Valentine’s Day can be a romantic and fun day for some people and a bit depressing for others. Whether you’re single, looking to mingle, in a relationship or going through a bad breakup - I thought this was the perfect opportunity to enlist five fabulous women to shed some light on dating and relationships by answering five questions on how they believe you can be the best version of yourself no matter what your relationship status is. They are well-versed in coaching or creating platforms for women and/or men while navigating life in dating, relationships and/or breakups.
Be sure to read to the bottom of the page to check out these fabulous ladies bios!
Now... let's get these questions answered.
What advice would you give your younger self about dating?
Annabel: Mum told me never to trust a man with a beard because he’s hiding something. Then beards got hot, so I had to figure it out by myself! My advise sounds pretty obvious, but it’s to be yourself. You’ll attract the right people and have more honest and meaningful relationships. And, most importantly have fun. If it’s not fun, it won’t last. I’d also advise people against thinking they have a type and rattling off crazy amounts of criteria. It’s not a shopping list, it’s about connecting. Go with your gut and explore what feels right.
Rachel: Give yourself more credit! You are beautiful, smart and fun, anyone who doesn’t see that isn’t worth your time. Spend more effort on loving yourself, than finding someone to love you.
Ellen: Love, laugh and have fun. However, know who you are and whatever choices you make as far as dating/friendships go, be sure to surround yourself with kind and respectful individuals. Don’t fall into the category of being “the cool chick” or “one of the boys.” You're a special person and deserve to be treated as such. Don’t ever underestimate yourself.
Stephanie: Be you. One of the sexiest things to a man is a woman who is confident. You are awesome. Own it. Be open and honest about who you really are, even if there’s a chance he may not like you. If he doesn’t like you, it’s his loss, and thank goodness you didn’t waste your time with someone who isn’t the right fit. You want to be with someone who loves all of who you are; so when you are authentically yourself, you’re letting him fall in love with you, not with your masks. The guy who gets to capture your heart is going to be one lucky man!
Kimberly: I would tell myself to relax and have some fun dating. Most importantly to trust herself. I would tell her not worry about who she is going to marry! Really. That there is absolutely no need to rush into anything at all, as you have your entire life ahead of you.
For those seeking love, what is the best resource to find their match?
Annabel: I think an open mind is the best thing you can have. Whether you’re dating online, meeting people socially, at work, at bars, at the subway - wherever it is. If you keep an open mind, you’ll be open to all the possibilities and people. That’s what it’s all about.
Rachel: Online dating is a must. Find two sites that have people you are attracted to, and put in the effort. Also, make an attempt to get out twice a week to places with people you don’t know. Events, workshops, classes, anything that gets you off the couch.
Ellen: There are so many avenues those seeking love can take, social media/dating sites, networking, letting people know you are available and ready to get into a relationship is always something that I never did. For some reason I didn't want anybody to think I was vulnerable or needy. I say let everyone know that you are available and ready to fall in love. You have nothing to lose. It’s quite empowering because you're letting people know what you want and you’re very honest about it.
Stephanie: I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ resource to find your match. In fact, I’m not a big believer in ‘finding’ your match. I’m a believer in ‘being’ your match to attract him/her. Become the person you want to be with. Find and create the love in your heart first, rather than ‘finding’ this love outside of yourself. When you become the person you want to attract, and believe you’re deserving of an amazing relationship, he/she will ‘magically’ appear. Oh, and as you’re becoming the person you want to attract, remember to get out of the house too.
Kimberly: For those seeking love, the best way to meet someone is through a common experience that you share together. Be it a hobby you enjoy, or an activity you are passionate about. You can find love in person at events you attend, sports you participate in, the gym, traveling... and of course there is always the possibility of an online dating site. There is an entire world of dating sites available from sites for people who like to do specific activities, to those that match you up with people who fit your personality type. Let’s not forget that meeting someone through a mutual acquaintance is a fabulous way to meet your new love. Possibilities for love are everywhere.
Do you believe that you must love yourself before someone else can love you?
Annabel: Yes, but I also think it’s a misleading thing to say because how do you define what that really means? How do you know when you love yourself? To me, it’s about being happy in your own skin and loving your life as it is. When that happens, you become a magnet! To friends, business prospects, lovers and everything in between!
Rachel: No. Anyone can love anyone, but if you want a healthy balanced relationship, self-love is an essential component. Insecurity is a relationship killer, and the vulnerability of loving someone and opening your heart will bring them all to the surface. Do the work.
Ellen: I believe you need to go out in the world with a smile on your face and a positive attitude. Obviously, sometimes that is hard to do but if you’re out there as “Debbie Downer” it will shine right through. You have to exert a good vibe. People like to be around fun, positive, kind people.
Stephanie: Heck yeah! Loving yourself first is absolutely critical to your happiness and fulfillment. If you don’t love yourself, no one can actually love you because you will push that love away. When you don’t love yourself, you won’t believe you’re worthy or deserving of love. With that sucky belief, you’ll end up sabotaging or denying any love that is coming at you. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll look for love outside of yourself to make you feel happy or complete, but the reality is, no one can do that for you consistently. Love and happiness starts within.
Kimberly: In order to enter into a healthy relationship, you must fall in love with yourself and then make the room for an amazing partner to love. Enjoy your own journey discovering who you are and what you truly seek in a relationship. Let go of past wounds and heal..then welcome a life with your new love.
For those in a relationship looking to spice things up a bit, what tips would you give them?
Annabel: Be more open about your sexuality and be open to trying new things. So often people take sex to a perverted place which means the real conversation around it is thwarted and kept quiet. It doesn’t have to be like that if you agree to explore it together.
Rachel: Take it back to the beginning. Recreating your first date is one of my favorite exercises for couples. It’ll bring up all the butterflies you felt the first time, which translates into sexy-time.
Ellen: Don’t take your partner for granted. Always be honest and try and keep the romance going. It’s always fun to have an element of surprise in a relationship. I have had a surprise waiting for my husband when he comes home from work or a business trip. Candles lit, romantic cards under the pillow or in his suitcase when he travels. Have fun with it. Always keep your sex appeal. It’s important! It is hard when there are kids around and you’re wiped out but you always have to find time for a date night!
Stephanie: Oh, I love turning up the fuego! To spice things up, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Try something new together like taking on a fun hobby, planning a surprise get away together, or be unpredictable … in the bedroom. You can also send sexy text messages or some other little gesture on a weekly basis. You can find out what your partner’s secret fantasy is, and deliver on it. Each night before bed, say at 3 least things you’re grateful for about each other. If you have kids, schedule a date night, and get all decked out for it. Think about the fun times you had when you were still a hot new item and incorporate those times back into your life. Whatever you both loved doing together when you first started dating, do them again. Finally, you can take on a 20 day love challenge where you intentionally love bomb your partner like crazy in creative ways for 20 straight days.
Kimberly: A wonderful way to spice things up in your relationship is to create a jar that is your Friday Fun Jar. You each write down ideas for hot dates, or maybe a fantasy you want to act out… anything that you would like…and is outside of your norm. Pop the papers into the jar whenever you like. Then on the Thursday before your Friday night date each week you alternate picking one idea, and do it on that Friday night. It’s a great playful way to keep things a bit spontaneous, and for each of you to please each other. It’s always a surprise as you never know what you will pull out of the jar.
What is the best Valentine's Day gift to give?
Annabel: I’m a big fan of the handmade gift! Or a surprise, like a treasure hunt or adventure outing. I once made choose-our-own-adventure game for a boyfriend. We still talk about it! And if you happen to be newly single on Valentine’s Day - grab yourself one of our BounceBackBoxes! (see exclusive offer below!)
Rachel: An experience. Gifts are great, but memories last forever. Book a weekend getaway, get tickets to a game they love, or go see a show. Make it something they will never forget and know that you put thought into.
Ellen: I love these little books that can be personalized called What I Love About You where you can fill in the blanks throughout the book and give it as a gift. It really shows that a lot of thought has been put into it and it is really special.
Stephanie: Gary Chapman distilled out 5 love languages. They are words of affirmation, spending quality time together, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Whoever you’re getting a gift for, discover which love language they connect to the most and give them something that expresses the way they experience love.
Kimberly: The best gift to give to yourself for Valentine’s Day this year, especially if you are in between relationships, is to engage in some sort of self care. Perhaps it is a luxurious spa treatment...a massage or manicure. Or perhaps it is a long hike in the woods or on the beach to enjoy nature. Whatever it is that you chose, enjoy being with yourself because you deserve all that is good in the world always.
Exclusive to the (So)(Co)Community: Do you think you deserve a post-breakup BounceBackBox? I think you do! Share a photo on Instagram of why you believe you deserve the chance to win a box for Valentine’s Day by including #BounceBackBox as well as @neverlikedit and @harper22s. The Instagram must include both handles and the hashtag and be posted between February 11th at 10am and February 15th at 10am in order to enter to win. While you’re at it, don’t forget to sell your breakup baggage on Never Liked It Anyway and buy yourself something truly fabulous with the money you make!
Learn more about our fabulous panel of women below:
Annabel Acton is an entrepreneur and innovation consultant, and has a knack for questioning everything. To her delight, she found a career that indulged her curiosity and let her question things all day, every day. She has worked for some of the world’s largest companies; helping to reinvent their brands, shape their innovation pipelines and shake up their company’s culture. She is an expert in challenger strategy and upstream thinking and has worked in Sydney, London, New York and most recently, LA. Annabel is also the founder and CEO of Never Liked It Anyway, the eBay for breakups. her current focus is on building the brand and developing the site into an entertainment platform. Visit www.neverlikeditanyway.com and follow @neverlikedit
Rachel DeAlto is a communication and relationship expert, love coach, and hypnotherapist. Rachel is dedicated to helping people remove the blocks that are holding them back in life and love. Rachel is passionate about building confidence and helping others to create healthy relationships. She developed her communications expertise through her undergraduate degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and later as a practicing trial attorney after receiving her Juris Doctorate at Seton Hall University School of Law. Rachel has been featured on a multitude of media outlets including: "GMA," "The TODAY Show," CNN/HLN, "Access Hollywood," "The Steve Harvey Show," Fox News, Cosmopolitan and Glamour. Rachel is also a frequent TEDx speaker. Visit www.racheldealto.com and follow @racheldealto.
Ellen Bolin is a graduate of the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC). She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) specializing in relationships. Ellen worked in a sales role for 25 years in New York City in the telecommunications industry selling to financial firms. She always enjoyed the relationships she built over the years with both her clients and coworkers. Throughout her years in sales, Ellen lived the single life in NYC wondering along with all of her single friends were all the good men were. She loved speaking with other women about their personal lives and relationships. She met her husband at 47 years old and got married two years later. She decided it was time for her to take her sales background and years of experience as a single woman and become a personal and relationship coach. With her cut to the chase attitude and humor, Ellen is easy to talk to and puts her clients at ease immediately. She currently practices in NYC. Visit Ellen at www.ellenbolincoaching.com
Stephanie Kwong is a transformational life coach, speaker, and creator of the ‘40 Day Self-Love Transformation,’ an online program that teaches the how of developing self-love and self-acceptance that has impacted thousands globally. Stephanie shows people how to love themselves, how to unchain themselves from fear to live a life filled with happiness, inner peace and to manifest their dreams. Stephanie has worked one-on-one with hundreds of people around the world and developed proven, evidence-based processes to bring forth happiness and peace–no matter what. Her clients have ranged from CEOs to celebrities, and everyone in between. Visit Stephanie at www.stephaniekwong.com and follow her at @stephaniekwong.
Kimberly Kelly is the CEO and Founder of True Love Again. She is a certified Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and trained Love and Relationship Coach through the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching. Kimberly is a former Financial Specialist and Personal Banker who discovered during her own journey through divorce and dating, that she has a passion for working with others to help them achieve their personal goals with their romantic relationships. Kimberly specializes in working with divorcees who are completely exhausted from the drama of their divorce, to get past their past and over their ex, so that they are ready for true love again. Kimberly lives in New England with her three amazing children. Visit Kimberly at www.trueluvagain.com and follow @KimberlyA_Kelly.