Monday, June 7, 2010

Quick Love is Quick to End!


Dr. Gilda Carle

Looking for love should not be so pressing!

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

During Christie Brinkley’s divorce, the model admitted she hadn’t really, truly known her fourth husband, Peter Cook, in their 12-year marriage. She said that if she had known about his past, she doubted she would have tied the knot. Can you recognize red flags on a date when you see them? Do you dare ask vital questions about someone’s past? Brinkley’s very public divorce has led many of my clients to wonder, “How well should I know my date — before s/he becomes my mate?”

It’s sad to think this gorgeous model could be married for more than a decade and feel as though she was living with a stranger. You can avoid heartache like this, but you have to ask the right questions early on. In their search for love, however, many singles dodge this exploration. The reasons vary but show as much about the one doing the questioning as the responses reveal about the one giving the answers.

Why do singles refrain from questioning?

1. They don’t want to disturb the seemingly calm relationship waters.

2. They want to continue their fantasy of who and what they’d LIKE their date to be.

3. They’re mistakenly trying to match someone to what they believe is their type, regardless of the truth.

4. They are lonely for ANYBODY to show them attention, so they’ll convince themselves that this is the SOMEBODY for them.

5. They have lowered the bar so much, they only care that their date is breathing.

6. They just want to be entertained; they don’t want to invest personal effort.

7. They’re stuck on superficial looks, ignoring whether their date offers substance.

8. They fear discovering what someone has to offer, because ultimately they don’t believe they deserve a committed merger.

9. They’re afraid to cross the invisible barrier of being invasive.

10. They just want a partner — at any cost — so they can prove they are desirable.

Do any of these categories ring even a distant bell? Consider this: Strategically placed questions show that you care, and also that you dare to step beyond the usual boundaries of first impressions. A healthy mate will appreciate your interest. So the real question is for YOU: “Do you want a healthy mate?” Let’s move the possibilities forward! After going out with Robert, Krista remarked to one of his tennis partners that he had two children. “How did you find that out?” was the tennis partner’s response, to which Krista replied, “I asked.” Duh!

Rules for asking questions

1. No question should be off-limits. Before you write me angry emails about this statement, remember you’re investing your precious self in this interaction, and you are mighty valuable currency! The information you glean will affect YOUR life.

2. BUT — and this is a biggie — the timing of your query must match the mood for openness that you and your date share. The art of asking questions should not be a matter of if but of when. While enjoying some laughs, a good meal or a moment of epiphany, ask a question to forge a relationship that will keep you off an eventual battleship.

3. Mirror the tiger: It has striped SKIN, not just striped fur. People, too, have markings that are hidden from public view. As my Gilda-Gram advises, “Ask for more — you deserve to know!”

Ginger had been dating Tom for a year. She naively fantasized that he could be The One, but she did not hear from him regularly; she hardly knew him. One day, after innocently asking him how he spent the two previous weeks they’d been apart, he caustically criticized, “Hey, are you writing a book?” Ginger was shocked at his defensive recoil.

Tom’s response blared that he didn’t want to get close. During our counseling sessions, Ginger accepted that this man was too emotionally distant for love and she threw in the towel. Although she felt heartache from duping herself into believing they had more going than they actually did, she finally acknowledged that the truth had always been evident. She sighed, “If only I had asked Tom that irritating question before spending a year of my life foolishly waiting for someone who would never be!”

The power behind your questions

Surprisingly, it’s not the answers to your questions that tell the full story. What really counts is the reaction they invite. Body language accounts for 55 percent of a person’s impression; vocal intonation accounts for 38 percent. That means that before anyone offers a meaningful muttering, 93 percent of the communication will be NONVERBAL! Talk is cheap, and most grown-ups know how to skillfully use cover-ups. That’s why words make up only 7 percent of determining what’s really up with the person whose seductive eyes have a stronghold on your heartstrings! So trust body language and voice over chatter. Then, of course, trust behavior above all else!

Question etiquette

To get the answers you want, consider HOW you frame your queries. If you sound like an investigative reporter, don’t bother. Further, if you ask for specifics before the two of you establish a good rapport, your date may clam up. Here’s what to do: Share some insight about yourself and then inquire, “How about you?”

As you begin to get interesting responses, follow this Gilda-Gram: “Use your two ears to your one mouth.” Listening twice as often as you speak will offer compatibility clues of observation over conversation.

Listening panache can turn a touchy topic into an experience that leads to love. How?

1. Have fun with your questions. Possibly say, “I’d like us to get to know each other. Can we each ask the other the same questions and see how well matched we are?” Remember, the questions themselves are meaningless compared with the way in which your date responds. For example, if someone is humorless, that may be a harbinger of things to come. This person may eventually open up, but do you want to be a can opener until then?

2. Keep your initial questions simple. Try: “What’s your favorite color?” “What do you daydream about?” “When would you feel justified to stretch the truth?” Encourage more than one-word answers so you BOTH can discuss your responses.

3. Avoid questions that are too intimidating, like “Have you ever had a felony drug arrest?” If that’s what you really want to know, gracefully ask instead, “What was the worst thing you ever did, and how was it resolved?” If it makes your date visibly uncomfortable, then you know to pay particularly close attention to any further information your date gives you on the subject.

It’s well worth finding out about the person you’re interested in loving — and letting that person find out about you. Dump the protective camouflage. The law of attraction says that if you’re open with your responses, your partner will be as well. Best of all, relationships founded on honesty have a better shot at longevity. Invest in questions early on so you don’t end up in a bad entanglement later, when the stakes are much higher.


GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) 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, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many 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. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!

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