Category Archives: Relationship

Problems Parents and Teen Relationships

The teen years are fraught with conflicting feelings and thoughts as these almost-grown children head closer to adulthood. Parents are often left wondering what happened to their delightful kids who went from happy-go-lucky to moody, frustrated, conflict-ridden adolescents. KidsHealth from Nemours advises distinguishing the difference between emotion-driven adolescence and puberty, which is physiological.

During the teen years, children naturally move toward establishing independence, according to The F.U.N. Place website, or Families United on the Net. Most teenagers are heavily influenced by people outside their family with music, what to wear and other fads that their parents may not approve of.

As the teen gets older, she is likely to fight for control, which may create conflict with her parents. This can leave her parents feeling hurt and rejected, creating stress because there is a constant battle of wills. As the teenager asserts her independence over friends, clothes, music, curfew and other issues, she's taking a risk to overcome her fear of not gaining control and becoming an independent adult.

Parents have expectations of their children with everything from grades in school and how they dress to college and career choices later on. Parental disappointment creates conflict and problems in the relationship between them and their teenagers. It often comes across as anger, giving teenagers the feeling of rejection from the people who were once the most important figures in their lives.

The teenage years are also the time when kids start experimenting with risky behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sex, claims the KidsHealth website. Without a foundation of knowledge and understanding of expectations from the parents, the teenager is more likely to be confused when the parent expresses disapproval after the fact. Parents need to communicate and educate their children before they hit the teen years, and communication lines need to remain open, or the problems will escalate. The Psych Central website states that a high-quality relationship between parents and their teenage children appears to lead to teens postponing trying alcohol until a later age.

Teenagers struggle with role confusion and identity, claims groundbreaking developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erickson, according to Theravive. Teens are constantly trying to filter confusion between society's labels of who they should be versus who they really are as individuals. Teens need to feel as though they belong to a unit while remaining a unique individual. Theravive claims that this struggle is responsible for many teenagers being attracted to gangs.

When parents argue, teenagers may feel that they were somehow the cause, according to Teen Advisor. This can lead to alienation if the parents allow their words and actions to escalate out of control. Teens may feel that their parents don't love each other anymore, leaving the teenagers to wonder how it will affect them. Although arguing can be a healthy way of airing differences and working through problems, mean-spirited fighting with harsh words can leave a lasting negative impression on everyone in the family, including the teenagers. If the parents can't work out their problems and wind up separating or divorcing, the teenagers' world is further rocked and thrown off balance as everything in their lives changes.

4 resolutions for a sweet and steamy love life

Her hubby’s New Year’s resolution has been to cut out screen time in the bedroom, which has already improved their intimacy levels.

Here are five other tips to help spark your love life this year.

1. Date yourself.

This one applies to everyone, regardless of relationship status.

Toronto relationship expert Natasha Sharma tells her patients they’ll never be able to get everything they need to be happy solely from their partner. There’s also a tendency to sometimes spend a little too much time together.

She encourages people to schedule alone time for themselves and do things they enjoy on their own. That could be anything from a yoga class to maybe even a trip without their partner.

2. Limit complaints to two minutes per day.

It’s important to communicate with your significant other about what’s going on in your life. If you feel the need to vent, however, sexologist Jessica O’Reilly has a two-minute rule.

Once you exceed that limit, time’s up and you have to move on.

“Negativity sucks the life and eroticism from your relationship, and complaining makes you less attractive,” she explained.

In the grand scheme of things, O’Reilly adds, complaining about things like traffic, weather or customer service to your partner isn’t worth the energy. Plus it can be draining.

The only exception would be if you’re “talking through challenges and problems with the goal of identifying actionable solutions.” For O’Reilly, that “doesn’t qualify as complaining.”

It’s the venting about encounters and behaviours over which you have no control that should be curbed.

3. Stop bringing up things from the past.

Dredging up the past is one of the most toxic habits for a relationship, according to Sharma.

It causes you to keep score, which isn’t healthy. You shouldn’t feel the need to “win” in your relationship.

When you’re stuck in that “same argument,” try to think of something you love about your partner, like the way he makes you laugh or that nice compliment he gave you.

Don’t get sucked into the negative zone.

If you can’t seem to get beyond a certain issue, you may want to set up a couple’s counselling session.

4. Practice seeing things from your partner’s point of view.

Another way to cruise through disagreements is by putting yourself in your other half’s shoes.

Once you step back and take your partner’s viewpoint, you’ll probably realize he or she didn’t mean to hurt you.

The next time you start to feel upset, take a moment and consider what might be behind the upsetting comment or action. Could your partner be hungry? Tired? Stressed because of work?

If you’re able to — in a gentle tone — voice how you think your partner feels to him or her (a “mirroring” technique McCance trains her clients in). This will help your partner feel more understood and will likely de-escalate things.

For example, you could say something like: “I can imagine you feel frustrated and hurt when I am on my phone during date night. I want you to know you are important to me, sometimes I just check my phone without even thinking of the impact on you.”

 

Parent-Child Problems

Building and maintaining a relationship with a child takes work. Even the most loving parents must put a lot of time and effort into developing positive relationships with their children. Yet parents can still have problems with their children, even if they’ve done everything they can to avoid them. When problems arise, don’t spend time lamenting the broken relationship. Instead, take the necessary steps to fix the problems, and start rebuilding a healthy relationships with your children. Whether the children are four or fourteen, it’s not too late to start to make the relationship right.

While there’s no recipe for building a healthy parent/child relationship, parents can do a few things to help build a positive relationship and prevent many of the common relationship problems.

  • Parents should communicate with their children, encouraging their children to express their emotions and share their needs.
  • Parents should provide for their children, meeting both their physical and emotional needs.
  • Parents should provide consistent discipline, setting healthy boundaries and making sure kids follow them.

 

Children who do not respect their parents often show their lack of respect by failing to obey their parents or showing a disregard for their emotions and feelings. This lack of respect may transfer to a child’s self-respect, causing him to make bad choices. It may also transfer to how a child respects others, making him treat others poorly. While sometimes a lack of respect simply comes as kids begin to rely less on their parents and more on the world, parents can continue to foster a sense of respect by:

  • Setting rules and following up with reasonable consequences
  • Showing respect to their children
  • Modeling respect when interacting with others
  • Parenting with confidence; make a decision and stick to it

A lack of communication can be one of the most frustrating problems for both parents and children. Parents feel like their children don’t listen to a word they say, while children feel like their parents don’t understand them or never take the time to listen. When this happens, instead of working harder to communicate, parents and kids often stop communicating entirely, leading to anger, sadness and a host of other negative emotions.

Parents who have trouble getting their kids to listen should follow a few guidelines when talking to their kids:

  • Get on the child’s level
  • Use positive phrasing
  • Offer choices
  • Keep it short
  • Stay calm

Parents whose children complain they never listen to them should:

  • Regularly take time to let children talk
  • Avoid responding with strong emotion
  • Focus on the child’s interests and feelings
  • Give children full attention while they’re talking
  • Not all physical and verbal abuse leads to hospital visits, nor does it always take place in the open. In fact, even good parents can occasionally be guilty of abuse. They may hit a child or inflict pain on a child during a moment of stress. Other parents may use words to demean their children, regularly putting them down, yelling at them, or telling them they are not good enough. While an abusive parent may not always recognize that he is being abusive, there are few things parents can do to stop abuse should it happen:
    • Look for signs of fear when a child approaches
    • Listen to a child and stop negative behaviors if a child cries or says she is hurt
    • Pay attention to other adults who express concerns
    • Take a moment to step away and breathe when tempted to act out of anger
    • Use only positive words and phrases when talking with children
    • Ask for helpRebuilding a positive relationship with a child takes three main components: love, structure, and time. “Kids need a balance of things in order to grow and thrive. They need love and warmth and they also need structure and consistency. Frequently, when parents and children report feeling dissatisfied with their relationships with each other, the balance between love and warmth and structure and consistency is thrown off. Kids also need time from their parents and they need to know that they will have time from their parents when they need it,” says Tebben.

      Solving Your Problems

      While some parent/child relationship problems may require a professional, such as a social worker or counselor, to step in, most parents and children can solve their problems on their own. Parents need to communicate to their children that they love them and that they have their best interests at heart. They also need to take the time to interact with their children, figure out what may be at the root of the problem, and also give children time to share their emotions and needs. When parents and children take the time to communicate with one another regularly and act out of the mutual love they have for one another, most problems will become temporary obstacles rather than major roadblocks in the relationship.

Relationships Goals

Love is great, but I reckon it is shared goals that keep relationships going. Love may bring you and your partner together. But without shared goals, without something to fight for together, love will eventually fade. Traditional shared goals, particularly for younger first-time couples is to buy a house (or at least make a home together – in some cultures, buying a house is rare) and have children.

Clearly, what older couples need are new shared goals. These older couples might be the ones who have had children and bought houses and survived. Or they might be new couples who have formed from previous divorces. Of course, there are more and more couples who do not want children. Some may not even be particularly keen on making a home together, though this is awfully rare. If you do not wish to share your life with someone, you are unlikely to be envisioning a long term relationship. But there are exceptions.

Some couples naturally have shared interests, beyond children and a home, which form the basis of long term goals. These shared interests might include travel, sporting activities or renovating old houses. In other couples, it is necessary to find the shared interests that can become shared goals. It can also be a challenge to transform an interest into a goal. A shared love of tennis alone is not a goal. Participating in clubs and tournaments, on the other hand, can form a goal.

Fortunately, creativity is a useful tool for identifying interests and goals. First you need to do a little research and make some lists.

Make notes of your thoughts and ideas. Indeed, finding goals can become a goal in itself. Eventually, one or more possibilities will begin to flower in your minds. Take it further.

Keep in mind, also, that you are not limited to one shared goal per couple. Some couples have big shared goals – like opening a restaurant together. Others have numerous smaller goals such as pursuing sports and hobbies.

Most importantly, have fun! The goals you share as a couple should be rewarding in terms of fun, growth or personal satisfaction. If pursuing a goal becomes an unpleasant chore for one or both of you, it is time to rethink that goal.

Here are 10 relationship goals that will nurture and protect your bond:

1. Prioritize your relationship.

2. Create a couple bubble.

3. Have daily connection time.

4. Communicate with kindness.

5. Embrace vulnerability.

6. Plan for fun together.

7. Learn and support your love languages.

8. Maintain a satisfying sex life.

9. Support one another’s goals.

10. Have a yearly review.

Best Things About Having a Boyfriend

  1.  He can not reply to your text and you won’t go into a panic attack shame spiral wondering if he’s ghosting. You can say “he’s probably just busy” and know for a fact that yes, that is why. It’s like having an oxygen tank at all times.
  2.  You always have someone to zip up the back of your dress so you don’t have to do that weird acrobatic arm thing. Even if it is probably good for your deltoids or something. It still blows.
  3. You always have someone to split food with for those days when you feel like ordering like a monster but then remember you have a normal human stomach. And then on days when you somehow have a superhuman stomach…
  4.  You have twice the food always. Oh what’s that? You’re not hungry? Guess who is? It’s me!
  5. No more Tinder dates to run screaming from while wearing shoes that are really hard to run in. Plus, no after-work drink dates means you can actually get through the work week without a hangover from hell. Hello, productivity and a general lack of nausea.
  6. You can do any embarrassing thing on the planet and he will still think sun shines out of your butt. Which it honestly could. You don’t know. You can’t see down there.
  7.  You finally at long last have someone to suffer through family dinners with. There is no better feeling than kicking your boyfriend under the table when your grandad straight up starts eating that huge bowl of gravy with his own spoon.
  8. You get to double date with your friends aka you get to spy on you friends’ boyfriends to make sure they’re good enough. And run over the data you have learned with your boyfriend to make sure you didn’t miss any #facts.
  9. There will always be someone to like your selfies. You can now post freely without fear of Zero Likes.
  10. You automatically have approximately 40 percent more space in your brain because it’s not begrudgingly focused on meeting The One. Obviously this much of your brain isn’t focused on that but jesus christ, sometimes it feels like it’s supposed to be and it’s exhausting.
  11. Valentine’s Day is no longer a day of chalky candy-filled dread. It might be a day of excited joy or a day when you both do the same things you always do, but it holds no power over you any more, so suck it, VDay.
  12.  All the time you used to spend online dating can now be spent on doing things that make your soul happy.
  13. Couples costumes! .

Best Moments in Every Relationship

1. The first time you hang out one-on-one. Nothing is more exciting than letting out all your pent-up crush energy on a first date. It’s almost as big a deal as your potential wedding day in terms of stories you’ll have to tell over and over.

2. That first awkward, nervous pause right before your first kiss. Your first kiss says, “I like hanging out with you, but I also want to make out with you all the time. Let’s take this to the next level.”

3. The first time you bone. Well, hopefully your first time was a great moment. And if not, you’re a very selfless person for sticking with them.

4. The first time you stay the night instead of abruptly peacing-out like Cinderella the second it hits 2 a.m. Especially if you usually run off into the night immediately after coitus. Well, maybe hobble into the night while trying to put on your pants is a more apt description. My point is, your first sleepover is a big deal.

5. When you did nothing in bed together and it was amazing. The first time you do this, it’s cute and romantic. The 90th time you do this, you’re codependent agoraphobics. But when you can literally spend all day sharing a tiny square together and doing nothing else, you’ve got something good going.

6. The moment you realize their family could also be your family. Some people have stupid families. So it’s a relief when you meet your partner’s and you actually feel at home. Getting along with their family instead of feeling awkward and intimidated is great.

7. When picking your partner up at the airport felt like the best moment in the world.

8. Buying a second toothbrush to keep at their house. You’re basically saying, “I’m coming over whenever I want so you can never cheat on me.” But also, you know, that you love spending time together.

9. When you had an insane fight, but you knew you never wanted to break up. At first glance, this might not seem like this should be labeled a “best moment.” But it’s fights like these that make you realize you really want to try to make this relationship work. Also, yo, makeup sex.

10. When you accidentally blurted out “I love you” and waited to hear them say it back. In the history of mankind, no two people have ever said “I love you” and then not fumbled through a conversation afterward. Your first declaration of love is always followed by an “I mean…” while you stare at your partner and hope they say it back before you punch out the nearest window and cut your jugular with a shard of glass.

11. When you went on a couples vacation that still feels like one of the high points of your relationship. Even if it’s just an overnight trip, it beats the family trip you took to the Grand Canyon with your parents a few years ago.

12. Getting a dog and realizing you are successfully raising a living thing together.

13. When you powered through the hard times together, and they seemed a little less hard with your partner by your side. Maybe you lost your job or a family member, or had to get a pretty serious surgery. It might not have been so great, but you were there for each other.

14. Any time you really, truly, just have a day to yourselves. These don’t come often enough, and when they do, it feels like the best day ever.

All About Relationships

Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. There are many kinds of love, but most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. For some, romantic relationships are the most meaningful element of life, providing a source of deep fulfillment. The ability to have a healthy, loving relationship is not innate. A great deal of evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship begins in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, protection, stimulation, and social contact. Those relationships are not destiny, but they appear to establish patterns of relating to others. Failed relationships happen for many reasons, and the failure of a relationship is often a source of great psychological anguish. Most of us have to work consciously to master the skills necessary to make them flourish.

We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: it’s got to be the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.”

You’re the person I want to dive headfirst into life with. When I go out on the weekends, it is you I want shutting down the club with me. When I plan an adventure it is you I want holding the map. When I speculate about the future, I want to see you in every outlandish fantasy I plan for myself. You’re the person I want to rant excitedly to over happy hour drinks. You’re the person I want to dance around the house with in my underwear with. You’re the person who makes the whole world feel wide-open to me and I want to take advantage of that. I want to plunge into the future with you – because it looks bigger and brighter by your side than I ever could have imagined.

I don’t want to let myself go now that I have you – I want to build myself up alongside you. Something about you inspires me to be bigger, brighter, bolder than I ever knew that I could become. And I hope that I inspire you, too. That together we can encourage one another to grow into the fullest, strongest, fiercest versions of each other. That ten years from now we will be prouder than ever to be standing beside one another and that twenty years later we’ll be even prouder still. I hope you’re not expecting to grow stagnant in love because something about you makes me feel like my best self on steroids and I do not plan to let that feeling die.

People stare at you as you walk through the halls, hand in hand, goofy smiles on your faces. There are some whispers, mostly of jealousy, but you never let it get to you. You quickly fall in with his group of friends, which elevates your social status quite a bit. Your relationship almost feels like public property, with people posting snapchats of you two wherever you go, but neither of you mind; you both equally showing each other off. Ryan approaches you more than once for articles on relationship advice, and teachers don’t even bother to split you two up in class anymore because they know you’ll find a way to talk to each other. But no matter how many pairs of eyes are on you, the one ones that matter are his.

Parent-Child Relationship

It is no secret that the relationships we have with our children teach us more than any other relationships we have. When it comes to evolving as a person, nothing provides a steeper learning curve than parenting does. Much of this is due to the attachment we feel for our children. The love that a parent holds for their child is its own, unique kind of love and it is true that you cannot know or learn from that kind of love unless you become a parent. But just because we love our children more than anything on earth does not necessarily mean that we love parenting. And disliking parenting does not mean that we do not love our children.
Universally, the parent child relationship was designed to be a relationship of contrast. It is a relationship that is meant to show us what we do not want and thus inspire us towards what we do want. As an infant we still have to deal with the experience of being dependent on someone else. We have to experience being physically out of control of our own well-being. That is not an enjoyable thing to experience for any being. It is contrast, contrast that inspires us to desire autonomy. Staying focused on and lining up with that autonomy is what causes our physical structure to age and begin performing autonomous actions like walking and using utensils to feed ourselves.

The relationship with our children is also meant to trigger unresolved wounds and suppressed memories and feelings from our own childhood, so that we may integrate those fractured aspects of our being and become more whole. To parent our children well, we must begin to parent our internal child well first; otherwise we will end up repeating the exact same pattern and style of parenting that our parents demonstrated towards us. Parenting provides us with the opportunity to externally parent our inner child. When we parent our children, we have a choice to either parent them the same way we were parented, or to make changes. The changes we make are changes that suit our own child within; a child that did not feel loved unconditionally.
There is a reason that parents have often felt like once they have children their life is over. It is because when we opt into the role of parenthood, we are opting into all of the lessons that go along with that. We are choosing the fast track. Every time we experience those unenjoyable parts of parent hood, it causes us to give rise to the idea of what we would prefer both for ourselves and for our children. For example, when we feel resentment because we have to take care of our children instead of do what we really want to do (like go dancing), we desire our child to be autonomous. Which is a desire that they, themselves share. And our desire for them to achieve autonomy is creating their autonomy. In essence, we co-create the experience of our children physically aging so they can become autonomous.
Childhood wasn’t designed as a purely enjoyable experience; neither was parenting. If it were purely enjoyable, there would be no expansion born from the experience. And there could be no integration of our own past childhood traumas. There would be no forward movement. You wouldn’t be inspired towards anything. You wouldn’t desire anything new and as a result, you wouldn’t create or become anything new. As parents, we have been cultured to believe that the role of parenting is sacrosanct. We are cultured to believe that if we admit that we do not like parenting, that we are somehow betraying and abandoning our children. This is not the case. In fact many people, who are parents, don’t actually like parenting. This resistance to parenting happens because many people, who have children, have not yet integrated the suppressed emotions from their own childhoods and so their own children trigger a kind of post-traumatic stress reaction within them. What these parents love is the connection they have with their children. What they love is those magic moments when their child falls asleep on their chest or takes their first step or enjoys some part of life.

Hiding on His Dating Profile

Here are a few more things men tend to lie about when online.

  • His Job
    Oh? You’re about to go out with a good-looking CEO of a booming start-up? Don’t be surprised if that means he has a great idea for an app and is working out of his parents’ garage. Most men have a tendency to inflate their titles or responsibilities in order to impress women. It’s not a great idea to ask about his salary, but a safe bet is to ask about his title and how large a company he works for. CEO is very impressive, but not if the company is him and his dog.
  • His Intention
    Just because a man is on a dating site does not mean he’s looking for a long-term relationship. In fact, if you’re on Tinder, you should assume that the guy is trying to get laid and be pleasantly surprised when it turns out he wants to date you. Aside from certain apps like Heavenly Sinful, where you’re explicitly asked to say whether you want to hook up or date, the guy’s intention is often unknown.
  • His Height
    On average, guys will say they are two inches taller than they actually are, and will assume you’re not going to bring a tape measure to the first date. If you’re curious, you can wait until his wallet’s open while paying for (at least his share) of the bill and say, “Oh! Let me see the photo on your driver’s license. Mine is horrible.” There, as clear as day, is his height (no one cares enough to lie to the DMV).
  • His Weight
    Men (well, everyone) will post photos of themselves from when they are looking their physical best. So if you show up on date number one and the guy is looking twenty pounds overweight, don’t be shocked. If you’re lucky it may go the other way; he may have just recovered from breaking up with his long-term girlfriend and lost the gut men tend to accrue when they no longer feel they need to impress their partner. Now that he’s single he wants to look great. But the pessimist in me leans toward warning you that he may be a bit heavier than you imagined.
  • His Worldliness
    He may say he loves to travel but that doesn’t guarantee he’s ever left the United States. He may say he knows a lot about wine but that might just mean he knows that he likes Pinot Noir. Don’t assume anything based on the guy’s stated hobbies or interests; just like his job description it is likely inflated and made to sound more sophisticated than it actually is.
  • His Relationship Status
    I hate to say it, but even if a guy makes himself available on a dating site it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s there to seriously date. Single can mean anything from “haven’t had a girlfriend in five years and looking for sex” to “newly divorced and sad.” There are men who are going through a break-up or are in an open relationship and they are on these sites because it seems innocent enough, but they are not emotionally available to be with you.
  • His Age
    One of the most common lies on dating profiles is a man fibbing about his age. More often than not he’s likely older than he is. If you’re in your early twenties and a man says he’s 29 there’s a chance he might actually be a 35 year-old who knows you would never date someone more than ten years your senior. If that’s your thing though, then search for men in that age range but hope they’re not in their 40s.

Recognize the Risk

So it might seem that the only answer between hiding and deleting would be to hide the profile. Why take a risk?

However, there are a few things I would want you to keep in mind if you’re going to hide your profile:

  1. The person you are now starting a relationship with will be able to get to your profile since you’ve been communicating. There can be confusion created where a woman “checks up” on the guy she’s started dating. He says he deactivated his account but she can still access it. This has the risk of creating arguments so be aware that when you tell someone you deactivated your account, they may think you lied if they can still see it. Better to say that you hid your account so no one can find it if challenged on this.
  2. If you had a breakup, tried online dating but are now getting back together with the person you broke up with, there are extra risks here. This is a case where deleting the profile is a better option, especially if the cause of the breakup was related to fidelity in any way. I’ve been contacted by women who winked at a man so they could keep track of him. I don’t think most of these women intend to be stalkers but regardless of their motivation they could get very angry if you only hide the profile. If you’re repairing a relationship and are in a sensitive area around trust, better safe than sorry in my opinion.
  3. For Match.com, there’s something that adds drama to this area: if you open an email from Match.com, it shows you as active on their website. They apparently do this through cookies. It will look like you’re active on the website. This has created many, many problems based on the number of emails I’ve received. Just something to keep in mind

So normally, I think hiding is the right choice. But be aware of the details above…knowing could save you a big headache based on a misunderstanding.

First Date

Sometimes, I get hung up on money. It can be awkward to talk about who’s paying for what on a first meeting. I always try to pick places that I can afford, and I speak up if I’m worried about that. More and more, it’s a conversation I’m trying to have early, before emotions are entangled. That way, everyone is on the same page, and no one feels taken advantage of.

In the moment, sometimes I have difficulty remembering my favorite mid-priced places to eat, or the coffee shops I like in different parts of town. To combat this, I’ve made a list. Now, when someone asks me where I’d like to go, I can suggest crepes, craft cocktails, or well-brewed tea.

Familiarity is another perk I’ve discovered in developing relationships with my favorite first date places over the years. Often, I’ll go a little early and check in with a barista or bartender, letting them know I’m on a first date. More often than not, they offer to check on me, or to develop a signal, just in case I’m in distress. I still might be nervous, but it’s awfully nice to feel like I have some backup.

Unless I have a good reason, I try to stick to coffee for a first date. No one expects more than an hour from me, and I can graciously escape if I’m ready to be done, but an hour can also easily turn into two or three if things are going well. It’s not expensive, and there’s plenty of time and space to get to know each other without a server dipping in, or the distraction of a movie, a play, or a sporting event.

On a first date, I’m learning that my entire job is to pay attention. I want to get to know the person I’m meeting. Even if I know him already, I don’t know him in this context. But more than that, I want to tune in to how the date makes me feel. Most of the time, I’m nervous until it starts, it’s a sort of stage fright, but if I can’t relax as the date goes on, I want to pay attention to that and honor my intuition. Too many bells and whistles can make it hard to notice when I’m uncomfortable, or when I simply don’t feel a connection, but it can also make it harder to see the sparks when they start to fly.

In the end, when I’m thinking about what to do for a first date, I try to remember that they are supposed to be fun. Both of us hope that we’ve met someone special, but I can’t allow myself to think about forever the first time we spend intentional time together. Instead, I concentrate on the person in front of me, someone who has chosen to be brave along with me. I set aside all of my hopes for a relationship (or do my very best), and keep my mind focused on that person and the present, one moment at a time.