comments

  1. Monday says:

    I’ve never done online dating, but just about all of my friends have.

    If anyone is willing to do a somewhat more new-agey book, I recommend “In The Meantime” by Iyanla Vanzant. It helped me recover from a bad breakup (really, I had to recover from the relationship itself) and recoup enough to be ready for the right thing when it came along.

    • I just bought it used from Amazon. For $3 + shipping you can’t go wrong! Thanks for the recommendation.

    • cbackson says:

      I heard Iyanla interviewed on Tavis Smiley last year…she’s been through a lot, and I was amazed by her approach to the difficulties she’d faced. I bet the book’s great.

  2. Set up Wife says:

    My biggest piece of advice is, of course, based on my own experience. Do not be afraid to be set up by friends and family. Sometimes they DO know someone who will be great for you! I met my husband through my sister. She went to a wedding in a different city and met my husband. She knew after five minutes that he was super awesome and I would like him. So . . . she gave him my email! I was furious . . . until he emailed me. He was so funny. After a few emails, he called. And we clicked. We were married a year later and, ten years later I can honestly say I love him more today than I did the day we married.

    Since then, I have spoken with so many women who have accepted online dating, but REFUSE to tell friends they are open to set-ups. Yes, it might be embarrassing and heinous, but it might be fabulous. And at least the heinous dates make the best stories, right?

    • Set up Wife says:

      oh, and we were both in residency when we met. hello sleepless nights! I second what Kat said. If you want to date, go all in. Just know you can survive on a little less sleep than you used to survive on and your house can be a little bit messier for a few months.

  3. No advice, but I would just like to second “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Seriously, it should be required reading material for all single women. I didn’t read it until after I’d gotten married, and it’s a damn shame, because I could have saved myself a lot of time and bother on a couple boyfriends if I’d done it earlier!

    The question now is, how to recommend it to a friend who’s in a relationship without her getting mad… (I’m envisioning reactions like those Miranda got in the Sex in the City episode)

    • Anonymous says:

      Only recommend it to her if she complains to you about her SO, asks for your advice, or wants your help interpreting his behavior. Otherwise, not your business.

      My friend recommended the book to me (in response to a boy I was complaining about) and I was pissed. Until I read it.

    • I also really love that book and wish I had read it when I was dating. The biggest takeaway for me was that if you are having to constantly push the relationship forward – he never takes the initiative to make plans, talk about the future, think long-term – beware. I think all guys are afraid of commitment to some extent, but a guy that has you do all the heavy relationship lifting is staying disengaged not out of fear, but out of reluctance, because he doesn’t think you’re “the one.” I have seen it time and time again with my friends – when they meet the right guy, who believes my friend is the right girl for them, there is no push-pull or hesitation. And like Kat’s experience, many guys are too chicken to “pull the plug” on a limping-along relationship. Highly recommended, especially for women who seem to find themselves dating the same type of guy over and over again.

    • No kidding! If I have daughters, I am buying them all this book and paying them $50 for a book report.

      • anonymiss says:

        I actually found this book incredibly patronizing and would never recommend it to anyone. I feel like it reinforced gender stereotypes, made it seem like it’s only men who should have the right to dictate how a relationship progresses. I say this as a woman who is presumably part of the book’s target audience: mid-twenties and single.

        • YES, me too! I’m actually in this camp for NGDGTCO too, which I know almost everyone here ADORES, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Yes, they both have a few helpful nuggets, but is it worth the patronizing/distinctly unhelpful (if not harmful) parts? Not to me.

          • Atlantia says:

            I’m sorry but what does NGDGTCO mean? My google search resulted in the National Dangerous Goods Training Consortium.

          • Nice girls don’t get the corner office. I only know this bc I’ve seen it on here so often.

          • Amanda says:

            @Atlantia – LOL! I just choked on my Kashi

        • I find 99% of self-help books incredibly patronizing and gimicky.

          I have often found comfort in books, usually novels, sometimes poetry, random non-fiction (armchair economics –sunk costs, and all that). But I have never been able to make it through most self help books. I think the premise of these books sometimes contains an interesting thought/concept but I have never felt it necessary to read 200+ pages to “get it.” I think it’s great to think of some of these ideas, but so many of these books are overly simplistic generalizations (I am sure there are exceptions) that I have always found them to be vaguely insulting.

        • Another Sarah says:

          Same here. I read it because a friend said it “changed her life,” except I didn’t really learn anything. If a guy liked me, he called me. If he didn’t, he didn’t. Likewise, if I like a guy enough to devote a decent amount of brainpower that would otherwise be spent on other things, I’ll call him. If he doesn’t call me back, brainpower gets moved to the other account. I’ve tried “changing” guys before; it didn’t work for me. I’ve tried chasing after guys before; it didn’t work for me AND when I realized what I was doing I was kind of ashamed of myself. No use being ashamed of yourself on account of a guy that won’t give you the time of day. And no use wasting time waiting for the phone to ring when there is life to be lived! :-)

          FWIW, yes, I am still single. But boy drama free! :-)

          • Original Lola says:

            Another Sarah – It sounds like you have a very healthy view of yourself and relationships. Not all women do.

            I personally have found great satisfaction in reading both Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, and He’s Just Not That Into You.

            The message is not “Your life sucks and I have the answer.” I take self-help books as they are: tools to help me understand what’s going on if I’m having trouble understanding on my own. I certainly don’t find every self-help book helpful, and I don’t take every word in there as gospel. Both both of those really spoke to me.

            (And I would also recommend Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich, also written by Lois Frankel, about women’s attitudes about money.)

    • govvie says:

      Yes, this book should have been written about 20 years ago before The Big One. He had it all: my first major relationship, long distance, cool life & job, by my standards…and of course hot & cold. On advice of Mom, I broke off contact a couple years into it and did not attempt any re-contact. The author says what Mom said, only in guy-speak and very funny: “Don’t keep taking his crap.” The movie is pretty ironic though, since Mr. Smooth Bartender/Advice Giver…well, I don’t want to spoil it.

      • Original Lola says:

        The movie has the exact opposite message as the book. I wish it had a different title than the book, it was so far off.

        The book is great. The movie is ok, but don’t see the movie expecting it to be related to the book *at all*.

    • Wannabe Bltch says:

      I highly and superly recommend, “Why Men Love B!tches” and “Why Men Marry B!tches”. Both books really delve into the whole nice girls are the ones being taken advantage of and I’ve found them very helpful.

    • TX Attny says:

      Mir, what a great question. I actually watched the movie He’s Just Not That Into You with my friend, and one of the very things addressed in the movie happened to her within the week of us watching this movie – a guy saying, “you’re just too good for me, I don’t deserve you.” I heard this in the movie and stared at my friend, wondering what I’d say when she put it all together, realized he wasn’t that into her and burst into tears. She never did. Instead she talked all about how she was in love with him, and “isn’t that so sweet he thinks I’m too good?” Holy cow.

  4. meara says:

    Any gay (and single) corporettes out there with comments/advice/discussion? Personally I have a very hard time dating because of the amount of travel I do (which has nothing to do with being gay).

    • Bette says:

      I actually met my current ladyfriend at work. I would say keep your eyes open to lots of different types of women who may not immediately read gay. There’s a lot more of us out there flying beneath the radar in our sheath dresses and heels than anyone realizes.

      Good luck!

      • zelda says:

        the flying beneath the radar thing can make it pretty hard to spot fellow queer corporettes! i’m not sure really sure how to get around that in the workplace (maybe a supplementary article could be about coming out at work?)

        • if anyone wants to write a guest post about it, email me!

        • meara says:

          Hah—well, it’s kind of related–I came out at my current job (where I work from home, so there’s a lot less social chit chat, and I didn’t really intend to) because at one of the first big dinners with my colleagues, a couple of them decided to try to set me up with someone’s nephew in my city!

    • Lex Caritas says:

      OK not single, but wanted to answer the rare gay comment!

      I tried and hated those ‘gay professional’ events – the people there seemed to be there to avoid meeting someone at a bar or a party who turned out to be “non-professional” .

      I think online dating is great and met a serious gf online several years ago. I wouldn’t do it at the office, but then I don’t even read corporette at the office.

      While the ‘he’s not that into you’ stuff doesn’t resonate so much to me, I do think the comments in the post and above about being out there are totally universal- but equally that people tend to meet someone when not looking!

  5. Lawgirl says:

    Wow… I never had to “get serious” about dating and finding a husband. It happened rather effortlessly. This is all *very* intriguing to me!

    • That is a comment that sounds incredibly snarky to pretty much anyone reading this…

      • luluaj says:

        Agreed…not to mention patronizing and condescending. Reminds of people that complain that just “forget” to eat.

        • Anon23 says:

          Ha! When I’m busy I forget to eat and then I’m starving. I’ll come out of my office around 3 and say “ugh, I forgot to eat lunch. I’m going to get a snack.” And everyone will scream “how can you forget to eat?” I’m not bragging, I just sometimes do. I think it is unhealthy and I hate it.

          • Miriam says:

            I do the same thing! Also, I’m such a slow eater so I’ll need double the time a ‘normal’ person needs! So frustrating.

          • I forgot to eat lunch today. I know because I’m all shaky and can’t think straight, feel tired and a little sick to my stomach. How do other people feel when they forget to eat? Why is this something to get irritated about?

            Lawgirl, I’ve “fallen” into most of my relationships too. I’ve given up dating while my son is growing up, because I find myself in such bad situations.

      • Lawgirl says:

        Didn’t mean to be patronizing at all. Really. Sorry.

    • Anonymous says:

      well la dee freakin da =)

      • govvie says:

        I do think we should go about finding a dude the way they go about finding us….do what we like to do, as long as it involves at some point interacting with the opposite sex, put our best feet forward and go from there. I know there are reasons my relationships haven’t worked out, and I work on what I can. But I’m not spending my savings account and hours a day to conjure up Mr. Right. He’ll show. He’d better!

        • cbackson says:

          I wish that were the case for me. The problem is that I work so much that I’m not actually in situations where I’d interact with the opposite sex unless I make a conscious effort to do so. Aside from work, which is currently a 7 AM to 9 PM proposition most days, I don’t do much aside from going to church (where all the single dudes are gay – God bless the Episcopalians). And I don’t want to date someone I work with.

          So yeah, for me, it’s something I’ll have to think about and plan to make it happen.

          • L from Oz says:

            My best friend is a gay man, which is fine 99.8% of the time, but let’s just say that when I go to a party at his place, potential partners are thin on the ground.

          • Damn, all the Episcopalian men are gay? There goes my motivation for getting up Sunday morning for church. . .

            (kidding. sort of.)

    • cbackson says:

      Did it happen effortlessly while you were working 80-90 hours per week?

    • Emily I says:

      I was lucky enough to find my husband early on without having to “try.” I think this is an interesting topic, though it’s not related to a situation I personally have experienced. If I may defend Lawgirl, that may have been all she was trying to say…at least I’m not going to assume the worst!

      • Emily I says:

        That is, didn’t find it snarky or condescending…maybe its because we’re coming from different life experiences?

        • Think of it this way — if the post was “How to lose weight when you’re working 100 hours a week” and someone posted a “Wow – I always stay a perfect size 2 and never had to worry about my weight”, it would be completely snarky. If someone is trying to figure out how to date when working all the time, they really don’t want to hear “Wow, how weird.”

          • (Not Emily I) I see what you’re saying, but I think it’s possible for people to be generous in their interpretation and not always rush to be so offended. If that were the post, someone could say “I’ve fortunately never had to worry about my weight but I’m intrigued by these responses,” and I think it would be possible to take that at face value and just move on. Even more the case here.

          • Perhaps an “I was fortunate” thrown in would have helped the original post. That there wasn’t one, comes across as very “mean girls”. And I disagree that there should be any less sensitivity to this than weight. Its not fun being single when you don’t want to be and you’re realizing you don’t have time to even date…let alone build a relationship. Its freakin’ lonely and each person who acts like its super easy to find a great guy seems to be subtly sending the message “so what’s wrong with you?” Driven home all the more by well-meaning people who say “You’re attractive and smart and nice, why in the world are you single?” I’m just saying, let’s be supportive here. If you have nothing supportive to add, don’t post.

          • anon-22 says:

            At the risk of adding to the pile on it was the “Wow–” intro that got me. That it would be so weird and shocking that some people may not have been as lucky as the commenter.

            Or if not weight than job hunting

            “Wow, I just got an offer with the first five resumes I sent out…how *interesting* that you have to really search for a job”

            Also — not bitter, happily coupled off, btw.

          • Miriam says:

            I think the problem is that it implies “Wow, it was so easy for me. What in the world is wrong with YOU!” I’m assuming she didn’t mean it like that, but you need to be careful with what you write on the internet, same as you would a text message. Words can get misconstrued.

          • Great idea for the next post! “How to lose weight while working 100 hours a week” I know that would help me during trial since pre-trial is not looking good.

          • Original Lola says:

            Anon #45 – Right on.

          • Except in our society, nearly everyone is worried about weighing too much. You can pretty much count on most folks wanting to loose weight. Not everyone is looking to get hitched; you can probably count on people being at various stages from really wanting a ring to just wanting to play the field to not wanting to screw with it at all (pun not intended, but it’s so bad I kinda like it)

      • Lawgirl says:

        Thanks, Emily. I posted 6 hrs ago and I see how much I pissed people off
        :-/

      • Praxidike says:

        I didn’t find it snarky or condescending, either. Sometimes you just meet someone and you *know* (as cheesy as it sounds) and it works and there you have it. I did not have to work to find my husband, and I know I was lucky in that regard.

    • Anonymous Poser says:

      FWIW, I read this comment as factual. Period. But maybe because I am in a similar category–wasn’t looking for a husband (wasn’t even sure I would ever want to be married), but one of my friendships started moving in a different direction.

      A friend of mine, though…A guy I *used* date, many lifetimes ago…He met his wife because she was being very intentional about her search for a husband. And they’ve been married 10+ years now.

      To each her own.

      • I think part of the reaction is a lot of her comments have been kind of like this lately.

        • Lawgirl says:

          Really? Didn’t realize the Lawgirl haterade. (Toodles, Corporette. This poor child will now hush….)

          • Don’t hush, Lawgirl! There’s just general haterade sometimes . . . People can be prickly. Especially when it comes to love. Fair or not fair. Regardless of agree/disagree, this site would be a boring place if we all start to self censor and only make comments that will not provoke debate or stir the passions.

            Ladies, can’t we disagree without being all judgy and disagreeable?

          • Its not haterade to say someone’s been abrasive. Really that is being much to sensitive. You should take everything on the internet with a grain of salt, but maybe when comments get such a strong reaction and you don’t mean it, think about why it came off that way. Online communication is becoming more and more important, and I know I personally struggle with tone often. You’re not a poor child, people weren’t super mean, just a general consensus that your comment came off a certain way. If you didn’t mean it that way just say that and move on.

          • Miriam says:

            CFM, your comments seem somewhat strange. On the one hand you say her comments are abrasive, but then you tell her oh don’t be so sensitive. Maybe you should take your own advice then.

          • Well I was saying don’t leave just because people don’t like a comment you make. Sorry if that was unclear. My comment wasn’t meant to pick on her, and I don’t think anyone above was trying to be mean. So I was saying just because people don’t like something online and find it abrasive don’t pack up and leave. And if she really didn’t mean to come off that way, it’s good to try and figure out why she did come off that way. So I hope my comment didn’t come off as abrasive I was actually trying to tell her to stay.

          • Hel-lo says:

            Lawgirl, I like what you say. Have never found it “abrasive.”

            And remember that people tend to come off meaner online than in person. You’re a valued member of our community. :)

            If you’re worried about how people perceive you, you could also change your handle. I’ve done that a few times. It feels like a fresh start. :)

        • I have to differ. I didn’t see this as snarky (or rather, based on Lawgirl’s usual comments that I can recall, i didn’t assume any snark). And I don’t think she’s a snarky commenter generally speaking.

          Let’s not do a “Shayna” on her!

    • FWIW, I didn’t find this comment snarky either. I pretty much ended up with a great guy rather effortlessly too – and by “effortlessly” I meant I wanted a nice guy who treated me well. I didn’t have a giant list of criteria when choosing my partner and reading these posts makes me wonder if I had, if I would still be looking for a man who with X hair color, from X state, who has a grad degree from a top school, makes over $200,000 a year, family who own a summer home in the hamptons, etc, etc etc.

      Money and education weren’t even factors for me, because I was young and felt like we would make it some day. Not everyone thinks this way and many women turn their noses down on guys who haven’t finished college yet or haven’t progressed in their careers much yet. I’ve had friends who won’t date men like this, or men over a certain height, or men who they don’t instantly feel a “spark” with.

      So, like Lawgirl, I find all of this interesting because I never thought about half of the stuff it seems women do now.

      • The comment that would have gotten to me would be something syrupy about how lucky she is to have found such a wonderful sweet guy who blesses her every morning or something like that. I much prefer simple, honest gut reactions like “really? Never thought about it that way”

  6. Atlantia says:

    I glanced at the title and thought it said “Finding Time to Date When You’re Super Busty,” which led to initial confusion as to how busty one must be for it to interfere with your time management.

  7. Kat
    Just want to let you know your RSS feed is not updating. I couldn’t figure out why I did not get any posts in my Reader today. Then I clicked to resubscribe (in case the problem was me) and it shows the last item in the RSS feed is the Weekend Open Thread.

    • Second this. (It’s not just EPLawyer.)

      • Yes — we tried to update to a new server on Sunday night, and then my tech guy decided on Monday morning that the new server wasn’t handling the Corporette traffic well enough — so he switched us back to the old server. But that change can take a few hours to process — some people can only see the Weekend Open Thread, and the new ones are apparently not updating in RSS feeds… sigh…

        • Hey Kat, before the site went all wonky a few weeks ago, whenever I posted a comment, the page would refresh to where I commented in the thread. Now, it refreshes the page to the top of the comment thread. Is there any way to go back to the old setting?

        • On the plus side, that means I noticed you were missing. Corporette is important reading.

  8. Fessing up says:

    It was 2 am on a Saturday night in 2007. I went out with my friends and downed cocktails, then went to another club with the stated intention of finding the most attractive man there and talking to him. I did. We are getting married this fall.

  9. fresh jd says:

    I liked “He’s Just Not That Into You,” but my two personal faves are:

    1) “Become Your Own Matchmaker” by Patti Stanger — Hands down the best, wish I read it while I was dating.

    2) “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey.

  10. Legal Marketer says:

    Semi-related threadjack: Can anyone suggest a good book I can recommend to my little sister who is heartbroken after a breakup? (I’ve been married 10 years, so I can’t provide her any advice related to recent experience.) She broke up with him because after three years, he finally convinced he never wanted to get married (again) or have (more) children. He had been telling her that from the beginning, but she thought he would change if he loved her enough.
    Now, for the first time in her life, she’s questioning whether she wants to give up her idea of being a wife and mom because then she could at least stay with him.
    The whole situation is causing her to question herself and her judgement and when someone mentioned a date, she said “I wouldn’t even know what to do with a boy if I caught one right now,” so I’d like to recommend something that will give her the confidence to heal from this and eventually move on to be with someone who will give her the type of life she has always wanted. (For a point of reference, when she was 5 years old, she would save her allowance for a few weeks until she could afford to buy bridal magazines at the grocery store. She is also 30, owns her own home, has a successful career and a large group of friends, so she’s definitely not looking to be ONLY a wife and mom.)

    • When I had a gut-wrenching breakup I read the book, “It’s Called a Breakup Because it’s Broken,” by Greg Bredheit (sp?) – the same guy who wrote “He’s Just Not That Into You.” It was recommended by a friend, and likewise, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

      The book basically said everything my friends couldn’t, and with a touch of humor so I didn’t feel crazy and pathetic. I followed the book pretty closely (it recommends “he-tox” and other things to help you get on with your life) and I can seriously say that this book made a huge difference and was a great help. So much so that I’ve subseuqntly bought copies for friends who have suffered break ups now that I’m on the “other side” of my heartbreak. Hopt it helps!

    • A-nonny-no says:

      Although I didn’t read it during a break up, I found “Eat Pray Love” oddly soothing. It helped dampen the “OMG, I need to get my life figured out NOW” feeling.

      Yes, it’s incredibly navel-grazing and privileged, but hey, getting past a broken heart or the feeling of failed dreams involves a lot of navel-grazing.

      • I read the book at a time in my life when it didn’t resonate and didn’t particularly care for it, but I could see it being a good right at the right time. But the movie. OMG! AWFUL!!!!!!!!!!! If you do recommend the book, make sure that you’re clear that it has to be the book, not the movie!

        • A-nonny-no says:

          The only thing I really liked about the movie was the eye candy — Javier Bardem and the pretty pretty scenery!

          What I thought was the worst was the “oh no! I need to buy ‘fat jeans’” montage. Srsly?

    • Daphne says:

      I’m sadly going through a bad breakup of my own right now. I spent the weekend reading Getting Past Your Breakup by Susan J. Elliot, and it’s really good and helpful. She delves into how crazy you feel right after a breakup and breaks down the stages of grief, and also gives very concrete advice on how to process what went wrong with the relationship and how to move on with your life and get over it. It’s a good read – I’d recommend it to anyone going through a breakup.

    • Stuff Mom Never Told You had a podcast called something like “This is Your Brain on a Breakup”.
      I found it very useful in terms of understanding my feelings (and it only takes a half our or so to listen to)

    • I read “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart” by Susan Piver. Really helped!

    • Been There says:

      When I was going through an extremely difficult break up a few years ago, I read “There Goes The Bride.”

      http://www.amazon.com/There-Goes-Bride-Making-Calling/dp/0787967483

      Even though we were not technically engaged (we had discussed marriage but hadn’t announced, done the ring thing etc), the book really resonated with me. I just skipped the etiquette chapters about recalling invitations etc.

  11. Canadian says:

    I agree with the comments re: getting set up by friends and family, provided they are willing to listen to you when you tell them what qualities are important to you in a partner.

    Prior to meeting my current partner in law school I delved into the online dating forum. It’s definitely a lot easier to be a girl and online dating than a guy from my own experience and discussions with my guy friends on the topic. When I made my foray into online dating (prior to meeting my partner) I was in law school and juggling 6 classes plus extra curricular activities. Finding time to meet new guys (I went on about 10 dates in 6 weeks) was really a matter of scheduling–my school work didn’t really suffer because most of the guys seemed to be accommodating re: my schedule. I also found that most first meetings didn’t exceed 30 min or an hour, so I really wasn’t wasting a lot of my precious time.

    For those of you with safety concerns about meeting guys in person after chatting online, I managed to keep my personal safety in check by recruiting a good friend to be my emergency contact. I told her where I was going to meet a guy and when I was going there, and that if I didn’t contact her within a 2 hour window to phone the police because I had been abducted or something . Knowing that she was on stand-by made me a lot less apprehensive.

    In terms of sites, I can only speak to Lavalife. There was a good mix of people looking for serious relationships and people just looking to meet someone new without any expectations. I wasn’t looking for anything really serious, but I have heard that if one is Eharmony is a good one to start with because its compatibility quiz really cuts back on the guys you have to look through.

    Best of luck to everyone :)

    • Nonny says:

      I actually used eHarmony and it seems to have worked for me – 7 months into a great relationship. I was not optimistic when I started out and felt like a total loser for even having to resort to online dating, and honestly, my attitude was, “it can’t make things *worse*”. But weirdly, maybe because I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of it, it did!

      I did have to devote quite a lot of time to “the search” – I was probably sorting through prospects for an hour a day during the process because eHarmony sends you a ton. But it was totally worth it in the end. My advice is just to be frank and upfront about who you are in your profile (I was totally upfront about my geekiness) so that the people who contact you get an accurate sense of you from the outset.

      Good luck, ladies!

      • Emily I says:

        FWIW, my aunt, a high-level exec, met her husband on eHarmony. They seem to be good match.

      • I also used eHarmony. I sifted through the matches sent to me, chose 3 to actually go on dates with (not concurrently!), and fell in love with the third. :-) We dated for 3 years, and just recently became engaged!

        I would highly recommend this route if you can hone in on your key non-negotiables and pre-screen people that way. For me, it was education level and geography, and I think having those in place made the rest of the process more enjoyable. But I also think it comes down to just getting out there and meeting people, and I just happened to be lucky that the third guy I met this way was “the one.” :-)

      • AEFlaw says:

        I was on eharmony for a couple of months and really struggling (bad date after bad date!). One night I had a particularly grueling day at the office and went out with a guy who I thought was geeky and wasn’t interested in him in the least bit (based on his online profile). It was a GREAT date and we’ve been together six months :-) I guess my point is that I really tried and tried with the online dating and I think I found a match. :-) It’s so interesting to read this post and other’s comments b/c I’m a type “A” lawyer where everything in life has worked out because I could control it to a certain extent. Dating was exactlly the opposite! I couldn’t control it or work harder at it. Really difficult for me. Anyway, I agree with all of the earlier posts that being single (especially in your mid 30′s as is my case) when everyone is pairing up and getting married and having babies is a struggle. But I think that there are different methods to dating; for what it’s worth, putting yourself out there be it the internet, set ups, zog sports (sports league in NYC), team in training, really helps. Great post today K!

      • SF Bay Associate says:

        Wow, Canadian – your method and timing sound almost exactly like mine, down to the 2-hour window to call my friend before she called the police. I did about 40 dates in 8 weeks, and then met my SO at law school and cancelled my memberships.

        Another friend and I decided to delve into online dating together to provide mutual support. She signed up for Match and eHarmony, and I did eHarmony and OKCupid. OKC is a waste of time. I met a lot of nice men on eHarm (and some not so nice), but no one I happened to click with. Meanwhile, after I cancelled, my friend decided to keep going “alone” for one more month. At week 9 or 10, she met her MBA husband through eHarmony. They got engaged within 7 months, and now have a beautiful child and a very happy marriage. IMHO, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about using online dating – it’s a wonderful tool in this modern age worth trying out!

    • mamabear says:

      I met my husband on match.com in 1998, when I was very specifically NOT LOOKING FOR A HUSBAND, which my profile stated. Which I meant. Adamantly. I was very popular.

      My two sisters most recently have met men on eHarmony. It seems like match.com is now populated with “players” while eHarmony requires a level of effort that tends to self-select for the serious-minded. They both married their eHarmony matches.

      I’m not kidding. We are the only three in our family and we all met our husbands online.

      Of course, in 1998 my sisters thought I was insane for doing the online thing. But 1) I didn’t care, because I wasn’t looking for a husband and 2) I wanted to date people outside my industry.

      I think the key is to be willing to kiss some frogs. The women I know who have had no luck with online dating, to my mind have impossibly high standards. They want a man with a certain education, a certain income and movie star good looks. To which I say, unfortunately, those men already have boyfriends. :)

      • I’d be willing to settle for someone with a college degree in my town… who is not military, and there’s not a picture of him with a dead animal on his online dating profile.

        Doesn’t seem that hard.

        It’s been very tough to find.

  12. My advice would be to try to be out and about doing things you like to do. You can’t date if you aren’t meeting people. Tell people you want to meet someone, too. You never know when someone you know knows a guy or gal just perfect for you.

    That said, based on my personal experience, I have had the most luck finding great guys when I wasn’t looking — whether because I was pursuing other goals or even just interested in other people. I think a healthy dose of “I am going to focus on me” always helps — you inevitably meet new friends and potential dates (and people who will introduce you to new people . . .) but you do it without feeling like a) you are striking out if you don’t immediately meet someone, b) while having fun and adding good things to your life, and c) (please don’t take this the wrong way) seeming in some way desperate.

    I would also advise against trying to meet guys when you’re with a gaggle of your girlfriends. In my experience, and that of my friends, you rarely meet nice serious guys when you are with a large group of women and the men are with a large group, etc., etc. Everyone ends up just trying to get laid or pair off in mismatched ways, and while sometimes that leads to something, those times are rare indeed.

    I know the whole “just get out there” sounds easier said than done, but it’s sort of like “eat less, move more” when you’re trying to lose weight. Not easy, not fun right away, but ultimately the best course of action (take it from someone who is currently trying to lose some winter lbs.)

    • cbackson says:

      Yeah, maybe in the end, it’s about making time in a busy schedule to get out and do things you love, more than making time to find a fellow.

    • Bonnie says:

      This. I have many single co-workers who always complain about being single but don’t do anything to meet people. Whether through online dating sites, meetup groups, friends, church, whatever, you have to make some effort to meet people. You may run into the love of your life on the metro or in the grocery store but your chances increase with the more people you meet.

      • Jr. Prof says:

        Yep! I had FAAAAARRRRR to many years of dating before I met ‘the One’ at 38. I kissed plenty of frogs before that…. and ultimately realized that it was a numbers game: the more people I met, the greater the chance of meeting Prince Charming. This means not only *going* to places where one might meet guys, but actually being friendly and charming (sometimes difficult for the introverts among us – I definitely had to psyche myself up!). Internet dating got me used to meeting and interacting with more people – even if it was sometimes only via email – which got me meeting more people in real life. Ultimately, I met my husband through friends at a party, but I think my focus on making time for dating allowed me to see the opportunity when it arose.

        • Thanks for posting this — gives me hope :) I’ve dated way too much, have high standards but am not picky (i.e., I’m not going to settle to just be paired up, but if that person doesn’t have a college degree or isn’t conventionally attractive, or whatever…that’s fine with me) and know what works for me and what doesn’t. But I’m a terrible flirt and am basically an introvert. I have been feeling “old” for dating (I’m 37, never been married)…so happy to hear your story.

      • govvie says:

        Yep…no one’s going to meet their match at a couch potato convention. I don’t really want to meet myself at a couch potato convention, and there’s the rub. Do I find myself interesting? Do I actually have interests? Getting a visual of the old SNL skit “Pat” with “its” whiny voice. There was also a recent “Rules of Engagement” episode with a “desperate female friend” role…and she had all the yuck personality factors going. I found it funny and a little close to home in past behavior. Wake up call!

  13. Am I the only one who has horrible luck being set up by friends and family? People always feel sorry for me that I’m single and that I would rather be with whomever they know who is remotely in my age range and “single” which sometimes means divorced a week ago or still pining after some ex. I think one guy ended up in prison for a fairly serious drug crime, and the list goes on. Some of the male friends (usually not at all single) who try to set me up ultimately end up hitting on me. Seriously, I would much much rather be single than have these types of people as dates.

    • cbackson says:

      My parents, in the aftermath of my divorce, are now convinced that I will finally get together with a certain nice boy from my childhood…despite the fact that he is married. To another dude.

  14. Anon for this says:

    I was also fortunate to find my husband early on!

    Another thing I cannot relate to is the gut wrenching “does he?” or does he not?” that many posters here seem to go through. Throughout college and grad school, I considered myself too cool and expected guys to fall for me. Then it was my prerogative to find out if the the guy was interesting enough to even talk to. Your typical Clueless scenario. Then at the right time- when I was ready to get married, I met my husband ( but not mean). Its been 10 yrs since.
    This attitude insulated me from the heartache detailed in “He is just not that into you.”.

    Looking back, I find my attitude really funny, because, to admit to myself…I was not really “all that” at all. Just a regular gal- just lucky I guess. I also want to state that I have grown and matured past that phase and all the insecurities have come home to roost…..i.e., on the lines of “Is everyone hanging out without me?” -( the title of Mindy Kaling’s new book).

  15. Get out and go on as many dates as possible! You’re less likely to put up with nonsense if there’s the possibility of a better date around the corner.

  16. EllaDances says:

    Could I ask for some advice along these lines, specifically, moving to improve my chances? I’m someone who very very much would like to have a houseful of kids and a husband I love. I’m also single, 30, have a job I love and a career as an engineer that seems about to take off (get promoted,etc). I live in a place I moved to because it would be a great place to work for a few years, then, after kids, work part time or stay home. Ha, obviously, that plan didn’t work out. Almost everyone my age is married with kids, and the dating prospects are bleak. The issue: I’m considering moving to a more urban area (Silicon Valley area), in part because I hope that this will give me a better chance of meeting a great guy. (It’s also closer to my family, which would be really really nice). Along with the better odds, comes giving up my great job and living in a VERY high cost of living area (not so good for lots of kids on one income). Basically, for the life I hope I’m living 5 years from now, my current town would be great; Silicon Valley is great for the NOW, but not for the future. Any advice about whether I should proceed? Or how to go about meeting someone if I do?

    • It’s hard to give advice without knowing much more, but it strikes me as you are willing to give up a lot (great town, career) for something you are not even remotely guaranteed (great husband in bigger city), all without actually even knowing that you can’t meet that special someone where you are now. Is your current town only 350 people? How close are you to a bigger town (Sillicon Valley or otherwise)? Can you spend time exploring neighboring areas? What about trying to spend more time in your original bigger town, near family and being open to meeting someone there w/o necessarily moving first (you can always move later OR he can move to you!). … I guess I would say that I wouldn’t move unless I had other compelling reasons like I wanted to live near my family, period, independent of this notion that I will meet my match in SV — many of the guys in SV could end up married, too.

      I live in NYC so I suppose it is hard for me to imagine not being able to meet people, but I have many girlfriends here who claim they can’t meet men in NY, too! So, maybe, it’s not all about where you are geographically? Try to do new things, travel to nearby towns (even small towns have other small and large towns near . . . and county fairs . . . and national parks . . . and mountain retreats . . . and so on ) . . .

      And, also (please don’t take this the wrong way) maybe stop focusing on the whole kids, husband and 5 year plan bit for a bit. Men can sense that and do not always react positively, even if they are into those things themselves. Give yourself a 3 or 6 month break, where you will just try to make yourself happy doing whatever . . . and see where that leads you. At the very least, you can sort through your thoughts and be better able to decide what to do moving-wise. Good luck :)

      • EllaDances says:

        Thanks for the reply and suggestions=)

        There’s probably about 1 million people within a 3 hour drive of where I live. Also, how do I put this…, the educated/professional population is fairly small and tight. That said, I could certainly do more to try to meet a broader range of people. I’m probably influenced by the fact that, after years of unsatisfying dating experiences, my best friend moved away and met her (great, fabulous) boyfriend the second week.

        “Men can sense that and do not always react positively, even if they are into those things themselves.” – yes, sigh. I always find this hard. I want to be honest about what’s important to me, but, don’t want a guy to think I’m just looking for a guy, any guy. (That’s definitely not the case – I hope to find someone I really love, and a lousy marriage with a bunch of kids is a reeeeally bad situation).

        I really like your idea of exploring meeting people near my parents.

        “Give yourself a 3 or 6 month break, where you will just try to make yourself happy doing whatever . . . and see where that leads you.” – And that’s good advice.

        Thanks!

        • A wise family member of mine always tells everyone, “when the time is right, you’ll fall in love.”

          Your friend may have met the man of her dreams when she moved away; you may meet yours when you are on vacation, or at home, or after you move to SV to look for him and then come back to visit someone in your current town . . . My point is you don’t know when. Don’t spend too much time comparing yourself to other people. One thing I would add is that married people with kids tend to hang out with other married people with kids, so if all your friends are married, it’s easy to see why it feels like everyone is married (but everyone isn’t). Try to meet some new people who aren’t.

          You say the educated/professional population around you is small. Is that a deal breaker for you? Be honest. Nothing wrong if it is. But maybe you can fall in love with a really wonderful florist, or firefighter, or a cook who reads Agatha Christie mysteries in his spare time. . . Explore your options.

          And when it comes to meeting new people, you can be honest about your life goals without seeming like you will settle. If it comes up, you can say, “I am really looking to meet someone who makes my life better and with whom I would want to one day have gorgeous children, but if it doesn’t happen, I am going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and then reward myself by eatting loads of chocolate croissants in Paris.” Or whatever version of that works for you. I think a light approach tends to be best. And if you take some pressure of yourself, I guarantee it will all become easier, or at least less stressful.

          • 1. This is really good advice. 2. I think I just fell in love with the idea of a cook that reads Agatha Christie mysteries

        • I live in a major city and am single and have a lot of fabulous single female friends. My friends in smaller cities are married with kids. Who knows if its coincidence or not. As one of my friends said who was dating from a smaller “pool” and met her (9 yr younger) boyfriend — “I probably wouldn’t have given him a chance if I had more options — and I’m glad I did give him a chance”. Sometimes I think more options makes it seem like options are unlimited. That said, I would much rather be single in a place where I’m not the only single…not just for dating purposes, but just for living an interesting life.

        • Hel-lo says:

          “I want to be honest about what’s important to me, but, don’t want a guy to think I’m just looking for a guy, any guy.”

          I’m not sure that this is what men are scared of. My guy friends are worried you’ll fall too hard too fast, and end up smothering them with your desperation to have a family. (Maybe that’s what you meant, I’m not sure.) Make sure to keep it light. I’m not sure I’d mention anything about a family for a while. Guys get scared easily.

      • I agree with this. I would also not assume that you will be able to work part-time or not at all after getting married – you can’t plan for someone else to finance your dream.

        Live the life you want to live, *now*, while placing yourself in situations where you might meet someone compatible.

        • EllaDances says:

          Thanks for all the comments. I can’t look at this site at work, so didn’t reply, but am really touched by the thoughtful responses. I’m doing lots of thinking.

          “I am really looking to meet someone who makes my life better and with whom I would want to one day have gorgeous children, but if it doesn’t happen, I am going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and then reward myself by eatting loads of chocolate croissants in Paris.” That, is, wonderful=) I love it=)

          I’m pretty open to dating different kinds of people. It’s just that I’m an extreme N in Myers Briggs, and I find most people I really connect with are very intellectual and (usually) educated. I’m a very abstract thinker, not very concrete. In practical terms, this means everyone I’ve dated happily has been a computer scientist. (Wow, that’s really crazy….). If I met a fireman or plumber who loved to tell me all about the books he’s reading, that would be fine by me=)

          “I would also not assume that you will be able to work part-time or not at all after getting married – you can’t plan for someone else to finance your dream.” This is true. I think, though, that I’m doing my part by saving a large percentage of my salary,and being willing to live in a low cost of living area, and be super frugal. I guess what I’m hoping is that I’ll meet someone who also really values the same lifestyle I want, so that it’s a natural choice to decide to have me shift hours from work to parenting.

  17. Diana Barry says:

    Help, Corporettes! I JUST got access to the site now. Will post again tomorrow am…please help me with clothing selection for a meeting!

    I am traveling down to NY for a conference by a big corporate trustee – they are custodian for my biggest client’s assets. The conference is in the morning and includes lunch. Then I will be around the city for the afternoon (just sightseeing-hanging out), and there is a dinner that night with the company’s CEO. The dinner is business attire, at a fancy restaurant.

    What suit should I wear? I have Jcrew pantsuits in black and grey pinstripe, Jcrew black skirt suit, or BR navy suit w/ pants or suiting dress. Pants are easier – no hose dilemma since it is supposed to be showery – but less dressy. Bright top? I expect to be one of the very few younger women there – most clients are old, and most people there will be men.

    Also, what shoes should I wear? I will be taking metro north into the city. I can bring heels if you think it is better to wear heels at the dinner. (I will already have 2 bags, one with my pump and the other my regular handbag – I can fit extra shoes in one of them.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you should be pretty dressed up for dinner so I’d be inclined to go with a skirt suit, although I agree that this is a tricky season for skirts – tights seem like too much but it also seems too early for bare legs. I prefer skirts on rainy days as pants are more likely to get soaked; legs dry more quickly. Definitely go with heels for dinner (and the conference?) and wear flats on the train and while sightseeing. I’m partial to MOMA if you’re looking for suggestions.

    • Skirt suit and heels. Pack some flats for the commute and your afternoon sightseeing.

  18. As a guy, here is another excellent book…”Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Marry-Him-Case-Settling-Enough/dp/0525951512

    Two key questions…Do you have shared values? And do you share some of the same hobbies or interests? If not, move on. Trust your gut.

    • anonymiss says:

      As a woman, I found that book almost as patronizing as “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Why reinforce the idea that just because *some* woman are biologically constrained at an upper limit if they do want to get married and have children, it is their responsibility to lower their expectations and settle for a mediocre guy? I know few men, if any, who would ever feel pressured to settle for a woman who was less than what they thought they deserved.

      • Not defending that book or any other, but I actually know several men who decided they wanted to get married and picked less than their ideal woman. A friend married a woman last summer that he did not find all that attractive when they met b/c they had compatible career goals, wanted to have similar future, he thought she would be a good mother, and she is good for his career. It sounds callous, but he is very happy and so is she. I think men can be much more pragmatic when it comes to these decisions.

        • anonymiss says:

          I don’t know any personally, but I find it cool that you do. I guess I’m more frustrated that books exist to tell women to do that, but I honestly cannot think of any author who would ever write an entire book telling a man to settle for less than best.

          • I think men are taught to separate needs much more than women. Think of how many guys break women down into “those you sleep with/date” vs. “those you marry.” It’s kind of terrible, actually. Women, on the other hand, are taught to want the total package, which while nice in theory, can end up as unrealistic in translation.

            I don’t really have a point of view on the whole should you settle debate. I don’t think anyone should ever tell you to settle, certainly. But there are probably some people out there whose expectations are unrealistic and who would do well to become a bit more grounded. I think men may be better conditioned to that, for better or worse.

  19. EllaDances says:

    Book suggestion: I suggest “Is he Mr Right?” by Kirshenbaum. I find it really fabulously wise. And, very funny. It’s done a great job of helping me determine “go” or “no go” on relationships.

  20. M in CA says:

    I think the best advice I’ve gotten is from my sister-in-law, who noticed — when she and I were at a fundraiser with lots of pretty people a while back — that I was pretty clueless when it came to flirting, and who was flirting with me. She knows I’m single and looking to date, and she was surprised as to how unaware I was of what was all around me.

    She gave me the following order: “M in CA, when you see a guy, I want you to look him in the eye and smile. That’s all.”

    Not that I’ve gotten a boyfriend out of doing that (yet?), but in general I think it’s gotten me in the habit of being quicker to smile — something I definitely needed.

    • This is great advice. Three years ago, on the subway, I looked a guy in the eye and smiled. He did the same, and we’ve been together ever since. Just shows you can meet the person anywhere, never stop being open to meeting people, and you can tell a lot about a person by their smile!

    • govvie says:

      I have to admit, I’m very clueless when I’m being flirted with. I can never read whether guys are simply being friendly or more, unless they begin physical displays like brushing or grazing against me. But good points on the smiling- who couldn’t use that?

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