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Dating // July 29, 2013

Dear Made Woman,

I have had a crush on a friend of mine for a few years now and I can't take it anymore. We hang out a lot but I've been relegated to the friend zone and I want to get out! He's always been the perfect gentleman to me and has never made a move. As our friendship grows, I realize more and more what a great guy he is and I don't want another woman to snatch him up. At the same time, I'm terrified of being rejected and making our relationship awkward. Can you help me out?

Sincerely,

Secretly in love


Dear Secretly In Love,

I have good news for you!  Either way this works out, you’re going to be fine—you just need to go for it and get some resolution so you know where you stand! There are three possible scenarios that might be happening right now in my opinion, so let’s narrow in on it and take the appropriate action.

One, he might be like the tarantula. What do I mean by this? While we are all scared sh**less of tarantulas, think how much they must be frightened of humongous humans. The truth is that they are way more scared of us than we are of them by comparison. With this guy, it could be the same way—that he’s been just as frightened to make a move and disturb the friendship as you’ve been (if not more). In this case, if you test the waters, tell him how you feel and if he feels the same way, he will be hugely relieved, and undoubtedly a non-platonic relationship will form.

Two, he might be like the nerdy video game programmer (just stereotyping here -- I’m engaged to an amazing one). There are men out there who are the type of guys who just don’t read social cues as well as they read Java code. You know this particular guy better than I do. Is he one of those guys who,when you’re out with him at a bar, is completely oblivious to the girl across the room shooting him adoring glares and batting her eyelashes?

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If he’s a cutie who just doesn’t process the signs and signals people (including you) send him, you’ll have to take a more direct approach to see where he stands. And while it may be intimidating to ask him out for drinks just the two of you, this is the only way to find out where you stand with this type of gentleman. Best case scenario is that he’s game for your invitation and you go on a date; but also good is scenario B where, if you ask him and he’s not game for more, it’s okay because you’ll still be good friends. Why? Because if you really are good friends and he is a great person (otherwise why would you be friends with him/like him in the first place?), he will still care about you and still be friends with you the same way he was before you asked him out. He will understand your feelings and it won’t be awkward long-term. He’ll just take it as a compliment and move on without any prolonged weirdness.

Three, he might be like the frog and not the prince. Going back to our early scenario about observing him in a social setting, if you’ve seen him “work a room,” interact well with the ladies and perceive flirtations easily, and you’ve tried this approach of subtly (or not so subtly) flirting with him already to suggest your feelings, in this case signs point to the fact that he may be “just not that into you” (like that rom-com movie we girls all love so much). And that’s okay because there are millions of people in the world and sometimes you just can’t explain why something is or isn’t there. You’ll have clarity and be able to move on knowing where you stand. The worst thing is never doing anything about it and never knowing because it will always be a “what if.” Just know that even if he is a great guy, he’s just a frog out of a lot of frogs that will come up in your life, but that things truly do work out for a reason. When the right person comes along, you’ll know when it’s your prince.

Hope this helps, and keep us all posted on what happens!

All the best,

Courteney

Made Woman Magazine

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Published in Dating
Saturday, 29 June 2013 01:11

Relationships | The 5 Love Languages

Dating // July 1, 2013

We’ve all heard the saying, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.".  Love, sex and romance are usually interpreted differently between the sexes and it affects every part of our relationships. Maybe you are good to your partner, but don’t feel appreciated. Maybe when you argue with your partner they always say, “I don’t feel like you really love me.” The problem is, we express love to our partner the way WE want to receive it, not the way they want it. One way to get on the same page is to start speaking our partner’s love language and showing them love the way they want to receive it, and encouraging them to do the same!

I have been with my man for 15 plus years now. Our relationship is not only surviving, but THRIVING, because we search for ways to communicate our feelings in ways that the other appreciates.  Recently, we read a great book, The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman. As the title suggests, the book explains the five primary ways people communicate love to each other. It is a great tool to use in your relationship to identify the best ways to convey your emotions to your partner.  Here’s a breakdown of the Love Languages, see which one is yours and ask your partner which fits them:

The 5 LOVE LANGUAGES

Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation

Verbal compliments, encouraging words, kind words and humble words. Only positive words, no negatives.

Love Language #2: Quality Time

Time spent together giving undivided attention. This includes quality conversation and quality activities.

Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts

It is not about the cost of the gift; it is the intention behind the gift. Gifts can be purchased, made, or can be as simple as the gift of physical presence when your partner needs you.

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Love Language #4: Acts of Service

Doing something you know your partner wants you to do for them. This can include any daily task that requires thought, planning, time and energy.

Love Language #5: Physical Touch

This is any form of physical affection, including holding hands, massaging, kissing, hugging and sex.

My love language is “Quality Time” and my honey’s is “Receiving Gifts.” Who knew? Since gifts are not important to me, I never thought they were to him. Now, I make sure once a week to give him a small token of my love to fill him up!

Make use of this cheat sheet and have some fun figuring out which love language you both are. Or, if you are having trouble figuring out which category either of you falls into, take the test here and read the book by Gary Chapman. Then take your relationship to an even better place by giving and receiving love the way you both appreciate it!


Published in Love + Dating

Dating // June 3, 2013

Many movies and books have attempted to explain the confusing world of dating.  You would think that men and women would understand each other by now.  But despite all of the commentaries, many of us are just as confused now as we’ve ever been.

But this conversation is different, because it doesn’t come from some out-of-touch TV personality.  This information comes straight from the source.  If you ever wanted to know how a Made Man thinks, I’m giving you the real unfiltered inside scoop. You can thank me later.

So, to set the record straight, here are five more myths that women often believe about men (catch up on the first five here).

Myth #6: Nice Equals Soft.

I’ve heard some women say, “I like him, but he’s too nice for me,” as if being nice is some fatal flaw.   I understand why very few women like the spineless pushover.  Lacking strong beliefs and character is unattractive in anyone -- male or female.  But it’s a mistake to equate “nice” with “soft”.  Behavior that may come off as “too nice” might actually be a telling sign of a man so secure with himself that he doesn’t feel the need to defend who he is. And when a girl thinks she’s walking all over her man, his compliance may be him displaying patience as he waits for her to mature and grow out of her bad habits.  Mr. Nice Guy might actually be humble and strong.  Is that somebody you want to write off? 

Myth #7: Money Equals Security.

Many of my female friends have expressed to me that it is important that they feel “secure” in their relationship, and that their man needs to provide that feeling of security.  With that, many women equate money with security. Financial security is comforting, and something that everyone should aim to achieve, but even the most fiscally stable people aren’t protected from money-draining personal disasters and a fluctuating economy. Many of us are one unexpected accident away from a major financial setback.  Stability comes from a lot more than money.

True stability lies within the mind and heart of a man. It’s in the man that is quick on his feet when life throws him a curveball.  It’s in the man that’s calm when the storm comes, and can lead you when it’s hard for you to see.  Security is found in the man that has solid plans, sticks to those plans because of his discipline, and sees his plans to completion.  Stability is found in the man that makes wise decisions, and has earned your trust because of his consistency.  True riches are often invisible, and you’re going to need to use your X-Ray vision if you want to be with a guy that can provide peace of mind for the long haul.

Myth #8: It’s Harder for a Woman to Find a Man than it is for a Man to Find a Woman.

Actually, this is partially true.  We all know about the woman/man ratio.  And to many women, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough good men to choose from.  But in reality, as difficult as it may seem for a woman to find a good man, it’s just as difficult for a man to find the woman that’s best for him. Almost every man is scared of choosing a woman who is wrong for him.  No man wants to be miserable for the rest of his life.  The stakes are just too high to settle, no matter how beautiful a woman is on the outside. Which is why it’s important for women to know that...

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All Men are not Only Into a Woman Because of Her Looks (Myth #9).

Most men are, indeed, visually driven.  But Made Men are not blinded by beauty.  They appreciate beauty and and value it, but they know that in the end, what’s most important is the character of their woman.  Made Men know that a woman can either be a “ride or die chick” or a “bust the windows out your car” kinda girl (or somewhere in between).  Most men prefer the loyal companion over having to replace a windshield after every disagreement.  There’s a fine line between the anchor that keeps you grounded and the dead weight that prevents you from flying, and Made Men want to make sure they get this right.

What men really want is to be continually attracted to, captivated by, and stimulated by their girl.  And this is not only achieved visually. Physical beauty may attract a guy, but it won’t keep him.  He’ll become bored because the relationship lacks depth and growth, which creates the much needed sense of adventure.  Men are drawn to women that keep them on their toes, can connect with them intellectually, and have a great sense of humor.  If you already have those qualities, you’re in good shape.  If that’s not you, don’t worry. You can get there.  Just listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill a couple more times and lighten up a bit.

Myth #10: He’s Sending Mixed Signals Because He’s Indecisive.

So, you can’t tell if he’s really into you or not, and you’re frustrated.  Don’t be annoyed.  Real men go after the things they want.  Other guys are so unsure of themselves that they seem to change their minds with the wind.  You probably want to steer away from guys like this and let the really desperate girls fight over them.  But if a real man is sending mixed signals, it means that he sees enough to keep him intrigued, but not enough for him to seal the deal.  In this scenario, he’s holding out until he gets more information. Tread lightly and figure out what you can do to address any doubts or hesitations he might have.  If he’s mature enough, he’ll be in touch with his concerns and will tell you directly.  Remember this: the cure for this type of indecision is not him becoming “more decisive.” It’s about you both locking in on what you want, being able to communicate your needs, and being able to change and grow.  If it works out, great!  If it doesn’t, you’ll become a better woman in the process.

On the flipside, many men have a hard time committing to a woman, not because they’re unsure about the woman, but because they’re unsure about their own identity.  It’s hard for him to know if a woman’s right for him if he doesn’t know who HE is and what HE needs.  If you’re a woman who has been blessed with the gift of patience, you can wait for him.  If not, it’s probably best to let him figure this out on his own.

These myths are just some of the misconceptions women can have about men and how they think.  Are there others?  If you know of any other myths that didn’t make the cut, share them with us by commenting below.  And are there myths that men believe about women that need to be cleared up? Feel free to add those too.  Bridging the gap between the sexes is going to be a team effort and we can’t rely on Steve Harvey’s Think Like a Man to fix it for us.  We need real dialogue, and it starts here.

Be sure to check out Part One of 10 Myths Women Believe about Men!


Published in Dating
Monday, 06 May 2013 01:53

Dating | Dating Mr. No Ambition

Dating // May 6, 2013

This article was originally published on Bauce Magazine and was written by Ahyana King.

I don’t know how the dating/sex/marriage conversation went for most of you. But for me, it was this dance between random guerilla education tactics by my parents and the church. Then, it  was my human sexuality class freshman year, every Tuesday and Thursday, and church. Then, it was my work as an HIV tester and counselor, advice about relationships among my friends that had gone awry, and church. You get my point.

A pretty big influence on how or whom I dated was church. What impacted me most from the various church experiences was not so much “Don’t have sex while you’re dating, wait until your married,” but “Don’t be unequally yoked.” And whether you believe in God or soccer balls, I think there is something very practical about the idea of not being unequally yoked.

What does the saying mean exactly? Well, as a Christian, it means: if he or she isn’t a Christian, don’t get involved, and definitely don’t marry them. In a more practical sense: if he or she isn’t on par with who you are or who you are becoming, don’t bother dating, getting emotionally involved, and then being disappointed later and conflicted about how to end things because “We don’t want the same things.”

Ladies, we do this A LOT,  especially when it comes to men and their ambition. We are eternal hopefuls, fully convinced that we can lead by example, partner with him, and encourage him. And when we have two degrees and he’s still struggling to get the one he was working on when you met six years ago, you’re baffled, and resent him and his good looks. Therefore, in the case of ambition, do not be unequally yoked. Here’s why:

1. You risk getting stuck. Slowly, but surely, you will find yourself re-adjusting your own goals to fit the comfortable space he is in. You will find yourself not looking for the dream marketing position at a firm in San Francisco because all he’s known is Prince George County, his family lives there, and you already moved there from New York. “Be stable with him,” is what you will tell yourself. That will sound good at first, until your ambitious friends are uprooting, globetrotting, and out living their goals.

2. You risk your happiness. I have yet to meet the who is truly happy with herself and accepting of her lifestyle, while being resentful and bitter toward someone. However, I have met the woman who has “sacrificed” her dreams to stay with a man in hopes of changing him, motivating him, and being his “ride or die chick,” so that together, they can become the next Barack and Michelle. When she realizes that he is not into the responsibility that comes with managing a team at his job, starting a business, owning instead of renting, or going back to school, she often becomes hurt and bitter toward him and disappointed and unhappy with herself. You can do bad all by yourself. No need to be in a relationship with a guy who is not interested in doing anything more than what he was doing before he met you or since he met you.

3. You risk not being in the healthy relationship you want and deserve. When his lack of ambition frustrates you, the dynamics of the relationship will change. The likelihood of you being less understanding and forgiving will increase. The likelihood of you continuing to value and appreciate what made you fall for him is likely to decrease. Granted these dynamics can happen for a variety of reasons, even if your man is just as ambitious as you, your frustration with his lack of ambition can hasten and heighten the intensity of such changing and challenging dynamics.

When I posted the question, “Why shouldn’t you date someone who isn’t as ambitious as you?” to my Facebook page, the feedback came pouring in. Most people were writing some variation of the three reasons I listed above. However, one responded with a reminder that I think is important to share.

While he may not be as ambitious as you, you may carry enough ambition for the two of you. Lack of ambition is not the same as being uneducated, incapable of being a supportive loving partner and provider, or having the other qualities that are important when considering a potential mate. If ambition is one of your non-negotiables on your list of desirable qualities in a mate, then don’t negotiate it. If it is negotiable, consider the three risks mentioned above, as well as all of the great (and they better be great - Made Women deserve great) qualities he has before deciding how important his lack of ambition is.

For more great content, check out Bauce Magazine.

Published in Relationships
Friday, 22 March 2013 22:19

Dating | Tips for Online Dating

Dating // March 25, 2013 

Oh, the world of online dating…it seems every time we turn on the TV, there’s a Match.com advertisement. Click here to find true love and happiness!”

Yet, when (heaven-forbid) some of us try the online dating experience to meet someone new, it doesn’t seem to always end in butterflies and rainbows like we think it might. In fact, sometimes it ends in some ridiculously creepy story that you’ll always have as a go-to “OMG do you want to hear a crazy story?” story.

We all know the type of dates I’m talking about - those ones out of the Twilight Zone that make you cringe… those ones that make you never want to try online dating again.

I feel you, and I’m here to help you avoid such moments with some personal tips on the online dating front from someone who randomly and successfully met their ultimate match on Match (Yes, I’m one of those 3/5).

And while there are a million things to talk about in regards to this subject, I’ll start with perhaps my BIGGEST tip:

Don’t be someone who you’re not on an online dating site. Be yourself!  

This includes the entire way you present yourself - from those oh, so imperative pictures to the words you choose to paint the picture of YOU. Be honest when you answer the profile questions. Take some time to reflect about your responses. We have reached an age where we can almost handpick our partners like we are doing some serious online shopping. Why not be real about what you want and who you are?

How To Pick The Right Picture

Question for you to ponder: Do you really think you’re going to get away with a 30 pound differential between the “you” in your pictures and the “you” on the real-life date? I’m pretty sure, with the exception of someone who is actually legally blind, that you’ll be busted, and it will end awkwardly.  Why start off a relationship like that?

While we may have changed since five or ten years ago, and we may prefer those older pictures, it is mandatory to choose pictures that accurately reflect who you are in the present moment. You want someone to love you for who you are right? You, of course, want to pick photogenic pictures of yourself. I also suggest getting your friends’ opinions before putting them up on an online dating site! They can provide another point of view about what is valuable in a photo.

Lastly, pick the pictures that visually tell your story, so that your potential matches can compare the words of your profile to your photos. In other words, get pictures of you living your life out loud. If you are a free spirit and love traveling, socializing, animals, yoga, and are passionate about giving back (I may or may not be talking about myself here), choose pictures that show you doing these things: pictures of you doing yoga, traveling, attending a personal development event, hanging out with your friends, volunteering at an animal shelter, etc.

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As humans, we are very visual creatures, so storytelling through photographs is a great way to help someone judge you more correctly. Let’s face it…we are going to be judged…so we want to put our best and most strategic foot forward.

Through being genuine online, and really assessing the truthfulness in others online, you can really increase your chances of success on an online dating site (and avoid those creepy moments!) if you are honest. So be YOU so that others can see YOU and value YOU.

Published in Dating
Monday, 25 February 2013 05:51

Dating | Almost 30 And Unmarried

Dating // February 25, 2012

Thirty. The big 3-0. Dirty 30. What exactly is it about this number that makes it synonymous the word “married” when mentioned in relation to a woman’s age? Who decided that the minute a girl is no longer a twenty-something, she must be, better be, should be married? It’s as if a secret memo was sent out to everyone in America stating:

Dear Americans,

Since most women are no longer getting married in their early 20’s, we’ve decided to increase the female marriage ceiling to age 30. Please make this information known throughout the land—from advertisements and word-of-mouth marketing to incessant Facebook posts from happy newlyweds—we need all ladies under 30 to be aware of this expectation so they can find Mr. Right prior to leaving their 20’s. So, if you happen to know a girl who is 27-29 years old, do pressure them to think about getting hitched for life ASAP.

Many thanks,

The Powers that Be (Creators of social norms and customs that are rarely updated to reflect changes and growth within society. While some of these “rules” might not feel right or make sense, just go with the flow until otherwise notified.)


I live in LA, a city where both men and woman tend to marry a bit later in life, and yet I still spent the last years of my 20‘s feeling that somehow, I’d messed up. I had followed the wrong trail and thus, my “important-life-moments” timeline was off. It began slowly at first, when I was 27 ... an engagement post on Facebook, an invite to a wedding—it was happening. People I knew were beginning the next stage of life and saying “I do.”

For a minute, I too was part of the engaged-before-30-crowd. Nearing 28, I pushed the issue of marriage with my then-boyfriend of two years and he gave in, asked my parents for my hand and ... we waited. A year later when no date had been set and more importantly, I’d realized he was not my Mr. Forever, we broke up. Now, at 31, I look back and realize that while I was heartbroken, I was equally distraught thinking that I had just lost my chance to get married before I was 30.

But my 31-year-old self, still unmarried, knows something that my 27-year-old self did not. I am worth waiting for. My genuine happiness is worth waiting for. As fabulous MADE women, we deserve to get married when, and only when, we find the man who makes us glow from the inside and fits the detailed description of what we want in a life partner ... and then some. I’ve seen too many friends settle for Mr. Right-Before-30 and frankly, they are either not that happy, or worse—divorced.

Today, I believe I have found my Mr. Forever. We’ve been together for three years and because I am over 30 the pressure to get married is SUPER intense—my parents, my friends, my Facebook page now booming with babies and the little voice in my head asking, “When will it be my turn?” And let’s face it ladies—if we want to have babies, there is a real timeline—but, that should not change the fact that your dream life will never become your real life if you settle. So to the twenty-somethings who are panicking because there is no ring on the horizon and to the thirty-somethings who have yet to walk down the aisle, remember this:


1. MARRY BECAUSE YOU BOTH WANT TO - not because you’re about to be 30 and you force an ultimatum. Come on. We’ve all been there, girls! A nudge is fine, a subtle hint, sure. BUT DON’T BE THAT GIRL. If he doesn’t want to marry you, you DESERVE TO FIND A MAN WHO DOES.
2. MARRY WHEN YOU FIND MR. FOREVER - not because you’re turning 30 next year.
3. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU WANT - in love, in work, in health, in life.

When you finally say “I do,” if you ever do, there is a good chance that you’ll only say it once. And you’ll be saying it to the right person, not just the person you found right before you turned 30.

Published in Dating

How To Fight in a Relationship // January 14, 2013

No one really likes doing it (at least, I hope not), but the truth is that fighting is inevitable in any relationship. It just comes with the territory. If the gloves are going to come off, it is best to fight clean. Yes, there is a right way to fight in a relationship, and here’s how to do so without hitting below the belt:

1. Know what you’re fighting for.

Even if it starts out about something silly, like not putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, you need to know what is at the root of the conflict. Maybe the real issue is you feel that your man doesn’t help out enough around the house; maybe you’ve asked him to clean up time after time and you are feeling that he is just not listening to you. The key is communication. Make sure you understand what the deeper issues are and whether or not it is worth blowing up over. Once you have identified that, communicate it to your significant other. Give him a chance to see the big picture so that he knows you are not blowing your fuse over something small, even though that may have been the catalyst.

2. Know the rules.

I would hope that the days of punching each other and name calling were left on the playground, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Being physical is never the answer. And sometimes words can hurt even more than any slap in the face, so choose them wisely. Odds are, you know which buttons to push that are sensitive for your partner. Don’t push them just to see what happens. We all have our baggage and issues that are off limits. Stick to what is relevant and don’t ever say something just to be hurtful, no matter how hurt you are. Be the bigger person and turn the other cheek. If your partner is constantly pushing those hot-button issues and going where you told him not to, it might be time to walk away and not become a fellow mudslinger.

3. Know who to involve.

Being in the middle of a lover’s quarrel is never fun. It is a fast way to lose friends, so never involve them. Of course, we all confide in our besties to hear us out and blow off some steam, but they should never be called upon to do your fighting for you. Don’t force them to choose sides. And for the love of all things holy, don’t post/tweet/Instagram about these disagreements. That is TMI for everyone else and just plain inconsiderate of your partner’s privacy.

4. Know how to walk away.

A dramatic exit is great for a wedding or a theatrical performance, but when in the middle of fighting, it is never wise to leave kicking and screaming. Don’t slam doors or kick someone out of a car. If you truly need to leave the situation to deal, then explain calmly that you are angry and need to take a walk. And don’t leave in the middle of your partner saying their piece – as ridiculous as it may be. If you want to be heard out, you have to hear them out. Even if things end in a break up, try to walk away with grace so that you will always be remembered as the one who got away – not the drama queen who slammed doors, screamed, cried and ended up single.

5. Know how to deal.

Fighting never feels good, but you need to handle this dispute like an adult. If you are feeling really angry, I recommend a hardcore workout to get that aggression out of your system. Any sort of meditation or maybe a spa treatment or massage are a good idea. Maintain your calm and focus on you, and your health. Take the time to hang out with friends and family and cherish the other relationships in your life that are important to you.

6. Know how to change.

They say you can’t change people, and maybe sometimes you can’t. But if you really love someone and are getting to a point where you are fighting over the same issues again and again, think about what you can do differently. Change doesn’t have to mean reinventing yourself or being brainwashed. Sometimes it just means bending a little. Try offering up healthy compromises when you and your honey are fighting. Sometimes it’s about what you can do to help rather than just pointing out how the other person is not helping.

Remember, you are ultimately fighting for your relationship. Everyone has the right to be heard. Don’t worry about “winning” or “losing” your arguments, just be willing to work towards a solution together. If your partner is not interested in solving things, then question what you are doing together in the first place. And above all else, don’t ever be afraid to say “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t negate everything you said or make the fight null and void, but it does show that you are mature enough to admit that you care about your significant other and their feelings. Some things are worth fighting for, and some are not. Regardless, finding common ground is the best way to win someone over or maybe even win someone back. And that’s how everyone wins.

Published in Love + Dating
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 07:38

Day 21: Not Losing Yourself in a Relationship

February 21, 2012 

We are all unique creatures who intrinsically crave individuality while also balancing our desire for companionship, love and acceptance.  Often these competing needs pull us in different directions.  Throw in a change in ‘relationship status’ and unfortunately some people let individuality take a back seat.  Without a doubt, long-term relationships call for adjustments and sometimes we can lose sight of who we really are without even realizing it!

When we fall in love and begin a significant relationship, we tend to change our lifestyle to match our mates quicker than we’d like to admit. Maybe it’s happened to you or a friend. It starts with little things, like watching the same movies and eating the same food on a regular basis. Before you know it…*Poof* you disappear. You stop hanging out with friends and family and spend all your time with your new boo. You may even change traits about yourself just to make your significant other happy. And while being in love with someone else is amazing, so too, is loving yourself and preserving what makes you….you.

In the strongest of relationships, both individuals love and respect themselves just as much as they do each other. How can you accomplish this and as a result, not lose yourself in a relationship?

Here are some tips:

Make sure you are with the right person. You shouldn’t be with anyone who doesn’t love you for who you are at your core. Period.  If you have to lose sight of yourself or change drastically to be with a certain person, this isn’t a relationship built on true love. You should be appreciated for your individuality.

Secondly, no matter how awesome your significant other is and how much fun you have together, it is always good to spend some quality time away from them.  Take time to yourself, and also take time to enjoy the company of friends and family riding solo. Having this personal time will help you fully embrace the well-rounded person you are and also help you appreciate your significant other more. This allows you to embrace your own distinct personality and not become the exact same person as your partner.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to maintain some mutually exclusive friends. There is nothing wrong with having your own group to hang out with when you’re not with your partner. These friends are there to listen to you vent, enrich your sense of humor, and be buds in ways your significant other probably doesn’t (and shouldn’t) know how.

Also, remember to celebrate the things that make you who you are.
Take time for self-introspection and identify the things you truly like about yourself and embrace them. Maintain the things you enjoy about yourself and the things that make you happy.   If you liked softball before you started the relationship, you shouldn’t give it up just because your significant other doesn’t play.  If you love video games, don’t be afraid to nerd out in front of him or her. Chances are – those little personality quirks are what made you so attractive to your lover in the first place.

Finally, know thyself. If you don’t know who you are, you could lose yourself with or without someone else.  What makes you unique? What makes you different than your friends? Sometimes it’s difficult to describe yourself, so take a personality test if that helps. Keep focusing on personal development and make sure it’s okay to have different interests than your significant other. Always take the time to appreciate how the little differences you have can compliment your relationship as a whole.

Long-term relationships dominate the majority of our lives. Their tendency to limit our individuality can be successfully avoided with due diligence. Intimacy and individuality can make for wonderful bedfellows, so long as you identify where the distinction between “I” and “us” is in your relationship.


This post was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself." Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!

Published in Current
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 22:12

Love + Dating | Meet the Parents

November 22, 2011

So, you’ve won him over.

Before I congratulate you, I’d like to remind you that the toughest is yet to come – winning over his parents, his siblings and their family pets.

<Cue holiday music.>

While you may have done a great job planning for the holidays by buying greeting cards and presents six months ahead of time, the invitation to meet his family is probably something you didn’t anticipate when scheduling 2011 back in 2010.

Here are three questions that’ll help you prepare for this nerve-racking invitation:

As with all social gathering events, I like to ponder the following three questions when deciding what to wear, what to bring and other small details that are key to making the best possible impression of yourself.

1. Who are you?
2. Where are you?
3. Why are you there?

Who are you?

In other words, being confident in who you are in the face of possible rejection can be tough. Regardless of what discomfort this might present, it’s important to be yourself. Your wonderful, unique, beautifully flawed self.

Meeting his parents isn’t your cue to turn into his mother’s vision of the perfect woman for her son. Let go of your strategy to channel Betty Crocker and develop a passion for collecting antique cat figurines by December. This plan is bound to lead to disaster.

Nothing is more impressive than a woman who is confident and comfortable in her own skin and who handles conversation with diplomacy and grace.

This doesn’t mean you should show up empty handed. A nice bottle of wine or your go-to side dish is always a good idea. If his mother is still disappointed that you’re not Betty Crocker, she’ll get over it if her son is happy and enjoying himself with you.

Where are you?

Are you meeting his family at their cozy home down South or at a fancy extravaganza at their neighborhood’s 75th annual holiday gala? Either way, keep the occasion’s level of formality as well as the weather, in mind. It will not impress anyone if you’re wearing your bedazzled cocktail dress to play Scrabble with close family and neighbors after a holiday dinner. Obviously, a cozy sweater and casual pants would be more ideal when playing with the family dog and your date’s adorable nieces and nephews. Err on the side of practicality first, then decide how to express your awesome style.

Why are you there?

Why are you meeting his family? Are you there to learn more about how your new boyfriend was brought up? Are you there to get to know him a little better? Or, are you there because you’ve decided that this is an audition for an upcoming role as their daughter-in-law? If you think a nice holiday with family is an audition, don’t go. That’s right. Don’t go. And, for the love of God, please don’t take this opportunity to show his family how great you look in a wedding gown! Leave your desperate housewife fantasies in your head.

This trip is more about him than it is about you. Get to know his family. Get to know him. Try and get an understanding of why he prefers pancakes to French toast and bond with him. This isn’t your opportunity to show off your baton-twirling act. Spend less time bragging about your accomplishments and more time taking in the scenery. This is your opportunity to connect with your significant other and to show that you’re honored to have been invited to share the holidays with their family. What wins people over? Not your fancy Prada purse. You’re not going to meet Bruno at the Milan fashion show (are you?).

People are won over when you care about their interests and are considerate of their needs. Talk about your Prada purse another time.

Best of luck!

Published in Relationships

November 22, 2011

Being a financial planner, I can spend all day and night talking about money, income taxes and the economy. My boyfriend on the other hand, while he has a great understanding of money, finances, and stays interested because he loves me, would rather not have 99% of our conversations focused around these topics.  With money issues still being the number one reason why couples end up in divorce, you can understand why it is so important to learn how to talk about money with your love earlier rather than later.

So to help us out with our money communications skills, my boyfriend and I started doing weekly Team Huddles--specific time in our calendar to discuss topics such as:

o Money
o Short Term personal and financial goals
o Long term personal and financial goals
o Anything else going on within our relationship

Instead of me bombarding Brandon nightly about financial topics, we now table those more detailed conversations for our Team Huddles where we can commit our full attention to the discussions at hand.

Since we have been doing the Team Huddles, we have found that our communication has gotten even stronger around the things that we value most. It does not mean we always agree, but at least we both feel we can dedicate 100% to communicating our various opinions and thoughts on each topic. Brandon has indicated several times now that he loves the Team Huddles, feels less ambushed with money talks, and it allows him time to get on the same playing field as me (I am a Type A personality and can be quite aggressive sometimes).  For me, the main value has come from the fact that I know we are communicating about these important topics in an effective manner on a very regular basis.

I encourage you to schedule your first Team Huddle with your significant other if you aren’t doing it already.  Here are some examples of what you might talk about in your first Team Huddle:

• Your money personality- The Money Couple offers a great money personality quiz, click here quiz.
• Money Values- what is important to you about money
• Your short term financial goals- i.e. paying off debt, saving for a home down payment, etc.

Remember, the first Team Huddle might not be easy, especially if you have never really discussed money with one another, but the more you do them, the easier they become.   Cheers to your first Team Huddle!

For more information on Team Huddles, check out my blog post about it here.

Brittney Castro is not affiliated with Madewomanmag.com. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895.
Published in Love + Dating
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