Expert Relationship Tips
Attractive, smart, successful 37-year-old Carissa had it all...except for what she wanted most: a husband and kids. And despite her best efforts to hide it, the desperation she felt over her single status was written all over her pretty face—hardly a trait most men find magnetic. So last year, she decided to freeze her eggs in an effort to extend her fertility. It was an expensive and sometimes painful process, thanks to the series of hormone injections she underwent. But it left her feeling empowered. "I'd been waiting around for my life to happen, and suddenly I was living it and enjoying myself, and it felt great," she says. A few months later, she went on a Match.com date. And guess what? This one was fun—they talked, they laughed, and 10 months later...they got married!
The moral of the story: You don't have to freeze your eggs to find love, but you may need to adjust your outlook. "Dating success relies on you embracing your life, even if it's not exactly the life you had planned," says Michelle Callahan, Ph.D., a Women's Health contributor and author of Ms. Typed: Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships and Find Dating Success. "Radiating self-assurance makes people want to join you for the ride." Read on for tricks to cultivate that vibe.
Say Cheese"A happy attitude is so alluring, yet you'd be shocked by how many women forget to smile when meeting someone new," says Rachel Dinero, Ph.D., director of the psychology program at Cazenovia College in New York. Not that she faults them. It can be tough to be cheery if you've been burned in the past or if the conversation suddenly takes a turn for the tedious. But feeling like a jackass for the few seconds it takes to force a smile may be worth your effort. Research shows that flexing the facial muscles that are required to smile can substantially improve your mood.
And it has a similar effect on the person with you. When you smile at someone, it may fire up a bundle of neurons in the frontal lobe of their brain, triggering happy feelings, says Craig Malkin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In other words, he could subconsciously start to associate elation with you. Plus, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that smiling at a person makes you look prettier. Stay with us.
Exude ConfidenceA self-assured attitude acts like a giant spotlight, highlighting all of your great qualities. This explains why a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology proved that men find women more attractive when they exude confidence. The good news is that developing a healthy dose of it doesn't require some big, annoying self-improvement project. "Confidence is born when you start thinking of the bigger picture," says Bethany Marshall, Ph.D., author of Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away. "If you let your self-esteem hinge on little external factors—he didn't call, no one congratulated you on your promotion—you end up defining yourself based on other people's ever-changing approval. When you have a steady view of yourself, it becomes easier to brush off others' negativity, which can erode your sense of self."
And if you're ever tempted to make self-deprecating comments in an effort to seem down-to-earth and approachable, don't. "The latest brain research shows that when people make negative comments about themselves, even in jest, they can start to believe them," says Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., author of Love in 90 Days.