Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Conscious Dating on the Radio


I recently did a radio interview on The Tony Show with nationally syndicated radio host Tony Trupiano.

It was an extensive, wide-ranging 45 minute interview about many aspects of Conscious Dating.

I put the recording on my website at



Tuesday, November 22, 2005

She/He's Hot! Now What? How to Use the Rule of Three for Conscious Dating

By David Steele

The "Rule of Three" has many incarnations and applications, as a cursory Google search will reveal. In the area of relationships, you may have heard that the "third time is the charm," and while that has certainly been true for me, I'm not recommending getting divorced twice to find your life partner.

The "Rule of Three for Conscious Dating" says that when meeting someone attractive to you, it takes at least three contacts to determine mutual interest and comfort to proceed further.
This is not good news for fans of "speed seduction" whose goal is to manipulate the outcome and immediately "hook up." (OK. I see you're excited about the idea, so go ahead and look it up in Google and continue reading when you're ready).

In the real world of singles, the most anxiety-producing situation occurs when you spot someone attractive to you that you would like to meet. This is so stressful that an entire industry caters to singles to help them with this; for a price.

Save your money and use the Rule of Three. Here is an example:

Let's say you are attracted to the teller at the bank. You could flirt, deliver your best pick-up line, and ask what time he or she gets off, but you anticipate (rightly) that if they have any class they would not be comfortable with that approach.

So, what do you do? Try the Rule of Three:

CONTACT #1: You smile, make eye contact, introduce yourself, ask their name, make small talk, pay a compliment, anything you would do to be friendly with anyone in any setting.

The purpose of this first contact is to walk away having left a positive impression.

CONTACT #2: Return to bank within 24-48 hours. Now that you are on a first name basis you can start with small talk and add some personal sharing about something important to you related to your requirements such as your children, work, etc, as you would for our "Power Introduction." Note their reaction- positive, negative or neutral. Having revealed something specific about yourself, you then ask him or her about the topic (e.g. "Do you have kids?").

You are seeking to do three things at this step:

-First; discover whether you have anything in common, especially an important requirement.

-Second; confirm your attraction and interest after discovering something real about this person.

-Third; leave another positive impression, this time based upon something real about you.

CONTACT #3: Return to bank within 24-48 hours. Now it will be like a reunion of old friends. Talk a bit further about what you have in common. Towards the end of the transaction say "I really enjoy talking with you and it seems that we have a lot in common. Would you be interested and available to meet for coffee sometime?"

Notice the above is a clear statement about you, and asks about their INTEREST and AVAILABILITY. Asking in this way is typically construed as friendly, non-threatening, and respectful. You are giving him or her lots of room to decline easily and gracefully. Most people would be flattered and positive; don't worry about the people that take you the wrong way, they are simply screening themselves out. You're just being authentically, benignly and innocently friendly. It is very helpful for you and for them to not be attached to the outcome- they can accept or not, you will be fine either way.

ALTERNATIVE #1: If asking so directly is not your preference, you can give them your business card and say "I really enjoy talking with you and it seems that we have a lot in common. Here is my card. I would love for you to call or e-mail if you are interested and available to meet for coffee sometime."

ALTERNATIVE #2: You can repeat Contact #2 as many times as you like to build more comfort and learn more about each other before you decide to try #3.

The Rule of Three for Conscious Dating can be applied any social setting such as a party, except you would use intervals of 15-30 minutes instead of hours or days.

Scouting and initiating contact with people that are attractive to you is essential to being "The Chooser." I hope the Rule of Three for Conscious Dating will empower you to take more initiative and be a successful single .

The important thing about applying the Rule of Three for Conscious Dating is to be authentic, especially with your bank teller, because he or she already knows more about you than most of your friends and family!

© 2005 by David Steele /

The Packaging Trap

By David Steele

  • She’s so hot!”
  • “He’s a hunk!”
  • “Men/Women are only after one thing.”
  • “Why can’t men/women see past my body/bank account?”

Women commonly dislike being evaluated or pursued by men solely for their physical attractiveness, and men commonly dislike being evaluated or pursued by women for their job or money.

When we don’t know someone, it is natural to focus on the outside packaging. It is also understandable to be attracted to something that is very important to us, such as looks or money. Deep down we know that potential partners, like us, want to be viewed as multi-dimensional beings, not just a body or a wallet. Yet, in dating, whether straight or gay, young or old, unconscious singles commonly focus on the one big thing that attracts them, and then wonder why their relationships don’t work.

The “Packaging Trap” is one of Fourteen Dating Traps covered in Chapter Three of my book Conscious Dating.

In our culture we objectify people by focusing on their age, gender, race, clothes, hair, weight, job, finances, and other external characteristics, and make generalizations about who they are as a person. When scouting for potential partners, it is common for some singles to focus on the packaging first, then not see much else beyond that. This works both ways- rejecting some people because of their packaging, and pursuing others because of their packaging.

Focusing on packaging can interfere even when you don’t intend to. True personal story- Maggie and I met on only after she had the smarts to modify her search criterion when she wasn’t finding anyone compatible. My search missed her because I selected 5’ 2” as my minimum height (Maggie is 5’ 1 ½”) and she selected her age and older (I’m 18 months younger). Neither of us intended to discriminate based upon such external packaging characteristics and reject potential partners younger or shorter! When Maggie modified her search criterion to include men a few years younger she found me, and I’m very glad she did.

It is understandable to have preferences and reactions to external packaging; however, if our goal is an internal experience, such as to be happy, loved, and fulfilled in a relationship, we may need to balance our attraction to the outside packaging by paying more attention to the person inside.

I recently had a conversation with a single friend who, after completing our Conscious Dating Relationship Success Training for Singles program (RESTS), has been working with one of our relationship coaches for several years. He was frustrated about getting involved in relationships that appear promising in the beginning then don’t work out. He and I have had an on-going debate about his weight requirement- no more than 5 pounds overweight (I could never figure out how he would measure that!). Body shape was his first and primary sorting tool, pursuing women with great bodies (who were usually not attracted to him) and immediately rejecting women who were not slender.

Still single and nearing retirement age, he was despairing of finding a partner. I like him a lot, wanted to see him happy in a relationship, and really wanted to help. This time, our conversation focused more specifically on the Law of Attraction, and how his weight “requirement” may be interfering with his success.

Remember, the Law of Attraction can work for you or against you. If you objectify others by focusing on their packaging, then you will probably be objectified in return. As a man objectifying women by their appearance my friend might be attracting women who objectify him by his appearance, job, money, car, or other external packaging characteristic, and might not be capable of the kind of relationship he really wants.

In our Conscious Dating RESTS program, we specify that Requirements are almost always behavioral events in the relationship, not traits of a partner. This has been challenging for many singles that are used to making a list of what they want in their ideal partner. I like to say, “you can make a list of a hundred traits or qualities, find someone that meets all of them, and STILL be miserable.”

We help singles refine their list and translate their requirements from traits of a partner into behavioral relationship events by asking “What does _____ mean to you?” and“What must happen in your relationship to be _____?” Any personal trait or characteristic can be transformed into a behavioral relationship event, such as “Good listener” into “Good communication” or “Deep listening to each other.” The more specific and bottom-line- the better. Most requirements go both ways and involve both partners, such as “good communication” and“addiction-free.”

Balance is the key. RCI coach Mike McCartney said “JUST the outside without the inside won't work. JUST the inside without the outside won't work for the vast majority,” and I agree. It is natural to have some requirements related to packaging, such as race, height, age, and even body type or weight, but I prefer to de-emphasize focusing on packaging that doesn’t have much to do with a quality relationship, and emphasize what is required to have the life and relationship you want.

In practice, very few external characteristics pass the requirements test- “If you were totally in love and really wanted this relationship to work, would you break it off because of _____?”

The 2001 movie “Shallow Hal” has a great example of this. Jack Black as Hal, a single guy obsessed with external packaging, was hypnotized to see only the person inside and pursued Gwyneth Paltrow’s illusionary slim character. Then, when the hypnotic spell broke and he saw her actual obesity, he decided that her weight didn’t interfere with his love and desire for her.

My friend held steadfastly to his weight requirement, fearing that if he let go of it, he would end up with someone he was not physically attracted to. I tried to reassure him that with the Law of Attraction “like attracts like,” and if he let go of focusing on weight he might be opening the door for his soul mate- a wonderful woman who is attracted to him, to whom he too will be attracted.
At the end of the evening, my friend still seemed skeptical, but he said I gave him a lot to think about. I hope he can let go and give the Law of Attraction a chance to work for him- at this point he has nothing to lose!

PACKAGING TRAP: Focusing on outside packaging, such as someone’s body, looks, job, wealth, material possessions, etc, overlooking the reality of the person inside. Opposite of the Marketing Trap; instead of seeking to sell yourself with attractive packaging, you focus on the packaging of others.

SOLUTION: Define your requirements for the life and relationship you really want and seek to balance your attraction to the packaging by paying attention to the reality of the person inside.

© 2005 by David Steele /

Friday, November 11, 2005

What You Believe, You Can Acheive

by David Steele

Our reality and results are largely determined by our beliefs and attitudes. Attitudes are internal beliefs that create your experience of yourself, others, and life; the way you see things and your internal state of “being” that are largely self-fulfilling; they WILL be true because you believe them and allow them to be true.

Attitudes are influenced by your personality and experiences, and can be positive and productive, or negative and unproductive. You can consciously choose the ones that serve you and let go of the ones that sabotage you.


Everyone has fears and self-limiting beliefs, but are often unaware of them. Check the ones below that fit for you. When reading each one, do a “gut check,” and if you experience the slightest physical or emotional reaction, it most likely applies to you.


_____ 1. I’m not good enough
_____ 2. I don’t deserve love
_____ 3. I don’t deserve to be happy
_____ 4. I’m not __________ (attractive, successful, young, rich, thin, etc) enough
_____ 5. I’m too __________ (old, unattractive, dysfunctional, late, unsuccessful, etc)


_____ 6. All the good ones are taken
_____ 7. I have to take what I can get, or be alone
_____ 8. My “Ideal Partner” doesn’t exist, or is already taken
_____ 9. There is no such thing as a “Soul Mate” or “True Love”
_____10. I must be “realistic” in my expectations


_____11. I will be rejected if I ask for what I want, or say “no”
_____12. I will be abandoned if I care too much
_____13. I will hurt the one I love
_____14. I will be smothered or controlled
_____15. I will lose myself
_____16. I will be hurt if I trust
_____17. If you really know me, you won’t like or love me


Below is a list of attitudes that I believe are important for singles to adopt to find fulfillment in life and relationships.
  1. I will be happy by having goals and letting go of attachment to outcomes

  2. I strive to live and “be” in the present
  3. I love, accept, and trust myself

  4. I focus on connecting, not results; a partner is someone to love, not an object or goal

  5. I strive to be authentic; being fully honest with myself and others, aligning my words, values and actions

  6. I strive to live my life with intentionality; making choices conscious of my goals and consequences

  7. I strive to take the necessary risks, overcome my fears, and stretch my comfort level to reach my goals

  8. I assume abundance; all the opportunities and resources that I need will appear

  9. I take responsibility for my outcomes by taking initiative in my life and relationships

  10. What others judge about me is about them; I strive to let go of what others think and not take it personally

In what ways do you limit and sabotage yourself?

How can you adopt the beliefs and attitudes you need to be successful?

Letting go of self-limiting beliefs and adopting productive attitudes is very challenging to most singles. Dating and relationships can trigger these issues quite strongly during the Attraction stage, and really test your resolve.

The Attraction stage is a pivotal point in Conscious Dating. As you notice yourself being challenged by these barriers, I encourage you to get the support you need from your friends, family, therapist, coach, and/or coaching team. No-one is successful alone.

©2005 by David Steele /

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Sex Trap: Confusing Sex and Love

By David Steele

As I had my morning coffee, the "Dear Abby" column caught my eye. A reader wrote in with a dating dilemma and ended her letter with that often-heard stereotype that "Women use sex to get love, and men use love to get sex." This is a great summation of the "Sex Trap."

The Sex Trap is similar to the Love Trap, where singles interpret good sex as love. But those who fall into the Sex Trap go even farther, because for these singles, having sex carries immense meaning and consequences.

Singles fall into the Sex Trap in one (or both) of two ways:

  • They believe sex is a necessary test of compatibility, (if the sex is good then the relationship will be good as well)

  • More commonly, all consciousness goes out the window, and one or both formerly level-headed singles consider themselves a committed couple as soon as they have sex.

So, rather than looking at whether this other person might be a match on levels other than physical attraction — such as long-term requirements, needs, and wants — they are blind-sided by the chemistry under the covers.

No doubt, it can be challenging to keep in touch with reality when all those hormones are running wild. Our body reacts to someone we are attracted to by producing hormones such as PEA or phenylethylamine (natural amphetamine), dopamine and norepinephrine (natural mood enhancers), and testosterone (increases sexual desire), which makes the opportunity to have sex with someone we are attracted to extremely hard to resist. Then, after orgasm, we produce oxytocin (which acts on the hypothalamus to produce emotions), which makes us feel very close to and bonded with our sex partner.

These chemical reactions are involuntary and strong, leading to powerful feelings of attraction, excitement, love, closeness, and well-being. But when problems arise, those who fall into the Sex Trap often rationalize by thinking, "Well, we've got problems, but the sex is great!" They most likely wouldn't admit it, but they prioritize physical intimacy and regard the rest as optional. Their main scouting tools are sexual attraction and physical compatibility.

Barry North, an RCI coach who works primarily with gay men, says that many of his clients have fallen into the Sex Trap.

"For gay men especially in metropolitan areas, sex is readily available, and that in itself is a trap," North says. "In addition, the culture, with its emphasis on physical appearance, encourages sexual activity. Many gay men want to find out from the beginning if a potential partner is going to be sexually compatible. Why waste your time if the sex isn't going to be good?"

Nonetheless, North adds, "I suspect this is a 'guy' thing rather than a 'gay' thing."

I do want to point out that chemistry is important. Yet, chemistry is a given that we can't control in a relationship; it is either there or not there, and it must be there for the partnership to work. If not there, we can't "make" chemistry happen, though sometimes it can grow over time.

Singles who pursue a relationship based upon sexual chemistry risk relationship failure when the hormone-induced intoxication wears off and reality hits.

To avoid the Sex Trap, you must balance your heart (and hormones) with your head. This means combining chemistry with common sense. While good sex is important for a sustainable relationship, you need to make your partner choices by paying full attention to your vision, values, goals and requirements — while feeling all those exciting sparks!

© 2004 by David Steele / All right reserved /

Attachment Vs. Love: Is There a Difference?

By David Steele

This month our Director of Singles Programs, Lynne Michelson asked our coaches:

“A common problem that occurs for singles is the experience of a relationship ending but the feelings continuing for many months or longer with resulting sensations of emptiness and loss They know perhaps the relationship was not healthy, or that they are better off without the other person but they still feel "hooked" despite knowing the person isn't right for them. They might also know their requirements were not being met, but they cannot get the person "out" of them. What thoughts do you have about this?”

It occurs to me that this problem is true for the breakup of committed relationships as well. Getting a divorce does not erase your love for, or your attachment to, your ex. This has certainly been true for me and many people in my life I care about.

It is tortuous to feel strongly about someone, really want it to work, but choose to let the relationship go because you must. If it could work, you would certainly find a way!

In my experience and opinion, what keeps relationships together, and makes breaking up hard to do, is more than love; it is attachment.


Attachment can mean many things, ranging from emotional affection to physical affixation. Psychologists have whole theories around attachment and identify clinical disorders caused by it. For our purposes, we can define attachment simply as a “strong emotional bond.”

We humans get attached. To objects, like cars, houses, money, books, clothes, etc. We get attached to routines (e.g. washing your hands), beliefs (e.g. killing is wrong), sensations and experiences (e.g. orgasm), activities (e.g. work), and people. In the extreme, our attachment can be an addiction.


Love and attachment seem pretty interconnected, but distinctly different. Without going into highly debatable explanations and theories, it seems to me that love is a positive feeling toward something or somebody, and attachment is an emotional need for something or somebody. The major difference seems to be that love is other-directed, and attachment is self-centered.


If attachment is a self-centered need for something or someone, then it makes sense to me that if we have difficulty letting go of a relationship that doesn't work, it is less about love and more about our own grief, fears, loneliness, and emotional needs/deficits.

For more about the role of needs in a relationship, see the article “Needs vs. Neediness


It seems to me that the first step to letting go of an attachment is to be clear about love vs. attachment:

  • Understanding the difference (e.g. attachment is not love)

  • Understanding the implications (e.g. it's about me and my needs)

  • Understanding the consequences (e.g. if I continue to pursue a relationship that doesn't work I'm setting myself up for failure)

  • Acknowledge and honor the needs that are driving you to pursue an attachment that isn't working by finding ways to satisfy your needs productively. It is hard to let go if doing so means falling into a chasm of pain and emptiness.

  • Get the support you need to move on and pursue involvement in activities and with people that are productive for you. A coach and/or support group is great for this.

If you find yourself continually pursuing an attachment that doesn't serve you, seek the support of a therapist knowledgeable and competent in helping people with sex/love addiction and co-dependency.

© 2005 by David Steele /

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    What Is Commitment in Relationships?

    by David Steele

    The question of when a relationship is committed is a source
    of much confusion and debate. We live in a time when the
    marriage rate is going down, the co-habitation rate is going
    up, and the majority of first-born children are now born to
    unmarried parents.

    In this article I hope to shed some light on this question
    to facilitate your work with couples and individuals
    challenged by different perceptions of the status of their


    I recently had a conversation with a woman who told me she
    had just broken off a "committed" relationship. A few
    questions later I learned that she had been dating this
    person for a year, they were not living together, and the
    reason she broke it off is that he "cheated."

    We talked about pre-committed vs. committed relationships,
    and she agreed that it was a pre-committed relationship, but
    insisted that they had made a "commitment" to each other.

    OK, things are getting clearer. On the one hand is the
    status of the relationship- pre-committed vs. committed, and
    on the other hand are commitments made within the
    relationship. Macro vs. micro. Two different things, right?

    In our conversation, it occurred to me to make a distinction
    between a "Commitment" vs. a "Promise." They made a promise
    to each other within the context of a relationship that was
    not committed. That distinction seemed to help her make more
    sense of things.

    When I asked the RCI coaches for feedback on the "commitment
    vs. promise" distinction, most felt that it was just semantics and there
    is not much of a difference. The general consensus was that when you make a
    promise you are making a commitment.

    Well, I agree that it is a question of semantics, and here
    is my definition of terms:

    PROMISE: Verbally stated future intention to perform a
    specific act.

    - I promise to pick up your dry cleaning and not forget this time
    - I promise to be exclusive in our relationship

    COMMITMENT: Both a FACT demonstrated by behavior, and an
    ATTITUDE consisting of thoughts and beliefs.

    - I am committed to keeping my promises
    - I am committed to our relationship

    In short, a promise is something you say, and a commitment
    is something you do. A promise is situation-specific. A
    commitment is contextual.

    A promise is a small commitment. If a potential partner
    doesn't keep promises, I would question their ability to
    keep commitments, as they are definitely related.


    Whether or not you agree with my semantics, the distinction
    I made between a commitment and a promise was helpful for
    the above conversation.

    The larger picture though, is that I see a lot of confusion
    about the status of today's relationships. Some years ago
    when I coined the term "pre-commitment" to describe couples
    that were exclusive but not yet committed, it was a helpful
    distinction, but the question remains- "What is commitment?"

    When you are married, it is clear you are in a committed
    relationship. Your commitment is a legal contract and a publicly
    witnessed FACT. However, it is common for couples in trouble
    for one or both partners to have an uncommitted ATTITUDE.

    I have talked with many unmarried people, as the woman
    above, who have described themselves in "committed
    relationships." They clearly have the attitude, but often
    have nothing but verbal promises (and sometimes not even
    that!) to demonstrate that the relationship is committed.


    1. Your partner is not aware your relationship is committed

    2. You are wondering if this relationship is committed

    3. You and your partner have differences of opinion about
    the status of your relationship

    4. Your family and friends have different perceptions about
    the status of your relationship

    5. You and your partner have not acted to explicitly
    formalize your commitment in some way

    6. You are relying on verbal promises without a significant
    track record of them being kept

    A commitment is explicit and unambiguous. A commitment is a
    formal event of some kind between two people. A commitment
    is something you DO over time. A real commitment is usually
    legally enforceable and there are consequences for breaking it.

    And, for a relationship to be truly committed, there are no
    exits- mentally, emotionally, or physically. When the going
    gets rough, you make it work.


    Commitment is not a light switch that goes from "off" to
    "on." When building a relationship with someone, the level
    of commitment gradually increases.

    Then you have all the shades of gray. living together,
    dating exclusively for more than a year, even engaged to be
    married, that might look and feel like commitment, but is it


    Commitment in a relationship is complicated in that it takes
    two people, and it requires an alignment of FACT (events,
    actions) and ATTITUDE (thoughts, beliefs) for both of them.

    It is common to be committed in fact (e.g. "married") but
    not in attitude (e.g. "I'm not sure this is the right
    relationship for me").

    It is also common to be pre-committed in fact (e.g. dating
    exclusively) and committed in attitude (e.g. "This is 'The
    One!' ").

    In my work with couples I have found that the most important
    variable determining their future success is their level of
    commitment to the relationship.

    In my experience, when couples are committed in fact, but
    not in attitude, their prognosis is poor.

    Then, there are the pre-committed couples that generally
    fall into two categories-

    UNCONSCIOUS- typically following the "mini-marriage" model
    of trying the relationship out, acting committed without
    actually making the commitment. A disconnect of fact and

    CONSCIOUS- aware that they are not yet committed, usually
    have commitment as a goal, asking themselves "Is this the
    right relationship for me? Should I make a commitment?" An
    alignment of fact and attitude.


    So, when is a relationship committed?

    -- When there is an alignment of fact and attitude.

    What creates the "fact" of commitment?

    I propose these three criterion:

    CRITERIA #1: Promises made to each other about the permanent
    nature of the relationship that are kept

    CRITERIA #2: Explicit, formal, public declaration

    CRITERIA #3: Unambiguous to partners and others

    In today's world, if all three of the above are met, I would
    say it is a committed relationship, whether legally married
    or not.

    I sincerely hope this article helps address the common
    questions about commitment that arise in relationship
    coaching. There are no pat answers or prescriptions, but it
    is my hope that these ideas and concepts will help you have
    productive conversations with your clients that are caught
    in the gray areas to support them to make effective
    relationship choices.

    ©2005 by David Steele

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Relationship Research Findings for 2005

    by David Steele

    In July 2005, the National Marriage Project of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, released their annual "State of Our Unions" report for 2005. You will find some key findings from this report below. Here is what I would like you to know:
    • The marriage rate continues to decline
    • The cohabitation rate continues to increase, with a higher failure rate than marriage
    • The divorce rate continues to be around 50 percent, though has declined a bit, most likely due to fewer marriages and more cohabitation
    • Couples are waiting longer to get married
    • Divorced people are slightly less likely to re-marry
    • Lifelong singlehood has increased a bit
    • Over 50 percent of couples now live together before getting married
    • Couples living together without plans for marriage is increasing
    • 40 percent of all children will live in a cohabiting household
    • 28 percent of all children live in single parent families
    • An increasing percentage of teenagers state that they want to get married and that having a good marriage and family is important to them

    These trends are disturbing because the problems are getting worse, not better. For example, more and more people cohabitate, which has a higher failure rate than marriage, and higher negative impact on children and families. Yet, most want a successful life partnership, and think cohabitation is a necessary first step.

    There is a widening gulf between:

    - what people want (a successful committed relationship)…

    - what they do (cohabitate)…

    - and the results they get (relationship failure)

    Here are some key findings on Marriage, Divorce, Cohabitation, Children, and Teen Attitudes:

    "Americans have become less likely to marry. Most people now live together before they marry for the first time."
    50 percent decline, from 1970 to 2004, in the annual number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried adult women
    Some of this decline—it is not clear just how much—results from the delaying of first marriages until older ages
    Other factors accounting for the decline are the growth of unmarried cohabitation and a small decrease in the tendency of divorced persons to remarry. The decline also reflects some increase in lifelong singlehood

    “The American divorce rate today is nearly twice that of 1960, but has declined slightly since hitting the highest point in our history in the early 1980s. For the average couple marrying in recent years, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains between 40 and 50 percent.”

    “The number of unmarried couples has increased dramatically over the past four decades, and the increase is continuing. Most younger Americans now spend some time living together outside of marriage, and unmarried cohabitation commonly precedes marriage. A growing percentage of cohabiting couple households, now over 40 percent, contain children."

    Between 1960 and 2004 the number of unmarried couples in America increased by nearly 1200 percent. Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago. "The belief that living together before marriage is a useful way “to find out whether you really get along,” and thus avoid a bad marriage and an eventual divorce, is now widespread among young people. But the available data on the effects of cohabitation fail to confirm this belief. In fact, a substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage."

    "The trend toward single-parent families is probably the most important of the recent family trends that have affected children and adolescents. This is because the children in such families have negative life outcomes at two to three times the rate of children in married, two-parent families. Children who grow up with cohabiting couples tend to have worse life outcomes compared to those growing up with married couples. Prominent reasons are that cohabiting couples have a much higher breakup rate than married couples, a lower level of household income, and a higher level of child abuse and domestic violence.”

    - 28 percent of all children live in single-parent families, 9 percent in 1960

    - 40 percent of all children are expected to spend some time in a cohabiting household during their growing up years

    - For unmarried couples in the 25 to 34 age group the percentage with children is higher still, approaching half of all such house­holds

    - Almost one half of stepfamilies today consists of a biological parent and unrelated cohabiting partner

    "The desire of teenagers of both sexes for “a good marriage and family life” has increased slightly over the past few decades."

    - 82 percent of girls and 70 percent of boys state that having a good marriage and family life was “extremely important” to them (a slight increase)

    - 83 percent of girls and 78 percent of boys state that they expect to marry (a moderate increase)

    Reprinted with permission of David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead from /The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, 2005/ (The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, 2005) National Marriage Project: Link to report:

    ©2005 by Relationship Coaching Institute /

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Be The Chooser: How to Get What You Really Want in Your Life

    By David Steele

    "We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them." -- Khalil Gibran

    Our life works and can be full of joy when we make effectivechoices. Our life can be full of sorrow if we make ineffective choices. Chooser vs. Victim

    As a child, choices were made for me and I had little power over what happened to me. This is normal for children, but when we take this attitude as adults I call it being a "victim." The opposite of being a victim is to be "The Chooser."

    The concept of choice is remarkable, and that we have choices I consider to be a fact. Though in my life, I've forgotten this fact many times when I was impulsive or reactive. I find it challenging to take responsibility for my failures and pain as being the result of my own choices. I want to blame my boss, my ex-wife, the other driver, my parents; and for awhile I did.

    I've had many wake-up calls that acting out of ignorance or impulse doesn't absolve me of responsibility for making a bad choice. When I was sixteen, a new driver, and got a ticket for making a U-turn across a double-yellow line I told the cop honestly that I didn't know it was against the law, and felt it grossly unfair that he ticketed me anyway.

    I fought the ticket in traffic court and lost. My only defense was "I didn't know! I didn't mean to break the law!" The judge told me ignorance was not an excuse for breaking the law. That was one of my first wake-up calls that as an adult, I would be held accountable for my choices even if they were unconscious. Scary thought.

    We live in a victim culture. It's usually the other guy's fault that we go to war, get into a car accident, lose our money in stocks, get a divorce. While victim-hood might make us feel better and in the right, it also makes us helpless and perpetuates our problems.

    The Law of Attraction

    What do you want? A fulfilling life and relationship? A loving family? Success in your work? Peace in the world? I've learned that to get what you want you must BE THE CHOOSER.
    Being the chooser means taking the initiative to create what you want, taking full responsibility for your outcomes, and making your choices mindful of their long-term consequences.
    There is a law of the universe as powerful as the law of gravity that helps choosers and brings suffering on victims. It's called the "Law of Attraction." Just like "what goes up must come down;" "what is inside shows up on the outside,""energy follows attention," and "what you believe you can achieve."

    If you believe you don't have a choice, you won't.

    If you shove responsibility for your choices and outcomes outside of yourself, the law of attraction will try to teach you to take responsibility by repeating the lesson over and over until you get it. This is the origin of crime, war, and most other sources of human suffering.

    I want to be happy and fulfilled. I want you to be happy and fulfilled. I've learned that happiness comes from within, by taking responsibility as an adult for my choices and outcomes. I've learned that I need to be "The Chooser" in my life and my heartfelt desire is that I can inspire you to be The Chooser as well.

    Be The Chooser

    We have the knowledge and technology to create a wonderful life for ourselves and society for our children. Most of our social problems, such as crime, war, poverty, violence, disease, divorce, homelessness, and more, is the result of ineffective choices. Unfortunately, these social problems will continue as long as people believe they don't have a choice about them.

    Choosers know what they want and how to get it. In charge of their lives, Choosers take responsibility for what happens. Being a Chooser takes a certain amount of confidence and effort, but anyone can be one! Being The Chooser means taking initiative for your outcomes: you are in charge of creating what you want in life. You do not restrict yourself to what or who chooses you.

    Very often, we are not aware of the range of choices available to us. We are often unaware of our power to choose, and of the true power of our choices. We might make choices unconsciously, reactively or impulsively. We might be unaware of the long-term consequences of our choices.

    A.I.M. To Be The Chooser

    Step 1: Be AWARE that you have choices

    You are never stuck! You always have choices, even if you don't know what your choices are. Don't allow impulse or lack of information to result in a poor choice.

    Step 2: IDENTIFY your choices

    Always assume there are more choices than you are aware of. Seek to identify a variety of the choices available to you, mindful that “you don't know what you don't know.” Identify productive choices and don't settle for unproductive choices.

    Step 3: MAKE productive choices

    Use all the information available to you to make the best choice possible to achieve the outcome you desire. Evaluate a choice based upon the likely long-term consequences of that choice.

    Seven Things You Can Do Today to Be The Chooser

    If you want to be the Chooser, here are some things you have control over and can DO (remember- CRAPGAP):

    - BE CREATIVE: Seek new ideas and opportunities beyond the immediate past and present

    - BE A RISK TAKER: Accept rejection and failure as part of life, and don't take it personally

    - BE ASSERTIVE: Ask for what you want, and say "no" to what you don't want

    - BE PROACTIVE: Don't merely react to events, or habitually wait for things to happen

    - BE GOAL-ORIENTED: Clearly define and vigorously pursue your goals

    - ASSUME ABUNDANCE: Believe there will always be plenty of opportunities and resources

    - BE POSITIVE: Always anticipate success

    “Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously.
    If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life.
    You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself.”
    -- Senator Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah

    ©2005 by David Steele / All rights reserved /