Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Friendship as a Path to Romance

I often hear from those that have lost a spouse that one of the hardest things for them to witness is an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand. It’s not so much the romance they wistfully lament but the implied companionship that this couple is sharing. After all, friendship is the foundation upon which all lasting romantic relationships are built.

If you are not having much luck in the romance department, try another avenue to solve this dilemma. Take some time to concentrate on simply making new friends. An added benefit of new friends is that it exponentially expands your social circle, which can give you an opportunity to meet lots of new people. One of them may be a romantic candidate just right for you!

10 Tips on How To Make New Friends

1. The easiest way to meet people with whom you share common interests is to take a class or join a group that centers on one of your hobbies. This way you will already have a built-in starting point with the other members.

2. Be kind to yourself, and be a friend to yourself. Open your heart and allow yourself to be liked and loved.

3. Be open to honest and kind conversation. Balance this openness with your safety and wariness of others that may cause you to question if someone has an ulterior motive for befriending you.

4. “Let’s get together soon” is too nebulous a statement when making plans. Decide upon a specific date and time to meet. This assures it WILL happen!

5. Always keep your word. Don’t say you’ll call and then forget to do so. Remember, someone else is counting on your personal contact with him or her.

6. Smile at people. You will be surprised at how many others respond, reciprocate and show appreciation for the good will and warmth you are spreading. It is an inexpensive way to make yourself and others “light up” inside and out.

7. “What goes around, comes around.” Be the friend you would like to have, and others will reciprocate in kind. Keep Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words in mind: “The only way to have a friend is simply be his friend.”

8. Reach out to those less fortunate than you. Help others, personally or through an organization. Your life will be enriched by your good deeds.

9. Allow yourself to be happy and content. Your positive attitude will attract others to you. Everyone likes to be with positive people.

10. Initiate conversation. There’s no law that says you have to wait for someone to approach you first. Be the first to say hello, and you will be surprised how people will respond to this simple, but brave, gesture.

Although there are many other ways to make and keep friends, I think Albert Camus captured the essence of friendship when he said, “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Evaluating Potential Partners

As you learn more about a potential partner, it is important to constantly be evaluating your relationship to determine if it is a good fit for you. Also, remember, relationships take time to develop, and it is only over this time that you can come to truly know a person.

The following are four areas to help you appraise your relationship. Since it is always helpful to use a mnemonic device to remember items, I’ve devised one that will assist you in remembering these categories, as well as remembering who told you about them!

If you say ELNG aloud, it is Ellen G (Gerst)! However, there is a deeper meaning, too!

E is for Elasticity
                   L is for Lifestyle
                                        N is for Nature (inherent)
                                                                           G is for Goals

Elasticity. Elasticity, which is the ability to be flexible, appreciate a foreign method of dealing with certain circumstances or simply to go with the flow, is an attractive personality trait. Similar to when you are raising children, in a romantic relationship it is also important to pick your battles. While deciding on how you attend to your finances is important, whether you eat Italian or Chinese food is not. Additionally, life is full of “stuff” coming up. Watching how well a person can adapt to a change in plans is very enlightening. If one cannot change gears without major drama, you may want to consider if this person will be able to handle a time when an earth shattering event occurs.

Lifestyle. You may be attracted to a person’s physical and emotional being at the beginning of a relationship. Accordingly, you may start to feel as if this this person seems to be on the “same page” as you. However, as the relationship develops you may find that you have completely different lifestyles; he is a sports fanatic and you are a museum lover or he never picks up a book and you are a voracious reader. 

It has been shown that couples who enjoy activities in common have a much better chance of growing together. And, it does not count if one partner just suffers the activity to make the other happy! What you end up with is lots of groans and rolled eyes and eventual dissatisfaction. Now, partners need not be tied at the hip; simply evaluate how wide the berth is between the things done together and those done apart. The more shared leisure activities, in most instances, the more joy you can experience together.

Inherent Nature. Personalities may match, values may be the same and lifestyle choices are coordinated; however, the partners’ basic natures may still not be singing in harmony. That is — the way each of you approach a situation may come from completely opposite directions. Now, if you and your partner can be flexible (see above) then all may be well. However, if tolerability is not a strong suit, problems can arise. For example, if one person is calm and methodical and the other is hyperactive and rash, it is sometimes difficult to reach a meeting of the minds. Pay attention, also, to the rhythm and pacing of each other’s live; it is easier when they play in concord.

Goals. It is important for partners to share similar goals or the same life purpose. No matter how much love is shared, it would be very difficult, for example, if one partner were devoutly religious and based all of his/her actions and activities around that religion, while the other partner wanted to lead a more hedonistic lifestyle. It is wonderful to romanticize life and think that love can conquer all; however, strong unions between partners usually are formed when the practicalities of life are considered as well the love that exists.

The world may tell us that opposites attract, and this may be true in the short term. However, it is also very difficult to live with someone whom approaches life from the other end of the spectrum from you.
The above are only four areas to which to be attuned when evaluating your relationship. 

A part of this post is an excerpt from Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story. Love After Loss is now available as both an e-book via my website or as a paperback via

I have some extra copies of the paperback edition available on Amazon and will offer them at a special price of $10.00 + shipping (Amazon price: $14.95 + shipping). Order below and also receive a free e-book, Spiritual Tips & Thoughts.

Love After Loss

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: 10 Conversation Starters for First Dates

If you haven’t dated in a long time, you might be feeling anxious about your first encounters. You might worry that you won’t have enough to talk about or that your date might find you boring.

In truth, keeping a conversation going is not as hard as starting the ball rolling. Consequently, keep in mind that a good majority of people like to talk about themselves. So, if you are nervous, forget about being interesting. Just be interested in what your date has to say.

Now, you don’t want your time together to turn into a question and answer interval, but you can still pose questions to spark conversation.

Following are 10 questions you could ask your date. After he/she has answered, you can chime in with your comments. As a bonus, you will have the “leg up” because you already know the questions, so you can prepare some fascinating tidbits to share!

1. What are some things that make you laugh or just go hmmm?
2. What was the best thing about your family life when you were a young child?
3. What were you like when you were a child? In what ways have you changed? In what ways have you stayed the same?
4. Did you have a funny nickname when you were a child? Do you have one now? What’s the story behind the name?
5. Who had the greatest influence on you while you were growing up? Was it a teacher, relative, friend, public figure? Do you have a mentor today who influences you or in what ways does he/she guide you?
6. What is one thing about you that would surprise me?
7. Do you have a special talent?
8. What’s your favorite movie, TV show, band, etc.?
9. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time?
10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: 5 Tips for Successful Step Parenting

"Although stepfamilies rarely make as smooth a transition as the Brady Bunch,
it is possible to successfully blend a family.
It depends on how and when you start and what you put in the blender."
~Kela Price

If you are in a relationship that is headed towards merging your two families, you are about to enter the world of step parenting. It is a world that can be very rewarding, but don’t expect all the members of the family to meld immediately. It takes lots of time, love and patience to build a healthy and working step family entity.

Here are 5 tips to help you make the transition.

1. Don’t take things personally. This is the same advice I gave you when it came to dating. Not everything is about you! Children are very hurt by their parent’s divorce and they can act out in childish ways. A step parent is a very easy target at which to direct their anger and fear. Choose the high road and don’t engage in battle with the children. Be constant; be steady; be there as a role model of decorum and grace under pressure. Children take note of all behaviors, and they are watching you very carefully to see if you will respond or react to their shenanigans.

2. Limit your expectations. This is another piece of advice I gave you in regard to dating. It takes a long time to get to know someone, and your step children are no different. You will set yourself up for disappointment if you rush the get-to-know you process and expect a love fest to take place simply because you are now married and living together as a family. Think about this process as dating your stepchildren! Engage in the activities you would normally do when you start dating, for example, exploring who they are and what they like and discussing their hopes and dreams. Moreover, have some fun with them because this can foster the growth of good feelings.

3. Set boundaries. I recall my younger son talking to his soon-to-be stepbrother about boundaries. He told this boy, “I don’t know where my mother’s boundaries are; I just know I’m not going anywhere near them!” Having raised him from birth, my son inherently knew my every nuance and could read when he was approaching the danger zone. Step children do not have the same benefit, so you must be very clear and specific about your boundaries.

4. Take care of yourself and your marriage. Don’t let children (yours or his/hers) come between you and your new partner. Children usually have no shame and they will use all the tools at their disposal to get their way, including guilting you into letting them do something you normally would not. Additionally, make sure to take care of yourself on all levels so you can cope with the added stress of step parenting. Allowing yourself to reach a point of overload will be of no benefit to any member of the family.

5. Ask for support. When you embark upon a task you have never done before or about which you know little, what is the first thing you can do to help yourself? Research! Read some books, take a class, consult a professional or ask friends who have step parented for advice. No one expects you to be an expert on this subject and know exactly the right thing to do. However, you can prepare yourself as best you can in order to be successful.