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The do's & don'ts of dating

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January 08, 2009

As part of a relationship series to ensure you're lucky in love this year, we bring you an excerpt from How to Simplify Your Love by Marion and Werner Tiki Kustenmacher. The couple are internationally recognised for their best-selling books and put out the monthly newsletter Simplify Your Life.

Presented below is a sub-section from Part II of the book, The Second Dwelling of Love: The Love Tent.

Where to Meet People

This territory has been explored quite thoroughly. Taking a look at current trends shows that, most often, the sparks fly at work. In second place is your circle of friends. The Internet has been undisputed in third place since 2003. Virtual dating services have surpassed even the classic meeting places such as bars and dance clubs. We have sorted our simplification tips according to the order of this hit parade of love.

Searching for a Partner at the Workplace. Most couples meet along the career path. Still, not every office flirtation ends happily -- a few people even have in the end lost not only their desired partner but also their job. It's important to know the rules of the game so that you don't run into any on-the-job hazards.

  • Widen your radius. Enlarge the circle of people with whom you interact. If you work in a small company, use every opportunity to work outside the office. Visit in person business partners whom you usually only talk to on the phone. Your company could profit from this and the most important person of your life just might cross your path.

    If you work in a large firm, don't stay holed up in your division. Use the existing infrastructure: go to continuing education classes, take on small office responsibilities (eg, distributing supplies, helping organise the company picnic, etc).
  • Don't fall into the hierarchy trap. Flirt with a colleague rather than with your boss. Sticking to your own level ensures equality in the relationship, and in general that is good for love: you can be sure that the other person isn't just returning your signals because he or she hopes to get some career boost out of it. Also, in the case of a breakup, your job isn't in danger.
  • Accept rejection. Really. If you ignore a clear refusal, you could be accused of sexual harassment in the workplace -- legal action could follow.
  • Don't make a show of your relationship. Don't annoy your colleagues. Constantly dropping by, calling on the phone, or holding hands gets on other people's nerves as much as does that person who's always five minutes late to the meeting or the other who always yawns loudly all morning. Every task that goes unfinished because of your romance costs you empathy points.
  • Break up with dignity. The greatest dangers for your job aren't lurking during your office liaison, but after it! If the relationship falls apart, it's important that you both find your way back into your original colleague roles. Maintain mutual respect, and remain discreet. Don't vent your anger about your ex in front of your other colleagues, as tempting as it may be. Reduce your daily contact with your ex as much as you can. If you have to, have yourself transferred. The best distraction is to throw yourself into your work so your performance doesn't suffer.

Searching for a Partner in Your Social Circle. Not every workplace is a very social environment, and many people long for a person with whom they share more of their private life. Besides, you also avoid the pitfalls of an on-the-job romance when you look to your social surroundings. After a breakup, many friendships fall apart, and your need for outside contacts drops off at first. In that case, the following principle for simplification goes especially for you: don't sit around and suffer -- do something; be active, not passive.

  • Bar acquaintances -- no, thank you. Dance clubs and trendy bars, the classic meeting places for people looking for a new partner, are the least suited to finding serious potential partners (and in the long term, it can get downright expensive). With the loud music, you can hardly have a conversation, and your possibilities have been preselected: you'll find few nonsmokers in a bar, as well as few early risers or health nuts.
  • Vacation romance -- better not. It may sound cruel for us to discourage this. But the chances of meeting your life's partner on the beach or at the breakfast buffet at the hotel are slim. In these places, you meet people in that special vacation mood. Far away from home, the temptation to not be yourself is great. At a spa or under the tropical sun, good husbands suddenly become love-hungry singles and respectable wives discover their lust for adventure. On the other hand, there are no laws in love, only probabilities.
  • Everyday encounters -- yes, please. It will serve you better to attend events you are interested in. Look around in community colleges, sports clubs, or church groups, where the desperate search for a partner isn't your main focus and the chances for making real contacts isn't so bad. Choose courses or programmes that don't take years to complete, so you can get to know a variety of people. Larger events where the participants belong to similar occupational or private areas are also very good, such as trade shows, openings and conferences.
  • Think against the grain. Attend gatherings where your gender is underrepresented: men in self-discovery groups, women in sports clubs and so on. Rediscover the other gender in yourself; put yourself on the 'other side'. If you are a man who can read a women's magazine, or a woman who can read a car magazine, without thinking everything in it is dumb, you have a giant advantage over your fellow partner-seekers!
  • Use the official trick. An official function or position helps overcome shyness. Help out for a while serving refreshments at a large festival or greeting new arrivals with a name tag on your shirt. This makes it easier to meet people. Make sure that you're not trapped in your job the entire time, though. Once your shift is over, you have the ideal starting point for a conversation (eg, "you had such a nice laugh when I was pouring you that beer just now�"). Especially effective here is a uniform (that was always Grandpa's trick!).
  • Find a wardrobe adviser. What should you wear? What looks the best on you? Women often misjudge what men find attractive about them and vice versa. Find people to advice you, but not only from your own gender. You will be amazed what the other side recommends! Use this seemingly paradoxical idea from behavioral therapy: nothing helps combat shyness so much as an eye-catching outfit.
  • Pay attention to your appearance. Another useful insight from behavioral psychology: stand up straight, make yourself tall (for women, high heels can help), hold your head turned slightly up and always breathe consciously and deeply. This way, your body sends a positive signal to your brain: "I am somebody." That has an immediate effect on your surroundings.

Simplifying Tip: If you are shy or nervous, you come off as much more serious than you think. But if you have to force yourself to seem cheerful, things can also go awry. So give others a friendly smile, as if you've already known and liked them a long time. Imagine that you've already had a pleasant and intimate conversation with the person you want to talk to. This way, you achieve exactly the right friendly, relaxed facial expression that makes conversation easier for both of you.

Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love (Rs 225) by Marion and Werner Tiki Kustenmacher with the permission of publishers Tata McGraw-Hill.

Also read:
Ladies, make yourself irresistible to men!
Passion: The solution to a boring sex life
Are you a dominating, controlling partner?
'Sex and love go hand-in-hand'

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