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Transcript: Mon., May 17 at 1 p.m. ET

On Love: Dating advice for single women

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Michelle R. Callahan, Ph.D.
Author, "Ms. Typed: Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships and Find Dating Success"
Monday, May 17, 2010; 1:00 PM

Fed up with being a single lady? Author Michelle R. Callahan, Ph.D., offers advice and discusses her book "Ms. Typed: Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships and Find Dating Success."A psychologist and author, Callahan's "tell it like it is" style has been featured on daytime talk shows like "Oprah," "The Today Show" and "Dr. Oz." Learn more about her book at www.drmichelle.com.

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For more tips, marital and relationship advice and to see how other couples have gotten to the altar, visit our OnLove section.

The transcript follows.

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Michelle Callahan: Hi everyone! It's Dr. Michelle and I'm here to answer your relationship questions! It doesn't matter if you're in a relationship, trying to get one going, or haven't dated in years--just ask and I'll do what I can to help:)

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DC Metro: What do you think about long distance relationships? I met someone at a wedding back in April who lives in Memphis and I'm in Maryland. We went to the same college at the same time and have lots of the same friends but never knew each other. It's been nice to get to know him by phone and I like him thus far and he does plan to visit next month, but eventually you have to talk "future" before the relationship even becomes committed, right? I mean, you have to know if one person is willing to move otherwise both are wasting time. I've had a hard time getting commitments from men this area(DC) and I need a man who is ready for marriage and recognizes my value, which he is and does. He's a real southern gentleman and comes highly recommended from our friends. What should I do? BTW, he's 42 I'm 41 and I'm not getting any younger, the options are slim for Black women out here.

Michelle Callahan: With all of the technological options available today, long-distance relationships work for a lot of people. We have so many ways to get to know and keep in touch with each other that it gives you a good chance to see if you like the person before you make the leap to move closer. We have texting, cell phones, email, landlines, video chat, etc! In your case, it helps that you have some similarities in your background which make it seem like you may have some things in common with this gentleman. Don't worry about commitment right away, just get to know him and enjoy his company. You can't have a real conversation about where things are going, until they start going somewhere! Someone who doesn't think they want to move may change their mind when they fall in love (and have a reason to move). Just take it slow, enjoy the company, and don't make any "moves" until you both feel really good about it. Good luck!

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Arlington, Va.: I saw your book and think I'm a Ms. Second Place and a Ms. Independent. Any suggestions on how I can start off on the right foot for a first date? I have one on Wednesday with a nice guy. Thanks and Go Blue!

Michelle Callahan: Well Ms. Second Place is always hiding in the shadows and letting her partner put her needs second so I would say you can start off by being honest about where you want to go and what you want to do on the date. Ms. Second Place often has a hard time speaking up and saying what she wants, so don't pretend to like what you think your date likes, say what you want to do and help decide how the date goes. Now, Ms. Independent has been hurt in the past so she over commits herself so that she won't have time for dating. If this date goes well, be sure that you don't look for reasons (that aren't legitimate) to sabotage things out of fear. If it was a good date, make time to see your date again and give things a chance. Good luck and yes...Go Blue!!

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D.C: Thanks for taking my question. I'm at 28-year-old female of a particular faith, and I've always wanted to be with someone of the same faith and outlook. Unfortunately I haven't had much luck with men of the same faith, and I get approached a lot more often by men of other faiths. I am trying to be open-minded and give these other great guys a chance, but in the back of my mind I know I won't be comfortable with a mixed-religion marriage. Should I stop dating men of other faiths? I know of marriages where one spouse adopts the religion of the other, but it's not really fair or realistic to start dating someone based on the hope that they'll convert for me. So what's a girl to do?

Michelle Callahan: Faith and fundamental beliefs are very important and do have an impact on the success of your relationship. It's important to commit to someone who shares your values and world view. If you feel very strongly that you want your partner to share your beliefs then I think you may need to continue looking in more places. There may be singles events or other events sponsored by your group or the place where you worship that can help you connect with more people of similar faith. Also, the more friends you have of similar faith, the more they can introduce you to others of the faith. I am not in any way discouraging you from dating others outside your faith. If you want to, you should. But I'm hearing you say that you don't want to but you feel like you're running out of options. That's no different than saying you have to date a "bad boy" because you're having a hard time finding a "good guy." Whatever you really want and value--don't compromise! Keep looking and be creative by meeting new people in different places until you find the one:) Good luck!

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Tallahassee, Fla.: Hello, I am a college student and I am a bit insecure about dating because I am saving myself for marriage. I feel like guys don't want to date me after they find this out. What can I do to get over this problem?

Michelle Callahan: Don't be afraid or ashamed to be exactly what you are! Our society is very sexually active so it is going to be harder to find someone who is also interested in taking things slower or waiting for marriage. Knowing this will help you be realistic about how people are going to react and to look for the signs that say a person is only really interested in hooking up. When it comes to choosing someone to date, it may help to be friends first so that the person already knows going into the situation what kind of person you are AND you already know what kind of person they are. If you walk into a lot of dates without some knowledge of the person first, you probably will catch each other a little off guard. Save yourself some of the first date drama by trying to weed out the ones you can safely guess aren't supportive of your choices. Don't be discouraged! Just let your light shine! You will eventually connect with the right one:) Good luck!

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Washington, D.C.: "Trust" . . . I was in a relationship for a year, come to found out that he was still in contact with many ex's throughout the relationship -- in an inappropriate way (e.g., texts, pictures, e-mails, etc.). Jerk. It was a rough break-up, we tried to work it out but never ended it until I realized that I didn't have any trust in him whatsoever. Now, a few months later, I'm super jaded and look at any man interested in me now as another jerk that can potentially do the same thing. What to do? Obviously time may help but I'm losing out in the end here, I'm sure. Thanks!

Michelle Callahan: I think you may need some more time off from dating to really heal. You can't expect to go in anticipating disaster and not find or create one:) You really do need to be in a positive space so that you can relax and get to know someone. Processing some of that emotional baggage that you have picked up will help you leave behind the fear that the next guy is the same kind of jerk as the last. My book has a Ms. Typed Makeover Kit that provides exercises on how to deal with old feelings and how to plan for an exciting future. I would check it out so that you can create a whole new positive space and attitude for moving forward. Also, just take it real slow. Try going on some dates just for fun or hanging out with your male friends for male company without the expectation of anything more. If hanging out with guy friends still makes you think "potential jerk," you need more time:) Good luck!

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Mobile, Ala.: I consider myself an attractive young woman (still in college) and I would like to go on more dates. Is there something I can do to meet a wider variety of men?

Michelle Callahan: The best way to meet a wide variety of men is to look in a wide variety of places. We don't even realize that we tend to go to the same kinds of places and meet the same types of people all the time. Attend events that include people who like a wide variety of things from sports, music, travel, reading, spirituality, etc. Think about what kind of guy you want to meet and where you think he would be hanging out. Is he at a bar? Bookstore? Park? Rap concert or the theater? Church? There are so many different types of people that you should make friends with people from different backgrounds and walks of life and then spend time with them in their world. Each new place you hang out will introduce you to a new crowd. Good luck!

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Chevy Chase, Md.: If a woman has gone to bed with a man a bit sooner than perhaps advisory (even though that's subjective) is there ever a way to go back to taking things slow? I had a moment of weakness with a man I really like, but am afraid now he's going to take it for granted that we will be intimate everytime we hang out together. I know I can just say "no," and I will next time, but I wonder if he'll be thinking, "now wait a minute, it's a bit late for holding back." How could I phrase my thoughts to him?

Michelle Callahan: I suggest just being honest by saying that you really like him but that you didn't mean for things to take off so fast so soon. Not to say that you didn't enjoy it, but that you want to spend more time getting to know him and date. Just let him know you want to slow things down a bit. There is an element of that cat already being out of the bag so he probably won't like the idea of no longer being intimate but you both have a say here so all you can do is tell him you want to slow down and then you have to actually slow down. This way, when he asks in the moment, you already explained things and you can remind him of your "talk." You may have to cut a few dates shorter than you would like or end them way before you get close to being intimate so that he gets the idea and then you start working your way back towards intimacy when you feel like the time is right. Don't feel pressured to do something you don't want to! Good luck!

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Hypocrite who has to be one: I am an overweight person. I admit upfront I am a hypocrite, but I do not find overweight people as a turn on. This is something that has been embedded upon me since my earliest awareness. My problem is people are always trying to set me up on dates with the fellow overweight friends. I have tried to be upfront and tell my friends I am not interested in dating overweight people, and they immediately call me a hypocrite. How does one best explain their hypocrisy, or should I just admit it: I am a hypocrite.

Michelle Callahan: Think about it this way. Would you date yourself?! If not, work on becoming someone you would consider dating. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to personal appearance, but if you want to judge, prepare to be judged, especially when you've already seen that people consider you to be a hypocrite. Don't be surprised if people aren't interested in you for the exact same reasons you may not be interested in others. How do you feel about that? What do you want to do about that? Just something to think about...Good luck!

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Silver Spring, Md: I am a single women in my 30s with a small child. I do not have time to go to nightclubs or bars (nor would I go even if I had time). Where would you suggest I go to meet men? I use public transportation to go to work and see good looking men on the Metro. Would it be OK to approach them?

Michelle Callahan: I'm a big fan of dating people who you have some connection to, especially because you need to screen people well before you bring them into your world or around your children. I suggest meeting potential dates through other friends. Not necessarily as a blind date, but just as a friend of a friend. You can also look into meeting people who are part of your professional world like in a professional group that you are also a member of. Some of the dating difficulties we face come from dating someone we probably should have never been on a date with in the first place. If you want to approach someone on the Metro, have a few conversations by phone, text or email before you meet in person somewhere just so you can feel comfortable that you know what you're walking into:) Good luck!

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Second Place: Hi Michelle,

I just spent some time in therapy talking about my tendency to put other people first and not even KNOW what I want. It was so helpful - I'm glad you cover that in your book. It's such a relief to be able to know what I want and to feel that I'm entitled to have it, just like everyone else.

Michelle Callahan: Many women have such a hard time putting themselves first that as you said, some don't even know what they want or like. I want to encourage women to feel comfortable being who they are and asking for what they want. If you are reading this and you don't know what you want, then we are talking to you:) You're missing out on life by just following others without ever discovering yourself and taking the lead in your life. Go find your true potential! Good luck and thanks for sharing.

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New York, N.Y.: How do you know if a guy can change? How do you know if it's right to give someone another chance? I miss him, but I can't imagine being in the relationship again as it was. He's started therapy, but is that enough?

Michelle Callahan: People can change but usually only so much. I say wait until the therapy is over and he has had some time to really process and work through his issues. You know if they've changed by seeing changes in their interactions WITH YOU. Not just great stories about how they feel different, but YOU will feel different when they act different. If you don't see the changes now while you are just friends, don't feel like you have to risk your heart just to prove a point. Good luck!

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Dumped for being "too normal": I was recently dumped by a guy I've been friends with for a long time. We started dating two years after his divorce. After six great months, he ended things. He said he didn't think it was normal that we never fought. We never fought because he never gave me reason to be upset -- he was thoughtful, communicative and honest. His ex (I knew her) and the woman he dated before me are both "difficult", to say the least. By difficult, I mean irrationally jealous, possessive and just plain drama all around. That is the polar opposite to me. I'm not a doormat by any means, but I prefer to talk things out calmly instead of yelling and name-calling. I guess my ex needs more drama in his life, and I'm ok with that -- everyone has preferences. However, I didn't react like he expected when he ended things. I didn't get upset and wished him well and that was that. Well, now he wants to try again. I think we are fundamentally too different and it's obvious to me that he wants me back because I didn't seem too upset when we broke up. Now he's viewing it as a challenge. I'm not tempted to get back together even though I really liked him. Am I being crazy not to give this great guy another chance?

Michelle Callahan: It is possible that he was so used to being with a drama queen that he became a drama king without even knowing it. Now that he sees the price he has to pay for feeding off of that drama (losing you), he may be realizing that it is possible to have a happy, healthy relationship without a whole lot of crazy. If he really is a great guy and it just feels weird to him that you are so cool, he may have needed time to get used to being in a healthy relationship. We've all blown it with someone who had it together more than we did at the time. Maybe he woke up and realized this was true with you. If he likes to fight, then don't bother, but if he's just surprised that you don't like to fight, it may be worth a second look:) Good luck!

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Michelle Callahan: Thank you everyone for stopping by, submitting your questions and comments and participating in my chat. Wishing you the best of luck in life and love! Dr. Michelle

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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