Monday, April 26, 2010

FOR MEN ONLY: 7 Ways to Impress a Worthy Woman


Dr. Gilda Carle

Gals may be uncertain about what they want from guys, but there are some behaviors to which they always respond!

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

Some years ago, women made The Rules their Bible. It was a guidebook on how to manipulate men into marriage. Men felt duped, confused and used — and the con game set male-female relationships back. Today men are still perplexed about how to relate to women, and women are similarly confused when it comes to dealing with men.

In her song “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” Paula Cole laments, “Where is my John Wayne? Where is my happy ending? Where have all the cowboys gone?” Most women fantasize about having an alpha dude — for protection, shelter and guidance. But there’s a drawback. In their attempt to provide the virility they think women want, tough guys have shelved their sensitivity — and have lost part of what it means to be alive.

This nonspoken agreement is ironic: After she snags her tough guy, the woman who thought she wanted Rambo decides he’s really Dumbo — too distant and unwieldy to love. So she replaces Marlboro Man with Marshmallow Man, whom she believes it is her mission to mold. See, somewhere in her upbringing, she deduced that she’s the Relationship Police, and no man is complete until she “fixes” him. Unfortunately, her new and improved model soon loses his appeal because this guy has become a backbone-challenged jellyfish without spine or spurs. Now the woman complains he’s too soft! What a relationship mess!

Who’s fooling whom? Hollywood cowboys on camera are as fictitious as Cinderella and that monarch with the shoe fetish. Although my book title warns women, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” my message hits too many hollow earrings. Women insist they need a gaucho to rescue them (from what, even they don’t know!), and men unwittingly play into this fractured feminine assumption. That’s because men want to feel needed. (Of course, this proves that, despite what women think, men truly do want love and are often willing to twist themselves into pretzels to get it.) In the end, nobody ends up with what he/she thought he/she wanted, and both genders feel angry and alone. Yet sadly, they continue their feckless efforts to pursue new partners in the same vein. Nothing changes. As my Gilda-Gram advises, “What you struggle to get, you struggle to keep.” And subterfuge is an impossible base for lasting love.

But, ahhh, things may have begun to move onto healthier terrain. Tony Soprano started it by committing to therapy. Now some alpha men have been embracing their taskmaster toughness, while also acknowledging their compassion. For the first time, half the subscribers to my Instant Advice service on my site are now men. They are honest, real and raw, unabashedly displaying relationship pain, yet craving answers on how to make their love lives work.

So here’s the skinny from a female relationship expert. Gals may be uncertain about what they want from you guys, but there are some behaviors to which they always respond. Try these on for size and see if your Relate-ability Quotient doesn’t rise (no pun intended!).

7 Rules for Relating to Women

Rule 1: You may not understand women (and many women admit they don’t understand themselves), but you can ask questions about a woman’s life and dole out honest compliments.

OUTCOME: Women’s egos are massaged when they feel noticed and desired. This is separate from trying to seduce them.

Rule 2: Women want supportive love. If your woman doesn’t know how to give it, show her by example.

OUTCOME: Your behavior, not your words, is a woman’s greatest teacher on how to return the love YOU want. Inconvenience yourself unconditionally, and deliver niceties that are totally unexpected.

Rule 3: Share your feelings — and your fears — with your special lady. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Self-disclosure is symmetrical.”

OUTCOME: Little by little, open up about your preferences and your goals. As you become more vulnerable, so will your honey. Openness and vulnerability bond a couple. (Note: being vulnerable does not mean you should whine and complain in victim mode; all you need to do is share your honest feelings.)

Rule 4: Pursue activities that inspire you, whether or not she enjoys them.

OUTCOME: Your expressions of delight and joy become contagious. Your woman will want to share your optimism. She may choose to join you in hobbies she originally rejected, or she may just bask in your enthusiasm when you return to her after enjoying yourself.

Rule 5: The less confused you are in understanding your woman, the less manipulated you will be by her.

OUTCOME: A man’s confusion makes a woman read him as weak, malleable and ripe for “fixing.” Demonstrate respect for your woman’s perspective, but remain committed to your own. She’ll show a new admiration and respect for you.

Rule 6: Don’t let a woman try to change anything about you with which you are content — unless you’re into dangerous or unhealthy acts. Display your strength by projecting who you are and let her know you’re happy as you are.

OUTCOME: When you trumpet your persona, your woman will avoid her urge to renovate. She’ll also get turned on! (It follows the tenets of adolescent psychology, in which kids may lobby their parents for more freedom, but their parents’ saying “no” is interpreted as love. Go figure!)

Rule 7: Communicate your expectations for support, respect and friendship. These must be your standards and your boundaries.

OUTCOME: When you unwaveringly sustain your parameters, you announce your alpha strength. Ladies crave men who are persevering and resolute. They interpret these traits as “sexy.”

The 1991 movie City Slickers depicted some big-city guys with midlife crises. To seek answers, they spent two weeks renewing themselves as cowboys out West. Through physical feats they never took on in the concrete jungle, the men discovered that strength-building does not negate sensitivity. In fact, they learned their masculinity was emboldened by their tenderness.

Honor your alpha, but maintain your truth. Steadfast, chivalrous men are very attractive — because a self-accepting guy knows he loses nothing by also being vulnerable. Plenty of women seek compassionate cowboys with spines AND spurs AND souls. Most of these men dwell far from home on the range!


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), and other books. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Only 5 Reasons to Head to Bed

Are you ready for sex with your sweetie?

Dr. Gilda Carle

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

The heat is on (romantic heat between you and your new love, that is) — and you’re in heaven! Your relationship is clearly heading toward the bedroom, but before you slip under the sheets, slow down for a second. When you awaken from your lust, will you wonder what you were thinking? You can keep your heart from being trashed by thinking clearly before you do the deed. Ask yourself: Am I ready to get naked with this person? Are you sure? Consider these five reasons that reveal whether you’re really, truly, undoubtedly and unequivocally ready to disrobe. If it sounds like I’m describing your relationship, then go for it. But if you can’t check them all off, you may want to slow down and take a wait-and-see attitude.

1. You feel emotionally safe with your sweet thing.

Alice went out a few times with a guy who was bonkers for her. That alone was an ego trip. He was brilliant and had a high-level job at a prestigious organization, which was the subject of enormously stimulating conversation. They also laughed a lot. In short, he was a pleasure to be with. A year before seeing Alice, he had dated a high-profile woman for two years. Although he and Alice kept their clothes on, he complimented her body often. Then he would criticize his former famous lady, saying what an awful body she had. Alice was appalled that he would degrade someone he had once cared for. Although he was wonderful to her, his nasty critiques of his ex were a turnoff. She stopped seeing him because she felt she would never feel safe from his denigrations should their relationship go the way his last one did.

Feeling emotionally safe is vital before getting naked. I doubt that Famous Lady would have felt safe with this guy had she known he would debase her once their coupledom went kaput.

Gilda-Gram: Feeling emotionally safe means feeling emotionally protected — which is necessary in love.

2. You know your honey will still be your honey later, after you’ve put your clothes back on.

In a Seinfeld episode, Elaine described how her sweetie-for-the-night ran out of her bed early in the morning. She likened guys who do this to farmers who feel they must tend their land before sunrise. Some women, too, exit early after a night of play. And it can erode even a sturdy self-image — if you allow that to happen. When a night of passion is followed by what might seem like icy abandonment, the previous evening’s thrill becomes a letdown. No person deserves to think the passionate night before was really meaningless.

Gilda-Gram: Stave off an early departure by being absolutely sure your love will stay around long after the nakedness.

3. Your sweetie really hears you.

Out of sight doesn’t necessarily have to mean out of mind. If you and your new love really have something, he will think of you even when you’re not together. During their early dating stages, Carol and Carl were window shopping and passed a kitchen accessories shop. Carl had no interest in the shop’s contents, but Carol excitedly muttered, “Wow, I’d love to own that set of cookware.” A few weeks later, Carl presented Carol with just the cookware set she had admired. From that moment on, Carol knew she had found a guy who a) was willing to listen and hear her and b) wanted to please her with things she deemed important. Today this couple is happily married — and Carl still listens to her intently and tries to please her whenever he can.

Gilda-Gram: It is easy to get naked with someone who obviously cares about you.

4. Your honey is willing to be inconvenienced to make you happy.

New daters Cathy and Marvin developed a quick connection that seemed very tight. They had not yet been intimate. One day, Cathy’s car needed to be repaired. Marvin was at home doing yard work when Cathy called to ask him if he would drive her to the dealership. On this summer Saturday, Marvin wasn’t on any deadline, nor did he have pressing appointments to meet. But he said no outright. His negation wasn’t “No, I have to finish doing the lawn by two, before my kids arrive” or “No, I’m too tired” or even “No, I don’t want to drive to that part of town today.” He simply said no. Marvin didn’t want to inconvenience himself. Cathy began to notice other instances of his unwillingness to bend in her direction. A week later, she wisely packed in the romance. Marvin still can’t understand why.

Gilda-Gram: Someone who withholds acts of kindness also withholds love.

5. You choose to get naked for all the right reasons.

Paula and Charlie were platonic friends for three months, without the slightest hint of anything amorous. Then, just a few weeks ago, they casually kissed, and sparks flew. Neither could explain the change in their status, but they decided to officially rename their get-togethers “dates.” Now the question was how to proceed. Neither wanted to destroy the wonderful bond they had established, yet both wanted to take the friendship to the next level. Paula wasn’t quite ready to engage in naked romps, but Charlie began to pressure her. Suddenly, the comfort they had shared was deteriorating.

Paula reasoned that if she abandoned her reticence, Charlie would feel happier. But she also knew that giving in to his desires was not what she wanted to do at the time. What was she to do?

They had a heart-to-heart talk. Charlie continued to push to move the relationship up a notch. Paula suddenly perceived him as a self-involved baby who screamed, “I! Want! My! Sex!” She felt he didn’t care about her feelings. Sensing all that pressure, she ended both the friendship and the promise of more.

Gilda-Gram: Some aspects of your honey’s personality emerge only in crisis. Wait until they do before you disrobe.

Get naked and have a great time only when your romance includes all 5 of these reasons to do so. If you treat yourself like a prize, so will your new love!


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), “How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats” (winner of London Book Festival Literary Award), and 15 more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bad Love Can Actually be Good for You!


Dr. Gilda Carle

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

Have you been burned by an ex? Who hasn’t? Discover the BENEFITS of a bad breakup.

Jeff met Kate online, and they exchanged email messages for the few weeks before they conversed on the phone. There was definitely a connection. When they finally met, the pair felt physical electricity. But suddenly, just 20 minutes into their meeting, Jeff left — just as quickly as he arrived. What happened?

Kate had emerged from a sour marriage two years earlier. Jeff assumed her mourning was over. However, now all Kate did was launch verbal brickbats at her ex. This was Kate and Jeff’s first face-to-face meeting. Within a mere 20 minutes, he decided he wanted OUT. See ya!

Kate’s behavior is typical of someone who never did the necessary healing work after a bad romance. Without even realizing it, many singles contaminate promising futures by bemoaning earlier woes. What healthy hopeful would sign on for a three-party arrangement that includes you and your ex?

Hey, singles, exit your pity party! If bad love happens TO you, make sure it really happens FOR you. There are distinct lessons that emerge from each and every person you’re with. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Whoever touches us, teaches us.” Appreciate the positives that spawn from every sorry story. Suze Orman wisely agrees: “You have to see every potential roadblock as an opportunity and a benefit.” My own dear mother, rest her soul, taught me, “Every knock is a boost.” So selfishly usher in your own brand of sunshine that especially shines for you.

Marilyn was with her boyfriend for years when her guy asked her to check a number on his cell phone. She was horrified to spot messages from assorted women. In my counseling office, Boyfriend later revealed that the burden of hiding his female flirtations became too heavy, and he wanted to be caught. So he had deliberately invited his girlfriend’s surveillance.

This sudden shock forced Marilyn to question why she had put up with this man who was so emotionally distant. Yes, this episode happened TO her, but something better occurred FOR her as she awakened to an overdue lesson she needed to learn! During therapy, she recalled how emotionally absent her father had been while she was growing up. Now she realized she had chosen someone similar and familiar for her love!

After this wretched episode, Marilyn decided she wanted the whole enchilada, not some scrappy crumbs. Today, as they plan their wedding, this couple agrees their relationship would not be as strong as it is had it not been for their crisis.

Adam was another client whose traumatic love turned out to be a good thing. After 15 years of marriage, Adam’s wife was filing for divorce because she said she was bored. Adam did not know what hit him. I asked about the state of his marriage before his wife’s exit. He described a life revolving around their two children. I asked about the bond they had shared. Adam went silent, and finally acknowledged that his marriage had died many years earlier.

For the first time ever, Adam admitted he had not been happy for years. I dared to ask, “Why is your divorce a good thing now?” At first, he thought I was mad. But he concluded, “If not for this blow, I would have continued a lifeless life. You know,” he confided, “my career has also suffered from my lack of spark. It’s scary to think I might have wound up dying from stress.” Ahhh, the cleansing epiphany! Now we could begin our REAL work!

When male cicadas sing to attract females, their chorus is louder in decibels than the sound of city traffic. That’s the kind of “music” new partners enjoy. Couples think this music will continue forever. But they forget that great musicians need to practice. Adam and his wife might have practiced some better communication between them. Instead, they copped to dropping out, misconstruing that salvation later could be found in someone else’s arms. Those who know better, know better!

After months of therapy, Adam emerged a much more confidant man. He joked about his new “Deserve Better” gene. Suddenly, his career surged with a huge promotion. He couldn’t believe what was happening to him, or really, as I pointed out, FOR him. He had not felt this emotionally strong in years!

Part of my healing secret is to require clients to write a letter to their ex — which they would never send — but in which they THANK that ex for the person THEY have become. I am accustomed to the usual recoiling at the very thought of doing this exercise. One woman complained, “Write a letter to that jerk? Oh, sure, Dr. Gilda. And you probably also believe in the tooth fairy!” I had to remind her that she could either hang onto her anger and make herself a permanent victim, or she could forgive her ex and at last be free. This client was actually only a two-day convince. Many others take longer. After this woman wrote that fateful letter, she said she felt the burden of hostility and regret disappear. I didn’t intend to gloat with an, “I-told-you-so,” but this is such a powerful exercise, I couldn’t keep it in!

The same thing happened FOR Adam. He showed me his letter that enumerated his great new strengths, and thanked his bored ex who pushed him to find them. As many of my empowered clients have found, Adam’s ex-wife was begging him to take her back. But he firmly asserted that he was moving on. He’s a much stronger partner to the woman to whom he is now married. And his current wife thanks his ex FOR pushing him so far, and especially FOR releasing him to her!

Happiness occurs by choice, not chance. When you decide you have suffered enough, it’s time to leave what you think is your comfort zone. That involves taking the chance to be uncomfortable in new surroundings for a while, so you can explore new goals. There’s a pot of gold at the end of the beautiful love rainbow. Say this mantra often, “If bad love happens TO me, it is really happening FOR me.” Then savor the discovery of what that magic “FOR” actually is! I love happy endings, so please let me hear about yours!


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), "How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats," (London Book Festival Literary Award Winner) "99 Prescriptions for Fidelity," and more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Did I Do Wrong??

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

When the going got tough, her guy got going. One woman wonders if she should have been more flexible.

Dear Dr. Gilda,

I had a boyfriend for almost 10 wonderful years. Then I learned my ex-husband was dying with cancer. He was a good father to our only son. My ex-husband asked me if I would take care of him his last days. He did not want hospice care and had no relatives who could help. I told my boyfriend I was going to take care of my ex-husband; I gave him the house

address and phone number where he could reach me. He called a couple of times, but not much.

During the first month and a half, I went home to see my boyfriend. I asked him if he had met anyone new. He said no, but I knew something was wrong. He asked me to get my ex hospice care and return home, but I just couldn’t. After three months of suffering my ex-husband passed away and I returned home. Six months later I found out that my guy had been dating two other women. He dumped me and kept his two new girlfriends.

I have not moved on. I feel the whole situation was so unfair, but just can’t seem to motivate myself to be interested in dating right now. What’s going on?!

Nurturing Nora

Dear Nurturing Nora,

Never, never, never apologize for offering kindness, as you did for your ex-husband. And now that the difficult time is over, stop hanging out on the corner of If Only Boulevard. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Crises push us toward new opportunities.” While challenges are occurring, and you’re up to your neck in muck and mire, the prevailing goal is to just get through the ordeal. But after you emerge from the dark tunnel, you begin to see things in a new light.

You say you “had a boyfriend for 10 wonderful years.” Especially now that you are no longer together, examine why you thought the years were so “wonderful.” You say that during the beginning of your caretaking, you returned home to see your boyfriend, and you sensed his coldness. You asked if he was seeing someone new, surmising that another woman was involved. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Honor the guru within you.” Usually, your gut is right! You chose to ignore it.

Look at the facts objectively:

1. Despite a 10-year history together, after only 1½ months of separation, as you were off on a safari of unconditional giving, he greeted you with an attitude.

2. Even when he told you nothing was wrong, you opted not to probe. Why did you ignore your instincts and practice avoidance?

Is this how you traditionally dealt with him when things were rocky? No relationship lasts 10 years without some bumps in the road. Assess how you managed yours.

This guy has obvious flaws in his personality. But your choice to avoid the issue is a flaw in yours. Wonderful Boyfriend wasted no time in getting busy elsewhere. He was saying, “If you don’t give me my way, I’ll find someone who will!” Oh, puh-leeze! How selfish and immature can a person be?!

Of course, you’re shell-shocked now, so this is what I suggest you do now:

1. Recall your interactions in the past when Wonder Boy didn’t get his way. Do you see consistent selfish patterns?

2. List as many instances as you can remember when you chose to avoid your guy’s difficult behavior. While you may have chosen to avoid a blow-up during this crisis, determine whether this is your usual modus operandi in challenging situations.

3. Take an Assertiveness Training course to build confrontation muscle.

While this is a staggering blow after 10 years with this guy, view the experience as an opportunity to communicate with men differently from now on. Ease up on your Nurturing Nora nature, and voice your own preferences when you love again.


Dr. Gilda


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), and other books. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.