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The 'Dating Diva' On Dating Like a Pro

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As adult women, we sometimes feel so much pressure to get married from our parents, from our already married friends and from society in general that we cave in and give ourselves a hard time for being unhitched. If we could just embrace our single status and stop stressing so much about finding Mr. Right, we might actually be able to enjoy the journey to finding him. After all, dating should be fun. That's what author of "Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating" JJ. Smith believes. Smith explained to ESSENCE.com why she tells women to stop thinking about marriage so much and enjoy dating for the sake of dating. ESSENCE.com: Sometimes we're so intent on finding Mr. Right that we forget to have a good time dating. How do we eliminate that pressure? JJ SMITH: Enjoy dating and getting to know people for who they are. Let the relationship evolve naturally. So many relationships are not going to end up to be long-term or marriage. If you're sizing up every guy you meet for a husband, you might miss out on meeting someone that's great to go to the movies with. Maybe he's not husband material for you, but he's still fun to go on dates with. ESSENCE.com: How do you tell a guy that you don't see a long-term relationship in him, but you just want to date? SMITH: There are a lot of uncomfortable conversations that you're going to have in a relationship, but I think you have to be honest and upfront. You avoid a lot of the confusion that happens when you allude to what's not there. I always tell men that marriage is not on my radar--although I'm not opposed to getting married--that I've been married before and that for right now it's not what I'm looking for. Most men are OK with it because men aren't really rushing to altar either. ESSENCE.com: You support dating multiple men at the same time. How do you avoid it from getting cloudy? SMITH: One thing I do is I don't make myself too available unless I think we have a lot of compatibility. If you start talking to a guy on the phone every day, there's an expectation that he wants to know where you are and things like that, so you relinquish some of your freedom. I actually prefer a guy to text me to see if it's a good time to talk. ESSENCE.com: So what's your stance on texting because a lot of women hate that guys text so much and won't call? SMITH: Sometimes guys will use texting to manage multiple relationships. They use texting to keep in touch with different women at the same time. So he'll be on a date with you, but he'll be texting someone else the whole time. Texting is only appropriate in the beginning. If a guy is texting me too much and I don't like it, I say, "Can you give me a call? I want to hear your voice."  You have to hear his voice, you have to hear the sincerity in his voice and you have to see him. ESSENCE.com: You've mentioned that dating multiple guys doesn't mean having sex with multiple guys. Some women might feel like guys will get uninterested if they can't have sex. What would you say to them? SMITH: I just assume that all the men that I meet are going to want to sleep with me. If he wants to sleep with me, then it's up to me to determine the pace and how I get involved with him, because he's going to choose if I don't. I can easily become his jump-off without even noticing it. If you are one of those women that are not inclined to holding out, there are a couple of things you have to do physically to stop yourself from having sex, like not shaving or wearing the wrong kind of underwear. ESSENCE.com: If you find yourself in that jump-off position, what do you do? SMITH: One of my guy friends said, 'There are no promotion opportunities for my jump offs.' If you are OK with that relationship being a jump-off, knock yourself out. If you know that role and you've accepted it, then play your position. Don't think you're going to graduate into girlfriend. If you can't handle it, then don't do it. Don't confuse it for something that it's not. ESSENCE.com: You've mentioned that women shouldn't always go out without their girlfriends. Why is that? SMITH: It's very hard for a guy to approach a group of women. If I'm going to meet up with the girls to go out, I set aside some time where I can mingle on my own beforehand. Also, go out by yourself. I have gotten so much courage from going out by myself. If you don't want to be by yourself and enjoy your own company, why would anybody else? ESSENCE.com: You tell women to go to cities where men outnumber the women. That could be difficult, right? SMITH: Maybe you don't have to go to another city, but go to locations where the men outnumber the women. Go into a men's store or go to an auto show or participate in an MBA conference. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and sign up for a class. If you want to meet corporate guys then go to places where corporate guys are, even country clubs. Sometimes we just have to be creative. And for women living in Atlanta--the ratio is like 20 to 1 over there. Maybe think about moving to DC or New York. ESSENCE.com: A lot of women might be confused by your statement to "forget about marriage." What do you mean by that? SMITH: It just means take your mind off of marriage and focus on enjoying the single life. It's the small things like being able to choose how you spend your time. When you get married and you have kids you never get your time back. Now is the time to really focus on you and what's important to you. Once you get married everything is shared. You don't have to be lonely because you're single. ESSENCE.com: Are there any rules that you live by to keep your dating life productive? SMITH: I try to get out twice a week. Once a week I go out in a group and once a week I go out by myself. For me it's about getting out of the house. Even if I have a date that week, I'm still going out twice that week. Keep going out even if you have two guys that you're dating. Don't scale back. Keep the discipline of continuing to go out even if you have dates. Having a lot of guys to date will certainly build your confidence. It is such a confidence-builder to be able to attract the type of man that you want. J.J. Smith is a dating expert, author, radio host and life coach. She has lent her relationship expertise to a number of media outlets including NBC4, FOX5, the Montel Williams Show and more. Her book "Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating" is a single lady's guide to having fun while playing the dating game. She also hosts "Real Talk with JJ and the Fellas" an internet radio show that offers real, honest dating and relationships advice. Read More:
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