Category Archives: Nicole’s non-fiction

IF YOU ENJOYED “LOVE BOOT CAMP”…

Thank you for all your kind comments about this blog.  For those of you who would like to read more, the Kindle version of one of my novels, REGRET NOT A MOMENT, is on sale this week — November 4-10, 2014, for 99 cents/99£.  The usual price is $3.99.

This novel has received reader raves with an average 4.4 star Amazon rating.

Regret - Kindle Format Like A Book[1]The book opens in Virginia horse country. The year is 1930. Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family. Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander. Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation. But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage.

Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris. Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon’s tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and’60s.

Enjoy the thrill of Thoroughbred racing with one of the first women to break into the male-dominated sport and one of the first African-American men to become renowned as a world-class trainer.

Buy the book here: REGRET NOT A MOMENT amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

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Cannot Believe This Question to Advice Column!

“Ask Amy” is the syndicated advice column that replaced “Dear Abby.” Today, I read a question that blew me away!

A 22 year-old woman has known her boyfriend for nine years, dated him for two. Of course, they live together [see my previous post: LIVE TOGETHER?  NOT IF YOU WANT TO MARRY HIM]. She wants to get married; he doesn’t. Typical scenario, so far.

Now, here’s the twist:  he’s pressuring her to have his children without marrying her.  She asks, “Am I wrong to want to be married before having kids?  Am I crazy for wanting him to propose?”

WTF?

Wrong for wanting two parents? Wrong for wanting marriage when you’ve been dating for two years? The world’s gone mad when a young woman questions her own desire for a “nest” for her babies.

The columnist gives her a typical, politically correct response:  “I wish I could offer you 20/20 clarity about what pushing someone into marriage tends to lead to…” Give me a break — it leads to marriage, a marriage as likely to work as any other, as likely to end in divorce as any other, but with legal obligations from the father not always afforded by living together.  In contrast, people who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who don’t.

Amy goes on to advise, “Talk to peers…who are married with kids — or unmarried with kids — to see what their lives are like.”  What?  Nothing about the woman being only 22 and NOT wanting kids before marriage?  Nothing about the selfish, immature desire of her guy to procreate without commitment?

By taking wishy-washy, politically correct advice, this 22 year old has a big chance of ending up a single mother struggling to make ends meet, trapped by a circumstance she wanted to avoid.  What about bolstering her resolve to provide a two-parent home for her kids?

The advice columnist is so worried about pressuring someone into marriage…what about pressuring someone into the irrevocable decision to have kids?  Amy, you really messed up on this one!

Five Remote, Romantic Getaways You’ve Never Heard Of

Copyright © 2016 Nicole McGehee

Is your idea of a crowd three other people on your beach?  Do you enjoy personalized, but barely visible service?  Or perhaps you want the privacy to skinny-dip in your own pool.

If you’re looking to unplug — truly unplug — from TVs, phones and e-devices, but you want understated luxury and privacy, here are five enticing getaways you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve never been to any of them, but I want to go to all. To that end, I’ve researched them extensively, including Trip Advisor ratings.  I have traveled enough — and written so many travel articles — that I know how to read between the lines of reviews and brochures.  I think you can trust me on these, but, of course, do your own research before booking, and read the bad Trip Advisor reviews for specific criticism.

Very important: since the resorts’ own photos are copyrighted, you owe it to yourself to click on the links I’ve provided and view the full galleries for yourself.  They are breathtaking. That said, most of these resorts provided me with photos.

La Fregate, The Seychelles
http://fregate.com

La Fregate residences

La Fregate residences

This lush tropical island chain is located 1000 miles east of Africa in the Indian Ocean. There are other world-class resorts in the archipelago, but La Fregate, a private island, has always captured my imagination. There are seven pristine beaches for just 16 villas. Each residence has its own pool and — the ultimate luxury — its own butler.  Candlelight dinner on the beach? A picnic for just the two of you on an isolated stretch of sand? A rainforest tour? Massage and facial? No problem; your butler will make all the arrangements. There are no beach front villas here, rather they are perched on a cliff for endless sea views.  But each residence gets a private golf cart, so you’re free to explore.

Much of the food served is grown in the resort’s gardens, and the cuisine is said to be very good, which is rare on single-resort islands. The Trip Advisor rating is 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, with 61 reviews. The one “terrible” review was written in 2006, and the only alarming flaw it pointed out were millipedes raining down from the ceiling. Okay, that’s pretty bad, but it was eight years ago, so be sure to read the raves, too.

La Fregate, The Seychelles

La Fregate, The Seychelles

Meridian Club, Pine Cay, Turks and Caicos http://www.meridianclub.com

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay, Turks and Cacos.  Photos compliments of MAAC Group

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay, Turks and Caicos.
Photos compliments of MAAC Group

I can’t say it better than the resort’s home page:  “The Meridian Club, the only resort on Pine Cay, is a secluded island getaway on a privately owned 800-acre cay in the Turks and Caicos.Beautifully positioned on a two-mile stretch of talcum-powder beach – considered by many as the finest in the Caribbean – The Meridian Club is an environmentally-sensitive private island resort ideally suited for those seeking an unspoiled, upscale but unpretentious retreat. With no automobiles, televisions, radios or telephones ringing in your ears, you are left to unwind and enjoy the island’s natural beauty and tranquility. Soothing trade winds ensure comfortable temperatures and low humidity year round on our Turks and Caicos private island while the surrounding waters(averaging a pleasant 75° – 80° Fahrenheit) teem with marine life. Underwater visibility often exceeds 100 feet and there are miles of coral gardens within a five minute boat ride. Ashore, Pine Cay remains a pristine natural haven with vast open space and seven freshwater ponds, a perfect habitat for the abundant local fauna and flora.”

Trip Advisor gives this resort 5 stars with 88 reviews, 82 of which were “excellent, 3 very good.  The “poor” review complained that the resort — though adults only — was overrun by noisy kids staying at the private homes on the island, since owners get club membership.

The Meridian Club features private villas overlooking the beach

The Meridian Club features private villas on the beach

Coco Point Lodge, Barbuda, West Indies http://cocopoint.com

Not Bermuda, the honeymoon tradition with its very own “Triangle,” but BARBUDA, sister island to well-known Antigua, in the Caribbean.  Barbuda has only 1500 inhabitants in its 15 x 8 square mile area.  It features miles of unspoiled beach, clear water, and all manner of wildlife and birds. Trip Advisor guests give Coco Point Lodge five stars.  Unusual for the Caribbean, guests rave about the food.  Good thing, since this is an all-inclusive resort.

Words from the resort’s own website, “Coco Point provides the ultimate in relaxation and privacy, and it is luxurious without being too fancy, it is refined without being stuffy, it is in vogue and yet still understated.  Our guests do not come to Coco Point to be seen — they come to Coco Point to do the seeing, some to open their eyes, and all to marvel in the view.  Coco Point has not changed a whole lot over the last 52 years because it got it right the first time.  Simple, special, and exceptional, and experiences to savor and remember — that is the Coco Point tradition, has and always will be.”

Trip Advisor gives this resort 5 stars, with 45 reviews. Forty-four are “excellent,” one is “terrible.”  There’s always one, isn’t there?

Anjajavy Hotel, Madagascar, Africa, All photos for this property © Bipa.Fitiavana 2009 http://www.anjajavy.com/index_en.html#

A villa at Madagascar's Anjajavy Hotel

Villa at Anjajavy Hotel © Bipa.Fitiavana 2009

Madagascar:  even the name sounds exotic.  This island off the coast of the African country of Mozambique boasts flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.  Says the hotel’s official website: “Home to lemurs, chameleons, tortoises, humming birds, medicinal plants, cocoa, vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, papyrus and carnivorous plants to name a few; Madagascar is one of the last remaining unspoilt oases on the planet. There are virgin forests, savannas, lazy bays and tiny islands to explore.”

Lemurs are plentiful at Madagascar's Anjajavy Hotel

Lemurs are plentiful at Madagascar’s Anjajavy Hotel

Talk about remote, this resort cannot be accessed by road, but the property arranges private air service. Twenty-four rosewood villas on 1350 acres are set amidst a tropical garden, and front an unspoiled stretch of dazzling white sand. Dirt paths within the resort invite exploration, and boat excursions can also be arranged.

This resort has a five star rating on Trip Advisor. Out of 159 reviews, 150 are excellent, five are very good, three are average, and one is poor.  The “poor” did not pinpoint any particular flaw, so maybe the low score should be thrown out, like in Olympic ice skating. Opinions on food ranged from very good to dreadful.  Service:  mixed reviews.

Travaasa, Maui, Hawaii http://travaasa.com/maui
Hawaii may be part of the USA, but it is one of the most remote island groups on earth, at least a five-hour plane trip from the nearest mainland.  Although Maui has certainly been discovered — and can be crowded with tourists — most resorts are in the sunny south of the island.  Take the famous, winding road to Hana, and you’ll end up in another world (the resort can also arrange a flight from southern Maui).  It’s rainier here in northeastern Maui, and the beauty is untamed.  You won’t find a white sand lagoon on the property, but a dramatic cliff, complete with the sound of crashing waves to lull you into relaxation.

Overview of Travaasa

Overview of Travaasa, photo courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Relaxation, in fact, is what Travaasa is all about, with its spa, yoga classes, and rustic-chic bungalows spread at discreet distances from one another.  Here,  they encourage you to try all manner of gentle adventures, from juicing and cooking classes to net fishing and gliding.  Gliding will get your heart racing, it’s true, but it’s serene up there, in keeping with this resort’s natural philosophy.

The resort relies on Hawaii’s bounty for food, spa products, and activities.  Jet skis?  Forget it! Horseback riding, guided meditation? You’ve come to the right place.

This property has 625 Trip Advisor reviews, with over 500 rated as excellent or very good, and 25 “terrible”. Most of the “terrible” reviews seemed to result from pricing disputes caused by booking through third parties. Another problem highlighted in some reviews, however, appears to be cleanliness. The people who gave “terrible” ratings give hair-raising accounts of bugs, dust, and generally poor maintenance.

Even the most recent 5-star review had this to say, “If you are expecting modern and sparkling, stay somewhere else. If you want a transport back in time to the best of Hawaiian culture, race to make your reservations. We stayed in an older Hawaiian wooden cottage with a direct view to the ocean. The vistas were gorgeous, the grounds beautiful, the quiet nourishing, and the energy marvelous. There may have been cracks in the stone counter and dust on the ceiling fan blades, but we lacked for nothing. The rooms were spacious with decking and hot tub and really comfortable beds, delicious Kona coffee to grind and perk, yummy banana bread, complimentary wine on arrival and for a birthday, and a host of other amenities. The charming rooms had nice sitting areas, “kitchenette” spots, and a large bath facility. Every morning the sun and the sea greeted us firsthand. The breezes at night through the screen doors were heavenly. Our retreat was as private as we wanted. There was a wonderful, true Maui Aloha calm and consideration shown by all the attending employees.”

Wellness day pool, courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Wellness day pool, courtesy of Travaasa Hana

Overall, Trip Advisor gives this property a 4 1/2 out of 5-star rating, so I suggest you read the best and worst, and then reach your own conclusions.

Live Together? Not if You Want to Marry Him

Should you move in with your boyfriend?  Not if you want to marry him.

Many women will dispute that statement. They’ll insist co-habitation is a way to test the waters. They’ll insist the decision is as much theirs as their boyfriend’s. They’ll claim the commitment is so strong that they don’t need a piece of paper to affirm it.  Finally, they’ll say that ultimatums are a bad way to get a man to commit.

Bull.

If you want to live with a guy because YOU don’t want a formal commitment, go for it.  You’re already in a position of strength because you don’t secretly yearn for something he won’t give you.  On the other hand, if you hope living together will convince him to marry you, forget it.  Sure, it happens sometimes, but, by then, the excitement of a new level in the relationship — marriage — has been eroded by domestic bickering and at least some disillusionment.

I’m no scientist, and I’m not going to throw statistics at you to support my argument — we’ve all heard that pre-marital co-habitants have higher divorce rates.  Instead, I’ll ask you to honestly reflect on your own experiences. Do you know someone who for years lived with a guy “who just wasn’t ready”, only to watch them break up, then the guy marry someone new after a few months?  Do you know a woman riddled with anxiety and resentment because her live-in boyfriend hasn’t popped the question?  Every holiday she hopes for a ring, only to receive gift cards, earrings or necklaces?

Here’s where the ultimatum comes in.  It’s not for him — it’s for you.  If a reasonable time has passed, and you’re ready for marriage, you owe it to yourself to find out if he’s thinking the same.  If not, you’re wasting  your precious time.  You think ultimatums are bad?  It used to be society that issued ultimatums.  A woman’s father would insist on knowing a young man’s “intentions” toward his daughter.  Now, many of us don’t have fathers in the picture and, even if we do, we want to take of ourselves.  Problem is, we often don’t take care of ourselves.

The other day, I was working out with my female trainer. She’s thirty-ish, never married, and grappling with her boyfriend’s request that she move in with him. She’s dated him on and off for years, and is ready to marry him.  He’s around her age and never married, though he’s fathered a child (not with her).  I advised her not to move in.  I said it was ultimatum time.  A young man working out near us agreed.  “I’m all about the ultimatum,” he said, “and I’m getting married in a couple of months. Couldn’t be happier.”

Here’s how the ultimatum works:  you decide at what point you need an engagement.  You resolve to sever ties if you don’t get it. You don’t do this to punish him.  You do it because you want a relationship in which you are loved as much as you love.  Everyone deserves a relationship in which love is equally shared.  You have to have the guts to walk away from the guy.  For good.  He may come after you; he may not, but it’s best to know where you stand.

Okay, so what does this have to do with living together?  When you live apart, you retain some mystique, some detachment. You retain allure if he doesn’t know every detail of your beauty, diet, and bathroom regimen. You ARE apart and so you are in a stronger position — within your own psyche — to BE apart if he proves less committed than you.  Marriages go through ups and downs, and that legal commitment can cause people to weather the rough times, and often grow stronger as a result.  When you live together, you experience all the humdrum aspects of marriage without the mutual obligation.  How many live-in couples do you know who are already bored with each other?  Maybe it’s because they’re not facing in the same direction as they consider the future.  Shared aspirations, interests and goals — a commitment to a shared future — keep a marriage strong.

An ultimatum forces the man to turn off the autopilot and focus — really focus — on your relationship.  Is it what he wants?  Yes? So now he knows.  Does he think something better might be around the corner?  Yes?  So now YOU know.

If you’re reading this and making excuses for him, go back and watch the movie HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.  Because he’s not.

To purchase either of my books, please click on cover photos at right.

Also, please LIKE my Facebook author page. https://www.facebook.com/nicolemcgeheeauthor

 

No More Lonely Nights 99cent Countdown Deal

Romance novel No More Lonely Nights will be on sale for 99 cents, from 1/13/14 through 1/17/14.

To read the first chapter of this book, which starts in the Mad Men -era and spans 20 years, please go to previous post.  Or you can click on cover photo at right, which takes you to the book’s Amazon Kindle page.

Direct link is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJYQB5S/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

Love Boot Camp: Make Your Man Adore You With Tough Love

Copyright  © 2013 Nicole McGehee

I’m tired of women complaining about men.  Men can be bad and they can be good, but most men are direct.  Women need to also be direct when communicating with men.  For God’s sake, stop making them guess why you’re angry, or sulking, or giving them the silent treatment.  At the same time, stop bad behavior when you first spot it and you’ll quickly weed out the men who are unwilling to accommodate you.  You’ll stop wasting time on men who make you unhappy.

I started a book called Love Boot Camp, but I’m putting in in blog form because I think many women need to hear this.

Introduction

Ana is a striking woman of Hispanic descent.  She’s a tall, lithe ski instructor, not a bit of fat on her even though she’s just past forty.  When she walks into a room, men notice her perma-bronzed skin and black hair.  She steals the limelight from many younger women.  To top it all off, she’s truly, deeply nice, with a great sense of humor.  But she experiences one disappointing relationship after another.  Why?  She picks men based on little more than their looks.  She has sex far too early in her relationships.  She asks for no effort from a man:  no time spent with her doing things she enjoys, no dates, no flowers – nothing.  When her one-night or one-week stands don’t call, she calls them.   When they don’t want to get together with her again, she makes excuses for them. The men change, but the endings are all the same:  tears and self-recrimination.

Maybe you’re saying, “That’s not me!  I’m in a relationship.  I just want a little more consideration from my man.  Granted your problem may not be the same as Ana’s, but the solution is the same:  backbone and clear communication.

In the following chapters, you’ll see how to pick a good guy – your good guy – from the hundreds of possibilities out there.  You’ll use tough love to weed out the rejects before you fall for one.

But what if you’ve already fallen for one?  Tell him what you want and see if he doesn’t give it to you.  Remember, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later that this guy isn’t willing to give his all to keep you.  You’ll either be surprised by how much he cares for you…or by how little he does.

CHAPTER 1 Why are All The Good Ones Taken?

Why are all the good men taken? They’re not.  They’re out there waiting for you, actually looking for you.  It seems like the good ones are taken because another woman saw her man’s potential, then decided to work with him to bring out his best.  You can do it, too!

Wait a minute, you say.  Isn’t it impossible to change another person?  Maybe.  But change your own expectations and, more important, change what you’re willing to accept, and you’ll find you’re no longer wasting time on losers, commitment-phobes, and bad boys.  Most men are well-intentioned, but they don’t know what you want unless you tell them.  What’s more, their “rules” for life are probably not the same as yours, or any woman’s.  Like the Mars-Venus guy says, they speak a different language.  So you have to translate your expectations into direct talk.  No sulking or passive-aggressive behavior, just straight communication of your expectations.  If he likes them, fine.  Otherwise, better to know sooner rather than later.

How many times have you let a relationship drag on because you were scared of being alone?  How much precious time have you wasted?  How many red flags have you ignored?  Stop it right now!  It’s time to invest in a relationship that will get you the respect, companionship and love you deserve.  That means the behavior you have to change is….that’s right – yours.

It’s hard to be alone.  You look around at a world made up of couples.  And it’s no fun to feel excluded on holidays like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.  So it can seem easier to accept inconsiderate or disrespectful treatment than to end an unhealthy relationship.  At least you have a man, right?  Wrong.  If you don’t feel valued, cherished and appreciated, then your relationship is taking from you more than it’s giving.  It’s true that some women — and men — are empty vessels who can’t get enough praise or attention.  If you’re one of those, then you need a different self-help book.  But if you’re a normal woman who just wants to give and receive love, who likes a few compliments and hugs, who sometimes needs a little spoiling and sympathy, then you should settle for no less.  You have to be strong enough to walk away from a man who’s not giving as much as you are.

The good thing about tough love is that you will end up with a guy who is also strong – in all the right ways. That’s because he’ll have the discipline, logic and resolve to recognize that your expectations are reasonable, and he can meet them.

CHAPTER 2 If He’s Late, No Date

You’ve showered, tweezed, styled and tried on enough outfits to cover your bed.  A final spritz of scent and you’re ready – fifteen minutes before your seven o’clock date.  Ten minutes after seven, and he hasn’t shown.  You wonder if he understood your directions.  But if he couldn’t find your place, wouldn’t he call?  You check your phone for dial tone.  Yep, it’s there.  Check your cell’s batteries.  All the bars are filled in.  Look out the front window.  No lurking cars or lost-looking guys.  By now it’s twenty after seven.  You tell yourself it’s his first time to your place, you can cut him some slack.

It’s seven-thirty and now you’re starting to worry.  What if he’s a no-show?  Should you try his cell?  Would that look desperate?  Could he have forgotten, misunderstood the time, the date?  Or maybe you got it wrong. You should really call him just to make sure you’re both on the same page.  You don’t want to text him because you want your tone to be just right – and you want to hear his.  At 7:40, you dial his digits.

“Hey!” he says, his tone casual.

“Um. Weren’t we supposed to get together tonight?”

“Yeah, sure…a buddy of mine dropped by and I kinda lost track of the time.  I’ll be there in a half hour.”

SCREEEECH!   That should be the sound of your mental brakes slamming on.  So stop right now before you agree to something stupid.  Instead, take a page from my friend Cindy’s book. Cindy is a twenty-five year old grad student on the west coast, the land of casual hook-ups.  But Cindy doesn’t do that any more because she got fed up with being disappointed.  Here’s how Cindy handles this kind of guy.

“No, you don’t need to come by.  Our date was at seven and it’s almost eight.”

“Hey, don’t be pissy, I just got into some stuff and forgot the time.  C’mon, I’ll be there in a few and we’ll have fun.”

Cindy, in a calm voice, replies, “By not showing up on time, and not calling, you’re telling me that my time is less important than yours, and I don’t agree.”

There are several ways a man might react to this.

1) He becomes huffy and defensive and ends the relationship – such as it was.

2) Or, he apologizes and asks for another chance.

3) He may even start out huffy and defensive, but then think over your point of view and ask for another chance after some time has passed.

4) Finally, he may show up later that evening with flowers, a bottle of wine and an apology.

This last is what happened to Cindy.  She forgave her date, and they ended up in a long-term relationship.  Was he ever late again?  Not often, and when he was, he called to tell her he was running late. Cindy’s calm logic works whether you’re meeting a date somewhere or waiting for him at home.  You might consider giving a guy twenty minutes grace if you’re meeting him in public.  If he doesn’t show up, by all means call and state your view.  You’ll quickly find out just how interested he is in you.  After all, if he can’t bother to be on time, he is self-absorbed or – to quote a best-selling writer, “He’s just not that into you.”  A third possibility is that he’s testing you in his own passive –aggressive way.  His childish message is, “You’re not the boss of me.”

In the end, though, his reasoning matters less than his actions.  He may not even fully understand his own reasoning, and you may never understand them either.  But his actions affect you.  That’s why it is important that you say something about his being late, not ignore it.  Because if you ignore this first, fundamental discourtesy, you pave the way for many other actions that will make you feel disrespected and unappreciated.

Chapter 3 Tight With a Buck?  He’s Out of Luck

You’re not a gold-digger, are you?  Gold-diggers aren’t nice and they usually end up leading shallow, meaningless, unfulfilled lives.  On the other hand, you don’t want a man so tight with a buck that he won’t ever treat you to dinner, or one who uses a calculator to divide every bill 50/50.  Worse yet, is the man who asks you for money.

There was a time when men had tremendous pride in providing for their wives or girlfriends, but many women earn as much as men or more, and those times seem long gone, at least in the world of dating.  Nevertheless, men should offer to pick up the check on the first few dates.  It is courteous for the person who issues the invitation to foot the bill, and if you made the first move, you, too, should offer to pick up the check.  But if a man is interested in you, he will pay (even if a man isn’t that interested, it’s generally accepted good manners for him to pay on the first date).

In fact, doesn’t it make you feel special when a man makes an extra nice first-date effort? If he springs for something imaginative or romantic like a carriage ride, or something that proves that he listened to your likes and dislikes, such as taking you to hear your favorite local musician, doesn’t that impress you? It doesn’t even have to be expensive to demonstrate effort:  he could take you on a picnic in a place he wants to share with you.  Thoughtfulness and effort count.  They show he holds you in high regard, that he wants to do something to charm you.

His wallet shouldn’t snap shut after the first few dates, but you need to reciprocate.  Buy the movie tickets, cook him dinner, or pick up the check.  But here’s a warning:  DO NOT under any circumstances buy him a gift at the beginning of a relationship or you might scare him off.

Balance is what’s important, not a 50/50 split, but fair balance.  So here are some warning signs that your man is tight with a buck, and will only get tighter as he gets comfortable in your relationship.

1) He never suggests going out.

2) If you do go out, he meticulously scrutinizes a bill, then tells you what you owe.

3) He gets into a lot of arguments with vendors about charges, portion sizes, or value for what he’s spending.

4) He accuses people or vendors of cheating him.

5) When he drives, he asks you to chip in for gas.

6) When paying a bill, he says he’s a little short and asks you for cash  — but, afterward, doesn’t head straight for an ATM to pay you back.

7) He always buys generic.

8) He only buys sale items, including groceries.

But, you say, what if he’s just poor and I like him anyway?  That’s fine if that’s how you want to co-exist with your man, as long as you’re aware that this will be your future once the two of you become accustomed to this behavior.  In any event, if he’s saving pennies because he’s putting himself through medical school, he may do items #7 and #8 listed above, like buying only sale items, but if he’s a tightwad, you’ll see the behaviors listed in items #1 through #6.

Remember, there’s a difference between tightwad and a poor guy cutting costs to reach a greater goal.  You can choose to stick with the latter till times get better, but dump the tightwad because times with him just aren’t getting any better.

CHAPTER 4 More Attached to Electronics Than to You?

A man used to court a woman by looking deeply into her eyes, hanging on her words, and giving her his undivided attention. He still should, despite the plethora of electronic distractions available to him.

When he enters your presence, his cell phone should be off, same with his Blackberry, I-Pod, etc. If not, he’s telling you that you are not as interesting or important to him as the electronic possibilities.

He may claim to have an important deal in the works. You may cut him some slack just this once. Only it never is just once – it’s habit. And soon you’re sidelined, an afterthought whom he glances at or touches occasionally. You see guys like him in every public venue. And you see their women either staring into space or talking on their own cells. So how is this togetherness? How can you communicate and forge a bond?

I’ll tell you how to get his attention. Get up and walk away. Stay gone for a good, long time, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. If he doesn’t even notice, then you know where you stand with him – nowhere. But if he asks about your absence, take the opportunity to tell him how you want to be treated.

“I’ve taken my time to be here with you, and I’d appreciate it if you’d turn everything off so we can talk without distractions. It’s hard to get to know you when you’re on the phone with someone else. It’s kind of like sitting outside your office.”

“But I’m working on…”

“I’m sure you are, so maybe you’d like to get together when you’re not so busy.”

“Man, are you uptight!”

“I just think the person who is with you in the flesh takes precedence over someone on the other end of the line. It’s common courtesy and it shows that you consider my time as important as yours.”

Otherwise, the message he’s sending is, you just sit there and wait till I have time to pay attention to you. Before all these electronics, people conducted business, the world functioned, things got done. Cutting him off – or yourself – from the rest of the world for a couple of hours endangers nothing. His deals will still get done, his schedule will still run, life will go on.

After all, if he doesn’t give you time and attention at the beginning of your relationship, things will only get worse as he gets to know you and takes the relationship for granted.

CHAPTER 5 A Roving Eye, Say Good-bye

Men look at women. That’s just a fact. It has nothing to do with you personally. It doesn’t mean the woman he’s looking at is better-looking than you. If she is better-looking, it doesn’t mean he wants to dump you and be with her. But if a man is with you, he should be subtle about looking at someone else. A sidelong glance is to be expected – whiplash isn’t.

Jen, a pretty brunette in her mid-twenties, was engaged to a Mike, who used to make a big production out of staring at other women, then commenting on their assets. He’d be with Jen, yet turn around to look after a woman passing him on the sidewalk. What’s worse, he’d make his lusty comments in front of their friends.

Jen felt humiliated. She is a striking woman herself, and she resented his ogling of strangers. She knew Mike loved her, was faithful, and was looking forward to their marriage. So here’s what she told him.

“When you make a big show out of staring at other women, it’s like you’re telling me and the world that you’re not satisfied with me – you’re still searching. I know that’s not how you mean it, but that’s how it looks, and I find it embarrassing and disrespectful.”

“I don’t mean anything by it – I’m just looking.”

“And that’s fine. I look at good-looking people of either sex. Everyone does. But, I don’t make it obvious, and I don’t make comments. If you find that you can’t control your reactions, then you’re definitely not ready for marriage.”

“Jen, I love you. You know that!”

“Then it’s time you stopped doing something I find offensive and embarrassing. You can be subtle about looking at other women. You can even tell me if you think someone is pretty or has on a sensational outfit because this isn’t about jealousy. Just don’t do it when we’re with other people and, when you and I are together, be subtle. Don’t let the woman see you looking. Keep it low-key.”

From that day forward, that’s what Mike did. They ended up happily married.

So why was he ogling women if he loved Jen so much? Probably an immature need to demonstrate his machismo. At the time, he was only twenty-six years old. But some men never grow out of this behavior. It becomes a stupid habit. And it’s up to you to make it clear that it offends you and is disrespectful to you.

CHAPTER 6 Do You Take a Back Seat to His Buddies?

It’s healthy for your man to have friends with whom to share “guy time.” Hopefully, you have female friends, too.  Ideally, his friends will like you.  If  they don’t, it could be that the “friend” chemistry isn’t there.  Or, it could be they’re resentful you’re taking away their buddy.

Watch out. They’ll tease your man about you, call him “whipped,” and point out your flaws.

When my friend Ann was dating her soon-to-be husband, one of his buddy’s would drop by unannounced early Saturday mornings and pound on the door till Ann’s boyfriend, Bob, let him in.  Even though buddy boy would find Ann there, he kept doing it for about a month.  After repeated incidents, Ann finally told Bob that if he wanted her to stay over, he’d have to tell his friend to call before coming and –most important to her – to not call until noon.

Bob had to make a choice. Move on with his life so that it included a mate, or remain in the frat house structure.  Bob was 27.  He wanted to marry Ann.  He kept his buddy in his life, but set boundaries so that he could share private time with Ann.

The result?  They often double-dated, the buddy would sometimes join Ann and Bob for some “guy” activities  like pool or TV-football, and all remained friends.

If a buddy can’t handle a woman in his your man’s life, then the choice your man makes will inform you if he’s stuck in bachelorhood or ready to get serious with you.

Here are a few red flags that your man isn’t ready for a serious relationship with you:

  1. He gives up weekend nights with you on a regular basis to go out drinking with the guys.
  2. The majority of his spare time is taken up with either spectator or participatory sports that exclude you.
  3. His workaholic hours mean no time for you, but regular outings with the guys.
  4. He plans regular fishing, golfing, camping trips with the guys, but has never planned a getaway with you.

That said, here’s a caveat:  if you’re not willing to try the sports he loves, to try to learn the ones he watches, to have his friends over, to understand his interests, then you’re definitely not ready for a mature relationship either.  Life isn’t just about what you like to do.  There has to be give and take.   Besides, he may lead you to discover new, fun interests.

CHAPTER 7 Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another One

It can be hard to distinguish between an alcoholic and a guy who likes the taste and ritual of, say, a cocktail, a cold beer, or a fine wine. Alcoholics are cunning, too. They usually hide how much they’re drinking, or they may try to control it when dating a new person.

My friend, Megan, experienced this firsthand. Her new love interest would intentionally leave liquor in his glass or drink no more than she did. She discovered he was an alcoholic one evening when she walked in on him slugging straight gin from a bottle in the fridge. As this was her first close encounter with an alcoholic, she wanted to believe that AA meetings and firm resolve – along with her support – would solve his problem.  And it did, t some extent.  After a few failed attempts, he got sober.

But she didn’t know about the “dry drunk.” A dry drunk has stopped drinking, but he still has the character traits of an alcoholic. What are they:

  1. Professional victimhood. The drunk is never to blame for conflict, ant-social behavior, or lack of success. He will ascribe shortcomings to circumstances, or other people.
  2. Mood swings. There are theories in medical literature that alcoholics are trying to self-medicate to address anxiety or depression. Even recovering alcoholics can go from charming hilarity to depression with one discouraging event.
  3. Hair-trigger temper. Going back to Megan’s experience, she found that her man would not just fly off the handle. He’d keep talking and yelling until he’d worked himself into such a rage that she could not get in a soothing word edge-wise.  At the fevered climax of his anger, he’d often stomp out of the room – or the house – with slammed doors and squealing tires. Even when his anger was not directed at her, he would yell, curse, and throw things. He never did her bodily harm, but witnessing such displays of temper disturbed and agitated her.
  4. Defensiveness. Megan would often make a comment that she thought was innocuous, only to find that she had offended her boyfriend so much that he would, once again, fly into a rage, misinterpret her meaning, and twist her words.   If she commented on a project that hadn’t gone well by saying something like, “Lesson learned…guess we should try something different next time.”  He’d shoot back with, “So I’m an incompetent loser? That’s what you’re saying?”  Megan would be astonished. She had only meant that by figuring out why a project hadn’t been successful, they could make it work next time.   The upshot was that she found herself walking on eggshells around him lest she unintentionally offend him.

If you find yourself faced with these behaviors, proceed with caution, if at all.  Alcoholics can be charming, brilliant, and fascinating. A person who is genuine in trying to lead a sober life need not necessarily be abandoned.  He may have many good qualities and much to offer.  If you see any of these traits, however, realize that you will have to learn to live with them.  You will have to manage them and yourself with diplomacy and patience.  If you feel up to the task, go for it, but realize that you will have to change your own approach, think carefully before you speak, and be able to maintain your calm in the middle of his storms.

Chapter 8 Dirty, Sloppy Guy Need Not Apply

People aren’t born messy or dirty:  they’re brought up that way. Mama’s boys  who never had to lift a finger at home don’t know how to do laundry, clean toilets, or use a broom.

If you go to his place, and it looks like a crack house from Breaking Bad, realize that he’s used to living this way and he doesn’t care. Realize, too, that he has made no effort to clean up for you.

Many princesses are just as bad because they, too, never had to clean up after themselves.  If that describes you, then a filthy guy might be a match made in heaven, provided no one calls the health department on you.

If he still lives at home and isn’t asked to pitch in for chores, that’s a red flag.  Likewise, if Mom keeps the rest of the house nice, but his room is a pig sty.  That means that even Mom has given up on sonny boy and is hoping that the mess will get to him eventually, and that he’ll clean up.  Fat chance.

A mature man, one who’s ready for a relationship,  will know how to look after himself.  If he’s not even capable of doing that, he’s not ready to be a grown up, not ready for responsibility…not ready for you.  Want a lifelong project?  Want a life of burden and irritation?  Sloppy guy is your man.

First, you’ll try to impress him with how nice you can make his place look with a little elbow grease.  He’ll express appreciation and amazement.  Now, you say, all that’s required is a little maintenance.  If he’s one in a million, maybe you’ve enlightened him.  But chances are you’ve lifted the burden off Mom and taken it on yourself.  Man-child has no incentive or desire to change.

So if housekeeping is your business, or you just love doing it, a man like this may be fine for you, as long as he has other qualities you treasure.  If you’re hoping to change him, however, better keep moving.  Nothing to see here.

Realize, too, that a man who is too immature and/or spoiled to keep his surroundings decent, has probably been pampered in other ways.  He may have a sense of entitlement.  That quickly grows old.  If he doesn’t even bother to impress you at the beginning of the relationship, he’s unlikely to get better.

Still not ready to give up?  Go ahead, talk to him.  Show him what you want. Tell him you like a clean bathroom and kitchen, at the very least.  Give him the tools to do it:  the Scrubbing Bubbles, the scouring powder, the glass cleaner, the sponges.  If his place returns to filthy, you’ll know he’s a hopeless case.

The next move is yours.

Chapter 9 Manners Do Count!

My friend Kate, age 32, is attracted to bad boys, as are so many women.  A little scraggly, a little shady, her boyfriend, Rob, can be mysterious in a spicy way.  He can be loving on rare occasions, but is aloof much of the time.  He’s often unreliable, but reliable enough to keep her hooked.  He smokes, of course, dresses in jeans, old T-shirts and a leather jacket.

Sounds like a typical 20-something, right?  Well, Rob is 41 years old.  He has a cool job as a sous-chef, which means plenty of late nights, lots of drinking, rough language and more than a little misogyny.  There’s a certain glamour to that picture, isn’t there?  At least there was until Kate took Rob home to meet her folks.

His devil-may-care, slicked back hair just looked greasy.  His ripped T-shirt looked sloppy.  His rough language made her parents cringe, and Kate couldn’t ignore the shock and disapproval on their faces.  All of a sudden, she was excruciatingly aware that he smelled like an ashtray.

To make matters worse, he had bad manners.  He nodded upon being introduced to her parents, rather than shaking hands.  He sunk into her father’s easy chair without waiting to be invited to sit down.  He ignored the glass Kate’s mother brought for his beer and drank from the can.  He began eating before his hostess, made no comment on the food, and did not offer to help with clean-up.

Seen through her parents’ eyes, Rob — for the first time — seemed repulsive.  Her parents didn’t need to voice any criticism.  Kate realized for herself that Rob would never fit in with her family. Maybe his demeanor would have been perfectly acceptable in another family, but not in hers.

It’s not so much a matter of  good vs. bad manners, but about having compatible ideas about manners.  Kate never met Rob’s family, but if they were like him, they might have found her uptight and pretentious.

If you’re not comfortable introducing your man to family and friends, then he’s simply not a good fit.  Unless both of you are up for a makeover, best to end the relationship.

Chapter 10 Listen to Your Mama

Up until now, I’ve told you about the dating experiences of my friends. Now, I’m going to tell you about mine.

My late mom could size up a person’s character in five minutes.  She was never wrong.  Never.  I dated men of many colors and nationalities and my mother never made judgments based on culture or color.  That’s not to say that appearances didn’t count.  If a man was polite, well-groomed and well-dressed, he got extra points.

She correctly predicted who would be reliable and who would dump me: her version of, “He’s just not that into you.”  She knew when a guy was lying or making excuses and when he was sincere.  She would say things like, “I just don’t trust him,” or, conversely, “He’s a good boy.”

When I met my future husband, Michael, he immediately began hot pursuit of me.  I just wasn’t that into him.  He wasn’t my type.  My mother knew that my type had thus far proved unreliable and, in her opinion, unworthy of me.  By the time I met Michael, I was 24, and had never really been in love.  I had certainly wanted to be, and had tried to convince myself that I had loved one long-term boyfriend.  The truth was, though, that I was a complete stranger to being in love.

My mother at once recognized that Michael was different from any man I’d previously dated.  He called when he said he would, was always on time, and invited me out often with plenty of advance notice.  I toyed with the idea of breaking up with him because I wasn’t that attracted to him (even though he was handsome.)  My mother said, “Just give him a chance.  You don’t have to marry him.”

She had been right about so many other men that I took her advice.  Michael was a gentleman  and I knew he wouldn’t rush me into a physical relationship, so he unknowingly — or perhaps knowingly — gave me the time and space to grow my feelings for him.  For the first couple of dates, he didn’t even try to kiss me good-bye at the end of our date.  Then, on our third date, we were at the grocery store shopping for a picnic and he gave me a peck on the lips.   I wasn’t expecting it and I was surprised at how pleasant it was.

Well, we went on our picnic.  We kissed in earnest, and I literally seemed to hear bells.  I knew I could love this man, or at least be wildly attracted to him.  His kindness and patience — and his passion for me — made me fall in love with him.

We were married for 14 years, until he died in a car accident (see blog post COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY).  I cannot imagine a happier marriage.

My mom adored him, and she was right.

The fact is, our parents have met many more people than we have.  They’ve been burned, disappointed, cheated and delighted more than we have.  Their experiences make them better judges of character.  So unless your parents hold racial or cultural prejudices for no logical reason, they can probably judge a man’s character better than you can.  At least listen with an open mind.  They could save you plenty of heartache.

From now on, realize that if you put up with unacceptable behavior when the relationship is new, you’ll just get more of the same.

From now on, resolve not to be so desperate for a relationship that you put up with bad behavior.

From now on, resolve to view your relationships with a clear eye. Recognize bad behavior, call it what it is, don’t make excuses for it, and end the relationship as soon as you recognize the behavior won’t change.

From now on, honestly assess if a man likes you or if, instead, “he’s just not that into you.”   If you always have to initiate time together, if you always contact him first, then “he’s just not that into you.” Cut him loose before you really get hurt.

From now on, listen to your friends and family if they criticize a guy you’re dating. They’re more objective than you are.

From now on, resolve that you will not put up with humiliation, unreliability, or rudeness.

From now on, give nice guys a chance as you realize that brooding, bad guys are the most insecure lot out there.

From now on, admit to yourself that there is a difference between men and women, and that men still like a little challenge, a little chase, and firm boundaries. Don’t be so eager, so quick to say  “yes.”

From now on, realize that respecting yourself is the most important step in setting the groundwork for a relationship.

From now on, decide what you want from a relationship, what makes you comfortable, and hold out for a man who wants the same things.  You must decide what you want before you can ask for it.

From now on, ask for it.

For more on the right and wrong way to handle your man, check out my romantic fiction:

REGRET NOT A MOMENT amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS amzn.com/B00CJYQB5S

Blog Tour of REGRET NOT A MOMENT, Nov 18-22

bannerSign up for a blog tour of Kindle romance REGRET NOT A MOMENT.  The tour takes place November 18-22 (that’s next Monday for the start date).  To participate, go to hardcovertherapy.com.

Readers are unanimous in giving REGRET a 5-star rating.  In addition, best selling authors Janet Dailey and Jennifer Blake raved about the book.  To buy the book for $3.99, click here www.amzn.com/B00C3PAR1W

In conjunction with the tour, we’ll be giving away five copies of my second novel NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS.

lonely nights hi resHere’s a brief description of REGRET NOT A MOMENT: The year is 1930.  Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family.  Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander.  Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation.  But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage. Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris.  Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon’s tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and’60s.

Best-selling author Jennifer Blake called this book, “as warm and spirited as its heroine, as gracious as its Southern background, a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire.  I enjoyed it immensely.”

Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches (made into a classic movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) called Regret not a Moment, “A bewitching book!  You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond…”