5 Tips To Help You Refresh and Renew Your Relationship This Fall

September is a month of new beginnings and renewal. This feeling of a fresh start in September stems from our childhood days of heading back to school. While we are feeling committed to making positive changes in our life, what better time could there be to take a serious look at our relationship with our partner and to re-commit to making our relationship healthier and stronger?

In an era where over half of all marriages are ending in a divorce, it is time we look at what we can do to make a relationship work, rather than end. Here are some ideas to help you renew your relationship:

1.  Commit and Re-commit: A successful long-term relationship requires both parties to make it a priority, even when you have children. Be careful not to be so busy putting your children first all the time that you completely neglect your partner. It is easy to lose yourself in your role as a parent and forget what it is like to be a man or woman outside of being a parent. It is important to make time for each other without the children to connect emotionally, physically and spiritually.

2.  Take Ownership of Your Role in Things: In times of challenge or difficulty it is easy to resort to the blame game of blaming the other person and taking no ownership of your own role in things. This is never helpful. Instead, ask yourself, how am I contributing to this issue and what can I change in my behaviour that will facilitate a resolution of the problem? 

3,  Show Appreciation Regularly: We all like to be appreciated and all too often we feel taken for granted. Do your best to consistently acknowledge how much you appreciate your partner and what he or she does.

4.  Be Creative: Schedule date nights no matter how busy you are and come up with creative ways to be spontaneous and spend time together. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, connection does.

5.  Communication: No relationship is successful without good communication. If this has been lacking in your relationship, re-commit to sharing your feelings with your partner more regularly. No one is a mind reader, and many misunderstandings occur when we expect our partner to do or say things and they don’t.

Relationships aren’t always easy and there is no magic solution to staying together. Regularly practising these ideas won’t save a bad relationship, but they will help a mediocre one improve.

 

Love And Money: Are You A Gold-Digger If You Say Money Matters?

As a family lawyer, the two biggest concerns most clients have is whether they will have enough money and whether they will ever find love again.  Love and money are at the core of so much of our lives.  When couples divorce, money is often a major issue.  It is also at the centre of many fights in a marriage.  If money is such an important matter in marriage and divorce, one wonders whether it is also important when couples are only in the dating stage.  My answer to this question, is YES money does matter when you are dating.

In an ideal world money wouldn’t matter at all. If we didn’t need money or there was lots of it to go around, dating, marriage, and divorce would be very different.  Realistically though money is a scarce resource, some people have more, some people want more, and some people will do just about anything to get their hands on it.

Money definitely complicates relationships. In modern dating who pays for the date has become much more complex than it used to be in the old days where the man always paid.  Now who pays is a complicated affair that can result in resentment, bad impressions and the end of a potential romance. I have female friends who still expect the man to always pay, and if he doesn’t it’s a deal breaker.  Conversely, I have male friends who think it should be 50/50, and if the woman feels differently, it is a deal breaker for him.  There are no clear cut rules on this and everyone has an opinion.

Who pays for the first date may not be as big an issue as who pays for multiple dates, activities and potentially holidays as a couple moves into the relationship stage.  If both parties have similar incomes or a similar net worth it may be more straightforward,  If one party earns substantially more than the other or has a much higher net worth, should this person pay more often? Does it matter if this person is male or female? If the party with more money likes to enjoy a higher lifestyle, does he or she have to forego dining at fine restaurants and going on luxurious vacations with the other party unless he or she is willing to pay the full tab?  When you are in your twenties and haven’t accumulated much wealth yet, these questions aren’t as much of an issue.  However, when you are in midlife or older, they can be very real issues which is why I say that money DOES matter in a relationship.

There are some people, though, that place too much emphasis on money.  We are all aware of gold-diggers whose main requirement in a relationship is that their partner has money and will financially take care of him or her.  There are many people out there who are willing to settle into a bad or loveless relationship just because the other person has money.  If someone is wealthy, it is amazing how often they are deemed more attractive despite how they look, act or treat their partner.  As a woman, I loathe to say this, but the reality is that women are more often guilty of doing this than men.  I have been advised countless times to give a wealthy man a chance even if I am not attracted to him.  While I think money is a realistic factor in a relationship, it is definitely not the most important or decisive factor.  I think that men or women who place too much importance on money will inevitably end up in an unhappy relationship.

The rise of the gold-digger has also given rise to marriage and cohabitation agreements. As a family lawyer, I recommend these to clients who have assets to protect, but it certainly can take the romance out of a relationship to be discussing what should happen if the relationship ends.  It can also give rise to resentment and power imbalances. As a society though, we have reached a point where people are more willing to risk their heart being broken than they are willing to risk losing money if a relationship goes bad.

With the importance placed on money and protecting our assets, I can’t help but feel that we are losing out on romance. 

As relationships and marriage take on more of a business-like approach, we are losing some of our connection with our partner by keeping a wall in place to protect ourselves. I know these are strange words coming from a lawyer.  It is a reflection of the modern world which leads me back to the question asked in the title to this blog: are you a gold-digger if you say money matters?  My answer:  NO!

If you would like some legal advice on how to protect yourself financially, contact me at leanne@leannetownsend.ca for a consultation.

Is It Ever Ok To Settle In A Relationship?

We all want to find that person who sweeps us off our feet, makes our heart race, and gives us butterflies in our stomach.  I certainly dream of the fairy tale where I meet my perfect Prince Charming and live happily ever after. But is this realistic when you are in midlife and have been married before?  If you have someone in your life who adores you, and you enjoy his or her company, but he or she is not your Prince or Princess Charming, is it “settling” if you decide to be with him or her for the long term?  Is it ever ok to settle? These are difficult questions in modern day dating and it is worth exploring the answers.

There are a number of definitions of the word “settle”, but this one offered by the Free Dictionary seems the most appropriate in the dating context:  “to accept in spite of incomplete satisfaction.”  As we go on date after date, with a checklist or mental vision of what we are looking for, we would be settling according to this definition if we choose to be with someone who doesn’t completely satisfy us on all levels.  We would be “settling” if we didn’t feel a strong emotional, mental and physical connection to our partner.  Is it realistic to expect this level of connection with someone and can we still be happy with something less?

The modern dating world with the easily accessible and wide range of daters available through online dating and other avenues. makes it difficult to pick just one person without feeling like you are settling.  It gives rise to the grass is always greener syndrome and helps create unrealistic expectations of what we may be able to find.  It becomes easy to approach dating with a glass is half empty philosophy where instead of focusing on the positives of our partner, it is easy to look at their shortcomings and where they don’t meet our ideal, and to believe that “someone better” will come along.

If we have someone in our life who treats us well, loves us, but doesn’t excite us, it is easy to ask the question, “is this as good as it gets?”  The response to that question may be yes or it may be no.  In a world where so many of us have unrealistic expectations about love and relationships, we may be setting ourselves up to always feel like we are settling.  On the other hand, I would be the first person to say, NEVER SETTLE….not in love, in life or anywhere.  The goal is to be a realistic non-settler.  Know what you are looking for and insist on finding it, but make sure it really exists and isn’t some magical unicorn from Neverland.   No partner is perfect, so don’t look for this, but at the same time we all deserve to find that person who puts a smile on our face, makes our hearts race and gives us butterflies in our stomach.   The person who does those things does exist, and whether you are 20 or 50, and whether you have never been married, or you have been married several times, you owe it to yourself to hold out until you find that person.

The key is to understand that happiness is an inside job and not to look to any relationship to make yourself happy.  If you are truly happy with yourself and with your life, when you meet the right person you will know.  You will NOT be left wondering, “is this as good as it gets?”

The Good Vibes Only Relationship

Let’s be honest.  No one likes a Debbie Downer. We all appreciate positivity and good energy.  This is especially true in the dating world.  We want our relationships to be fun and to complement our already stressful lives.  Modern day daters, in particular, seem to only want relationships that are fun, light, easy…..”good vibes only.”  While “good vibes” are definitely important, “good vibes only” should not be what we strive for in a relationship.

We all love to be around positive people.  Positive energy is contagious.  In the dating context, positive energy is attractive, draws others in and makes people want to be around you.  Many modern daters have been hurt or burned by a past ex.  The last thing most people want is to introduce a new Negative Nelly into their life.  This has led to an increased desire for casual, fun relationships with no commitment, obligation or expectations.  It’s what I refer to as the rise of the “good vibes only” relationship world.

We live in a world where people don’t really want to commit to anything….not a relationship, a job, not anything long-term. It is the immediate gratification world.  If something becomes difficult or challenging, we want to quit it and move on to the easy, light, fun, next best thing.

With the creation of online dating, it has become easier and easier for daters to meet new people and be able to block, drop or “ghost” somebody with whom they no longer want contact.  If Sally or Sam is starting to complain or assert needs, it is easy for Ted or Tina to drop them, and find somebody “more fun”.

The problem with light and fun, is that it can also mean superficial.  Deeper connections with others are only formed when we allow ourselves to open up, be vulnerable, and do the thing many modern daters dread…..talk about our feelings.  And because life sucks sometimes, our feelings might occasionally be negative. It isn’t realistic or healthy to force ourselves to feel positive all of the time.  To lead a healthy lifestyle, we need to feel a full range of emotions including the negative ones such as sadness, shame and fear.  If we can’t tell our partner that we are feeling some of these emotions, we can’t ever truly get really close to them.

It is no wonder that there are so many disconnected, lonely people in this world.  When we can only have relationships where we put our best image forward and hide any negative or insecure feelings, how can we possibly feel connected? Having a mantra or relationship criteria like “good vibes only” forces us to suppress our negative feelings and never deal with them.  It also creates a world where everybody thinks that everyone else’s life seems so wonderful. We feel like we are failing when we struggle and can’t share our struggle with anyone for fear of being considered too negative and dropped. We also can’t assert our needs because our “good vibes only” partner will then see us as being too clingy or demanding, and they will quickly move on to someone else.

Of course, when we are in the very early stages of dating “good vibes only” makes sense.  We don’t need to divulge our life story and deepest insecurities to someone we are just getting to know.  It seems though that there are many daters who just bounce from one light, casual relationship to the next with no interest in really connecting and getting to know anyone. While that may be fine as a short-term strategy, I can’t see how anyone can achieve long-term happiness if the extent of their relationships with any partners is a light, non-committed, “good vibes only” meet-up, hook-up or fling.

Approaching relationships on a “good vibes only” basis is cowardly.  It protects you from getting hurt. We need more risk takers…..the ones who are willing to take a chance on opening their heart, being vulnerable, asserting their needs, and discussing feelings, both positive and negative.  Faking positivity all the time for fear of being alone can’t lead to a happy, fulfilling life.

Welcome To The Online Dating Buffet Where You Can Sample An Endless Array Of Dishes

Online dating is changing the world of relationships and dating.  The good news is that if you are all about casual fun, the opportunities are greater than ever to find someone who shares your interest.  The bad news is that if you are looking for an exclusive, committed relationship you will have to work a bit harder to find it.

The online dating world is essentially like a buffet at a restaurant. People go up to the buffet and they sample a variety of dishes, they go back a few times more, trying different things, maybe having seconds of a dish they particularly liked, but never just picking one dish only and sticking with that.  It’s the same with online dating.  Everyone wants to meet different people so why just commit to one person when someone more attractive, more fun, more accomplished, more whatever, may come along tomorrow?

Just like at the buffet table some of the dishes are spicy, some are sweet, some are bland and some are just plain disgusting.  The dishes come in all shapes, colours and sizes.  The variety is endless.

The buffet of potential dates has created a situation where everyone is afraid to settle on one person.  In our instant gratification world, every one wants a fun, light, easy, “good vibes only” relationship. If someone puts expectations on another or voices dissatisfaction with something in the relationship, they are instantly disposable, and easily replaceable at the online buffet.  It’s easy to dispose of someone you never really took the time to get to know.  But isn’t it worth getting to really know someone?

I can’t help but feel that as a society we are losing out bigtime when everyone treats others as if they are disposable and no one takes the time to develop a deeper meaningful connection, a connection that makes you want to be committed to just one person and to work out differences. It is impossible to have a deep connection with someone that you have only met a few times.  Deep connections are necessary for fulfillment and leading a happy life.  If we are creating a society where people aren’t making these types of connections anymore, it is no wonder that depression, anxiety and addiction are prevalent problems.  At the root of these conditions is often a feeling of being disconnected and alone.

The buffet problem has become so prevalent that even people like myself, who are looking for an exclusive relationship, find the pull of a return visit to the buffet table hard to resist.  Tomorrow’s chocolate mousse might be better than today’s crème brulee. The vast array of choices makes it difficult for almost everyone to settle on one person without feeling like they are actually just “settling”.

This poses the question: what do we do?  How do we develop deeper, meaningful connections with a partner without feeling like we settled?  This is where we need to work on ourselves. We need to value deeper connections with those in our life, and let go of the thrill or excitement of meeting someone new, and the constant quest for something better.  We need to feel content from within so that we aren’t seeking validation externally.   We need to stop with the “grass is always greener” mentality, and feel content with what we have.

Through working with my own coach, I have developed a great toolbox for learning self-validation and self-love so that external validation becomes less necessary. If you are interested in learning more, please email me at leanne@leannetownsend.ca for details.

The Perils Of The Modern Day Wonder Woman: Can I Really Be A Hot, Fit, High-Powered, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Lawyer, Wife And Perfect Mother?

Wonder Woman was created in the 1940’s as a comic book heroine who was set for high adventures, excitement and romance. Fast forwarding to 2017, the modern day wonder woman has a high powered career, is a fabulous mother who home cooks healthy, vegan, gluten-free meals grown from her organic garden, keeps a clean house, is extremely fit, practises yoga, is a sexy wife, and looks fabulous. This woman still has to be a fictional character as no woman can manage all of this at once, but yet for many of us, this is the model we aspire to be like. What’s worse is that we beat up on ourselves, and other women, for not being able to attain this standard. This must stop!

As women, how many times a week, or even a day, do we feel like we aren’t measuring up to this unattainable standard? We feel less than, not good enough, and like we are constantly disappointing our family, our friends and ourselves.  Where does this pressure to be perfect come from and how can we stop it? Social media made it even worse as it has become easier to compare ourselves to the other Wonder Women who are posting about their fantastic lives with fantastic photos too.

The reality is that if you are managing to excel in your career, or motherhood, or fitness, or cooking, you are probably doing better than most. It isn’t a competition though and we need to stop competing against each other.  We need to be more supportive of one another.

In some ways it seems to me that younger women have much better boundaries and a better understanding that women shouldn’t be expected to do all of this.  It is often women who are over 45 who I find struggle the most with trying to be all things to all people, and putting their own needs last. Women in this generation grew up with the women’s movement and many sought careers outside the home. It seems though that changes in the division of labour on the home-front didn’t accompany the changes in the work force at the same pace.  Many of these women still perform all the household and childcare tasks of prior generations while balancing a demanding career.

Younger women and younger men seem to have a better understanding that one person can’t do it all.  The modern day man helps around the house, helps with the kids and is expected to do so.  Middle aged women can learn a thing or two from their younger peers on this front.

The best thing we can do to help facilitate change about the expectations of women is to support one another.  We need to recognize that most women are doing the best that they can, and they are usually brutally aware of any areas where there is room for improvement.  We don’t need to judge each other, and more importantly, we need to be willing to be honest and authentic about our own struggles, and stop putting on the perfect Martha Stewart or Gwyneth Paltrow façade that we are juggling everything to perfection.  If we start to get real and honest about the impossibility of being a hot, fit, high-powered lawyer, who is a perfect mother and wife,  who grows her own organic vegetables, and cooks, as well as eats, a healthy, gluten-free, vegan diet , we will then make progress.

If you are having difficulty juggling everything in your life, coaching can really help you establish priorities and boundaries.  Contact me at leanne@leannetownsend.ca for details.  I’d love to help you be your best and create the life you desire.

5 Things To Consider Before Dating After Divorce

Whether you were married 5 years or 25 years, returning to the world of dating after a divorce can be a daunting task. If you were married a long time, it is especially scary, but it is important not to let yourself become so paralyzed by fear that you choose to rule out putting any effort into finding love again.  Life after divorce can be lonely so it is important to be open to finding love again, but you must be ready.  Here are 5 things to consider before returning to the dating world after your divorce that will help you gage whether or not you are ready:

1.  Where are you in the healing process?

Divorce is a major life event.  Like any other life changing event you may go through, it requires time to heal.  How much time is a very individual issue.  Often after a divorce it is natural to feel guilt, to blame yourself, and to question your instincts, especially if you didn’t see the divorce coming.  It is also natural to have strong feelings of anger towards your ex, and this can be prolonged if the legal settlement takes time.  If you are still thinking about your ex frequently, whether your thoughts are good or bad, you are not ready to date.  To be able to attract a healthy relationship, you need to have healed from your previous one so take the time to heal and work on you.

2. Have you reclaimed you?

After a divorce, it is common to feel insecure, unwanted and full of self doubt.  This is not the way you want to feel about yourself when you re-enter the dating world.  You want to be confident and secure.  You need to take the time to work on yourself so that you feel this way.  Also, following divorce many people feel a loss of identity.  They don’t know who they are anymore.  In order to know what you are looking for, you need to know who you are as a person, separate from your ex-spouse.  Reclaiming your identity is part of the healing process, but it is so important, it is being stressed as a separate consideration.

3.  Are you in a position to attract what you want?

The law of attraction states that we attract into our own lives what we put out into the universe.  If we are bitter, untrusting and have walls up, we will attract people who are similar.  If we are emotionally available, we will attract others who are emotionally available.  In order to attract what we want, we need to know what that looks like. We need to make sure that we don’t repeat negative behaviour patterns from our previous relationship that may cause us to make the same mistakes.  We also need to consider whether we are ready for a long-term relationship, or whether we are better suited to just get out there and meet a variety of new people by dating.  Those of us a little older sometimes want to get serious again too quick.  There is no harm in just having fun for a while rediscovering who you are and meeting lots of people.

4.  Do you have a realistic vision of your ideal mate?

All too often people approach dating with a rigid checklist of what they want and they won’t even consider someone who doesn’t meet all of the criteria.  It is easy to forget that we have aged and have some baggage, so of course a prospective partner will have aged and have baggage too.  It is easy to become extremely picky as you get older, especially if you are happy with the other areas of your life, and feel that you just need someone to complement an already good life.  While I would never suggest for a moment that anyone should settle for something less than they desire, just be mindful that you haven’t set the bar so high that there is no living person who can meet it.  Don’t settle, but be open to a Prince or Princess Charming who perhaps doesn’t look or seem exactly like the one you envisioned.

5.  How do your children factor into your dating life?

First and foremost, dating is an adult, individual decision and children should never be the one telling you whether or not it is ok for you to date.  Young children won’t understand it and older children should not be telling their parents what they can and can’t do.  Having said this though, children are always our first priority.  If you have young children you will want to be protective of them and need to decide who it is appropriate for them to meet and when.  Children are only young once and it is important that they never feel that they are secondary to mom’s or dad’s dating life.  It is also important though that when you are ready you don’t let your children hold you back from finding a new love.  Be mindful not to use them as an excuse, when the reality may be that you just aren’t ready yet and that is perfectly ok.

We all deserve to find love again following a divorce.  Don’t let the hurt, betrayal or blow to your self esteem hold you back from doing something that could bring a great deal of happiness to your life.  If you need some support on how to approach dating after divorce, coaching can really help.  Please contact me at leanne@leannetownsend.ca for a free 30 minute consultation.

6 Things To Do Before Bringing Up The Word “Divorce” To Your Spouse

 

If you are unhappy in your marriage and are contemplating divorce, there are some important things that you should consider doing before even bringing up the dreaded “divorce” word with your spouse.  Once this word is mentioned the dynamics of the relationship will significantly change so it should not be uttered lightly.  To protect yourself, here is a list of things that you should consider before having that conversation:

1.  Ask yourself:  do I really want a divorce or do I just want a better marriage with my current partner?

Divorce is life altering and one of life’s most stressful experiences.  It should not be entered into lightly.  It is often easy to think that the grass will be greener on the other side, especially in modern times where everyone is always posting on social media about how great their lives are.  It is easy to have unrealistic expectations about marriage and be quick to want to give up when the going gets tough.  Divorce should always be a last resort, so if it is possible to save your marriage by communicating your concerns with your spouse and working together to improve things, this should always be done.

2.  Talk to a marriage counsellor.

If you and your spouse are having difficulty communicating, a marriage counsellor may be able to help you work through any number of issues.  If both parties are willing to work on things, marriage counselling can possibly save your marriage.  If you have children, ask yourself: do I at least owe it to my children to try to do everything that I can to save my marriage?

3.  Build a strong support network.

Divorce is extremely stressful on families.  It is important that all parties involved have a strong support network that they can lean on during this difficult time.  This can include family, friends and even professionals such as therapists, coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, doctors and others.  It is ideal if you can have a strong support network in place before making any changes.

4.  Speak to a family lawyer.

Even if you don’t end up retaining the lawyer, it is very important that you understand your rights and obligations before doing anything.  Divorce can be a complicated process with far reaching implications that affect finances, property, where you live and when you see your children.  Know your rights before you do anything that could compromise them in any way.  Many lawyers offer free 30 minute consultations or even if you pay a lawyer for an hour or two of his or her time, it is money very well spent. Definitely, do not move out of the matrimonial home without speaking to a family lawyer first.

5.  Spend as much time with your children as possible.

If you want to have custody or lots of access to your children, it is important that you have always been involved in their life.  Make sure you have been an involved parent before demanding to be one after a split.  The best interests of the children will guide the legalities where they are concerned.

6.  Take concrete steps to protect your assets.

Make sure that you are fully knowledgeable about the family finances and investments.  If your spouse has been the only one to handle this, it is important that you become familiar before thinking about a divorce.  Photocopy important documents such as tax returns, investment statements, property documents and other important documents so that you have a record.  If you don’t have credit cards in your own name, apply for your own card so that you can begin to establish a credit rating.  Too many women find themselves midlife with no credit rating despite having assets because their husbands always handled everything and just gave them a supplemental credit card.  Don’t let this happen to you as it can have far reaching implications should you suddenly find yourself single at midlife.

Divorce is a life altering event with significant repercussions.  If you are contemplating divorce and would like to know your rights or how it will affect you, feel free to contact me for a consultation.  I can provide both legal advice and also coaching to help support you  through this challenging time.

 

Midlife Dating: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

One thing that I never set out to become is an expert dater.  In my youth I was always in long-term serious relationships, but at midlife, I found myself divorced, out in the dating world again, and can safely say I have become somewhat of a reluctant expert.  There’s no point in developing any expertise, if you don’t share it, so that is what I am setting out to do here.  What follows is a summary of the various ways I have put myself out there to meet prospective dates and my own analysis of the pros and cons of each approach.  I am hoping that someone can benefit from my years of trial and error.  I should add that this summary is based purely on my own experience and someone else may have a very different experience.

Online Dating:

Pros:

It is cheap, easily accessible and almost everyone is doing it.  There are many free sites so the only cost is your time.  You can do it from the comfort of your own home, chat with people at your own comfort level and you have complete control over the process.  You don’t have to respond to messages if you don’t want to and it is easy to block someone if they are bothering you.  I have met many nice people from all walks of life, education levels and various incomes.  Most of the people on the paid sites are also on the free sites so there is really not a lot of reason to join the paid sites, and I personally have not found them to be any better.  It is an easy way to meet people that you otherwise would not have the opportunity to meet.

Cons:

It is cheap, easily accessible and almost everyone is doing it.  This means that in addition to the nice, normal people, there are many weirdos as well.  The only cost is your time, but this can be a big cost because it can become very time consuming reading through endless messages from people you have no interest in, or sending endless messages to people who never respond back and you have no clue why.  Unfortunately, there are a small number of people who lie on their profile about their age, size or marital status so you don’t always know if you take the time to meet someone if the person you were expecting will be the one who turns up.  There is also still a bit of a stigma about online dating and some people are embarrassed to admit that this is how they met.

Overall Recommendation:

If you keep your expectations manageable and don’t take it too seriously, it can be an easy way to meet someone nice who turns out to be just what you are looking for.  In this day and age, it is definitely an effective avenue to meet people.

Matchmakers:

Pros:

Candidates are screened to some degree so you can be more confident of meeting the person that was described to you.  The fact that there is a fee involved eliminates some of the riffraff that you have to sort through with online dating.  It doesn’t require a lot of time as the matchmaker matches you with people who then contact you to set up a date.  Ideally you specify exactly what you are looking for and are matched with others who meet your criteria.

Cons:

It can be very expensive.  Matchmakers I have used ranged from $1000 to $5000.  Many of the people that I was matched with, I have later come across on online dating websites so I could have possibly met them for free.  In my own experience some of the matches were very good and some were terrible.  One company I used seemed to have no rhyme or reason to the matches they sent me. The companies that I used described the matches to me over the phone, I was never given any photos, and I could say yes or no to receiving a call from the prospective match.  If you turn too many people down the company will be upset with you, so you are encouraged to be open to whoever they recommend.  Although candidates are supposed to be screened, one match who I was sent that I spoke to on the phone described to me how he had outstanding charges for domestic violence and what a joke it was.  I couldn’t understand how someone in this situation had made it through any screening process especially given that my job at the time was the lead prosecutor for domestic violence offences in my office.

Overall Recommendation:

Save your money.  You are just as likely, if not more likely, to find what you are looking for through one of the other approaches.

Speed-dating:

Pros:

If you go with a friend or group of friends, it can actually be a fun night out.  You don’t get stuck with someone you don’t enjoy talking to since each mini date only lasts for a few minutes.  You spend enough time with each prospect to assess whether you feel any chemistry and whether you would like to get to know them further.  You will only be contacted by those who expressed a mutual interest so you don’t have to worry about being bothered by those you have no interest in.

Cons:

Speed-dating events tend to be held more for younger age groups.  It is very difficult to find an event that is open to women who are 50 and older.  It is easier for men.  The event is only as good as the quality of the attendees.  I did one speed-dating event that was great and another one that was terrible.  If there are too many people, it can become a bit of a blur trying to figure out who you liked the most.  Also, you are sitting down when you chat with everyone so if height is important to you, it can be difficult to notice the other person’s height.

Overall Recommendation:

Go with a friend or two and make it a fun evening out.  You may just find what you are looking for.

Singles Events:

Pros:

If you go with a friend it can be a fun way to spend time.  There are singles parties, wine tasting, cooking, hiking and a wide range of events that can be attended through Meet-up or Match.com.  If you pick an event that is of interest to you, chances are you will have fun even if you don’t meet Prince or Princess Charming.  It is a way to find a partner with similar interests.

Cons:

Often these events have a younger crowd and if you are over 45 there may not be many people in your age bracket.  Check to see if there are events with a suitable age requirement.  Early on at an event you can get cornered by someone who stakes you out as theirs and it can be difficult to extricate yourself from this and meet other people.  I attended a dance with a girlfriend and we both got “claimed” early in the evening and few other men would approach us as it seemed like we were with the guys that wouldn’t leave our sides.  If you attend many of these events, you can become too much of a regular and there is less interest in you.  “Fresh meat” is always the most desirable.

Overall Recommendation:

Pick an activity or event that you enjoy and go with a friend.  You can always leave early if you aren’t enjoying it and at the very least, you know your will enjoy time with your friend.

Whichever approach you decide to use, the most important thing to remember is to just have fun.  If you can use some coaching on returning to dating after being newly single and over 40, let’s chat.

 

The Best Mother’s Day Gift You Can Give Yourself

With Mother’s Day coming this weekend, I want to give other mother’s the best piece of advice that I have:  Celebrate You. 

Yes, being a mother is wonderful and it a fundamental part of your identity, but to be your best, to thrive in your life, you need to celebrate the other aspects of who you are, not just motherhood.

Once we have children, it is all too easy for many of us to completely lose ourselves and our identity separate from being a mother.  We think about our children all the time, talk about them all the time, put them first, and often this is at the expense of the other areas of our lives.  Careers get put on hold.  Marriages suffer. Women let themselves go.  We lose touch with what it means to be a sexy, vibrant woman. These are the many truths of motherhood.

The mothers that I know who are the happiest are the ones that don’t just derive their identity from being a mother.  They have careers they enjoy.  They go on date nights with their husbands.  They make time for fitness, friends, hobbies and other things beyond motherhood.

When my children were younger, I thought that I was being selfish if I made time for these other things.  I felt that because I worked, I needed to always rush home to my kids.  No time for workouts, friends, hobbies or any form of me time.  I mistakenly thought that such things were selfish.  I love my children more than anything, but leading my life for them, caused me to suffer.  I felt like a doormat.  I lost my sense of self.  I slowly began to let myself go, and this caused me to lose my passions for life, and my desire to be my best. Feeling sexy and vibrant were concepts I thought were reserved for pre-motherhood only.

What I have learned though is that the best mother is a woman who loves herself and her children, and in that order. 

It’s a woman who models what high self esteem, boundaries, self-care and continuous personal development look like.  This is a woman who shows her children that while she loves them, it is ok for her to have a life away from them too.  This is a woman that her children will respect and want to emulate, rather than a martyr who felt she had to constantly sacrifice for them.

If you are a single mother, like me, it is even more important that you do these things for yourself despite the greater challenges you have to manage as compared to married mothers.  You must find time for yourself.  Workout, date, find a career you enjoy, spend child-free time with friends.  These things are imperative to do if you want to truly thrive, be happy, and be an excellent role model for your children.

So this Mother’s Day, celebrate YOU!  Do something for yourself that makes you feel good and has nothing to do with being a mother.  I am confident that you are good to your children, and meeting their needs.  I am not so confident you are being good to yourself and meeting your own needs.  If you would like some help on how to find time for yourself and identifying what you need to do in order to rediscover passion and be your best, I have developed an excellent coaching program to help.  It has been personally tested by me, so I know firsthand that it works.  If you would like to learn more about how coaching can help you, let’s chat.