Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I am in the process of updating my advice column.
To find updated posts from this point forward visit my new site -

I look forward to continuing to hear from you!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

(originally posted in September 2009)

Women often naively assume that the guy who sends flowers every Friday afternoon, without fail, is the stable, loyal and romantic man of her dreams. However, in my experience, I had boyfriends who would shower me with cliche romantic gestures such as my favorite white flowers - while deep inside I knew, the routine of sending flowers was an attempt by these boyfriends to over compensate for lackings in our relationship. Maybe they couldn't intellectually challenge me or the chemistry was less than ideal, but they thought flowers somehow would make it all better. 

I knew my husband was "the one" for many reasons, one of which was he has never routinely given me flowers. Sure he has surprised me with beautiful bouquets once and awhile, but he feels predictable flower giving lacks spontaneity and sincerity. That doesn't mean that he is not romantic - yet he realizes that providing me with everything I could possibly need in our relationship emotionally and physically says more than 1-800-Flowers ever could. A novel I am currently reading features a leading female character who hates yellow roses. She hates yellow roses because she knows every time she receives them from her husband, it means he has had an extra-marital affair.

I am not suggesting to accuse the man in your life of infidelities when tulips appear at your doorstep. However, I think an important lesson can be learned - Seek out a man who (metaphorically) toils, plants and fertilizes in your "relationship garden", and be suspicious of men who think that relationship voids can be filled by ordering flowers online.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#2 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in November 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I am 23 years old and have never had a serious long term relationship, although I go on many dates and have dated guys for a few months at a time. What I am wondering is - what exactly is intimacy? Not physical, but more emotional/romantic intimacy. Although I have been with men I have never felt what it is like to be in an intimate relationship. I am starting to feel like I don't know what intimacy is and I definitely feel like I don't know how to find it.

"Seeking Intimacy"

Dear "Seeking Intimacy,"

Imagine being in a crowded cocktail party at a friend's home. The room is full and there is a fun buzz in the air as friends mingle and laugh. As you are discussing politics with an old high school friend you haven't seen in awhile you catch eyes with a man across the room. Your heart skips a beat. You don't speak, and don't even really smile at each other, but you feel each other's presence and continue on socializing with others at the party. Throughout the night you don't interact much with the man you caught eyes with, yet you feel so connected and one with him. This isn't a stranger, but rather the man that you came to the party with. This man is your boyfriend or possibly your husband. And although you spent the whole night doing your own thing, you couldn't have felt closer to each other...Intimacy to me is sharing a bond and feeling a sense of shared experience even in moments when each person is living their own life.
Intimacy can mean different things to different people. "Knowing it when you feel it," pretty well sums up the search for intimacy, yet, that doesn't mean you should sit back and wait for an intimate relationship to come find you. I have always known what intimacy means to me, and thankfully married a man who I know I can share such intimacy with. It takes work to maintain a constant sense of connection with someone, and small intimate acts can encourage that all around sense of closeness in a relationship.
Intimacy cannot be had with any Joe you find in a nightclub, therefore you are correct about questioning how intimacy can be found. When you meet a man that you really think you have potential with, meaning there is chemistry and mutual respect and affection - the process of intimacy cultivation can begin. I know what you're wondering, what do I mean by "intimacy cultivation"?
Intimacy cultivation refers to the process in which an individual and a couple set the foundation for an intimate relationship. Closeness between a couple must exist not just in sexual or specifically romantic situations but during normal life. Not every grocery store trip with your spouse will feel like fireworks and/or extreme intimacy, but that's just the point. Intimacy doesn't mean anything out of the ordinary. Intimate relationships are one's that uplift day to day life and find special moments during unlikely times.
So, when you begin dating a guy that you like, I suggest that you focus on truly getting to know this person. Intimacy can only occur in a deep way when a sense of familiarity exists. Listen closely to your partner and try to understand him/her on a level that the rest of the world might not. After awhile, this sense of knowing will result in private jokes or you just knowing the right thing to say at the right time to make the other person feel acknowledged.
Intimacy also is achieved by striking the right balance between private couple time and socializing with work colleagues, friends, and each other's families. It is one thing to make eyes at each other in private, but it is another thing to mediate a new relationship within the larger world. Even during "public" moments the challenge is to stay connected to each other. Whether it be by a sexy gaze, holding hands, etc. Not every couple is comfortable with the same levels of PDA. What's important is that each couple finds a way to relate regardless of the setting.
If you get to know the depths of someone and are comfortable exhibiting closeness with them in private and public then you are on your way to an intimate relationship.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#3 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I am 29 years old and my parents have been divorced for 12 years. My father remarried awhile ago, but only over the last year has my mother really made an effort to meet men. Recently, she has been dating a man who is a decade younger than her. My mom works out a lot, has a great figure and dresses very young looking - so I am not surprised a younger guy would be attracted to her. But, the guy she is dating is not very intellectual. He shows her a good time, but I don't think he has what she needs for a lasting long term relationship. I want to tell her not to waste her time with him and find a man more her age who she could actually spend the rest of her life with. Should I butt in or leave her alone to figure it out?


"Daughter of a Cougar"

Dear "Daughter of a Cougar,"

As long as your mother is happy, it is not your place to "tell her not to waste her time." She might never want to re-marry, and if she does, it is her decision who or when it is with. It might make you slightly uncomfortable to see your mother dating a younger man who doesn't fit the mold of a father type figure - but get over it. This isn't about you, this is about her finding her way and reinventing her life. Let her explore. This fling with the younger guy probably wont last, as you suggest, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with having fun along the way. Stop worrying about her and invest in your own love life - I have a hunch you it might need some attention :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

#4 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Making friends as an adult is sure different then making childhood or college friends. Childhood friendships which began as circumstantial relationships, often bloom over the years into life-long friendships. For most people, adolescence and university means endless hours of partying and philosophizing with many like-minded young people.
Although childhood friendship making is laden with plenty of cliques, bossiness, peer-pressure and sometimes bullying - establishing new adult friendships can often be more complicated. As people get older, the hours of the day get filled with work responsibilities, dating and married life, household duties and childcare. Little time of often left for building new friendships, and even new friendships are often as a result of circumstantial commonalities such as kids being in the same school or meeting through a work environment.

The way I look at it, maintaining friendships as an adult is a form of an investment. If adults invest in solid close friends, then they likely will have a support system when life gets tough - or friends to enjoy the successes of life with. But considering the fact that adults today have so little time and energy to devote to friendships - how best to "invest" friendship time?

While reading the Huffington Post this week I saw an article by Therese Borchard about the book"Bounce: Living the Resilient Life," written by psychology professor Robert Wicks. This book recommends what seems like - strategic friendship making. Wicks looks at friendships in terms of calculated efforts to surround oneself with the right kind of people, rather than a result of life's chance. Rather than be-friend a neighbor because they live next door, Wicks encourages people to seek out friends with certain qualities.
Specifically, the book advocates that we invite into our circle of friends four types of people: the prophet, the cheerleader, the harasser, and the guides. The prophet is not afraid to "tell it like it is" even if it something you don't want to hear while the cheerleader offers constant encouragement. The harasser bring humor and a sense of perspective into our lives while the guide is an attentive listener and analytic soul.

Everyone's friendship needs are different. However, my advice for today is:
Invest in a handful of quality friendships. One or two can live far away...but also make sure you have a few close by. Less is definitely more when it comes to friends. Nothing wrong with being a social butterfly, but don't fly around so much that you have no true friendships to land on when you really need it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#5 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I consider myself a pretty good person. I am honest, and I try to be a giving, loyal and considerate friend. The thing is, lately I have been noticing that I feel a twinge of jealousy in me when something really great happens to a friend of mine. For instance, one of my best friends just got engaged, and another friend just got offered a lucrative job opportunity. Of course on a rational level I feel happy for them, but my gut reaction when I hear this type of news has been envy. I hate to admit it, but I also think I secretly hope that these amazing things wont happen to my friends so that I feel better about my own life. Am I a terrible person for feeling jealous of my close friends? How do I stop these negative feelings and just purely feel joy for them?

"Envy getting the better of me"

Dear "Envy getting the better of me,"

There is a reason why God commanded people to not covet. You aren't a terrible person. It is human nature to want to feel "better off" in comparison to friends/neighbors. That's why most people would choose to make $100,000 a year while everyone else they know earns "$50,000," rather than making $200,000 while everyone else makes $500,000. Affluence and success are relative terms, and you often assume that if a friend seems on the surface to be doing better than you financially, professionally or socially that it means somehow your own life is lacking. Ask yourself - why does a friend's job promotion make me feel bad about my own life? Use these feelings of envy to address areas of your life you would like to impove and then spend your energy working on those improvements, rather than thinking "the grass is always greener." You will be able to feel pure joy for your friends when you find joy and satisfaction in your own life, regardless of how you "measure up" to others.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

#6 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Did you know that there is an online dating service to help married people find lovers for extra-marital affairs? It is called Ashley Madison and it's slogan is: "Beat bedroom is short. have an affair." I was not shocked when I heard of the popularity of this site, but I was sad. As a strong believer in the 10 commandments, I often am perplexed at how paramount social justice/moral values such as "thou shall not steal" and "thou shall not commit adultery" are so easily discarded in our society. A person need not be religious to see how avoiding envy and not murdering (along with the other laws espoused by the 10 commandments) can make our communities safer and ultimately happier. So why have we so easily given up on striving for these ideals?

Yes, the bedroom of a married couple can sometimes feel boring. But is that an excuse for adultery? And what disturbs me most is the correlation that Ashley Madison makes between the concept that "life is short" and adultery. If life is short shouldn't we live the best life we can? If life is short shouldn't we try our hardest to make our marriage the happiest and strongest it can be, rather than creating mistrust and dishonesty?

Judaism acknowledges that sex can become boring, and creates many provisions in terms of when sex is permissible with the goal of creating desire for married couples. Whether you can relate to religious law that deals with sex, or not, it raises the question:

Maybe our society is so over-sexed that we erroneously think we need multiple partners to be satisfied when really we need to encourage more "wanting" amongst spouses?
What do you think of Ashley Madison, and the prevalence of extra-marital affairs in our society...

Friday, December 25, 2009

#7 of best posts of 2009

(originally posted in September 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I've been dating a really great guy for the last 6 weeks. We enjoy each other's company, are comfortable around each other, etc. One issue that I'm having is that he has never once complimented me ... and when I ask him why, he merely says that it's not something he was raised doing and it's going to take time for him. I recognize that while it's still new, it has been 6 weeks. I even noticed one evening as we were heading out on a date that he was 'checking me out' and when I asked him what he was thinking, he said he wouldn't tell me. I compliment him and try to make him feel good; how do I get him to come out of his shell and do the same for me?

"Tell me you like me"

Dear "Tell me you like me,"

I am not concerned with his lack of compliments, as long as he is affectionate and warm with you. Unfortunately, a guy who can't compliment a girl he is dating might also be the kind of guy that cannot open up emotionally or be loving. If you have been dating for 6 weeks and he hasn't told you how he feels about you, for example, "I am so happy we met and that I am getting to know you" or, "I have been really enjoying our time together and find you funny, or interesting, (or whatever)" then it would seem as if he is a very closed person who has some issues with emotional intimacy.

Possibly he didn't get much affection or positive reinforcement when he was growing up. Have you asked him why he isn't comfortable complimenting you? If he'll talk openly about his hesitations or his upbringing, and you don't find anything else in the relationship problematic - then I would give him more of a chance to open up. Maybe he doesn't have the tools to compliment you, so offer him an idea of what you are looking for in terms of positive reinforcement. However, if he isn't even open to letting you in a bit to understand his rationale then I wouldn't waste your time trying to change this guy.

I have a friend whose dad has never said I love you to his wife (her mother). This man grew up in a communist country and was raised very closed. Despite that, he is a loyal and devoted husband. His wife could obviously overlook the fact he was not affectionate or loving. However, you seem like a woman who needs some doting - so make sure the guy you are dating can give you what you need, even if it takes some time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

#8 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in August 2009)

I love the Oprah Winfrey Show and watch it daily. I am fascinated by "seeing how other people live," and her show features perspectives on diverse lifestyles.

I was watching a re-run which featured Brooke, a prostitute at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Brooke mentioned that she is often hired by men to pretend she is their girlfriend or wife. One un-married client pays Brooke, not for sex, but to act like his nagging wife and express jealousy and
possessiveness over him. You heard me right - there is a man out there who wishes he had a nagging wife.

I started to wonder, which of the relationship patterns that we fall into, despite complaining that we wished they would change, do we actually find pleasurable? For instance, as much as many women out there would love their husbands to take more of a leadership role in household duties, maybe they also secretly love the mothering and domestic ritual of being the woman responsible for the house?