Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ways To Keep Her Attention

For thousands of years, men have had to go out and find their lovers -- actually, way back before we became evolved men, we just went out, bopped them on the head and took them home. We have recently received a lot of e-mail from men who proclaim: "Why should we go after them?" Fair enough. So you want her to come to you? Ask and you shall receive. Here are the top 10 ways to make her approach you.

No.1 - Manage her expectations
Making her come to you is the easy part; keeping her is the real challenge. When you meet your dream woman, be honest with yourself and her: Do not portray yourself in a different light. Call it like it is and you will avoid headaches and misery down the road. Most importantly, she will see that you are being genuine, sincere and honest, and she will, therefore, want you by her side forever.

No.2 - Do not prejudge her
This is key, even before you get to the dating stage. Men (and women) are bad in one way: We meet a young woman we like and we attribute her with the qualities and traits of our dream woman. Then we wonder why we cannot do squat at work as we daydream of her.

Then when push comes to shove, we realize that she is a fraction of our image of her and that she is, in fact, nothing like what we believed her to be. This said, you should have absolutely no expectations of her character and she will not disappoint; she may even want you to get to know her better, at which point you can send us a thank-you note.

No.3 - Give her space
You may like her and want her to like you, but unless you give her space and do not crowd her, she will never be interested. You know the expression about absence making the heart grow fonder? Well, it's true. So let her wonder where you are, whom you're with and where you're going, and she will hope to cross paths with you more often than you think.

No.4 - Make her the center of your universe
OK, before the Men's Liberation movement gets upset, allow us to simply add this: Make your woman think that all you like her for is the BLT (no, we do not mean bacon, lettuce and tomatoes), and she will not care to keep you around for long. But please her mind by showing an interest (a genuine one) in her family, friends, work, interests, hobbies, and dreams, and she will fall for you. Make sure you let her answer you instead of shooting off a session of 20 questions.

No.5 - Smile
It's very important to smile and present yourself in a positive manner. More importantly, make her laugh, make her friends crack up and, if you can, make her parents smile. That way, you'll be laughing to the altar (well, more like crying). Ask 9 out of 10 women, and they will tell you the importance of a sense of humor, so leave the tortured look at home and crack a smile.

No.6 - Be the best you can be
No, do not join the army, even though women like men in uniform. Rather, make sure you smell good, have fresh breath, are well-groomed, and look your best. Yes, some women do not care about looks, especially when your bank account swells to the seven-digits. However, the same way that men demand their women be good-looking, women demand and deserve the same. You have been warned.

No.7 - Play hard to get
This one is an extension of the "do not make the first move" advice. The difference is simple: Even if she knows you are interested, do not throw yourself at her disposal. If she knows that you would walk over water and swallow fire to be with her, then she will rain on your parade and pitch a lit match on your dreams, so let her know that you have places to go and people to see.

No.8 - Do not make the first move
We usually think that in some situations, being straightforward is the only way to go, but you know what? Relationships are, for the most part, about games. And whether you wish to admit or deny it, you must agree that the second you find out someone is interested, your level of interest craters. It's almost like having already added another notch to your belt. Except, of course, if this involves the one person that you feel you were destined to meet, in which case you just keep on smiling.

So, show some interest -- this is the bait after all -- but keep your cards to your chest instead of slamming your two-of-a-kind on the table. Who knows? You may end up with a full house if you're patient.

No.9 - Keep her guessing
Women like mystery. Now, I'm not implying that you should lie to them, nor am I saying that you should play games, but you should leave something hidden. Put your life story in a press release and send it to her, and we guarantee that you will be flying solo for a while.

Feed her a bit, but keep her curiosity growing and her interest in you will do the same. If a woman thinks she has you figured out, she will get bored; however, if she wishes to determine what else lies between your two extremes (this last word of wisdom comes from a special young woman, so take her word for it), she will look forward to seeing you again and again.

No.10 - Do not be too friendly
So many men ask why their female friends choose to remain only friends. Well, if you discuss topics that friends discuss, then she will classify you as a friend. Yes, relationships should blossom into full-fledged partnerships, but this is not so at the beginning. And if this isn't enough, she will tell you sordid stories about all of the other men she likes and is pursuing. Act chummy and that is what you become -- a chum.

Top 10: Valentine's Gift Ideas For Her

Yes, it's that time of year again and the pressure is on to find your lady that special gift that will make her eyes light up in that unmistakable way. Don't fret; with this gift guide you're sure to find a winner.

No.10 - Jewelry
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but other valuable gems and metals come pretty damn close for the wallet-conscious romantic. Sleek rings and bracelets with precious stones will surely please your lady and complement the sparkle in her eye (can we get an "aw"?). There are great selections out there, some even offering unisex designs so that you can get matching pieces. Go the extra mile: Present it to her in a jewelry box.

No.9 - Lingerie
Sexy intimate wear is always a good choice that never gets old. It's a perfect way to add some spice to your sex life, as lingerie is clearly meant to be taken off. Make sure you find her size in a style you know she'll love.Go the extra mile: Have it delivered to her house, with a note instructing that she wear it on your Valentine's date.

No.8 - Weekend getaway
While bed and breakfasts will remain a female favorite (it's just some stranger's house to us guys), a carefully chosen one can prove to be an enjoyable getaway for the two of you. Out in the country away from the bustle of the city, but not lacking in comfort, it's one of the best ways to spend some intimate time together. Go the extra mile: Visit a spa where you can both get the full-body treatment on the way to the B&B.

No.7 - Body care basket
Women never seem to have enough beauty products, so feed her vanity a little and get her a set of every lotion, toner, soap, and bath salt she can use. You'll thank us later when her skin is all soft and sweet for you.Go the extra mile: Include her favorite perfume in the basket and give her a rubdown with the body cream.

No.6 - Purse
Another fashion accessory that's very popular with the female persuasion, most women can always use another purse to match their shoes, belt, coat, etc. Go the extra mile: Initialize the purse and/or stuff it with little gifts like a wallet, or a scarf with a pair of gloves.

No.5 - Sex toys
Make it a great night for the two of you by hitting the local sex shop. Sex toy manufacturers are getting more creative each year, and there's no end to the variety of bedroom accessories you can find, from board games and body paint to flavored massage oils.Go the extra mile: Get something you can enjoy together -- again and again.

No.4 - A special date
There's no going wrong here. Take your woman out on a romantic date. It can be lunch, brunch or dinner, depending on what day Valentine's falls on. Or you can recreate your first date and relive the thrill of the honeymoon phase. Spare no expense here. Go the extra mile: Send her an invitation via snail mail and tell her to wear the dress you bought her for the occasion.

No.3 - Flowers
These are classics that work like magic if you put a little extra effort into the deed (read: don't get her a single rose wrapped in gift paper). Talk to your florist about an intricate arrangement: each flower signifies something else, like romance, loyalty or purity, so pick the ones that match your woman most. Go the extra mile: Give her the flowers in a vase.

No.2 - Chocolate
Show her how much you care by giving her the closest thing to sex (at least that's what women claim). If you came here in search of the perfect gift, she likely deserves it. Go the extra mile: Get a custom selection of her favorite flavors and fillings, and feed them to her while you share champagne and strawberries.

No.1 - Picture & frame
Here's a good way to immortalize your love: give her a portrait of the happy couple in a high-quality cube frame. You can blow up that great set of pictures of the two of you or hire a professional photographer to do the job. Go the extra mile: Make one for yourself also, so that you both have the same pictures and frame.

Friday, January 1, 2010

How the Holidays Affect Relationships

In 2003, Jessica Comeau’s older brother was 32, and that year for Christmas, his girlfriend gave him an ultimatum: Get down on one knee by the time Santa had done his rounds or it was over between them.

After all, they’d been dating for seven years.

Comeau says she and her brother drank their weight at a local bar, and by the time they got home, he seemed morose. In an effort to distract him, she put on a funny movie and fell asleep on the loveseat.

By the end of Christmas day, with the whole family gathered, he’d failed to make his deadline.

But all ended well: Within a year, his ex announced her engagement to someone else. Her brother too eventually got married—to a woman he proposed to after four months.

Comeau’s story, however, illustrates a larger point: For anyone in a long-term relationship, the holidays aren’t just fun and games—they’re a make-or-break month or two.

Call it the holy trinity—you have all your friends and family in one place, time off from work to actually reflect on your life, and that ever-present holiday spirit, urging you to surround yourself with your nearest and dearest. Suddenly any ugly are-we-or-aren’t-we, should-we-or-shouldn’t-we relationship ambiguity looms larger than the balloons in the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Some couples crack under the pressure and call it quits. But at least an equal number, surrounded by loved ones and sleighfuls of good tidings, decide to make it official.

In fact, depending on whom you talk to, December vies with February for the month of the year when the most diamond rings bedazzle new hands.

According to a spokesperson from, the new Microsoft-powered search engine saw searches for terms like “diamond” and “engagement ring” spike by nearly 340 percent during late October and early November.

“Thanksgiving to New Year’s is our best time for business,” says Lita Asscher, president of Royal Asscher North America, the company that created the popular Asscher-cut diamond. “Percentage-wise, the last three months account for 50 percent of engagement rings we sell each year.”

“It’s hard for men to know exactly when to propose, and many want to do it around family,” concurs Yehouda Saketkhou, chief designer for Yael Designs, a jewelry house in San Francisco. “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are the busiest occasions for sales.”

Many women too are aware that it’s a prime season for more than mistletoe: "Women are romantics by nature. When they’re in a relationship that’s going well, most are hoping for that ‘unexpected’ ring to appear in their stocking or in front of a fire,” says Svetlana Novikova, a matchmaker in New York City.

Some who don't get one are let down, she says. Others decide that the relationship isn't going anywhere and call it quits—while promising themselves they’ll find true love in the New Year.

That’s just what happened to Stacy Shwed, 35, a psychologist on Long Island.

How texting, sexting, and the digital age are changing monogamy and the face of modern-day marriage

When Tiger Woods’ many indiscretions were discovered, his wife allegedly turned his golf clubs against him, bought a Swedish mansion in her own name—and, perhaps most tellingly, threw out his phone.

As other woman after other woman comes forward, spilling the gory details of her time with Tiger, it seems more and more likely that a telltale text message may be what, in the end, did the big cad in.

Unfortunately, if that’s the case, Elin Nordegren won’t be the first—or the last—spouse to discover her significant other’s dalliances the new-fangled way.

“An intercepted text is the 2010 version of lipstick on the collar,” says Jonathan Alpert, a New York City psychologist, who’s recently seen a spike in clients wrestling with the aftermath of technologically fueled affairs. And the behavior is rampant on both coasts: “More frequently than ever, this is the way people are finding out that their partners are cheating—whether it’s cheating with sex involved or an emotional affair,” says Yvonne Thomas, PhD, an L.A. psychologist.

In fact, e-mail and texting—and now “sexting”—have leveled the playing field, making straying easier in the first place, whether you’re a professional athlete or the average American.

There are even websites, like, designed to make a “more efficient” way for married couples to stray, says founder Noel Biderman, who built the site in 2001 after reading a statistic indicating that 35 percent of users on dating websites were actually married and looking.

In fact, most of today’s indiscretions start virtually—a volley of desire lobbed back and forth at the speed of light, gaining intensity as it goes.
Yesteryear’s trysts—bosses and secretaries, long nights at the office—now seem almost quaint, more like a Mad Men plotline.

Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed is that when an unsuspecting partner clicks to find an e-mail that rocks her or him to the core, the pain isn’t mitigated by the digital age.

“It felt like an out-of-body experience,” says Wendy Silver*, 33, who discovered a slew of graphic text messages between her live-in boyfriend of three years and several different women an hour before her younger sister’s engagement party.

She wasn’t even snooping. He was out golfing for the day, and when she called, his jean pocket rang—he’d left the phone behind. Because he was hosting the after-party, she wanted to be sure he hadn’t missed any messages.

“I’d never checked his phone before in my life,” she says. “I just trusted him.” After all, they’d grown up together. She’d known him since she was 14. At the time, they had been talking engagement.

Silver didn’t waste any time. When he got back home, she confronted him and told him to leave the party. He burst into tears and apologized.

“I didn’t think you would ever find out,” he said.

“A part of me wishes I hadn’t,” she admits.

Dee Sanderson, 34, author of How to Marry a Loser Without Even Trying, was a little more tech-savvy: A computer programmer by trade, she decided to bug her husband’s computer based on a bad feeling she had.

“It was a period in my marriage where it felt like something was wrong. We weren’t connecting,” she says. “I couldn’t seem to get him interested in doing anything together.”

She felt stupid installing the trace. “It will probably be nothing, and then I’ll feel bad about not trusting him,” she said. Instead she was shocked by her virtual haul.

“Lo and behold, he had three or four different e-mail accounts he’d opened, and he was trying to solicit women,” she says. “One asked him outright, ‘Are you in a relationship?’ And he said, ‘Oh, it’s nothing serious.’ That was what hurt the worst. He basically said that our marriage didn’t mean anything.”

She kicked him out—then relented, for a time.

“I started thinking, Well, he swears he never did anything….”

Indeed, high-tech infidelity creates a new gray area: If your significant other describes exactly what he’d like to do to someone else in gory detail, but he’s never actually laid a hand on her, is it cheating?

“When you’re going outside the boundaries of what you’re supposed to share, emotionally and physically, only with your partner, cheating is cheating is cheating,” says Thomas. “And it’s not just women who are the casualties.”

Women, Alcohol, and Sex

Last week, the blogosphere was abuzz about titillating new findings on women, drinking, and sex. The results of a new survey, released by a British feminine-hygiene company, were juicy: British women have, on average, eight sexual partners. With five of them, they were drunk when they did the deed. They couldn’t even remember the names of two of the guys the next morning. Five out of 10 preferred drunken sex to sober sex.

Interesting findings indeed, even though some fall clearly in “tell me something I don’t know” territory. First, eight isn’t a shocking number. (For the record, nine is the average number of sexual partners for an American woman today. If it’s news you want, look to New Zealand, where it’s 20.) I venture to guess that there are a couple of guys each of us might like to erase from memory. And does it really come as a big surprise that we’re more likely to let our hair down and go wild after a few drinks?

But before you could say “last call,” the findings had been reported far and wide. Many news organizations cited the survey as an academic study, though there was no academic expert involved, and ran screaming headlines based on the following statement, made by a FemFresh brand manager:

“These results are a clear indication that British women today are severely lacking in confidence. The fact that alcohol plays an integral role in their love lives shows that women are looking for a boost in self-esteem when it comes to their bedroom antics.”

While the company calls the “survey” shocking, it’s this leap that floored us. Exactly how do you get from questions like “When sleeping with someone for the first time, would it be safe to say you always have a drink or two inside you?” to the fact that women have no sense of self-worth? That’s when ELLE decided to peer a bit deeper into truths and trends about women, booze, and our behavior in the bedroom.

First, in America as in Britain, it does seem that we’re drinking like fish. “We started from an assumption that, you know, women are binge drinkers,” said a spokesperson for FemFresh. In that assumption, they may be right on target. Sharon Wilsnack, PhD, a professor in the department of clinical neuroscience at the University of North Dakota, spent 20 years tracking the drinking habits of U.S. women. Sex and the City plotlines to the contrary, “when we looked, we didn’t find huge differences [in how much women were drinking],” she says, “but what we did find were huge increases in intoxication. I think it’s possible that young women particularly are drinking more intentionally—you know, to get drunk.”

It’s certainly happening with the college set: There, what Wilsnack would call binge drinking—i.e., the consumption of four or more drinks in a row by women, or five by men—now has cute monikers like “pregaming” or “frontloading.” Some bright, young co-eds have even found a new way to recycle their Poland Spring water bottles.

“My friends will fill up a water bottle with vodka—one bottle is a little less than half a fifth—and take it with them when they go out. It’ll be gone by the end of the night,” says Julie Saunders, 21, a senior at Central Michigan University.

At Columbia College in Chicago, hot chocolate or coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur is the carry-along cocktail of choice during long, cold winters. But usually, says Emily Cotty, 21, “we pregame at home, then drink at the bar.”

For twenty- and thirtysomethings, happy hour is “practically Pavlovian,” says Tia Patel, 35, a marketing manager in New York. “Alcohol is a social elixir, yes, and increasingly part of the social construct—it’s like signaling your brain that when you have a fruity cocktail in hand, it’s time to have some fun.”

“Binge drinking is so common that it’s almost like there’s nothing wrong with it. They don’t realize that that’s not life,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD and author of Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.

With our workaday lives awash in alcohol, it only follows that it’s practically baked into dating: In the FemFresh survey, 45 percent of respondents claim that alcohol allows them to relax, unwind, and lose all inhibitions with a new date.

“I always drink on dates,” says Patel. “In fact, I dated a guy I had been set up with who didn’t drink, and it was impossible for us to break through those initial first-date jitters. We didn’t last past date five.”

Of course, it depends on the type of get-together: “I always have a drink if the date’s at night,” says Diane Edwards, 31, an advertising account executive in Manhattan. “Just not necessarily at brunch or picnics.”

And there’s good reason that as far back as the advent of absinthe, alcohol has been a go-to social lubricant.

“Alcohol inhibits our GABA–a neurotransmitter in the brain which is like a damper,” says Lombardo. “It lifts off that heavy blanket, and it tends to affect the frontal part of our brain, concerned with reason and rational judgments.”

Once you remove the heavy blanket, it’s certainly easier to jump between the sheets.

The interesting thing is that while a buzz may make hooking up easier, college-age women we spoke to seem to behave more conservatively on bona fide dates. This flies in the face of FemFresh’s findings: Instead of drinking liquid courage because she’s worried about what a guy will think of her once they’re in the sack, she won’t drink at dinner for fear he might not deem her worthy of date two.

“It’s kind of a turn-off to drink too much on a first date. You want to make a good first impression,” says Saunders. Cotty agrees: “I drink with my girlfriends but not always on a date. Ordering the drink affects his perception of you.”

What this could point to, whether the clothes are off or on, is what Lombardo refers to as “disordered thinking”—or a constant vigilance about how someone perceives you.

“It might be: He thinks I’m fat. How do I look? How do I sound? Every detail and being in tune with that,” she says.