Tag Archive for: matchmaking

Dates & Mates podcast listener success story finding untraditional love. New Years resolutions for your love life

Minisode: A Dates & Mates Love Story

Greetings, Happy Holidays, and a warm welcome to all the new listeners joining Dates & Mates from Excuse My Grandma, The Angry Therapist, Lovers & Friends, and more! In this special minisode, Damona has a delightful treat lined up.

For anyone who felt Santa’s deliveries were missing that extra touch of love, worry not! Damona has an inspiring story to share that will fuel your romantic journey. Joining the show is a fantastic guest, ready to unveil a love story woven into the fabric of Dates & Mates.

And stay tuned till the end for quick, actionable advice on creating a New Year’s resolution for love.

ROBIN (2:30)

Today, the focus is on the remarkable love journey of our guest, Robin, who discovered dating success by implementing advice from “Dates and Mates.” Robin’s story serves as a testament to the potency of setting clear goals and values while seeking a partner. 

(3:33) The Power of Clarity and Communication 

Robin shares her love story and how Dates and Mates played a significant role in her journey. Robin highlights the importance of clear communication and setting shared goals and values in a relationship. She mentions how she applied the advice from the podcast, such as getting off dating apps and focusing on building communication through phone calls. Robin also emphasizes the significance of prioritizing how someone treats you over external factors like income or profession. “I remember the shared goals and values that really registered with me and making sure that I was identifying those as early on as possible in dating.” 

(7:03) Navigating Nontraditional Romance

Robin’s love story takes a nontraditional path, as she met her current partner on a dating app after freezing her eggs. Despite societal expectations, Robin and her partner decided that marriage wasn’t their immediate focus. Instead, they prioritized milestones like buying a house and starting a family. Robin’s story challenges the notion of traditional relationship milestones. 

(9:40) Overcoming Challenges and Finding Love

Robin shares her experience of navigating challenges in her dating journey. After a challenging breakup, she took time to reflect on her goals, values, and the lessons she learned. “The breakup was devastating for me. I thought that I was with my person. And I told myself there are three things I want to be sure of before I start dating again.”  She emphasizes the importance of being clear about what you want and not settling for someone who is ambivalent or unsure. Robin’s story shows that when you do the work and have clarity, you can quickly align with the right person. 

 (16:05) Making Your New Year’s Resolution for Love Come True 

Damona provides three tips for making your New Year’s resolution for love a reality:

  1. Write down your goals and visualize them daily.
  2. Share your resolution with a friend or support system to hold you accountable. 
  3. Seek guidance and using available resources, such as her book “F the Fairy Tale,” to navigate the dating process more effectively. Damona’s tips empower individuals to approach dating with clarity and intention in the new year.

As always you can submit your questions for Dear Damona on Instagram, X, TikTok or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! 

Dates & Mates podcast interview with Paul Keable from Ashley Madison about Gen Z joining the app

Decoding Gen Z & Financial Secrets

It’s no question that with every generation the world of dating evolves and changes. Sociologists say baby boomers enjoyed the sexual revolution, Gen X experienced an individualized dating experience, Millennials launched us into the era of online dating, and now Gen Z are really taking things to the next level. From LAT relationships to being monogamish,  Gen Z is looking for relationships that fit their needs while encouraging their growth.

And here to discuss it all with Damona is Paul Keable, the Chief Strategy Officer for Ashley Madison, the world’s leading married dating website.

Now we know what many of you are thinking – “Ashley Madison?! I am looking for a single partner!” And we get it! We are not here to encourage infidelity, but we are here to learn! 

The team over at Ashley Madison has been hard at work compiling invaluable data about its users. So Paul joins us to break down the company’s recently published study, “Decoding Gen Z: A global report on non-monogamy, sex, and the desire for discretion”. 

Dating Dish (2:39)

But first, we have the dating dish and WalletHub’s Financial Secrets Survey reveals intriguing insights:

WalletHub’s latest survey exposes the hidden truths people hold about money in their partnerships. From who’s more secretive to the generational honesty divide, the data is eye-opening. 

Did you know 76% more men harbor financial secrets than women? And surprise, baby boomers top the charts for honesty. But here’s the kicker: nearly one in four people believe their partners don’t deserve financial transparency. 

Yet, as Damona explores, these secrets aren’t just about money—they’re often a stand-in for deeper issues, impacting communication and trust. With 17% unwilling to forgive financial deceit, she challenges us to rethink the risks of hiding financial truths in relationships. There’s more to uncover in this insightful WalletHub study—tune in for the full scoop!

Paul Keable (7:45)

Paul Keable, the Chief Strategy Officer at Ashley Madison, joins the conversation to discuss the company’s recent study on Gen Z relationships and dating. With over seven years of experience at Ashley Madison, Paul sheds light on intriguing insights about the dynamics of relationships among the younger generation. 

(09:46) The Evolution of Ashley Madison and Its Appeal to Gen Z 

Paul Keable shares the evolution of Ashley Madison, which was born in the early 2000s when traditional dating sites like EHarmony and Match were grappling with married individuals pretending to be single on their platforms. The founders of Ashley Madison saw an opportunity to create a space specifically for married people looking to have affairs.

Since its launch in 2001, Ashley Madison has grown to over 80 million members, with a significant portion being Gen Z. Paul believes this is because Gen Z values the discretion that Ashley Madison offers. He also mentions that Gen Z has a greater awareness and acceptance of their own sexuality and sexual activities. He says they no longer feel the same pressures and shame associated with sex that previous generations experienced.

 (13:43) The Changing Dynamics of Relationships

Paul and Damona delve into the changing dynamics of relationships and the unrealistic expectations placed on one person to fulfill all roles in a partnership. Paul explains how Ashley Madison provides a space for individuals to be more honest and open about who they are and what they want in relationships. Damona asks Paul why platonic relationships can’t fulfill those other relationship needs.

The episode also touches on the trend of non-monogamous relationships among Gen Z daters. Paul mentions that 56% of Gen Z individuals surveyed expressed interest in non-monogamy. This reflects a shift in the definition of partnership, where individuals seek multiple partners who fulfill different aspects of their personality and interests. “This doesn’t boil down to just getting in the bedroom and having sex every other day with ten different partners… a far greater portion of people are just saying I want to have a level of intimacy, a connection with people that suit different parts of my personality.

(28:33) The Role of Ashley Madison in Exploring Desires

Paul emphasizes that Ashley Madison is not for people in happy monogamous relationships but rather for those who are seeking emotional validation or are not satisfied sexually in their current relationships. 

He challenges the stereotype that men cheat solely for sexual desire, stating that many men on Ashley Madison seek emotional validation. 

On the other hand, women on the site are often looking for good sex and orgasms that they are not getting from their partners. “80% of the women who came to Ashley Madison said they were there because they were in a sexless or orgasm-less marriage, and you know that really holds true when I speak to my members.”

Read the full Ashley Madison study, “Decoding Gen Z: A global report on non-monogamy, sex, and the desire for discretion”, yourself by visiting ashleymadison.com/insights

Dear Damona (40:34)

Submit your questions on Instagram, X, TikTok or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show!

  • IG Message from Molly: Hi Damona! I broke up with my ex 10 months ago because of a lot of issues within the relationship. He was a nice person but the puzzle pieces did not fit well for us. I guess for me I am having trouble “letting go/moving on completely”. I have gone on a few dates this year but question if this other person is someone whom I want to build a life with for the next 40 years? How do I move on from my ex?


Dear Damona: Much Younger Match & Saying I Love You

The questions have been pouring in and so we are doing an all-Dear Damona episode of Dates & Mates today! Time to ease your minds and get you back on track for love in the new year.

In case you’re new here, our podcast episodes typically happen in three parts – headlines of the week, interviews, and a Dear Damona Q&A segment but we love shaking things up! It’s always to help you understand yourself and handle the ups and downs of modern dating.


If that resonates, be sure to pick up a copy of Damona’s new book, F the Fairy Tale, out January 2nd! Enter our pre-order giveaway at DamonaHoffman.com/giveaway for a chance to win two VIP tickets to The Drew Barrymore Show, a $500 travel voucher, and a $500 shopping spree at Democracy Clothing. 

damona hoffman f the fairy tale book giveaway drew barrymore show

Now…let’s get to these questions!

Dear Damona (3:22)

03:27 IG DM from Aaron

Hi Damona, I started dating someone just under two months ago. It’s going well; the conversation flows. I feel secure and calm when we are together. He told me he loves me a little over a month in. Is that too fast? I’m pretty inexperienced with long-term relationships. How should I know when to say “I love you”?

7:02 Voice memo from V

Hi, Damona. I’m a big fan of your show. Thank you for everything that you do. It’s been so helpful. I do have a question. I’m wondering if you have advice for the ladies out there who are the ones being engaging, keeping a conversation going, asking the questions, and doing the heavy lifting because it’s getting tiring. I find myself in this position. It’s frustrating that it feels like a lot of guys I match with don’t know how to pass that ball back and forth in a conversation. It feels like a dead end. And, frankly, I’m feeling so over it. So, I would love to know your thoughts on if I should just move on

15:57 Email from Montie

Dear Damona, I hope you know that you are my bestie (in my head)!!! You’ve always given such great advice; sister don’t fail me now; just shoot me straight! I’ve been divorced for 12 years, and while I’ve had a couple of significant relationships, nothing has ever stuck as my forever relationship. I’m currently seeing someone who is much younger (I’m 57; he’s 39…gulp!). We click, we vibe, and the relationship is relaxed and easy. We are monogamous, and he’s wanting a forever future with me (we’re approaching 4 months together). I adore him, but I often wonder if I’m excited about being off the market finally or if we really will fit long term! Help!! Or realize that this could just be one of my deal breakers? Honestly, the thought of dealing with it stresses me out.


21:48 DM Voice Memo from C:

Dear Damona, I’ve mentioned before that I’m dating in my 30s. And, you know, it’s a priority for me to have a family. I’ve been going on lots of dates. But yeah, I just have not found, honestly, anyone that I’ve been really excited about. There hasn’t really been any man who I’ve gone on more than four dates with. And, yeah, I mean, look, I have to say it’s always me who’s ending it. I’m really struggling, in all honesty, in finding men who are emotionally mature. Just what I consider a basic level of maturity is just so difficult to find for some reason. And so, and I think that’s partially contributing to my disillusionment. But yeah, if you have any tips for sourcing men who are more emotionally mature, that would be great. I’m open to it in real life. I’m open to online. I must be just looking in the wrong places. I don’t know. Thanks!!!

Have More Questions? (33:37)

Submit your questions on Instagram, X, TikTok or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! 


Good Jealousy & Dating App Etiquette

As 2023 draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, you may be experiencing a wave of strong emotions. Perhaps you are introducing your loved ones to your new partner for the first time or fielding questions on why you remain blissfully single. Or you may be contemplating whether to take a relationship break and start fresh in the new year.

Whatever your situation, emotions can run high! That’s why today’s episode features an insightful chat with sex and relationship coach Dr. Tara. She’ll share her secrets to improving conflict resolution through empathetic listening. Dr. Tara will also reveal whether jealousy can play a constructive role in relationships. Additionally, she’ll discuss trends she expects to see in 2024, drawing from her extensive experience as a tenured professor of sexual and relational communication.

But first, this week’s spicy Dating Dish explores the latest dating app etiquette trends you can’t miss.The Dear Damona question is: How do I get my boyfriend to be honest with me? Let’s get started!



It’s the giving season, and with all your time spent on others, now is the time to give back to you. For those who pre-order the January-releasing book “F The Fairytale,” our exciting giveaway offers prizes like two VIP Drew Barrymore Show tickets in NYC plus $500 shopping/travel vouchers. Over 30 runners-up can win a 3-month OkCupid Premium membership.

Our publishers. Seal Press and Hachette,  are calling this their biggest book giveaway yet! Be sure to enter to win by preordering your copy today at DamonaHoffman.com/giveaway.


The New Dating App Etiquette

A Washington Post article featuring Damona outlines the new dating app etiquette:

  1. Keep profiles light and fun
  2. Send a real message
  3. Create momentum
  4. Share how you like to communicate
  5. No therapy in the DMs
  6. Pause before you post

Damona elaborates offering unique insights like her #1 ghosting alternative and how to confidently avoid the endless texting trap.


Coming up this Thursday, we’re hosting a virtual cocktail party with top dating experts to deconstruct fairy tale myths and provide pillars for the relationships you desire, whether dating or committed. Incredible authors like Catherine Woodward Thomas and love astrologer Carol Allen will join live panels inspired by Damona’s upcoming book “F the Fairytale.” For one night only, these legends, who rarely collaborate, will answer your questions to walk you into new love. Sign up free now at DamonaHoffman.com/forum to engage live or watch recordings later.

DR. TARA  (11:47)

Joining us today is award-winning sex researcher and Cal State Fullerton professor Dr. Tara, host of the “Luvbites” podcast. As a tenured expert on sexual and relational communication, author of “Sexual Communication Research in Action,” and resident sexpert on the British dating show “Celebs Go Dating,” Dr. Tara’s wisdom has been widely featured from Cosmo to PopSugar.


(14:35) The Younger Generation: What Do They Want to Know

College students ask Dr. Tara about alternatives to all-or-nothing monogamy versus complete openness, unaware of relational options between the extremes. Though craving lifelong partnership, Gen Z’s divorce exposure makes them wary, hence the interest in primarily monogamous bonds with some flexibility to periodically push boundaries. “In class, we have a whole unit on relational structures where we talk about different ways you can be in a relationship, and their minds are blown because all they’ve heard is either completely open, polyamorous, or monogamous forever.

(18:36) Online Dating Trends and Predictions Going into 2024

Dr. Tara has observed much dating fatigue and choice overload on apps lately, but millions still use them. Looking ahead, she expects rising demand, especially among more mindful Gen Z users, for specialized matching based on compatibility and quality over sheer quantity. Compared to her 20s experience feeling overwhelmed by expansive possibilities on early apps like Tinder, Dr. Tara sees today’s focus shifting to self-care through intentional matching with better-suited potential partners.

(25:20) Conflict Resolution with SALLY

When fighting with your spouse, Dr. Tara advises remembering the “SALLY” method to facilitate conflict resolution: Slow down, Ask questions, Listen empathically, List wants, and Yes to doable actions while giving them the benefit of the doubt. Naturally, continued disrespect crosses boundaries, requiring a bigger conversation. But in one-off conflicts, this simple yet evergreen advice can work wonders.

(27:56) Empathetic Listening: Thinking Outside the Textbook

Dr. Tara suggests envisioning your partner as a five-year-old you aim to uplift with warmth and compassion. She proposes unarming yourself by letting go of resentment and judgment in order to deeply listen and connect. In her view, self-acceptance enables empathy for others. So Dr. Tara advocates nurturing self-care to hold space for struggles with empathy, thoughtfully questioning negativity rather than compromising dignity. Ultimately, she chooses empathy’s high road, for it can empower and uplift.

(30:39) Jealousy’s Not So Bad After All

Dr. Tara argues some jealousy can be healthy, revealing care in a relationship. She distinguishes bad explosive jealousy from good jealousy, which opens constructive communication. In her view, everyone experiences innate jealousy to some degree – low self-esteem exaggerates it, while self-confidence lessens it. Ultimately though, she believes handled compassionately, jealousy has the power to foster greater intimacy.

Follow Dr. Tara on Instagram
@luvbites.co and check out her podcast, Lovebites with Dr. Tara, wherever you listen to Dates & Mates!




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

    • Email from K: How do I get my boyfriend to be honest with me?

Animal Attraction & Love Abroad

Welcome to Damona’s BIRTHDAY WEEK episode on Dates & Mates! 

After celebrating another journey around the sun, Damona has been reflecting on the life path she has forged. She remembers that inner love cynic who cast doubts on her dreams of an amazing partner, a fulfilling career, and a happy family. This week she shares how that skeptic once served a purpose in protecting her heart, but how she came to a point in time when she had to bid those doubts farewell. We know many of you have similar cynics holding you back—that’s why you tune in. 

Damona’s birthday wish? For you to shed those doubts and craft your own love story. 

Her new book ‘F the Fairy Tale’ serves as a roadmap for this journey, and the biggest gift you could give Damona is pre-ordering the book at FTheFairyTaleBook.com and sharing how it empowered you in the new year.

And to further empower you, we will be joined this week by esteemed guest, Dr. Wednesday Martin. She joins us to illuminate the evolving landscape of female sexuality within this dating jungle. Her expertise in cultural studies, anthropology, and psychology promises to expand our understanding of how our primal instincts adapt in this new normal while maintaining connections and passion. 

We also bring back the Dating Dish and finish up with another amazing question from a listener in Dear Damona! Let’s get started!!


Get ready for an eye-opening look into 2024’s dating scene straight from Bumble’s recent survey of over 25,000 users! Uncover the shift in age preferences, the newfound importance of shared political views, and the rising allure of mindfulness in relationships.


And check out our episode with matchmaker and dating & relationship coach, Rachel Russo, titled “Age Gap Crap & Solo Mom” for more on the shift around age and dating.


Dr. Wednesday Martin joined us with a background spanning anthropology at the University of Michigan to a doctorate in comparative literature and cultural studies from Yale. Her accolades include becoming an instant New York Times bestseller with ‘Primates of Park Avenue’ and her recent groundbreaking book ‘Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free’. 

Her insightful writing covers gender, parenting, motherhood, and female sexuality for renowned publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Harper’s Bazaar. With appearances on major networks like CNN, NPR, and NBC News, Dr. Martin’s expertise is second to none.

(13:43) A Dating Evolution

Dr. Wednesday digs into the lightning-speed changes tech brings to dating. She highlights the clash: our longing for connection versus the surge in app-based dating post-COVID’s upheaval. 

“We had a big collective trauma, whether we processed it that way or not. We are still reeling and recovering as a dating and mating species. And, we’re adjusting to a whole new ecological niche, which is swipe culture.”

She underscores our innate drive to connect, even digitally, sparking those feel-good vibes.

(15:35) Are Dating Apps Going Away?

Dr. Wednesday brings a positive spin to dating apps, seeing them as this new world we’re getting used to, and they’re not going anywhere! She appreciates how they kept us connected during tough times, feeding our need to reach out. 

She cheers for how these apps let women and everyone else be clear about what they’re after, making space for everyone’s desires. But she also nods to the grumbles we often hear about these apps, acknowledging that despite their perks, dissatisfaction can sometimes remain. “We can develop a dating ecology, but we can’t determine how people use it”.

(23:15) Reality of the Dating Desert

Dr. Wednesday delves into the challenges faced by heterosexual women in today’s dating scene, referring to it as a “dating desert.” She says, “So what we find is that in most big cities, men are the limiting sex. So men have the power in dating because there are fewer of them relative to women.”

She points out how cultural norms around emotional expression create a disconnect between men and women, affecting their connection in relationships.Her insights offer a window into why women, encouraged for emotional intelligence, might find it hard to connect with men raised to suppress emotions. This mismatch in emotional expression, she notes, shapes the dating landscape, making it tough for women seeking aligned connections.

(36:36) Construct an Ecology in a Dating Desert

Dr. Wednesday delves into crafting unique dating spaces within the dating landscape, likening them to finding oases in a desert. Exploring environments where gender ratios align with preferences is key, particularly in heterosexual scenarios where women often hold sway. 

Reflecting on our innate attraction to novelty, she suggests venturing into new social circles for fresh connections. Ultimately, she champions authentic connections, urging individuals to break societal norms for personal happiness in dating.


Follow Dr. Wednesday on Instagram @WednesdayMartinPHD and grab a copy of her book, “Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free”.




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

  • Email from Caroline – Can you be a committed dater when you are an adventure seeker and or may be moving?

Measuring Matches & Return to Singlehood

In a fast-paced digital age, finding genuine connections can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, but could the antidote to your trouble be to lean in, even when you feel like throwing in the towel and date with more intention?

That’s why the word of the week is CLARITY.

Finding love may seem unpredictable to some. “I’ll know it when I see it,” people say. But we call BS on leaving love to chance alone. After 17 years of coaching and writing dating profiles, Damona is convinced intentionality is key to romantic success. To be intentional, you first need clarity – a focused mindset. 

We talk A LOT about intentionality on the podcast and have given some examples in the past of ways to log and analyze your dating data from stat sheets to journaling. Today we are going to introduce ANOTHER way to understand and track what’s really happening in your love life so you can chart your way to the relationship you want.


Jillian Romero Chaves was a successful automotive industry professional whose experience with a devastating breakup led to a journey of learning, healing and reflecting.

Motivated by her personal experiences, she channeled her passion into creating Clara for Daters, an intentional dating journal app designed to empower individuals to make informed choices and nurture healthy relationships.

(4:20) Clara for Daters is born!

After investing ten years with a cheating partner she had hoped to marry, Jillian Romero Chaves created the reflective journaling app Clara for Daters to empower single people to date more intentionally based on her own experience. 

Motivated by heartbreak, Jillian researched attachment styles and realized she lacked dating self-awareness, often letting attraction cloud her judgment. She designed Clara for Daters with the help of psychologists and experts to help singles be conscious about their relationship choices by tracking insights over time. This provides a framework for singles to learn from the past, take control of their love lives, and build healthy partnerships.

(10:40) Intentionality is key in dating

Jillian explains that Clara for Daters helps singles embrace a slow, intentional approach to dating even when they feel anxious and want a relationship right away. She acknowledges that at 35, her desire to marry and have kids makes it hard to act patiently. But the app allows her to track her dates so she feels closer to her goals, even without the outcome. Jillian says that just because you haven’t met the right person yet doesn’t mean you aren’t getting closer. 

(12:18) Let’s get technical about dating

Jillian describes the scores in the Clara for Daters app as deliverables that show progress. By logging dates and answering questions, you get closer to understanding what you want. “ I can’t hold that person that I’m going to be with in my hand yet. But I can hold this one deliverable, I can come back, refer to Clara, and see that I’ve been logging the dates, and I’m getting closer to understanding what I’m looking for and who that person is.” 

When reflecting on a date, the app often asks yes or no questions, then provides a space for notes. For Jillian, it asked if she found a certain date’s eyes attractive. She had had previous reservations, but said yes to this question. When she began elaborating in the notes section, she realized she had taken his expressive eyes for granted. This process of calling things out and reflecting intentionally builds attraction and self-awareness. 


(20.01) Can an app shift your values and intentions about dating?

Jillian explains that going through a difficult breakup and then intentionally reflecting on her patterns with Clara has absolutely shifted her values and intentions in dating. She realized her attraction to her “bad boy” ex was actually based on unhealthy patterns from her past, like people pleasing and trying to perform to keep him happy. It wasn’t real chemistry.

(24:22) Roster Dating 

Jillian explains that “roster dating”, or dating multiple people at once, and using the Clara app to log each date has helped reduce her anxiety and the pressure she feels for a date to work out. 

(26:53) How can we put the loneliness epidemic behind us?

Jillian advises viewing dates as opportunities for social connection which benefit mental health. “So then getting a relationship is not the outcome. It’s me exercising my social connection ability.” Just interacting with new people and avoiding isolation is a win with the loneliness epidemic. Even lackluster dates exercise social skills.

Jillian sees many inconsistent daters endlessly deleting and redownloading apps. She recommends staying consistent but focusing on self-improvement metrics. Define success by getting stronger at identifying what you want, building boundaries, learning your attraction levels – not forcing a partnership. Strengthening your relationship skills is the real “win.”
Be sure to follow Jillian on Instagram @jillianromerochaves and check out the Clara for Daters App!



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

  • Email from Marsha – Hi, Damona. I’m a 67 year old African American woman who hasn’t dated in seven years, the idea of putting myself out there is doubt and anxiety producing. I’m a totally different person now than I was seven years ago. Is there hope for me?

Dear Damona: STI Sitch & Solo Parent Singles

F the Fairy Tale Pre-Order Giveaway (0:00)

We have some amazing news to share about Damona’s upcoming book “F the Fairy Tale” which will be released on January 2nd: It’s actually available for pre-order AND if you order now you’ll get the Black Friday deal of 25% off and free shipping on orders over $25 now through November 28th. Visit FTheFairyTaleBook.com to pre-order the book and get this awesome deal.

An All Dear Damona (2:10)

We are so excited to welcome any new listeners who may have seen Damona’s recent appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show! Damona has been an OG Drew Crew member since Season 1 and this time, she got to do an epic Girl Talk segment on the largest couch ever with Drew, Tiff Bera and Hannah Burner. They answered audience questions and Damona did her best not to get swallowed by that huge couch.

Whether you found Damona through Drew or have been listening for years, her mission is the same – to help with your love dilemmas!

There’s so much to dive into during today’s jam-packed episode! By popular demand, the Dear Damona segment is back and producer Lindsey joins again for an all Dear Damona episode to tackle your questions about bots on dating apps, safeguards for online dating, commitment issues, dating as a single mom, and more!

Dear Damona (4:51)

(04:58) IG DM from M

What’s the best way to handle guys you are not interested in? Swipe left and the next day they show up again in your like list as a “new here” member. I have several repeat offenders that are constantly liking my profile as a “New Here” member. It seems they may be signing up with new accounts every few days to recirculate the profile pool. It’s really disturbing. Thank you for your time.

(08:51)  IG DM from L

I’m wondering if you’re able to address the topic of how to not date “bad people”. I seem to be a magnet for psychopaths and narcissists. And although I’m getting better at identifying them earlier, I’ve been in a number of very scary situations. How can I avoid these people to begin with? 

(15:57) IG DM from Donna

I’ve been widowed for six years, dating for three. I used a matchmaker at first, but I’ve recently entered the world of online dating. I actually love OkCupid. It’s a great app for me. 

I recently met a man that I really like. We went out and hit it off. But on the first date, he revealed to me that he has herpes. I am unsure about continuing our relationship.I am crazy attracted to him and he seems like a good person. 

It’s so early on in the relationship. I’m leaning towards ending it though. Should I find more out about it and continue or realize that this could just be one of my deal breakers? Honestly, the thought of dealing with it stresses me out.

(21:46) IG DM from Rose:

I am 45 and single. I’m currently struggling with dating. I recently realized when I’m interested in a man that I will go overboard with affection in order to show them how I like to receive affection when their actions do not line up with my expectations for interest or the affection that I want, I start to question the whole relationship.

Currently, I’m in a situation where I’ve done everything he’s mentioned that he needs to feel safe, but I don’t feel like I’m getting the same in return. He told me that I want full relationship interest and affection and that he isn’t there yet. He said he’s open to a relationship with me but doesn’t want to be locked down just yet. In my new understanding of myself, I’ve taken a step back to allow him to show me how he shows interest. But now I’m getting nothing. No flirting, no cute texts. We haven’t even seen each other in over two weeks. Should I save my heart and run? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

(29:25) IG DM from M 

Can you please tell me the best way to online date as a single mother? How do I convey to other singles in my online profile that my child and I come as a package and that I don’t have babysitting options such as family or ex partners? And how can I do it all without seeming too pushy or needy?

Have More Questions? (36:38)

Submit your questions on Instagram, X, or Facebook and hear Damona’s answers live on  the show! 

Celebrating Singlehood & Tricky Trip

The pressure to settle down by a certain age is an old tale that places unfair expectations on daters. Society pushes this narrative that we must find “the one” and get married before some imaginary expiration date. But settling for the wrong person just to meet society’s timeline is never the answer. Love is a journey that shouldn’t be rushed, a story that unfolds uniquely for all of us.

And that is why our word of the week is TIME.

We often get stuck trying to find the “right” time to find love or settle down. But in truth, all any of us have is the present moment.

In this episode, we’ll discuss societal pressures to settle for less than you deserve. We’ll explore embracing your own path and prioritizing your happiness over external timelines. Our guest this week, Julia Mazur, will share her story of navigating these expectations. Together, we’ll talk about why you should tune out society’s ticking clock and focus on your fulfillment.


Previously a longtime Tinder employee, Julia Mazur is the host of the Pretty Much Done podcast. Her content celebrates singlehood and the freedom that comes with it—the joys of living alone, solo dates, sleeping in on weekends, and choosing yourself first.

Julia went viral after showcasing a day in her life as a single woman without kids. While many women related, others criticized, attacked, and even threatened her. But Julia has overcome it all and continues creating helpful, empowering content.


Julia grew up with the message that she needed to get married and have kids young like her mom did. There was innate pressure on her whole life to follow that path. Julia constantly tried to accomplish that goal, but kept finding herself in lackluster relationships, feeling unfulfilled.

She realized she was just trying to meet someone to fill a hole inside herself. “Settling for the wrong person just to fit the mold is never the answer.”


Julia went viral after showcasing a day as a single 30-year-old woman without kids. She didn’t expect the influx of attention – both positive and negative.

At first, women related to Julia’s video, saying they feel the same pressure to be married with kids by a certain age. But then a right-wing commentator shared the video, unleashing hateful attacks on Julia – calling her names, criticizing her looks. It was a scary place to be. 

But Julia continues to appreciate her independence and the stage of the dating process that she is in.


After going viral, Julia realized the pressure she felt to marry and have kids by 30 wasn’t just her culture – it’s felt throughout society. “I realized this is just societal pressure placed on women and it’s really harmful to us because we’re feeling these pressures and then we meet someone and we’re like, okay, I think I’m just going to settle for the next person I meet because people are gonna think that I’m some societal leper if I’m not married at 30.” – Julia Mazur.

Julia believes living true to yourself is most important. She hopes to have a family someday, but until meeting the right partner, she wants to fully embrace life’s joys as an independent woman.


Julia is doing a 6-month home swap in Austin. While there, she’s “unattaching” from any expected outcomes – especially around dating and relationships.

For so long, Julia used dating apps trying to find her happily ever after. Now she’s freeing herself from that burden. She’ll put herself in new situations that may not have organically occurred in LA. Julia is open to connecting with people in different ways, with no pressure.

Taking off the societal expectation to be married by a certain age has been exhausting. This move will allow Julia to detach and see what unfolds when she lets go of self-imposed pressures.

BEWARE THE “ICK” (19:08)

Julia talks a lot about how it is easier for the “ick” to take hold in online relationships than in-person ones. “If you think about a friend that you’ve met, and a friend wears a shirt that you don’t like or laughs in a weird way, you give them so much more grace than you would some stranger that you met on a dating app.” 

She cautions us to take things slow and be kind in our pursuit of meaningful connections. Placing pressure on a first date to be “the one”, can rob you of the human experience of slowly getting to know someone before deciding if it could work.


Follow Julia Mazur on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/pmdpod/ and TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@pmdpod, Check out her podcast: Pretty Much Done



Our Dear Damona segment is returning next week. Submit your questions on Instagram, X, or Facebook

and hear Damona’s answers live on  the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

  • Instagram Message from S – Hi! I love your podcast, and it’s been a great resource since I started exploring dating again after a 10 year relationship ended. I have a question: in a month I have a trip out of the country with a friend who’s also a casual partner. We’re not compatible in the long term (she’s non-monogamous and I’m not interested in that in my next LTR). 

I’ve also been dating with the intention of meeting someone who I want to have a committed, LTR with. I’ve recently met someone who checks all of my important boxes. We’ve only been on a couple dates, but I’m thinking ahead a bit and wondering how to handle the situation with the trip. Everything is paid for, and I’m committed. If I’m still seeing this potential partner, I’m not sure how to address the situation. I don’t want to lie, either directly or by omission, but I also worry about sabotaging things. On the other hand, I’d be letting my friend down and throwing away a significant amount of money if I skip the trip. What’s your advice?

Halloween Horror Stories: Gambling with Love & Fake Date Fiend

Happy Halloween AND welcome to a shocking episode of Dates & Mates!

In the spirit of All Hallows Eve, this episode is dedicated to ghosting, ghoulish behavior and suspicious situations.

Yes, it’s our annual Halloween Dating Horror Stories episode!


This year we collaborated with Reddit to find some of the scariest dating disasters and we found some doozies. From a money monster to a fake date fiend, and everything in between, we’ve got some stories to make you laugh off your own dating disasters. Plus Damona gives her expert insights on how you can escape a similar fate. These tales include:

🎃Gambling With Love… (2:26)

🎃Mixed Signal Pickup… (10:25)

🎃Fake Date Fiend… (15:10)

🎃Xanax Zombie… (16:41)


Then, at the end, friend of the pod, Matt Marr, shares his salacious story:

🎃Caught Him Texting During the Deed… (21:28)


Our Dear Damona segment is returning next week. Submit your questions on Instagram, X, or Facebook to hear Damona’s answers live on the show. 👏

Hidden Love Questions & Happiness Engineering

Have you ever found yourself pondering the twists and turns of your love life, wondering if you’re on the right path, or if there’s even a map to begin with? Perhaps you’re at a crossroads, questioning whether you’re truly in sync with your heart’s desires. 

As we have been walking the current cohort of The Dates & Mates Method program through the 5 dating loops and along this journey, we have been hearing just how overwhelming it can feel to unravel the answers to these questions and design a new road map for your love life all at once.

The word of the week is the very same one that we remind the class of every week. It is also the very same word that Damona chose during the Jewish High Holidays as the value to define her year. 

Our word of the week is SIMPLICITY

If you find yourself tempted to spiral into overwhelm, remind yourself that you only need to focus on the one thing ahead of you in that moment. Choose to simplify a problem to its essence and take a simple action to get unstuck. Don’t try to do everything all at once.

Our guest today has done some of the heavy lifting for you. He’s looked at the questions that came up for his readers and clients and he’s hand carved a simple path to help you on your love journey.

And he is a bit of a legend around here. Dr. Victor Frank, formerly known as Dr. Ali Binazir, was one of the first guests here on Dates & Mates over 11 years ago.

Dr. Victor Frank (2:03)

Dr. Victor Frank is a Happiness Engineer and behavioral change specialist who has written about love & happiness since 2005. 

He has given 3 TEDx talks by invitation and is the creator of the online course “Super Charisma: How to Be a Transformative Speaker”, which was the highest-rated public speaking course on Udemy. 

His book, “The Tao of Dating”, was the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 8 years and his newest book, “The 5 Hidden Love Questions: Radically Simple Strategies to Date Smarter, Own Your Power, and Flourish” is out now!

(5:15) 5 Hidden Love Questions

Dr. Victor’s latest book, “The Five Hidden Love Questions,” is a treasure trove of wisdom. It’s based on patterns he noticed in letters from readers, revolving around five profound questions: 

  1. Am I enough?
  2. Am I the buyer or the seller?
  3. Am I safe physically and psychologically?
  4. What do I really want?
  5. Who am I really?

(8:05) Feelings of Inadequacy

We all experience moments where we do not feel like we are enough. Dr. Frank suggests shifting our focus from ourselves to serving others. “A bunch of things happen when you do that. As you are making other people feel great, they light up. When they light up, you light up.” By being a positive presence, we not only improve our own well-being but also attract others to us. 

(18:19) Am I The Buyer or the Seller?

“In these socially ambiguous situations, you will do better if you assume the position of the buyer,” says Dr. Frank. By being gently discerning and asking the right questions, we can determine if we’re a good fit with the other person. That may mean you need to do a little research and prepare some questions.


Grab a copy of his book, “The 5 Hidden Love Questions: Radically Simple Strategies to Date Smarter, Own Your Power, and Flourish”, on Amazon and find resources to accompany the book at TaoOfDating.com/resources

And you can access Dr. Victor’s audio meditations at HappinessEngineering.com


Submit your questions on Instagram, X, or Facebook and hear Damona’s answers live on a future all-Dear Damona episode!

2 Black Girls, 1 Rose & As Seen On TV

The Golden Bachelor premiered a couple weeks ago and the verdict is in – audiences young and mature are eating it up! 

We are seeing a shift towards diversity in the casts of our favorite reality dating shows. People are tired of labels and hungry to see love in all its forms. But there is still work to be done in this space…

And that is why our word of the week is REPRESENT

Damona’s yoga teacher and mentor, Rebecca Benenati, always chooses a word of the year and a few years ago, Rebecca shared this message about the meaning of this word for her:

“It is my wish for myself and for everyone to feel strong, clear, honest and safe to authentically represent who we are. Let the words you say be truthful, let the actions you take be mindful and above all hold less fear about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Now is the time to speak up, speak out and REPRESENT yourself with great quality. This bold concept may mean that others have to look at themselves and isn’t that the beauty of doing our own work. We can rise together to be the best we can be, not by doing more or saying more but by consciously choosing how to best show our hearts to each other.”

As a DEI exec for many years at CBS and NBC, Damona believes that representation matters – being able to relate in some way to the people we hear or see out in the wide world helps us all live a fuller human experience.

2 Black Girls, 1 Rose (3:24)

Justine Kay and Natasha Scott-Reichel, the hosts of the 2 Black Girls, 1 Rose podcast, are on a mission to uncover what we can learn — if anything — about modern dating, love, and relationships from popular television.

Natasha and Justine have recapped all of your favorite shows including The Bachelor franchise, Love Is Blind, Married at First Sight, Perfect Match, Indian Matchmaking, and The Ultimatum: Queer Love.

Their podcast was named one of the 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now by TIME Magazine. Natasha and Justine have also been featured on ABC and Lifetime and in the Washington Post, the LA Times, and New York Magazine.

(7:25) Golden Bachelor 

Natasha talks about the amount of content that is available to people and how it is forcing networks to be more innovative. She adds that the Golden Bachelor has been teased for almost 4 years and that there has always been an excitement for it. “The audience is getting older and they need to feel reflected in it.”

Justine says shows like Love Is Blind made way for more cast diversity in the Golden Bachelor. “Love Is Blind, having their first and only king and queen of the franchise be an interracial couple, and be a black woman and a white man, they’re paving the way.”

(12:43) The First Black Bachelor 

Natasha breaks down why she thinks the first black bachelor was done all wrong. “They gave us Matt James but we never got to know him. He never spoke on being a Black man – a Black man dating, a Black man living in the South, a Black man with a White mother. Maybe he had those conversations, and they edited them out, but that’s the problem.”

(22:00) Love Comes In Many Forms 

Damona talks about how some daters falsely believe that if they date someone like them, it will make it easier for them to connect. “It can be a missed opportunity when it is supposed to be a time of discovery.”


Justine shares how the differences between her and her husband have been learning experiences. “We could not be more opposite and the way that we learn from each other daily is an incredible thing.”

Nathasha adds, “Some people might have it in their head that they know exactly what love will look like and who it will come from, but that’s doing a disservice to yourself.”


Follow Natasha and Justine on Instagram @2BlackGirls1Rose and check out the 2 Black Girls, 1 Rose podcast wherever you listen to Dates & Mates!



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear Damona’s answers live on a future all-Dear Damona episode!

Profile Punchup & Text-Speak

We don’t have to tell you that dating today is nothing like it was for our parents. Texting, dating apps, and DMs have forever changed the game and we think it’s safe to say that we are all having to adapt rather quickly. As we’re learning new skills in this arena every day it can sometimes be overwhelming and we may be tempted to push the whole thing away. No more apps, no more texting, no more dating, just no. 

But there are ways to reduce your communication stress and stay in the dating game long enough to meet someone who peaks your interest.

And that is why our word of the week is PROCESS.

When we look at dating as a process and not something that happens by happenstance, we can better chart our path. 

Our guest today, Erika Ettin, did that herself many years ago and now she does it for thousands of fans, listeners, followers, and clients.


Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, a consulting company that helps people navigate the world of online dating.  A Little Nudge has been featured in media around the country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, CBS, and Ask Men.

She is also the author of the book Love at First Site and the co-host of the dating podcast So, We Met Online…


Like Damona’s 3 C’s, Erika has some guidelines to the photos in your dating profile, starting with, only post 5:

  • A nice clear shot of your face
  • A full body
  • You doing something interesting (message bait)
  • 2 other pictures of you in your element

Erika breaks down the idea of message bait, “basically someone can ask you a question about it. They feel brilliant because they have asked you a relevant question, but really you are the brilliant one, because you planted it!”


Text speak is when you abbreviate words and phrases in text like HBU, WBU, U. “When somebody uses text speak, it automatically makes the conversation more casual and more casual for more people means it might veer into the sexual.”

Erika says that you only get one first impression, so write in a way that represents your intelligence. 


Erika offers some scripts to make your first message cute and stress free:

  • You can definitely have the window seat as long as we’re going somewhere amazing. I’m thinking Hawaii.
  • Where is the best Pad Thai in the city? Asking for… me.
  • Curly fries or waffle fries?
  • How did you get into country music? Do you own the boots too?

She explains that it’s as simple as picking up on something in your matches profile and then adding a little humor. 

Damona shares her first message approach – a comment + a question.


Many daters complain that staying in the app once a connection is made is a pain, but Erika says it’s the key to high match to date conversion rates. Her formula:

  1. Set the date in the app.
  2. Confirm the details with “it’s a date:”.
  3. Exchange phone numbers the day before the date with this message
    • “In case you need to reach me tomorrow for anything, here’s my number. What’s yours?

According to Erika, “60% of dates no longer happen if you exchange numbers before you have set the time, date and location of the date because there is no more urgency and sometimes a false sense of urgency.”


Follow Erika Ettin on Instagram @ErikaEttin and sign up for her coaching programs at www.alittlenudge.com/coaching_d/!



Submit your questions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear Damona’s answers live on a future all-Dear Damona episode!