Life Advice




Erika Ettin: How to explain a bad date, with help from psychology

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What went wrong on your last date? The way you answer could change everything about how you approach your next one.

Psychologists Martin Seligman and Gregory McClell Buchanan have studied how people explain life events. How might we explain the man who was rude to us on the bus? Or the results of the “cutest dog” photo contest we answered? ...Read more


How two friends from Cuba lost touch, then reunited in the US -- after 60 years apart

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Her iPhone rang, and Terry Diego made a face.

The call was coming from an unknown number, and Terry doesn’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Her husband Emilio does, though, so she passed her device to him.

This was not even two years ago. It had, to that point, been just another ordinary day of enjoying retirement for ...Read more


Survival tactics for the modern world

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by Barton Goldsmith

I got an email from a reader saying, “I enjoyed your article, ‘Surviving a hard time.’ I try to remember, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” Did I actually say that? I certainly have never considered myself tough. Smart, creative, quick — OK, these are words I would use to describe myself. I ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Talk the talk and walk the walk

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I’ve always loved math. I still do. (And can’t forget spreadsheets!)

But I still remember that in high school, the entire calculus class was clueless as to why integrals were, well, integral to our lives. (I’m still not sure, to be honest.) Our teacher, Mr. Opre, told us to “talk the talk and walk the walk” until we started to really...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Why dating is like 'Property Brothers' (seriously!)

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If you’ve ever watched "Property Brothers" on HGTV, you know they do a similar schtick with each client before choosing a house to renovate. Clients typically have a long list of very specific requirements for their dream house: two-car garage, swimming pool, marble countertops, you name it. Then the clients share their budget. This number ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: 10 things to do when you feel stuck

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Sometimes when we are trying our best to move forward, something comes along to block us. Here are 10 things to do to help you keep moving in the right direction.

1. Get out of the house or office.

If you can’t get your mind clear, sometimes stepping outside can give you a new perspective. Getting some fresh air will enliven your senses, ...Read more


Barton Goldsmith: COVID-19 has changed our lives forever. How to keep moving forward

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I started this column right after 9/11 in my local paper, The Ventura County Star. About six months later, the column went national, I was offered a show on the local NPR station, and I was consulting for a hit television show. My career, I was told, was meteoric, but I was truly too busy to notice. My focus was on getting the message out, doing...Read more

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Erika Ettin: TV tells us one thing … life says another

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I got a text recently from a 40-something male client that said, “I’m anxious about restarting dating. I just want this process to be done.”

I followed up with, “When you say that you want the process to be done, what do you mean?”

Every week, an average of three clients say to me, “I hate dating. I want to be in a relationship.”...Read more

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Erika Ettin: 10 dating goals and mantras for 2023 … and how to achieve them

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There’s a reason the start of the new year goes hand in hand with creating resolutions and setting goals. Something about tossing out an old calendar and writing a new number every day feels like a clean slate, especially for those in the dating pool. Maybe you didn’t start 2023 off with a meaningful kiss at midnight — but that doesn’t ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: How to lower your anxiety in stressful situations

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Have you been feeling stressed and anxious lately? Don’t get down on yourself about it, because it’s a natural response to difficult times.

Let’s look at the components of stress to better understand how to decrease its impact. In life-threatening situations, or situations that feel life-threatening, we may have a fight-or-flight response...Read more

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Singles are choosing inexpensive dates in a year of rising costs

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PHILADELPHIA — Given the price of gas, Rob Martin would no longer date someone who lives hours away. And since the cost of dining out has increased, the 32-year-old has found himself opting more for virtual first dates — such as phone conversations — before investing time and money on an in-person meetup. He keeps the first in-person dates...Read more


Barton Goldsmith: Feeling better in the new year

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I know the new year is about letting go of the old and embracing the new, but what if the old isn’t letting go of us?

There’s a war in Europe. Hundreds of people are still dying daily from COVID-19. And these are just a couple of the more entrenched problems in the world. On top of all this, everything is more expensive or harder to get, so...Read more


Erika Ettin: 4 online dating New Year's resolutions for 2023

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It’s hard to believe 2023 is just around the corner, but with the holiday season always comes the topic of New Year’s resolutions. Yes, you can tell yourself you’re going to use your gym membership more, stop scrolling social media just before bed or meditate for 20 minutes every day … but let’s be honest with ourselves. Those are ...Read more


Erika Ettin: We can't predict the future, so enjoy the present

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About a month after working with him, I recently asked a client how things are going so far on the dating sites. For context, he’s in his mid-40s in a major Midwestern city. And this was his response:

“Thank you for checking. So far, crickets. However, I continue to speak with four women. Three are out of state (NY who I meet next week, ...Read more


Barton Goldsmith: The holiday season is what you make of it

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People often talk about the holiday spirit, but what is it really? Is it the act of giving and kindness, or is it the ability to not let your negative thoughts override the joy that the season offers? Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Some people are better than others at compartmentalizing their emotions, so they don’t feel the negative ones when ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: How to get through a hard time

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There are many things you can do to make a tough time easier. Some may be hard to see if you are stuck in a negative thought loop. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Remember that things may not be as bad as they seem. Usually in retrospect, what may have felt awful wasn’t really so bad. That lesson can help you make it through whatever ...Read more


Erika Ettin: The holiday season is a surprisingly great time for dating (really!)

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Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, it may feel like a good time to temporarily disable your online dating profiles, delete dating apps from your phone and take a break from meeting new people altogether. After all, your calendar is likely filled with holiday parties, family get-togethers, holiday travel and more Hallmark movies than you’re ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: What to do in a confusing situationship

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Q: I don't know what to make of Richard. I've seen him three times, including the trip upstate, and each time he indicated that he wanted to see me again, but I don't sense a whole lot of enthusiasm.

He was initially undecided about whether or not he was going away for Thanksgiving, then ended up going away. I was sort of hoping to get a ...Read more


Barton Goldsmith: Forging through the financial crisis of 2022 and beyond

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No one’s life is perfect. You do the best you can with each day and hope it all adds up to something good in the end. It’s only human to have doubts about your own value. We all feel that way at times. Your life means something, even if you don’t think so at the moment.

The last 2.5 years have been a living nightmare. The world seems ...Read more


After being dumped, can a $4,000 breakup boot camp help you heal?

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LOS ANGELES — When filmmaker Tito Molina told his business partner and ex-girlfriend that he was attending a breakup retreat to help him heal from their recent split, she offered to help him pay for it.

Molina’s ex ended their relationship in early September, a couple of weeks before their nine-year anniversary. Molina said the breakup was ...Read more