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Transcript: Friday, February 11, 11 a.m. ET

Dating Advice

Daniel Rosenberg
Friday, February 11, 2005; 11:00 AM

After witnessing too many of their female friends' relationships crash and burn -- ending in tears, disappointment and too many pints of chunky monkey ice cream, "A-list" ex-bachelors Daniel Rosenberg and Richard Kirshenbaum wanted to help other women with their dating careers.

So they have written "Closing the Deal: Two Married Guys Take You from Single Miss to Wedded Bliss" (William Morrow/ An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers), revealing all the dos and don'ts noncommunicative men have harbored for centuries.

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"Closing the Deal" provides you with the tools necessary to make your man get down on one knee -- his most uncomfortable position -- to ask "will you marry me?"

The transcript follows.

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.


Daniel Rosenberg: Thank you all for coming here today. Richard Kirshenbaum and I are very proud of the book and I think it serves its intended purpose: to help women understand commitment-phobic men. Remember, we're not experts - just ordinary guys who have helped a lot of our female friends on their way to the altar. I look forward to your questions.


Boston, Mass.: Three years ago I happily dated a man who cheated on me. I found out about this after we broke up, and stopped speaking to him for several months. After almost a year of not speaking, he returned to my life. He begged forgiveness as he acted like a real jerk the first time we dated and claimed he was now mature and realized what it took to be in a real relationship and just wanted a chance to prove it to me. That was seven months ago and he has put more time and energy into proving himself and investing in our relationship than I see with most other couples I know. My question is, from your experience... is the saying true "Once a cheater, always a cheater?" Although I have nothing to doubt now - I worry that old habits may arise in the future.

Thank you!

Daniel Rosenberg: This is a tough question to answer without knowing your man. I think a man who cheats has a character flaw that allows him to do this. It sounds to me that he has really changed his ways and I'm all for second chances. Give him the benefit of the doubt but give it more time before you let your guard down fully. I know a lot of men who have cheated early in a relationship and are entirely faithful now. I'm a firm believer in the idea that men can change and often WANT to improve themselves (it's an ego thing)! Good luck!


Washington, D.C.: I have been dating my daughter's father for five years. For the most part, our relationship is good. However, I am ready to get married and he is not. He says I need to act like I want to get married. What does that statement mean? Should I stay or move on?

My gut tells me to leave but my heart tells me to stay.

Daniel Rosenberg: I'm all about the nuclear family and I think it's important for families to maintain traditional roles. If you don't know what he means by that statement how can I? The answer is that you need to find out exactly what he means! Don't be afraid to ask the question and don't be afraid of the answer!


Washington, D.C.: I am headed to a singles gala tonight. I am having ugly flashbacks to my middle school dance days where I would sit in the corner and nobody would talk to me. Any suggestions on how to handle this kind of event? Also is it better to exchange e-mails or phone numbers? Is it okay for the woman to ask for the info, or should I wait for the guy to offer it up?

Daniel Rosenberg: Just remember that men are as petrified as you are. This is where a sense of humor comes in really handy. Break the ice by trying to be laid back and make him comfortable. I love the idea of e-mailing back and forth -- it takes time and effort and often can be fun and sexy. These days, either sex can do the asking - just don't seem so eager (remember, men want to feel like their winning a prize!)


Bethesda, Md.: I am a single forty-something mom who has been very much in love with someone around my own age for nearly four years. The first phase of our relationship was very passionate and intense, but crashed and burned out after several months. However, after nearly a year's break, we got together again and have been slowly growing closer over time. He has been spending between 3 and 5 days/week with us lately, we've gotten to know his family, and he has gotten to know mine, has visited them, etc. We are together a lot on the weekends, and my daughter (aged 11) has started to enjoy his company & even expect his presence (although I have tried to carefully explain that we can't always expect him there).

He has said that he really wants to stay with me and doesn't want to leave the relationship. It is a really good relationship as it is, and I wouldn't want to give it up. He has not ever raised the idea of marriage. I think this is because he's been through 2 divorces, and the idea of a commitment is understandably scary. I've never discussed the possibility of marriage with him and don't plan to, but it would be really nice because if there was ever a man I would want to marry it would be him. And personally, I'd prefer to be married.

Do you have any advice for me?

Daniel Rosenberg: Don't be afraid to get what you want in life! I'm sure your man wants you to be happy and if being happy means being married then you're entitled to work towards that. I think it's important that you start conversations about what you want. BUT DISARM HIM! Tell him what you just told me - that you understand how he might be afraid of doing it again. Don't force everything into one conversation. Do it over time. Learn where you stand!


Danville, Calif.: Hi! I was hoping that you might be able to offer me some advice:

I am 22 and my boyfriend of six years is 24. We have been dating long distance for the duration of our relationship, as I have just finished college and have moved back to my hometown and he is a military officer stationed in Tennessee. We both agree that we are meant to be together, and are best friends in addition to being boyfriend and girlfriend. However, when I bring up my relocating to be near him (which I won't do without a permanent commitment) he says he's just not quite ready to get married yet. I am losing steam with being so far away from him (we see each other about once a month), but I don't want to "throw in the towel." I've always hated it when perfect couples didn't end up together just because of timing. What is the best way for me to handle this situation?

Daniel Rosenberg: If you're willing to relocate and want to give it a shot and love the guy, go for it! But give yourself a time limit. Let him know that you care about him but unless he's a man with a plan soon, you're going to be a woman on a plane! I think our book will be really helpful to you about setting goals and moving him toward marriage.


Wheaton, Md.: Do guys in general have this "need" to line their ducks all in a row (a.k.a., make sure everything is perfect and under THEIR control) before they think they're ready to propose? My boyfriend says "I want to marry you," but he follows that up with "BUT I'm not ready to propose." I don't think it's a financial reason, though. What do you think?

Daniel Rosenberg: Guys hate change. Pure and simple. It sounds like your man is on the cusp and needs that little push. You need to make it clear that you're not "ready to wait for a proposal." Read about all of this in our chapter, "The Art of The Bluff" where we cover men who are almost there but need a little more push.


Arlington, Va.: The preface to this chat makes it seem that your book is about getting reluctant men down the aisle. Do most women really want to convince a man to marry them? I'd hope they'd only want to marry a man who actually wants to get married of his own accord.

Daniel Rosenberg: That's an excellent point. And speaking as a guy who was "reluctant" - my wife calmed a lot of the fears that I had and that made me eager to propose. It is about getting a man to give an answer in a respectable amount of time.


Washington, D.C.: I have a girlfriend of about a year whom I love and care about. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time with an engaged co-worker. She and I would like to start dating, but we both want to avoid the messy guilt and deception that might come along with that. What's your advice on how to have our cake and eat it, too?

Daniel Rosenberg: This one is easy. Both of you need to make a choice. Unfortunately for you, if you want to avoid the "guilt and deception," you only get to choose one.


San Francisco, Calif.: I'm actually the brother of an unmarried guy. Now that I've got that out of the way I have two questions:

1. I know women want a commitment but does it make sense to anyone to rush someone into a decision before they're ready?

Daniel Rosenberg: Absolutely not. This is about getting an answer sooner than later. Even if the answer is no. We don't feel that men should waste women's time, especially if they want to experience childbirth with their husbands. I give guys a lot more credit - I don't think a woman is going to force them to get married - just force them to make a decision.


Washington, D.C.: Hi guys! Congratulations on all the good press surrounding your book! Could not be more timely subject for me -- what to do about a man (mid-thirties) who wants to get married, even knows he wants to marry me, but is scared to (forgive me), "just do it?" Have been together over two years, and this has been an issue for the past year. Thanks so much!

Daniel Rosenberg: There are 12 chapters in our book calling your name!! There are so many things you should be doing - including marketing the idea of marriage to him!


Alexandria, Va.: I don't think it's a girlfriend's job to push a guy into marriage. That's why he has a mother, sister, grandmother, aunts, cousins, coworkers... he needs one person to be supportive, hopefully that's his girl.

Daniel Rosenberg: Well said. This is more about getting an answer in a time frame you deserve. Like I said, I give guys a lot more credit than that. No one is pushing them into anything they don't want for themselves. Most guys I know aren't afraid to walk away from a bad "deal." The problem is, they often get cold feet before closing a good one!


Washington, D.C.: How much stock do you put in the "he's just not that into you" theory? I've been in a great relationship for a few years and while I feel I'm ready to move in together/get engaged, he says although he loves me, he is not ready for the next step. Is he just not ready for it with me?

Daniel Rosenberg: I think the "he's just not that into you" message is empowering for women. But what if he IS into you but isn't ready to make a commitment yet? We think it's important for women to address those concerns.


Germantown, Md.: My question is this... we have been dating for almost 5 years. He joined the Navy last year and we only see each other on weekends. He has told me that he wants to marry me and I am the one that he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Why won't he ask me then? I am not sure if it is because all his friends on his ship are unhappily married or divorced. They fill his head with all the wrong views on marriage. How can I get him to ask me without scaring him away? Help me please!

Daniel Rosenberg: 5 years is a long time and as women get older the time they spend with the men they date should be shorter. After all, they should know exactly what they want as they gain more experience. You need to read the chapter on the ART OF THE BLUFF and take back some of the control in the relationship. Remember: it's not about game playing and if you're not going to be happy without a real commitment, then how can he be happy?


Washington, D.C.: Needing some basic advice on how to initiate "the talk" with my guy. We've been seeing each other for over a year, off-and-on (meaning, we started strong, tapered off, and now things are picking up again, consistently). His actions say he's interested but getting him to talk about his feelings has been a challenge. How can I express what I want to him (a more serious relationship) without freaking him out? Many thanks.

Daniel Rosenberg: This is a great question because it addresses the fundamental difference between the 2 sexes. We could go years without having this "talk" and women could have it every waking moment (okay, I exaggerate, but you get the idea). My advice is to have this conversation when you're both relaxed, alone and in a good mood. Start talking about all the things you love about him. And talk about all the ways you make him better. Don't be afraid to ask him what his goals are - what he sees in the future. Pick your moments and buckle down - it's not an easy conversation to start but once you get going, don't stop until you get some good answers. Don't force the conversation either. If it gets uncomfortable, table it for a while and then bring it up another time. Make sure you bring it up again though!


Manassas, Va.: Is marriage the defining aspect of making a person a person? Whether I was single or engaged (as I am now for the first time) I am still as whole as I was before, and so is she. The commitment we made to each other doesn’t need a ring or a wedding to validate our love. So my question really is, why, as a society do we put so much weight on finding someone to make us complete or better or something we can't find within ourselves. For me, I am in love, and she loves me because of who I was when she met me. I have not changed after a year together, and she loves the fact that I can stand on my own (as she does too) without having to have each other by the others side all the time. Can we educate people that two lives can still exist in a relationship without sacrifice of an identity?

Daniel Rosenberg: I think you may have a book to write! One of the first things we write about is that this book is about closing the deal with your soul mate. Every relationship is different and the levels of co-dependency are too. I agree with you that men and women need to keep their identities separate and one of the most important things we stress to women (and men) is to get a life! Make it exciting and fun and who wouldn't want to spend every moment with you?


Confused, D.C.: My girlfriend and I of 7 years now have contemplated moving cross-country to California. We've known each other since high school and are extremely close. Recently since we've brought up moving, she has questioned whether we should live together or not. I'm a huge fan of saving money and living together once we're out there, especially since it is the unknown for the both of us. I also realize though that convenience shouldn't be the main reason why you live with someone. I guess my question is how do you know if that's the only reason why I want to live with her when we decide to take off. I love her to death, but don't know if she's on to something regarding the fact that maybe we're really just friends at this point and any move should have us living separately. I know I have no interest in marriage right now.

Daniel Rosenberg: If she hasn't expressed any desire to get married (and it doesn’t sound like she has) then why are you putting all this pressure on yourself? Maybe marriage isn't her goal - not ALL women want that! If she was asking the question about moving in with a guy who she wanted to marry but he wasn't ready, I'd be telling her to be careful - it sounds like you have a long way to go before being ready to commit and your finances are the least of it.


Rosslyn, Va.: Hello,

I have a question and hope that you guys can help me. I have been dating a guy for more than a year now. He is not very sold on marriage. He says to me "give me reasons why one should get married and give me reasons why one should have children?" What do I say that?

Daniel Rosenberg: In CLOSING THE DEAL we have a list of what we call Marriage Motivators. These are things that will get men excited about marriage. One is called WINNING THE PRIZE and if he doesn't step up soon, someone else will be winning you! Men want to feel like they're buying a stock that everyone else wants! Let your self-confidence shine through. If you guys have such different goals then maybe it's time to rethink whether he's "THE ONE."


Washington, D.C.: How long do you think people should date before they get engaged? 1 year, 5 years? Or do you think it's more of a function of having shared major experiences -- e.g., holidays, funerals, weddings, job loss, and job gain? I'm not suggesting that a guy I date needs to experience a funeral with me to get married... just trying to get an idea of an appropriate timeline for making the decision to get married - BTW, I'm in my 30s.

Daniel Rosenberg: This is a question that has haunted women for ages. There's no right answer but that doesn't mean I don't have one! We feel that as women get older the time should be shorter. If you're in your early 20s then you have some luxury of time. My parents met in their late 30s and married after 6 months and are together 37 years later! I think it's because they both had the experience of knowing what they wanted and leapt for it when they saw it.


Laurel, Md.: You say "It is about getting a man to give an answer in a respectable amount of time." What's a respectable amount of time?

I'm not getting any younger

Daniel Rosenberg: A "respectable amount of time" is up to you!!!!!!!! Give yourself some credit and power in the relationship! Ask yourself how long are you willing to wait?


RE: Applicable to women?: Can your book help lesbians or is it really geared towards snagging a man? My girlfriend of 4 years is being a stick in the mud.

Daniel Rosenberg: Funny you should ask! My co-worker is a lesbian and she read an early copy of the book. She just got engaged. Coincidence? I'll let you decide. But this is really about understanding your partner and mostly applies to men. There are some things that are applicable to everyone though. Thanks for your question!


Waldorf, Md.: My boyfriend and I broke up in November. We had the perfect relationship, and were amazing together. We said I love you and I care about you but that with our lives being so busy we couldn't do it right now. We still talk from time to time. I'm still in love with him. I don't know if I'm supposed to wait for him. Or let him go? He's my best friend, my everything!

Daniel Rosenberg: Why would you want to let him go? If you're broken up, you should be dating and seeing what's out there. Don't limit yourself or your opportunities. But don't let him back in unless he's A MAN WITH A PLAN. Don't get back into a relationship with him unless you're both clear where it's heading and are cool with it.


Daniel Rosenberg: I wish I had more time for all of your questions but I promise you that most of them are covered in our book! Richard and I were both commitment-phobic guys who love being married and being fathers. If men would buy these books we'd have a lot to say to them! And remember, whatever we say that women have to do to close the deal, goes doubly for men!


Daniel Rosenberg: Thank you!


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