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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.

DATING DISH (2:38)

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 (14:45)

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 7StepsToSoulmating.com 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.

 

DEAR DAMONA (39:50)

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 DISH (1:55)

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 threedayrule.com/damonahoffman to get started, or listen to Damona’s interview with Three Day Rule matchmaker Devyn Simone to learn more.

NORA MCINERNY (9:33)

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.”

 

DEAR DAMONA (39:50)

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.

DATING DISH (2:05)

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.

NICK VIALL (7:30)

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.

 

DEAR DAMONA (39:50)

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.