Excuse My Grandma & The Soft Launch

We all know dating has changed. We’ve got apps and reality shows and social media (oh my!). But talk to someone ahead of you generationally and the differences are pretty extreme – wayyy fewer options, way less pre-marital sex and way less dating burnout to name a few.

But while so much has changed, some things stay the same in dating and relationships.  And that’s why we have Kim Murstein and Grandma Gail of the Excuse My Grandma podcast joining Damona to break down the differences in dating for different generations. 


Here’s how (and why) you should soft launch your relationship on IG:

We’re learning some new vocab today – have you ever heard of “soft launching” your relationship? According to our friends at Cosmopolitan Magazine, soft launching is casually introducing a relationship online without actually introducing it. Usually this introduction is made by posting ambiguous photos on your Instagram that imply the presence of a romantic connection. Some examples include two tickets for a show, dual cocktails on a bartop, or your hand casually holding someone else’s.

There are many reasons to soft launch your coupledom online, but Damona recommends considering these questions beforehand – Why is it that important for me to declare to the outside world that I am in a relationship? Is it that you want to send a message to someone that you’re off the market? Or is it that you want to celebrate love between you and somebody else?


Kim Murstein is a content creator and host of the Excuse My Grandma podcast with her grandmother Gail. Together they cover dating, relationships, and sex advice from two very different generational perspectives.

(12:40) Is dating better today than 50 years ago?

With two sage daters like Kim and Grandma Gail, we ask the inevitable question… is dating better today than 50 years ago? Even though she describes herself as an old soul, Kim is all for dating culture today because of the amount of autonomy you get while dating. And if dating apps aren’t your thing, you have total  freedom to date exclusively offline.


Then, Grandma Gail shares her thoughts and advice around sex on the first date.

(20:45) Kim’s rules for texting and communication.

You may have heard Damona reference emojis as being “mood modifiers”. They can be helpful in communicating your tone to someone while texting. But Kim has some controversial thoughts on what emojis you should NEVER use.

(25:25) The dangers of online dating today.

With all the Tinder Swindlers and West Elm Calebs out there today, it’s no doubt that all this online access makes dating a little dicier than in the pre-dating app era. Grandma Gail takes us back to how you “screened” the people you were dating before the internet – “If we did meet in person, we had a reference! There would be no way you’d go out with somebody who somebody else didn’t know, it just wouldn’t happen.”

(29:00) Never Have I Ever…

Damona, Kim and Grandma Gail play the classic get-to-know-you game, Never Have I Ever. Damona hits us with some spicy questions, including – have you ever kissed someone on a first date? Have you ever done MORE than kiss on a first date? Or have you ever given out a fake phone number?

Be sure to follow them on Instagram and TikTok @ExcuseMyGrandma and learn more at ExcuseMyGrandma.com.



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:


  • IG Message from Matthew – How do I approach my disability and associated issues with someone I might be romantically interested in? I am currently single. I dated once many years ago with a fellow wheelchair user and we shared similar difficulties, but since we broke up I haven’t dated anyone or met up with anyone new. I would love to be more approachable to women, but I have a fear that once they know certain things about me they’ll think I’m too much for them. I’m afraid they’ll walk away and I’ll be left feeling rejected and hurt, and worried that I won’t ever find someone who loves me for me.

Positive Psychology & Too Nice

Okay y’all know my goal here is to help you find love and happiness in the relationship style you desire because with love comes trust, companionship, support and so much more. 

But one thing that evades many of us is the fact that all of this starts with us, our habits, our outlook in life, our choice to be present in love regardless of our relationship status.

And so I have positive psychology expert, author and television personality Rob Mack here to share his lessons and inspirations for how to Love from the Inside Out.


Why is being “too nice” such a turn off?

Y’know, I think we can agree that everyone deserves to date a nice guy/gal. But have you ever met someone so nice that it becomes a turnoff? Our friends at PopSugar were wondering the same thing.

According to a recent study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, how altruistic someone is has a huge effect on how attractive they are. More specifically, those who behave moderately altruistic are rated as MORE attractive vs those that behave highly altruistically.

Although we all have our opinions on how it feels to be “too nice,” there is definitely a line between being too nice and love bombing. Damona breaks it all down. 

PLUS Damona shares her story of “Operation Date Nice Guys” & how nice guys can get the girl using the Nice Guy 9.

ROB MACK (12:15)

Rob Mack is an Ivy League-Educated Positive Psychology Expert, Inspirational Speaker, and Published Author. His work is endorsed by Oprah, Vanessa Williams, Lisa Nichols, and many others. 

His most recent book release, Love from the Inside Out, is a best-seller following its release in March 2022.

(13:09) Have you found love from the inside out?

One of the major hallmarks in Rob’s book is learning how to find love from the inside out by practicing the presence of love. According to Rob, love is synonymous with happiness – more specifically, love is your happiness shared.

He continues that practicing self love, or the presence of love, is key to improving our relationships. How do we do this? Rob gives us the scoop.

(18:34) The Age of Distraction

I think we can all agree that we live in the ultimate age of distraction, right? With all the options available on Netflix alone, it’s impossible not to get overwhelmed with the amount of choices we have.

Rob agrees that it’s becoming harder and harder to enjoy anything nowadays because it’s becoming more impossible to be present. This causes us to seek out more relationships, and more material objects and more of everything, mostly because we’re not present with the people and the things that are in our lives.

So how does this factor into our dating lives? Rob spells out his tips for best practices on dating apps & how to combat the effects of distraction.

(26:10) Our texting mindsets are out of sync.

Damona mentions a piece of advice she heard from Nick Viall about texting – “people read your texts in the mindset that they’re in, not in the mindset that you sent them.” You’ve heard Damona say time and again how without tonal cues or body language, so much gets lost in translation while texting.

On top of this, Rob adds that we all have cognitive biases and distortions that factor into how you send or read a message (i.e. distortions like confirmation bias or the Halo effect).

Given that our biases are kind of unavoidable, is there a way we can bridge this gap in texting communication? Rob says that developing emotional regulation is essential, and explains why.

(33:45) It’s an extraordinary life if you don’t overthink it.

Since he ties love and practicing self love so closely to happiness, Rob states that we should be slowing down and finding more joy in the day-to-day moments. One way to do this is to practice emotional regulation – i.e. learning how to just chill out for the sake of chilling out, and enjoying it.

Secondly, identify the specific things or activities that allow you to feel inspired, relaxed, happy, joyful or just peaceful. One of Rob’s biggest examples is music, since “music is one of the fastest ways to shift your emotion. And your mood is a state that exists out there in the world. So just listen to some music, and notice how quickly your mood shifts according to the kind of music you’re listening to.” 

If we continue to take the time to improve our inner world, as Rob has shown us, your dating life is bound to follow.

(40:35) Loneliness, aloneness, & all oneness.

In Rob’s book “Love from the Inside Out,” there is a chapter titled “loneliness, aloneness, & all oneness.” Rob notes that we tend to think of these words as synonyms, as describing the same experience. But there is actually quite a difference.

Rob defines aloneness as being the objective experience of being by yourself. On the other hand, loneliness is the subjective experience of that feeling (how you feel about that aloneness). Because you can be alone all by yourself, and not be lonely.

So why is it important to make this distinction? Rob expresses, “I want people to recognize that they have a lot more power and control with respect to feeling good and feeling loved, and more control in feeling loved and feeling happy than they might be giving themselves credit for.”

Damona also revisits her own history and experiences with loneliness.


If you liked this interview, you can follow Rob on Instagram @RobMackOfficial.


And be sure to grab your copy of Love from the Inside Out by visiting CoachRobMack.com/books.



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

  • Email from Kristen – Hi Damona! I have an entire notebook dedicated to your advice. Thank you for all that you do! I am a 39 year old woman and I was in a 3.5 year relationship with a 50 year old man. We were exclusive but more casual for the first 2.5 years, which we both wanted. I then had some big changes in my life that made me realize I wanted more commitment and security and spoke with him about it. He agreed that he wanted more too. It was okay for a little bit, but never quite enough for me. I explicitly gave him examples of what I needed, and he never followed through with the behaviors/actions I told him I needed. I brought it up to him and he promised he would do better. Mind you, the number one thing I said I needed was for him to ask me how I’m doing that day and truly listen to my response – nothing wild! About a year ago, I decided that I had had enough and he wasn’t going to change, so I broke up with him. A few months later he reached out and we tried again, but it was very short lived. Here we are a year later, and he is beating down my door and promising to be who I want and need. I’ve dated in the meantime and I still can’t stop thinking about him and what we could have. Please help!

The Daily Show & Cheater Effect

A few months ago, Damona caused quite a stir after her appearance on The Daily Show: Beyond the Scenes podcast. Apparently racism in dating is a HOT topic, and not in the spicy way – more in an attracting-internet-trolls kinda way.

So we decided to bring up the subject again today (much to our dismay, racism is a thing and therefore racial bias in dating IS also a thing). It’s understandable if that sounds a bit triggering, but we encourage you to stick with this episode because you might hear something today that gives you a whole new perspective.

As Damona’s mom always said, “we should be laughing to keep from crying.” That’s why comedian, actor and podcaster Roy Wood Jr. is here to give us his take on dating, race relations and the worst dating advice he’s ever heard. Plus he reveals the most important factor to determine relationship success. 


Monkey see, monkey do. Your friends are cheaters, how about you?

Metro UK broke down a recent study by Reichman University examining how different factors (particularly external factors) have an effect on cheating in a relationship. Long story short, the results concluded that people are more likely to have an affair if they know that others around them are also cheating on their partners. 

So Damona recommends asking yourself some important questions: What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? Are you building a life to support the kind of relationship you want? Plus, Damona drops some tips on getting into the right relationship mindset.

ROY WOOD, JR. (8:44)

Roy Wood, Jr. is a comedian, an actor, and correspondent on The Daily Show. He has collected so many credits and accolades over the years. But fun fact – when Damona worked in casting, she showcased him from an open call audition!

He is the host of the podcast Roy’s Job Fair where he explores the human condition every week through the prism of employment. And now Roy has a starring role in the upcoming film “Confess, Fletch” starring John Hamm, based on the classic Fletch movies. Catch it in theaters on September 16th.

(11:26) Embrace what works for YOU.

Damona and Roy go back and forth on the advice they’ve received over the years on what to look for in a man/woman. Roy also mentions that these pieces of advice – like “find yourself a woman who knows how to cook” – create a lot of traditional expectations in a relationship that you might not vibe with. Remember to check in and ask yourself about the kind of life YOU want to build.

(15:37) Relationship promotions.

Roy brings up a controversial joke he once told about how after a certain point in a hetero relationship, the label “girlfriend” starts to feel stale – i.e. the more serious a relationship is, the more saying girlfriend feels like an insult. D & R discuss the significance of various relationship terms, like “partner” or “boo thang.”

Damona also explains why situationships are more prevalent today than ever before…

(23:36) We all have “thermostatic compatibility.”

Damona throws it back to one of Roy’s jokes about thermostatic compatibility. Meaning, one element of determining your compatibility with someone is if you run hot or run cold. But other than who gets to use the heated blanket, what factors are important in a relationship? Roy shares his thoughts.

(28:38) Beyond the scenes.

Back in May 2022, Damona appeared on The Daily Show’s Beyond the Scenes podcast to divulge her thoughts on sexual racism on dating apps. So Damona asks Roy for his perspective – are dating apps really contributing to dating racism?


Be sure to catch Roy on the big screen in the upcoming film “Confess, Fletch” with Jon Hamm – it hits theaters September 16, 2022.


And check out his podcast Roy’s Job Fair!



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

  • IG Message from Overwhelmed & Not Prepared – Hi Damona. I’m a huge fan of your podcast. I have been divorced for five years and dated on and off since. I’m now getting back into dating and have tried the online apps as it seems to be the way to go (although it feels very inorganic to me, I’m not a fan). I’ve been getting a great response rate but I’m having trouble making meaningful connections with my matches… Or even getting through the likes to figure out who ARE potential matches. Do you recommend going through only a certain number of them and exploring potential matches in that group before moving on?  I opened an account last night and I woke up to over 1500 likes. 😳I messaged a few but I knew it wasn’t a good match very early on. I would send a nice message and wish them well. Each person responded by verbally attacking me when I was simply trying to be polite. Is this why ghosting is such a big thing?

Profile Fibs & Seeing Other People

Have you ever found yourself leaning a little too hard onto the rules of dating? It can be exhausting! Who pays for what? When should I text them back? What should I text them? How do I define the relationship? The rules are ever changing but our mission on this show is always to keep you in the know. (Lookie, that rhymed.)

And that’s why we have Ilana Dunn of the hit podcast “Seeing Other People” joining Damona on Dates & Mates today. She’s the former video and content producer for the dating app Hinge, and she’s the foremost authority on Millennial and Gen Z dating. 

Ilana will be sharing her top texting tips for meeting your match and she’ll share her no games approach that is re-writing the rules for today’s daters.


Folks are fibbing on dating apps – but about what?

Our friends over at Big Think got curious about how often people are stretching the truth in their profiles. And as it turns out, roughly 80% of people include information in their profile that contains “deviations” from the truth.

But what’s even more interesting is that the things that men and women tend to lie about are different, AND there are also distinctions between how upset they are about the other’s deceit.

According to a study from Cambridge University, men tend to value “reproductive capacity” (physical attractiveness & youth) and women lean towards “resource acquisition” (higher social status & provision). Damona debunks some of these claims, BUT gives evidence for others.

ILANA DUNN (11:28)

Damona sits down with Ilana Dunn, the former video and content producer for the dating app Hinge. Today, Ilana hosts the podcast Seeing Other People and is an expert in Millenial and Gen Z dating. Her mission is to help daters feel more empowered and less alone in their dating lives.

(12:55) Let’s stop playing games…

Both Damona and Ilana agree that the aspect of playing games is a little outdated for where dating culture has evolved to today. Ilana shares the crucial reason why following the “rules” of dating will not work for everyone.

(20:00) Authenticity is everything.

“Just be yourself” can feel like such a loaded statement sometimes. So what does it really mean to love as you are and authentically? Ilana breaks down how she got to the core of her authentic self, and how you can surrender to your own truest self.

Plus, Damona gives some tips on how to sound more authentic over text (hint: try and text the way you speak). 

(24:27) Don’t judge a match by their texts.

Texting has now become such a crucial part of the dating process (although it didn’t used to be). Ilana mentions one of the biggest mistakes we make when texting, which is letting the conversation go on too long before meeting in person. 

The reason this is dangerous is that it gives us all this time to build up the other person in our mind – we think we know who they are and how we will get along, which ends up putting all this pressure on the first in-person date. 

Ilana recounts how she managed to avoid this trap with her current boyfriend – get ready to take some notes…

 (34:35) Should we see other people?

We all have different definitions about what it means to be exclusive. In the UK, the etiquette is that you are dating one person until you decide to stop dating them. But in the US, the presumption has been that you are dating multiple people until you declare that you are exclusive with one person.

Damona asks Ilana for some advice on how to navigate this dissonance, and Ilana shares the two types of daters that emerge in dating before exclusivity.


You can catch more of Ilana’s advice on her podcast Seeing Other People, wherever you like to listen. And be sure to follow Ilana on instagram @ilana.dunn or @seeingotherpeople.



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

IG Message from M – I’ve been with my fiancé for 11 years now. The first 5 years we were on and off, but we have been living together for the last 6 years. Our communication skills haven’t been the best. But I’ve always made him aware that the way he talks to me isn’t okay. I feel like he tries to belittle me in front of others, talks to me like he’s annoyed by me, or like I’m stupid. One of the last arguments we had was because he told me that “I’m f*cking stupid.” Overall, I just feel like he doesn’t respect me. I’ve asked multiple times if we could please try and work on it. I’ve even brought up counseling and he said no. I recently tried breaking things off because I feel the respect isn’t there. He then proceeded to apologize and said he would change and said we could do counseling. It’s been a week and he still hasn’t looked into counseling, while I have. I just don’t know if this type of behavior can be improved? I feel like part of me is over the relationship but at the same time I still love him and care for him. I just don’t know if this relationship is worth fighting for anymore.

Dating App Etiquette & Keeping Your Cool

I don’t want to brag ya’ll but how many podcasts do you know that have made it 10 seasons?! I almost can’t believe it. 

For those of you who have been here, thank you for sticking with us whether you’ve listened for one season or all 10. We’re making this show for you. 

And, for anyone that is new to the show – welcome to the Dates & Mates family!

Over the years, Damona has helped daters through all of the evolutions of modern dating, from the rise of texting to Tinder to video dating and even a pandemic. 

And in all this time, one thing has remained the same – relationships touch everyone’s lives.  And this is a show for everyone.

We ended Season 9 with the “Summer Encore Series” where we unlocked interviews and episodes that were previously only available to Damona’s VIP clients. In the meantime, so many new questions came through that we’re devoting the entire episode today to your questions – it’s an all Dear Damona premiere!


BONUS: Enrollment for The Dating Accelerator Program is LIVE NOW

This program is only offered twice a year, including live sessions with Damona and her hand-selected VIP Coach.

PLUS we’re offering a special Early Bird price from now through the end of August, that will give you 20% off. Be sure to use the code “AUGUST” at checkout. 


Go to thedatingsecret.com to learn more about the program, and the amazing results in store for you if you sign up today. 



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

  • (3:05) IG Message from AA – About 10 years ago I had an affair that ended up breaking up my marriage in a very painful way. I have been carrying guilt about this over the last 10 years. How do I re-enter the dating world in a positive way? And do I even deserve to have a loving, supportive partner after what I did?
  • (8:45) IG Message from Andrea – I’m having a lot of trouble with dating. It’s like I match with guys, but literally no one sparks my interest. I gave this one guy my number and he invited me over to his house. He was a great host, and in my eyes it was the most perfect vibes. We ended the night listening to music and he offered to rub my feet to which I obliged. The foot rub was perfect, so perfect that I got sleepy. You would think he would have offered for me to stay over, but he didn’t – he had me leave. Since our hang out, communication has been short and he takes a while to respond back. Should I ask him about the communication change or just take it up as he isn’t truly interested?
  • (13:12) Email from L – I’m a 56 year old widower who is new to online dating. I’m a black woman who is open to dating outside my race because I don’t want to limit myself. But of course, I’m definitely looking at black men as well. What dating site do you recommend?
  • (18:18) Email from J – Hi Damona, I struggle to talk to girls that I’m interested in over text message and in person. When they come up to me, I freeze and don’t know what to say. Is there anything you can do to help?
  • (24:37) IG Message from Soli – I’m queer and exploring the idea of polyamory. I thought it was my neurodivergence, but really it just comes down to different people fulfilling different aspects of my needs and not requiring that a single partner/person fulfill more than what they, or I, want from that relationship. My current partner expresses that this is a phase and feels like an excuse for me to have sex with other people. But I don’t tend to engage in sexual relationships with more than 1 person at a time unless a conversation is had about opening up the relationship, and even then it’s usually 1 or 2 partners at a time. How do I explain that this is not a phase?
  • (31:22) Email from S – Dear Damona, I love your podcast! I’m feeling ready to start dating again, so I signed up for an app and am suddenly reminded of one of my terrible flaws. I tend to let my imagination get carried away the minute I develop the slightest crush on a guy! I’m in my mid 30s but you’d think I’m a teenager the way I immediately let myself daydream about future conversations, dates, what it’s be like to kiss, have sex, meet each other families, travel… You get the idea. Daydreaming is fun, but I’m afraid it makes me put unrealistic expectations on someone who I’ve literally only messaged with a couple of times. It sets me up for disappointment, especially when they turn out to not be interested back. Do you have any advice about how I can stop letting my imagination run wild?!


Don’t forget that Early Bird enrollment for The Dating Accelerator is LIVE NOW

Go to thedatingsecret.com to work hands on with Damona, and get 20% off this program for a limited time.

Seven Year Switch & The Chivalry Sitch

Welcome to the final episode of the Dates & Mates “Summer Encore Series” – and the official LAST episode of Season 9!

You know we love breaking down dating myths and tracking the ways in which dating norms have evolved. That’s why we’re bringing back another episode that’s been locked away for some time – a conversation with Charles J. Orlando on the evolution of chivalry. This was also part of Damona’s “Dating Myths Decoded” Summit, so let’s get ready to do some decoding.


Charles J. Orlando is an interpersonal relationship dynamics expert and author of five acclaimed books. You may know him from the hit show “Seven Year Switch” on Lifetime, where he was the expert and host (Seasons 2-3). Today he will be breaking down the origins and evolution of chivalry. Plus, he will tell you what to look for on a first date when gauging long term potential.

(2:00) The origins of chivalry.

Charles takes us back a couple of centuries to talk about where chivalry actually comes from. When we think of the term chivalry, images of a damsel in distress or a knight in shining armor often come to mind. But by technical definition, Charles shares that “it actually meant to win sexual favours from a woman via covert action. So it was a way to bullsh*t your way into her pants by pretending to be all that.”

Nowadays, chivalry has to do more with action and “gentlemanly conduct” (a man could even be chivalrous to another man). So why has chivalry fallen by the wayside in the 21st century? Charles gives two clear reasons why…

(6:05) Inspiring our partner to show up.

The role of men has historically been tied to being a provider. And with the introduction of modern day feminism and evolution of the woman’s role in society, the male role of “provider” has become more and more ambiguous. So Damona asks Charles how women can inspire men (or how any partner inspire the other) to show up in more chivalrous ways in a relationship.

Charles comments that gender roles in relationships are more fluid today. He says there is more than one way to provide for your partner in a relationship and lots of ways to share a piece of yourself.

(8:15) Reset your expectations.

Damona revisits her own engagement, and how her husband felt the same societal pressure to be settled in his career before proposing. This is often the hurdle that comes up when women begin to wonder, “why can’t he commit?” If you’re in this situation, remember that your partner’s hesitancy to commit may not be personal. It could be that he doesn’t feel established enough yet to build something new, like a marriage.

Charles points out that this is where expectations come into play – what society expects of us, what we expect of ourselves or our partner. The evolution of chivalry has reset what is expected of men and women in today’s society. So maybe our expectations should have a chance to evolve as well…


(12:50) “All men want to date women who are younger.”

Let’s bust this myth, shall we? This may be true for some men. But if you have been feeling this way as a woman, it’s probably a combination of insecurities and the way you are managing your selection process for dating. Charles spills that “the right guy sees past all of that nonsense, because it doesn’t even come into play. And that has to do with the selection process.”

Even moreso, the dating and selection process has become difficult for everyone with the rise of online dating/dating apps. “We originally met people within our own neighborhood, which means we had some commonality around values and neighborhood activities… you knew what they were all about… Now we’re meeting people from out of our neighborhood because the neighborhood is 7.1 billion people strong.”

(15:50) You complete you.

Speaking of resetting expectations, have you ever heard someone say they want to find their other half? The person that completes them? Well, it’s time for us to let go of that vision. Think about it: you could meet someone that completes you during one phase of your life. But over time, both you and your partner will evolve in ways that neither of you can predict. That is the nature of being human. So if you’re always holding on to someone so tightly as being your other half, you may develop some resentment down the line.

But this doesn’t have to be an inherently sad realization! Letting go of the “other half” expectation helps us to build fuller and more long-lasting relationships that will stand the test of time. 

So how do we look for those signs of long-term potential while dating? Charles gives his take on red flags, compatibility, and modern day courtship.

(22:15) A relationship shouldn’t be “work.”

According to Charles, “work is that thing that you do so that you can earn a check, so that you can take that money and do what you’re really passionate about.” Instead, relationships and love take effort. Effort is what you put into the things that you really care about, the things that matter.


Be sure to check out Charles on Instagram @CharlesJOrlando, and you can learn more about his work at CharlesJOrlando.com.


**There is no Dear Damona in this episode. We will continue answering your dating dilemmas during the Season 10 Premiere of Dates & Mates, airing August 23rd.

Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!

Self Love & Dating Motivation

Today I will be sharing an extremely important conversation in as part of our Summer Encore Series.  

If you’re listening to this podcast then you’re likely looking for romance or already in love, but there’s another kind of love I want to encourage you to nurture – self love.  You may have heard the phrase “you have to love yourself, before you can love someone else”, and it’s true. Being able to understand yourself and being able to take care of yourself will prepare you for a healthier relationship or improve the one you already have.

And that’s why I have author and America’s leading mid-life dating and relationship coach, Jonathan Aslay, joining me today.  He will be breaking down the idea of self love and outlining his techniques for mastering the concept.


(1:55) What the heck is self love anyway?

Jonathon’s book, What the Heck is Self Love Anyway?, works to answer that very question. According to Jonathon, self love is getting to a state of inner peace. But how do we even begin to get to that place? 

Jonathon notes that the way we speak to ourselves, and how we speak to others, is crucial for finding that fulfillment. Are you communicating from a sense of negativity or hypercriticism? If so, try to take steps to shift your inner world away from feeling like a victim to your own circumstances, and more towards hopefulness.

(7:40) Learn to lift yourself up.

Damona asks Jonathon what advice he can give listeners to begin lifting themselves out of that negative or dark place. Jonathon explains the two key phrases that helped him on his self love journey. Plus, he gives ideas on some activities you can do to develop more self love (and how to make a self love practice work for YOU). 

(10:55) Your body is a machine, not a temple.

One thing that Jonathon emphasizes in his book is that taking care of your body is a big form of self love. So giving your body the nutrients it needs is the easiest way to begin your journey of self love. Additionally, slowing down and paying attention to nature on a daily basis will move you towards connecting with yourself.

(13:10) Shifting your energy.

Damona mentions something she learned in her kids’ yoga class called “the mean bug” – if something happens to you that then causes you to have a bad day, you’ve caught the mean bug. She notes that it’s important to not let the more negative aspects of your day overshadow the good.

Jonathon agrees, adding that we have the power to change our inner narrative if we choose to. In order to take charge of the energy you bring into your dating life, Jonathon recommends always setting an intention beforehand. 

(15:25) Your wonderful, weird self.

As a dating coach, Jonathon says that one of the biggest pieces of advice he gives is to embrace what makes you weird or unique. He brings up the classic rom-com When Harry Met Sally, and how Harry ended up falling in love with Sally not because of how polished or perfect she was, but because it took her an hour to order a ham sandwich and that she finds 70 degree weather cold. So it’s not the perfection that people embrace the most, it’s the quirks.


Be sure to check out Jonathon’s book, What The Heck Is Self-Love Anyway, and follow him on Twitter @JonathonAslay.


You can learn more about Jonathon at JonathonAslay.com, and download his free gift for Dates & Mates listeners at jonathonaslay.com/gift.



Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!

**This week’s questions are from the vault. We will continue answering your dating dilemmas during Season 10 of Dates & Mates, airing August 23, 2022.

  • Question #1 – I decided to really let my walls down and be open and vulnerable in my new relationship. I feel that if I keep walls up and I’m too reserved, I may miss out. There’s always the possibility of being hurt and I have been hurt in the past. How do I learn to be more open and vulnerable this time so that I don’t have any regrets?
  • Question #2 You said not to talk about politics, religion, or money on a first date. But these topics will come up eventually. So should there be a hold on certain discussions?


Master Class: Healthy Communication & The Texting Trap

As you know, we have been opening up the Dates & Mates vault for our special Summer Encore series to bring you incredible conversations from the early days of the podcast or other secret sessions that have been locked away for Damona’s VIP clients only. 

The idea of communicating with your matches seems pretty straight forward. But with each of us spending more and more time on our phones and behind our computers, our face to face conversations are beginning to suffer.

And so, today we’ll be sharing Damona’s masterclass on HOW TO COMMUNICATE – including how to avoid the texting trap, and the four keys to healthy communication.


In this masterclass, Damona will cover topics like:

  • The Principles of Improv & How to Listen (1:15)
  • The 70/30 Rule (3:30)
  • Have “SEC” with each other – Smile, Eye contact, & Casual touch (4:30)
  • How to avoid the texting trap (7:10)
  • Only share what you want to share (12:40)
  • Using emojis as mood modifiers (14:05)

Is there another topic you would like Damona to cover? Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!

The 4 Factors & Meeting Your Match

Once upon a time, Damona held a special online summit with some of the top love experts in the world that was just for VIPs and subscribers. For over five years, these conversations have been locked away. But today, we’re sharing a very special interview with the amazing matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson.

We don’t have to tell you that finding a match can be difficult. A lot of pieces have to come together: Are you physically attracted to each other? Do you share goals and values? Do you feel heard? Understood?

But what if we told you that these things were actually the second step in the dating process? (Say whaaat?!) How can there be a step before I even meet someone? Well sit tight, because Paul Carrick Bronson, of Married at First Sight UK, will share his Top 4 Factors when it comes to meeting your match.

**A quick note: At the top of this interview, I mention that I want Paul to share his expertise to help women find their match, but I want to emphasize that the knowledge he is about to share is valuable to people of all genders and orientations. Enjoy!



Paul is a matchmaker, television host, columnist, and host of the podcast, “Better with Paul” where he shares his journey in business, life, and love. He has also appeared as a consultant on Married at First Sight UK, Celebs Go Dating, and as a correspondent on Good Morning America.


(3:00) Factor #1: You just gotta believe.

Paul’s first factor in being able to find your perfect match is belief. Paul believes that what you believe you truly do conceive, which is why cultivating a mindset that is open and optimistic to finding love is so important, and will lead you to success. And in this case, success doesn’t have to mean finding a partner or getting married. Success can just mean that you start to enjoy dating.

Plus, Paul shares a crucial suggestion on how we can empower ourselves to reshape our own belief systems. (Hint: it may involve raising your standards.)


(8:28) Factor #2: Find a love mentor.

The second factor Paul shares is self love. Or, as he defines it, feeling like you could become your ultimate self. “You truly can’t love anyone more than your willingness to love yourself.”

Paul also touches on the difference between self esteem and self love. He says that you can have self esteem in one area of your life, such as your career or health, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to self love. “If any areas [of your life] are lacking and you don’t believe you can become your optimal self in any one of those areas, then you don’t unconditionally love yourself. Because unconditional self love is the aggregate of all of those areas.”

So what steps can we take to create more self love? Paul recommends identifying someone who can be your love mentor, who shares your values and lives their life in a way that inspires you. The second thing he recommends is evaluating each individual section of your life (family, career, health, spirituality, etc) and ask yourself, “do I feel like I’m on the pathway to becoming my best self in each of these categories?” If the answer is no in any category, then start to examine what is the roadblock preventing you from becoming your optimal self in that category.


(16:50) Factor #3: Physically attractive vs physical attraction.

Physical attraction may seem like a more superficial requirement in finding a partner. But Paul states that over his 15 years of consulting, the data very clearly shows that if there is not a minimal level of physical attraction early in the relationship (i.e. within the first two hours of meeting someone), chances are nothing else will matter.

Paul goes on to clarify the difference between physical attraction and being physically attractive. Being physically attractive is based on a lot of objective factors – facial symmetry, how much they remind us of our parents, the cadence of their voice, and scent (and we’re talking pheromones, not Old Spice). But having physical attraction to someone isn’t something we can decide on, it’s something that just is. 

Plus, Paul gives Damona the two questions you should ask yourself to determine if you should go on a second date.


(22:40) Factor #4: Your values are the rulebook to your life.

Paul’s fourth and final factor for finding your perfect match is having shared values. (Sound familiar?) Paul sees our values as being the rulebook to our life. And if someone can’t live by the rules of your life or you theirs – meaning you have very few shared values – how are you going to fit into each other’s lives?

Additionally, Paul says that your values are never what you say they are. Your values are your actions. They can only be evaluated by how your actions are reflected back to you from the people in your life.


You can learn more about Paul by visiting his website paulcbrunson.com, AND you can follow him on Instagram @PaulCBrunson.


**There is no Dear Damona in this episode. We will continue answering your dating dilemmas during Season 10 of Dates & Mates, airing August 23.

Couples Therapy & Texting Decoded


Here on Dates & Mates, we like to cover topics for every type of listener. Whether you’re single, wanting to move into a long term relationship, or someone who’s already found the one and wants to stay on track – we’re here to help.

That’s why all summer long, Damona is opening up the Dates & Mates vault to bring you incredible conversations from the early days of the podcast or other secret sessions that have been locked away for VIP clients only.

For today’s installment of our Summer Encore Series, we’re revealing an interview with Dr. Jenn Mann. You probably know her as the host and therapist for VH1’s long-standing hit shows Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn. She will share her techniques for improving your relationship through communication and conflict management.


(2:00) What your boyfriend’s texts really mean.

Inspired by an Elite Daily article from 2019, Damona and Dr. Jenn get into the anxiety surrounding text frequency and what it really means if your partner doesn’t respond right away. Hint: Dr. Jenn believes that consistent communication is good, but it doesn’t have to be responding in five minutes. 

D and Dr. J also discuss something called “status grounding” and how it can help take the pressure off of communicating with your partner.

(5:05) What makes people fall out of love?

Do y’all know the four biggest predictors of divorce? According to Dr. Jenn, the Gottman Institute nicknames these four factors “The Four Horsemen” – criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Dr. Jenn goes into each of these factors, and clarifies the line between feedback and criticism

Hot tip: Anytime you can frame something as a request rather than a criticism, you’ll avoid any potential defensiveness and keep your path of communication open.

JENN MANN (10:14)

Dr. Jenn Mann can be infamously seen as the host and therapist for VH1’s long-standing hit shows Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn. 

She has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of other shows including: The Today Show, The Early Show, Dr. Oz, Wendy Williams, The Doctors, and more! And she is the author of The Relationship Fix, which spent 5 weeks on the bestseller list.

(11:20) Conflict is an opportunity for growth.

Not only is conflict a significant opportunity for growth, it’s a chance to practice communicating in a healthy and effective way that will ultimately bring you and your partner closer. Dr. Jenn notes that one of the keys to taking advantage of this is to fight fairly (i.e. don’t raise your voice, no name calling or blaming).

Dr. Jenn also details the Four R’s for an effective apology – remorse, room, respect, & responsibility.

(14:53) Can couples rebuild after infidelity?

If you’ve been a long-time listener of the podcast, you know how many times Damona has gotten questions about infidelity. Particularly, is it possible to get past cheating? And are there things we can do to prevent a partner from cheating?

Much like the factors of an effective apology, Dr. Jenn says that remorse is key to building back trust after infidelity. The partner who cheated has to be able to recognize the ways in which they hurt the other partner, and voice that recognition. 

If you have been cheated on and you choose to stay with your partner, remember that things are inevitably going to trigger you. Dr. Jenn encourages building enough trust and communication where you are able to openly voice your insecurities.

(19:45) How does your childhood trauma affect your attachment style?

Dr. Jenn brings us some new takes on attachment styles. As y’all probably know, the first three years of life are when we form our foundation for attachment. These years also inform our impression of the world as either being a safe or unsafe place (i.e. how much your needs were met as a kid). 

In terms of adult attachment, Dr. Jenn says that we tend to anticipate whatever relationship dynamics we grew up with in our romantic ones. She adds that we will sometimes even pick partners that reinforce the stories we tell ourselves about how we were raised. Dr Jenn explains, “Our unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between past, present and future. It’s always trying to heal old wounds and current time.”



Check out more of Dr. Jenn’s advice in her book, The Relationship Fix. And be sure to follow Dr. Jenn on IG, Twitter and Facebook @drjennmann. 



Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!

  • Question from IG – If a girl brings a friend to a first date, it’s over… right?
  • Question from IG – I’m dating someone with an STD. How screwed am I?

Married at First Sight & Can Cheaters Change


Welcome to another episode in the Dates & Mates Summer Encore Series!

In case you missed it, we are opening up the vault on some of Damona’s favorite past episodes of Dates & Mates. These are conversations that were previously only available to VIPs and select clients… but they were just TOO HOT to stay hidden away this summer.

This is a particularly special episode as you’ll be hearing from the show’s former co-host Ray Christian, who offered a male perspective on dating for 2 amazing years of Dates & Mates, in addition to today’s guest.

Being in a long term relationship, we see our partners and ourselves grow and change, our needs and goals shift, and the dynamics of our bonds evolve. It’s a good thing! It’s part of the process, but it can be tricky. That’s why Dr. Pepper Schwartz is joining us today, the only expert to appear on all 15 seasons of Married at First Sight. She will be explaining the importance of the “relationship check-in”’ and outlining key topics to cover in that conversation.


Dr. Pepper Schwartz is an esteemed researcher and author of over 25 books. Two of those books, American Couples and The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples, have been on the NYT’s bestseller list and on a little show called Oprah.  

She is currently teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. And, she is AARP’s first Love & Relationship and Ambassador. And lastly, she is one of the stars of the hit TV series Married at First Sight.

(2:51) The importance of the “relationship check-in.”

What are the benchmarks that we should look for to know that our relationship is on the right track? And what things should we be doing to make sure we keep things in our relationship spicy (or “peppery” in this case)? 

Dr. Pepper Schwartz weighs in, with a surprising stat about holding hands.

(9:00) Lubricants, moisturizers, and toys – oh my!

Damona asks Dr. Schwartz for advice on pain during sex. If you’re experiencing sharp pains during intimacy, then definitely hit up your doctor. But if what you’re feeling is a milder discomfort, Dr. Schwartz says this is nothing a little lubricant or moisturizer can’t fix. Plus, she shares the crucial difference between lube and moisturizer.

As for the guys, Dr. Schwartz shares some words of wisdom for how to work with sex toys in the bedroom (hint: a toy isn’t your competition, it’s your colleague).

(12:30) Intimacy in your 20s vs 30’s.

Dr. Schwartz has learned a lot about couples through her 15 years on Married At First Sight, some of it good and some cautionary. The good? That you can never assume how mature someone is by how old they are. And the cautionary? Dr. Schwartz notes the times she’s been shocked at the kinds of things people will say to each other when in conflict.

(16:14) Can sexual chemistry be built?

Damona’s co-host Ray asks a question for the ages – is there really no hope for someone if y’all don’t vibe in the bedroom? Dr. Schwartz says that building sexual chemistry with someone can be difficult, but not impossible. 

For some people, having a restricted sexual vocabulary (i.e. how we think intimacy is supposed to happen, what we’re open to, our sexual triggers) can keep you from being able to adjust to your partners. But stay open to how that person makes you feel emotionally, and it just might enhance your chemistry in the bedroom.


You can find more hot takes from Dr. Pepper Schwartz at her website https://pepperschwartz.com/ and on Lifetime’s Married At First Sight.


Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!

  • Question #1 – My boyfriend’s in jail. I love him, but it’s driving me crazy. I don’t know how long I can wait, and I don’t like the feeling of being lonely. Any advice?
  • Question #2 – My husband just had sex with a girl he just met! I fell for the apologies and forgave him two days later. Now it seems like he’s right back to treating me like nothing. What should I do?

Master Class: First Dates


If you’ve been a long-time listener of Dates & Mates, then ya’ll know how many topics Damona has covered over the past 400 episodes. But if you only see 100 episodes available right now, you’re not having a heat stroke. The remaining episodes have been locked away for VIPs and clients only… until today.

For the next month and a half, we’ll be reaching into the vault and shelling out the very best for you, in our Summer Encore Series! You’ll be hearing a mix of mini master classes and interviews that are making their comeback on Dates & Mates.

As for today’s episode… Getting through the matching process and screening process seems tough, but a lot of people worry most about the preparation process. So we’re kicking this series off with a masterclass on first dates.

Keep in mind that Covid is still a thing, so please take that into consideration when listening to this episode’s suggestions.

P.S. If you need more insights on dating safely in pandemic times, you can refer back to Damona’s recent Dating Health Update with Dr. James after listening to this episode.


In this masterclass, Damona will cover topics like:

  • Should I google my date before I go? (3:28)
  • Why you should treat a video chat like a real date. (6:55) 
  • How should I dress on a first date? (10:03)
  • How long should a first date last? (12:10)
  • Where’s the best (and WORST) place to go on a first date? (16:02)
  • Damona’s 7 Fun First Date Ideas for the Summer (18:40)

Submit your Dear Damona questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear your answers in a future episode of the show!