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Transcript: Friday, February 11, 1 p.m. ET

The Dating Doctor

David D. Coleman
Relationship Expert
Friday, February 11, 2005; 1:00 PM

"Hitch" is a romantic comedy which stars Will Smith as a New York City date doctor who, for a fee, has helped hundreds of men woo the women of their dreams. The ultimate professional bachelor, Hitch discovers that all his tried and true tricks of the trade are no match for Sara (Eva Mendes), the one woman he truly loves.

Relationship expert David D. Coleman, is known nationwide as the real-life "dating doctor," and has been featured in publications such as Us Weekly, and Glamour. He's also appeared on CNN, ABC, and Fox.


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The transcript follows below.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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David D. Coleman: Hello folks!

My name is David Coleman and for the past 20 years I have been known as the Dating Doctor. I give honest and often humorous advice to your most sincere, troubling and genuine questions. I am here until 2 p.m. and I will do my best to help you. After 2 p.m., you can always reach me at www.datingdoctor.com.

Thanks for joining me today and for reading washingtonpost.com.

David

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: Dearest Date Doc:
How do I get my boyfriend of a year to delve back into his romantic roots? When we first started dating I was overwhelmed by his chivalry and romance. I want it back!
Thanks!

David D. Coleman: Rarely will people change their behavior if they are getting everything they want doing what they are doing. The person who loves, cares or tries the least, the one who is least invested, has all the control in a relationship. Right now, that seems to be your boyfriend. Think back to when you first met. What kinds of dates did you go on that fueled your passion? What brought a smile to your face? What made you laugh until you cried or made you cry tears of wonderful emotion or sorrow? Make up a list of these activities and "explain" to him that you're more than willing to go out with him if you could please meet the man you used to know at a place you used to enjoy visiting! Hopefully, he will see how much you love him and want it to work and "get it!"

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Washington, D.C.: Hi David,

I'm 35 and single again after breaking off a 7 year relationship. My question is - how do I date again? I've been "out of the game" for so long -- I don't know how to get back in it. I always used to meet girls in bars, but now that just seems so unappealing. Thanks for your help. Mike H.

David D. Coleman: Do not disregard online dating. Match.com and e-Harmony.com are wonderful sites if you put honest information, current pictures and date only those people who truly interest you. It can help you get back into the game and build up your self-esteem and confidence again. Also, get involved in your church or community. Join projects or committees that are co-ed. Join a co-ed sports team or hobby class. Will you date those who are on your committee, on your team or in your class? Maybe. But they also might have friends who join you afterwards. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off and you must believe that you are a GREAT CATCH. Because if you don't, how can you expect them to?

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Loveless in Louisiana: So... I'm currently single and mulling over past mistakes and I'm wondering what your opinion is on Valentine's Day. My last girlfriend told me I didn't make enough of an effort when it came to special occasions, but I guess I just don't see what the point is in this superficial holiday. What's your take on it?

David D. Coleman: I know that hearing this from The Dating Doctor may sound strange, but I think that VALENTINE'S DAY SUCKS! Why? Because here is how I define romance... romance is performing an ordinary act of love or kindness at an unexpected time. Valentine's Day is not unexpected. In fact, it is the day we are judged as a romantic man. So, beat her to the punch. Follow this advice and you WILL get LOVIN'! Do not wait until the 14th to give her your card and gift. Give it all to her on February 13th along with a handwritten note that says, "No one as special as you should have to wait another day!" Then, get some sleep and rest... you'll need it!

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Washington, D.C.: I am an outgoing and friendly woman in my late 20s. But I never get asked out on dates! I always have to do the asking -- I can only think of one or two situations where a man was bold enough to even come over and talk to me. Is being outgoing somehow intimidating to most men? Do they only want to ask out the meek? Help!

David D. Coleman: Without knowing you I can only assume that your demeanor or outward attitude is conveying that you are not interested in them or already taken. When men see a woman with a wall up, all but the ones with guts run for the exits. Take this advice... the only pick up line a woman ever has to use for a guy is to make some eye contact, smile and say the word "Hello" because what we hear is... "She wants me... right here... right now!" Keep good posture, use eye contact, smile, say hello. Even the biggest, strongest macho man turns into a little boy and runs and hides when he is turned down by a woman. Let me know, if they do approach you, they won't be sorry. Compassion and passion begins with great eyes and a caring smile.

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Washington, D.C.: Help! I meet lots of guys that I enjoy hanging out with but things never progress to "dating". Or I go on lots of first dates but not so many second ones. Conversation is easy and I make sure to get the guys to talk about their interests, etc. But clearly things aren't going as well as I think they are if guys don't call again. I fear that I may be viewed a great "buddy" but not a "date." What's a girl to do to change her image?

David D. Coleman: I am not a guy to "fluff" answers. If you are getting the "best friend, nice gal and buddy...but not a lover" feeling from men, you are either not attractive to them in a romantic way or you are spending too much time around them when they are in their "let's hang out and be friends mood." MEN WANT WHAT THEY CANNOT HAVE! If you are around all the time and always dressed down or too casual and taking on characteristics of them, they will begin to see you as one of the guys, not as the gorgeous, sensual, romantic woman that I am sure you are.

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Largo, Md.: David - I'm going on a blind date, but I'm nervous. We're doing dinner, and I hate the awkward silences in conversation. Do you have any good conversation tips?

David D. Coleman: Yes. Take a list, on paper or in your mind of topic areas... sports, hobbies, movies, t.v. shows, books you've read, musical tastes, things in life you're proud of, embarrassing moments you've survived, etc. that you can bring up as conversation starters. The key is to ask your dating partner "open ended questions." These require an answer other than yes or no. Then, instead of worrying about your reply, actually listen to what they say and react to them. They will feel great about you and the time will fly by. You might need more!

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Baltimore, Md.: Hi David! Is Will Smith's character in the movie close to what you do as a "dating doctor?"

David D. Coleman: Remarkably so, yes. If I didn't know better, I'd swear.... I don't stand on street corners asking for business though. I normally speak to large and small groups of men and women at a time. My goal is to help people get out of their own way, form a plan of action, develop courage and confidence and become the fat penguin and meet their hmm... A "hmm" is someone you see who stops you dead in your tracks and makes you go hmm!!! You need to be the Fat Penguin to meet them as Fat Penguin's BREAK the ICE! Someone has to make eye contact and say hello. I want that to be my clients!

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Brentwood, Md.: Hi David,

I was with a guy for 13 years and when we moved in together after we became engaged
things fell apart. Needless to say I was distraught and upset. After I moved out a year later I went thru different relationships and no one seem really to tickle my fanny. I am 39 years old and decided to have children out of two of those relationships even though I never married. My children are 3 years old and 3 months. My youngest one's father is very supportive but I do not love him and there is no discussion of marriage. We are good partners, but I do not understand why I do not have a love interest in him. Do you think that I should try to grow with him and see what happens or to keep looking for someone that I am truly interested in?

Signed,
Waiting for love

David D. Coleman: Waiting... I feel for you... there are 5 characteristics of a healthy relationship and 3 types of love. You must have these before even considering maintaining a relationship with him or anyone else. Here goes.

The 5 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship;

Trust
Respect
Intimacy
Passion
Commitment

The 3 types of Love found in healthy and passionate relationships are:

Eros... erotic love, attraction... passion!
Agape... heartfelt love, a love you choose, it grows stronger over time.
Philia... friendship, enjoying each other's company and intimacy.

Take a hard look... do you trust him, respect him, want to spend intimate time with him... are you passionate for him and committed to him? Is he ANY or ALL of these in return?

Do you feel the 3 types of love for him? Does he for you?

It is time to search your life, the time you spend with him and both of your souls for the truth!

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi David - What do you think of age differences in dating? I really want to ask this guy out from my office. The problem is I'm 34 and he's a recent college grad (22). We flirt all the time - but I somehow feel "dirty" for even thinking of taking in further. Is there an "inappropriate" age difference? Mandy

David D. Coleman: AGE IS A STATE OF MIND...in most cases. Age differences usually work better with younger women and older men. Why? Because women mature 2-4 years more quickly than men sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically and often spiritually. So, with him being so young it makes that age difference even more profound.

Here is the good thing though... a man's sexual prime is 18-35... for a woman it's 26-45... so the sex might be amazing... but you might not have much to talk about after you're done. :-)

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Washington, D.C.: Is it appropriate to bring a man back to your place on a first date?

David D. Coleman: Yes, if you don't plan on seeing him much in the future. The quicker a man wants to have sex with a woman, the less long term plans he usually has for her. Bringing him back to your place says to him...."She finds me attractive. She wants to be alone with me. She wants to kiss, pet or go farther. This is awesome!" HOWEVER, as much as men want this, they will think long and hard about being with a woman long term who "slept' with them on a first date. You might have heard an old saying that men, "want a lady in the parlor and a freak in the bedroom." Well, for some men, that isn't too far from the truth. Good luck. Be smart. If you think he could be the real deal, make sure he knows a lot more about you before he knows the color of your bedroom walls.

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Anonymous: He says we "can't" work because we live in different countries. Also he has a hard time trusting because his ex cheated. Yet he calls and tells me that he thinks about me all the time, says romantic things, etc. He knows I love him, but he keeps holding back. Any advice?

David D. Coleman: Long distance relationships are VERY difficult. When my session is done here, go to www.datingdoctor.com and find the link for Monthly Relationship Advice. There you will find a column called... the bottom line on long distance relationships. I think you will find it very helpful.

On another note... any man throwing so many "reasons" and "excuses" as to why is can't and won't work, is looking for a way out and may have already given up his heart and time to another. Be careful. You sound sweet and vulnerable and that gives him all the control.

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Washington, D.C.: Looking forward to seeing "Hitch" this weekend! I've been dating an amazing guy for a few months, and during that time, we basically spent all our free time together. Lately, I've been feeling slightly smothered (although my feelings towards him haven't changed) and wanting to spend less time with him. Is that natural given the fact that we've spent so much time together lately - or is it a sign of things to come? He's very confused as to why I want to suddenly have more time to myself.

Thanks!

David D. Coleman: Yes, it is VERY normal and if you two don't back off a bit he may smother you out of this relationship. Relationships come down to math...

1+1=1

It takes one whole healthy INDEPENDENT person, plus another who healthy INDEPENDENT person to make a great relationship. Meaning, it is wonderful to be close as a couple but make sure to have lives apart as well. Becoming a loving couple does not and should not mean the end of your personal life and being. You were individuals when you fell in love...remember who those people were and what they looked and sounded like!!!

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Washington, D.C.: Has there ever been a "Sara" in your life? Someone who made you re-think some of your ideas on relationships?

David D. Coleman: I meet a "Sara" every day. That is what makes life so great. You think you know what you want and who you want and the type of things that make you feel loved and satisfied and comfortable and then you meet someone who knocks you for a loop and makes you challenge anything you've ever thought or known about relationships. It is called growth and maturity. It is call living a life with no regrets. It is being humble enough to admit when you are wrong. Remember, American's love a comeback from an underdog!

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Madison, Va.: My boyfriend, although amazing has twice clammed up when a situation happens. He drops all communication with me, and I have to fight to get him to communicate. Once he does, everything is fine, and he's all apologetic -- says he'll never do it again, loves me, etc. However, no sooner he says this then something else comes up and he does it again. I'm not sure if he's trying to sabotage the relationship, or just doesn't realize what he's doing. I refuse to be treated in this way, and have washed my hands of him.

David D. Coleman: That was probably a smart move. There is something called the cylce of abuse. It looks and works like this.

The honeymoon phase (after a blow up)... the person tells you how sorry they are, how much they love and care for you, and that it will never happen again.

next... comes the...

tension builds phase. They begin to repeat the words and actions that lead to trouble before.

next... comes the...

tension explodes or erupts! They hurt you again by words and/or actions.

and then...again...comes...

the honeymoon phase. This can and will repeat until someone does something to get both people help or bring the relationship to closure... which it seems you have done.

Good luck.

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RE: "Men want what they have": Arghhh! What self-respecting woman would want a man like that?

David D. Coleman: Actually, men want what they CANNOT have. When they can't have something or someone, they want it or them more than anything. When a man truly wants and desires someone or something, nothing will stand in his way (in his mind) of getting what he wants. He will use anything within his "arsenal" to put his best foot forward, reduce his limitations and give himself a chance to be successful.

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New York, N.Y.: I'm 32 and my boyfriend is 34. I think he either has a commitment problem or truly doesn't love me. He doesn't like the idea of giving me a key to his apt. (for the times I arrive before him and he's not there), he says he's not the "I love you" type and when he talks about kids he says "yours" or "mine" and never "ours." What should I do? I love him but don't want to be wasting my time. Is there a way to approach him without making me look too desperate or needy?

David D. Coleman: Wow, the fact that he does not want you to have a key sends a few red flags....

1. He may not feel close enough to you for you to have full time access to his "private and personal" life. This means you could enter whenever you want, even when he doesn't know you are coming.

2. If he has been divorced before, he may have a very long memory. Divorce is tough and often men (both parties) lose half of what they had and had to undergo tremendous compromise.

3. If he is getting everything he wants from you right now (and I said every thing) why would he change what is already working?

There are five stages to relationships... where do you think you are:

Infatuation: Immediate. Demanding. Intense. They are PERFECT in your eyes.

Discovery: You begin to learn more about them and realize they are not perfect.

Reality: You have dated them long enough to know EXACTLY who they are.

Decision: Do we stay or go? Move forward or call it quits?

and finally...

Commitment... to the future with a desire for lifetime love, intimacy and excellence.

Take a hard look at you, then him and you as a couple. You never get a wasted day back!

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Baltimore, Md.: Two months ago I was the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding out of town. I finally met her husband's cousin (who I had been hearing about for 2 years) and there was some immediate chemistry. We ended flirting all weekend, and then hooking up after the wedding. We exchanged numbers and have talked and e-mailed some since the wedding. I would really love to see him again, but he's in Connecticut and I'm in Baltimore. He showed initial interest in talking, even mentioning a potential visit to Baltimore, but now things have cooled. Per your previous answer about getting intimate too soon, did I shoot myself in the foot by hooking up with him when I first met him? Had it been a first date in the traditional sense, I would never have gotten into bed with him, but being out of town staying in a hotel set us up in more non-traditional environment. Is there any hope? Thanks!

David D. Coleman: Reasons things could have "cooled" since the wedding...

The distance to him. Out of sight, out of mind.

He is now attracted to someone else or others who live much closer.

He got what he wanted and although he may miss you and want you again, it isn't worth his time and effort due to the distance.

Here is the only hope as I see, send him a note that tells him that you still think about him and care about him, but you care about you more. If he wants you in his life, he needs to make it known in a way that shows that he cares...really cares.

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Washington, D.C.: All too often, I see the avoidable dating tragedy happen. The story goes like this: You start dating someone who is still in love with their ex, and needs to sort that out before they can move on. Or you start dating someone of a different culture who is ultimately not willing to defy their family's wishes for them to have a partner of similar cultural background.

It seems these kinds of situations can be dealt with through better communication in the earlier stages of dating. But how do you ask these kinds of questions without freaking the other person out? You don't want to talk about marriage before you're dating seriously--but at the same time, you may not want to fall in love if there's no possibility for getting serious or married.

Thanks,
Confused

David D. Coleman: GREAT QUESTION AND INSIGHT!!

In my previous book... we developed something called the 15-minute find. It is a way to find out 5 IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS about someone in 15-minutes or less. You look for:

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AND COMPATIBILITY

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

LIFESTYLE AND INTERSTS

PARENTAL-EDUCATIONAL-AND GEOGRAPHIC INFLUENCES

and....

RELATIONSHIP CLOSURE AND HISTORY

It is amazing how much you can learn about someone in a short period of time if you have an open and honest discussion from your heart. Even when you just first meet.

Go to www.datingdoctor.com and pick it up!

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Washington, D.C.: Boyfriend of two years is darn near perfect, but he's more "I love you" than "I'm in love with you." I know he has it in him. He felt "in love with" someone years ago. He's also told me that he's said "I love you" to women he's felt only a friendship kind of love for. Everything else in our relationship is perfect (we live together; he's great to my children). But I'm afraid that the lack of his expressing passion means he'll leave me for someone he feels it with. I'd feel more confident if he spoke of me in absolutes: "You're the BEST girlfriend I've had" or "you're THE ONE I've been looking for" or "I've never been in love like I am with you." Not only would this make me feel more secure, but -- gosh, I'd really like to be absolutely worshiped and adored. (By him.) Thoughts? Thanks!

David D. Coleman: Yup, I do have thoughts, but you might not like hearing them...men have trouble saying out loud what they don't feel inside. I love my daughters...but I am IN LOVE with my girlfriend. One comes from the heart and means that I adore them. The other comes from passion and means I'd rather never live with out her and that I want her more than words can express.

Again, if you look at my previous answers, there are 3 types of love:

Eros = Erotic
Agape = Heartfelt
Philia = Friendship

If you are missing "Eros" with someone... you will quite often find your heart wandering to another that makes you want to say... "hmm!!!"

Good luck.

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David D. Coleman: Due to a previous commitment, I will only be on line today until 2 p.m.. Thank you for your interest and I hope that I have been of some help or comfort to you. I speak to tens of thousands of people per year and my books, cd, and video are available on my Web site. I would be happy to sign them for you.

Take a date and go and see the movie "Hitch." It is darn near exactly what I do for a living (without all the Hollywood drama), but I don't have the luxury of scriptwriters who make it all culminate in a happy ending. Life is sometimes a bit more challenging than that. I wish I did have them sometimes!

Keep a few things in mind as I wish you the best:

Get out of your own way and stop making excuses for yourself and others in your life.

Avoid following a self-fulfilling prophecy (where you convince yourself you have no chance or not enough game).

If you don't think you are an incredible catch, why would anyone else.

You never get a wasted day back and every moment of your life is precious.

And... there are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going!

I believe that you will not find the right person until you become the right person, so work on you first... your dream will follow.

It has been my pleasure "meeting" you and I wish you the best in life and love.

David Coleman
The "Real" Dating Doctor :-)

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