Sexual Attraction & Post-Divorce Dating

Whether or not you’ve been through a bad breakup, we can all agree that no one gets into a relationship intending to call it quits. But unfortunately people sometimes grow apart to the point where the best thing for them to do is to split. 

It really depends on the situation, but just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean your love story is over. You’re just moving on to your next chapter!

And that’s why we have best-selling author and relationship coach, Jennifer Hurvitz, joining Damona today. She will share her personal experience and outline how to return to dating after a big breakup.


What you should know if there’s no sexual attraction for your partner, according to a therapist:

You go on a first date with someone you’ve been chatting with, and it goes great! A few more dates pass by and you eventually decide to take things to the bedroom… only to find out that your sexual connection may not be up to par with your romantic one. Now what??

Well according to a recent CNN article, a lot more goes into physical attraction than we realize. Dr. Justin Lehmiller of the Kinsey Institute notes that physical attractiveness “doesn’t actually top the list for men or women… traits like intelligence, humor, honesty and kindness are often at least as important, if not more.” The article also points out that in hetero relationships, men more often internalize an “either/or” view of women– those who make great wives and mothers and those who are sexually adventurous.

All that being said, can sexual attraction make or break a relationship? Damona observes that in current dating culture, there’s a big difference between “I can do what I want to do and experience pleasure without labels” (which we’re all for), and “I am pursuing pleasure at my own expense and not getting my core needs met.” Damona explains how to build more awareness of this, and why sex actually gets better the more you get to know your partner.


Jennifer Hurvitz is a relationship expert and dating coach. She is the best-selling author of “Midlife Priceless: A Dating Coach’s Guide to *Finally* Doing Relationships Right” and the host of the podcast Doing Relationships Right.

(12:40) The hardest thing about dating after divorce.

There are many aspects that make dating after divorce difficult, from rediscovering your sense of self to becoming intimate with a new person. But Jennifer shares what the biggest hurdle was for her – “I don’t know why I get so emotional and talk about it. But it’s really frightening to do it all again, after you think you’re with this one person forever.”

Part of Jennifer’s journey back into dating was accepting that you don’t have to be the perfect version of yourself in order to put yourself out there. Because realistically, we are never going to be the ABSOLUTE perfect version of ourselves. The only thing you can be prepared to do is put trust in who you are, and take that first leap into the dating pool.

Jennifer also gives tips on how you should go about revealing your relationship history (especially if your history is kind of a complicated one).

(18:00) D.A.T.E.

Much like Damona discussed with family therapist Jordan Green last week, Jennifer also likes to break down the dating process into four different stages, which she calls D.A.T.E. – Decide, Attract, Trust, and Evolve. “You decide who you want to go out with, you attract (or you realize you’re not attracted to the person). And then basically, you either trust them or you don’t. And then you evolve together.” 

Jennifer points out that the Decide phase is crucial, because it is the catalyst for growth in your dating journey. Deciding not only refers to deciding to pursue a specific person, but also speaks to making the choice to date AT ALL (that’s that first leap we referred to before). 

Damona and Jennifer also discuss why it’s important to choose your boundaries instead of choosing to “go with the flow” in social situations.

(26:25) Trust & time.

Developing trust is a slippery slope that, in dating, we have to learn to bounce back from. But Jennifer poses a great question – do you trust until someone gives you a reason not to trust them? Or do you go in not trusting and they have to prove themselves?

Jennifer believes that in order to develop trust in any relationship, time has to be a core factor. Because no one can create a really solid foundation overnight, especially if you’re coming out of a situation like a divorce or breakup where you’ve already been burned. 

Side note: did you know that in some states, if you’re dating someone who is separated, that person’s partner can sue you?? Jennifer breaks down the legalities of dating someone who is separated and why these laws exist.


Be sure to follow Jennifer on Instagram @DoingRelationshipsRight and check out her book, ‘Midlife Priceless: A Dating Coach’s Guide to *Finally* Doing Relationships Right.’ And, listen to Doing Relationships Right wherever you listen to Dates & Mates.



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 – Dear Damona: First off, I love, love, LOVE your podcast! Your energy is amazing! So, I’ve been divorced for 12 years, had off and on relationships that typically ended when the guys cheated or were commitment phobes. I’ve finally met someone, and we’ve been dating for 3 months now. My question to you is when do we know if we’re being too picky, unrealistic, or holding onto an idealized connection that may never materialize? On paper, my boyfriend is great. We enjoy each other’s company, but already things are a bit mundane. The sex isn’t great, but it’s not the focus of our connection (that’s where I’ve messed up in the past). I just really desire someone who stirs my soul, but that hasn’t happened yet with someone who desires a committed relationship (that desire usually only happens with f*ck boys).


Dating App Identity & Partner Power Struggles

Dating happens in stages, but did you know that relationships do too? We’re not just talking about the traditional path of dating, committing and getting married. There’s more to it than that, a whole lot more.

And that is why we’ve got family therapist Jordan Green on Dates & Mates today.  She’ll be breaking down the 5 stages of every relationship to help you navigate the ups and downs that come with time. After all, no relationship is perfect.

And the timing is perfect too! It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. and some of you might be accelerating your relationship to the next level by blending families this holiday… or you might need to “Define the Relationship” after spending a week dodging questions from nosy family members. Either way, we give thanks to you for listening to this episode.


The No. 1 thing that makes relationships successful:

Have y’all ever heard of the Gottman Institute? I bet you have. The Gottman Institute was co-founded by Drs. John and Julie Schwartz Gottman and helps provide practical, research-based tools to strengthen relationships. (Just for perspective, the Gottmans have studied over 40,000 couples.)

In a recent article for CNBC, John and Julie Gottman shared the number one factor they’ve nailed down for relationship success – turning toward your partner instead of turning away. Basically, turning toward your partner is acknowledging them and engaging with their attempt to connect. These attempts could show up as making eye contact with you, giving you a smile, asking you for help, or even just saying good morning. On the other hand, turning away is actively ignoring or not noticing your partner’s attempt to make a connection. And even more detrimental is turning against, which is irritably or angrily shutting down their attempt to connect.

It seems simple enough, and Damona says it all boils down to just having good communication (which is one of D’s four pillars of long-term compatibility – shared goals, shared values, trust, & communication/conflict resolution). Remember that we are not born knowing how to communicate, but we can always practice it. 

Read the article for tips on how to practice turning toward…


Jordan Green is a family therapist and the founder and CEO of Remble, a relationship improvement and mental health app.

Before that, Jordan founded and managed a membership community called The Love Group, which offered monthly courses and collaborated with therapists from around the world.

(12:00) A little more about Remble…

Being a therapist herself, Jordan says she has received tons of DM’s from women who were struggling in their relationships and seeking advice, but were not inspired to sign up for any of the preexisting therapy websites. 

This led her to launch Remble, an app which collaborates with therapists from around the world to offer courses, daily short-form videos, journaling prompts, and even on-hand conversation questions that you can ask during your date.

(16:07) Unfolding the 5 relationship stages.

Jordan offers up some insight from psychologist and author Dr. Susan Campbell, who pinpointed the five stages we all experience in a relationship after doing a study with hundreds of couples. 

Those five stages are: 1) Romance, 2) Power Struggle, 3) Stability, 4) Commitment, and 5) Co-creation.

Damona asks Jordan to clarify what happens in the power struggle stage & why it’s important. (Spoiler alert: this is the stage where couples either break up, or push through and become stronger.)

(21:21) Codependent vs. interdependent vs. independent

Jordan states that in all relationships – “there’s me, there’s you, and then there’s us. But in a healthy relationship, ideally, you have a good balance between all those parts.” And, that balance is where you will find interdependence. Jordan goes through the challenges that one might face when being too codependent or independent, and what you can do to rebalance yourself in your relationships with others.

(26:30) Is the bar too high?

We are Team Dating App all the way, but Damona brings up the observation that sometimes people focus too acutely on having certain things in common. Instead of focusing so much on whether they like tennis or not, think more about the questions that matter. Like – what is this person’s character? What values are important to them? What are some of the characteristics and qualities that I see in them that I’m actually looking for in a partner? Nails down these answers, and then let go of your attachment to exactly what that has to look like.

(32:17) Wants, needs, and boundaries.

Communicating can be really hard. And if healthy communication wasn’t modeled for us growing up, trying to express hard feelings can accidentally come out as criticism. So Damona asks Jordan for any wise words regarding expressing boundaries and what you need. 

She shares a simple formula for communicating your feelings – I feel [blank] about [blank], and I need [blank]. “This helps the other person to understand how you feel, and it gives them a recipe for how they can best support you…”


Be sure to follow Jordan on Instagram and check out the Remble app!




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 Nikki – Hi there. I’m 51 and would love to be in a meaningful relationship in the next year. I’ve been single for 11 years. My son is 13 now and I’m ready. Do you have any specific tips for Bumble? That seems like a healthy place for professionals to meet other professionals. Thanks for the work you do!


Financial Love Languages & Dating Against Type

Real talk: when was the last time you discussed money on a date? Probably never. It’s always a taboo topic – until the check comes. It’s time we destigmatize talking about money on a date. 

And that’s why we have best-selling author and host of the Money Rehab podcast, Nicole Lapin, joining us on Dates & Mates today. She will be outlining how to navigate the conversation and develop a financial love language for a happier, healthier and more secure relationship.



Do you have a type? Maybe what you think you want and what you actually prefer don’t match up.

A recent study from the University of Toronto has us questioning if having a “type” is really all that legit. According to the study, the qualities that we think we like in a partner depend on the social context in which we encounter these qualities. For example, you attend a great party and the people there happen to be really funny. Then you come away thinking, “gosh, I prefer funny people.” But it was really just a great party.

Andre Wang, one of the co-authors of the study, said “it could be that people are so constrained by their own ideas about liking, that they are limiting their dating pool.” But good news – understanding the distinction between what we think we like vs what actually drives us to like someone can actually be a useful tool!

Damona describes how this reaction is actually related to something called “the familiarity principle” and how gravitating toward what’s familiar may be part of our biological attraction towards safety.


Nicole Lapin is a financial journalist, television news anchor and businesswoman known for her work on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg and MSNBC. 

Nicole is also a New York Times bestselling author of four books, including her most recent one “Miss Independent: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Start Investing and Grow Your Own Wealth.” She is also the host of the podcast Money Rehab where she rehabs your wallet so you can get your financial life together.

(14:20) Financial first-date etiquette.

Damona and Nicole dive into the classic first-date debate – who picks up the check? And is there a certain etiquette we should be aware of when talking about money on a first date? 

Nicole shares that you can actually get a glimpse of someone’s financial situation and habits by asking them about their goals. “Goals have price tags… It’s timing, it’s tone, it’s turf. It’s having a glass of wine, talking about your hopes and dreams, and then getting into sort of how you’re going to pay for those hopes and dreams. Versus, you know, approaching it in an aggressive way.”

(20:15) A question of property.

Damona gets Nicole’s thoughts on what it means for a woman to own property (which is often rumored to be a turn-off). Nicole points out that “I think it’s just not the right person if it’s a turn off. There will be a person for whom it’s a turn on.”

Women have also expressed to Damona that if they own property or make investments, they’re afraid their partner may see this as a free ride. To that Nicole says: “I think that is about being really clear whether or not you want somebody who makes the same amount of money as you or more or whatever. “ 

Plus, Nicole breaks down the difference between good debt (there’s such a thing?) & bad debt.

(25:13) We all have financial trauma.

Our individual relationships to money are as unique as our upbringings. Which is why Nicole says we all have our own version of financial trauma. There is bigger trauma like having your house foreclosed on or family members being in debt, but Nicole also says that financial trauma can be vicarious. “It can be in your friend group. Like do a lot of your friends have a bunch of debt? Do they hide purchases from their significant others?” This all affects your FQ (financial intelligence).

Nicole also explains how to deal with a financial imbalance in your relationship (hint: there will be an imbalance in EVERY relationship).

(28:40) What to ask before move-in day…

The relationship expectations for moving in together have definitely shifted over the years – now everyone feels the freedom to go by their own timeline. But does this affect the kinds of financial conversations we should be having before merging homes? Nicole says the foremost thing to be aware of is knowing whose name the bills are under. “I’ve seen women in particular get screwed in one of two ways. Either the bills are under somebody else’s name, and so they’re not accumulating credit. Or the bills are under their name and they’re not getting paid, so their credit is getting screwed.”

(32:45) Setting yourself up for success.

So is there something more we should be doing to set ourselves up for financial (and in turn romantic) success? Nicole states that compound interest is our best friend, although we are familiar with it when it works against us through credit cards. Nicole also shares her favorite spending plan called The Three E’s – essentials, endgame, and extras.

Learn more about Nicole at & be sure to follow her on Instagram @NicoleLapin for more investment tips.



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 B – I met a nice guy on a dating app. We’ve had wonderful conversations. The problem is when we did our first video chat, I noticed he has rotten teeth. I do NOT see myself kissing him. What do I do?


Dating Dance Cards & Catch a Catfish

It’s officially cuffing season folks! The days are shorter and colder, and many of us are feeling that urge to spend more time cozying up in a warm place. And we may want to cozy up with a partner. So that’s exactly what cuffing season is. It’s a reference to being handcuffed or tied to one partner up before your imagination goes wild. It’s not the kinky kind. It’s just the partnership kind. 

That’s why we have MTV’s Catfish co-host and host of the podcast Relationsh*t, Kamie Crawford, joining us today. She’ll be bringing you up to speed on all things dating, from the apps to catfishing and beyond, so that we can get YOU cuffed.


We’re bringing back a classic Dates & Mates segment: Romance Rollback! 

If you’re new to this segment, Damona will be taking a classic romance, dating, courtship, or relationship tradition that you may or may not have heard of – we’ll tell you what it is, how it worked and what we can apply from the customs of yesteryear to today’s dating and relationship scene.

Dance cards: A classic ballroom custom

Have you ever heard the phrase “my dance card is full”? This is in reference to the 1830s ballroom tradition. Basically, a dance card was a card that was provided at large balls with a list of chosen dances for the evening & a blank space beside each dance. Ladies each had a card and when a gentleman asked her to dance, he would write his name in the space for a particular agreed upon dance.

Damona dives into how dance cards came into fashion, lists off some other ballroom etiquette of the time and breaks down the modern love lessons we can learn from them.


Kamie Crawford is a television host, podcast host and model. She co-hosts the MTV hit series, Catfish, and hosts the amazing podcast Relationsh*t, an advice podcast that covers all relationship topics – the good, the bad and the straight up sh*tty.

**Want to hear some Valentine’s Day do’s & don’ts? It may seem a ways out, but is it ever to early to prepare?  Check out Damona on the Relationsh*t podcast with Kamie Crawford here!

(14:50) Friends can catfish too??

Having been co-hosting MTV’s Catfish since 2019, it makes sense that Kamie would have some firsthand experience with catfishing. But what surprised Damona is that it wasn’t a potential match that was misleading her – it was her close friend and roommate! According to Kamie, her friend had faked an engagement, posted about a fiancé that didn’t exist, and posed as traveling to a bunch of different countries.

Moral of the story: You can even be catfished by people that you know in real life, so don’t blame yourself if you couldn’t see it beforehand. 

Kamie also gives us the scoop on how she researches potential matches before meeting them IRL (hint: Google is your friend).

(20:47) Dating profile red flags

Kamie and Damona discuss the bizarre pictures they’ve both seen on dating profiles. Remember that you should be the star of your dating profile, because whoever matches with you is going to be dating YOU – not your dog, not your group of best friends, not your friend’s baby. So make sure that your pictures are always showcasing parts of your personality.

 (29:00) What is the Texting Trap?

It’s one thing to have really great texting banter with someone, but it’s another thing if you never actually meet in person. This is what Damona calls the “Texting Trap” – when you and your match are endlessly messaging back and forth but never actually make plans to talk on the phone, Zoom, or meet in person. 

Damona and Kamie talk about the importance of in-person chemistry, and how “90% of your dating problems are going to be solved if you do a phone call or a quick video chat before you meet.”


Be sure to follow Kamie on Instagram @KamieCrawford and listen to the Relationsh*t Podcast wherever you listen to Dates & Mates. 



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 Renee – Hi Damona! I am a young widow – it’s been almost two years since my husband passed away (we were married for 13 years). Although I’m on instagram and etcetera, I am 100% new to dating apps and have been extremely reluctant to join one. However, I’m very restless at this point (not to mention horny) and have finally decided maybe I should try one (or two or three). I think I just need to date and not take it so seriously (as in looking for a hubby) since I’m sure I still am working through the loss in my own way. Do you have any tips for someone in my situation?

Building Trust & New Partner Nerves

Relationships are trial and error, a learning curve, a journey. Each date brings new experiences and a little (or maybe a lot) more self-awareness. You start to develop a sense of your needs and wants, establish your boundaries, and navigate towards a partner that shares your goals and values.

But the story doesn’t end once you find your partner. In fact, it’s always being written. 

That’s the joy in love AND the reason Dr. Pia Holec, one of the experts from Married At First Sight, will be joining us today. She will be sharing tips on how to expand trust and build intimacy with a partner for a healthier, more satisfying relationship.


Toxic forgiveness – is it really possible to forgive and forget?:

Have y’all ever heard of Red Table Talk, the talk show led by Jada Pinkett Smith & her daughter Willow? During a recent episode, Jada and Willow had Will’s ex-wife, Cherie, on the show to clear the air about some things that rubbed each other the wrong way from way back (and to potentially forgive & forget). They did this all with the help of relationship expert Nedra Glover Tawwab, but you might know her from Instagram

In her new book, Nedra coined the term “toxic forgiveness.” So our friends at PopSugar asked, what exactly is toxic forgiveness? According to Nedra, it is the unhealthy way we pretend to be “over it” in an effort to move on quicker. 

Damona goes over why we feel in such a hurry to forgive when we’re not ready, and poses a thoughtful question – who is our forgiveness really for?


DR. PIA HOLEC (8:20)

Dr. Pia Holec is a psychologist, sex therapist, relationship guru and speaker. And to top it all off, she was an expert this year on the 15th Season of Lifetime’s “Married at First Sight.”

(9:22) The relationships of Married At First Sight.

Being in a relationship is one thing, but starting a relationship through a reality show is a completely different ball game. Besides the relationships on MAFS undergoing an extremely accelerated process, Dr. Pia also has to ask her clients on the show – what are you willing to do in order to make this work?

Plus, Dr. Pia gives us the 4 biggest factors that are affecting relationships and the way we communicate today.

(13:04) Being prepared for a relationship.

Damona believes that you have to prepare for the relationship that you want to have, and Dr. Pia says that being single (or living in your “single season”) is the perfect time to prepare. “Your single season is the time to work on yourself, so that you can be a fully formed adult when entering into a relationship… Conflict arises and issues come up when you’re expecting your partner to complete you, or help you figure out what you want and what you need.”

Dr. Pia also shares the kinds of questions you should ask yourself to be relationship-ready.

(15:38) Defining trust.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle we have to jump when dating is learning to trust someone. Damona defines trust as “when you see that someone’s words match their actions consistently over time.” Dr. Pia continues that trust is usually what we equate with safety.

She adds that when it comes to trust, “your feelings are real… they’re not always based in facts, though.” Dr. Pia helps her clients and couples on MAFS cultivate trust by grounding themselves in the present moment. This way, they are able to take a pause on their emotions and focus solely on the facts of a situation.

Dr. Pia describes the power in naming our own trauma (and how to do it).

(21:00) Is your therapist third-wheeling?

We LOVE that everyone is so open about going to therapy these days (according to the stats at Hinge & OkCupid, people are actually more likely to swipe right if you go therapy). But for those who are not as comfortable sharing our mental health journey on our dating profile, Damona asks Dr. Pia for some advice on bringing up this topic with new matches.

Dr Pia says: Just put it out there in the open. Acknowledging that you go to therapy won’t feel awkward if we don’t let it feel awkward, right? It’s a beautiful thing to be in touch with your emotions… And if that person judges you for bringing up mental health early on in dating, then chances are they’re not your person!

(26:55) Is it love bombing, or are they just being honest?

If you haven’t heard, love bombing happens when someone showers you with attention or affection to gain your trust, in order to manipulate or control you. It sounds scary, but it’s very easy to stop love bombing in its tracks if you know what to look out for.

Our gut and intuition will almost always tell us what’s up. But if you’d like more proof that your spidey senses are correct, try asking yourself these questions:

❓Are they only saying nice things?

❓Are they trying to isolate you from your family?

❓Do they use phrasing like you were meant for each other or belong together?

❓Do you feel a sense of safety with this person?

❓How do I feel with this person? Then ask – how do I feel when I’m NOT with this person?


Check out Married At First Sight on Lifetime and follow Dr. Pia on Instagram @SexDrPia for more of her amazing advice.



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 Emily – ​​I had breast cancer and a lumpectomy in 2020. I wasn’t dating actively before my diagnosis, but this year I decided to start actively looking. I have been on the dating apps and talking to people. When do I tell the person I am getting to know about my cancer? I have scars on my body I can’t hide if I choose to be intimate. I also have side effects from my radiation. Nobody talks about life and dating after cancer treatment. How does a 48 yr old never married, no kids kinda woman navigate the dating world?


Halloween Dating Horror & Crimes of the Heart

This week’s episode of Dates & Mates is gonna get a little spookier than usual… because it’s almost Halloween!

This is one of our favorite times of the year here at Dates & Mates, because we all get to dress up, get creative and find a sense of play. 

Give yourself permission to get a little weird this year. It’s okay. In fact, it’s often something people are attracted to, both platonically and romantically.

If you prefer to stay in, try making some spooky cookies and listening to a Halloween themed playlist. But if you want to get out and get dressed up with a friend, then we’ve got some of the TOP costumes for couples coming up!

Then actress, singer-songwriter, and host of the podcast, Crimes of the Heart, Rory Uphold will be joining us to share her dating horror stories and the lessons she’s learned from them.


Costumes ideas that are cute, but not the nauseating kind of cute:

Damona gives us her fav suggestions on this year’s top Halloween costumes.

Hot tip: Damona notes that costume pics work GREAT in dating profiles. They show your sensibility, your sense of humor, what cultural references you lean towards, and that you don’t take yourself too seriously. 

**If this Halloween tip piqued your interest, you’ll be amazed at what else Damona has to share about your dating profile in the FREE Profile Starter Kit. Click here to check it out.




Rory Uphold is the host of Crimes of the Heart, a podcast where singles and couples share their most tragic and embarrassing love, dating and sex stories. She is also an actress and a singer-songwriter.

(12:05) The parallels between love & horror

Rory shared how she happened upon hosting a crime/horror podcast about love (and how the two feelings are more alike than you may think). 

Plus, Roy and Damona discuss what defines a “dating horror story.” Because sometimes the scariest thing of all is waking up next to someone you DEFINITELY regret gettin’ it on with.

(15:55) YOUR Dating Horror Stories

Damona and Rory dive into some frightful dating stories submitted by five Dates & Mates listeners, then give their thoughts on what went wrong. These tales include:

🎃A weirdly ambiguous accent… (16:47)

🎃A chin-to-forehead tongue kiss… (27:00)

🎃A man on all fours… (34:05)

🎃Kissing a waiter on the lips… (36:00)

🎃Fire-throwing in a park… (40:10)


Be sure to follow Rory on Instagram @ICouldBeBlonder and check out her podcast, Crimes of the Heart, wherever you listen to Dates & Mates.


There is no Dear Damona segment this week. But you can submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to hear Damona’s answers live on a future show. 👏

Non-Negotiables & LDR Lessons

On past Dates & Mates episodes, Damona has talked about the ways our childhood experiences shape our relationship habits in adulthood, for the good and… the not so good. But we have to remember that our past doesn’t dictate our future, and we can reclaim our power by acting upon that.

Like Damona said in her chat with Nora McInerny last week, we are always writing our stories. And as Nora said, “In 10 years, you are going to look at the version of you presently and be like, ‘you had no idea. You had no idea how young you were. You had no idea what was possible for you, what was ahead of you.’”

Life is a journey and we are always learning and growing.  So remember to keep doing those journals, chatting with your therapist and taking the time to be introspective. That is how I define self-care. As you come to understand yourself better, you will understand your relationships better, your needs and wants better, and how establishing and keeping to your boundaries will help you design the life you are destined for.

And that’s why I have friend and fellow love coach, Orna Walters, on the show today. For those who don’t know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and she is going to share her personal story, some signs to look out for, and how to prepare yourself for a happy, healthy partnership.


Do long-distance relationships have the most potential?

A recent article from the John Hopkins newsletter dives into how “the challenges of a long-distance relationship are what cause it to have the most success.” Damona gives her two cents, and some definitive strategies on how to make the most out of your distance. 

The article also mentions how technology has helped close both the distance and communication gap when dating someone in another location. From dating apps, to Zoom, to apps that allow you to play games or watch TV shows together. 

But – in order for technology to work in your favor, you also have to be maximizing your chances with the algorithms. Damona’s FREE Profile Starter Kit is a great place to begin.


Orna Walters is a domestic violence survivor turned love coach and is a featured guest expert on Bravo’s “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” She uses her experiences to educate people on healthy relationships, openness and authenticity. 

She’s a dear friend of the show and a fabulous dating coach, along with her amazing husband Matthew. This time Orna is back on Dates & Mates solo to share her personal story and wisdom.

(15:40) Taking on someone else’s behavior.

On New Year’s Eve of 1994, Orna’s relationship with her partner at the time took a violent turn that would change everything. The lessons she learned from this relationship now contribute to her expertise in teaching individuals how to take their power back. As Orna says, “no person should take on the shame of another person’s actions.”

(19:44) Signs of a potentially violent partner.

Orna says that with her former partner, she couldn’t spot any specific signs that he might be violent. But there is one thing she is absolutely clear of – when wanting to get out of a toxic relationship, Orna implores that you cut off ALL contact. And if communication is necessary, ask someone to be a mediator between the two of you.

Orna also shares what it is that keeps us stuck in a toxic or abusive relationship. Hint: “We get addicted to the apology…”

(26:48) Orna & Matthew, sitting in a tree…

Having been in a relationship with her husband Matthew for 11 years, Orna now spreads the message that it IS POSSIBLE to unlearn your relationship patterns. “The truth is we’re attracted to what is familiar to us… and when I realized I had repeated the same situation [I experienced as a little girl], I knew I had to leave.” 

She continues that on a basic level, we are all fighting for love on our own terms. And because of this, it’s crucial that we take the time to know what those terms actually are.

(32:35) What does a healthy relationship look like?

After Damona asks Orna for her thoughts on healthy relationships, Orna brings our focus over to the body. She says that our emotions are technically bodily sensations. And because it’s really important for us to be able to communicate our feelings to our partner, we have to be in touch with our bodies as well. 

Try this: Set 6 or 7 alarms throughout the day. Whenever an alarm goes off, check in with your body and name the emotion you are currently experiencing. And if you can, try and define the thought that is causing the feeling in your body.


Be sure to follow Orna and her husband Matthew Walters (a fellow love coach) on Instagram at @OrnaAndMatthew.


And check out their website for more info.


**If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please do not hesitate. Call the domestic abuse hotline at (800)799-7233.



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 T –  I love your podcast, thank you for all that you do! My question is… when in your opinion is it appropriate to discuss taking your profile down and being sexually exclusive with a partner that you’ve met online and it’s going really, really well? Thank you for the advice!

Retro Dating & Bad Vibes Only

I don’t have to tell you that sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan.  So, while planning ahead is helpful, it’s important to leave a little room for things to go sideways. Even still, the question remains – how do you deal with days, weeks, months when life feels like it’s headed off course?

Today, Damona will unpack those questions and more with Nora McInerny, host of the “Terrible, Thanks For Asking” podcast. They’ll discuss how Nora carried on after losing the love of her life, how she opened herself back up to love, and how every experience in between led her to exactly where she is today.


Dating is broken – but could going retro fix it?

A recent New York Times article has been causing a STIR in the dating community (Damona was sent this article by 3 different people!). If you haven’t read this op-ed piece already, the author writes that “going retro” – i.e. returning to matchmaking – could be our salvation from dating burnout, ghosting, and swipe fatigue. 

The article notes 4 positive effects that matchmaking could have on dating culture:

  1. A mediated match more easily connects individuals who are looking for the same kind of relationship or have similar education, religious background or values. 
  2. Matchmaking eases the difficulties of the IRL approach.
  3. Going out with a mediated match offers behavioral accountability.
  4. Matchmaking helps to avoid feeling “completely disposable” because you have a mutual connection it might get back to.

In light of the obstacles of our current dating culture, it seems like a reasonable solution to return to the dating practices used before the prevalence of online dating and hookup culture. But let’s not outcast dating apps altogether – because a huge part of what the apps give us is agency in our own dating lives. They are but another avenue for us to clarify what we want in a partner and to learn more about ourselves in the process. Damona also gives her tips on what we can do to elevate our own “behavioral accountability” and avoid dating burnout…

**P.S. Interested in exploring matchmaking? Damona currently has a partnership with the company Three Day Rule, which has headquarters in multiple cities. Go to to get started, or listen to Damona’s interview with Three Day Rule matchmaker Devyn Simone to learn more.


Nora McInerny is the host of the award winning podcast “Terrible, Thanks For Asking.” She has contributed to publications like The New York Times, Time, Slate, and Vox. Nora is also the author of two bestselling memoirs – and her new book “Bad Vibes Only: And Other Things I Bring To The Table” is out today!

**Want to learn more about Nora before listening? Check out Damona’s 2021 interview with Nora about her previous book – “The Hot Young Widows Club.”

(11:15) The beginning of something healing.

Nora’s love story begins with her first marriage to her husband Aaron, who passed away after being diagnosed with brain cancer – “We’d been dating for a year, and we got married a month after his brain surgery. We had a baby 13 months later. And then our third wedding anniversary was his funeral. So that’s my first marriage right there.” 

Her process of stepping into love again was more like falling, as she describes it. “I was not interested in meeting someone. You know, I wasn’t interested in falling in love with somebody. I was interested in possibly having sex with a person… They could fall in love with me if they wanted to, but I wouldn’t love them back. And when it started to develop into something else, I felt horrible. I felt horrible for having any kind of happiness at all, it was the most excruciating time and it was also, I think, the beginning of something like healing.”

Loving Aaron, and then falling into love with her current partner Matthew, taught Nora that we are not cursed by whatever past experiences we carry – sometimes those experiences can just be information.

(21:50) We’re always choosing.

We all hold different versions of ourselves in our heads – our rom-com self, our weekend-with-the-parents self, or relationship self. But in her book Nora mentions a caveat to the selves we carry with us – “The future ahead of me is not boundless, and never was. Every choice I made eliminated other versions of myself.”

Nora gives the Dates & Mates audience insight on how we can empower ourselves to make the hard (but healthy) choices in our lives, even if it involves eliminating possible future versions of ourselves.

(28:37) Sometimes the fairytale isn’t your happy ending.

Nora describes her relationship with her current husband Matthew as being unique in its own way. Firstly because they went through the experience of blending families. And secondly because they were never really single together – “you know, in that classic sense where you find someone, you date them, and you can go spend weekends away or take a spontaneous road trip. We met each other, and we came with kids. Like, we came with established lives. And so we had to fit those together in a way that made sense.”

Nora notes that her relationship with her first husband Aaron felt as close to a fairytale as you could get. But sometimes, the fairytale isn’t your happy ending or final destination. “[My relationship with Matthew] is very different. It is not a fairy tale. And thank God, honestly. Because if I thought that my happy ending happened when I was 30… It’s like, where do you go from there?”


Be sure to follow Nora on IG @Noraborealis and pick yourself up a copy of her newest book, “Bad Vibes Only: And Other Things I Bring To The Table.”



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 Suzanne – When is it acceptable to ping someone on Linkedin (if ever…)? I know it’s not a dating app, but I’ve had a great exchange with someone on Hinge mid-pandemic. Then I didn’t hear from him for weeks, got dejected and gave up. Recently logged back in after nearly a year to find that he HAD responded to me (2 months later) and now I had responded nearly a year later… I keep kicking myself over the missed connection (the guy was perfect!). His profile is unchanged (he’s either coupled up or on this app about as often as I am) and it doesn’t help that Hinge archives messages after 2 weeks, which is how I missed his last for months even after I was back on it. Found him on LinkedIn (no crazy sleuthing; 1st result given his name and schools) – is it completely inappropriate to reach out saying something to the effect of “sorry for unintentionally ghosting you on that other app”? Really want to meet him now that we can!

Green Flags & Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday

Choosing a partner is the most important decision you’ll ever make. It affects your finances, your family, your mental health and your future. But remember that your dating journey is just as important as your relationship destination. 

It’s a myth to think any relationship is ever a waste of time. These experiences can be the greatest source of information when it comes to better understanding ourselves and the relationships that best fit our lives.

And that’s why we have Nick Viall, author and host of The Viall Files podcast, here to discuss his new book “Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday” and help you navigate the ups and downs of the dating process, so you’ll leave this episode feeling more empowered in dating.


Can work stress make you more critical in your relationships?

Have you ever come home from a stressful day at work, only to find yourself completely annoyed that your partner didn’t throw away that empty chip bag on the couch? That’s why the Society for Personality and Social Psychology published a new study diving into how work stress can affect our relationships. Researchers looked at couples and had them fill out a questionnaire that asked them about the stressful situations in their lives.

The results? Turns out that participants who reported experiencing more stressful life events outside of their relationship, were especially likely to notice their partner’s negative behaviors.

But if you aren’t in a relationship, Damona also believes that work stress could be making singles more critical of their dating lives, and causing them to show up on dates already looking for negative behaviors. Remember that where our attention goes, the energy flows. So on your next date, see what happens if you more consciously refrain from scanning for negative behaviors and look for those green flags instead.


You may know Nick from his starring role on the 21st season of ABC’s The Bachelor. Nick is also the host of the podcast The Viall Files, which explores all things dating and love – from post-breakup healing, to salacious texts in their three weekly episodes. 

And his book “Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday: And Other Advice on Love, Sex, and Dating” is out TODAY!

(11:00) Bad texting doesn’t always mean bad communication.

Although there’s no arguing that dating apps have totally changed the landscape of dating, Damona believes that texting has actually been the biggest shift in dating culture (given that texting is now a whole separate stage of the courtship process). And the biggest challenge with this is interpreting someone else’s tone. Nick notes that regardless of our intention when sending a text, the other person will always read the tone to match whatever mood or feelings they are in – if they are feeling defensive they will read your text defensively, or if they are feeling guarded they will read the message in a more guarded tone.

Because of this communication gap, Nick suggests avoiding having ongoing conversations with new matches over text. Take advantage of tools like Zoom, where you can clearly read someone’s facial expressions and hear their tone. 

Nick also gives us some crucial tips for sliding into someone’s DM’s, and how to avoid looking like a catfish.

(21:30) The player vs the f**kboy

Two famous archetypes on a similar mission – but what really is the difference between a player and a f**kboy? One might say that they’re the same thing and f**kboy just replaced the term player in the last decade. But the two definitely have their differences. 

According to Nick, a f**kboy is someone who is well intentioned. They want to have a relationship in theory, but don’t want to check their own behavior and do what it really takes or make the sacrifices required to be in a relationship. “Women, men – we all can become f**kboys. Because f**kboys happen when we’re not communicating our expectations and boundaries, and we make assumptions. The other person is having sex with us, but not really prioritizing our feelings. And then all of a sudden, we have a f**kboy situation.” Weirdly enough, your f**kboy could be someone else’s future partner. 

On the other hand, players are the people who actually have alternative motives. They truly don’t want a relationship, they just want to have sex. They tend to manipulate and lead others on, and will go out of their way to make you feel special so they can hopefully hook up with you with no attachments. They’re playing the game (hence the name “player”).

(27:50) Get yourself unstuck.

Nick had one central message when writing his new book “Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday” – that we have more control in our love lives than we want to give ourselves credit for. Nick shares that he has always remembered feeling very stuck in a relationship. He says that he would obsess over small details or moments and the potential for rejection. “I chose to make her choices a representation of my self worth. And I allowed her choices to validate my self worth.”

Nick encourages readers to avoid making any kind of rejection about you. “Rejection sucks. It’s not fun. But if we reframe rejection as clarity to give us the answers, to allow us to have more freedom, to empower us to make our own choices, then it can just change things a little bit more.”


Be sure to grab yourselves a copy of “Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday” today! 


You can learn more about The Viall Files podcast on their website, and follow Nick Viall and The Viall Files on IG for more hot tips.



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 L – I’d like to ask for guidance on how to proceed with someone I recently met. We met last week & had an immediate connection. We saw each other the following day & he stayed with me, although we slept fully clothed. After that his communication was constant, but often made more sexual comments. We met again at my house the day he returned from a business trip. He spent the night & we just fooled around. We didn’t go all the way because I had communicated I wasn’t ready for more. He texted me the following Sunday, saying “Good morning sunshine. I hope you’re having a great weekend.” I responded. Then I sent a message on Monday just saying hi & he again responded with the same pleasantry. Since then he has not initiated contact once. I’ve reached out twice with pleasantries & he’s responded politely. I’m not sure how to proceed from here. I like him a lot & my goal is to develop a LTR with someone. 
  • Voicemail from Anon – Dear Damona, I recently became involved with a young lady that I like very much. So far, we’ve had three in person days of video call, and we’ve been texting paragraphs back and forth for at least three weeks straight. I knew from our first video call that she was someone I was extremely attracted to. At the end of our third date, I decided to ask if we can make our relationship official. But to my surprise, she kind of talked her way around saying no. So we had a heart to heart moment, where she reveals to me that she has some pretty serious past relationship baggage that only happened a few months ago. The following day, we had a text exchange where she said, “The more I thought about it last night and this morning, I truly don’t know if I’ll be ready for a relationship anytime soon. I do want to keep getting to know you and get closer though.” So my conundrum is, I genuinely like this woman and can envision myself having a future with her. But if she’s not ready to be in a relationship, should I move on and start from square one with a new person? Or is it worth the emotional investment that I continue to linger in her orbit, waiting for her to feel ready to be in a relationship? Since I already know that I like her and on some level, I know she likes me. I ask this question from the perspective of knowing that relationships require hard work, and I don’t want to waste my time if she has cold feet.

Dates & Mates Success Stories: Finding Love in Quarantine


This year, both Shannon and Mel completed some of my programs and were able to find their dream relationships. In Shannon’s own words: 

“Normally I’m pretty picky about like distance. So I normally kind of do the whole five left like nope, nope, nope, too far no piece too short. Nope. I mean, I listened to your podcast and I was laughing like, that’s kind of me. I kind of go through that and don’t even really dig deeper because the superficial stuff. So this time around, I was like, Okay, I need to listen to the voice I’ve been hearing from damona. And so this guy pops up. So I messaged him and so we started chatting and just kind of hit it off and he’s lived an hour away. But I thought you know what he needed to be open minded to go for this. And instantly he was had great questions. He was interested in me he was like, if he remembered things he’d ask me a question and then you know, the next day he might remember what he asked me the day before and check in on me and just really was just all around proving to me quickly that he was pretty amazing. We went out on a Tuesday and We did the whole phone call first because I know that’s a big thing too. I was like, okay, gotta do the phone call before we leave here. So all this was like, right smack before, you know all the quarantine stuff. And so we had planned to see each other again on March 15. Our plan was I was going to go to where he lives and I was going to come and see him for the day. Well, that Friday was when they shut everything down. From then on. We’ve just had these like quarantine pipes at home, get to know you fast forward. No clutter, no people around kind of experience. And I know there’s probably a little bit of pros and cons with that. I think I’m typically kind of a fast relationship person, I need people and it kind of goes too fast and we get to know each other and the kids are involved in the families involved in a big ordeal. But this time, it went fast in a way that was just he and I like totally getting to know each other totally, you know Trying to figure out okay, well we’re gonna hang out for the next three days. What should we do? Like we can’t go anywhere. We can’t go to restaurants we can’t go to the movies like we can’t go to bars like we would typically do on a date. And so you know, we went on hike, and we took the dog for a walk and we ordered food in and we played cars, we played dominoes, we put a puzzle together and we cook together I bought a smashing little aprons and we cook together. And we were just kind of doing what we could do is what we had. And in the meantime, when we weren’t seeing each other, it was kind of funny because I have it on my phone. So we have this whole list in our in our notes on our phone that we’ve shared, of all the things we want to do when everything opens up because we’ve now said I love you. We’ve now like fully committed to each other and all of a sudden is debt. But yet I’ve never been to the movie with him. I’ve never been really in a bar with him. We haven’t done any Have those traditional things that you would do? Yeah, it’s been pretty interesting. And we’ve spent the time away from each other really digging deep and getting to know each other and like there’s definitely been a lot of God signs where we are things that just prove that okay, maybe maybe this is the one I’ve finally been waiting for.”

Shannon also shared with us the perfect quarantine date she had with her man. You should ABSOLUTELY steal this idea:

Dates & Mates Success Story from Damona on Vimeo.

Here are a few more picture that she sent us of her special night!

Mel received a profile polish (You can too! By joining the Patreon Friends with Benefits program at the $100 level!). Soon after, she saw amazing results and found love. Here’s Mel’s story in her own words:

I started listening to Dates & Mates about a year ago and started intentionally dating and then damona sent me information on how to polish my profile. Then a month later, I met this great guy. We been together now for over three months and it’s going really well. quarantine definitely slowed down our relationship but definitely in a good way, because it really got us thinking, just creative ways to keep the relationship going. Because we both knew we were still interested in each other. We played games with each other like audio, and video dates. We also like, talked about different date ideas like ordering each other, like takeout food. And watching in a movie together, we’ve made lists about movies that he’s seen that I haven’t and movies that I’ve seen that he hasn’t. So we were we got really creative with dates. For us, it’s worked out really great, because we feel so much closer and so much more comfortable with each other then, either one of us expected to at this point in our relationship And to be honest, if we hadn’t had all that time, like apart, and like forced into like, so many situations where like we have to talk and really make effort for a relationship, we probably wouldn’t be meeting each other’s parents. We keep talking about actually how it feels like we’ve been dating longer than we actually have, but in a good way.

If you’re interested in the resources that helped Shannon and Mel find love, maybe it’s time we changed our relationship status.  

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