The Ultimate Guide to Smart Love and Dating

Romantic love is only a recent invention, perhaps in the last 400 to 500 years. And we’re still learning how to date, love, and be vulnerable. This uncertainty is why many women and men say, “Dating is a struggle,” even more so now that the pandemic made it hard to meet people in person.

The struggle is what we call dating burnout. And we’re here to help you through it. We want to see you thrive in your thirties, not just in your career but also in your personal life.

Since starting the show in 2020, Ciari and I have chatted with lawyers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and many more career-driven women (and sometimes men!) We realized that it doesn’t matter where you go to school or how successful you are in your career; you will still make mistakes in love and dating.

We had one comforting discovery: love problems are universal.  If you don’t believe us, here is our interview with Miss Universe and her fellow beauty queens about their dating struggles.

Sometimes, you can end up repeating your mistakes again and again until it becomes a cycle you aren’t even aware of.

Just look at us. I stayed in a relationship for ten years until it became so toxic that my ex had to walk away. Ciari was a serial Bumble user, dating walking red flags. So we are the perfect case studies for our show. And we’re determined to achieve successful outcomes in matters of the heart.

If there is one thing we learned in all our episodes, love is a verb. It’s an action, a work in progress. We shouldn’t leave it to chance or fear it. Instead, we treat it like any vital life skill, something we research, practice, and learn. Eventually, we will get better at it.

Getting better at dating and love is getting better at who we let in our lives. It’s making smarter decisions. Because we believe that the quality of our lives improves parallel to the quality of our relationships, take it from Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook:

"When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is that of all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes to settling down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier."

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer - Facebook

So, here’s our ultimate guide for all women in their 30s, whether you are single, taken, or married.

These are our guiding principles to make us experience love and romance in a healthy way for us. Who doesn’t love that kilig (butterfly) feeling anyway?

Let's start with all women.

1. Know and love yourself first. So many times in our show, a guest brings up the word “non-negotiables.” It’s a list of must-haves for a partner.
We recommend having these before dating someone as we tend to be flexible when we meet someone attractive. Avoiding your non-negotiables will cause greater pain down the road. Here’s an exercise: think of ten non-negotiables. Think of your past dating history and any pain points with past relationships. Please share this list with someone close to you and ask what they think. You can send them to us too!

2. Learn to communicate with clarity and respect others.
Conflict happens with how we communicate. Improving how we speak to our romantic interests will help us have more meaningful personal lives. Think about it. Would the world not be a more peaceful and harmonious place if we learned how to text, call, write, fight, joke, flirt and converse in a thoughtful way with less defensiveness or anger?

3. Friendship will always win over sparks.
“Spark is not real,” we’ve been told by our guest Angelicopter. It’s a false pretense that makes us hold on to people way longer than we should. Instead, a common bond or friendship is much better for relationships. At the end of the day, we all want a companion in life, who will go through the ups and downs with us. The spark is a start, not a foundation for a lifelong relationship.

If you want to get more dating advice from a male perspective, this one is brutal and honest by Angelicopter’s husband and radio host, DJ MO Twister.

4. Learn to spot and get out of a toxic relationship.
Since our two seasons, we’ve heard of several toxic relationships that were under the wraps. We always ask: what makes women stay? Every woman has their motive of staying. Our episode with Kris and Katrina shows us that there are other possibilities than feeling trapped. And in a way, leaving a toxic relationship can be freeing and a new chance of rediscovery.  

A couple questions to ask about your partner and yourself:

  • Does he make me better? Or does he motivate me? Vice versa.
  • Is he kind to other people, not just me? Vice versa.

5. Invest in your emotional maturity.
People joke that women are way more mature than men. Science sometimes proves that this is the case. Whether you are behind or ahead in your maturity, this is something one needs to work on. It’s a bulletproof vest when it comes to dealing with conflict and heartbreak. Your maturity will prevent you also from making silly mistakes and at times, vengeful acts.

For the single ladies...

1. Practice makes perfect.
We know a few ladies that don’t want to date more than one person. Or, after a bad experience, they refuse to date again. Putting yourself out there will allow you to know what you want and don’t want. The more you know, the less likely will you fall for someone you’re incompatible with within the long run. Commit to dating regularly. Here are some tips from Vanessa Antonio, a dating coach and certified matchmaker of Single Events Manila.

2. Pay attention to red flags.
Sometimes, when we get attracted to a man, it’s easy to avoid the red flags.

Then, in time, the red flags become so obvious and show themselves in a sticky situation. Ciari always tells me, “Bea, huwag na yan. (Don’t go for it.) That’s too complicated.” Do I listen? Nope. Because like any modern woman, I love a challenge.

Reality will bite, though. It will most likely bite at your heart and head.

Then, you’ll enter this period of tililing (crazy) or a black hole that’s hard to get out of. So, let’s listen to Ciari and go for uncomplicated love before it is too late.

3. Be independent and learn how to deal with heartbreak or issues like ghosting.
Recovering from heartbreak or breakup is a survival skill. Most people who take on new activities recover quicker than those that don’t. So our top tip for dealing with breakups and other painful dating issues? Rediscover yourself. Invest in your physical, mental, and creative pursuits. You’re not allowed to get uglier or dumber.

One issue that happens a lot is ghosting. Watch this ghosting episode with Sabina and Bombachits and see how painful it can get for some of us. The question is: why does one get ghosted? Russell Brand answers this perfectlyAnd, here’s another reality check by Matthew Hussey.

So, please don’t ghost. Don’t even be Casper, the friendly ghost.

Be straight up and tell someone you no longer want to pursue dating them.

4. Use science to your advantage and ease the pressure.
These are for women worried about their biological clocks. Know your options. We discussed egg freezing in two of our episodes with Dr. Aubrey and Tisha. Here’s another conversation with Divine Lee, who froze her eggs in her 20s. It’s an expensive procedure, and some tech companies offer it as an employee benefit. This procedure is just an alternative for those that don’t want to be pressured by a specific timeline. You can also listen to the other side of the coin with Sam Oh, who changed her mind about egg freezing.

Before making a decision, consider eight things.

For the taken and almost taken

1. Avoid situationships.
A situationship is an ambiguous relationship. There is no clear commitment. Avoid this at all costs. In our 30’s, we have to be more intentional and mindful when dating. As our friend, Katz said, no more “pabebe.” (acting all cute and childish)

Logan Ury, behavioral scientist and relationship coach suggests having a DTR (Define The Relationship) talk. She breaks it down in her newsletter, “Logan’s Love Letter:”

  • There’s no perfect time to have the talk
  • Do it in person.
  • Be clear with the other person about what you want to know.
  • Understand that the way you handle the DTR will impact your future relationship.
  • Listen.

2. Understand the five stages of relationships. And know how to deal with each one healthily.
Dr. Jed Diamond shares the five stages of any relationship:

  • Falling in love
  • Becoming a couple and building a life together
  • Disillusionment
  • Creating real, lasting love
  • Finding our calling as a couple

Most relationships will end in stage three, the part that gets real. We get honest about our partners, ourselves, love, and childhood wounds or trauma. If a relationship survives this stage, there is a chance for real and lasting love. If it gets too much, that’s when a relationship goes south.

Dr. Diamond even mentions a common saying we hear, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Knowing that all these stages are part of any relationship makes us better-equipped partners.

3. Ask each other many questions to avoid being blinded by romantic love.
There is a brilliant chapter, “Before you tie the knot, do this,” from Logan Ury’s book on questions you ask your partner that helps you decide if you should get married. She calls the questionnaire “It’s about time: past, present, and future,” somewhat a pre-marriage boot camp. If you’re serious about someone, ask these questions to each other. Make sure you’re not just intoxicated by love to the point of blindness.

For the married

1. Understand how infidelity happens. Prevention is key.
You will either cheat or get cheated on at one point in your life. And it is a life-altering and humbling experience. This episode we had with Dr. Margie Holmes and Jeremy Baer is our ultimate favorite episode. We talk about relationship lessons and infidelity in such depth.

The reality is no one enters a relationship to cheat. It happens, though. Perhaps, rather than being surprised by infidelity, we need to come prepared and rethink the subject. The relationship expert, Esther Perel, answers the most fundamental question: Why do people cheat? (In this GOOP interview) and speaks further in this TED talk.

2. Learn how to compromise and communicate.
Communication is key. Respect is the lock that keeps your relationship secure. But, in any relationship, the way of speaking or expressing love can be so different.

In the start, you may want to identify each other’s love languageLater on, when you move on from the stage of falling in love, it’s crucial to  identify unhealthy ways of communicating such as The Four Horsemen. According to author, Marshall Rosenberg, “While we may not consider the way we talk to be ‘violent,’ words often lead to hurt and pain, whether for others or ourselves.” You can read all his thoughts on nonviolent communication here.

With communication, three ingredients give way to a healthy relationship:

  • Express love in a way that both feel appreciated.
  • Fight productively and healthily.
  • Use words that don’t hurt each other.

3. Be an adult with your finances.
Money is one of the most emotionally charged topics globally, just like sex, religion, and politics. We talk about romance in finance with Mariel Bitanga, founder of Simply Finance Ph. She shares with us what many young couples and single women experience troubles in love when it comes to money, whether poor decisions or big fights.

In our other episodes, we have had many couples share money tips:

  • Start a joint investment account if you are both agreeable.  
  • Have separate bank accounts and a joint bank account.
  • Please talk about your relationship and values when it comes to money.

Our top tip: talk about money and its role in your relationship. Find a system that works for you.

Alright,  some of these tips are not sexy. You see, falling in love is fun, inspiring, sexy, and kakakilig. (full of butterflies) We believe you deserve to experience that.

Like any good best friends, we support you experiencing love and life! What we don’t want is for you to get blinded by love to the point that it may be toxic for you and that you don’t reach your full potential in life.

Being in a relationship is a skill. The more you use the muscle, study how it works, the better you’ll be. So our goal here is for you to achieve smarter love finally. We’re here to help you master the skill.

And, it starts by getting 1% better every day.

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We’ll be the best friends you’ve always needed.

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