Life Advice

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Marriage madness across America has wedding costs soaring

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NEW YORK — Last week, Kate Zhang snapped up a wedding dress at a bridal store in Manhattan. It was only her second appointment.

Her decision to get married was slightly less hurried. Zhang and her fiancé, Harrison Li, agreed to tie the knot the weekend before. Granted, they had waited more than a year because of the pandemic, but this summer...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Don't doom the date by asking this question

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I recently remembered this article in Business Insider I read a few years ago titled “Posing this simple question to a first date will help you decide if you have a future together.” As a dating coach who gives plenty of first-date advice, I was obviously curious to see what this “simple question” could be.

I tell my clients to start a...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: The biggest mistake I ever made

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I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about young people making the decision not to have children, as I did. Here’s a perspective from someone who made that choice — and now isn’t so sure it was the right one.

When I entered graduate school, a few years after my first partner passed away, I made a conscious decision not to have any ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: How to deal with crooks, con artists and liars

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I have been lied to by so many contractors, I would be surprised if there weren’t an internet course on how to swindle your customers. Arguments, yelling, threats and just plain meanness over a few bucks makes me sick. Luckily, there’s more than one way to take your power back.

Of course, Yelp and Google reviews offer a way to let others ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Exes exit stage left

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I got this text from a client last week saying, “I really want to solve this issue of men mentioning their exes! Or maybe that’s just normal? Does that happen to other clients on every first date?”

And then this week, after a different client went on a first date, she told me her date said some things in passing that gave her pause.

One...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: It's almost the most dangerous time of year

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Most suicides do not take place at the winter holidays, like most people think, but happen toward the end of July and in August. At this time of year, being aware of how the people we love are feeling is even more important than usual.

It’s not enough just to say something if you see something; you may have to be the one to give someone a ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Ghosts don't deserve your time

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I have a former (male) client who has what I’ll call a "ghosting pattern.”

He will text someone after a date he thinks went well to ask her out again. She doesn’t answer. He writes to her again. She doesn’t answer again. He writes again (maybe this time on Facebook and LinkedIn, too) … you get it.

While most of us can see she’s ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Why we want the person who doesn't want us

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You like someone. They like you… maybe. You continue liking this person. This person stops liking you (or never did) and pulls back. You like this person more. This person, feeling smothered, continues to pull back. You continue to obsess more.

Why should a person’s feelings actually grow the less someone is reciprocating those loving ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: Have you noticed how people have changed in the past year?

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It has been a very hard year. Hard because of the pandemic, the election, and the protests, and hard because some people are behaving more aggressively — a trickle-down effect from politicians to plumbers. In part this behavior must be fallout from anxiety over COVID-19, but I’m seeing people get meaner or perhaps just very self-protective, ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Don't let one awkward experience ruin online dating forever

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Online dating is full of tricky situations, foot-in-mouth moments and embarrassing encounters. And guess what? So is face-to-face dating ... and life in general.

It happens all the time: Someone makes a teeny, tiny faux pas and is ready to throw in the towel on all dating websites and apps.

My latest example is a client who was absentmindedly...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: How to be in a relationship if you are depressed

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One day during the height of the pandemic, I had a very busy day that got even busier when our dishwasher broke down. I had to find a repair person who could rebuild it, as new parts were not to be found. Also our car was in the shop, and I had a full day of clients and interviews to contend with.

My lovely wife was pretty upset about the car (...Read more

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Retired couple builds beds for children to 'sleep in heavenly peace'

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PITTSBURGH — Ed and Elaine Snyder were looking for a new project.

The retired couple, who live in Mars, Butler County, Pennsylvania, were looking for other activities after tackling two house flips. It was then their daughter-in-law mentioned they should consider getting involved with a charity with which she had been volunteering.

Now the ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: How to believe in yourself while trusting others

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Believing in yourself completely is a little like unconditional love: It is all too rare.

I don’t mean to depress you, but that’s the reality for most of us earthlings. That’s why it’s so important to gather those moments of self-belief together to get the inspiration you need. If you don’t trust yourself enough, it’s hard to let ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Does shared humor equal happiness?

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From 2009 to 2013, I was in a serious relationship — one where we talked about the “M” word (marriage, not mirrors or mugs, like the ones we bought together).

In that relationship, I was blinded by my partner’s “on paper” perfection — prestigious schools, high-profile job, wonderful family, etc. And it didn’t hurt that I was ...Read more

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NICU nurse pops the question to a tiny former patient: 'Will you be my flower girl?'

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jamie Michetti is thinking back to that gorgeous spring day in Charleston, South Carolina, just one month ago, when her fiance became her husband.

Thinking back to one very specific, very special, but also very hectic memory from that day.

It was a couple of hours before the 5 p.m. ceremony — which would be held on the ...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Does chivalry go against equality?

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In this day and age — #MeToo, wage gap issues, etc. — when it comes to dating, there are two seemingly opposing forces: chivalry and equality. (Please note that in this column, I am defaulting to opposite-sex couples, but similar concepts apply in same-sex couples.)

Chivalry: The guy pays.

Equality: You split the bill because no one is ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: I had a cool dad

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I look forward to writing this column every year, a chance to honor my father’s memory and his legacy. I am the proud son of a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Peter Charles Goldsmith, who taught me everything I know about being a newspaper man. I guess you could say writing is in my blood, but more accurately my dad is in my soul.

My dad was...Read more

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Erika Ettin: Take the good with the bad

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It’s interesting. Clients aren’t shy to share with me when they’re not happy or not having “luck” in the dating process (breakups, ghosting, etc.). Yet when they are happy (relationships, marriage, etc.), I often don’t find out until years later… if at all!

Along those lines, I received this email recently from a former client:

�...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: 5 clues to beat the summertime blues

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Longer days and warmer weather are on the way. For most people, summertime is a good time of year. It can also be very helpful for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

But many others may feel pressured by the extra time in the day and feel guilty for not enjoying themselves. For many depressed people, going to bed is sadly the best ...Read more

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Barton Goldsmith: Ready to go back to the office? Maybe not

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I have been writing this column for 20 years. I can think of a few things I’ve done for longer, like brushing my teeth, but I think this could be considered a good run. I have no intention of stopping, so no worries there. I have made the leap into digital media and have a comfortable niche there as well. But still, 20 years — who does ...Read more