Dating Advice

Your Back-To-Dating Checklist

Hot Towel ShaveThere’s something nostalgic about this back-to-school time of year . . . newly sharpened pencils, binders in all your favorite colors, old friends and new friends. Back in the day, your mom probably took you shopping for new clothes, and you stocked up on all of those fresh, new school supplies that armed you with confidence for the new school year.

Just like you had to get your ducks in a row before school started, it’s smart to prepare yourself before you go back out into the dating world after you get divorced or end a long-term relationship. Not only will it set you up for success, but it will calm any nerves and make you feel more confident when you go out on that first date. Just like sixth grade when you had those brand new Chuck Taylors.

Think you’re ready to get back out there? Here’s our back-to-dating checklist:

Get a haircut

You don’t need a major change to your ‘do, a trim is enough. Men, most women prefer you to be well groomed. It shows you care about your appearance, which will make her feel like you care about the date. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch the facial hair, just keep it trimmed and neat. Or if you really want to treat yourself, head to the barbershop for a nice hot towel shave.

Ladies, even a quarter of an inch off the ends will make your hair feel lighter and healthier. Who doesn’t feel more confident when they walk out of the salon? If you want an even bigger boost, go for a blowout before your first date. Indulge – you deserve it!

Wear some new duds

The women out there probably don’t need an excuse to go shopping for a new outfit, but men are sometimes a tougher sell. We know many of you hate shopping, but consider grabbing a new shirt for your first time back out on the dating scene.

It’s tough to go wrong with a nice button down that fits you correctly (i.e., fitted without buttons bursting across your chest or your stomach and the sleeves are the right length for your arms), and you can keep it untucked with jeans if you’re going somewhere more casual.

Purge photos and mementos of the ex

Go ahead and throw out or put away photos and mementos of your ex – not because you expect this first date to come back home with you, but because it’s time to put yourself in the right mindset for meeting someone new. Imagine coming home from a great date and spotting the piece of art you and your ex picked up in Asheville last year. That’ll kill your good mood fast and make you less receptive to new possibilities.

Stop being angry

While we’re talking about exes, if you’re ready to date again, you’re ready to let go of any anger you feel for your ex.

Have you ever been on a date with someone who couldn’t stop talking about their ex and how they were so inconsiderate or did so many things that drove them crazy? If you haven’t, you will. It’s not pretty, so don’t be that guy or gal.

Get excited for your new adventure

You’re likely to go through a whole range of emotions as you re-enter the dating scene: nervous, anxious, hopeful and even angry. Embrace the excitement of starting a new chapter in your life. Take some time to think about what makes you happy, and then open yourself up to finding someone who enjoys those same things. Imagine what it will feel like when you find that person, and let that fuel your forward. 

Are you ready to get back out there and meet someone new? Let the matchmakers at It's Just Lunch help you. Get started today by calling us at 1-800-489-7897 or click here to tell us a little about yourself.

The One Word Preventing Your Dating Success

9UVAGMWV89One simple three-letter word could be creating a speed bump on your road to dating success. 

But . . . 

"I'm excited about my first date, but . . . "
"I'm ready to start meeting new people, but . . ."

That one word means your mind has shifted gears and the excitement for the first date is now being funneled into reasons not to take a risk or put much value on the event. It is anxiety about what may happen, and your mind has started broadcasting the "All Negative Scenario" station at high-frequency.

In short, you are now putting the brakes on what could be before you even get to the restaurant. You are sabataging your chances of a great first date -- of a great relationship.

According to an article on Psychology, "[t]he word but allows you to take fewer risks, delay making vital changes, avoid intimacy, resist suggestions, rationalize the status quo, numb your brain with chemicals or mindless entertainment, and decrease your capacity to see opportunities and different points of view."

So, before you can move forward with new experiences and meeting new people, you have to tackle what it is you fear. Failure? Embarrassment? That the other person won't like you? That your ex-boyfriend is right and that you are just too difficult to live with? Jot it all down. Even if it is unrealistic. By getting it out of your head and onto the paper, you take away a small amount of its mental hold on you.

Next, after you have acknowledged your fears, turn it around and inject a positive thought. Do this by stating the fear but infusing a dose of hope. For example, you may be afraid that the guy you are set to have lunch with won't dig you. Say to yourself, "I am a bit nervous about the upcoming date, but I'm going to put my best foot forward and have a good time."

Then, ask yourself:

* What can I control at this moment?
* What if no buts existed? 
* Am I really willing to get stuck at this hurdle in dating?
* What do I really have to fear?

Being mindful of what you can control (hint: emotions, thoughts and actions in this moment) is the first step toward your goals. Choose how to direct your thoughts, especially when you are embracing a new experience or meeting someone for the first time. Let go of the buts and you will notice how much you open up to the possibilities.

Happy Dating . . . no buts. 

This post originally appeared on It's Just Lunch Vancouver's blog

Deal Breakers That Aren't Really Deal Breakers

ThinkstockPhotos-78783062Go ahead - admit it. You have a list somewhere of all of the attributes of your perfect man. It probably goes something like this: at least 6’ tall, blonde hair, a graduate degree and must love dogs. Your list might go on to cover things like religion, politics and whether they want kids.

Deal breakers. We all have them. And when it comes to debating relationship deal breakers there are usually two groups of people: those who think you have every right to be selective and those who are adamant you may be missing out on Mr. Right (don’t worry guys, we have a post just for you coming soon) by limiting your pool of prospects. 

Be mindful, this isn’t about settling. It’s about keeping an open mind when considering new men instead of nitpicking over the insignificant surface details. Because, perhaps, that 5’8” man with dark brown hair will have you laughing until you cry and make you wonder how you ever lived without him.

To help you cut through which items on your list are deal breakers and which are merely part of some fairytale in your head, we put together a list of the eight deal breakers that really shouldn’t be considered deal breakers.

He’s Shorter Than You

The average height of a man in the US is approximately 5’9.” If every woman is looking for a man taller than average, competition is going to get vicious. Being open to dating men who are shorter than average or of average height is the fastest way to increase your pool of eligible bachelors. Who wants to hurt their neck trying to kiss a man who is a foot taller than them anyway?

He's Considerably Older or Younger

A lot of people pass judgment when they see a couple with a considerable age gap. Terms like gold digger, cougar and dirty old man are thrown around, and sometimes it really can be difficult to have an equal partnership when both individuals are at different points in their life. This doesn’t mean that the relationship won’t work. It just means you need to acknowledge the fact that the relationship will come with pros and cons that occur when dating with an age gap.

He's Balding

Tisk tisk. While it's important to be attracted to the one you're with, it doesn't make sense to rule out an entire chunk of the population just because they flaunt a goatee or begin balding early in life.  Statistics show the number of U.S. men experiencing hair loss is up to 35 million. So before you rule them out, think about Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and Ed Harris. Who knows? Someone like them could be the man you’ve wanted so baldly….I mean, badly.   

He's Lives Far Away From You

Long-distance relationships can be rough. They can be lonely, expensive and frustrating – both emotionally and physically. But they can also be worth it. People travel more today than in any other time in history. They travel for work and they’re willing to commute further. All of these things make it more likely that you’ll fall for someone who doesn’t live in close proximity.

Don’t let this scare you. Long distance relationships can reap considerable benefits. Not only will you learn how to be an effective planner and communicator, but you’ll also know that your relationship is more than just physical.

Dr. Crystal Jiang, of the department of communication at the City University in Hong Kong, claims, "Long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back."

He Doesn’t Have a College Degree

Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. They all have one thing in common (ok, they have a few): no college degree. A lack of formal education does not necessarily mean he lacks intelligence or ambition. But if he’s sitting on the couch everyday, and expecting you to pick up the check on date nights, we won’t blame you for dropping the dead weight.

He Has Feminine Hands

Feminine hands have ruined many a budding relationship. Ladies, we get it, it’s normal to want someone strong and masculine. But seriously, turning down a guy for a trait that he can’t change, and frankly, shouldn’t have to change is a little shallow. Who wants a back rub from rough, calloused “man hands” anyway? Give those soft, “feminine” hands a chance! 

He Can’t Dress Himself (Well)

Any men out there reading, consider this your public service announcement: it’s time to leave the denim disaster known as jorts (jean shorts) in the ‘90’s, and be mindful that a dress shirt is meant to frame a man’s face. Button it up. A chest hair afro poking out of the top of your shirt isn’t doing you any favors.

Also, those funny t-shirts are not funny anymore. No grown man’s wardrobe should include a t-shirt that has a saying on it with a type of alcohol, a woman’s body part, or a bodily function. If you are no longer hanging out on a college campus, it’s time for them to go.

Ladies, don’t be scared away. It’s nothing a little shopping can’t fix.

Man-ery (Man Jewelry)

For reasons undetermined, men’s attitudes towards jewelry are on the move. Let’s face it, most guys wearing gold chains don’t look like Jay-Z. Don’t even get us started on thumb rings and cuff bracelets.

In their defense however, women are constantly experimenting with new accessories to add some flash to an outfit. For years, men have been confined to cufflinks, tie-pins and timepieces. Can we blame them for trying?

Meet the Man Beneath The Deal Breaker

Listen ladies - a man that smokes can stop smoking. They can get in shape and master the art of dressing like a man, rather than a teenage boy. And you never know, he could still be living with his mother because she has an extended illness.

Your soulmate could be bald. He could be short or have feminine hands. But if you’re only looking to date a man taller than you, with calloused hands and hair like Fabio, you may never find “The One.” Be open to the potential that lies in the man beneath the deal breaker. You’ll never know until you try.

Need some help getting out of your own head and opening yourself up to meeting someone new? Let the matchmakers at It's Just Lunch help you. Get started today by calling us at 1-800-489-7897 or click here to tell us a little about yourself.

How to Date a Dog Lover

ThinkstockPhotos-200454566-001Think romance has gone to the dogs? You might be right. According to the ASPCA, an estimated 70-80 million dogs are owned in the United States alone. Don’t be surprised then if you run into a dog lover during your search for a partner. 

In the same way you hope to partner with a man or woman whose parenting styles align with your own, the same can be said about the relationship they have with their dog. So, before you adorn that dog bone with a big red bow, take a few minutes to prepare yourself for the lifestyle that goes along with dating a dog lover. 

Dogs are part of the family

There is no denying this, and if you’re dating a dog lover, there is certainly no arguing it. Dogs sometimes get better treatment than the people living under the same roof. It’s important for you to learn to respect and admire a dog owner’s commitment to treating their dog as more than just a pet, but a member of their family. The sooner you accept this, the better chance you have of leading a happy love life, with your partner and their canine companion. 

Dog lovers treat their dogs like children

What do people who love their dogs do? They do exactly what a person does with their child. They throw them birthday parties. They dress them up on Halloween. A survey taken in September of 2013, showed that of the 1,407 dog owners who responded, 86 % reported they used a picture of their pet as their screensaver. You may even find yourself explaining to a few people that the “baby waiting at home” is just a dog. 

You’ll never be greeted first

Unless you’re willing to sprint to the door, wide-eyed and enthusiastic, jumping up and down and running circles around their legs, you will never be greeted first. Their dog will always receive dibs on the “Honey, I’m home” kisses. Don’t let this hurt your feelings.  

You’re a third wheel

Dogs demand an unwavering amount of love and affection. Not only will you be asked to supply some of it, but also you’ll also never be entirely sure who is loved more, you or the dog. Frankly, you probably don’t want to find out. One-on-one cuddling will be non-existent. Not only will you be sharing your bed with the dog, but you’ll also realize that it is completely acceptable for their canine companion to carve a spot out on the couch during movie night, directly between the two of you. 

Invest in a lint roller

Or two. Or ten. If you were wondering who coined the term “fur coat,” it was dog owners. Most dog breeds shed, so get used to finding hairs in your favorite sweater from two winters ago. While you’re at it, say goodbye to your beloved white clothing, unless your lover has a white dog. In that case, consider parting ways with that charcoal duvet cover. 

Patience is key

Whether it’s a newborn puppy or a full grown dog, they’re probably chewing on something that they shouldn’t be. Chances are, you would’ve lost that old sock anyway. In other cases, you may come across an old squeaky chew toy hidden in your couch cushion, or trip over a half eaten rawhide. No one is blind to “doggy breath” or the odor that consumes the house when his or her fur child is wet. 

Try to stay as calm as possible during these instances. Take a few minutes to read about your lover’s breed and it’s nature. Learning to care for an animal is a process that requires both patience and commitment, both of which take time. 

Don’t try to fake it 

"Pretending – or outright lying – is not the way to begin a relationship, even if you think it’s a little white lie to say you love dogs," says It’s Just Lunch spokesperson Irene LaCota. “It will come out eventually, so own up to it from the beginning. It’s unlikely to be a deal breaker unless you treat the dog poorly or start demanding they give the dog up.” 

If you find that you are both avid dog lovers, perfect! You may have just found your soulmate. However, if you can’t seem to understand the reasoning behind your lover’s strong appreciation of his or her furry companion, don’t try to fake it. 

At this point it’s important to determine if compromises need to be made, as well as if you can see yourself in this relationship long term, with the idea that it’s a package deal – you, him or her, and the dog.

Are you still looking for your match? Let the matchmakers at It's Just Lunch help you. Get started today by calling us at 1-800-489-7897 or click here to tell us a little about yourself.

How to Survive Your First Weekend Getaway as a Couple

ThinkstockPhotos-78781340 (1)You love to travel. You love spending time with your new sweetheart. Time to pack your bags and hit the road!

Before you start imagining your dream weekend getaway, take a few minutes to prepare yourself for the inevitable awkwardness and relationship-changing potential (both good and bad) of that first trip together.

How soon is too soon?

Obviously, every relationship is different. However, at a bare minimum you probably should have spent the night together at least a few times before you venture out of town together. Go ahead and get those awkward first-night jitters over with when you’re not 200 miles away from home with a virtual stranger.

What kind of trip is it?

You might like the 20-mile bike rides you’ve done on Saturday mornings together just fine, but maybe your idea of a vacation is relaxing by the pool and only expending enough energy to lift your margarita from the table next to you. Does the other person know that?

“It’s important to plan a trip with activities you’ll both enjoy,” says It’s Just Lunch spokesperson Irene LaCota. “That might mean making some compromises. Maybe you spend one day by the pool decompressing and one day hiking on a scenic trail.”

It might seem romantic to plan the weekend and surprise the other person, but if it’s early on in your relationship, you should probably get their input and ensure it’s a getaway you’ll both enjoy. The romantic surprises can be smaller gestures, like having her favorite champagne waiting in the room for your arrival.

A few habits you’ll learn about fast

You’ve had the maid come by before each of your previous overnight dates, but she won’t be there to clean up after you on your getaway. Is your neat-freak girlfriend going to discover you’re kind of a slob when you’re shut up in close quarters together for several nights?

Maybe you absolutely must eat breakfast before you can tackle any part of your day. Or you really prefer to fall asleep with the television still on. Even if you’ve spent the night together a few times already, you’re bound to discover some new routines (and maybe even flaws) that were previously kept under wraps.

Cleanliness and personal hygiene are some obvious habits that might first reveal themselves over a weekend getaway. What about the less obvious ones though – like the fact that you never listen to music in the car, only NPR? How’s that going to go over on a five-hour drive?

The only thing you can really do to prepare on this front is to have an open mind. After all, it’s people’s quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them unique and interesting.

It can make or break you

When you’re with someone 24 hours a day, you start to get a glimpse of the real person. String two or three of those days together, and you’ll have a pretty good idea if this is someone you can see yourself with long-term.

It’s easy to always be polite, smile and act like life is grand when you’re on a three-hour date, but a three-date getaway complete with a mountain road you’re GPS has never heard of and a lumpy bed that hurts your back might show you a new side of Mr. or Ms. Wonderful.

One fight does not a bad weekend getaway make, however.

“Every couple has a fight now and then,” says LaCota. “Ask yourself if what you fought about is a deal breaker or if how the other person fought was unacceptable.”

Were you just tired from a long drive that got you into town at 2 a.m. after that incident with the GPS? Or is a more fundamental issue with the way you communicate with one another? There’s a big difference. Remember that travel adds another layer of stress and take that into account as you assess the situation.

Compromise and patience are the key to any successful weekend getaway – and likewise to any successful relationship. Survive that first trip together and you know you’re ready for bigger and better things ahead!

Are you still looking for your match? Let the matchmakers at It's Just Lunch help you. Get started today by calling us at 1-800-489-7897 or click here to tell us a little about yourself.