I Want Him to See Me as More Than a Friend

Dear Elana, 

I've known this friend for 13 years. He's two years older than me, and I know him because he's a family friend. We were always close, but I think (pretty sure) that I'm falling for him. How do I get him to see me as a potential partner? 

- Wanting And Needing To Make Our Romance Engage

Dear WANT MORE,

Before you make a move, you need to decide if it's worth risking your friendship – and creating awkwardness for your families. If you think there's potential for lasting love, then it's worth exploring. But just like dating a coworker or a neighbor, if you break up, you have to be prepared to keep seeing each other. 

Next, you need to clarify your feelings. You say that you are “pretty sure” that you are falling for him. Do you find yourself smiling when you think about him, or hear his name? When you see him, do you feel like you have butterflies in your stomach, or like your heart is bursting out of your chest? If you answered yes, then congratulations, you are officially smitten. 

If you decide to move forward after weighing the pros and cons, you need a plan to help him see you as a potential match. Show him that you’re not a goofy kid, but instead an alluring young woman. If he's used to seeing you in ratty t-shirts, try wearing something that shows your sense of style. Engage him in topics that matter to him, and demonstrate your shared interests. Adjust your posture when you're talking to him, and see if he mirrors your body language. 

Invite him to spend time with you outside of family holidays. After a Thanksgiving feast, ask him if he would like to join you outside for fresh air. If you find yourself laughing with him at inside jokes, tell him that you feel comfortable with him, and that you enjoy hanging out with him.

As your connection grows stronger, you can mention that you are interested in various activities like seeing an independent film or hiking in a local park. If he jumps at the chance to join you, there's a good chance that he sees you as more than a friend. But if he politely ignores your hints, take the cue to safeguard the friendship and set your sights elsewhere.

Why Do Guys Ghost?

Dear Elana: 

Why do guys ghost? I've had three guys disappear this year. Am I scaring them off? With one guy, we went out on several dates and it seemed like he had a great time. He even introduced me to his friends. Then, he stopped responding to my texts and I never heard from him again. 

- Girl Hoping One Stays True

Dear GHOST

Guys disappear when they are afraid of communicating. It's so much easier to simply ignore a text than to have a difficult conversation about their feelings. Maybe he wanted a casual relationship, and he doesn't know how to break the news that he's moved on. Maybe he thinks that avoiding you will be less painful than telling you the truth. 

It's confusing and disheartening when a guy who showed interest abruptly vanishes. The experience leaves you questioning his motives and wondering if you did anything wrong. You need to know that it's not your fault when a guy disappears. There's no excuse for the immaturity and selfishness of ghosting after connecting with another person. 

Could you be the spooky one causing men to ghost? I don't know, maybe. Are you saying that you want to move in together and open a shared bank account on your first date? Regardless of your behavior, a mature and emotionally stable man will not simply disappear. He might say that you're not a good match, but at least he'll have the guts to tell you that he's not interested in a relationship. 

Remember that you can't force men to be emotionally aware or honest. However, you can communicate that you can handle the truth, even if it is unpleasant or disappointing. You can also seek out men who are thoughtful, self-aware, and good communicators. Eventually, you'll sort through the ghosts and find a man who maintains a corporeal form. 

--

Elana Hunter started KickStartLove when she was single, and after years of dating she is now happily married. She provides individual dating coaching for private clients who are ready to change their lives. 

Dating with PTSD

Dear Elana,

Do you have advice for guys who want to find love when they have PTSD due to a history of child abuse, sexual abuse or bullying? I’m talking about guys specifically because it seems that guys have to be confident and seductive, yet abuse hinders that confidence.

– Concealing Overly Personal Emotions

Dear COPE,

First of all, I want you to know that you are not alone. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), about 8 percent of the U.S. population will have post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives. I want to reassure you that you can still find love. In fact, support and connection are two of the best defenses against the isolation and self-doubt that often accompany trauma.

After a trauma, your nervous system is on heightened alert and needs reassurance that it’s safe to ease into an evening of candlelight, scotch and innuendo. Practice mindfulness to increase your awareness of the present moment. Focus on the colors, scents and textures in the room. Notice the necklace your date is wearing, the way she holds her hands and the sound of her laugh.

One of the hardest things about dating after a traumatic event is not being able to fully trust your instincts. You might feel jumpy and insecure despite your date’s positive feedback. Remember that your gut reactions might be based on past experiences instead of the emerging relationship. Try to evaluate your feelings about the woman sitting across from you based on her words and actions – not the hurtful actions of other people from your past. 

As your relationship develops, you can start to open up about your symptoms. One of my clients had vivid nightmares that woke him in a cold sweat. When his girlfriend slept beside him, she would reassure him and help him fall back to sleep. After many exhausting nights, they were both able to sleep peacefully.

Your life experiences shape who you are, and your exposure to trauma may have allowed you to develop greater empathy, gratitude and courage. The right woman will admire your strength and honesty.

Get Back Together with My Ex?

Dear Elana,

Some time ago, I started dating this amazing guy. Everything was great and we got along in every way. However, he had finished a two-year relationship right before we started dating, and after a few months he said he wasn’t ready. We concluded that probably not enough time had passed since his previous relationship, and that he could not be emotionally available to me or anyone else. My heart was broken, but as we both really liked and admired each other, we decided to stay friends. Now we spend time together, but I am still in love with him. How do I know if he is ready for a relationship? When that happens, how can I make him see me as a romantic interest once again? P.S. We are gay. Thank you so much!

– Hopeful Underdog Not Giving Up

Dear HUNG UP,

It sounds like the first question is how honest your friend is being with you. Is he really “not ready” to be in a relationship, or is he hesitant about being in a relationship with you? If you truly believe that your former flame can keep burning, then you need to have a conversation. Ask him how he feels about his ex, and how he feels about you. Remind him of the fun you’ve had together, and tell him you want to keep having adventures with him. However, I would caution you to examine your expectations. It is possible that he will remain your friend, but fall for someone else. If that time comes, make sure that you are open to other matches whose flames are burning brighter for you. 

Help! I'm In Love With My (unavailable) Best Friend

Question: I have this problem and I need your help. I'm in love with my best guy friend. I have known him for over a year, and we're so close we tell each other everything, but he has a girlfriend. We work together in an office where we often work late, and sometimes he sleeps at my place. Lately he has tried to make out with me,  but I refuse. I know he likes me as a friend, but maybe he feels the same way about me? What can I do? How can I know if he has feelings for me?

Answer: I get it. You're falling in love with your best friend. You spend every day together at work sharing intimate thoughts and feelings, and the secrecy is intoxicating. It's exhilarating, and you can't stop wondering if it's meant to be. 

It probably hurts when you see him with his girlfriend, or when he is unavailable because he is with her. You’re confused because you don’t know if you should bare your heart and tell him how you feel, or respect his relationship and back away.

Here's the thing: if he's already comfortable cozying up to you at night, your feelings for him are hardly an unsolved mystery. The truth is, he could end his relationship and pursue you, but he isn’t budging. He seems content cheating on his girlfriend, and leading you on in the meantime.

Next, think about how your actions could hurt his girlfriend. How would she feel if she found out that you are allowing her boyfriend to spend the night at your house? 

I have to believe that you are reaching out to me because deep down you know that you deserve better. You deserve a man who will make you a priority and will move mountains to be with you. You are worthy of requited love.  

In psychological terms, you are operating from a scarcity mentality: you are willing to pursue a man who is taken because you believe that eligible men are in limited supply. In reality, there is no shortage of single men. There are plenty of smart, funny, dashing men, but you are oblivious to them because of your infatuation with your unavailable guy friend.

This beau of yours is getting his emotional needs met without offering you anything tangible. My advice? Expect more. Research shows that when you expect more from a relationship, you get more. Embrace an abundance mentality. Open your eyes, get dressed up, go to an art gallery, chat up a stranger, cheer at a baseball game, and when you catch the eye of a handsome gent, make sure to raise your standards for character before getting attached. 

Despite all my warnings, if you can’t imagine moving on without an answer – proceed with caution. 

Tell him that it hurts to be just friends because your feelings for him are deep. Listen carefully to his response and accept his answer. If he says that he shares your passion, tell him that he needs to end his relationship before he can be with you. You can celebrate, but don’t be surprised if you find him sneaking around with another woman behind your back. If he chooses to stay with his girlfriend, then you will likely need to stop socializing with him until you can tolerate being in his life without being intimately involved. In that case, focus your attention on meeting someone new, someone honest, loyal, and unattached. 

What to say on first dates

Everyone has expectations for first dates. Some singles expect Hollywood levels of romance with a tangible feeling of electricity in the air, magnetic sexual attraction, and a sense of having been made for each other. Others expect disappointment, a lack of chemistry, connection, or excitement.

The reality is that although most first dates fall short of both these high and low expectations, they can be time consuming and tiring. Fortunately, a research team at Stanford University (MacFarland, Jurafsky, and Rawlings) has identified the key ingredients for a successful date through scientific analysis. 

The researchers recorded and examined 1,000 speed dates between graduate students to learn what flies and what flops. Here is what they found: 

 

Advice for Men

Pay attention to her. A common mistake is for men to think that they will win women over by impressing them with their accomplishments. In fact, the women in the study elected to go on second dates with men who let them speak and who showed interest in what they said. The men who scored the most dates expressed support, empathy, and interest. 

Interrupt her. Obviously, don't overpower the conversation, but men who interrupted women to voice agreement or understanding fared better than those who listened passively. Some men were so in sync with their dates that they even finished their sentences. Here's an example:

Female: I’m feeling a little silly. This is like— 

Male: A little silly. It’s fun. 

Laugh with her.  Women are often instructed to laugh at men's jokes, and it turns out that the opposite works just as well. If you think she's funny, let her know. Also, pay attention to your environment on the date, and find humor in situations together. 

Compliment her. Unsurprisingly, the women in the Stanford study liked when men made flattering observations about them. On a first date, try to compliment her appearance and her personality. Don't overdo it, but a few well-timed remarks can go a long way.

 

Advice for Women 

Speak with confidence. A common mistake is for women to act passive and agreeable. In fact, men in the study chose to go on second dates with women who spoke with authority. Men were less interested in women who seemed hesitant and used verbal hedges, such as “maybe,” “sorta” or “kinda.” Women who expressed enthusiasm seemed more engaged in their own lives, and in the date. 

Talk about yourself. Yes, seriously! Don't spend the whole date tooting your own horn, but do share your interests, like playing a wind instrument. Men and women agreed that they clicked best when the woman took the lead in conversation and used words such as “I,” “me,” and “myself.” Definitely spend time learning about him, but don't shy away from sharing stories from your life or filling him in on your passions and hobbies. 

Raise and vary the pitch of your voice. The researchers found that men and women vary the pitch of their voice on a good first date to highlight their gender – women alter their pitch to sound more “feminine” while men deepen their voices to sound more “masculine.” This vocal change is subconscious, and serves as a subtle indication of attraction. 

Find connections and shared values. Men seek out partners who share their interests and values. For example: 

Male: I play the guitar – 

Female: You do? Me too!

Male: That's great. Let's start a band.

 

If you follow these four simple guidelines, your first dates will lead to exciting second dates! 


Elana Averbach is a dating coach and licensed therapist who teaches private clients how to date more effectively. She helps people optimize their online dating profiles, overcome approach anxiety, challenge negative self-concepts that are holding them back, and hone skills for building attraction. Learn more at www.kickstartlove.com/coaching.

 

Should I call him?

Dear Elana, 

I am a 34-year-old woman who has been single for two years. Last week, I finally met a great guy, but he hasn’t returned my phone calls. I texted him after our date to tell him that I had a good time and didn’t get a response, and then I called him three days later to invite him to a friend’s party and haven’t heard anything yet. I’m feeling frustrated. What should I do? 

- My Phone’s on Vibrate For You

Dear Phone’s on Vibrate,

Despite the fact that you don’t hear your phone, I hear you, loud and clear. After two years of missed connections, you finally found a guy who might be a match, and you can already imagine your future children playing catch in the backyard. The problem is, he isn’t picking up what you’re putting down.

First – and I say this with care – stop contacting him. No calling, no texting. Find something else to do with your thumbs. If he wants to find you, he knows how to get in touch.

The fact that he didn’t respond to your text or call tells me that he is either not interested, or he’s pursuing someone else and hoping to keep you on the hook. Give him space. If he calls you, there’s a chance that you could develop a relationship, but if you keep running after him you could chase him away permanently.

Right now, you should be less concerned with his call, and more interested in how to establish power dynamics that build a lasting relationship.

Whether he comes to his senses and realizes that you are the milk to his cookies, or you decide to meet someone new, here’s how to avoid moping around in sweatpants while you wait for your iPhone to buzz.

I’m going to share a secret with you from behavioral psychology: guys aren’t “great” or not “great”. They are people, and they respond to reinforcements. If you teach a man that he can navel gaze while you call, and write, and swoon he’ll learn that he can maintain your affections without lifting a finger. This is not what you want.

You need to establish power dynamics in the beginning of a courtship that will be in place throughout the duration of your relationship.

If you are always the one calling, arranging dates, and texting him selfies, then you are showing more interest than he is. You’re giving away your power which makes you feel vulnerable, and ultimately makes you less attractive to him.

Consider the balance of power that you want in a relationship, and then act accordingly from your first interaction. If you want an equal partnership, then make him feel secure and loved, and hold him to the same expectations.

The key isn’t to stumble upon a man who is “great,” it’s to find a man who has good character and who likes you so much that he wants to match your level of affection and attraction. Put down that phone, and get out there.