Dating is complicated and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “Dating Game.” But the reality is, everyone is playing by different rules. And, it’s really just a part of life since we all have unique needs and interests. So let’s quit the game-playing! It’s honesty and authenticity that will lead to the intimacy you’re seeking in your dating life and your relationships.
That’s why love coach and host of The Love Drive podcast, Shaun Galanos, is here to talk about intimacy in all its forms.
DATING DISH (1:42)
Do you bring your friends on dates? You’re not alone. No really, you’re not alone:
In one of their recent headlines, The Mirror pointed out that one in five Singletons admit to secretly taking a friend on a date with them (are you guys seriously doing this?). Researchers polled 2,000 single adults, and found that in the last five years, over half of the participants had their friend show up in secret to a date. Additionally, the study found that preparations and pre-date conversations with friends begin around two days before the main event. Some of these rituals include sharing information about their romantic interests (32%), looking their date up on social media (30%), and asking for date location recommendations and advice on the first-date outfit from friends.
What Damona sees from all this data is that people are bringing their friends into the conversation of dating more. This totally correlates with the shift in popularity towards dating apps, because when you can take your app out into the world with you, dating becomes a more social activity – you can take your dating profiles to your friends on the go. Damona adds that our friends can be great resources for getting ourselves into the right mindset for a date.
But what isn’t helpful to you, is the idea that having a friend on the date is going to make you feel more comfortable, and therefore perform better. Your friend is not going to be in your relationship every step of the way, so better to see what the relationship dynamic is going to be like when it is just you and your date alone. And when we are tasked with navigating relationship dynamics on our own, we are given the chance to dig deeper and find confidence and clarity ourselves, because that is really the key to unlocking meaningful connections.
Have your friend stay home this time, and let Damona be your confidant! The Profile Starter Kit will give you the best tips to revamp your profile, and get you online easily and on to your dating success story. Get yours for free HERE!
SHAUN GALANOS (6:31)
Damona sits down with Shaun Galanos, love coach and host of The Love Drive podcast. Shaun holds certifications in Personal and Professional Coaching, and has created online courses on healthy communication, emotional availability, flirting, and more.
Shaun has worked with Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Good Men Project, and Real Love Ready. Years before making a career in love, people would bring their messy relationship issues to Shaun because he knew how to listen without judgment. Today, he is teaching intimacy and communication tools that will help people get the kind of love they deserve.
(8:49) What I wish I had known:
If you are familiar with Shaun’s content around dating and relationships, you know that he has built a following based on offering and encouraging radical honesty to his followers. “I think we’re just used to making things really complicated and having to play games and guessing what people want, and being coy and all that stuff. And my approach is really like, let’s just not do any of that because no one is playing by the same rules. We never had any formalized standardized dating, relationship education. So everyone’s playing by a different set of rules.”
One of Shaun’s other philosophies around offering dating advice is thinking about the things he wishes he’d known about when he was younger, one of which seems to be a touchy subject. “I wish I had known that I could be honest about wanting sex. I thought to myself, like why is this so complicated? Why do I have to disguise the fact that I’m a sexual being and want to have sex? And what if I just told people what I wanted and then let them figure out if that’s also what they wanted? … And that even extends to like, hey, I want more commitment. I want to have a family. I want to do all these things. Why can’t we just say that?”
Shaun believes that direct communication is always the answer, and that our expectations for a relationship are really our unspoken needs and desires. So the more we are voicing what we really want from our partner, the more we are saving ourselves from future resentment (not to mention saving ourselves from confusion).
(11:49) Missed communications:
As much as we’d hope for it, sometimes communication in a relationship isn’t as straightforward as Shaun describes. Particularly if you are dating or with someone who isn’t keen on verbal communication, you may have to look for the ways in which they are signaling where their head is at. For instance, Damona’s husband is not a huge verbal communicator. But Damona states that she focuses on observation, and looks out for small changes in his behavior. And after noticing these changes, she is able to open the gateway to communication by taking the first step and asking, “is there anything you want to talk about?”
Shaun backs up Damona’s point on observing your partner’s behaviors, and creating communication through curiosity (particularly if someone is stonewalling you or averting the subject). And although honesty with your partner can be scary, it can simultaneously become a safe space if you practice.
If you are scared of cultivating open communication with your partner, Shaun recommends diving into that fear. “The fear is that we’re not going to get the answer that we want. So, okay, what is the worst case scenario here? Are they going to run? If they do leave the relationship completely, then maybe that’s not the kind of person that you’re going to be building a long term fulfilling relationship with anyways. If just a conversation about a relationship makes them run away, then they were going to run at some point.” Try to reframe this rejection, or the possibility of rejection, as liberating. If someone rejects you, it just means you have gained more clarity in the kind of partner you want, and are one step closer to getting there.
(17:27) ‘I’m just a safe, magical internet person’:
Because of how candid Shaun’s advice is, he is often asked a lot of questions revolving around intimacy and sexuality. He reports that these questions tend to fall into two different groups: “I’ve done a few Q&As that were sex focused, and I think I could split them up into two categories – How do I ask for this thing that I want? More kink, more presence in the bedroom, longer foreplay… The other ones are, is this okay? Is it okay that I fantasize about my ex? Do guys care about X, Y, and Z?” Shaun notes that because he’s a “safe, magical internet person,” people feel more at ease to ask him these kinds of questions without judgment.
Coming in hot with the OkCupid data, Damona mentions that recent stats show how liberal sexuality and freedom with kink is on the rise. According to OkCupid users, there’s been a 55% increase in the last year of users saying that they’re kinky or into BDSM. And mentions of this in female users profiles is up 17%. So if there was any time to feel safe exploring or asking questions about kink, it’s now.
(20:39) Everyone’s in too much of a hurry:
Shaun brings up having had a 15-year long affair with OkCupid, since it was the first online dating platform he ever used. In particular Shaun liked the long-form format of the profiles, and that in its early days, OkCupid actually felt more like a forum than a dating site. But since then, the profile format has shifted to condensing the information in people’s profiles more. To Shaun’s point, Damona believes that the shift into dating apps has affected the speed of dating the most – we have access to so many other people looking for love, that it should be easier to make a connection, but we’re in such a hurry to get to the result.
Shaun chimes in, “There is this concept of choice paralysis that really comes into play with online dating, especially if you live in a metropolis, where there does seem to be a seemingly endless supply of people. And what happens is that the person that’s in front of you is never good enough, because there is the promise of something better right around the corner, right? So you never just sort of settle for good enough.”
As an optimizer himself, Shaun says this mindset will also push us towards seeking perfection in our partner (which, say it with me, doesn’t exist). “You might be on a date with a really great person that is a little weird in some way, that you start thinking, ‘Well, what if I could find this, but a little bit better.’ And then you might just end up sort of forever looking for that better option… I think people feel that they are running out of time, and that they’re in a rush… And so that puts an artificial pressure on these dates to ‘wow’ each other after the second date.”
(24:34) Those darn gender roles:
Damona inquires as to Shaun’s thoughts on gender roles, since many of the questions he gets have to do with “who does what” in a relationship. “I don’t know, it just Feels like we’re going back in time in a lot of different ways. Why are we still having conversations about whether women can have abortions? You know, why are we having conversations about the fact that there’s only two genders? What I can say is that there seems to be some folks that are really focused on this male/female, feminine/masculine polarity thing, which I don’t really understand… I just don’t think you need to ‘lean into your femininity’ and ‘take a step back’ and ’let him lead’ so that you can have this harmonious connection or partnership.”
Damona asks Shaun if he has any advice for women who have been told that they’re too aggressive, too outspoken or strong. “I think it comes down to – am I too intimidating, or are they just intimidated? So I don’t think any woman needs to tone it down for the comfort of others, especially men… There are people that are going to be able to handle you and your strength, and even match you or give you room.”
(27:25) Meeting your needs:
Damona asks Shaun one last question – how do you identify your needs in a relationship so that you can get your needs met? “You know, needs are interesting, because a lot of times people are scared of being labeled as too needy. I think the reality is that humans are needy…. Love, connection, friendship, sexuality, to be seen, to be held, these are all sort of basic needs. And one way to identify that is [to ask yourself], what aren’t you getting in your life? Where do you find some sort of area of lack where maybe your partner can meet that need? So there’s a lot of ways of getting those needs met.”
Shaun’s 12-week training intensive, The Love Collective, begins June 7th (‘not a cult’ he says). Check out more info HERE.
DEAR DAMONA (30:32)
- Email from J – Hi Damona. After a failed 4 year long relationship with a man, I did a lot of introspection and realized that I have always been somewhat attracted to women as well. I actually met someone via a dating website. I was attracted to her and we went out on three dates. She kept mentioning that we could never be serious until I swear off men altogether. I felt this was odd, so I decided not to see her again because she seemed too intense about this fact. I then created an OkCupid account, and filled out all the info requested. Little did I know right under my profile pic and name was the title “bisexual.” I mean, it is true and all, but it seems many lesbian women do not want to go out with bisexual women. And on the other hand, I’m getting a lot of messages from men fixated on my bisexuality. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I changed my sexual preference to men and called it a day. I’m wondering if you can give me any advice. I guess most women figure out early in life that they are attracted to women, but this is a recent realization for me. I’m not sure how to proceed so that I can date people and see who I most relate to and who I feel is my lifelong partner. I do not feel that gender matters when we have chemistry and relate to one another in a deep way, but I guess people find that strange. What can you recommend?