Find & Keep Your Soulmate

Experts tell-all: Finding and keeping your soul mate by PATTY HASTINGS

Chicagoans received some guiding principles to use in their search for "the one" at the Relationships 101: Finding and Keeping Your Soul Mate panel Tuesday night at Chase Tower sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.

Amy Dickinson, a nationally syndicated advice columnist; Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy; and Shanae Hall, CNN Headline News correspondent and author of “Why Do I Have to Think Like a Man?” offered 160 attendees some contemporary dating advice:

Take time off from dating

Post-breakup, people need recovery time. If you reenter the dating scene too soon, you won’t be productive and risk going on “disates” (disaster dates) that delay your healing, Dickinson says.

“If you break your ankle, you have to stay off it,” Hall says. “It’s the same thing with your heart. You have to take that time off.”

Otherwise, you won’t put off positive energy that attracts people to you.

Go back to the things that make you happy

“Make a list of five to six things that make you happy and go do those things,” Gandhi says.

Travel on your own, try a new hobby you’re interested in, or go to local festivals.

Look for people in the right places

Want to meet a specific person? Go where they are.

Volunteer at an animal shelter to meet someone who shares your love of furry creatures.

Ask friends to set you up…more than once

Even if friends fixed you up before, remind them you’re still looking. Friends who are good connectors tend to already be in healthy relationships, Dickinson says.

One-third of all married people were introduced by family or friends, Gandhi says.

She suggests going through your friends’ Facebook friends. You can leverage yourself into a match by telling the connector which of their Facebook friends you find interesting.

Plan the date

If you’re in charge of the date, give your date options to get him or her involved. Asking if he or she would rather go out for Thai or Mexican shows you’re thoughtful but also know how to plan.

“Do things that can get your adrenaline flowing,” Gandhi says. “Get scared on dates, be active because it’s shown that if you generate adrenaline in your system you tend to feel more attracted to a person.”

Try the Gurnee Six Flags or sailing on Lake Michigan. For a more chill experience, meet for a drink.

“The goal of date No.1 is to get to date No. 2,” Gandhi says.

Leave your inner CEO at home

A successful, confident person can intimidate their date by bringing their work persona on a date. Skip the suits, the directive attitude and stay off your Blackberry.

“Approach is everything,” Shanae says.

Don’t wait around for a late date

“Look at the effort someone is putting in to be with you,” Gandhi says. “Look at what they do, not what they say.”

If someone shoots a text that they’re still in a meeting after you’ve been waiting at the restaurant for half an hour — leave.

Learn about your date’s relationship with their friends and family

“We are all a product of our childhood and our previous experiences,” Dickinson says.

Discern what their emotional relationship is with the people they’re closest to and you could learn a lot about attitudes that influence their relationship behavior.

Make a list of attributes you’re looking for

Want some who is reliable? Or thoughtful? Physically writing it down may help you organize your thoughts.

For women the biggest discriminator is height, says Gandhi. Only 12 percent of the U.S. male population is 6-feet tall or taller. For men, the biggest discriminator is age, she says.

Wait to have sex

…until you’re in an exclusive relationship.

“When you say no, you will get more yeses to everything you want, it will blow your mind. No is your best friend,” Hall says.

Waiting forces the other person to get to know you. And if they’re into you, they will stick around.

“Men tend to feel the physical chemistry first. But with women, we feel the emotional chemistry first,” Gandhi says. “If you give it up too soon, the man hasn’t had the chance to develop that like for you.”

Don’t anticipate that people will change

Take the person at face value.

Pushing change on a person may have an adverse reaction. Telling someone to lose 20 pounds may drive them to down 12 Krispy Kremes.

You may even develop interests together as you get to know each other.

Follow your intuition

When something doesn’t feel right, listen to your inner voice.

Whether you’re questioning funny behavior or a fishy letter, the fact that it’s mulling around in your head is a red flag.

“You already know or you wouldn’t be asking,” Hall says.

Hall says family and friends can validate the concerns you have and help you organize your thoughts and plan of action.

*original article