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Ask Our Coaches:
How To Avoid Sending
the Wrong Message on Valentine's Day
want to be friends and that's it for now."
This column answers
questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue,
we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
I met a wonderful woman at a friend's home over Thanksgiving. We're
both divorced, in our mid-forties. We naturally connected and started
going out casually right after that time. We have fun together--going
out to eat, dancing, different activities--but the relationship is
obviously really new to both of us. We haven't discussed any
expectations or plans for the future. I don't have any plans for
anything beyond a basic dating relationship.
Valentine's Day is right around the corner and it's causing me a bit of
concern. I don't love her -- but I like her. At the same time, she
hasn't said she loves me either. Way too early for that! My concern is
... how do I handle Valentine's Day? Certainly, I want to go out to
dinner and enjoy the evening with her, but I don't want to give her the
What should I say or do, or rather, NOT say or do, to avoid sending the
wrong message? I want to be friends and that's it for now. Any thoughts?
Steve from Savannah
and Jo respond ...
We appreciate that you are concerned for your new friend's feelings. It
seems to us that perhaps you want to date recreationally.
Recreational dating is
when singles meet and date for fun and socialization, with no
expectations. It can be a stage in the process of preparing for a new
relationship, or it can be a way to socialize while you focus on other
areas of life. However, for recreational dating to really work, you
must be completely open and honest with your partner(s) about the
physical and emotional boundaries you want.
It sounds like you may
need to have that conversation with this woman - say what you want and
walk the talk --which then begs the question: Why are you seeing her on
Valentine's Day if she is not your Valentine?
Whatever the answer, get
clear about the benefits of dating for each of you and make your
Valentine's Day date the opportunity to have that straight conversation
about recreational dating. Finally, Steve, have fun. Here's to your
and Jo Harrison | www.SoulmateSuccess.com
In my opinion, the most
important thing is to not feel guilty about the fact that this is still
a new relationship. That is the fact of the matter, and
should be known to her as well, if she is wise about
relationships. Sure, Valentine's Day is coming at a somewhat
awkward time, but that's life, and it's nobody's fault.
So there is nothing wrong with going out someplace nice, having a good
time, and doing whatever is right for the two of you at this point in
the relationship. Just see it as a fun date, slightly better
than going to the movies.
You are not required to
say, "I love you," nor are you required to say, "I want to go out for
Valentine's Day, but I don't want you to get the wrong
impression." Frankly, you are not required to say anything at
all other than what you might say on any other day.
She should understand this also. If not, she should probably
get some coaching, because three months of dating is really too early
for much of anything other than continued dating and learning about
each other. Have a good time!
Randy Hurlburt | www.PartnersinLoveandCrime.com
It sounds like you have been moving at a pace that is comfortable for
you. Since you have not discussed what you are looking for or how you
feel about this person, now may be a good time.
Dating is about getting
to know someone and seeing if they are a good fit with your values and
your lifestyle. Having the conversation regarding how you are feeling
can be a bit uncomfortable, but less painful than giving the wrong
impression and hurting someone.
Be honest with her that
you would like to keep it casual for now and to see where it goes.
Discussing this with her will give her the opportunity to tell you what
she feels and wants. And, if it's not the same as what you have in
mind, it is much easier to end it before both of you invest a lot more
Valentine's Day can make dating a bit uncomfortable because of all the
expectations; therefore, if you talk prior to that date, you can then
decide about going out on that night and not have to feel that you are
giving the wrong impression. Being honest about what you want and how
you feel is always the best way to approach a relationship and will
help attract that right person to you. Good luck.
Lori Josephs | www.MyDatingBLUEPRINT.com
Steve, I wonder how many of us have been in your situation and not
cared enough to think ahead, much less plan ahead. What a great request
you've made. Congratulations, you're among the most honorable of men.
Possible solutions for
First -- Stop the worry. Chances are you are about to raise your esteem
in this lady's eyes by conveying your concern to her.
Second -- Speak. Be up front, be honest. Be sincere. Tell it like your
heart feels it.
Third -- Release. Feel good about not controlling the situation.
Rather, lead it to a win-win resolution. She appreciates you, and you
have time to determine what your requirements, needs, and wants are.
Ask a relationship coach about these.
"It is what it is." Being worried you will say or do something to hurt
her feelings causes you to focus on screwing up. And guess what? You
will. Honesty, integrity, and the courage to deal head-on with life's
"situations" are virtues. Controlling is contortion. Everything about
what you are trying to accomplish gets twisted.
Conversation tip. Speak in terms of feelings. "I feel like I want to
remain friends for now." If your lady friend is in touch with her own,
chances are she will honor yours. Thoughts are arguable, and invite
long discussions. For example, "I think we're moving too fast in this
relationship." Really? WHY? YIKES! Wiggle through that one.
Your question speaks volumes about who you are. In addition, you don't
seem to be shy about demonstrating your sensitivity. Fantastic!
Cook | www.CoachJackCook.com
A recent survey showed
that when it comes to Valentine's Day, more than chocolate, diamonds,
or flowers, most women would choose to receive a love letter. This is a
timeless, treasured gift that shows the sender really took some time to
think about the recipient.
And a love letter doesn't have to be for a romantic partner. Children,
siblings, and good friends can all appreciate the power of a
well-crafted message that says, "I value our relationship."
Many men consider this a
daunting task, so here are some simple guidelines to get you started.
Write about the fun aspects of your relationship, funny things you've
observed, and why you appreciate the friendship between you.
Include ways she has made
you laugh, or some specific qualities she has that you've enjoyed.
Perhaps you can find some good quotes about the value of friendship.
Add a little about what you hope for the future of the relationship.
This letter, along with
some "friendly" flowers like daisies, will allow you to show you care
without going over the top. Then, should your "like" turn into "love"
someday, you will cherish these early letters.
Susan Dutton Freund
Congratulations on having the integrity and caring to make sure you
don't give the wrong impression.
However, that doesn't mean you can't celebrate Valentine's Day with
someone you are dating in the "getting to know you" stage. She might
also be feeling that it's way too early for anything more serious right
You can be totally honest, and say that although you are not ready to
take the relationship to the next level yet, you so enjoy her company
that you would really like to plan dinner for Valentine's and spend it
If she accepts, plan something that is not overly romantic, yet is
really nice. If buying flowers, I would suggest you don't buy red, but
instead choose a less romantic color -- peach, pink or even yellow. I'm
sure if you are open and upfront with her, she won't have unrealistic
expectations. Have fun and enjoy the evening. Have a wonderful
Hazel Palache | www.SayYestoYouCoaching.com
Isn't it interesting that a time of celebration can cause so much angst
- no matter what a person's relationship status? Even committed couples
worry if they're doing the right thing, getting the right gift, etc.
And, we all know the stress Valentine's Day causes singles!
For your situation, my suggestion is to have a conscious, courageous
conversation with the woman you're dating. Tell her you enjoy spending
time with her and invite her to dinner for Valentine's Day. A card
would be nice, and maybe a single rose, but certainly a dozen red roses
are not necessary in your case.
And, here's where the courageous part comes in. Tell her you like her
and enjoy dating her and that you look forward to getting to know her
better in the future. Also, let her know that you realize you haven't
known each other for long, but that you still want to celebrate
Valentine's Day together because she's special to you.
It's important for you to be okay with where you are in this
relationship. If you're able to let go of whatever expectations you're
feeling, you'll be able to relax and spend a wonderful evening with a
Katherin Scott | www.KatherinScott.com
Valentine's Day: Navigating the Day of Love
Day can be a challenging day for some singles. In this month's
interview, RCI coach Michelle Vasquez shares suggestions on how to make
this a day more enjoyable -- starting with you making the decision to
do just that!
Valentine's Day can sometimes be a challenging time for singles. What
are a couple ways someone could celebrate this day if they are spending
it on their own?
First of all, choose how you
are going to act on Valentine's Day. For example, you can decide to
make it a special day for yourself or you can decide to be miserable.
Many years ago I had a
young client who spent the weeks before Valentine's Day filled with
dread, anticipating feeling sad and lonely, and jealous of her friends
who would receive gifts at the office while her own desk would remain
woefully uncluttered by hearts and flowers. Here was the problem: she
thought she had no choice in the matter. She truly believed the outcome
was already decided and she was doomed to suffer.
You can avoid this. You
can choose to fill this day with good thoughts and fun things to do.
Valentine's Day, as any other day, is only as good as you make it. I
would love for you to choose to wake up with a positive mindset,
determined to create a wonderful, memorable day for yourself.
Have you ever heard the
saying, "Never judge a day by the weather?" Your happiness on this day
is up to you. Many successful singles get creative on this day. Even if
you don't have a significant other for Valentine's Day, you have people
in your life that you love, such as family and friends.
Ask yourself what you can
do to celebrate this "day of love." Figure out some ways to give to
others. Here are some ideas:
a party with some other single friends.
Girls, you could turn it into a slumber party and have a brownie and
movie marathon. Just keep the movies light and funny and enjoy spending
time with each other.
yourself to an evening out.
Be bold and go to a new restaurant. Bring a book or sit and "people
watch." Take time to really taste and enjoy your food. If you're too
scared to eat alone, order some take-out from your favorite restaurant.
Remember, you can do whatever works for you.
time with a friend you haven't seen in a while.
Valentine's Day can be a wonderful time to renew ties with friends you
have been meaning to catch up with. Call a friend today and make plans.
Talk it over with your
friends and come up with a plan to make this day a special one for you.
It doesn't matter what you do. The important thing is to spend time
with people you care about.
The time of year between New Year's and Valentine's Day is also known
as a time when many relationships end. For someone who has experienced
a loss during this time, Valentine's Day can be particularly painful as
they mourn their prior relationship and dreams of what could have been.
What are some helpful ways for someone to deal with their feelings of
The breakup of a relationship, especially one in which one or both
parties had long-term expectations, can be especially difficult. The
grief that accompanies the end of a relationship can be as intense as
grieving the death of a loved one. During this time it is so important
to get the love and support you need.
Surrounding yourself with
loving and supportive friends and family is even more important if you
are a widow or widower. If you have lost the love of your life to
death, holidays can be traumatic times. You may want to avoid everyone
who is in love during this time because the pain is so intense.
I have experienced this
myself as a widow. Fortunately, I had a dear friend who looked after
me. She asked me to go to dinner with her on Valentine's Day as a way
to celebrate my love for my late husband. We chose an Italian
restaurant, since my late husband loved Italian food. I ordered salmon,
a favorite of his. We toasted his memory and spent the evening
reminiscing about his life. He had died six months prior to Valentine's
If your grief is more
recent, you might prefer a quiet dinner at home with one or two
faithful friends. Whether you have had a difficult breakup or your
beloved has died, be gentle with yourself. The grief is real and
healing is an ongoing process. Be careful to avoid isolating yourself.
Call a friend who knows
your situation and talk about the grief you are experiencing. Grief,
according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, has five stages: denial,
anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may find yourself
going back and forth among these five stages.
The important thing to
remember is that what you feel is normal. Don't allow others to rush
you through this healing process. Take your time to address the pain
and loss, and get professional help with a counselor or a support group
if you need to.
Tara: Some people
may have recently started dating, perhaps meeting someone over the
year-end holidays or at New Year's. Celebrating Valentine's Day so
early on in a relationship can sometimes be awkward, especially because
of the "message" or "messages" that underlie this day of love.
The answer to this question really depends on how long you have been
dating. If you have only known each other for a few weeks and had two
dates, take it easy.
If you are a man, please
don't give her a dozen red roses unless you want her to run for the
hills. A single rose might be a nice gesture, but if you're concerned
about sending too strong of a message, a humorous card might lighten
the mood. If she loves chocolate, give her some in a square box, and
stay away from heart shapes if you are worried about coming on too
The same goes for women. You can scare off a potentially great mate by
coming on too strong too early. If you want to play it really safe, go
to a park or a museum and simply enjoy each other's company. Remember,
when you're first getting to know each other, less is more.
What do you suggest
for those who don't want to send the wrong message about their level of
emotional commitment to the relationship? How should they go about
celebrating this day with their date? How do you manage expectations
without hurting feelings?
When you are just getting to know someone who might possibly be a
long-term partner, lower your expectations for Valentine's Day. If you
are a woman who expects a gold necklace from a man you barely know, you
are likely to be disappointed.
Since, in general, women
tend to glorify this day, while men, in general, tend to approach it
with fear and perhaps loathing, it's a great idea to talk to each other
about your views about this emotionally-charged day. Bring up the
subject of Valentine's Day in a casual way. You could be direct and
simply ask, "What do you think about Valentine's Day?" If you want to
add to your question, you might say, "I know we've only known each
other for a short time. Since Valentine's Day is almost here, I would
like to spend time with you on that day. What are your thoughts about
Be clear about your
expectations. Again, I caution you to expect less. You could talk about
how much you love/hate/laugh at/fear this day. Be honest. If you would
like to spend time with your date, talk about it. If you are concerned
about expectations, speak up.
Copyright © 2009 by Michelle Vasquez. All rights reserved in
Vásquez, MS, LPC,
is an RCI Relationship Coach who helps singles and couples attract the
life they want and create the relationships that bring them joy. She
specializes in working with couples who are experiencing relationship
difficulties as well as with singles who want to find the love of their
Smart Dating Tips
By Tara Kachaturoff
Why do you want to date? What type of relationship do you want? What's
the vision for your life? What are your relationship requirements,
needs, and wants? These are just some of the things you need to explore
before you begin the journey of finding the love of your life. The
clearer you are about who and what you want, the easier it will be for
you to find it. A Certified RCI coach can provide you with helpful
guidance throughout this process.
2. Communication is key.
Communication is the underlying dynamic of all successful and
unsuccessful relationships. Cultivating an open and honest relating
environment, from the beginning, will help to mitigate
misunderstandings, while at the same time create an atmosphere that can
allow your relationship to grow and flourish.
3. Set boundaries.
In any type of relationship, whether personal or professional, it's
important to set boundaries. Not only does this provide you with a
solid foundation for living your life, but also it conveys to others
who you are and how you expect to be treated. Boundaries are like an
"operations manual" - for you and for others.
4. Have fun.
Dating should be something you enjoy. I'm not saying that it will
always be fun and exciting, but if it's not, you need to spend some
time finding out why. You might not be ready or available to date. If
you're not, that's okay. There's nothing wrong with being single and
not dating. In any case, keep up with your friendships and
acquaintances. It's important to nurture some aspect of socialization
in your life - especially around activities that bring you enjoyment.
5. Comfort is not always
a good thing.
It's nice to be comfortable in your dating experience, but if things
are always singing along and you never disagree on anything, and
everything is "perfect" as in a "Stepford Wives" version for singles --
watch out. One or both of you may not be acting authentically, living
fully into your vision, or truly aligned with your values.
6. Manage dating
How do you manage
expectations in a dating relationship? How do you avoid
misunderstandings that can lead to disappointment and unhappiness? You
do it by engaging in open and honest communications right from the
start. And, just as important, you need to make sure that your actions
are aligned with what you communicate. When your thoughts, speech, and
actions are in alignment, you'll have the best results - both for you
and with others.
7. Take your time.
Finding the right relationship takes both time and patience. Conscious
singles don't rush into committed relationships because they know that
it takes time to get to know someone else and that, in haste, they may
miss important things - like red flags -- which can lead to dating
disappointment. Also, any new relationship is an opportunity for
further exploration and insight. You need time to digest and understand
who you are individually and as a member of a couple. Take your time.
Enjoy the journey.
Copyright © 2009 by Tara Kachaturoff. All rights reserved in
Kachaturoff, a Master
Certified Coach for Singles, works exclusively with single executives
who want to create great dating relationships. With over 15 years in
corporate finance in the tech industry, she works as a business
consultant and personal branding strategist, produces and hosts a
weekly business TV talk show, and is the editor for the Relationship
Coaching Institute. www.RelationshipPlanning.com
our website at relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
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Links to Us
Tara Kachaturoff | Editor,
Conscious Dating Newsletter for Singles
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