We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men...We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things..........from the 13th ARTICLE OF FAITH


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From the following list, please click on the article that you are interested in:

1. Secrets to Understand the Opposite Gender
What Guys Really Want
3. 3-Part Magic Formula for Relationship Success
4. Relationship Red Flags
5. 10 Principles To Find The Love Of Your Life
6. Relationship Readiness Quiz for Singles

7. Online dating – the good, the bad and the ugly
8. Dating Tips for Men (from a LDS single woman's perspective)
9. Avoiding Toxic Traps In Dating Relationships

Note: Following articles are from non-LDS commercial sites:

.  What to look for in a mate
10. How to
ask someone out on a date
Dating Rules
12.Top 10 Dating Tips
13.General dating rules for men
Become more confident (for men)

Bare essentials for dating (for men)
Finesse in asking a girl out
Find Mr. Right
18.What men want
in modern relationships
End a bad date
Get over being dumped
Learn to handle rejection

Choosing the right person from the dating scene
23.Safe Online Dating Tips
24.Happiness: 3 Amazing tips from the world's oldest case study

Following articles are primarily written for marriage couples. However, they are very helpful references for preparing for a future marriage or for evaluating a relationship if you are currently in one. Please click on the article that you are interested in:

1. The universal love laws
Six secrets to staying in love

3. Is there enough love and respect in your relationship?
4. Solving couple conflicts
5. How well do you know your partner?

6.101 Relationship Tips
7.Happiness: 3 Amazing tips from the world's oldest case study

Following are articles that have been written for singles in the Church's magazines that provide great wisdom and insights. Please click on the article that you are interested in reading:

  • "Choosing and Being the Right Spouse"

    Thomas B. Holman, Ensign, Sept. 2002, 62–67
    Prophetic counsel teaches us that finding a marriage partner takes spiritual sensitivity, maturity, and preparation—including preparing ourselves to be the right spouse.

  • "The Temple Marriage I Waited For"

    Patricia E. McInnis, Ensign, Aug. 1996, 64–65
    The goal of marriage continued to occupy my mind. As a lifelong member of the Church, I had learned the importance of eternal marriage.

  • "Dating: A Time to Become Best Friends"

    John D. Claybaugh, Ensign, Apr. 1994, 18–21
    Courtship is a time to discover who you and your partner really are—and how to nourish your relationship.

  • "Searching for the One You Will Marry"

    LeGrand R. Curtis, New Era, June 1993, 4–7
    It takes time and the right ingredients to cook up a great relationship. Here's a favorite—and foolproof—recipe.

  • "Marriage Prep 101"

    Brad Wilcox, New Era, Oct. 1999, 30–33
    If you'd like a top grade in marriage preparation, let these couples tutor you. This is one time it's perfectly okay to get answers from someone else.

  • "Receive the Temple Blessings"

    Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1999, 252–27
    As you seek an eternal companion, look for someone who is developing the essential attributes that bring happiness

  • "Could I Wait for a Temple Marriage?"

    Loie Lott Benson, Ensign, Feb. 1999, 48–51
    He might be my last opportunity for marriage. How could I refuse him and face an uncertain future?

  • "Q&A: Questions and Answers"

    New Era, July 2001, 16–18
    I'm not exaggerating when I say that there are no LDS young people to date in my area. Wouldn't it be all right to date [someone who does not belong to our church]?
    Note: This article was primarily written for the youth but the message applies to adults too.

  • "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth"

    Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Jan. 2001, 2–11
    The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control.
    Note: This article was primarily written for the youth but the message applies to adults too.

  • "Idea List: The Do's of Dating"

    New Era, Nov. 2000, 15
    Here are some suggestions from New Era readers on ways to ensure a fun and wholesome date.
    Note: This article was primarily written for the youth but some of the ideas apply to adults too.

  • "Great Group Dates"

    Darrin Lythgoe, New Era, Feb. 1998, 15
    So what can a group do together for fun? Here are some ideas.
    Note: This article was primarily written for the youth but the message applies to adults too.


Secrets to Understand the Opposite Gender

Let's take a look at how men and women interact and learn how we can get along even better. Researchers have found that men and women are naturally "wired" different and that's what can cause so much confusion and frustration between the two genders. The truth is, we are equal but we can never be the same, nor should we strive to be. Consequently, it is critical that we recognize and understand just what those innate differences are - and then learn how to use those differences to work together as an even stronger partnership. The differences that can cause so many misunderstandings today had meaning and a purpose back in the early caveman days. Read on to see what researchers have discovered.

MEN WERE THE HUNTERS. Their role was to track down and kill to provide for and to protect their family. They learned to focus on one thing at a time. They learned how to block out everything else around them to successfully track their prey and kill it. This was important. This was needed to survive. Man protected woman. TODAY, men still focus on one thing at a time and block out everything in the parameter. They don't multi-task like women. That is why if you try to talk to a man while he is watching TV or reading...you might as well forget it. They can't do it. They naturally block you out. If you want his full attention, then make sure you have eye to eye contact first, and you'll have his attention.

WOMEN WERE GATHERERS. Their role was to explore, touch, see all around them and gather information, food, their children and other necessities. They were to keep their eyes open to everything around them at once and to be constantly exploring their environment. They were not focused on one goal and multi-tasking was part of their importance and value. The cave belonged to the women. TODAY, women are still the multi- taskers. They juggle home, children, husbands, community, work, etc.

WHERE THE DIFFERENCES CAUSE TROUBLE. Take a man and a woman shopping in a store. The woman wants to touch, feel, explore all the beautiful clothing not really have a goal in mind. The man, in contrast, has a single focused goal in mind and wants to go in, buy it, and get out. The woman is frustrated because the man doesn't see the fun in touching, feeling, trying on and seeing various outfits on his wife. The man is frustrated because he sees no value in doing anything but buying the first thing that fits the requirement of the desired goal and getting out as quickly as possible. The man has "gotten his prey" and sees no reason to stay in the jungle. Are you having any "Ah ha!" moments yet? Read on to learn more.

COMMUNICATION DIFFERENCES: Men communicate to report; gather information, establish their status, solve problems, negotiate and show independence. Women communicate for rapport; create relationships, encourage interactions and exchange feelings. On average, a man speaks 7,000/words per day while a woman speaks 21,000/words per day!

WOMEN UNDER STRESS want to talk about their issues in length before they solve the problem. Women need to vent. Men hear this as whining and complaining. Women just want someone to listen and empathize first while a man can't imagine why a woman would even talk about an issue if she doesn't want a solution immediately. 95% of all women will contact another woman to vent because when we vent to a man, he immediately tries to solve the problem (one of the reasons why men communicate). Men get ticked off when we don't listen to their immediate solution and women get ticked off because we just wanted a listening ear. SOLUTION: women tell your man that you have something to tell him but you just want him to listen and empathize and not try to fix the problem. This let's your man off the hook in trying to find a solution and you get the listening ear that you need.

MEN UNDER STRESS need to have some quiet "cave time" (which could be watching TV, computer time, reading the paper, etc) to process his thoughts on his own before he is ready to talk about it. When your man comes home from a stressful day at work, instead of immediately asking him numerous questions about his day (women communicate to connect and share feelings...but he's not ready for it), just give him a hug and tell him it's nice to see him. Let him have some quiet down time for a while before you engage him in any kind of lengthy conversation. He'll love you for this and you won't be offended for him not wanting to get immediately into a lengthy conversation with you. He just needs some "cave time" first.

So next time you get frustrated and are thinking "what is wrong with him/her?!!!" Think again and try to respect the way we are "wired". Men and women are equal. We're just different...and that's a beautiful thing.

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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What Guys Really Want

What do guys really want? This is the question most women ask themselves from time to time in any relationship. After interviewing and working with a wide variety of men and couples, it became very clear that men have some deeper wants and needs that they don’t always share with their female counterparts. So in the interest of greater relationships everywhere, listen up ladies. Here’s a list of what guys really want from the women in their lives.

1. Your man wants you to tell him what you want. Of course, sharing what you really want with them doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. But it sure increases the odds. Plus it eliminates the need for them to make dubious assumptions, make crazy guesses or try to read your mind. For starters men want you to tell them how and when you prefer to be touched, how you want to be comforted when you’re feeling low and what you really want on your birthday. Share what you want as a request, not a demand, and it will be happily received.

2. When your man is grumpy, sullen or withdrawn, he wants you to understand that it’s probably not about you. Guys have their ups and downs just like women do. Often they’re not even conscious of what’s going on. They just know something’s not quite right, and they tend to pull back. From your perspective, it may be easy to think they are mad at you or dissatisfied with the relationship, when frequently it’s just that they’re not at peace with themselves, which brings us to . . .

3. Men sometimes want time alone. Don’t take their desire for solitude personally. Occasionally they just want some down time to “be,” to consider their own wants and needs, to reconnect with who they really are, and not get you mixed up in it, so they can come back and offer you the best of who they are.

4. Just listen when they dream out loud. Sometimes guys like to share their dreams out loud. When they do they are not asking for your approval, feedback, opinion on how realistic they are or strategies for achieving them. They’re merely having fun envisioning future possibilities that they may or may not intend to actually have happen.

5. If you’re mad about something, put it out straight. If your guy does something and you react with anger, they would appreciate it if you’d share your displeasure then and there. It might not be very pleasant, but it’s a heck of a lot better for them than being blindsided by pent up resentment that leaks out days or months after the original event occurred.

6. Be gentle with your language. Frequently teasing, clever banter and wisecracks directed towards your man or toward the male sex in general are actually thinly disguised criticism and disapproval. This kind of behavior tears at the fabric of their connection, and when they on the receiving end, it hurts more than they’re typically willing to let on.

7. They like to be acknowledged. Let your guy know when they’ve done something for which you are grateful. A simple, sincere “thank you” can foster a stronger connection between you as well as increase their desire to keep doing that appreciated action or way of being.

8. Men want you to love them as they are. Guys are not here to live up to your expectations. They’re not projects or fixer-uppers. They are what they are. Having said that . . .

9. They want you to help them remember who they are when they forget. As members of the human race, men sometimes forget who they really are and what they’re doing here. At times like these they yearn for you to nudge them in the right direction. They may resist at first, but when you compassionately remind them of their strengths, their personal power and the gifts they have to offer the world, they’ll ultimately be deeply grateful for your love and support.

10. Fully commit to the relationship. I know ladies….you’re surprised at this one. Men are supposed to be the ones with commitment issues. But when a man is assured that you’re in all the way, the space is opened for him to join you. And when that happens, there’s no more looking around for someone better, no more “should I stay or should I go,” no more exit strategies. You’re both on firm ground and can relax and enjoy it.

When all is said and done, men are just guys . . . with hearts and minds and spirits like ours. Wanting to connect, wanting to love and be loved, wanting to express their tenderness toward you . . . but sometimes just aren’t quite sure how.

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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3-Part Magic Formula for Relationship Success

Singles looking for their soulmates continually ask me “how do you know when you’ve met the right person”? “Why do some relationships work and others don’t”? It is for all you searching singles that I have created my 3-part formula for relationship success. Follow this formula and you will have the clarity you need to choose the right person the first time and final time.

To truly have the relationship of your dreams, you need 3 critical elements. It’s crucial that you have all 3 to truly have a fulfilling, passionate, joyful, forever relationship that every person desires and deserves. No matter how much you love someone or how hard you work on the relationship, if there is even one element of this formula missing, the relationship will not work. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean one of you is good and the other is bad, it just means you are simply not a match. Don’t waste your time, or your potential partners time trying to fix a relationship that simply isn’t right for either of you. Move on.

One of the most powerful and true quotes I have ever heard is by H. Jackson Brown Jr. He said: “Once you make a partner choice, you can’t change who your partner is, so you want to choose your mate carefully, from this one decision will come 90% of your happiness or misery.”

The key to true relationship happiness is to NEVER SETTLE for anything less than this 3-part formula.

1.PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: It’s the high, the rush, the euphoria you feel when you are physical with your partner. From a simple, tender first kiss to passionate lovemaking. It’s almost indescribable, yet you know it when you feel it and there is no mistaking it for something else. Two people either have it or they don’t. You can’t “will” physical chemistry into being.

Warning: strong physical chemistry can disillusion people in thinking they have found Mr. or Miss Right. Remember to balance your hormones with your head and know you still need the other 2 elements of the formula for a lasting relationship.

Also be aware that a new relationship always has that rush and high of the “new love” stage. Keep in mind that euphoria will calm down over time, and that is natural and normal. You will move to the “real love” stage where you see the person for completely who they are….faults and all. There are many ways to keep the physical passion alive, but you can’t create it if you never had the physical chemistry to begin with. All committed, loving couples deserve to have a lasting, passionate physical relationship that lasts a lifetime.

2.BEST FRIEND CHEMISTRY: This kind of chemistry allows two people to deeply “get” each other. They naturally understand and feel understood by the other partner. It makes them curious about and respectful of each other’s feelings and opinions. When you have this chemistry, two people share a genuine mutual admiration and they speak of it openly and frequently. This kind of chemistry motivates a couple to stick up for and give one another the benefit of the doubt. Best-friend chemistry leads partners to be excited by each other’s dreams of the future and to laugh at the same things. They completely delight in each other’s company and conversation, which makes them try to include each other in their activities, though they do just fine apart.

To have best friend chemistry means to be able to be your complete and whole self with your partner and you know they will love, respect and honor you. The key word here is that you have the trust to really be yourself around your partner without any fears or concerns.

3.REQUIREMENTS: For relationship success, your partner must also meet your list of Requirements. These are non-negotiable “deal-breaker” traits that you have consciously thought of beforehand. Because of who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, personality, you know that without these certain Requirements, the relationship would not work if it were missing. They are black and white traits with no negotiation. They are so important for your relationship success, that if your partner were perfect in every other way, but was missing just one of your Requirements, you would walk away from the relationship. You already know it couldn’t work. You shouldn’t waste their time or yours. Everyone’s Requirements list is unique to each individual. There is no right or wrong. It’s because of who you are as an individual that determines what Requirements you need in a partner.

What singles often do wrong is create a long list of all the things they want in an ideal partner and they wonder why they can’t find the right person. Their friends tell them they are too picky…and they are. Understanding what your true Requirements are should help you to narrow down the list to approximately 8-10 traits that are not unreasonable to ask for. You’re not being too picky. You just understand what is critical for yourself to be fulfilled and capable to have a lasting relationship. If you find yourself listing items like blond hair, blue eyes, plays the guitar…then think again. Those should be viewed as simply Wants or in other words “wouldn’t it be nice if” traits and not Requirements to have a successful relationship.

Examples of possible Requirements: addiction-free, trusting, open communicator, sense of humor, shared spiritual/religious beliefs, fidelity, romantic, wants children, organized, financial responsibility, honesty, flexibility, shared primary interests, spontaneity, loves animals/pets, independence.

As you create your list, ask yourself “Could this relationship work if this Requirement was missing”? If you answer immediately “no”, and know deep inside that it’s true, then it’s a Requirement. Don’t budge and don’t compromise on your Requirements list. If it’s just a concern or creates and issue but is not a deal-breaker, then it’s a Need. This means you could come up with a win-win solution or compromise and still be happy in the relationship. Create your final list with 3 categories: Requirements, Needs and Wants and be clear on the difference between the three. Remember it’s only your Requirements list that is critical for a happy, forever relationship.

Stay true to this 3-part formula and you will truly have everything you need for the relationship of your dreams.

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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by Barbara Ellen Grant, adapted by Val Baldwin

First impressions are everything when a new partner comes into your life. There are some personality types with particular characteristics you should seriously consider avoiding.

It's not all black and white. There could be partners who have more than one of these traits but could still turn out to be a great partner. There could also be partners who don't have any of the traits and can be even worse. You should simply watch out for the types of people that take things to the extreme and make you miserable. A successful relationship is one where both partners understand, respect, care, appreciate and love each other. If you are unhappy more often than satisfied in your relationship, it's better to give serious consideration about moving on before it's too late.

Here are a few warning signs that indicate trouble in the future.

  1. Out of a longterm serious relationship less than one year.
    Could indicate potential unresolved baggage. This is the number one complaint with singles. Again and again singles say they are available when in reality they are consumed with something or someone.
  2. "Temporary living conditions" seem more long term.
    If they refer to their home as transitional but doesn't seem to be leaving any time soon, they could have potential commitment issues. They may also be the type of person who "plans" on doing all kinds of things with their home, their work, their life?but never gets around to actually doing any of those things. This is the type of person that you see 10 years later and nothing has changed. A good talker but not a good doer. Not great marriage potential.
  3. Divorced less than a year but "over it".
    Can you say denial? Really, go back to point #1. Lots of singles think they are available and ready to move forward when in reality they are not emotionally ready. They move right into another relationship and they find themselves conflicted and not able to give what they should to the new relationship. Divorce takes time to truly get over. If it's been less than a year, then the person is fooling themselves when they say they are ready. Proceed with caution in this scenario.
  4. Not very reachable by phone.
    With today's technology, it's very unusual to not be available by phone. You have to ask yourself what they might be hiding. Are they married or a possible control freak? Do they really work where they told you? As unfortunate as it may be? there are wackos out there that mislead and hide pertinent information for a variety of reasons. None of these reasons are good. Honesty and integrity is everything for a successful relationship.
  5. Says they're in love with you within the first two weeks.
    It's fun to be swept off your feet by a romantic partner who claims their undying love for you quickly. However, most singles have learned that being swept off their feet is dangerous to the heart - the relationship usually does not survive past the initial rush. Things that burn that hot, burn out just as fast. It's best to grow slowly, lightly into a relationship.
  6. Financially secure, over 30 and living with his mom.
    Can you say momma's boy? Typically these types of men have their moms help them out with almost everything. His mom is the best person and the perfect woman in the whole world. Having such a partner will bring up one problem, you will never live up to his mother and although he will love and cherish you forever, he will take his mother's side every time. Time and again he will keep comparing you to his mom, no matter what you do.

    is the woman who is constantly fixing your hair and tucking in your shirt. Although she may have good intentions and be great in many others ways, her motherly instincts will eventually be too much to tolerate. You may try to get her to ease up, but if she still cannot resist the urge to stop caring about the tiniest of details, you need to consider if you really want two moms in your life permanently.
  7. They prefer spending all their time at the gym
    And talks about their workouts most of the time. They have a lifetime membership at the gym. He has all the latest gadgets and home entertainment systems. Most probably, in such a relationship, you will never see him as he is always down at the gym. He will spend more time in the bathroom then you do.
  8. A workaholic and their only "true love" is their work.
    They are going places, but will they be taking you with them? They are always smartly dressed, has great taste in d飯r and eats at the finest restaurants. However, their work will always come first. Maybe you have to make an appointment to see them. They will take you to elegant dinner parties then leave you with strangers while they talk shop.
  9. They insist you spend every waking moment with them.
    They refuse to let you go out for yourself or spend any significant amount of time with anyone else. Any kind of explanation of yours needing to spend time with friends and family will only bring up an argument in which you will have to prove your love for them 100 times. Remember, if you can't have a little independence in your relationship, it's never going to last.
  10. They have to be the center of everyone's attention.
    No matter where you are or who you are, this partner just begs to be in the spotlight. In order to get attention, they may talk nonstop or maybe too loud, use wild gestures, tell unbelievable stories or tell lame or distasteful jokes or a woman might wear provocative outfits. Will you be able to handle such a stage hog?

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com. 

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10 Principles To Find The Love Of Your Life
f you are waiting around for prince or princess charming to magically appear at your door, you will be waiting a very long time. It takes conscious effort and personal work to prepare yourself for the relationship of your dreams. Follow these 10 tips, and you'll be on your way to find that special someone.

  1. Know who you are and what you want.
    Like an iceberg, we are typically aware only of the tip, while our success and happiness depends upon what lies below the surface.
  2. Learn how to get what you want.
    Assess the information, tools, and skills you will need and acquire them. Develop creative strategies and actions. "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
  3. Be the "Chooser."
    Take initiative and responsibility for your outcomes. Don't react to what, or who, chooses you. Seek to create what you want in your life.
  4. Balance your heart with your head.
    Make your relationship choices consciously. It's still exciting!
  5. Be ready and available for commitment.
    Live your life and bring your dating strategy into alignment with how ready you really are for a committed relationship.
  6. Use the "Law Of Attraction."
    Be the partner that you are seeking. Attract the partner that you want by developing yourself and living the life that you want. "If you build it, they will come".
  7. Gain relationship knowledge and skills.
    Prepare for the love of your life by learning about relationships, improving your relationship skills, and deepening your relationships with your family, friends and colleagues. Date for fun and practice. Take more emotional risks. Read about relationships. Get relationship coaching. Take relationships classes and workshops.
  8. Create a support community.
    Isolated singles become lonely in their relationships when they focus on a partner to meet all their social and emotional needs.
  9. Practice assertiveness.
    To get what you really want, you need to say "No" to what you don't want.
  10. Be a "Successful Single."
    Don't put your life on hold waiting for a relationship to happen. The best way to attract your ideal partner, is to be living your life fully in every way as a successful single.

Original material copyrighted by Relationship Coaching Institute, adapted by Val Baldwin.
Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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Relationship Readiness Quiz for Singles

To assess your readiness for a committed relationship, rate yourself in each of the following 10 areas. Try to be objective and honest with yourself. We recommend asking close friends and family for their opinions as well.

Rating scale: Rate each item on a scale from 0-10

8-10:   Good;  this area of my life is strong and would be an asset to my next

5-7:   OK;  this area needs work, but most likely would not sabotage my next

0-4:   Needs Work;  this area could interfere with the success of my next relationship

  1. I know what I want. I have a clear vision for my life and relationship. I can envision my ideal life in detail that feels strong, very real and keeps me motivated. Rating _____
  2. I know my requirements. I have a written list of approximately 10 non-negotiable requirements that I use for screening potential partners. I am clear that if any are missing, a relationship will not work for me. Rating _____
  3. I am happy and successful being single. I enjoy my life, my work, my family, my friends, and my own company. I am living the life that I want, and I am not seeking a relationship out of desperation and need. Rating _____
  4. I am ready and available for commitment. I have no emotional or legal baggage from a previous relationship. My schedule, commitments and lifestyle allow my availability to build a new relationship. Rating _____
  5. I am satisfied with my work/career. My work is fulfilling, supports my lifestyle, and does not interfere with my availability for a new relationship. Rating _____
  6. I am healthy in mind, body and spirit. My physical, mental or emotional health does not interfere with having the life and relationship that I want. I am reasonably happy and feel good. Rating _____
  7. My financial and legal business is handled. I have no financial or legal issues that would interfere with having the life and relationship that I want. Rating _____
  8. My family relationships are functional. My relationships with my children, ex, siblings, parents, and extended family do not interfere with having the life and relationship that I want. Rating _____
  9. I have effective dating skills. I initiate contact with people I want to meet, and disengage from people who are not a match for me. I keep my physical and emotional boundaries, and balance my heart with my head with potential partners. Rating _____
  10. I have effective relationship skills. I understand relationships, can maintain closeness and intimacy, communicate honestly and assertively, negotiate differences positively, allow myself to trust and be vulnerable and can give and receive love without emotional barriers. Rating _____

Add up your 10 ratings to arrive at your total score. Read below to see how ready you are for a committed relationship.

80-100:   GREEN LIGHT:  You are well on your way to the life and relationship
               you really want.

50-79:    YELLOW LIGHT:  Continue to work on the areas needed and take it slow
               in relationships while doing so.

0-49:      RED LIGHT:  Take a break from seeking a partner, focus on your life and
               prepare for the relationship that you want.

Original material copyrighted by Relationship Coaching Institute, adapted by Val Baldwin.
Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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Most people set new goals for themselves at the beginning of each year but most overlook doing so with their relationships.  It’s never too late to schedule a positive private time with your special someone.  The purpose is to review how you did this last year and brainstorm on how you can make the coming year the best your relationship has ever had.  

One of the assignments I give couples is to review the following Universal Love Laws to see how you are both performing.  The goal is to fully understand each other to create the amazing relationship you both deserve. Remember this is NOT the time to be overly critical or a way to vent your anger and resentment over long-ago incidences. It’s crucial to approach this discussion as a positive and enlightening way to move forward together. It’s a time for both partners to be completely responsible for how you add or take away from the relationship. Finally, create an action plan on what you both commit to do and then DO IT!

Before you begin, you both must understand and agree upon three crucial concepts:

  1. You can’t CHANGE what you don’t first ACKNOWLEDGE.
  2. YOU are the only one you can change.
  3. BOTH partners are responsible and accountable for your relationship.

THE LAW OF CONNECTION: Spouses are either growing closer or growing apart.  You don't get to stand still in relationships for very long.  So we need to know two things:  What does it take to feel connected to my partner?  And what does it take for my partner to feel connected to me? 

  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how connected you currently feel with your partner. A high score means you feel very connected. A low score means the opposite. It is possible for one partner to feel very connected while the other partner does not.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then try this: Tell each other very specifically what you need your partner to do more of to feel connected. Give very clear examples of what you need them to do, how to act or what to say to feel more connected. Begin with “What would really make me feel more connected to you is……”

Examples: need more touching and holding (do you mean physical intimacy or holding hands, hugs, etc?), need more meaningful conversations with both of you sharing your thoughts, ideas and feelings and not just one partner doing the talking (how often?), need more sincere compliments and encouraging words (how many a day would make you happy?), need more dates without kids (how many times/month?), need to equally divide the household chores, etc. (create a chore list and divide it up). 

THE LAW OF THE OTHER PERSON’S EYES:  In a relationship, we don't have to always agree with our partner, or even see things the exact same way.  We do need to be able to step into the world of the other person and be able to see through their eyes.  All partners want to feel understood.  When they do, they can deal with whether you agree with them or not.

  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how well you feel understood by your partner.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then try this: Make sure you use communication techniques that make your both feel understood and heard. After your partner says something meaningful, mirror back to them by saying something like: “Let me make sure I understand you. What I think I heard you say is…… Did I get that right?”

It’s OK to agree to disagree. Always approach a difference in showing open mindedness by saying something like “I can sure understand why you feel the way you do and I respect your decision. For me, I just view the issue differently.” Often times it’s appropriate to simply end the disagreement by saying “I respect you completely but on this topic let’s just agree to disagree and no hard feelings, OK?”  

THE LAW OF NAGGING:  I've rarely seen a situation where one person was being accused of nagging where the other person was not being irresponsible in some way.  Nagging is no fun, for the nag-ee or for the nag-er.  It takes two people working together to stop the pattern, one to be responsible, and then one to not nag.

  • Rate your partner on how much you feel they nag you. A high score would be someone who nags a lot.
  • Rate yourself on how much you feel you nag your partner.
  • Compare your scores. Don’t be surprised if your scores differ quite a bit. People see things from their own point of view which may be very different than what you intended to portray.

If your partner rated you high on the nagging scale, then get a reality check that this is how you are coming across whether you intend to or not. Commit to be consciously aware when you go into the “nagging mode”, stop yourself, apologize and choose a different way to deal with the issue. You could come up with a funny “nag alert name” your partner could politely tease you with if you start into the nagging mode like “Nagging Nellie” or “Nagging Ned”.

If you rated your partner high on the nagging scale, ask yourself what behavior are YOU doing or not doing that prompts your partner to nag you? Is there a trend? Do they nag you over the same kinds of situations? Are you being irresponsible in some way? Analyze your behavior to see how it is contributing to their nagging. Ask them specifically what behavior change would need to occur to stop the nagging. Then commit to perform better in this area. You may be surprised at the welcome result.

THE LAW OF FUN:  The couple that laughs and plays together has a much better chance of staying together.

  • Rate your relationship (not your partner) 1-10 on how much fun you have together.
  • If either of you scored your relationship low on the “fun scale”, brainstorm ideas on how to incorporate more playtime together.

Examples: Make a list of things you think are fun to do together (i.e. outdoor activities, seeing movies, playing tennis together, taking classes, snuggling by the fire, sharing jokes etc.) Choose what activities and how often would make you both feel satisfied and happy. Schedule some fun times on the calendar and follow through!

THE LAW OF MANNERS: It’s all too easy to begin taking each other for granted. It’s important to continue to treat each other well. So when you need to get by your partner, saying “excuse me” is still a whole lot better than “move.”

  • Rate your partner 1-10 on how well mannered you feel they treat you.
  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how well mannered you believe you are towards your partner.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then do this: Share with each other specific behavior you consider bad mannered. It doesn’t matter if you don’t view the particular behavior as poor manners. The point is, your partner does and it offends them. Commit to correct this behavior and always treat each other with respect and adoration. Never slack off on good manners. It’s the loving and the right thing to do.

The Law of THREE: When you marry someone, you don't marry one person, you marry three.  The person you think they are, the person they really are, and the person they will become as a result of marrying you.

This final exercise is to be done privately. Do not share your results with your partner or the action items you commit to do.

Ask yourself “What kind of person is my partner today?”

  • Rate your partner 1-10 on the kind of human being and partner you believe they are. A high score meaning a wonderful person and partner, a low score meaning needs improvement.
  • Consider your part in the outcome of the score you gave your partner. What are you doing to bring out their best qualities? What are you doing that is bringing out their worst qualities? Ponder this and write down 2 things you will start doing immediately to boost your partner’s best qualities and 2 things you will immediately stop doing that brings out their worst qualities.

True love means being committed to the growth of another human being. This final Love Law puts this important attitude into practice.

Great relationships take time, patience and on-going tending. Does it take effort? Absolutely. But I promise you…..the results will be priceless!

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com. 

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Any relationship expert will tell you that the key to staying in love is being willing to work at it, which can make it sound like it's no fun at all. But the "work" of a relationship shouldn't be dull and something you hate to do. It should be the kind of fun "work" you put into anything you love like cooking, jogging, fixing cars or gardening. The challenge is finding the time to do that work.

I like to compare relationships to gardens. Think what a garden would look like in 2 years with no maintenance or upkeep. It would be a disaster! It’s the same with your relationship. It’s critical to put the time and effort along the way to keep it healthy and growing. Couples expect that they’ll get to a place where things are predictable and stable. But things will always change, and that’s what also makes the relationship exciting and alive.

So how much quality time do you and your partner need? It's a tricky question, as almost everyone’s needs are different. One person always wants more time alone, while the other wants to spend more time together. It's key that you honor each other's needs and come to a compromise that will work for both of you. If each partner is willing to give a bit, and agree that you need some quiet time with each other each day, you've got a good start.

I know how fortunate I am to say that my husband and I have been married for over 25 years and the guy can still take my breath away. Has it always been easy? NO. Does it take continual effort? YES. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

To help you create your own formula for relationship success, here are 6 tried and true secrets for staying in love, including one favorite secret of my own.

1. Humor is Priceless. Val and Matt – married 25 years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Couples who laugh a lot together build up a “love reserve” of happy times that carry them through the rough times. When your partner does something irritating you find yourself saying “what the heck, I’m just going to let it go. It’s not worth it. He/she might be acting pretty lame right now but I know they’re really a good person.” You remember the funny remark you laughed at together earlier in the day and you can let the annoying things go much easier.

Advice to Other Couples: Create funny times together. To build that “love reserve” through humor, you need to consciously develop your sense of humor so you can look to the funny side of life when things get tough. Go see funny movies together, go to a comedy club, learn some jokes and learn to laugh at yourself. If you can recall those funny times together, it keeps a smile on your face and good thoughts about your partner.

2. Show and Tell. Greg and Aliza - married 2 ½ years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Aliza and her man find small but meaningful ways to stay connected, like giving each other foot rubs and taking a quiet walk each morning. "We hold hands in bed when we wake up and at night before falling asleep. Just that small gesture of connection really keeps us feeling close," says Aliza.

Advice to Other Couples: Say, "I love you." Aliza says you can never say this too much. "We were both in previous relationships where we never said 'I love you' to our partners. Now we can't get enough or give enough of those three words," she says.

3. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude. Kevin and Joy – married 9 years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Kevin and Joy make sure to kiss for 10 full seconds. "It's amazing how this little tip has made our relationship closer," says Kevin.

Advice to Other Couples: Let your spouse know that they're appreciated. "When I take actions that say, 'Thank you,' it strengthens our romance," says Kevin, explaining that small gifts like flowers or a surprise day at the spa make Joy feel his gratitude.

4. Adults Only Time. Katie and Eric - married 7 years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Not making it all about the kids. "We're consumed and smitten with our two daughters, but we know that they will grow up and it will just be us two again,” says Katie, who says that having children has actually improved their sex life, as it makes their time alone together more precious.

Advice to Other Couples: Have a standing date night, and take vacations without the kids. " Even if it’s just a long weekend together without children, it gives you the love boost to remember why you married that person in the first place.”

5. Hello E-Mail! Amanda and Justin – married 4 years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Because Justin is in his medical residency, Justin and Amanda have to deal with being apart for long stretches of time, even living in separate cities for a while. To bridge the gulf, they started e-mailing each other lists of all the times that they missed each other, that is, times when they've been apart and realized how much they longed to hear the other's laugh, or see their smile. "We keep many of them now, and can reference them if we ever get into a big fight," says Amanda.

Advice to Other Couples: Don't be joined at the hip. "Too many couples get into this weird dynamic where they let their friends or interests they had pre-marriage simply disintegrate when they get married," says Amanda, who says the ample time they each get with their friends keeps them fresh for each other.

6. How Do You Feel Loved? Diane and Aaron – married 25 years.

Our Secret to Staying in Love: Understanding what he/she needs to feel loved. "My husband prefers that we do activities together. Even if it's just watching a movie, he prefers to watch it lying on the couch with his head in my lap. I express my love for my family by doing things for them -- making dinner, folding their clothes unexpectedly," says Dianne, who feels loved when her husband does these thing for her, too.

Advice to Other Couples: Study your partner, and see what he or she responds to. "A man who responds well to compliments will also visibly shrink from a harsh word, so he needs extra care when his spouse speaks to him," says Dianne.

Of course, all couples must find their own "secret" and what works best for them. And that's the fun of it. Marriages will always have their highs and lows times, but that’s what makes it an adventure. Invest the time, keep an open attitude, keep a sense of humor, look for win-win compromises and never forget what made you fall in love with your partner in the first place. Do this and you’ll be building a healthy foundation for staying in love forever

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com. 

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Is There Enough Love and Respect in Your Relationship?
John Gottman, Ph.D. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail

Answer yes or no to each of the following statements, depending on whether you mostly agree or disagree.

  1. My partner seeks out my opinions.   Yes  No
  2. My partner cares about my feelings.   Yes  No
  3. I don't feel ignored very often.   Yes  No
  4. We touch each other a lot.   Yes  No
  5. We listen to each other.   Yes  No
  6. We respect each other's ideas.   Yes  No
  7. We are affectionate towards one another.   Yes  No
  8. I feel that my partner takes good care of me.   Yes  No
  9. What I say counts.   Yes  No
  10. I am important in our decisions.   Yes  No
  11. There's lots of love in our relationship.   Yes  No
  12. We are genuinely interested in one another.   Yes  No
  13. I just love spending time with my partner.   Yes  No
  14. We are very good friends.   Yes  No
  15. Even during rough times, we can be empathetic.   Yes  No
  16. My partner is considerate of my viewpoint.   Yes  No
  17. My partner finds me physically attractive.   Yes  No
  18. My partner expresses warmth towards me.   Yes  No
  19. I feel included in my partner's life.   Yes  No
  20. My partner admires me.   Yes  No

    Scoring: If you checked "yes" to fewer than 7 items, then it is likely you are not feeling adequately loved and respected in your relationship. You need to be far more active and creative in adding affection to your relationship.

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com. 

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10 Steps to a Successful Outcome

Everybody experiences conflict with the ones they love. Let’s face it, if you have a pulse…you’re going to disagree at times. And that’s really OK. What most people don’t realize is that it’s not usually the conflict itself that tears people apart, but how you resolve it and the feelings you have towards each other AFTER the conflict that really has the biggest effect on your relationship. As a professional speaker, trainer and Life Success Coach, not only have I seen what a poisonous effect unresolved conflict can have in couples lives but I’ve witnessed the counter-productive effect it has in corporations and organizations as well. These same valuable couple conflict tools can be used in all areas of your life to produce a happier, less stressed out, more fulfilled you.

Let me first share with you two critical concepts you must put into practice if you want those difficult discussions to end in a positive manner. One proven secret to resolving conflict peacefully is how you approach your startup. Research finds that discussions invariably end on the same note they began. If you start an argument harshly – meaning you attack your partner verbally – you’ll end up with at least as much tension as you began. But if you use a softened startup such as: you maturely voice your complaint about a specific behavior you wish were different instead of attacking your partner’s character or personality, you are polite by saying “please” and “I would appreciate”, you are crystal clear on what is actually bothering you, you verbalize your appreciation for times when things were handled better and you speak showing respect – the discussion is likely to be more productive. So remember, if you go straight for the jugular, you’re going to draw blood and get nowhere. If you start softly, you are more likely to resolve the conflict and have a happier and healthier relationship.

The second critical concept for coping effectively with conflict is communicating basic acceptance of your partner’s personality. Human nature dictates that it is virtually impossible to accept advice from someone unless you feel that person understands you. So the bottom-line rule is before you ask your partner to change the way he or she drives, eats or completes chores around the house, you must make your partner feel that you are understanding of their point of view. If either (or both) of you feels judged, misunderstood, or rejected by the other, you will not be able to manage the problems in your relationship. Put these two key concepts into daily practice when those sensitive subjects come up and I promise they will go much smoother.

When you’ve decided the conflict has gone on long enough and it’s time to work things out, this 10-step plan from my training with Life Innovations, Inc is an amazing tool. Use it faithfully and I will guarantee a positive outcome for you both.

  1. Set a time and place for discussion. Allow at least 30 minutes. Plan a time when you are free of distractions and interruptions. No kids, no TV, just the two of you. Some positive suggestions for your couples meeting could be at a restaurant for dinner, relaxing in front of the fire at home or go to bed and hour early to discuss your issues while you are all cozy and curled up in bed. Take the time to write your answers down so you are both clear and there is no misunderstanding.
  2. Select one important issue you would like to resolve. Write down the specific issue or problem for discussion. You may be surprised to find that your partner has a different view of what the actual issue is.
  3. How do you each contribute to the problem? Without blaming each other, list the things you each do that have not helped to resolve the problem.
  4. List past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful. As humans we try the same approach over and over thinking our partner will finally “get it” this next time. Stop it! We end up beating our heads against a wall. Past attempts haven’t worked so try something brand new.
  5. Brainstorm. List all possible solutions. Pool your new ideas and try to come up with five possible solutions to the problem. Do not judge or criticize any of the suggestions at this point. There are no dumb ideas. Think outside the box.
  6. Discuss and evaluate these possible solutions. Be as objective as you can. Talk about how useful and appropriate each suggestion might be for resolving your issues.
  7. After you have both expressed your feelings, select one solution that you both agree to try. Put it in writing and post your trial solution with a detailed description so you both can be reminded daily.
  8. Agree on how each individual will work toward this solution. Be as specific as possible and write down each of your detailed responsibilities to solve the issue. To simply commit to “trying harder” is not good enough.
  9. Set up another meeting. Set a place, date and time within the next week for another meeting to discuss your progress.
  10. Reward each other as you each contribute toward the solution. Pay attention to each other as the week passes. If you notice your partner making a positive contribution toward the solution, praise his/her effort.

FUTURE WEEKLY MEETINGS: At your next weekly meeting, if you have not improved, go through steps 5-8 and try a different solution. If you have shown improvement, use this exercise to overcome other problems. Make couple meetings a regular part of your weekly schedule. They can really make a positive difference!

Always remember that the key to resolving conflict is to show respect, understanding and a commitment to finding win-win solutions for you both. A happy, healthy partnership is all about cooperation and compromise. It’s not a competition. Follow these highly effective steps and you won’t ever have to be afraid to discuss those “tough topics” again.

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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How Well Do You Know Your Partner?
Quiz for Couples

John Gottman, Ph.D. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail

One of the most important features of successful couple relationships is the quality of the friendship. Do you know your partner's inner thoughts and dreams? Take the quiz below and find out.

  1. I can name my partner's best friends.
      Yes     No
  2. I know what stresses my partner is currently facing.
      Yes     No
  3. I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my partner lately.
      Yes     No
  4. I can tell you some of my partner's life dreams
      Yes     No
  5. I can tell you about my partner's basic philosophy of life
      Yes     No
  6. I can list the relatives my partner likes the least
      Yes     No
  7. I feel that my partner knows me pretty well.
      Yes     No
  8. When we are apart, I often think fondly of my partner
      Yes     No
  9. I often touch or kiss my partner affectionately
      Yes     No
  10. My partner really respects me
      Yes     No
  11. There is fire and passion in this relationship
      Yes     No
  12. Romance is definitely still part of our relationship
      Yes     No
  13. My partner appreciates the things I do in this relationship
      Yes     No
  14. My partner generally likes my personality
      Yes     No
  15. Our sex life is mostly satisfying.
      Yes     No
  16. At the end of the day my partner is glad to see me
      Yes     No
  17. My partner is one of my best friends
      Yes     No
  18. We just love talking to each other
      Yes     No
  19. There is lots of give and take (both people have influence) in our discussions
      Yes     No
  20. My partner listens respectfully, even when we disagree
      Yes     No
  21. My partner is usually a great help as a problem solver.
      Yes     No
  22. We generally mesh well on basic values and goals in life
      Yes     No

YOUR SCORE ______ (amount of Yes answers)

15 or more yes answers: You have a lot of strength in your relationship. Congrats!

8 to 14: This is a pivotal time in your relationship. There are many strengths you can build upon but there are also some weaknesses that need your attention.

7 or fewer yes answers: Your relationship may be in serious trouble. If this concerns you, you probably still value the relationship enough to try to get help.

In a survey of 200 couples, Couples Therapist Dr. John Gottman found that the best predictor of passion and romance in a relationship was...you guessed it...the quality of the friendship! Start working on yours today!

This article was provided by Val Baldwin, CPC, a professional speaker, TV personality, author and certified relationship coach. For more information, please visit her website at www.valbaldwin.com.

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Online dating – the good, the bad and the ugly


What’s it like, this online dating thing?  Are there predators out there? The answer is – it can be great fun, or disappointing. And yes, there are a few predators or unsavory people out there. 

Not long after I found myself newly single, my girlfriends in the Relief Society began suggesting I ‘go online’ to meet someone.  My initial reaction was, “No way!”  But I did begin exploring the idea, and to my surprise, I met more and more people who had been on a singles site, and in some cases had even met someone special online.  I also met people who knew of couples who had met online and later married.  Well, what the heck?  Texas wasn’t exactly swimming with eligible LDS single men, so I decided to give it a try. But how should I get started? 

At first, I learned about various sites through word-of-mouth, and I timidly place my profile on one of them and then began exploring it to learn more. After the fact, I can see many things I would have done differently, and I have also learned what to watch out for and how to best benefit from a site.  I have also made a lot of friends along the way – male as well as female, and I am thankful to know them. 

Which site for you? 

If you’re thinking of going online, do some research to see which site or sites might best suit your personality and goals. Without listing specific sites, it should at least be pointed out that some sites have diligent administrators who will immediately ‘nuke’ a profile and block someone if they’re abusive or out of line. Other sites have a reputation for being more lax about it. Ask your friends about their experiences and base your decision on what sounds right for you.  Some sites offer a ‘forum’ or discussion board that allows members to post topics and talk to each other. I personally enjoy that interaction and after several months of being single and being online, I have to say that has been one of the most positive outlets and experiences I’ve encountered. 

Discussion boards help connect you with other singles – all across the nation. You will soon learn you’re not alone, and you’ll begin meeting people in cyberspace who have shared similar experiences or who have learned survival tips. You’ll even send up prayers for each other. I have often seen, on one discussion board I’ve participated in, requests for prayers when someone is having a tough time. Despite the miles, and despite the fact that many people will never meet in person, the group reacts as a family would and extends friendship, support, prayers and good wishes. 

Even though a site might market itself to LDS singles, they have no way of monitoring whether someone is actually a member, or legitimately has whatever status they might claim regarding temple worthiness or other church standing. It will be up to you to do your own research about someone once you connect with a member of the opposite sex. And yes, I have heard horror stories. I’ve even had some negative experiences myself. More about that in a bit. 

Getting ready 

Once you decide to make the leap, select your site (or sites) and get a few things prepared ahead of time before you actually sign up. Usually, you can go on a site as a visitor without joining – this will help you as you get ready to create your own profile. It’s helpful to go online and read a few profiles and pay attention to the screen names people create for themselves.  Start thinking of what you’d like to be called online; be creative but anonymous.  Come up with a few sample names and then do searches to see if they’re already taken. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the middle of joining a site and scrambling hard to come up with a name. In many cases, once you pick your name, you’re stuck. You can’t change it. If your name is too generic, people may not know if you’re male or female, or it won’t be very memorable. 

Get a few pictures ready to post. Men or women who want to meet someone to date will respond much more readily to profiles with pictures than to a profile with the “blue box” that usually is used as a placeholder for a profile that doesn’t have a photo. In many cases, a prospective suitor won’t even take the time to read what you’ve written if you have no photo. It’s sad, but that’s the way it is. 

Posting your profile  

Draft your profile text ahead of time. Make it engaging, interesting, funny, informative (without revealing your identity) and not too long. If you’re not good at writing, get a friend or family member to help you draft what you’ll say. As with profiles that lack a photo, a poorly written narrative will often be a turn-off to people who view your profile.  After all, your goal is to be seen, and to meet someone across the crowded room (cyber-room, of course).   

To up the chances of meeting someone, periodically update or slightly modify the text of your profile, or add a new photo. The reason? This makes you surface as a ‘new’ profile when someone does a search. It keeps your profile fresh and helps attract continued attention. 

Now what? 

Now that you’re on the site – what do you do? There will be a search mechanism where, generally, you can enter various criteria and all the profiles that meet your criteria will pop up. This is fun, but can be addictive. One of the biggest challenges many people face when they ‘go online’ is that it can become a huge time drain. Try to enjoy the site and its features, and meet a few people as appropriate, but don’t let it begin to drain your time in unproductive ways. 

Long phone calls, lasting hours on end, are not uncommon. They should also serve as red flags of a sort. Sure, it’s intoxicating, and you being feeling you’ve known this person forever, and you’ve met your soul mate. But some of this might be due to the romance we conjure up due to distance and mystery.  When you finally meet that individual in person, pay attention to how you might react to them if you just casually met at a party or a singles dance. I have a personal theory, and I believe I’ve seen it time and again – there’s something about interacting at a distance that can make you do crazy things, such as start talking about marriage after you’ve traded maybe four messages and a few phone calls. This becomes addictive, and before you know it, you might find yourself creating a fantasy relationship that you can’t sustain in real life. Worse yet, you might find married and then wonder, months later, how you got to that point. 

Although most of the people who go online are probably normal, decent and good, there are indeed some scary stories. And there’s a long list of red flags to watch out for. 

Truth or consequences? 

Among the war stories I’ve heard of, or personally experienced, one of the most common is running into people who misrepresent their marital status, or their age or who post a picture that is seriously outdated. As much as we want to believe that all LDS members are good souls, unfortunately, there are people who subtract 10 or even 15 years from their age. There are many stories about meeting someone in person and realizing their photo was taken at least 20 years and 50 pounds ago. How can you expect to have an honest relationship with someone if they don’t start out by presenting themselves truthfully to begin with? 

It’s not out of line to suggest that you check each other out a bit to verify the facts. If someone says they’re divorced, there will be a court record (and I personally know of at least three men who claimed to be divorced when they were actually still married).  If they’re widowed, there should be an obituary or death notice. This probably sounds cold-hearted, but the first time you discover that someone has been dishonest, you will see the wisdom of it. In addition to checking court records (if needed, especially if it’s a long-distance romance), consider talking to this person’s bishop or stake president, or another church member in their ward. 

The scary stuff  

Even scarier are stories about meeting true con artists, or stalkers. If someone questions you about the time you spend online, or where you were when they tried to call, or why your phone was busy, you’re dealing with a possessive person at the very least, and quite likely a stalker. A comment such as “I thought you were going to bed early but I noticed you were online,” or “I tried to call but your line was busy – guess you’ve found someone else,” might sound innocent, or even flattering, but the underlying message is more about jealousy and control. Pay attention to your own feelings and responses. If you find you’re feeling defensive or that you have to account for your time in any way, reconsider whether this is a healthy relationship or not. 

The con artists will, by nature, be harder to spot. After all – they’re really good at what they do, which is to con people. Try to verify what someone says about himself or herself. Maybe your bishop can call their bishop, or perhaps you have a friend who lives in their area. A while back, several people on a singles discussion board gave personal examples of how they’d been ‘conned’ by people they’d met online. A woman overseas had asked one man for money. One woman actually thought she was going to marry a guy (again, from overseas), and he allegedly came to the United States, where they made plans to meet at the temple. She then learned he was not even a member of the church.  Another woman found herself paying for meals and tickets to events, because the guy regularly ‘lost his wallet.’ 

Spotting the professional scam artists 

Sometimes it’s easy to spot an online scam artist. There appears to be an entire industry of people who go online to singles sites and immediately profess their love and attraction to just about every person of the opposite sex. In many cases, the person will claim to be a U.S. Citizen but will be ‘overseas’ on business. This is different from the legitimate single person who just happens to live in another country. A frequent ploy used by men is to claim to be widowed with a child - to tug at your heartstrings. The women who con will claim to be ready to give their love and affection and to be a lot more understanding than American women.  

One of the first things the professional cons will do is try to get you to IM (instant message) with them. This puts them in control. They can watch your reactions and alter their behavior to suit your personality and desires. This also takes them off the site where you met and puts them on their own turf (the IM arena, or a chat room). 

Watch for broken language in a profile or a message, it’s a sign of a poor grasp of English and might be a sign of a professional con artist. Sometimes the individual will say something that is entirely uncharacteristic for a ‘real’ person to say – such as “I am a United States citizen,’ or ‘I am very trustworthy.’  Most people who fit either of those categories won’t go around advertising it. Another clue is someone who sends you a note professing to have fallen in love with you (or close to it) based on only seeing your profile.  Often, their profile is practically blank and there’s no photo. If your first message from someone is an invitation to IM them or contact them at their personal e-mail, beware of what might be ahead. 

One trick recently spotted on a popular LDS site was a clever variation of the broken language & no picture. The profile actually had a photo of a handsome guy (too young for the age he claimed to be), and the text had spots that were in poor English interspersed with areas that were well written.  The person had obviously cut-and-pasted text from someone else’s profile in the hopes of sounding more legitimate. 

Sadly, aside from the foreign scam artists, there are indeed some really skilled con artists who attend church and prey on people of the opposite sex. Nobody knows why. Perhaps it’s because we’re good and trusting people.  The guy who seems to lose his wallet? Lose him, fast.  The guy or gal whose marriage details don’t add up?  Cross him off your list. 

If you spot a potential scam artist on a site, report them through the site’s ‘report abuse’ link. If you’re on a responsible site, they will investigate and delete the person’s profile. I have seen it happen, and it made me feel that the site was interesting in protecting me. 

Other scary stuff 

Maybe you’ve met someone who isn’t really trying to con you, but there’s something not right. As with any community, the online world has its share of abusive or unstable people. Watch for signs of possessiveness or jealousy (as mentioned above), and be wary of someone who discusses inappropriate topics related to intimacy.  

Also watch for temper tantrums, verbal abuse or other edgy and unpleasant behavior. If you experience those things online, report the person to the site. If you’ve progressed to phone calls or personal meetings, examine what is going on very carefully and decide if it’s healthy to continue the relationship. 

Pay attention to your promptings and feelings!  If you feel cornered, uncomfortable, embarrassed, unsafe or obligated, perhaps this isn’t a good match for you. 

Happy endings 

While stories of con artists or stalkers might scare you away, there are also some wonderful success stories. I personally know of at least half-dozen couples who met and married online. Some were long-distance romances, and without the Internet, these couples would never have met. At least one couple met on a discussion board – he was attracted to her wonderful spirit and sweetness, which he saw through her comments and posts on various topics. Not unlike meeting someone at a party, or running into someone new when you’re out with your friends, right?  This couple is now happily married, and it all started through an online discussion among friends – who just happened to live all across the country. 

Maybe you’ll meet Mr. or Ms. Right online. Or maybe you’ll simply have the cyber-version of a new relationship that doesn’t end in marriage, but helps you learn and grow. 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your future mate right off the bat. How many singles dances or blind dates would it take before you find the right mate?  Well, online dating is no different, in that respect. Give it time, and have some fun while you’re at it. 


This article was provided by Marcy Goodfleisch.  Marcy Goodfleisch is an LDS member and freelance writer living in Austin, Texas.  She has been published in numerous local and national newspapers, magazines and books (Austin American-Statesman, Texas Ms Magazine, The Texas Observer, Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2 and others).  Currently, she is a regular contributor to Austinwoman magazine.

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Dating Tips for Men
(from a LDS single's perspective)


Suddenly single?  Now what? 

What do you do when you suddenly find yourself single again and your dating skills are a bit, um, rusty?  In the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” an endearing scene shows Tom Hanks sweating bullets as he forces himself to pick up the phone and call a woman for that dreaded four-letter-word, a D-A-T-E.  He awkwardly stammers his way through the phone call to the background music of the old tune, “Back in the Saddle Again.” When he hangs up, he collapses from the stress of it all, and the audience can relate to every nuance of his emotions. Heck – if someone as stellar as Tom Hanks (or his character in the movie) gets nervous, what about us mere mortals? 

It’s the New Age of Singleness – so who gets to ask whom?  Who pays? And what are the unwritten ‘rules’ for LDS singles? 

In talking to and sharing war stories with literally dozens of LDS singles across the country, a few common threads have emerged that might at least offer some starting points for men who are trying to navigate the uncharted waters of adult singledom. Perhaps these aren’t ironclad rules for everyone, but almost every woman I’ve encountered echoed the following tips for me. 

When to ask 

If you’ve met each other online, you should probably trade a few messages and phone calls before meeting in person. Respect her need to play it safe, and let her call the shots on when she’s comfortable meeting in person. Sadly, not every guy online is a gentleman. And not all men on LDS sites are even members. After you’ve traded some online messages and talked on the phone, if you’re interested in meeting her in person, ask how she feels about a dinner out, or meeting at a public (and neutral) place. Don’t be surprised if she prefers that you meet somewhere public rather than inviting you to her doorstep. 

What’s a good first date? 

Although you might both love movies, that generally isn’t a good setting for a first date, unless you have dinner before or afterward.  The reason is obvious – you’ll spend a couple of hours in the dark, and at the end of the movie, you still won’t know much about each other and will not have had a chance to talk. If you have dinner before, you can get to know each other a bit and briefly compare notes on the movie afterward. 

Other good first dates might be a walk in a park followed by ice cream or a soft drink, a silly game of miniature gold for bowling (just for fun – don’t make it competitive), an outdoor concert that allows a bit of leeway for conversation, or an art gallery (where you can quietly discuss the exhibits while you stroll around).

Never call for a date at the last minute. This implies you think she has nothing better to do than to sit and wait for your call. If you want to spend time on the weekend, call by Wednesday to arrange the date. Once you’ve actually established a relationship, there will be plenty of room to call her for last-minute plans. 

When you’re discussing where to go, it’s fine to ask her for ideas, but it’s also very acceptable to suggest a few ideas for the evening (or day) that fit your budget, and get her opinions on them. Some women might have plenty of ideas on where to go, but others will want to take their cues from you and will wait for your suggestions. It will help move things along a bit if you have some ideas to present. 

Let the woman decide when and where you’ll meet. She may prefer meeting you at the restaurant rather than having you show up at her doorstep for the first few dates. This is especially true if she has children at home and wants to limit contact with new friends until she knows where things might be headed.

Dress and Grooming


Consider having a blunt and objective friend check out your wardrobe and hairstyle. If you’ve been enjoying the same haircut for more than a decade, it probably needs an update. If your shirts, pants and suits are old standbys, let them stand by for a while and buy a few new outfits. And for Pete’s sake, get rid of the comb-over! It’s not a sin to lose your hair. Bald can be quite attractive; wear it with pride! Are your teeth recently cleaned and not stained? Do you have other grooming issues such as visible hair in your ears or nose? Are you still stalling about losing those 20 (or 30, or 40) pounds? All these things add visual years to your age, and they’re easily remedied. Well, maybe the extra weight will take a month or two. But it will be worth it.


Picking up the tab 

Who pays? Just to be safe, as a rule, start out assuming that the gentleman pays for the dates. You’ll probably meet some women who try to reach for the check. Just quietly and firmly take control of the situation. No, this doesn’t mean she is a gold-digger. Your dates don’t have to be expensive in order to be fun, creative and even elegant. Something as simple as a picnic of brie, a good crusty French bread and sparkling grape juice spread on a blanket at an outdoor concert can be as romantic and sophisticated as many an evening in a pricey restaurant. If you have it arranged ahead of time, and if you’ve thought of a few extras (will she need a light blanket if it cools down? Will you need bug spray?), she will love you for it. 


Don’t forget to use basic good manners. Many women and even some men mention they’ve encountered an appalling lack of basic manners in a first-date setting. Face it, dating is basically the first step toward true courtship, so you’re off to a better start if your behavior with one another shows that you both know how to respect and cherish a member of the opposite sex. If the woman isn’t familiar with how a gentleman should behave, all the better – you get the chance to show her how great she’ll feel when she’s treated like a lady. 

Open the car door for her. Naturally, if it’s your car and you have to unlock it to let her in, you’ll be opening if for her in order to seat her. But maybe she’s a bit out of practice, and won’t remember to stay seated politely for you to open the door when you arrive at your destination. So how do you signal for her to wait? When the car stops, just smile and say, “Stay right there so I can get the door for you.” 

Open the door when you enter or exit a building or room. Some men worry that a woman will resent this. No way. At least not a woman you’ll want to marry. Trust me. 

Brush up on your table manners. This means everything from which fork to use and what to do with your napkin to remembering not to dig food out of your mouth with your fingers (yes, this really happened). Place the napkin across your lap with the fold toward your body. If you leave the table for any reason, the napkin can go on the seat of your chair or may be folded and placed on the back of the chair. Some people leave the napkin on the table next to their plate; this isn’t really listed as an option in etiquette books, but it’s so commonly done that it’s not an issue. Always start with the outermost utensil for the first servings. Salad forks are usually smaller than dinner forks. At a formal table, soup should be ladled away from you toward the outer edge of the bowl. Picking up the wrong fork or spooning your soup in the wrong direction aren’t deal-breakers, but behaving disgustingly at the table will earn you major black marks. When you’re through eating, neatly place the utensils diagonally across the top edge of the plate. When your dinner is over, fold the napkin and leave it on the table. 

When ordering dinner, don’t be surprised if she asks what you suggest, or asks what you’re having before she’ll commit to a decision. Many women want to get a feel for the price range you have in mind so they won’t end up ordering the most expensive steak on the menu and then learn belatedly that you’re going to have a hamburger. At a formal restaurant, it’s very acceptable to ask your date what she would like before the waitperson arrives and then take ‘control’ and order for both of you. This means you’ll need to think of the little things such as how she’d like her cut of meat prepared, what type of dressing on the salad, etc. The waitperson will help with this, though, and will ask your date for specifics if needed. 

Never pick your teeth in public. If you have food stuck in an uncomfortable place, excuse yourself and go to the restroom to take care of it. This probably sounds oh-so-obvious, but you would be surprised at some of the careless, and even nauseating, table manners I’ve seen. 

If you’re walking along a sidewalk, make certain the gentleman is on the outside, next to the street. No, we’re not still in the era when horses splashed water from unpaved and rutted boulevards. But most women are familiar with that little rule of etiquette and will appreciate you for it. And many women will notice it if you don’t remember to walk on the correct side. 

Who goes first on a stairway?  This one is sneaky. If you’re going up the stairs, the lady goes first. If you’re descending, the gentleman goes first. This positions you in a way to help catch her if she falls. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I’ve had male friends ask how they can arrange to go first when going down the stairs (or escalator) without looking rude. Simply take her hand when you get to the top of the stairs, step slightly in front of her and say, “Let me lead you down so you won’t fall.” 

After you’ve been out, it’s a nice touch to call her the next day to thank her for the evening, or afternoon, or whatever. She’ll notice your thoughtfulness. And if the evening was a success, you can begin planning the next date. 

When to hold hands or kiss 

Well, that’s certainly subjective. If you feel comfortable on the first date, polite handholding is probably fine. You’ll both be nervous, by the way, not just you. It’s good to pay attention to quiet signals and body language. This also gives you a chance to see how you feel about proximity and light contact. 

Kissing should probably wait until you’ve become better acquainted. Because the church has so many sensible guidelines for dating, some ‘rules’ that might otherwise seem old-fashioned can come into play.  A safe and gentlemanly way to approach the first kiss is to respectfully ask her if you can kiss her. 

When to get engaged or (gulp!) get married 

Since the whole purpose (we assume) for dating this great woman is to see if she’s your future eternal companion, perhaps it’s appropriate to talk about how long an engagement should be, or how soon to marry. Again, these tips are based on conversations with singles from all across the country. Some became single through divorce; some through being widowed. 

Generally, you should be as recovered as possible from the previous relationship before you become permanently entwined in a new relationship. This is often easier said than done, especially for people who are hurting. An expert in family counseling told me that rushed marriages in cases of widowhood (especially when it came suddenly) can often be based on the emotional support you might feel from being comforted by someone rather than a solid foundation for eternal marriage. She said many such marriages end in divorce after about two years. If you’ve just been widowed within the past six months, can you honestly say you are sufficiently past the sadness and grief enough to open your heart to another person as a future mate (rather than being vulnerable to the comfort you might be feeling from them)? 

Divorce might be a bit different, but still merits caution. In some cases, the actual court decree comes after a long period of separation or other emotional detachment. Perhaps this has given you (or her) a chance to heal a bit; perhaps not. 

The word ‘rebound’ didn’t get invented by chance. Examine your feelings, especially as they relate to the relationship that has just ended. In fairness to you, or to a prospective mate, you need to have recovered from losing the relationship you had in the past in order to make room for a new one in the future. 

The older we are, the more baggage we need to check at the station before we start on a new journey. Getting married at 23, when your entire life is ahead of you is quite different from getting married at 45, or 55, when one or both of you have children, previous spouses (even if they’re deceased) perhaps a home to unload and other issues to deal with. 

Where to live 

Recently, an informal, very unscientific poll was taken among several singles about where to live after you marry – your place, or hers, or something new. Hands down, the preference (often based on experience) was to start fresh on neutral turf. The reason? By nature, when an empty space is created, we tend to fill it. You (and she) probably have filled your personal space to suit your own lifestyle and needs.  If one of you moves in with the other, you are basically trying to retrofit a new person into a life and space that’s already been defined.  If possible, consider getting a new home or apartment that you can settle into as a couple, rather than squeezing a new person into an existing space. 

Here’s hoping you live happily ever after! 


Marcy Goodfleisch is an LDS member and freelance writer living in Austin, Texas.  She has been published in numerous local and national newspapers, magazines and books (Austin American-Statesman, Texas Ms Magazine, The Texas Observer, Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2 and others).  Currently, she is a regular contributor to Austinwoman magazine.


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Avoiding Toxic Traps In Dating Relationships

By Jennifer James, LCSW


As a single in the LDS Church, I have to navigate the same waters as all of you in online dating.   I receive many emails from those of you who have read my book and have especially expressed gratitude for Chapter Four, “Toxic Traps In Relationships.”   Many of you have said it’s spared you tremendous heartache and problems in dating.

Recently, however, I’ve realized that we need to be even more self-aware and self-protective as we date, whether local, long-distance, online, or through singles venues.  So, I’ve compiled a few reminder tips to help all of us avoid heart-breaking traps and snares that can cause emotional damage as we date.  Again, some of these ideas can be found in my book “Latter-day Divorce and Beyond: Surviving Singlehood” (2006 Cedar Fort Inc).  Here we go:

1)     Intense/automatic disappointment, hurt, anger or frustrated reactivity on a first date.

If either you or your date become very agitated by failed expectations on a first date, that’s a red-flag.  It’s obvious that there was unrealistic or heightened expectation that did not materialize, which then sends immature or unhealed people into a tail-spin.   They demand to have their fantasy realized and then here you come through the door a normal, average person!!   Wow, how dare you not be Superman or Pamela Anderson’s twin!! LOL!!  If this happens regularly to you (being disappointed by your dates’ appearance) then you may have set your bar much too high. It might be time to grow up and get real?  And, if this happens regularly to you on the basis of others being disappointed in you, then are you deceiving others in your profile?  Take off the 15 year old photo, put a photo less than 6 months old online, give them a body shot so there’s no deception, and own who you are.  If there are things you feel need changing, then do it?

2) Lacking courtesy or consideration on a date. .

Does he help you on with your coat or get your door?  Does she say thank you and notice when you do something nice?   If normal courtesies are missing on a date, it’s very possible that this another red-flag to show you that person hasn’t healed from historic wounds.  It’s hard to be courteous and considerate when you’re angry, bitter, hurt, have a chip on your shoulder, or are frustrated with the opposite sex.   If you have issues with an ex-relationship….heal those issues before carrying them into another one.  It could be affecting your courtesy and kindness!

3)    The sexual/physical elements take over and dominate the relationship too early.

Leading off with sexual innuendo or boasts, seductions, teasing, physical promises, etc might be considered “playful,” but not on a first or second date.   I once met a guy who boasted that his kissing was so HOT that women swooned regularly.  Uh-huh, well, if you have to brag or announce it, chances are the hot air might be the only “hot” thing about them!  That kind of ego is destructive to relationships.   Leave the flirting for when it counts and matters----when a person has shown you, over time, that they care, that you matter, that the relationship is stable and loving.  Then the playfulness can come out, and then it can be genuine and honest affection towards someone who has legitimately captured your heart.   When others come-on to you too quickly or lead off with sexual flirting, count it as a red-flag and watch them closely.  Ask yourself what they’re trying to prove or tell you?  Studies show that this behavior demonstrates insecurity and immaturity.  Are they unsure of themselves, or possibly feel cheated from prior relationships?  Beware when men or women immediately try to seduce you or jump you on a first date, with physical overtures. 

4)    Feeling like a contestant or a judge on a first date.

On that first date, do you feel like you’re on American Idol?  If you’re feeling judged harshly and rather quickly (or perhaps you’re doing the judging?) I’m suggesting that there might be something unhealed going on in the person who is either being a contestant (low self-worth) or being the judge (self-absorbed).   Expectation can be a harsh and unreasonable task-master!   What is that first date for, brothers and sisters?  Is it to measure up or be dumped?   On normal first dates we can be nice, we can be tolerant, we can be kind, and we can leave that person much better than we found them, even if we don’t see a magic eternal future together.   LDS singles can be the cruelest creatures to each other!!   If you come to a first date with a sense of entitlement, that this person better dazzle you, or be the “one” then you have some healing to do!!    What kind of healing needs to happen?   Insecurity, ego, narcissism. 

5)    The first date becomes a commitment.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from LDS singles (and I have experienced myself in dating) is that some men and women are obsessed about defining a relationship by the first or second date.  Many often propose marriage, or suggest a long-term commitment when they hardly know each other!!   When this happens, it’s a red-flag moment.  That person who has an urgent desire to couple is objectifying you!!   They’re not interested in who you are or what you’re about.  They’re just interested in satisfying a need, which often includes forcing or insisting someone get serious with them so they can feel valued or validated.  I’ve also seen some push for exclusivity quickly so that they can seduce someone into rationalizing sexual overtures that are unacceptable for those who are endowed.   If someone suggests, pushes, forces, tantrums, or urges you into a serious relationship after a couple of dates, tell them to take a hike.  Then run fast and hide well.  Healthy relationships do not develop under such manipulative conditions.

  6) If there’s conflict, they BAIL.

There is a cultural myth in the LDS Church that says if you have any conflict in your relationships (dating, marriage, friendships) then those relationships are flawed.  I have even seen couples boast of “never having fought once in our 50 years of marriage….”   Well, show me a couple who hasn’t had a disagreement or a conflict, and I’ll show you a pair who regularly plays bully and passive-victim.  Conflict is healthy in a relationship when there is resolution, and where both parties feel sustained personal power and control.  Find out if your partner has developed the skills of negotiation and dialogue.  Feeling heard and appreciated, creates an atmosphere of trust to solve the difficult issues together, which, in turn strengthens relationships.  When you find that you disagree with a person you are dating, stick around to see how it’s resolved.  Watch how they fight.  Do they manipulate or intimidate or do they stone-wall and avoid?   Are they willing to discuss it to resolution that gives a win-win (or at least a compromise) for both of you?   Or do they give you the silent treatment and are never heard from again?    If it’s the latter, be grateful.  They did you a huge favor to show you their lack of skills in resolving conflict!!

Take these tips with you into your dating so that you can weed out those who bring immediate toxic issues to a new relationship.   I urge the singles I talk with to become pro-active with their mental and emotional health as a single.  Examine and process the historic emotional traumas and hurts that you’ve been through.  Heal those hurts with the help of therapists or counselors so that when you do find that special someone, they won’t be burdened or frightened away by unhealed wounds.

Jennifer James is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LCSW) in Utah, has written the best-selling book “Latter-day Divorce and Beyond: Surviving Singlehood,” and is a popular speaker nationwide at LDS Singles Conferences, Women’s Conferences and Firesides. Visit her website at www.Ldsbrokenwings.com. Copyright 2008 Jennifer James/Ldsbrokenwings

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