Monday, December 31, 2007

The Key to a Happy New Year's Eve

Traditionally, New Year's Eve is the party night of the year. By law, you are required to have all the fun the universe can provide. You are supposed to laugh until Champagne comes out of your nose, look better than every other woman in the room, and kiss the most devastatingly attractive man you've ever met precisely at midnight.

Unfortunately, as most of us have figured out, New Year's Eve rarely works out this way. Sometimes you find yourself standing in the corner by yourself at a party you had to talk yourself into attending. Sometimes you get drunk and make a fool of yourself trying to get the attention of some guy who ends up leaving with somebody else.

But, even if things don't work out the way they're "supposed to," you can have a happy New Year's Eve. The key is to lower your expectations.

Understand that whatever you do, it will probably not match the hype foisted upon us by manufacturers of sparkling wine and purveyors of party dresses.

So, do yourself a favor and put together a Plan B:

Before you get ready to do whatever it is you plan to do tonight, stock your place with things that make you happy: A good book, a DVD you've wanted to see, your favorite CDs, tasty and nourishing food that makes you glad you've eaten it, and the best Champagne you can afford (Korbel is decent and reasonably priced ).

With your Plan B in place, you're safe to follow Plan A. If you end up at a party that isn't doing it for you, for example, you can try sticking around for another hour. Mingle as well as you can. If things don't start looking up, call a cab and get out of there.

Take advantage of Plan B.

Go home and enjoy yourself. Throw a luxurious party for one. Smear a bit of caviar on a cracker and write your New Year's resolutions (Number One: Treat yourself as a treasure that's yet to be discovered. Number Two: Speak to yourself as you would a beloved child). Watch that DVD. Read that book. Write a list of the qualities you want in your next boyfriend (or husband). Tape it to your bathroom mirror.

New Year's Eve is a time for reflection and a chance to make a new start. That's what I love about it.

If you go out tonight, I hope you'll have a good time. But, if you find yourself bored and disappointed, remember that you can always go home and have a much better time on your own.

Happy new year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Is Getting Back With an Ex Worth It?

Yeah, I'm in a happy place now, but once upon a time the week between Christmas and New Year's nearly killed me. The reason? A recent break-up with a guy I convinced myself I loved.

I'm writing about it now because I look back and think it's so silly. At the time it didn't seem silly. Since other people struggle at this time of year due to a break-up, I hope my experience will help them.

You may have noticed that yesterday's post addressed the same subject, but some people need a good push to move on (that used to be me). Life is short, and the world is full of wonderful men. You just can't find the love you deserve when you're hung up on a past relationship.

So here's my story:

Many years ago I dated a guy, and he dumped me. What's worse, he didn't even tell me he dumped me; he just stopped calling, and I heard the news from his friend that he was "out with his new girlfriend."

I went home and went to bed. When I woke up, Pete Townsend's "'I'm Gonna Get You Anyway" blared from the radio. I took this as a sign from God that my love with this guy was meant to be (sad, I know) and made a vow to get him back.

You see, the very idea that I'd been dumped -- and dumped in such a manner -- clouded my good judgment. If I were thinking straight, I'd have asked myself, "Do I really want to date a coward who can't break up with a woman face-to-face? I mean, what would happen if I married this jerk and somebody broke into our house?"

But no.

I couldn't see his faults. In fact, I couldn't remember any of them, either. For instance, the guy often had wicked breath, but this fact conveniently escaped my memory. I decided his compulsion to trot home every Friday night to talk back to Hugh Downs on 20/20 indicated a superior intelligence.

I also forgot that he suffered right-out whacko love/hate relationships with both his mother and his sister. I forgot that he'd told me he would never consider a woman for an executive position, and that, when I pressed him, he considered women "inferior."

I spent the better part of a year mooning over this schmuck, remembering the good times, like the night he snappped flowers off the neighbor's bush for me. I reminisced about the time we hopped the subway to see Johnny Thunders at the Mudd Club, where I stood among the leather-and-studs gang wearing a pink blouse with a Peter Pan collar.

In the end, I didn't realize my goal to get back with him, which turned out to be quite a good thing. Eventually, he married and divorced the girl he dumped me for. The last time I saw him, he sat round-shouldered in a neighborhood bar, sneezing uncontrollably. I'd forgotten about his ragweed allergy, too.

The mind is a funny thing.

I wasted too much of my young life pining for this guy, wondering about him, hoping to run into him, planning to run into him. I spent the entire New Year's Day after he dumped me, playing David Bowie's "Wild is the Wind" over and over and over again.

If I had the chance to do it over, I'd do this instead:

-Allow myself time to cry over the guy for a specified number of minutes every day until I got him out of my system.

-Push him out my mind for the rest of the day.

-Write a list of the things that bugged me about him (the evil breath, the Hugh Downs fixation).

-Toss everything he'd ever given me into the trash (crying would be allowed for this part, but I would do it).

-Toss out all other reminders of him (the blouse I wore to the Mudd Club, for instance).

-Toss out things that didn't necessarily remind me of him, but that I no longer wore or used.

In other words, I would move on. I would make a fresh start. I would stop bleating into my friends' ears about him. I would cease crying into my beer at the local tavern.

I would etch these words in my mind:

OUT OF SIGHT IS OUT OF MIND.

I would make a better vow: If I am ever to get back with him, he will have to come back to me. And, because the fool was not even man enough to break up with me face-to-face, he will have to come crawling back.

Then I'd have to ask myself if he was even worth my time.

I can tell you today, on December 28th 2007, he was not worth my time. If you're a regular reader, you know I married a man who makes me happy and does not even watch 20/20 (although he does probably watch too much John Wayne).

It happened for me, and it can happen for you.

Clear your mind, your house, and your life of the one who hurt you.

Turn the page.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Don't Cry Over Anything That Can't Cry Over You

I read this excellent advice in Maureen Dowd's column yesterday. Dowd wrote about Christmas memories, both hers and those compiled in a new book by Caroline Kennedy, and mentioned how her mother once swiped one of her Christmas presents and gave it to a less fortunate kid. Quite understandably, this caused indignation and tears.

While Mrs. Dowd may have suffered from an overarching sense of charity, she did make a good point that has served her daughter well all her life:

"Don't cry over anything that can't cry over you."

We're already two days past Christmas and zooming toward New Year's, and this season, like every season, for every woman who pried open a spring-hinged box containing an engagement ring, there's another woman who thought she might get one but did not.

Which means it may be time for her to re-evaluate her relationship.

However, this is not the time for accusations and histrionics. If the woman has been led to believe the relationship was on a serious course, she's got to step back and give herself time to see if it indeed what it seemed to be. Hey, maybe the guy just isn't ready to get married. Or maybe he just doesn't care about her the way she cares about him.

Whatever it is, she needs to be open to the acutely but temporarily painful fact that perhaps this guy is not the guy for her.

Instead of making an issue about it, it's time to be slightly less available. This serves two purposes: She can ease back into (or improve on) the life she had before the man stepped into the picture. She will also give him time to miss her a bit, leading him to realize how much she means to him -- or how little (in which case, what a blessing it is to know!).

It's definitely not time for an ultimatum. I'd be damned to wake up next to some guy whose arm I twisted into marrying me. If you expected a proposal but didn't get it, do not resort to giving ultimatums. You may end up scoring the ring and the party, but you'll wonder about the man's feelings for you for the rest of your life.

In the meantime, take Mrs. Dowd's advice. Don't cry over anything that can't cry over you, which includes cars, jewelry, Christmas toys, so-called best friends who call only when they need something, and unrequited loves.

Clearly, material things cannot cry for you, but you can determine whether those of the human variety can by stepping back a bit. Then see what happens.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Did Jamie Lynn Spears Get Pregnant By Herself?

If you listen to the knuckleheads interviewed for this article in The New York Times, you'd think she did.

The media and the public are stoning this girl, the 16-year-old star of a TV show my daughters watch, but she didn't get pregnant alone. There's a guy in the equation, too. The only thing I've heard about him is that she met him at church.

The so-called Christians who denounce Jamie Lynn for setting a poor example for their daughters might remember this: She could have had an abortion.

She didn't, so say a prayer for her and leave her alone.

In case you're wondering what I'm telling my daughters, I'm telling them the same thing my father told me. After we learned a 15-year-old acquaintance found herself with child, he warned, "If that ever happens to you, don't ask me to babysit."

That drove the point home. Teenage pregnancy is not conducive to fun, freedom, and finishing one's education. I would not let it happen to me. Let's hope my daughters are smart enough not to let it happen to them, especially since Walgreens stores seem to be as prevalent as Starbucks these days.

He's Got a Secret: Love Is Always a Gamble, But This is Ridiculous

Dear Terry,

After some shopping at 8pm, I was astonished to see my boyfriend's car in his driveway instead of on the way to the city, where he said he was going. I popped in to say hello.

When I went in through the back door (this is normal, the back door is left unlocked), there was my boyfriend, playing away on his computer. Well I should clarify, Mr Self-Proclaimed Computer Illiterate, who didn't know the first thing about the internet, was gambling with online poker on a state of the art laptop.

In previous conversations and demonstrations for the last four years, he has given me the impression that he didn't even know how to turn on a computer, never mind the intricacies of going online, or gambling with user name with cash on the screen. I stood there with this horrified expression on my face.

Although I'm daily on the Internet and have worked with computers over 20 years, it was pretty complicated. It was some type of card game with other online users around a table the man had a username, and he had over 500 dollars beside his username. I'm still in shock. I just made quick small talk and said, "Gotta go."

I feel I don't know the man at all. I knew he did gamble at the races, even occasionally at the bookies, as he owns horses, but a few days ago he mentioned the next time he puts a (small) bet on will be after Christmas at the races.

It has left me reeling, there is just too much hidden, too many secrets. I feel he knows me, has access to my life, who I am, but what do I really know about him?

Can you give some advice, please? Am I overreacting? My gut feeling was a feeling of being threatened, cheated on, discovering a nasty plot. He couldn't have floored me more if I'd caught him conversing in fluent Japanese to a Gesha girl on his lap. I love this guy but there just can't be trust in a situation like this.

-A Fair Lass Who's Not Being Treated Fairly


Hello, Fair One-

Please follow your instincts. I mean, ugh!

In previous letters, you've let me know that things were progressing with this man, and he'd been pressing you to marry him. Thank God you made this discovery now and not after you got in any deeper with him.

You're in love with him, and that's certainly difficult enough.

It's possible his gambling is all very innocent, that he just places the occasional bet, but why would he hide the fact that he knows how to use a computer? The fact that he's very comfortable in the online gambling world scares me a little, and the fact that he's secretive about it scares me a lot.

It seems to me that if somebody lies to you once, it's entirely possible that he's lied to you about other things. Or if he hides something, you have to ask yourself if he's hiding anything else.

You are definitely not overreacting. If you choose to proceed, do so with caution.

And please take very good care of yourself. Have the merriest Christmas possible.

Terry

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Man Calls Constantly, But He Won't Commit

Hello Terry,

Thanks for the book. I read it.

I talked to a guy for 90 days before he wanted to meet me. Finally he met me, and we had an awesome time. He lives four hours away from me.

He calls me a lot every day, and I like it. He laughs and makes me happy.

After spending a lot of time with him on a 4-day weekend, I asked him whether we are girlfriend and boyfriend, and he responded, "Let time tell." Should I have asked this question?

It seems like a relationship, since he calls me in the morning, a few times during the day and at night. He talks to me like a girlfriend but does not know if he wants me to be in a relationship.

I am so confused.

After my trip to meet him, he is saying I should move to his city, and he will help me find a job there. I see so much interest and passion but he does not want to say that he is in exclusively dating me.

I asked him if he was dating anyone and he said exactly this: "I have dinner buddies, I have show buddies and I have sex buddies." Well that put a damper on my hopes for him, although he treated me like a queen.

Why can't he decide about me? Is he a player? Should I stay away from him? What should I do?

Thanks.

-His Little Buddy


Hey, Buddy-

Thank you for purchasing my book.

About this guy you're dating: You didn't do anything wrong by asking about the nature of your relationship. He's been calling, you are obviously developing feelings for him, and you're concerned.

The fact that he categorizes his friends as dinner buddies, show buddies, and sex buddies makes me a little queasy (excuse me while I get the Pepto Bismol). I can't say for sure if he's a player, but boy, it's all about him and his feelings, isn't it?

But he makes you laugh, and we girls always fall for the guy who makes us laugh. And he's sweet on the phone, and you're thinking about him all the time when you're not on the phone, aren't you? Well, your behavior and feelings are normal. They're natural.

Since this fellow is calling you constantly (and let me repeat, you did nothing wrong by assuming that his behavior indicated a fairly serious relationship), I suggest you stop taking every call he makes. There is no law that says you have to pick up the phone every time he calls you.

Am I suggesting that you play games?

No.

Look at it this way: Let's say a woman you met at work started calling you four times a day. She invited you for a fun girls' weekend, where you went skiing, enjoyed some cocktails, saw a show or two, and so on. Would you or would you not assume that this person liked you and considered you a friend?

Now, what if you said to this woman, "I'm so glad I met you at the office. I'm so glad we've become such close friends?"

And she said, "Close friends? Um, look, we're just travel buddies. You gotta understand I have a lot of buddies. I'm very popular. I have all sorts of friends."

Would you accept that nonsense from a female friend?

I didn't think so.

Well, you don't have to accept it from some guy, either. Limit your conversations with him to one per day (twice a week would be even better). When he asks why you're suddenly unavailable, tell him you've been "really busy." That's it. End of story. It's none of his business.

Either he will figure out that he really does like you, that you're more than a buddy he can slip into some category, or he won't. He'll make a decision about your relationship. If he decides to see you exclusively, great. If he decides he wants to carry on with his assortment of one-dimensional friends, at least you'll know it. You can save yourself a lot of time and heartbreak.

Cutting down on his phone calls will leave you with time on your hands. Judging by your feelings for him, it will be hard not to pick up the phone, but I'm telling you, you're better off. Right now, he's calling all the shots in this buddyship, and it's time you got to call some of your own.

In the meantime, do write a list of the qualities you want in a man, as I suggest in my book (the book will not help you if you just read it; you must do the exercises!).

Be open to the very real possibility that there's a man who'll make you happier than this one will. I know it's hard to imagine you could ever fall for another guy when you're so hung up on this one, but, believe me, you can.

Terry

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why Marry for Money When You Can Make Your Own?

I just finished the informative and fun-to-read book, Goal Digger: Lessons Learned From the Rich Men I Dated by model and writer Alicia Dunams. She specifically dated rich men to learn how to make her own money, instead of marrying some guy to get it.

The lessons she learned inspired me, but I was especially excited about the decisions she made about men that led her to acquire her unusual financial education.

She writes of a bad marriage:

"Before we were married, I told my then fiance that I was with an ex-boyfriend during the first two weeks we'd met. Even though it was very early in our relationship, I thought I should tell him because he was a devout Christian. Besides, our pastor said we should always be honest with each other.

Instead of separating, we ended up eloping three months later. The very first day of our marriage started off as a glimpse into the hell it would eventually become. He tormented me daily with the news I'd given him months before we'd eloped. He'd sit on my arms to hold them down and then interrogate me about my relationship with this past lover. 'Where did he take you? What did you wear?' This would go on all night."


The guy sounds like a hell of a Christian, eh? But it gets worse:

"He wrote the word SLUT on my jeans, and made me throw away all the clothing and heels I had ever worn with this person. He read my journals and even made me destroy pictures and letters from past boyfriends. This went on even after he cheated on me. Because of this behavior, I was effectively lobotomized for most of the marriage. I was stoical, with no emotion. The abuse distanced me from my family and friends. I put up with this torment until the birth of our daughter. She was the only source of light during this dismal time...

One day, I woke up and said, 'No longer.'"


After Dunams' marriage ended, she spent time with another disappointing man:

"My second dysfunctional relationship was similar to many women's--being attached to a commitment phobe."

Eventually, she realized she needed to stop looking for a man to be a "savior figure," and she set out to learn how to achieve her own goals by learning how successful men achieved theirs. She dated a series of them and discovered that if they could become financially independent, she could, too.

Good book.

Since I, too, enjoy money, I'm learning how to make it and keep it myself. I have to admit, the idea of handling finances once intimidated me. After all, in high school I'd ended up in 3-Term Algebra (translation: Algebra for the Slow). Math was never my subject.

But over the years, I've discovered that several former Calculus whizzes I knew during my adolescence are currently mired in debt (credit card, home equity, you name it). It dawned on me that you don't have to be Pythagoras to handle money competently.

We women need to be able to handle money competently.

Here's a horror story: My cousin told me about a 40-something friend, who had been forced to room with a stranger following her divorce. Seems this woman's husband had led her to believe he was taking care of the finances during their marriage.

Turns out he hadn't taken care of much. What's worse, he hadn't even taken care of the IRS, which left this poor woman indebted to the scariest agency of the US Government. She ended up having to give up her home and share a small apartment until she could pay them off.

So let's be on top of our finances, People.

Money is freedom, and money is power. And, believe me, it's a lot easier to stay in love with a man when you don't suffer from money problems. Money problems spell death to a relationship (have I said this before? Probably). And having money means you don't ever have to take crap from some substandard guy.

If you don't think you have what it takes to learn money management skills, you're wrong. If you fear books about finance will bore you into a coma, Alicia Dunams' definitely won't.

Peter Lynch's Learn to Earn is good, as well, and it should be readily available at your library. The next book on my list to read is The Millionnaire Next Door, which another cousin (a spectacularly successful man) swears by. You should be able to find that one in your library, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What a Guy's Job Can Tell You About His Soul

Sure, we all want relationships with guys who a) have a job, and b) can keep a job, and c) make a comfortable living. We want to sleep at night.

We also want an equal.

And I got that, I'm grateful to say. However, it was also important that I marry a guy who, in the words of a good friend, "had a soul." (Said friend is a hotshot in the financial industry, who has worked alongside plenty of people who don't.)

To me, having a soul means treating another person as you'd have them treat you. It requires empathy and compassion. Yeah, money, style, and flat abs are great, but since we're all going to die one day (sorry for the reminder), it would be best to do it in the arms of a fine man who's happy to forgo a golf game to spend a little time at our bedsides.

So what does all this have to do with a guy and his job?

Well, two years ago, I attended a Christmas party chock full of corporate types. Two of the super-successful guests were an attractive married couple. Over dinner, the husband held court, telling us about his job at a major credit card company where he was paid to come up with schemes to induce customers to add charges to their accounts (and subsequently pay interest) for services they'd probably never need.

More than a few of us at the table were shocked.

"Is that even legal?" one woman asked.

"Don't you get sued?"

The guy answered smugly, "Of course we get sued, but not enough to make us stop."

I hated the guy instantly, and I didn't quite understand the proud look on his wife's face, either.

Fast forward two years.

Peter and I went to a Christmas party on Saturday, and who turns up at the end of the evening but The Credit Card Bandito, sans wife.

"I'm single!" he announced.

Big surprise.

He proceeded to regale anybody who'd listen about his new job at some other seemingly legitimate firm that specializes in defrauding the American consumer.

When a good friend of mine told him that she'd recently been hit for a series of monthly charges for some "shopping service" she'd never even signed up for, the guy responded, "That's right! You gotta watch those bills! Most people aren't looking at their bills! That's how we get them."

So, if you're not looking at your bills, you may have fallen victim to one of his scams yourself. He's handsomely paid for his efforts, and I'm sure he looks great in a suit, but it didn't surprise me that he's on the market again. He's a creep. His wife probably figured that out.

Seriously, I would have married a professional pooper scooper over a man who makes his living like that. How far's a guy willing to go to make a buck? Find out. It speaks volumes about his character.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How Can She Tell If He Likes Her?

Terry,

I have a crazy situation!

I like this guy who I met thru a friend community. It turned out that we have a lot of common friends. We met only once and kissed! He does not call me often, and I ignore him, too.

How do I know if he likes me?

-LostNlove


Hello, Lost-

From the way you describe the situation, he's called you, but you've been ignoring him. Stop ignoring him!

When he calls, sound friendly and receptive. Say something casual like, "Hey, I really enjoyed meeting you, and I'd love to see you again some time."

See what he says. See what he does. See where it takes you.

If he doesn't call you (you may have put him off by ignoring him), call him. Once. Again, be casual. Say something like, "Hey, I haven't heard from you in a while, and I was wondering how you're doing."

See what happens.

If he asks you out, go out. If he doesn't, let him pick up the phone next time.

It's important to show interest, and that's quite a different thing from being clingy or initiating all contact. Show interest. Be available, but don't be too available.

In the end, it's a guy's responsibility to let you know how he feels. It's not your job to read his mind. If he doesn't express interest, assume he's not interested and move on.

But, remember, it's not his job to read your mind, either. Show a little interest!

-Terry

Thursday, December 13, 2007

She Thinks Three's a Crowd

Dear Terry:

I consider my mother my best friend, but I have a problem that I definitely cannot discuss with her.

I have been seeing a guy (we can call him John) for about a year. Things are going well, and we've discussed marriage. He has made hints about giving me a ring for Christmas.

The problem is, since Halloween he has been telling me that he fantasizes about "sharing" me with another woman. At first I laughed it off, but he has been persistent. He keeps telling me that having a threesome would cement our relationship and make us stronger as a couple.

Personally, I know he's feeding me a line. I have zero desire to ever get into a situation with another woman. The very idea of it makes me sick to my stomach. I am totally straight.

Unfortunately, I've come to love this guy and have gotten used to having him in my life. I'm 31 years old, and I would like to get married and have kids. Is it possible that I can have these things without being "shared" or having to fight about it for the rest of my life?

I'm afraid that if John shows up at my door on Christmas Eve with a ring, I will be too excited to step back and clarify things before I marry him. Do you think he can get over this obsession of his? Can we get back to who we were before it showed up?

-Skeeved in Saskatoon



Dear Skeeved-

I think it's interesting that John wants to "share you" (nice euphemism, by the way) with another woman. I wonder how he'd feel if you told him you'd rather be shared by another man--or better yet, you'd like to share him with another man.

Hah!

Can you imagine the look on his face if you told him the arrangement would cement your relationship? I mean, seriously.

Since you're clearly not into 3-way action, your feelings must be respected. Either John is going to have to let go of this fantasy (which, as you understand, benefits him and not you at all), or he's going to have to let go of you.

You might try telling him what a good male friend once told me. After managing to achieve John's goal, he reported that it wasn't nearly what it was cracked up to be.

"It was way too much work," he said. "Like, I'm busy with her. I'll get to you later. "

The experience killed the fantasy for him.

It wouldn't hurt for John to consider this guy's point. And it's imperative you make your feelings about all this crystal clear (you're not going for it, and he needs to give it up) before Christmas Eve, or whenever you suspect John may turn up with a ring. You need to determine whether or not you can be happily married to him.

Remember: People do not change after they get married. They only become more of who they already are.

And, for Pete's sake, you're only 31 years old. Don't drag yourself up the aisle because you fear it may be your only chance to get married. Even if it does turn out to be your only chance, you'd be happier getting a cat than binding yourself to a guy who feeds you icky lines about "cementing" your relationship to get what he--and only he-- wants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Love, Prayer, and the Law of Attraction

I just finished reading the inspiring and fascinating Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by survivor, Immaculee Ilibagiza , in which she describes how she hid from armies of mass murderers in a 3'x4' bathroom with seven other women for 91 days.

While Immaculee's parents, two of her brothers (a third had moved out of Rwanda), and most of her friends met brutal deaths, she escaped. She credits one thing--and one thing only--for the fact that she lives and breathes today:

Prayer.

After she finally made it to safety and began a job with the UN, she says she sought to find love.

"As my heart slowly recovered," she writes, "I began to dream of sharing my life with someone special, of having a family of my own to care for and love. But I was nervous...I remembered my experience with John [a former boyfriend] and was unwilling to subject my fragile heart to a relationship that could go nowhere and end painfully. So, as I'd learned to do whenever faced with a problem or challenge, I called on God. If I wanted a marriage made in heaven, what better matchmaker could there be?

The Bible tells us that if we ask, we shall receive, and that's exactly what I did: I asked God to bring me the man of my dreams. I didn't want to cheat myself--I wanted to be very clear on the kind of person God should send me. So I sat down with a piece of paper and sketched the face of the person I wanted to marry, and then I listed his height and other physical features. I asked for a man of strong character, one who had a warm personality; who was kind, loving, and tender; had a sense of humor and strong morals; who loved me for who I was; who enjoyed children as much as I did; and, above all, loved God."


Some lines later, she continues:

"Once I was clear on exactly what I wanted, I began to visualize it, believing in my heart that it had already come to pass. I'd put it all in God's hands and knew that it was only a matter of time before He would bless me with my wish. But to hurry things along, I took out my father's red and white rosary and began praying for my husband to show up. Three months later, he did: Mr. Bryan Black, who was sent by God, courtesy of the UN, all the way from America!"

Today, Immaculee Ilibagiza and Bryan Black are happily married, the parents of two children, and live on Long Island.

Monday, December 10, 2007

He's a Man, and He Likes Variety

Inside the mind of a Casanova
Inside the mind of a Casanova


Click the above link to see this compelling piece from this morning's Today .

I've known women who operate like this guy, so he's only kidding himself a little bit when he says everybody has to be responsible for their emotions. But some people (and some of them are actually men) can't roll past an Arby's drive-thru, let alone control their emotions. Unfortunately, certain women will be attracted this kind of man precisely because he is a heartbreaker.

About his contention that males crave variety, well, I hate to break it to him, but many women do, too. Because of their growing economic independence, some of them feel justified to do more than just check out the menu.

Here's a tip for our Casanova friend: Treat others as you would have them treat you, lest one day you find some woman treating you the same way you treated some other woman.

Oh, yeah, try letting up on the blowdryer.

Friday, December 07, 2007

When it Comes to Attracting Good Men...

Plastic surgery is not necessarily your best option. Click here to see what I mean.

Attract Men Like a Magnet

Hey, did you hear the one about Jennifer Love Hewitt being too fat?

In case you didn't turn on the tube this week, Jennifer has taken heat for appearing in public in a bathing suit and having "too much cellulite."

Jennifer Love Hewitt is a size 2.

If she's too fat, what does that make the rest of us? If you pay any attention to the media, you will quickly discover that you, dear friend, are hideously flawed. And, of course, you don't have what it takes to attract (and keep!) a man. You're too thick in the waist. You need a boob job. Your legs are covered in revolting cottage cheese that must be eradicated by all means possible. You're not girly enough. You're too girly. You don't talk enough. You talk too much. Those pathetic lines around your eyes date you like a day-old roast beef.

Turn off your TV.

The truth of the matter is that men, the desirable ones, don't care all that much about what you look like. They don't care if you're shy, or if you occasionally ramble on about nothing. Instead, they tend to gravitate toward women who possess a valuable, seemingly elusive, quality:

Happiness.

Oh, yes. Happy women attract men, small children, dogs, and guinea pigs like magnets. What man in his right mind wouldn't want to be around a happy woman?

Think I'm being silly? I'm not, and I'll prove it to you.

Like a lot of people, my weight used to fluctuate (although not so much anymore, thanks to regular dates with a NordicTrack). At one point I was 30 pounds heavier than I am today, and some friends had invited me out for dinner and drinks.

I certainly didn't relish the idea of being the fat chick at the bar, but I agreed to go. While trying on 3,000 outfits in an attempt to find something that made me look thin, I had an epiphany: I wasn't going to lose 30 pounds in two hours. My best bet was to forget about feeling fat and put a smile on my face. I set a goal to focus on whomever spoke to me, to look him or her in the eye, and to forget about myself.

Before I left the house, I brought to mind all the things I had going for me. Once I was out, I smiled sincerely at people and made a point of putting them at ease.

The result? One very attractive guy (whom I previously considered completely out of my league) asked me out that night, starting a fun and memorable summer romance.

After we'd broken up a few months later, I woke up with the symptoms of some sort of food allergy. I'd lost 25 pounds, but that didn't change the fact that my eyelids bulged like footballs. My jawline had virtually disappeared. Some evil food product (my bet is on bacon bits; they're not real bacon, you know!) had transformed me into a monster.

I had plans to attend a party that evening, so I immediately turned to the teabag-on-the-eyelid therapy touted by the beauty mags. It failed. I tried cucumber slices next. They also failed. I tried ice packs, frozen spoons, frozen peas. They failed. I tried drinking loads of lemon water and following it up with a pot of detoxifying herbal tea. No luck with that, either.

Clearly, looking my best was not in the cards. After spending the afternoon in the bathroom ridding myself of lemon water and tea, I set out for the party looking like Jabba the Hut from the neck up.

But, once again, I'd made a decision. Sure, I'd be the most physically repellent creature in the room, but why get bummed out about it? Wearing a little brown eye shadow to play down the lid bulge and a confident smile, I hit the party.

All night I banished the nagging temptation to head to the bathroom to poke at my swollen face. Instead, I listened to other peoples' stories. I laughed at their jokes (if they were funny, that is). I achieved my goal of having a great time.

Guess who scored a date with a good-looking, very funny guy?

If you want to attract guys, forget about what's wrong about you. Forget about what's wrong about your job, your boss, and your mother. Cultivate happiness. You'll find yourself attracting better friends, better men, and better circumstances.

Next time you're on your way out of the house and feeling like no man in the world would ever be interested in you, think about things that make you laugh. Bring to mind times in your life when you were truly happy.

Then put a smile on your face and walk out that door!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Are You the Fish Caught on His Hook?

Fighting a cold and feeling rather poorly, I decided to spend the afternoon under the covers watching the romantic comedy, The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet and Jack Black for a second time.

I liked it a little less this time around; it's so sweet it made my molars hurt, but I enjoy the fact that it's set in England, and I like England. I haven't been there in a long time, so it's nice to watch a film set there and pretend I'm there, too.

Another thing I like about the movie: Its compelling examination of unrequited love, a tragedy that's affected most of us at one time or another. Kate Winslet plays Iris, a woman who's hung up on a guy who comes and goes and comes again without ever mentioning he's seriously involved with another woman.

As the story progresses, Iris experiences several epiphanies about her beloved's boomerang behavior, which may enlighten the viewer who finds herself in a similar situation.

If you've ever dated a guy who comes on strong, and then disappears, or says he doesn't want a relationship, and then keeps turning up, or is involved with another woman, and then keeps turning up, I'm talking to you.

And perhaps your friends are equally baffled by his erratic passion. Maybe they imagine (as you do) that the guy has commitment issues, that he's afraid of becoming vulnerable and getting hurt. The poor tenderhearted fellow!

But here's the truth: The guy is a self-centered jerk. A kinder way of putting it would be to say he's a narcissist. Manslator Jeff Mac addressed the subject of boomerang men yesterday; he maintains that guys who pull this garbage do it for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with you (or me. In days of yore, I fell for not one but two of these clowns. Where the hell were you to set me straight then, Jeff Mac?).

The sad thing is, if you allow yourself to stay on such a guy's hook, you make yourself unavailable to a man who wants to give you the love you deserve.

Are you ready and willing to accept the love you deserve? Slip off the hook. It'll hurt for a little while, but it'll be worth it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Are You Still Reading Minds?

Do you ever find yourself asking:

-I wonder if he'll call

-I wonder if he likes me

-I wonder what he meant when he said

-I wonder why he says he doesn't want a relationship, but he keeps showing up where I hang out

-and so on?

If so, you may suffer from the infamous Woman's Mind-Reading Syndrome. It's possible you acquired this afflction from a steady diet of reading women's magazines (the ones with cover blurbs like HOW TO CRACK A MAN'S SECRET CODE and WHY HE CAN'T TALK ABOUT HIS FEELINGS--AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO DECIPHER THEM!).

Or perhaps you acquired this affliction when someone told you that--since you're a woman--you're naturally more in touch with your feelings, his feelings, the whole world's feelings, and you must take tender care of everybody else's feelings, lest you hurt feelings, which would mean you're a crappy person.

Here's the bottom line on feelings. You treat a man as you would have him treat you. He treats you as he would have you treat him.

If he's not treating you as he would have you treat him (i.e., letting you wonder about his feelings instead of expressing them, saying he doesn't want a relationship before bouncing into bed with you, lying, not calling or showing up when he says he will), then it is time to hit the highway.

Stop wondering why he does the things he does. Stop reading his mind. God knows, he's not reading yours.

Know this:

Happy relationships consist of two people who actually enjoy communicating with each other. One person cannot be--and should not attempt to be--solely responsible for the transmission and analysis of verbal and non-verbal expression.

Happy relationships consist of two people who are equally committed to the relationship. They do not consist of one person who will do whatever it takes to make the other person appreciate her, love her, respect her, desire her, and so on.

Either the guy is in, or he's out.

The guy who's in will let you know he's in. The guy who's out will run hot and cold, and he'll disappoint you whenever he gets a chance.

If the guy you're stuck on falls into the latter category, I'll say it again: Hit the highway.

Monday, December 03, 2007

How Not to Use the Law of Attraction

I've made no secret that I met my husband of 15 years only after years of making every dating mistake in the book. I made a career of dating losers, schmoozers, No-Show Joes, and other human disappointments.

I attracted them. What's worse I was attracted to them.

I came to the sorry realization that all my failed relationships had one thing in common: Me.

About this time, I discovered the Law of Attraction through several excellent books. I bought and studied every LoA resource I could get my hands on.

My life changed.

I used LoA not only to meet a great guy but also to lose weight. Before I'd even found the LoA books, I'd read somewhere that research showed that basketball players who merely visualized themselves making shots did just as well as players who actually practiced.

I decided I would try a similar method to lose weight. At the time I had 20 pounds to lose, and so I'd say to myself as I dropped off to sleep:

"I am losing 20 pounds."

I said it over and over, picturing myself looking thin and fabulous in a little black dress.

I'd been dieting for years and years (since the age of 14, actually), and I'd never had much success. Once I started using the method I described, I actually lost 30 pounds, instead of 20.

However, there's a wrong way to use the Law of Attraction, and it's a trap even I still fall into. Occasionally, I'll dwell on the things I don't want:

-Messes in the house

-My husband's insistence on watching John Wayne movies

-Skyrocketing gas prices

-Skyrocketing electric rates (thank you, Governor Jodi Rell)

-Soulless Christmas commercials featuring intellectually-shortchanged individuals singing songs of worship to an automobile.

Over the weekend, I hit rock bottom. A friend and I got together to attend a tour of neighborhood houses that had been decorated for Christmas.

Each of them inspired awe in its own way. Unfortunately for me, a house built in 1786, which is currently owned by a married couple who have probably not even turned 30, inspired envy.

The cleverness with which this couple used vintage and homemade objects to decorate their historic, yet well-maintained house, brought tears to my eyes. And then there was a the kitchen! They'd managed to hold onto its pre-George Washington administration charm, while introducing chic amenities.

Leaving the house, I felt like a failure. While my house is certainly pleasant and comfortable, it couldn't compete with any of the dwellings on the tour. I got into a funk about it.

The next morning, it occurred to me: You're doing things backward again. You see something you like, and instead of saying to yourself, "That's something I'd like to achieve," you get down on yourself for not having it already.

Seeing those houses marked an opportunity for me to crystallize my thoughts about what I do want, instead of what I don't.

As for gas and electricity prices, well, aside from lowering my consumption, I don't have too much of a choice about them. Instead of grousing about the high costs of things, wouldn't it be more productive to use the Law of Attraction to expand my means?

What does any of this have to do with you?

Well, as far as meeting Mr. Right goes, it's pretty much the same thing. Chances are, you'll run into couples that you do and do not like as Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year's approach. Use these meetings to your advantage.

See the way your cousin and her husband treat each other. Is that the kind of relationship you're going for? If not, what don't you like about it?

-Do they bicker about who changed the baby last?

-Do they ever laugh?

Observe. Take mental notes. Based on your findings, write a list of what you do want in your next relationship, as opposed to what you don't.

When you know what you want, it's amazing how you attract it. What's more, you become attracted to it, too.

Once you attract the man of your dreams, you will probably need a wedding dress. You can use the Law of Attraction to find that, too.

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