Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Q & A: "I just turned 18 but my boyfriend is only 15 years old"

Q: I didn't think I'd ever send an e-mail asking for dating advice, but then again, I didn't think I'd ever find an advice columnist who used the word "cohones" either. You clearly redefine no nonsense.

I'm a 29 years old man, and I seem to be having trouble find the right one. I was divorced 3 years ago, spent some time with a counselor and am confident that I'm over it. I actually feel I gained some valuable experience.

Most of my friends are married, and I spend the majority of my time with them. They've set me up a few times, but I think they felt uncomfortable doing it, and to be honest, I felt uncomfortable asking. I don't really have any single friends and I don't know if I'm a singles bar type of guy anyway. I've very outgoing, so starting a conversation is not difficult for me. I just don't know where to go to meet single women in my age range. Do you have any ideas on good places to meet people? I don't mind trolling, I just need to know where the good water is... Thanks for you column, I'm glad I found it.-- Have Cohones Will Travel

Dear Have Cohones Will Travel,
You sound like a great guy. You've done some work on yourself and it shows. Congratulations. You know who you are and who you aren't, and knowing that difference, along with a little help from me, will help you be at the top of your game-- the dating game.

You can come out now. Stop spending most of your time with the marrieds. It's way too comfortable and doesn't seem to be much of a stretch. It's time to get out of your comfort zone and into the risky business zone. But you're ready for it, otherwise you wouldn't have written to me for help.

You really could be part of the dream team. You've got all the right ingredients to be a date magnet. You're comfortable with couples, you like being with married people, you've spent time working out some issues and getting rid of excess baggage, and you're ready to get back in the game. Plus, you have great taste in advice columnists. You know I had to throw that in somewhere! You're a buried treasure. Your problem is that you've got to get out there, because women don't want to dig. It ruins their nails.

I don't know the type of woman you want, but I've never been convinced that bars are the way to meet a person of substance. Don't get me wrong, it could happen, but that wouldn't be at the top of my dating, relating and mating game plan. Here are some places to go:

Health club. Do the cardio machines, like the stairmaster and treadmill. That's where the girls are. Go at peak hours. Jerry Seinfeld met his wife at a health club.
Fund raising events. Great opportunity to contribute and mingle. Run The Race for the Cure in your town. By running this race or volunteering, you raise money for breast cancer research and get to be with thousands of great women. It doesn't get any better than that.

Book signings and readings at your local bookstore. Attend, especially those events where the authors are targeting self-books that appeal to women like What Men Want and What Smart Women Know. You can hang out and be a woman's personal reference on what men want. Book signings are interesting. You can even learn something, and chatting to the people around you, while standing in line waiting to get your book signed, is easy. Women aren't intimidated because they don't think you're hitting on them, that is, as long as you make your opening line authentic and customized for the situation.

A club that caters to active singles like the Sierra Club. Perfect opportunity to meet some new women, make some new friends who could introduce you to "Ms. Right" and where you can go skiing, kayaking, hiking, sailing, and roller blading with like minded people, both mentally and physically.

University extension classes, lectures, adult ed and the learning annex offer great classes. Look for subjects that you'd be interested in and where you think the girls would be. Relationship, self-help, spirituality, and financial freedom classes are good for starters.

Gourmet cooking class. You might just cook up something more than pasta.

Food and Wine Tastings are often good but a great source is the supermarket, especially late at night.

Hang out at Starbucks. Go at peak times like early mornings and weekends. When people go to the same place every day at the same time, the same faces become familiar. Smiles start, then hi, and before you know it you're having a conversation.

Online dating services. I met my sweetie online, so I know it's possible. Some of the services have top quality members, but there's a lot of trash out there. For more information about finding love online see my section on Love Online To get help in creating a personal ad that attracts the right ones, go to 911 Help. If any of you visitors have some online dating service recommendations, send me an email and I'll list them.
Read Dating, a Singles Guide to a Fun, Flirtatious and Possibly Meaningful Social Life.
Remember that every date you go on and every event that you attend are simply practice. One of the other great lies is "there aren't any good ones left." Don't get hung up on needing instant results. Trolling is a process. As long as you "believe" you'll find your "it" girl, you will.

The key to dating is to be fun in your own life and to have fun. Develop and pursue some real interests...which of course, include finding and being where the women are but are not limited to just trolling (otherwise you'll become one dimensional), expand your world, develop a network of people and create a "having a great life now-- without or without Ms. Right in my life right now" game plan.

While you're trolling for Ms. Right, you might make some new friends which means you won't come down with the singles' disease of Loneliness nor Desperately Single Disease.

Good luck trolling and happy hunting.

Q: I have a problem I just turned 18 but my boyfriend is only 15 years old. What should I do? Should I still date him? He says if we keep on dating no one should know about it and that we should keep it to ourselves--Difference in Ages

Dear Difference in Ages,
There's something wrong when one person wants to keep the relationship a secret. Being out in the world, experiencing things together is one of the great joys of being in a relationship. Sharing experiences together brings you closer. Relationships should be joyful and honest. You want to be with someone who is proud, not ashamed, to be with you. Most people are excited to be with and to be seen with their respective boyfriend or girlfriend.

Although you care about each other, at your respective ages, three years can make a huge difference. He's just starting high school and you're finishing it. He's about to experience what you've already gone through and so you two really are in different places in your lives. Later on the three years will be no big deal, but they are now. Stay friends. Go out with someone who's closer to your age, someone who can appreciate you and can share some common experiences.

Q: I live in a small town, work in and go to church in the same town. There are very few single men, and most of them are already involved with someone. How do I meet new men? -- Isolated

Dear Isolated,
The first thing to do is get an attitude. Have the right attitude that you will meet Mr. Right. Believing is seeing, not the other way around. It can only happen if you believe it will happen. Forget about the circumstances that there are "few single men" available. It only takes one. Concentrate on expanding your network of people who might be able to introduce you to some new men or help you be in the right place at the right time.

Talk to your minister or priest. They are always plugged in to what's happening in their community as well as surrounding communities. Research the organizations and activities of surrounding towns and get involved in some of them. Join a professional organization and attend local and regional chapter meetings. Do some volunteer work where there are M-E-N. Let people in your circles-- friends, relatives-- including "distant" relatives, those at work, church, and where you shop that you're available to meet a great guy and ask them if they know anyone in town or in a surrounding town. Join a coed gym or health club. Join an online dating service. See Love Online. If you're religious, there are online dating services that cater to specific religious groups. If you need help in creating a personal ad, go to 911 Help. For more suggestions on how to meet someone, see the letter Have Cohones Will Travel.

Q: I am a single female in my mid twenties. I recently met a great guy at work who's funny, easy to talk to, and very good looking. I felt a strong connection and have fallen in love with him. The problem is he's on the rebound since his ex dumped him. He was devastated and hesitant to get involved when we first met, but recently asked me out. I wanted our first date to be special. I suggested that we have dinner on his boat. I fixed dinner. We ate, drank some wine, talked, laughed, and made out a little. It was great! How will I know when he is over the pain of his previous relationship and wants to make a commitment to me? I don't want to be pushy but I don't want to be shy either.-- Don't Want to Be Pushy

Dear Don't Want to Be Pushy,
Girlfriend, take a breath. You're all over this guy. You're moving at lightning speed. And you're just a wee bit too eager and available to him. You're doing all the work. You've got it backwards. He's the guy, he is suppose to pursue you. But since you're doing his job for him, he doesn't have to do anything, including making a commitment.

And besides, this guy is not commitment material right now. He just got out of a relationship and is wounded. I don't care how good looking he is, emotionally he's not available. He's on the rebound. He's not even testing the waters, he's just bouncing around. My suggestion is to step back and let him come to you. Healthy and solid relationships are based on passion, intimacy and commitment. Obviously you've got the first one going, start working on creating some emotional intimacy building blocks before you jumped to the commitment part. See Love-o-meter.

Right now he needs to feel safe with you. See How Men Feel Loved. His ego is very fragile, remember, he just got dumped. When a man is ready to make a commitment, he lets a woman know in lots of different ways, one of which is that he can't get enough of her. He calls; he wants to see her; he does whatever it takes to make her happy. To a committed man, when his woman is happy, he's content, because he knows that he is "the man." You'll know when he's over his ex and you're his "it" girl.

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