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July 2009

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Ask Our Coaches:
How should I handle a challenging future in-law?

"How do I tell my girlfriend her mother is
coming on to me and that she won't stop?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

I've been dating a woman (Jennifer - not her real name) for 5 months. I'm 35 and she's 29. I know she's the woman I want to marry. I haven't said anything because I plan to date at least a year before proposing. I don't even bring up the topic of marriage. I love her and I've told her that. She feels the same. So the relationship is great, with one exception - her mother.

I have a serious problem on my hands. What I'm going through could be a scene right out of the movie, 'The Graduate'. Her mother makes inappropriate comments to me when Jennifer is not in the room. She's even called me more than a few times at the office and invited me to family gatherings and told me I can drop by 'early' before everyone else arrives.

She's come on to me several times. I've told her I'm not interested. She never gets angry with my rebuffs, but that doesn't stop her from continuing the behavior. She's married - to a wealthy, well-known philanthropist in our community. She's really attractive - she's sexy, in great shape, well-preserved, and a very young 51--certainly not out of the realm of someone I 'could' date. But, I'm not interested in her - on any level -- and the thought of that actually repulses me. I've never given her any indication that I have any interest in her - none.

How do I tell my girlfriend her mother is coming on to me and that she won't stop? Jennifer and her mother are so close. If can't stop her mother's lecherous behavior I might lose Jennifer. And, what if her father should find out? What can I do to stop the mother's behavior? How can I explain this to Jennifer? This could be my future mother-in-law! Am I in an impossible situation? What's your advice?

Stressed in Seattle

Jackie responds ...

You wrote: What can I do to stop the mother's behavior? It's your job to set and maintain your personal boundary -- not 'stop' Jennifer's mother's behavior. I know this might sound simplistic, but setting boundaries with your words and congruent behavior is the essential skill that is called for in this situation.

First, become willing to honor yourself and set and maintain boundaries when you are not being treated with respect and regard. Second, decide what specific words and behaviors you'll use when someone's behavior is unacceptable, whether you're in the same room or on the phone.
People routinely behave unacceptably with us because we let them. When we become unavailable for unacceptable behavior (set boundaries), people will stop.

Example: If you are in the same room, the moment she makes an inappropriate comment, raise your right hand, palm facing outward, arm extended out from your shoulder and say, "Stop, this is unacceptable!" Then turn around and walk away.

Example: If you are on the phone and she begins to say things that are inappropriate, say, "I'm hanging up now; this kind of talk is unacceptable." Then hang up.

I'm certain this sounds rude or mean. Expect to be uncomfortable when you first practice setting boundaries. It's an important skill that may be unfamiliar and one you may not have any practice with. I encourage you to decide to become willing to learn and practice this important skill even if it sounds and feels like being rude or disrespectful in the beginning.

Jackie Black, Ph.D. | | 760.346.9795

Liz responds ...

I wouldn't say you are in an impossible situation. It sounds like you've been diligent in trying to take care of this on your own. However, at this point I would strongly suggest having an honest conversation with your girlfriend. Let her know everything that has happened and how you genuinely feel about it.

Her mother's behavior is putting you in a very compromising position and it could jeopardize the relationship. The bottom line is she has a right to know. In addition, you have a right to have a healthy dating experience.

The next step would be to decide how you and your girlfriend will move forward. If her mom exercises no change, what will the two of you do?

I believe it's crucial for you to have a plan in place and not just assume that the behavior will stop. It may not. This may be an area that calls for professional help. You cannot control her behavior, but you don't necessarily have to tolerate it either.

Since you are considering marriage, I'm sure this is an issue you want to have resolved as quickly as possible. This may be an emotional time for your girlfriend, so continue to be supportive, but be clear about your boundaries as well.

Liz Reed|
| 817.992.0150

Randy responds ...

It seems you truly love "Jennifer," and hopefully she is equally in love with you. It appears that you have so far been able to handle this situation on your own, and that is to your credit.

In my mind, the key is that you have only known Jennifer for 5 months. I wholeheartedly agree with dating for at least a year before proposing, and it seems to me best to also wait a similar amount of time to bring up the sensitive subject of her mother.

Right now Jennifer is probably more connected to her mother than she is to you. My advice is to wait until you feel sure that Jennifer is more connected to you than to her mother. That would be the time to propose marriage, if the relationship is still good, and also the time to discuss with Jennifer the situation with her mom, if it is still a problem.

Since your conversations with her mother are not helping, and if it continues, then I think you will have to bring Jennifer into your confidence. At that time Jennifer can say, "Just don't worry about it, that's how she is," or "I'll take care of it," or "Let's move to Chicago," or any one of a number of possible solutions. There will be more solutions available and a greater chance of success if you wait until it is safe to bring Jennifer into your confidence.

Randy Hurlburt | | 858.455.0799

Lori responds...

I can see why you would be concerned. If you are truly serious about wanting to marry your girlfriend, I would clarify with her mother exactly how you feel. Leave no room for any misunderstanding regarding the situation. If you make it clear what your intent is with her daughter (including how you feel about Jennifer), and that you find it inappropriate for her to come on to you, she should back off.

Of course, there is a chance she may not. Your description of her tells me she is really out of touch. Not only is she married, she is hitting on the man her daughter is dating. This means she may not have any boundaries, and she may keep it up. If she continues this behavior after your talk, I would then approach your girlfriend and tell her what is happening.

You are going to have to deal with your girlfriend possibly not believing you. She could take her mother's side. Just be prepared for that. The outcome, no matter what, will be the right one when you do what is best for you. Stay true to yourself.

You are in a difficult position, and hopefully talking to the mother will clear things up. Just remember that dealing with and ending this situation now is the best approach. If you really want to marry Jennifer, make sure you are not presented with this problem for years to come. Good luck!

Lori Josephs | | 248.529.3375

Rick and Jo respond ...

We recommend you follow standard procedure for dealing with sexual harassment:

First, write down in a diary some notes that summarize each of the events and continue to do so.
Tell the mother, in direct language, that her approaches are unwelcome. If she persists, tell her again and warn her that you will be forced to discuss the issue with her daughter.

Don't be bluffed. If she's trying it with you, she's tried it before. In fact it's probably a familiar problem. If she still doesn't back off, discuss it with Jennifer. Beforehand, write down how you want to tell her and practice it. Be clear on why you are telling Jennifer -- out of love for her and your regard for her family.

Do not go into a marriage with this matter hidden. You can resolve this situation with compassion, common sense and dignity. If you do not address this, it will come back to haunt you in the future! Tread carefully. There is truth in the saying, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." If Jennifer turns on you, you'll have had a glimpse of your likely future with that family and you are better off out of there!

Rick and Jo Harrison | | +61.3.5420.7366

Feature Article:
Social Networking: The Basics

This month, RCI coach Katherin Scott talks about looking for love online. She discusses what social networking is, how to get ready to go online, dating precautions, and also provides helpful tips on what you can do now to meet the love of your life.

Tara Kachaturoff
Editor, Relationship Coaching Institute

Tara: Can you tell us a little bit about social networking?

Katherin: Social Networking -- perhaps you've heard of it before but aren't quite sure what it means. Basically, social networking is the grouping of individuals who share interests or activities into specific groups or communities. Most social networking services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as through email and instant messaging services, postings and chat rooms.

Social networking has encouraged new ways for people to communicate and share information. These online sites are regularly being used by millions of people.

One example of social networking is the thousands of online dating sites that have sprung up in the last decade. Much like the personal ads that singles used to post in local newspapers, online dating ads are now posted online, and thanks to emerging technology, include pictures, audio, video and all sorts of information for finding love online.

It's estimated that 40 million Americans use online dating services. That's about 40% of the adult American single population. It's not just a fad anymore, and it just might be your ticket to finding happiness.

Tara: What should you do to prepare yourself before you network with other singles?

Katherin: Because there are so many online dating sites, large, small and boutique, it's important to do your homework before joining any specific site.

Be clear. Take your time to research those sites where the members have similar interests and values. Know who you are and know who you're looking to meet. Understand your values, life purpose, temperament, strengths and weaknesses. If you're not certain about your requirements in a relationship, hire a relationship coach! RCI relationship coaches are professionals who can help you achieve your relationship goals.

Spend the time to understand if you're ready for a committed relationship, and if you are, stay available and continue to scout out and evaluate potential partners. If you're not quite prepared to commit, be honest about your intentions. Focus on your life and date non-exclusively for fun.

Be Yourself. Create your profile with enough detail so that people will know what you're about and who you're looking to meet. Let your personality shine through and let your profile filter prospects for you.

Be Cautious. A lot of strangers -- yes, strangers -- will be reading your information online. Use caution when writing your ad and disclose only the appropriate amount of personal information.

Tara: What are the best social networking venues online to meet singles? What about on-site venues?

Katherin: I recommend singles post their profiles on two different types of online dating sites:

#1 A large, general site such as, or, and

#2 A more specific, boutique site such as,,, or Believe me, there are boutique sites for all kinds of people and tastes!

For on-site venues, I recommend Speed Dating events and local singles groups and clubs, such as your church's singles group or a hiking club for singles. These venues will offer you the best success because the members are pre-qualified as single, available, and share your interests and/or values.

Tara: What are three mistakes that singles make when it comes to social networking and how can they avoid them?

Katherin: One key mistake that singles make online is not telling the truth. I'm not really sure how posting a picture of yourself taken 10 years ago is going to help you find the love of your life today. Or, how shaving 5 years off your real age, or failing to mention the 60 pounds you've gained since your picture was taken or the head of hair that's now somehow vanished will either.

Bottom line - tell the truth. If you do decide to meet the person you've been corresponding with, you'll have nothing to hide - or explain - when you meet in person.

Here's another mistake. If you're serious about finding the love of your life online, not posting a picture online is a mistake. According to economists at MIT and University of Chicago, profiles with photos get over twice as many emails as profiles without them. Just to be sure, go ahead and put that photo out there on your profile.

Finally, another mistake singles make online dating is to post their picture, write an amazing profile and then just wait for someone to choose them. Take initiative and responsibility for your outcomes instead of simply reacting to people who choose you. Go ahead - initiate contact with that cute guy or gal whose ad made your heart skip a beat! Create what you want in your life.

Tara: What types of precautions should singles take when meeting others?

Katherin: Be Safe. If you both decide you want to meet, be sure you have exchanged recent photographs, then talk on the phone first. The phone call is the place to get a feel for their personality. Make it a sort of pre-date "interview."

How well do they communicate? Do they listen and seem genuinely interested in your answers? Do they have a sense of humor? Are they triggering feelings and responses in you that are reminiscent of past partners that didn't work out?

If the phone call was acceptable, meeting in-person is the next step. Be sure to always meet in a public place - no exceptions. And always tell someone where you're going and how long you plan to be there.

Schedule a short date that has a built-in end to it, like a cup of coffee or lunch during a work day. If you're getting along well, you can always extend the time together, or better yet, schedule a time to meet again.

Tara: In your opinion, what's the fastest and easiest way to meet the love of your life?

Katherin: If you want to find the love of your life fast:

#1 Know your requirements --your 'must-have's' in a relationship. Do not settle for the wrong person who just doesn't meet them.

#2 Spend time in appropriate venues where people are single, of the sex you're interested in, and who share your values and beliefs. Going to a quilting class of all married women may be fun, but unless they're willing to set you up with their husband's single male friends, you'll be better off choosing a different venue.

#3 Be open. Even though the goal of finding a life partner may be a serious goal for you, have fun on the journey! Remember to not take things personally. Re-evaluate your strategies, if necessary, and update your profile and requirements as you gain more clarity.

#4 Be focused. Use your time wisely on the internet and when dating. Have a plan for how you're going to scout out, sort through, and screen potential partners. Know how to exit a bad date and a bad relationship.

#5 Persist, persist, persist. It may take time to meet the love of your life. If you're having fun and meeting interesting people, keep it up! However, if the process is getting you down, take a break. Come back at a later time for a fresh start. Remember to keep things in perspective, be able to laugh at yourself, and know that a sense of humor is the number one romantically attractive trait.

Copyright © 2009 by Katherin Scott. All rights reserved in all media.

Katherin Scott is an internationally recognized authority on dating and attracting love. She has devoted her life to the pursuit of love and romance for the millions of single people who want love in their lives. She coaches worldwide and regularly conducts seminars and workshops to help people empower themselves to find love and happiness. | 425.681.2620

Bonus Article:
First Date Dating Tips - Part 2 of 2

Are you getting ready to go on a first date? Want a hint or two about what to do - or not do? Our RCI relationship coaches have provided some great tips to help you make the first date a great one. We're publishing these helpful hints as part of a two-part series. Part 1 was published in our June 2009 edition of Conscious Dating Singles News.

Tara Kachaturoff
Editor, Relationship Coaching Institute

Dating Tip #6: You never have a second chance to make a first impression, so be prepared in three dimensions.

By being set up by a mutual friend and speaking briefly on the phone, you hopefully already have some information about your date. However, little from that two-dimensional introduction will compare to what you'll experience when you first meet live-and-in-person. That's why it's important to prepare your presentation.

Be sure to be neatly and attractively dressed, prepare a couple of current event topics to discuss, and have two tasteful jokes in your pocket ready-to-go. Feel free to continue discussing what you learned about your date with your relationship coach as well. Most importantly, pay attention to what you're thinking and feeling in all three dimensions (intellectually, emotionally and chemistry-wise) to help you decide about a second date.

Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D. | | 212.874.1470

Dating Tip #7: Think of the date as though you are creating the beginning of a new and deep friendship first.

Many men and women behave as though they are being set up for an arranged marriage that will transpire the night of the first date! Stop the insanity of creating self-imposed pressure and stress. Instead, think of your first date as though you are creating the beginning of a new and deep friendship. Have no expectations about the outcome.

By making this simple shift in thinking, you will find yourself naturally being more confident, comfortable, being yourself, and enjoying the present moment. Find something good about the experience even if you are simply getting practice in meeting new people, learning how to have conversations with different personalities, or just learning how to have fun in any situation.

Darshana Hawks | | 704.846.0932 x11

Dating Tip #8: Creating a clear intention for a date, based on sorting and screening principles, is the secret to success!

Life obeys our intentions, not our expectations. Creating a clear intention for a date, based on sorting and screening principles, is the secret to success! The intentions of a first date are to quickly sort the person in or out of your future dating plans.

Take the initiative and commence an exchange of information. Look for signals that let you see if the person is a viable contender, and also if you are viable for them! Share about yourself and ask questions to assess whether they meet your requirements. If you sort them in, set up a next date for further screening. If you sort them out - don't burn your bridges - they can become a great contact and advocate for you.

Rick & Jo Harrison | | +61.3.5420.7366

Dating Tip #9: Keep it simple and meet for coffee / tea on your first date to get them 'wanting more' of you!

The purpose of a first date is to get to know one another better. Keep it simple and meet for coffee or tea for a maximum of 30-60 minutes. It's inexpensive, convenient and public (for safety reasons).

If you don't "click," you'll most likely know in 30 minutes. Just finish your coffee, let them know you enjoyed talking with them and that you don't think the two of you are a good match.

If you do like each other, you can easily plan for a follow-up date. By keeping the time limited, you will leave your date wanting to know more about you and you'll both be looking forward to your second date.

Katherin Scott | | 425.681.2620

Dating Tip #10: Consider your date has on a big red bow and no matter how the date turns out, it is a gift.

You attract everything that comes into your life and there is a gift in everything you attract. You both chose to meet so the experience is a gift for both of you.

Before meeting the person, clear yourself so there is space to create something positive.

On the date, speak so that you touch them emotionally -- thereby making a connection. Let the person know you appreciate meeting them. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you have chosen it.

Marcy Rich | | 602.573.6406

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