Couple Kissing and Making Up - 5 Apology Styles

How to Say I’m Sorry - 5 Apology Styles

The 5 Apology Styles are: Expressing Regret, Accepting Responsibility, Genuinely Repenting, Making Restitution, and Requesting Forgiveness. 

The creator of the 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman, also co-authored a book called When Sorry Isn’t Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love with Dr. Jennifer Thomas. They explore the different ways people need to express and accept apologies. 

We rely on the 5 Love Languages to make restitution by assuring the injured party of our love for them. For instance, if your partner’s Love Language is Gifts and her Apology Style is Making Restitution—consider making flowers part of your apology. 

1. Requesting Forgiveness

How can I earn your forgiveness and make this right?

In its simplest form, Requesting Forgiveness is just saying, Please forgive me. The weight of this apology style lies in the vulnerability it requires. When you have wronged someone, it’s especially humbling to ask for their forgiveness knowing they have the power to reject you

In some relationships, people want to hear their partner physically ask for forgiveness. They want assurance that their partner recognizes the need for forgiveness. Requesting forgiveness also shows that you are willing to put the future of the relationship in the hands of the offended partner. You are leaving the final decision up to them – to forgive or not forgive.

2. Making Restitution

What can I do to fix my mistake and make it up to you?

Sometimes sorry isn’t enough. Some mistakes require reparations and damages. It’s important that you include the person you’ve wronged in developing a plan to right your wrong. And be willing to eat some crow and follow through. 

In our society, many people believe that wrong acts demand justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for their wrongdoing. Many people believe that in order to be sincere, the person who is apologizing should justify their actions.

3. Genuinely Repenting

I will take actionable steps to make sure this never happens again.

Apologies don’t mean much if the bad behavior continues. To genuinely repent, you need to create a plan and share it with the person you have wronged that details the steps you will take to change your behavior in the future. 

Many people doubt the sincerity of an apology if it is not accompanied by their partner’s desire to modify their behavior to avoid the situation in the future. One important aspect of genuinely repenting is verbalizing your desire to change. Your partner cannot read your mind.

4. Accepting Responsibility

It was my fault, I shouldn't have acted the way I did.

Accepting responsibility means taking the blame and consequences that come with your actions. To accept responsibility, you must do so verbally and be willing to correct your error. 

No one likes to be portrayed as a failure. However, we must all admit that we make mistakes. If the apology doesn’t accept responsibility, many people will not feel as though it was meaningful and sincere. Being sincere in your apology means allowing yourself to be weak, and admitting that you make mistakes. 

5. Expressing Regret

I made a mistake and I feel terrible.

In its simplest form, Expressing Regret is just saying I’m sorry. It’s acknowledging that your actions caused someone else pain and feeling bad about it. 

Expressing Regret zeroes in on emotional hurt. It is an admission of guilt and shame for causing pain to another person. When you express regret, don't make excuses or attempt to deflect blame. It is understood as a sincere commitment to repair and rebuild the relationship. It speaks most clearly when the person offering the apology reflects sincerity not only verbally, but also through body language.

Just like the 5 Love Languages, there is an online quiz you can take to discover which of the 5 Apology Styles work best for you.

Couple Driving with the Top Down - Put Yourself Out There

Are You Ready to Put Yourself Out There?

Before you decide to put yourself out there again, think about what it is that you are really seeking. And if you don’t know, maybe this will help you consider defining what you are looking for in the first place.

Chances are, you have tried to put yourself out there in one form or another. Maybe you tried a matchmaking service or posting an online profile. Perhaps, you ventured out in public with the intent to meet someone.

People can be nomadic, roaming from various forums to find someone to connect with on whatever the level they can. She may be quick to seek out a companion, but often less hasty to define why or what she truly wants.

Don't Put Yourself Out There for Just Anybody

For starters, if their dating profile says any iteration of the following—do yourself a favor and run.

I’m recently divorced, so I’m just seeing what’s out there. I’m not really sure what I want.

This is a red flag. If it’s your desire to find a lasting relationship, don’t waste your time on someone who is just playing the field.

It is easy to assume when someone openly discusses being single or talks about being lonely, that he or she in fact, wants a companion. But, that can mean different things to different people, so you need to define the context. 

Clarify expectations before you ever meet someone. This will go a long way in deciphering if it is even worth getting gussied up. Find out if they’re looking for a relationship or just a body to fill in the void of loneliness.

So many of us have been siloed because of the COVID Pandemic. What we’re craving now more than ever, is connectivity to one another. Unfortunately, this often causes people to act out with attention seeking behavior.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Desiring the attention of others is simply the need to be heard or validated by another. It’s an intrinsic Maslovian need all humans share. But just because someone displays attention seeking behavior, it does not necessarily mean they want a relationship.

As we slowly transition back to our semi-normal lives, a lot of people have blurred the lines between truly wanting a relationship and just seeking attention. We have all lived in a bubble lacking the simple interactions that we used to take for granted.

Interacting with someone at the post office or talking to the salesclerk at our favorite store, perhaps greeting the Principal as we dropped our kids off at school—all these routine communications helped with the balance sheet we all have that tracks our need for human interaction.

For many people, these tedious interactions fed our appetite for attention, even when we weren’t consciously processing them as such.

But living for the last year without those day-to-day errands or interactions in our lives, our inherent nature to be validated in even the smallest of ways has met a deficit. These interactions for many have become extinct, forcing our attention balance sheets into the red.

This has created an influx of daters on the scene with varying intentions. You don’t want to put yourself out there with individuals who have both clear and murky intentions.

A Relationship Won't Fix All Your Problems

Be sure to clarify their intent before meeting. Are they looking for attention or a relationship?

A relationship is presumed to include positive and affirming attention. Although successful relationships are built on attentivity to one’s partner, it should not be construed that every relationship has this successful pairing. Meaning, if you have a relationship, you will therefore reap attention from your partner.

In fact, marriages often fail because a partner feels disconnected, isolated, or alone. This leads to a breakdown in communication, and lack of such. Much of this is tied to simply not paying attention to one’s partner and validating him or her in a positive way.

Keep in mind no one puts themselves out there without having some reason in mind for doing so. Do not be fooled. Often singles will say they do not know what they want, but put themselves in the peripheral of others who are fully in touch with their desires.

Think about what motivated you to put yourself out there in the first place. Were you looking for true love or a bit of validation?

It is okay to be lonely, it is okay to want a relationship, it is okay to simply want the attention of another. Simply own it and say so. Put yourself out there and be honest about exactly what you want.

So, speak your truth, regardless of your intentions. Align yourself with a partner seeking the same as you. No one can fault you for being honest.

Couple Cuddling in the Park - Date a Doctor

#SuccessfulSingles: How to Date a Doctor

At The Setup, we specialize in setting up like-minded, career-oriented singles and sending them out on their last first date. So, we thought it would be helpful to look at the pros and cons of different jobs when it comes to dating. The COVID finish line is finally in sight, but after the time we’ve had I figured we should start off with How to Date a Doctor!

Dating apps can seem harmless, but they have their fair share dangers, especially for wealthy or high-profile individuals. Making your love life public can lead to all sorts of dangerous or uncomfortable situations. 

The Setup is a discreet matchmaking service. Our members undergo detailed evaluations and a thorough background screen, so we know who we’re setting you up with!

How to Date a Doctor

It can be virtually impossible for a medical professional to carve time out of their busy schedule to sort through pages of dating profiles.

You can make some pretty fair assumptions even before the first date. For instance, the guy finished Med School, so you know he’s smart, driven, and committed. All highly-coveted characteristics in a mate. 

When dating a doctor, you can expect additional quarantine and/or sanitation policies and procedures. I wouldn’t advise an anti-masker or anti-vaxxer to date a doctor. Remember the Pandemic is not forever, but there may be times throughout his or her career that will require additional medical precautions.

Their patients come first. There will be many times that you will have to take a bit of a backseat to your partner’s work. Put your ego aside and try to put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Are your dinner reservations really that important in the grand scheme of life and death?

Dating a doctor requires you to exercise patience and flexibility. There will be late nights, long hours, and weekends on-call. So, learn to love your alone time. Sometimes, they will have to cancel plans. That doesn’t mean you’re being ghosted or you don’t matter.

Avoid making concrete plans that cannot be altered like tickets to an event or travel arrangements without consulting them first. If something on their schedule keeps them from going, you’re left holding the tickets.

Doctors have often experienced emotional trauma at work. Studies show many health care workers experience similar Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms as combat veterans. It’s important that you can be a safe place for your partner to land after a taxing shift. If they need to unload, just listen to them.

Give them a shoulder rub, open their favorite bottle of wine, find a light-hearted show you both love. Try to help them unwind after a long shift. Doctors spend all their time giving of themselves to their patients. It’s good for them to have a partner who fills their love tank at the end of a long day.

Now that you’ve learned how to date a doctor...what profession do you want us to cover next?

Couple on Date at Fair - Join the Setup

Why Should You Join The Setup?

Most people have never considered hiring a Matchmaker before; that’s okay! We understand that this is a complicated product that requires a time investment as much as a financial investment. That scares a lot of people away. Today I want to tell you why you should join The Setup!

But think of it this way, dating in any capacity requires time and effort to achieve any sense of success. If we’re being honest, that’s true for most things in life. 

What are your alternatives? Endless hours spent swiping on random profiles? Let your mom set you up again? Speed dating?

In actuality, when you join The Setup, we a lot of the work off your shoulders. We do all the behind-the-scenes work to curate your introductions. All you have to do is show up and be yourself.

In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell introduces the concept of Connectors.

“The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds, they have the effect of bringing them all together.”

Our Matchmakers are natural Connectors. They cross social circles to facilitate introductions among people who share mutual goals or values. 

Invest in the Important Things

“Why would I hire a Matchmaker? I’m perfectly capable of setting up my own dates.”

There are tons of online tax services out there, but people still hire accountants. It’s perfectly normal to consult a professional about something that could potentially alter your life. We’re dating experts. Our staff is specially trained and certified to help you find a compatible life partner. 

You can’t be great at everything all the time. Most of our clients kick ass in their careers and other areas, but struggle where their love lives are concerned. 

You know how right before you start a new fitness routine, you invest in new sneakers and workout clothes to get your mind in the right place? This helps you mentally commit to the new regimen.

Anyone can flippantly swipe through the apps with no real investment. But you know anyone we set you up with has been thoroughly interviewed and screened and invested as much into the process as you have. They’ve worked with their Matchmaker to plan out their goals and dream up their ideal partner, and somehow, you fit into that mold. 

When you join The Setup, you are saying that finding love is a priority in your life.

Ask Us the Awkward Questions

If you need help picking out an outfit for your date, or analyzing something they said over dessert, we’re here for that too!

Want to get out of your own way and overcome some deal-breakers?

Your friends and family mean well, but sometimes their advice sucks. Leave it to the professionals! Your Personal Dating Assistant (PDA) is available throughout the process to help make your dating experience as stress-free and successful as possible. 

Don’t forget we conduct background screens and in-depth interviews before taking on a new client, so we know who we’re setting you up with. #Nocreepsallowed So what are you waiting for? Ready to put your love life in the experts’ hands? Join The Setup today.

Couple Crossing Street Laughing - Communication

Communication: The Key to Commitment

Today, I want to talk about what happens after you’ve met someone and decided to start seeing each other exclusively. How do you effectively express your needs in a hookup culture that fears commitment? Can you keep your communication from breaking down?

How do you combat all of the misinterpretations and confusion that comes with a new relationship to get to a new level of comfort and loyalty?

After you have cozied up with someone who shares your goals, how do you take things to the next level? The two of you have similar desires, interests and long-term plans. This is where a lot of couples fall prey to comfortability. They stop putting in the work. 

Commit  to Communication

Just because you’ve found your person, doesn’t mean your work is done and it’s smooth sailing from here on out. Some of the strongest couples fall victim to unmet expectations, miscommunication, and false assumptions.

Just as it was important to find someone that shared the same intentions, likes, or interests as you, it is equally important to ensure the expectations within those shared beliefs and ideals are communicated routinely.

You have to be comfortable communicating about the minutiae of your daily routines as well as the big life choices. Small false assumptions can slowly cripple a couple overtime. 

It’s often the small things that go wrong and break the camel’s back, resulting in a disproportionately large reaction. 

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, but daily dialogue keeps the divorce attorneys at bay. 

Nourish your relationship with a daily check in. Before you go to sleep each night, open a dialogue with your partner. Make this part of your bedtime routine. Ask each other things like:

Don't Assume Anything

Your partner can not read your mind. You cannot expect them to know and remember all of your likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. 

For example, I once had a client who was absolutely irate that her match had taken her out on his boat for their third date. When I pushed her for clarification she explained that on their first date she told him, “I’m not a very outdoorsy person.”

She then felt as if he hadn’t listened to her and ultimately disrespected her by taking her to do something she (in her mind) had explicitly told him she would hate.

From the outside looking in, it’s clear this was just a matter of miscommunication and incorrect assumptions. You can’t assume others will interpret your words correctly. Be specific when you communicate your needs, boundaries, etc.

At the center of all failed partnerships is a breakdown of communication, in part because we tend to assume things rather than talk about them. All too often we take each other and for granted and in that, we make assumptions about one another that we compartmentalize silently.

In fact, the better a couple knows one another, the more likely they are to make assumptions instead of asking the other person directly.

And you know what they say about people who assume things...they make an ass out of you and me.

Next time, just ask.


People are constantly evolving, as are our relationships. It’s an organic process. That said, expectations of a relationship can change over time.  

Maybe you have to relocate for work and your partner is not moving with you. You never consciously entered into a long-distance relationship, but now here you are.

No matter what the pending distance you will soon face, it will challenge your commitment. So, be sure to set and communicate newfound expectations, as it relates to this new facet of your relationship.  

How do you navigate this new normal? Do you now need to talk or FaceTime daily or multiple times a week? Whatever you both decide needs to be discussed before moving day. Without setting and discussing these expectations, especially when there are sudden and unexpected changes, no relationship, long-distance or otherwise, will survive.

When in Doubt Talk it Out

Have you ever heard someone say the cause of their divorce was too much communication? Because I sure haven’t.

Don’t assume your partner is aware of something if you haven’t discussed it. Alternatively, don’t use your partner’s lack of awareness as a weapon. Often, couples will accuse one another of not being present in the relationship if the other was not aware of a particular conflict or issue. 

No one will ever fault you for talking through things to establish and clarify expectations. 

Couples that maintain strong bonds, long-term relationships, and successful marriages put all their cards on the table. They will communicate anything and everything to one another out of mutual respect and love. It is not an annual exercise, it’s a daily process that fortifies the even the strongest of relationships.

So don’t let your communication falter; your relationship is likely to follow. Think of communication as a necessary part of your relationship’s daily upkeep. So be sure to get your daily dose of conversation in. You will build a strong, lasting bond with your partner that will be able to withstand whatever changes come your way.

Couple at Sports Bar During one of their First Few Dates

Ask the Experts: 5 Tips for the First Few Dates

The most important thing to remember early on, especially in those first few dates, is to remain present. Stay in the moment and just enjoy one another’s company. This is the easiest way to combat any anxieties or fears you have during the first few dates. 

First things first. Take a deep breath and relax. And remember, your specially-trained Matchmaker is here to help coach you through every step of the process. 

It's Not a Date

I can promise you this—everyone has first date fears and jitters. So much so, that I often hesitate to even use the word date for a first meeting between matches.

Date has a romantic connotation, and while matchmaking is obviously a service for people seeking romance, it would be unrealistic to expect every single first date to end in a love connection. 

We can eliminate some of those first date fears simply by eliminating the word date. 

Your first setup with a new match should be quick; I always encourage my clients to have a short, 30-minute drink before committing to a dinner date. Whether you get coffee, a craft beer, a green juice, or a pre-dinner cocktail, keeping things short and sweet will help alleviate everyone’s anxiety. 

We alway encourage a 3 Date Rule, so after your first setup, you should go for an activity next. Sharing experiences is a natural way to start forming a bond, and it will help you both loosen up and have a little fun while you get to know one another.

When you sit across the dinner table from a complete stranger, it’s easy to notice and panic every time there is a slight lull in conversation. When people get nervous, they talk too much

When you’re actively participating in an activity together, those lulls are less noticeable and feel more natural. By the time you go on a dinner date, you’ll have plenty to talk about. 

It's a Setup

Let’s face it, we all put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves. In a high-stress situation, like the first few dates, that pressure often bleeds over and can cause damage if not kept in check.

Some go into every encounter with the opposite sex hoping it turns into marriage and a white picket fence. Others are so picky they will write their date off in the first 5 minutes for something trivial.

Both of these approaches are incorrect.

Let’s think about it from a business perspective. When you were a novice in your career, you didn’t go into every single job interview expecting to not only get the job, but to retire from that company. Alternatively, would you turn down your dream job because you didn’t like the break room?

Take the pressure off and just enjoy each other’s company.

Get Your Mind Right

You should go into every first date looking for three things you like, appreciate, or enjoy about the person. That’s it. Just three. But by focusing your efforts on finding positive traits in the person sitting across from you, you can overcome the silly things that put you in a negative headspace.

So you hated his shoes? If you’re really looking for lasting love, overlook the shoes. Does his lifestyle align with yours? Do you have similar goals in life? Did he make you feel safe and special? Did he match your sense of humor? Was he charming? Kind? Handsome? Punctual? Try to focus on the things about him you would like in a partner, even if you know he’s not a fit. 

Pay Attention to Red Flags

In addition to making a concerted effort to find three things of value, it’s equally important to gather information about the things you don’t like. Especially if those things enter into deal-breaker territory.

If you learn she has a pet you’re highly allergic to, that’s probably not going to be a long-lasting relationship.

Take mental notes.

Everything that happens between the two of you is data and information that will be helpful to your Matchmaker in facilitating your next match. Sharing three positives in addition to candidly discussing all the reasons you know he or she is not for you with your Matchmaker will help in your search to find love.

Even bad dates are good dates, because you learn what you don’t want, and so does your matchmaker. We use each and every interaction to fine-tune your profile, so that we can find someone who checks off your most important boxes.

Don't Start Planning Your Wedding

Let’s say you’re matched with a wonderful woman. You meet up at a new smoothie spot and things go great. That weekend, the two of you play a round of golf together, and you take her to dinner later in the week.

It all goes better than you had hoped.

You’ve now had three very positive, promising interactions with a woman you’re attracted to and have common interests with. It’s impossible to keep the daydreams at bay.

This is where I urge you to pause and set realistic expectations. 

There is nothing wrong with being hopeful and dreaming of happily ever after. We all wish for that.

Dating can be and should be fun. It’s natural to have hope that this develops into a relationship filled with love and trust and acceptance, and all the things that Maslow told us humans need to survive.

Feel the butterflies. Get excited while you get ready. But, trust in the process, and don’t get ahead of yourself. Just take it one date at a time.

Allow love the opportunity to grow and develop naturally without any unnecessary pressure or stress. Stay present throughout each date, give it your undivided attention, gather data, and don’t get in your own way. If you are able to do all of this, you can overcome all of the fears you have going into the first few dates. 

Man & Woman Get Over their Deal-Breakers and Embrace Happily

How to Break Up With Your Deal-Breakers

Let’s talk about deal-breakers. We all have them.

Deal-breakers can mean different things to different people, so for the purpose of this article, let’s define them as criteria you use to disqualify a potential match before ever even meeting them.

We all have them, but they’re not all created equal, we’ll talk more about Boundaries and Barriers in a bit.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of dealbreakers (in no particular order) that I’ve heard consistently over the years. Some might seem silly to you, but they are quite serious to another person. 

  • Divorce
  • Career Type
  • Religion
  • Political Affiliation
  • Dietary Restrictions
  • Body Shape
  • Height
  • Zodiac Sign
  • Education Level
  • Smokers
  • Cat Owners
  • Children
  • Distance
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Virginity
  • Age

We once had a client refuse a date after learning his match was lactose intolerant. I know a woman who has a strict no Geminis policy. I could go on for days, but you catch my drift.

The first step to getting over some of your more trivial deal-breakers is to write out a list. Take some time to really mull this over and create a comprehensive list of all your must-haves for a potential match.

You’re the only person who will ever see this, so don’t be afraid or ashamed, just be honest.

It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small. Just add them all to the list. Don’t worry, we will whittle it down later. 

Boundaries & Barriers

Now, it’s time to separate your deal breakers into two categories.

Boundaries are good things; they keep us safe and allow us autonomy to rule over our own being.

Barriers on the other hand, get in our way and keep us from achieving our goals. They act as metaphorical roadblocks to our success.

For instance, rejecting a long distance relationship because you know you need Physical Touch and Quality Time to be happy—that is a Boundary. 

Excluding anyone who doesn’t reside within a 5-mile radius of your front door is a Barrier. You’re needlessly shrinking your pool of potential matches to a minute scale, making your Matchmaker’s job impossible.

Keep in mind, a lot of this depends on you and your situation as much as the other person. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I will not date anyone with a cat.

  • Boundary: if you have a severe allergy
  • Barrier: if you just prefer dogs

I will only date Catholics.

  • Boundary: if you’re a practicing Catholic
  • Barrier: if you haven’t been to mass since you were a child

I will not date someone who has children.

  • Boundary: if you don’t have or want kids
  • Barrier: if you have kids from a previous relationship

Now, I want you to reflect on your list. Organize each one into either the Boundary or Barrier column.

Breaking Up with Your Deal-Breakers

Next, I want you to rank your list of Boundaries in order of importance. Then, do the same with your Barriers.

Those Barriers are starting to seem a little less important now, huh? Some of them may even feel kind of dumb. That’s a good thing! That means getting over them is going to be easier than you thought.

Starting with the lowest-ranked Barrier, think through each of your deal-breakers. Go deep. Make another list of pros and cons for each if you need to. Ask yourself the following question:

If you met the single most gorgeous guy on the planet tomorrow, and he possessed a myriad of positive characteristics, would this one single thing eliminate him in your mind as boyfriend material?

If the answer is yes, then you’re not ready to let go of that deal-breaker just yet. That’s alright, some of us are just pickier than others. But it’s important that you know that about yourself and have patience with your Matchmaker. 

If the answer is no, or even maybe with a qualifier, then let’s see if we can work through it.

Is there an underlying reason for your deal-breakers? Try to get to the core of your desire for wanting or needing that specific trait in a partner.

Maybe it’s not that you have to date a Catholic, but just that you desire a partner of faith and a good moral compass. Perhaps you don’t necessarily need someone with a graduate degree, as long as they’re intelligent and ambitious. 

Your Matchmaker will be able to shed some light on your particular situation and teach you how to increase your scope of potential matches.

Woman Contemplates Dating After Divorce while Staring at her Ring

Dating After Divorce: Preparing for the Next Chapter

Research says, the second most stressful life event one can experience is divorce. Preceded only by the death of a loved one and followed by a personal health crisis. Dating after divorce can be just as intense if you’re not prepared for what is to come.

First, consider this—dating has evolved tremendously over the last decade. Online dating, specifically dating apps have created an entirely new culture. Tinder came on the scene in September 2012, followed by Bumble in 2014. So, if you’ve been married for the last decade, buckle up.

Things will be very different from first dates you’ve experienced in the past. Gone are the days of getting flowers and picked up at the front door.

Time to Get Back Out There

Unfortunately, I cannot definitively say when someone is ready to start dating after divorce. Every relationship is different; every person is different. Only you will know when you’re ready; move at your own pace.

Your friends and family will encourage you to move on and play the field. They mean well, but you know yourself better than anyone else does. Trust your gut. It’s okay if you’re not ready. 

You should wait until your marriage is officially over, including all the legalities: separation of assets, custody agreements, alimony, etc.

If you are emotionally over your ex, but the paperwork isn’t quite dry, I would advise you to just put off seriously considering another relationship for those last few months. 

Things start to get messy when you start something new without tying up all of your loose ends first. 

Secondly, ask yourself—is it really another relationship you want? Don’t fire up the dating apps just because you’re feeling a bit lonely on Friday night. Are you looking for validation in the form of shirtless bathroom selfies or are you truly ready to open your heart and life up to another person?

When a marriage dissolves, so does the dream of a life together. You planned forever with someone; imagined growing old with her. Then, suddenly it’s all gone. You have to take the time to mourn the loss, just as you would a death.

As painful as it is, let yourself experience the grief. Don’t try to mask it with rebound relationships—that will only delay your healing.

After about a year, most people feel ready to move on. But you should still expect some intense feelings to pop up from time to time. Trauma has a way of doing that. Allow yourself to have those mini meltdowns. It is a natural part of the healing process and it means you’re one step closer to dating after divorce.

Use this time alone to learn about yourself. Reflect on your failed marriage. What will you do differently next time? Are there any characteristics or deal-breakers you will look for when you’re ready to start dating after divorce? 

What to Expect When You're Dating After Divorce

It’s normal to struggle with how to step out of the wife role and into the girlfriend position.

This man has not made a commitment to you yet. You have not stood in front of God and your loved ones to say vows. You are not his wife.

Let me say that one more time—you are not his wife.

Maybe someday you will be his wife, but don’t rush it. Don’t force it. Relish your time as the girlfriend. Learn about yourself, your partner, and how you fit into one another’s lives. Use this time to see if she is someone you could spend forever with.

Don’t use intimacy to manipulate the situation. Some people use physical touch with multiple partners as a way to escape their emotions. Others combine sex and monogamy in an attempt to make the relationship progress more quickly.

Both usually end in disaster.

When you’re used to being one-half of a whole, it’s very difficult to learn how to be on your own. It’s a lonely process full of self-doubt.

There will be guys who seem perfect for weeks and they will disappear out of thin air. Welcome to the world of ghosting.

Try Something New

I would wager you learned a thing or two about yourself during your divorce that you didn’t know before. I challenge you to continue doing that. Expand your horizons. Try new things. Work on yourself. See a therapist. Start a new hobby.

Explore your deal-breakers and really discern if they are things you need in a partner or just preferences you want. Go out with people you normally wouldn’t consider.

Give personality and common interest your primary attention, and make physical attraction a secondary criteria. Science has shown that attraction grows over time. Our brains release a cocktail of happy hormones whenever we are around people who make us laugh and feel good. 

The more time you spend with that person, the better she looks.

You may find that you’re attracted to people who look nothing like your ex. Trauma has a way of doing that too.

Trust that if your Matchmaker suggests someone, there is a definitive reason that the two of you were paired. This is your chance to meet all different types of people from various backgrounds and cultures.

Give it a shot. I dare you.

Couple at a Bar - Conversation Starters

Top 30 Conversation Starters

Vanessa Van Edwards separates conversation starters into three categories based on how long you’ve spent with someone: five minutes, five hours, or five days, in her book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.

I happen to be of the belief that everyone opens up at his or her own pace. So, I separate interactions into three categories based on a level of intimacy, rather than a timeframe—small talk, ice breakers, and connection builders. Each one digs just a little bit deeper so you get to know the other person better.

Conversation Starters

I have compiled ten sample questions for each category below. 

Conversation is a delicate dance of leading and following. It’s a matter of giving and receiving information. There’s an art to being vulnerable and asking probing questions without crossing a boundary or oversharing.

If you’re going to ask about deal-breakers, be cautious in how you do so. You don’t want to give off negative energy.

For example, don’t ask your date who they voted for or to which political party they subscribe. At the same time, don’t announce those things about yourself. It’s too direct and very off-putting. Instead, focus on sharing your core values and learning about hers.

If your values align, the rest will follow. 

Small Talk

If you’re an introvert like me, small talk probably isn’t your area of expertise. Unfortunately, it’s a highly-valued social skill in our society. So, I find it helpful to have a few open-ended questions on hand, to get the other person talking.

This allows me and my anxiety a break so I can do what I do best—listen. 

  1. Have you read anything interesting lately?
  2. Do you belong to any organizations?
  3. Who is your celebrity crush?
  4. What is an average day like for you?
  5. Do you do any volunteerism or charitable work?
  6. What is your favorite/dream travel destination?
  7. Tell me about the best and worst parts of your day.
  8. When you visit your hometown, what is the one place you have to stop at?
  9. Do you have any pet peeves?
  10. What does your ideal weekend look like?

Small talk doesn’t have to be meaningless chit chat about the weather. You can use it to really get to know someone on a deeper level if you ask purpose-driven questions and practice active listening.

For example, by asking someone how they would spend their ideal weekend, you can discern things like:

  • Are they a morning person or a night person?
  • Do they prefer alone time or group settings?
  • Are they an introvert or an extrovert?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How do they like to spend their free time?

That doesn’t even include all of the inferences you can make from their non-verbal communication. And you didn’t have to barrage them with rapid fire questions. Be prepared to answer any question you ask in return, as well.

Ice Breakers

I would advise you to limit yourself to one or two of these types of questions per date. They can range anywhere from whimsical to philanthropic, but one common thread is that they’re complex questions that require critical thinking.

These are those bizarre questions you see on interview lists like—What animal most closely describes your personality?

One question is fun, two is deep, three is just plain exhausting. They’re great questions, but like many great things, require moderation to be most enjoyable. 

  1. What skill or talent have you always wanted to master?
  2. Who is the most fascinating person you’ve ever met?
  3. Would you rather have the ability to speak any language or speak to animals?
  4. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
  5. Would you rather take several weekend getaways or one extravagant vacation?
  6. What do you do that other people think is annoying?
  7. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
  8. What is your most irrational fear?
  9. If you could solve one global crisis what would it be?
  10. What is the best gift you’ve ever given or received?

Connection Builders

These are deeper questions that can help you really get to know your date on a more intimate-level.

  1. What is your favorite book of all time?
  2. Tell me about your best friend.
  3. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
  4. Are you close with your family?
  5. What do you love most about your work?
  6. Do you have any side-hustles or passion projects?
  7. How do you want your legacy to be remembered?
  8. What is the one thing that will put you in a good mood, no matter what?
  9. Who is the most influential person in your life?
  10. What is your primary Love Language?

Use your best judgement: if it’s your first date and you’re really hitting it off, these are pretty safe topics. However, if he’s not keen to open up, if their body language is closed off, if they are giving you short answers—my advice is to stick to lighter conversation starters until they’re more comfortable.

If your date is slow to open up, don’t write them off or hold it against them. You never know what another person has experienced in their past. If you share similar values, it’s likely a good match. Just be patient and give it time. 

Shirtless Bathroom Selfie - Profile Pics

20 Tips for Profile Pics

Last time, I talked about the importance of having the right profile pics. Today, I want to go a little further by giving you my top 20 tips for profile pics. These are action items to help you take the most flattering photos for your dating profile.

Different online services and dating apps have different capabilities, but if you’re able to, you should include at least three photos in your profile. Use your profile pics to show who you really are.

20 Tips for Profile Pics

  1. The first picture should be a nice clear headshot, it’s ok to use colour or black and white, whatever you prefer and feels represents you well.
  2. You should also have a full length shot that shows your physique. Take it at a flattering angle and avoid the dreaded bathroom/gym mirror selfie. 
  3. Your third photo is up to you! Use this one to highlight your personality.
  4. Think about whether you want to take the photo indoors or outdoors. Clean up any clutter that may appear in the background.
  5. There is no shame in standing in front of a blank wall, sometimes those make the best profile pics.
  6. Be natural, relax, and smile.
  7. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. If it feels awkward, or fits wrong, your discomfort may show in the photo.
  8. Find a spot with natural lighting, and make sure there are no shadows hiding your face.
  9. Have some fun! Grab a friend that you feel totally comfortable with, and goof around a little, so your best self comes out in the picture.
  10. Update your photos every three months.
  11. Don’t post photos with other women. I once saw a man using a photo of himself and his ex-wife on their wedding day on his dating profile.
  12. No group shots. Nobody wants to play a guessing game to figure out who’s who.
  13. Keep your clothes on! No bare chest guys I know it’s tempting, especially if you have a great physique, but it does far more damage than good.
  14. No silly poses, goofy faces, or funny costumes.
  15. Your profile pics should highlight your face, not any other body part. You know if I’m talking to you.
  16. No Sunglasses. Let us see your eyes.
  17. I don’t care if you caught the Megalodon, no woman cares to see you holding up a dead fish.
  18. No hatfishing. Unless you plan on wearing that backwards ballcap on a first date (please don’t), take if off for your profile pics.
  19. If you are bald, be proud and show the world. A lot of women only date bald men, so own it!  
  20. Your hair and facial hair should be styled just as it will when you show up for a date.