Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle
Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle

Welcome to RelationSmarts!

A Dating, Mating and Relating E-Newsletter

May 16, 2006

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Coupling Connetion - Successful Relating
Coupling Connetion - Romantic Rituals
Coupling Connetion - Passion Perks
Coupling Connetion - Reading List
Coupling Connetion - Book Reviews

Every other week, we'll be delivering smart and fresh relating tips. We know you are busy, so let these quick ideas inspire you to create your ideal relationship! Each edition will include helpful information in these three categories:

  • Dating – tips on finding and keeping the perfect partner
  • Mating – take the Passion Perks challenge and perk up your love life!
  • Relating – tips on making your connection Extraordinary

We'll also be including news of note for singles and couples, from Coupling Connection and all around the US, keeping you abreast of relationship happenings you may find useful.

RelationTip: Remember, information is only good if you USE it. Research shows that if you don't use a new piece of information within two weeks, you won't ever use it! So if you want an extraordinary relationship, try something new today!


Dating: Are You Winking at Me?

I was recently speaking with a single women in her 50’s who uses internet dating. She was telling me how she doesn’t respond to men who simply “wink” at her, rather than writing a note. I used to agree with that strategy, believing that if a man was really interested, he’d bother to write a few sentences. But not any more. Here’s why. I’ve heard from lots of kind, sweet men who have grown tired of composing thoughtful introductory emails only to be ignored. After spending tons of time getting absolutely no response from many women who can’t be bothered to write back and say, “no thank you,” they have understandably decided to try a safer, less time burdensome course- the wink.

I am not sure why the internet dating folks instituted the wink, but let’s say it’s purpose is quick and dirty: I am interested in you, are you interested in me? Seems fair enough- simple and to the point. Although it’s really nice for people to write more, the typical lack of response in internet dating really doesn’t reward that, does it?

So, here’s my recommendations.
For men: Realize that many women are turned off by your use of the wink. They think you must not be that interested if you can’t write a few personalized sentences based on what you read in their profile. So, rather than risk a premature “no” from someone who may have been interested if you had shown more effort, why not compromise and write a very brief, couple sentence note that shows you READ her profile and found something intriguing enough to write her. I agree, it’s not worth a dissertation, since the prevailing etiquette is to ignore people.

For women: Realize it’s tough on men to constantly be putting themselves at risk for rejection. Recognize that they often try, with no response. You’d get tired of trying if you weren’t often rewarded too! See the wink for what it is: a hello with an invitation for more. So, if you find the man at all interesting, just give a wink back and open that door for him to walk through. Then let him follow up with a real email.

And feel free to initiate contact with a wink yourself. It’s akin to batting your eyelashes, smiling, and twirling your hair! There are lots and lots of profiles online and there is no way to know if he’s even seen yours. I’ve used a brief email or wink to let someone know I am interested and I’ve met many wonderful men that way.

What if you are not interested? Well, I have found that many men (and I am sure women too) really appreciate a quick note back just kindly stating that fact, especially if they wrote a note, but even if they winked. Try something like “Thanks for the wink/email. I bet you’re a great guy/gal with lots to offer, but I don’t think we’d make the best match. Good luck finding the right partner!” I was shocked to find how many men were actually grateful for any response, even a negative one, simply because they are so used to deafening silence. So you know they must be frustrated.

For All: Let’s remember that we are dealing with people’s hopes and feelings here. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy for people to forget that. Rather than all the silence, ignoring, and poofing going around, let’s change the prevailing etiquette to something more along the likes of “Thanks, but no thank you.” Why not go back to common human decency and courtesy. The dating world will be better for everyone.

Action Step: Do your part to make the internet dating world a kinder, gentler, more honest place to interact by making an effort to kindly respond to anyone who has the courage to knock on your door. Remember, we all have the same goal, to find true love, and it can be a heck of a rough world out there if we don’t stick together!

New to Relation Smarts? Check out the related article on dating etiquette in the first edition here.


Mating: "Ah, We were so young and in love...."

Ok, here's the thing. Relationships lose their sparkle and passion because we stop doing the things that we used to do when we were falling in love. Simple as that!

So this week, I want you to think about what kinds of things you did when you were dating that you don't do anymore. My favorite recommendations? Light some candles, put on some sappy, romantic music you like, and slow dance in your living room. Sing those sentimental lyrics to each other if you want. Or when was the last time you kissed in the car? You know, really made out?! Surprise your partner by kissing them passionately at the next red light, or better yet, park in the driveway or some scenic location and get the windows steamy.

Passion Perks Challenge: At least once this week, surprise your partner by doing something passionate that you used to enjoy when you were dating but haven't done in a really long time.


Relating: Bids for Attention

Love is sustained or drained by all of the little moments of interaction every day. And every interaction is begun by a "bid for attention" by either you or your partner. It can be an obvious bid, like a question, "Honey, what are we having for dinner?" or a more subtle, nonverbal bid, like reaching out for your hand or smiling at your partner. Every bid for attention is answered by the other partner in one of three ways.

You can turn toward. For our examples:

"Oh, I am making your favorite meatloaf"; Taking your partner's hand; Returning the smile.

You can turn away. For our examples:

Just ignore your partners question about dinner; Pretend your partner didn't reach for your hand, and run your hand through your hair instead.; Don't smile back, either staring blankly back or turning your face away.

Or you can turn against. For our examples:

You can say in an irritated voice, "I've made dinner all week, why don't you get off the couch and help for once."; You jerk your hand away; Rather than smile back, you return a look of annoyance, frustration, or contempt.

These bids for attention happen in big and small ways all day, every day. Do you know how famous marital researchers, like John Gottman at the University of Washington, tell the difference between happy couples and unhappy couples who eventually divorce? One of their methods is to count how many times partners answer bids by turning toward versus the other two more negative behaviors, turning away or against.

Seem like relationship building is too daunting of a process? It's not! You can start with answering the next bid by turning toward.

Action Step: Every time your partner makes a bid for attention, YOU have the opportunity to either strengthen your love, or weaken it. The choice is yours. Practice becoming more aware of how you typically return bids for attention. Purposely choose to turn toward your partner one time today when you might normally turn away or against.

Relation Tip: Although we usually know when we are turning against our partner because of the negative emotion involved, sometimes we simply aren't aware when we are turning away- as it usually entails ignoring or not paying attention to our partner. It will take special attention to become more aware of this behavior.

For example, a couple is out for drive, the man at the wheel. Looking out the window, the woman states, "What a lovely sunset." The man makes no comment. Despite it's innocent appearance, this interaction is turning away. She is making a statement that shares her experience. By ignoring her, even unintentionally, he is saying "your experience is not important to me, I do not value it." Over time, this erodes your love. When he instead says "Wow, you're right, that's beautiful," she immediately feels a sense of connection, of being understood, validated, and valued. Even if he simply, says, "Mmmmm, yeah," she feels acknowledged.

Love is in the details. Small, but powerful. And you have another opportunity now!

Relation Tip: Not sure whether you just turned toward, away, or against? You can tell by your partner's reaction. If they just turned pissy or pouty, you can guarantee it was away or against. Stop and use the tip from last week: "You seem upset, was that not the reaction you were hoping for?"

Relation Tip: Did your partner just ignore your bid for attention? Give them the benefit of the doubt, they may be completely oblivious. Make your bid more obvious, "Honey, can you give me your attention for a second..." Or, let them know what reaction you were looking for, "I was really hoping to get one of those sweet big smiles of yours."


NEWS: For Singles

Is it lust or love? Here's what a recent MSN article has to say about it!:
"If you’re swooning over your new sweetie, you may think you’re deeply in love. Friends, however, may say, “You’re just in lust.” Who’s right? Researchers have recently found evidence that people can distinguish between true romance and plain old sexual attraction. For the study, scientists performed MRIs on men and women as they looked upon photos of the person they were in love with and photos of acquaintances (both attractive and less attractive ones). The results showed that the two sets of photos affected the brain very differently: Photos of loved ones triggered more activity on the right side of the brain (an area associated with romantic emotions) than did the other photos; photos of extremely attractive people triggered more activity on the left side of the brain (a hotbed for sexual urges) than did the photos of subjects’ beloveds.

What this suggests, says study author Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, is that the emotions of love and lust are more distinct than we think, and that people can indeed discriminate between the two. Tell that to your cynical friends!"

Dating Strategy: Still, it can be difficult not to be blinded by love or lust- so use your head with your heart when in the throes of new attraction. If you have trouble with that, join us for the free call below!


*FREE* Virtual Group Call TOMMORROW!

Wed May 17th, 5pm Mountain Time, 7pm Eastern

How To Avoid Dating and Marrying a Jerk:

An Introduction to Selecting Your Perfect Partner

Haven't yet had an opportunity to learn about this program? Now is the perfect opportunity to get an introduction to the most important principles- free! Email for more info and bridge line phone number.


*NEW* Singles Workshop and E-course!

Sensational Singles:

How to Maximize Your Happiness and Create the Life That You Desire

Learn to empower yourself to create the happiness you deserve! In this course, you'll learn the benefits of happiness, the nine choices you can make to live a more joyful, satisfied life, and three tools to help you get there.

Email for course outline or for info on E-course.


New Spring Workshop Dates at Singles University

Thur May 25, 6:30-9 How to Avoid Dating and Marrying a Jerk(ette)

Email for more info.


Sick of being single and ready to get started on your path to the perfect partner?

Take advantage of two exciting opportunities.

Relationship Readiness Inventory

Clarify the characteristics of your perfect partner and learn how to get out of your relationship ruts. A powerful step toward an extraordinary relationship.

*NEW* E-course: They Are Just Not That Into You

Now offered as an Email Course! You get six weekly lessons emailed to you to read at your leisure, including a weekly homework assignment that will help you gain personal insight and apply the information to your own situation. Once completed, you email each assignment back for personalized feedback. Cost: $45.See the website for more information on either of these opportunities or email if youare interested!

News For Couples

Peaceful home? Have you checked out the new TV show Shalom in the Home on TLC? A Rabbi goes into people's homes where the marriage is in danger and the kids are out of control. With creativity and straight talk, he transforms thier relationships. Check it out and get inspired! Mondays, 10 pm Eastern time.

Too much anger and resentment? Here's a great opportuntity to learn from one of our nation's experts on taming your temper.

MAY 24, 8-9pm EDT

As featured on OPRAH - how to turn resentful, angry, or emotionally abusive
relationships into a compassionate, loving ones. For professionals and the
public. The session will consist of one half hour of comments by Dr. Stosny followed
by questions from participants. If you can't make the live telephone class,
you can listen to it at anytime for a week after the session.

Learn more and register at

*NEW* Couples Workshop

Hot Monogamy

It can be tough to keep the love alive over time, especially with busy schedules, work and financial stress, and children! But with the right attitudes and skills, everyone can keep the passion burning. Come learn how to deepen your connection, increase your intimate passion, and protect your commitment from infidelity. Leave with tools to revitalize your love. Email for more info.


* Have you tried a tip or tool from the Relation Smarts E-newsletter? We want to hear about it!? Let us know what your experience was like. Did it improve your connection? Or no? Email us! *

Do you have a topic, idea, question, or concern you'd like to have addressed in an upcoming newsletter? Email us!

Know someone who could use a little RelationSmarts? Feel free to forward the newsletter to family and friends!

May your relationships bring you the happiness you deserve,

Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D.

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