So you’re single, totally unattached, and you’ve decided it’s time to meet someone new. Well, you should be happy to know this is the best time of the year to try.

When I say “best time,” I mean immediately — this instant! This is not the time to procrastinate.

Stop reading this article, log onto the Internet and register for an online dating service, or pick up the phone and call a match making service, or get dressed and force yourself to attend a single’s dance or even a speed-dating event at a local pub.

If you have ever considered trying one of these “proactive” measures, do it right now. After all, everyone else is.

In the 23 years I ran a dating service, the first week of January was almost always the busiest time of year, when the most people joined, and we therefore had the largest pool of available singles for new members to meet.

That is, unless there was a blizzard that week, in which case the second week of January would be the busiest week of the year, unless there was a blizzard that week, in which case… I am sure you get the picture. (One year, it snowed every week in January, which drove me to pull out what remained of my hair.)

With the Internet though, I guess the weather has very little negative impact. If a single person is snowed in and “cabin fever” hits, he or she will undoubtedly feel more inclined to log on and begin the process of trying to “pair up,” so to speak.

And why is the first week of January so busy? Obviously, the main answer is New Year’s resolutions. For a single man or woman, the three most common resolutions are to stop smoking, to lose weight, and to start a new relationship.

If you have already accomplished the first two fetes, then it’s time to attack the third.

As for starting a new relationship, I wish I had the proverbial nickel for every time I heard someone say, “This past holiday season was the last one I’m going to spend drinking eggnog alone with my Aunt Aggie.”

Another reason January is such a busy month for singles’ organizations and businesses is that few people try and meet someone during the holidays. It’s just too hectic, and for some people, too depressing. It’s far easier to tell oneself, “AFTER the holidays, I am going to make a real effort to start a new relationship.”

From a business point of view, that last statement is verified by the fact that the “slowest” time of year at any singles organization is the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. While most retail businesses are booming during that five week shopping period, singles businesses rarely see new people joining — until the week after New Year’s — this week.

So stop reading this article and get busy!

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Adopt a Single Guy for the Holidays

Ah the Holidays!

Images of happy families laughing and dining together around a festive table. Of children gleefully opening presents and squealing with delight. Of couples cuddling before a fireplace and sharing romantic gifts and kisses.

At least this is how the Xmas and Chanukah seasons are portrayed in magazine ads and television commercials that appear to bombard us 24/7. And for many lucky people such happy scenes truly reflect their reality.

But for many others such scenes are merely constant and annoying reminders that their current life does not match a Norman Rockwell painting. And these people tend to be forgotten or ignored at this time of year.

Am I referring to the homeless or refugees from communities that were torn asunder by this year’s many weather disasters? No, for those people are not forgotten, and there are plenty of soup kitchens and shelters teeming with donated toys, turkeys, and volunteers eager to help them forget their misery. (Not that I am in any way downplaying their hardships.)

I am speaking of a group of forgotten people that few think of during the holidays. I am referring to adult, single men who are currently “between” relationships.

I know whereof I speak, because many years ago, I was such a man. After my first marriage ended in divorce, and before meeting my current wife, I spent several holiday seasons alone. Really alone.

You see the problem was that people did not think of me when planning their holiday charitable deeds or parties. When my parents who lived in the Midwest called and asked how I was doing, my response was always “just fine, I’m really busy.” After all, being a “man,” I could not admit how lonely I felt.

My married colleagues at work were pleasant enough. But their water cooler chatter consisted of daily reports of how hectic and busy they were… decorating their homes, baking cookies, and buying presents for their children, their spouses, and their mailman. (I guarantee you; no single man even knows his mailman’s name; nothing is more depressing than a single person buying a Xmas tree, and I don’t think I even knew how to turn on my oven.)

I was thrilled when they said we were going to have an office holiday party. And we were going to draw for “Secret Santa” presents.

After all, now I had one party to attend, and besides my parents, I had someone to buy a present for! (Of course just my luck, one year I drew the mail room guy, whom I intensely disliked.)

What about my friends? Yes, I had plenty of friends, but you see male friendships are totally different from female friendships.

Most unattached women are totally sensitive to the needs and feelings of one another. Groups of single women friends will plan lunches and dinner parties and shopping trips with one another. They will exchange presents. They may even decide to sign up for a cruise together over the holidays.

But men are, well, they are men. Male friendships tend to center around watching sports, getting drunk, or hunting for women. If an unattached single guy calls another single guy and says that he is lonely or invites the other guy to go on a cruise with him, let’s just say his heterosexuality would be questioned.

And if he suggests to his buddy that they buy gifts for one another, the response would just be a snicker.

At the dating service I ran for over two decades, there were two times a year when far more men than women would join. One was during the holiday season and the other was in August during the “vacation season.” During both periods women would be busy with their women pals, either having lunch or dinner with one another, taking day trips around New England, or going off on exotic vacations.

Unattached single men would notice that there were no single women around, so they would contact my dating service.

So this holiday season, if you know an unattached single man, call him. Don’t ask how he is, he won’t tell you the truth. Just invite him to join your family in your holiday festivities.

That’s the charitable thing to do.

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The Importance of Humor!!!

Do you think you have a good sense of humor? Of course you do.

If there was one unanimous answer given by every one of the thousands of single men and women I interviewed at LunchDates over 23 years, it was that when asked to describe their personality, they all claimed to possess a sense of humor.

Actually the first 1,000 people or so all said they had a “good” sense of humor. So, after hearing the driest, most boring accountant imaginable (think Ben Stein’s teacher character from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) tell me that he had a “good” sense of humor, I decided to tweak the interview rules.

(By the way, the reason I have such a great sense of humor myself is that Ben Stein is my mother’s second cousin.)

From then on, every time someone said they had a “good” sense of humor I would interrupt and announce that I had banned the word “good,” and they had to provide a descriptive word or phrase for their sense of humor, but they could not use the words “good” or even “great.”

I then received all kinds of adjectives, from “witty,” to “dry,” to “playful,” to “sarcastic,” to “silly.” Throughout the ’90s many people claimed they had a “Seinfeld” sense of humor, and after a while a few said they had a “Kramer” or “George” sense of humor. (I don’t recall any woman saying she had an “Elaine” sense of humor.) Some people even used swear words to describe their sense of humor.

For example, one of my favorite responses came from a very straight-laced looking woman wearing a conservative business suit. She was a banker and certainly fit the stereotype. When I asked her to describe her personality she said very demurely, “I know on the outside I appear very corporate, but deep down I’m all rock ‘n’ roll, and I have a (blank)ing great sense of humor.” Unfortunately, she never revealed her “deep down” personality to any of her dates, most of who reported that she came across as too quiet and conservative. One has to wonder when and to whom she expressed her “rock ‘n’ roll” personality.
But here’s my primary point.

Since everyone thinks they have a good sense of humor, then it becomes moot to merely mention that you have one too. Moreover, for those of you trying to meet someone through an online dating service, I suggest that you should just write something funny to actually demonstrate that you really do have a sense of humor.

At the same time, reveal the type of humor that best describes who you are. Because I firmly believe that having a similar sense of humor is an important benchmark of compatibility between two people, far more so than similar tastes in music, movies or sports. After all it is a compatible sense of humor that serves as a life preserver when couples are forced to deal with life’s inevitable problems.

For example, for overtwo decades I have been a staunch fan of “The Simpsons.” I could not imagine being in a serious relationship, let alone being married to someone who thought the show was just a silly cartoon or who didn’t get the humor. So if I were describing my outlook on relationships as part of an online dating service profile, I would probably write something like “I’ll be your Homer if you’ll be my Marge.” Better yet, to attract a real Simpsons’ fan, I might just throw in a relatively obscure Simpsons’ reference, such as “Though I am not slender, I am in far better shape than Comic Book Guy,” “My favorite food is a Krusty Burger,” or “You can have champagne, I love to imbibe on Flaming Moes.”
And sometimes when my wife and I have finished dealing with some “issue,” I turn to her, smile, and say “okly dokly, Hon.”

Men especially need to demonstrate a quality sense of humor, both when completing an online profile and on a first date. As I have written before, one of the most common complaints I heard from women about men they just met is that “he was far too serious.”
The importance of a sense of humor to single women is illustrated by the answers that thousands of women gave to the final interview question we used to ask at LunchDates.

The question always came at the end of a personal interview that usually lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. At that point I would always say the following: “Forget everything you just told me. Real quick, without even thinking, name the two or three ABSOLUTE most important criteria that you are looking for in a man.” The overwhelming No. 1 response from women was not how tall a man was or how much money he earned. (These are the criteria that men think women really value …; although how tall he was often was mentioned second.)

Yes, the No. 1 criterion was, you guessed it, sense of humor.

And those guys who demonstrated a great sense of humor on dates usually had a membership that would best be described by Mr. Burns as “ex-cellent.”

If you don’t understand that reference, all I can say is “D’oh!”

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Between online dating services, personal matchmaking services, and singles events like speed dating, it is not difficult for guys to find women to go out with … once.

However, many men can’t figure out why women won’t go out with them on a second or third date. So guys, let me pass on the most common reasons women have told me why they did not want to see you again.

1) You talked too much about yourself — It is common in the animal kingdom for the male of the species to show off his “plumage” in an attempt to lure females back to his “lair.” Especially when attracted to a date, many men love to talk incessantly about themselves, their jobs, and their possessions, and the result more often than not is to turn off women. (Remember the blathering Michael Scott on “The Office?”) At the dating service I ran for over two decades, it was always both amusing yet sad when a man would call his counselor raving about what a great date he just had, then minutes later the woman would call complaining about what a jerk she had just met.

2) Conversely you showed very little interest in learning about who she is — Women these days have their own careers, accomplishments, and hobbies. This is not the Old West when women would coyly flutter their eyelashes and tell Marshal Dillon how wonderful he is because of his broad shoulders. To impress women today, show an interest in them, ask questions about their jobs, outside interests, etc. Then once you discover a mutual interest, you can bring the conversation back to yourself. A great first date for both parties consists of a back and forth patter that is actually rhythmic. Looking back, many happy couples report that on their first date “We completed each other’s sentences.” That repartee is an integral part of what couples term as “chemistry,” along with pure physical attraction.

3) You didn’t come across as balanced — “He just seemed so obsessed with ____ (fill in the blank).” For the most part women want to meet and date men who have multiple interests, including the arts, travel, politics, cooking, wine, pets, or whatever. It is OK to talk about what a fervent Red Sox fan you are, as long as you also display knowledge of events that occur far beyond Yawkey Way. Of course the same holds true if all you talk about is your job or your passion for sci-fi movies.

4) You were too negative — Actually this is one very common complaint men and women make about each other. Not that you have to turn into “Peter Pollyanna,” but if you spend most of your date complaining about the restaurant’s service or food, your boss, the weather, the economy, Fox News, and especially your exes, the odds of you ever getting a second date are miniscule.

5) You were boring — This is a very common complaint from women. You don’t have to stand on your head and juggle the salt and pepper shakers while whistling the theme from “Hawaii Five-O.” BUT a lunch or dinner date is not like a business meeting. Try and display a little wit, and even if you are nervous, try and relax and just be yourself. (Unless you really are boring.) If you are nervous, go ahead and admit it right away. You might be pleasantly surprised at her response. “I want a man who is comfortable in his own skin,” is an expression I heard from many women.

6) You displayed poor table manners — While this might sound obvious, I was always amazed at how often we heard complaints like “he kept talking with his mouth full,” “he never used his napkin,” “he was belching throughout dinner,” or “he must have been raised in a barn.”

7) You were cheap — This is one area in which women do not want equality. No matter how successful a career woman might be, I guarantee that with most women a “let’s split the check” comment will more often than not result in your date being the last one with the “splittee.” Always offer to pay, and don’t be surprised if she smiles and then says “fine, I’ll take you out the next time.”

8) You drank too much — I know, maybe you had a cocktail before your date to calm your nerves. But then you ordered a drink before dinner and then had one or two more with your meal. “By the end of our date he was slurring his words” was a very common complaint from women.

And guys please note that none of these reasons deal with your appearance. As long as you dress decently and don’t show up on your date looking sloppy and totally unkempt, the odds are that most women will not complain about what you look like.

Many women in happy relationships report “I did not feel an attraction at first, but the more I got to know him, his personality grew on me, and after a while I felt very attracted to him.”

It’s too bad that one very rarely hears a man make a similar statement.

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Bring Silly Back!

When you and your significant other are together do you always act like mature adults? Do most conversations center primarily on your finances, your jobs, your health, your house or apartment, your parents, or your children?

Does your sex life center on trying to quickly satisfy one another with very little foreplay, cuddling, and pillow talk?

Then I would ascertain your relationship may be in trouble.

Let me pose another question that is the real litmus test of your relationship’s strength. When was your last tickle fight? If you can’t remember, then your relationship IS in serious trouble.

When couples first meet and hit it off, their relationship usually is sprinkled with loads of laughter and just plain silliness. Ask any woman for positive feedback following a first date, and if she thought it went well, she will emphasize how much she laughed and how much fun he was.

Most negative feedback will not focus on his appearance (unless he looks sloppy and unkempt), but rather on his personality being far too intense and serious. A common first date complaint from both men and women is that the encounter felt like a job interview.

But first dates that evolve into long term relationships usually include an anecdote like “he made me laugh so hard I ___” (fill in the blank yourself, thinking back to a great first date you once had). Such first dates inevitably lead to second and third dates, and in most cases the infatuation stage of a relationship usually ensues.

That means lots of flowers, exchanges of cute and meaningful presents, and late night romps in the sack in which the sex is peppered with smiles, tickling, and lots and lots of snuggling.

Unfortunately, when that infatuation stage ended or ebbed in your relationship (as it does to some extent for almost all couples), did the laughter and silliness also end?

Did you used to act like dorky teenagers together until you had children of your own, and then consciously (or subconsciously) decided it was time to “grow up” and reserve any silliness for play time with your kids? And when they grew into teenagers themselves did any attempt at silliness evaporate the first time they rolled their eyes and said “Mom and Dad, you’re embarrassing me?”

My advice is that it’s time to do everything possible to “bring silly back.” (With apologies to Justin Timberlake.)

I totally agree with a quote by a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, Catherine Selden that I stumbled upon while surfing the Net. She said “When a couple (is) silly together, it shows that they aren’t afraid to let their guards down and expose their childlike, guileless sides. Also, humor is how we cope with the pressures of day-to-day life. If you’re in tune with each other’s fun side, you’re better able to dodge relationship-sabotaging stress.”

Unfortunately too many couples let those day-to-day pressures sap any fun out of their relationship. This is especially true as the current economic downturn continues and many couples find themselves either out of a job or having to severely cut back their spending.

Ironically, when they were younger, many of these same couples had no problem acting playfully silly when they had little money in the bank and vacations were confined to picnics at a local state park or overnights at the nearest Holiday Inn.

But now a few years or decades later, those same couples might think it tragically earth-shattering and depressing if they have to skip their annual cruise to the Greek Isles or a week-long visit to their favorite luxury hotel in Paris or Rome.

Overall, I assert that it’s time to channel your dorky teen persona and see if your partner can do the same. It will do wonders for your relationship.

Were there pet nicknames (remember Seinfeld’s use of “schmoopy?”) you used to call one another in the initial stages of your relationship that you haven’t used in years? Try and remember and surprise your partner tonight by calling him or her that special name from your past.

Is there a funny T-shirt or sweat shirt stuffed in the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in decades that your partner used to laugh at whenever you put it on? If it still fits (or even if it doesn’t), dig it out and squeeze into it this evening.

When you went on a long car ride did you serenade one another singing along to the Golden Oldies station, but now you just sit in silence watching the scenery go by and counting the minutes until you arrive at your destination? The next time you go for a drive pop “Sergeant Pepper” into your CD player and sing away.

And if your relationship has flattened out and most of your conversations with your partner are confined to discussions of the health of your IRA or your child’s chances of getting into a prestigious college, maybe it’s time to have the type of fun date you enjoyed many years ago.

You know, dinner at the local McDonald’s, a round of miniature golf, and then a trip to the video store to rent a Three Stooges DVD.

Followed by a tickle fight of course.

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How ‘Marketable’ Are Single Fathers?

With Father’s Day approaching, I thought it prudent to ask “How marketable are single dads in the dating world?” or “What is their Dating Quotient?” (DQ)

The answer is “that depends.”

Before I explain what “that depends” means, I have to mention that single fathers tend to be even more oblivious than most men in terms of comprehending where they stand in the dating scene. Since single fathers were married (or in a relationship) long enough to produce a child, their decision to start dating (usually following a divorce or the death of a spouse) often comes after years “on the sidelines.” Often the actual decision to begin the search for a new relationship comes after months (or sometimes even years) of deliberation.

So how marketable is a single dad? There are two primary variables that go into determining his DQ: his age and whether he is inclined to have more children.

At LunchDates, the dating service I ran for 23 years, single fathers under the age of 30 were very difficult to match, IF they wanted to meet women in their 20s. The unfortunate reality for these guys is that many younger single women today are intensely pursuing careers. Most eventually want their own children, and they have little interest in becoming stepmothers at this stage of their life.

Of course we could have matched younger single dads with younger single moms, but relatively few of the latter have the time, energy, or “wherewithal” to join a personal dating service or even to try an online one.

When I interviewed a single father in his 20s, I usually tried to persuade him to meet slightly older women. If he were willing, his DQ would immediately and dramatically rise. But if he insisted on meeting younger women, I would have to caution him to be very patient.

Of course there are many more single and divorced women with children in their 30s and 40s, so there is a much larger pool of available women for single dads as they age. Basically the older a single father is, the easier he is to match.

Somewhere in the mid to late 30s having a child actually turns from a minus (in terms of one’s DQ) to a plus for men! Most women over 35 who are looking to meet men in the late-30s to the mid-50s reach the point where they strongly prefer meeting previously married men.

These women believe that if a man is in his 40s (or older) and has never been married “there is probably something wrong with him.” (In many, but not all, cases they are right.) And, of course, if a man is over 40 and previously married, there is a good chance he has already fathered a child or two.

That leads to the other important criteria in determining the DQ of a single dad: whether he is willing to have more children. Let me offer the following examples of three single fathers:

• Man A — (Call him Andrew.) Andrew is over 40, divorced, and already has one or two children. He says he loves kids, and he is flexible about meeting women with children, having more children, or even adopting children. Andrew is also willing to meet women a few years younger or older than him. (The willingness to adopt is considered a major plus, especially by childless women over 40.) Andrew has a very high DQ and is very much in demand. Whether he joins a personal dating service, an online one, or just puts out the word that he is now ready to start dating, his chances of meeting someone are extremely high. This guy is a “catch,” and it matters little how tall he is, how handsome he is, or even how much money he earns. Actually, in 2009, if he maintains a positive attitude, has some money saved, and perhaps owns his own home, he still has a high DQ, even if he is between jobs or working only part time.

• Man B — (Call him Bob.) Like Andrew, Bob is over 40, divorced, and already has children. Bob strongly prefers meeting a woman in her early to mid 30s. He is open to having more children, but it is not a major priority for him, and he definitely is not interested in adopting a child. He is willing to meet a woman with children, as long as she is in his preferred age range (that is, considerably younger than him). There are a lot of “Bob’s” out there, and his chances of meeting a woman in the dating world are only fair. And if Bob’s career is not flourishing, his DQ drops significantly.

• Man C — (Call him Carl, and unfortunately I really did meet and interview quite a number of “Carls.”) Like Andrew and Bob, Carl is over 40, divorced, and has one or two children. Carl is certain he does not want any more children and he would not even consider adopting a child. He also does not want to be bothered meeting any women with children, and he really prefers meeting women under 35. Carl joins dating services, places ads online, goes to singles functions, and very rarely connects with a woman, once he explains his situation and preferences. Basically, narcissistic Carl has a VERY low DQ. What is most ironic is that Carl also has no idea why he is so unsuccessful in his efforts to meet a woman or sustain a relationship. Even if his career is prospering, he still has a low DQ.

Overall, the highest percentages of people who joined my dating service and met someone were, in fact, divorced or widowed moms and dads. That is because we often (when allowed) matched up single mothers with single fathers.

And very often they clicked. After all, they had the most in common, having shared the triumphs and tragedies of parenthood. Just by having children and then going through a divorce and/or the death of a spouse, they had experienced similar highs and lows.

It is hoped that many of these single dads are now in happy relationships, perhaps remarried, or perhaps not. But here’s hoping they will have a happy Father’s Day.

It is too bad that the Carls of this world probably won’t.

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Differences Between Men and Women

NOTE: I usually only include articles that I write, but this is REALLY GOOD!

Wife’s Diary:

Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner.

I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it.

Conversation wasn’t flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn’t say much.

I asked him what was wrong; He said, ‘Nothing.

I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset.

He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it.

On the way home, I told him that I loved him.

He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior. I don’t know why he didn’t say, ‘I love you, too.’

When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent.

Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep; I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

Husband’s Diary:

A two-foot putt…who the hell misses a two-foot putt?

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Do Singles Have Too Many Choices Today?

A friend told me he had recently ventured to Lowe’s to buy a wireless doorbell and was overwhelmed by how many different types of such doorbells were available. When he finally bought one, he was amazed how many different rings he had to select from; and he complained that he had difficulty deciding which ring to finally choose.

Totally coincidentally, the next day my son emailed me a link to a fascinating lecture (and I rarely find lectures fascinating) by a psychologist named Barry Schwartz who has written a book called “The Paradox of Choice.” The basic premise of both his lecture and book is that the number of choices that people face in today’s world creates what he terms a “paralysis of choice.”

Schwartz points out that “the more choices we have, the more difficult the choice.” More importantly, he states that “we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.”

“If (our choice) is not perfect,” Schwartz opines, ” it’s easy to imagine that you could have made a different choice that would have been better…;this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction of what you selected…;.you then begin to imagine the attractive features of other options.”
This is a major factor why celebrities with so many choices have such difficulty settling down and finding happiness and satisfaction with just one person.

At my dating service, LunchDates, often I would hear feedback from (usually a man) that while he liked a woman whom he had dated a few times, he was not going to pursue her further, because he found some flaw in her (i.e. she was not “perfect”), so he wanted to see what other women were available.

Yes ladies and that is a primary answer to the $64,000 question why men suddenly disappear after 3-4 seemingly positive and pleasant dates!

Between matchmaking services, on-line dating services, speed dating programs, and various singles activity groups, many single and divorced men and women have such a plethora of people to meet that they find it difficult to settle on just one person, always wondering who else is out there.

Now here is another total coincidence that occurred this week that further makes my point. A cousin of mine and I have been emailing each other back and forth relating interesting stories about our family history.

It turns out that over a century ago my Grandma Rose, who had just arrived in New York from Europe, went to the office of a Jewish marriage broker. According to my cousin, before she signed up for the service, she noticed a man on the verge of tears because a woman he was interested in had just rejected him. So my grandmother said to the couple (imagine a heavy Yiddish accent) “Lady you do not want this man? He does not look good enough for you?”

The woman confirmed she did not want him. Grandma Rose then turned to the man and said “Mister you look good enough for me. Do I look good enough for you?” He nodded yes. She then asked him if he could read and write. Again he nodded yes. So my grandmother thrust a piece of paper and pencil at the man and asked that he sign his name so she could see his handwriting. She examined the signature and decided that he was a good man.

So she took him by his hand and pulled him out of the office, saying “Let’s go get married.” By the way that man is the grandfather after whom I am named. (And I guess I was fated to start a dating service.)

What is most interesting is that single people with fewer choices often not only seem to settle down with one person quicker than many “serial daters,” but they also seem happier, more contented, and more appreciative of that person.

I recall many people at LunchDates with whom we had difficulty matching, NOT because they were too picky, but because they had some feature that made it difficult for them to meet someone. Perhaps it was a heavy woman or an obese man or a very short man.
Often it took a while, but when we were finally able to find them someone who was sufficiently interested to go out with them a second or third time, the couple wound up placing their membership on hold and later reporting back how happy they were that they had found one another.

Just like my Grandma Rose, they had found a nice person with good handwriting!

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Men, Will You PassThe Valentine’s Day Test?

Hey guys, remember back in school when the hairs on the back of your neck stood straight up as your teacher strolled down the aisle passing out graded final exams?

Well Valentine’s Day is approaching, the day you receive your relationship “grade.” So how will you do? Face it, not to sound too cynical or unromantic, but what this holiday really represents is pressure.

Pressure to give your “Valentine” just the right present, one that communicates whatever the message is that you figure is the correct one.

And what is the source of that pressure? The first source is the avalanche of radio and television ads that seem to have started about three seconds after Ryan Seacrest completed his New Year’s Eve countdown live from Times Square.

We can easily recite a few…. “Every kiss begins with Kay,” “Vermont Teddy Bears” (how many of you received the “Love Bandit”?), “Elizabeth Grady facials.” And my favorite, the “pajamagram.” Not to mention all the flower ads.

Of course the other source of pressure is that special woman in your life who squeezed out a furtive smile and glance in your direction every time a Valentine’s Day reminder popped up on radio or television the past few weeks. (I estimate that probably only happened about 147 times a day!) Oh, did I say “woman” in your life?

Not to sound too sexist, but most men care about receiving a meaningful Valentine’s Day present about as much as they wanted to switch the channel to view Masterpiece Theatre on PBS during the recent Super Bowl.

And it doesn’t matter if you have only been dating four weeks or been married 44 years! The same pressure exists, perhaps even more so for the people in brand-new relationships.

Because, for most couples, Valentine’s Day serves as a relationship barometer. And a “new” couple is still in the midst of playing one of those cute relationship games, such as “I’ll tell you how I feel about you, if you’ll tell me first how you feel about me.” (Another such game is “Sleep me with first, then I’ll tell you whether I am serious about our relationship.”)

At the dating service I ran for more than two decades, February was always an interesting month. During the two weeks before Valentine’s Day, business was always slow. Very slow. After all, nobody wanted to admit just before the 14th that the only person they had to buy flowers for was dear old Mom. And nobody wanted to go on a first date with someone on Valentine’s Day.

But the week after Valentine’s Day always kicked off one of the busiest times of the year, as many people decided this would be the last Valentine’s Day they would spend alone with their cocker spaniel. Then there were all those relationships that failed the Valentine’s Day test. For example, if you expected an expensive piece of jewelry or even an engagement ring (after all you have been dating three years), and all you got was a bunch of Hershey kisses wrapped in a red tin heart (not every kiss begins with Kay), maybe you finally realized your relationship was not headed in the right direction.

And so every year at my dating service the floodgates would swing open on Feb. 15, as many single men and women figured that it was time to “start from scratch” in their relationship search.

It’s too bad that we all can’t just turn back the clock and celebrate Valentine’s Day the way we did in first grade. Just go to CVS and buy a box of Care Bears cards and give one to every boy and girl in the class!

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The Busiest Time of Year for Singles is Fast Approaching!

So you’re single, totally unattached, and you’ve decided it’s time to meet someone new. Well, you should be happy to know that the absolute best time to meet someone new is fast approaching!

When I say “best time,” I mean starting exactly at 12:01 am, the day AFTER Xmas.

In the 23 years I ran a dating service, the period beginning on December 26 was always the busiest time of year, when the most people joined, and we therefore had the largest pool of available singles for new members to meet.

And why is the last week of December and the first two weeks of January so busy? Obviously, the main answer is New Year’s Resolutions. For a single man or woman, the three most common resolutions are to stop smoking, to lose weight, and meet someone special in the coming year.

I wish I had the proverbial nickel for every time I heard someone say, “This past holiday season was the last one I’m going to spend drinking eggnog alone with my Aunt Aggie.” (Of course even if you do find a long-term meaningful relationship in 2013, your Aunt Aggie will still expect you to stop over next holiday season — as will your new beau’s Aunt Gertrude — but those types of complications are the subject of another column.)

Another reason January is such a busy month for singles’ organizations and businesses is that few people try and meet someone during the holidays. It’s just too hectic, and for some people, too depressing. It’s far easier to tell oneself, “AFTER the holidays, I am going to make a real effort to start a new relationship.”

From a business point of view, that last statement is verified by the fact that the “slowest” time of year at any singles organization is the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. While most retail businesses are booming during that five week shopping period, singles businesses rarely see new people joining — until the day after Xmas.

So THIS is the best time of year to join a personal matchmaking service or an on-line service. And if you are already a member this is the perfect time of the year to “polish” your on-line profile. Or to hire Your Profile Doctor to help you.

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