Finding Love In Your 30's and 40's with Author Christine Chang

EPISODE 19

My wonderful guest and author, Christine Chang shares her experience with dating before she found her husband. 'Is there something wrong with me?’ - the question that most women who are dating are asking themselves constantly.

Christine was motivated by this feeling and chose to write her book so that women who experience the same thing will know that they’re not alone.

I hope EVERYONE will listen to this episode, it's just two women in their 40's talking about finding love, but I share some lessons I've learned from my 17 year marriage, my parent's marriage and more. Learn more about how to know yourself better, how to set up expectations, how to ask your date the best questions to know them and also how to ask yourself the best questions.

Check out Christine’s book ‘SHOW UP: Finding Love for Independent Women’ as well as her website and podcast at christinechang.com

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


Doryn Wallach:

Welcome to It's Not a Crisis. I am your host Doryn Wallach. I'm an entrepreneur, a mother of two, a wife and a 40 something trying to figure out what is happening in this decade. Why is no one talking about it? I created this podcast to help women in their late 30s and 40s to figure out what is going on in our mind, body, soul and life. We may laugh, we may cry, we may get frustrated, but most importantly my goal is to make this next chapter of life positive. I'm also full of my own questions and I'm here to go on this journey with you. So let's do it together.

Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode. This has been a ... Well, will be a crazy week for me because I'm recording three podcasts this week and I just started thinking to myself, I need to get someone to come onto the show to talk to me about balance. An expert to talk to all of us about balance because when I get excited about something I really go for it and I love it. I love doing this so I don't want to pass up an opportunity when I have a great guest that's available. But balance is important. We need to figure out how to integrate that somehow. Also I wanted to let you know that I am loving doing my Instagram feed so much. It brings me such happiness at the end of the day. And the flashbacks are the best thing ever. Not just for you but for me. It makes me so happy to see all of your responses and I love finding them. So thank you for that. I'll definitely do a couple of those a week. I try to do a couple flashbacks, a serious quote, a funny quote and maybe a live or a stupid TikTok or something like that.

The other thing I wanted to mention is if you could all from now on just send you questions for the podcast to my email, itsnotacrisis@gmail. That way I can keep them more organized. I'm finding between the Facebook group and DMs and emails, I'm not able to keep up with everything. So send all your questions to itsnotacrisis@gmail. I will let you know that I got it. Or you can go in my bio and record a message. You'll see the link in there and that can either be put on the show or can just come directly to me. That's also really helpful to hear from you in person.

I have to be honest with you about something and when I think that I've made a mistake or just had a wrong assumption about something and I learn and get educated about it, I'm always the first to admit that I made the mistake. But when I started this podcast I assumed most of my listeners would end up being married parents which is a ridiculous assumption and a lesson learned. I have had quite a few women email me about being singe after 40, afraid of never finding love again or even finding love for the first time, being alone without a family, being okay with being single without kids or just getting back into it after being out of it so long after a separation or divorce. So I wanted to make sure that I'm reaching that part of my audience. However, like I said on my divorce episode, you may never know when you're going to be single again 40 so everyone should listen to this regardless. My guest today Christine Chang is a best selling author and worldwide photographer based in Los Angeles. Christine Chang's work has been published in numerous magazines including People, US Weekly and Modern Luxury.

Her authentic style has attracted celebrities such as Clint Eastwood, Pierce Brosnan and Jane Fonda. Her book, Show Up: Finding Love For Independent Women has helped thousands of professional women all over the world find love and ease the dating process. I feel like at this stage of our lives, single or married we're all trying to figure out who we are right now in our 40s or going into our 40s. And especially those of us who've actually been with a partner for many, many years. I've been with my husband I think 22 years altogether. It's a challenge because when you become a mother and wife you sometimes almost turn into each other. I'm sure you can relate to what I'm saying if you've been married for a long time. And then our kids are growing older and we're like who are we're like who are we and who do want to be at this next chapter of life? And Christine is going to break this down for you today in regards to being single, but I think it's an important lesson for everybody to pay attention to because I think that we're all trying to figure this out whether we're single or married or choose to not ever be married or not have kids. We're all in this stage of life where it's this next chapter that is so important.

And it's okay if you haven't figured out who you are yet because I have not figured out who I am yet. And that's all right. I also wanted to let you know that I read some of her book this weekend and it's an easy, uplifting and fun read and I actually want to finish it even if it doesn't pertain to me. I have about six other books I have to read but I really loved it and I love her voice in it. It's super easy to read so I definitely recommend getting it. Welcome to the show Christine.


Christine Chang:

Thank you so much Doryn.


Doryn Wallach:

I loved our pre show phone call and I think if I was in LA we'd be really good friends.


Christine Chang:

Yes. I think you like all the same stuff I like from just seeing your Instagram posts.


Doryn Wallach:

I know. But also ... So I told you this weekend I started reading part of your book. I did not finish it. I looked at most of it and just kind of getting to know you through your book I was like oh, I like her even more. I love how real you are, I love how your voice is heard so well through your book and it's a very easy read when you just want to get to the point. So I enjoyed it. I actually would like to finish it but I have about six other books I have to read. At some point I'm going to go back to it.


Christine Chang:

Yeah. Well I mean thanks for reading it because I know you've already found love, you're happily married. But that's what I was telling you. I was like, don't feel the need to like read it like it's homework.


Doryn Wallach:

Well no, but it's research for me and I like to get to know my guests before we speak so it's always important for me to do a little bit of that beforehand. I'm excited for you to be here today because as I said in my intro I think I was under the assumption that most of listeners were married with kids which was dumb. And I've had so many women reach out to me and brave, brave comments and emails because I think it's not easy to admit that you're scared at this stage of life or that feeling like something is wrong with you because you didn't find love or being afraid to end up alone or whatever it is. I'm saying this to my listeners, thank you for reaching out to me. Without you reaching out to me I wouldn't have even thought of this as a topic. I had Amy Nobile on who was talking a little bit more about the process of dating but I feel what you're going to bring to the table today Christine goes a little deeper also kind of figuring out yourself. Because I feel like at this stage of our lives whether we're single or married, we're all trying to figure out who we are.

Sometimes harder for those of us who have been with our partner for many years. Trying to figure out your authentic self after being with somebody for so long or being a mother is hard. To get started I think that you had talked a little bit about your book and we're going to talk about today self awareness which I think is so important. And I think that even if you're listening to this and you're not single, I think it's still a lesson to be learned and something to understand about yourself.


Christine Chang:

Oh absolutely. Self awareness I think is step one for having a happy life. Because if you don't know what you want or what you need or what your patterns are, you don't even know where to start. You'll just be on a hamster wheel doing things the way you've always been doing them.


Doryn Wallach:

Before we get into self awareness I just want to talk a little bit about your book because I think it's going the lay the groundwork for this podcast and if you can quickly tell me your story and what inspired you to write the book in your life prior to that.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. So this book is based on my experience dating before I met my husband, which at times were extremely frustrating. Especially being a very capable independent woman that was good at a lot of things. I felt really happy with my career. And the only part of my life that seemed to be challenging was dating and romantic relationships. The baseline thing that I felt was, is there something wrong with me? Oh my god. Is there something wrong with me? And I felt alone. I felt like no one completely understood. So the reason I wrote the book is because I feel like there are a lot of resources out there or how tos and things like that but no one talks about how crappy it feels when you're going through it. And so I wanted to empathize because I know I can't be the only one who feels this way. And in talking to my friends and more women I definitely knew there are definitely more people out there that feel this way. That's the best feedback I've gotten so far for my book is women saying, "Thank you show much for validating how I feel because I feel crazy right now."

But you're not alone. You're absolutely not alone. So in addition to empathizing and I share some of my personal stories, but also some of the practical questions I ask myself to get clear on the process of what I wanted, what I needed, what I wanted to create in my life, areas I needed to heal. And I also just wanted it to be in a short book that was easy and to the point because I'm also one that doesn't like to waste time. And if you are a powerhouse woman you are probably the same. You just want to get to the point.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. And it really is. It really is to the point. I love how at the end of every chapter there's like a little tip that you can just remember. Your personal stories are great. There were so many funny ones. One of the ones was a guy you were dating that you just ... I don't think this was your husband but you were dating and you were ... Oh, it was a friend of your and you basically just called him back and said, "Hey, I like you. I like you more than friends." Which is a hard thing to do. May I ask how old you are? In our 20s we were all part of the rules book and men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and all the stuff we weren't supposed to do or supposed to do and a lot of game playing. So I loved that because I feel like when you get to your late 30s and 40s you're just over the games. It's just like let's do this or not do this. I thought it was very brave of you. So in writing the book as we spoke about before, you had mentioned self awareness. I'd love to hear a little bit more about what that means in starting a journey of finding love.


Christine Chang:

Sure. So with self awareness one first thing that you can start to dive into or ask yourself are, what are the stories that you have about love and relationships? And often they'll feel like the truth because that's what you've experienced. But a lot of it is just a story. For example, most men cheat or I'm too old to find someone or there's no good men out there. What you believe is true so the more that you feel strongly about these stories, the more that you're going to find things to validate that it's true for you. So being able to distinguish what is truth and what is something that you just made up based on previous experience. And it could be ... A lot of those stories stem from childhood as well. For me personally when I went back like all those ... Everyone has triggers. All those stem from childhood stuff that just stacks up, maybe even subconsciously. And I've had so many aha moments where I'm like oh my gosh, that's where it comes from. That's why I'm sensitive.


Doryn Wallach:

Can you give an example of one of those things?


Christine Chang:

Oh, so for example I'll use the example of feeling abandoned. So if someone doesn't ... If you're really sensitive to someone not calling you back or not showing up or being late to the airport, there could have been something that happened. For me it was when I was in grade school my parents worked a lot. They were building their company when my sister and I were growing up. And oftentimes we would be the last kids on the playground to be picked up. And sometimes it would start to get dark. That's like how late they were. Or they would send one of their employees to come pick us up too and I personally felt not important or forgotten about. So these patterns played out in my life where if I felt like I was forgotten about ... Like if a friend forgot to call me back or something, I'd be really sensitive to it. And it didn't play out in dating as well where I took it really personally when I felt not important or abandoned or like he didn't show up. That was one of my patterns. Actually I was like, why do I keep feeling this way? So that was definitely one of the things that I experienced growing up that I learned with self awareness. There's also a lot of other stores.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. No, no, no. [crosstalk 00:13:34]. You know what though, I think ... I've had a few friends that have been divorced. My mom got divorced when I was nine and she was 39 and so it was really just the two of us because my brother was older and I learned a lot from just being alone with her. And she didn't meet my stepfather until about two years after the divorce but it was the right timing because I think she had to do the work in therapy and she had to figure out who she was and what she wanted out of somebody and they have the most beautiful, beautiful marriage. In fact, while I love my dad and mom separately I can't imagine them being married. So I just think my stepfather is so perfect for my mom. But I don't think she would ever have gotten there, because she went through a really hard time during her divorce, if she hadn't done all the therapeutic work prior to that to figure out what are her triggers in relationships. So I'm glad that you're mentioning that because I think I've said to friends, "I'm not an expert but I really think you should spend some time on yourself before you jump out and date somebody else." And some of them have listened and some of them maybe not. Whatever. I'm not the one to tell them what to do but do think it's important.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. And I would like to make it clear as well that I'm not a professional therapist or psychiatrist or anything like that.


Doryn Wallach:

Neither am I. Neither am I. Although I have a partial masters in social work. I don't think it counts.


Christine Chang:

Well, I also recommend that it's great to get advice from people who have the result that you want. So if you have a friend who's in a marriage that you admire, I do feel that advice from them can be better than from a professional who's done studies on a lot of things because how they're showing up is getting the result that you want. I'm big on logic so when I was single I would often go to my married friends who had a marriage that I admired for advice or I would just watch how they showed up. I liked that these women were really strong, had great careers but they were also very soft with their husbands and very fair and reasonable. So I just watched. And funny enough now, my relationship dynamic with my husband is very similar to the people I sought out to for advice because that's what I wanted to create.


Doryn Wallach:

That's great advice. What would be your next piece of advice to somebody after learning more about their self awareness?


Christine Chang:

Sure. One other important thing to look at with self awareness are your patterns. Because if you have a pattern it's not other people, it's not other things, it's you. You're the only constant variable. So for example if you tend to attract emotionally unavailable men, that is your pattern. It's not that all men are emotionally unavailable. So that is very important to know as well if you want to create something new. If you feel like what you're doing is not working, you do have to break those patterns. So the first step is being aware of them instead of being on autopilot. And a good way ... This sounds really silly but a good way to stop patterns ... Because if we're in late 30s, 40s you've been doing things a certain way for a while now. So it could be comfortable. So to break those patterns just to start reprogramming your nervous system. Start doing little things that are different. Like if you always scramble your eggs, cook them over easy. Take a dance class where you move completely different than you've ever moved before. And start doing little things every day that kind of get you out of that comfort zone to break patterns.

And then eventually ... Because you know how they say how you are in one area of your life it kind of pours into all other areas? After you have the awareness and you start doing these ... Of course it takes a lot more courage to break the bigger patterns like say there's an emotionally unavailable guy that you're kind of dating and it's like yes or no. You need to learn to say no. This isn't going to work. This is also ... We can go into clarity of what you want because once you're very clear on what you want and what you need, you'll have more confidence in dating.


Doryn Wallach:

Seems kind of daunting though to get to that point. Is it just experience? Is it just-


Christine Chang:

Yeah. It's gets easier with time. For myself, as I did it more it became easier to say no. And when I became clear ... For example my core value is integrity. And this is a good thing to know, is your core values. So me knowing that my core value is integrity, when I was dating if someone showed me they don't have it, that was an automatic no. No matter how much chemistry we had, if he "got me", chemistry is amazing, it doesn't matter. That has to be in place. And so that made it easier for me to say no and me feeling more confident in saying no. Just knowing like, I want to create a relationship with someone's who's honest and that has integrity. So basically I cannot choose a person that has that. That's going to make it impossible.


Doryn Wallach:

Did you make a list? Did you keep something on your phone?


Christine Chang:

I did.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, I'm sure.


Christine Chang:

I did.


Doryn Wallach:

That's totally something I would do.


Christine Chang:

It is extremely helpful and also with the list it's good to ... First just if you've never made a list before write down just what's on your mind, like preferences. But also, determine what's negotiable and what's nonnegotiable. Because with a lot of women who are in their 40s and are good with their careers, they tend to be a little rigid with things. And so with your list, just to know which ones are negotiable and what things would matter in the long run. Because you're happily married right? So can I ask you, what are some of your favorite qualities about your husband?


Doryn Wallach:

First and foremost he's my best friend and I don't think there's anybody I could spend as much time with as I do him. In fact, he took a summer, he quit his job and our kids went to camp and we spent every living moment together for a couple of months and then the pandemic he was home all summer. Which I'm not going to sit here and say it was great at all times. But we laugh and say, there's no one else I could do this with. For me, that's really important. I think he's extremely loyal and genuine. I'm a free spirit and in ... And I met him very young. I was 21. But I've always been like that and I've always been very independent and he allows me to be that way. If I say to him, "Hey, I'm going away for the night because I need to get the hell out of here and the kids are driving me crazy and I need a moment.", he's like, "All right." He's never like, "What do you mean? Why aren't I coming?" He just gets me in that way. I think that's so important. He respects my alone time.

Listen, no marriage is perfect but my husband, definitely his positive qualities outweigh his negative qualities.


Christine Chang:

Yes. Yes. And that's and that's another thing too. Little note is ... This is the number one piece of advice or way of showing up that I've seen in happily married couples. Is the good also comes with the bad too, but it's your outlook. If you want to look for every bad thing in a person or in a marriage, you can absolutely find that. And you'll start to see more of it if you're focusing on the bad stuff. But if you look at the good stuff ... And the people who are happily married tend to be more positive and looking at their partner's good qualities. Because at least for me personally on a bad day I can get annoyed about so many things that my husband does.

Doryn Wallach:

Of course. Any you know-


Christine Chang:

Right?


Doryn Wallach:

Oh my, yeah. Absolutely. There was a moment this summer where his chewing was driving ... I was like, "I can't be in the room with you while you're chewing." He like chews with his mouth closed but I just ... I went through a period definitely ... We went through a period in our marriage where I think I started to question everything and it was just something that I was going through but I really started looking at our marriage and my husband. I was maybe thinking I needed certain things at that time. And after doing the work in therapy I realized that it was first of all, you're never going to find everything in one person. That's just not ... Doesn't happen that way. And like I said before, there's so many wonderful positive things about him in our relationship that outweighed anything bad but even when you're married you sometimes start to do that a little bit and then you have to be reminded. And sometimes some women really do have bad issues that they have to reevaluate. But I just wanted to make that clear that even in marriage and relationships and to what you just said, if you're looking for perfection, you're never going to find that.

And once you're with someone for a long time you have to learn to grow with them even if you're growing apart, if that makes any sense.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. This is where I think community comes in too. Where having friends and interests outside of your marriage or your relationship is really, really important. I mean, humans are made to function in villages and a lot of people ... If you grew up on Disney and you watch rom-coms and things like that, it doesn't work that way. Like you will be very disappointed if you think once you meet a person that they're going fulfill every single thing that you want and need. It doesn't work that way. So I do think a community, whether it's your family, your friends and also your own hobbies and things like that. And self care like you said. It's easy to lose yourself with you're married or when you have kids. So to remember the things that make you you outside of your marriage.


Doryn Wallach:

What do you think from what you've researched or women you've talked so is the main issue with women kind of going in their 40s with finding somebody? Because I get what you're saying. I think when we were younger and the pool was bigger our expectations of what we wanted was higher. Not to say that someone does not deserve to have all that they want. But it's more a maturity thing in my opinion. You start to realize that. But what do you see the most from women that you've talked to that is their biggest issue?


Christine Chang:

I think staying open. A lot of them I feel are too critical of others. And it's funny because the ones that are perpetually single, they usually ... What I hear are things that don't matter in the long run. Something regarding his hairline or something like that. And of course you do have to be attracted. You should be attracted to your person. But things that ... I feel like the things they're looking at are great for short term relationships. Fine, go after those qualities. But also don't forget about ... Look at the other stuff as well. His character. How he shows up for you. When you're crying your eyes out how does he show up for you? Again, it's the perfection in that. Because you always want things to be better. You always want things to be better. So I think it pours over. So once even if they get into the relationship they're always trying to fix things or wanting perfection and just letting go of that and giving people a chance.

You have to have your boundaries right? So knowing again, what is nonnegotiable and what is negotiable.


Doryn Wallach:

You're talking about the hairline or this or that. When you're married for many, many years to someone, you are going to experience way more than just a bad hairline. There are things that you're going to see in your spouse that'll be not attractive and I'm talking both ways. You're going to see each other at your worst, you're going to see each other sick. There are just so many things. I actually said to my husband yesterday ... I forget what I was talking about. But I was like, "God, it's a good thing you love me." Or something like ... He's like, "Yeah I know." And then he's like, "No, of course I love you. I love everything about you." Which is bullshit but that's okay. As he shouldn't love everything about me. Just realizing that marriage is ... You go through a lot with somebody and those other things kind of become irrelevant.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. And you're completely right. There are going to be times that are not sexy. You're going to see some stuff that is not sexy. So if you want passion all the time, it's not going to happen. Unless you have ... Some people are addicted to passion so they'll choose partners who give them a very turbulent relationship. That push pull. But how long can you do that for? It's like running a marathon. Are you going to do that for 20 years? Passion could be fun. You want to go to Bali and have a short term thing?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. I was just about to say, passion is good in the short term but I think friends of mine that I know that have kind of passionate relationships ... And I'm not going to say ... I mean yes, they're very attracted to each other and they are loving to each other. But they also fight a lot and have been known to throw things at each other. If that's your speed and that's what you want then that's great. But you have to really know that that's what you're getting yourself into if that's the back and forth you want as you just said.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. And I mean, I personally find that exhausting. And if you think longterm, 10, 20 years, for me I wanted ease. I was looking for ease, I wanted to feel safe, I wanted a best friend. And I feel like life is hard enough as it is. I told myself, I don't need the main relationship in my life to be one of those challenges. I want it to be my safe place. So that's what I looked for. And a lot of women will say, "Yeah, yeah. That's what I want too." But then when they meet a guy like that they'll say he's boring. And there are parts of marriage that can be boring.


Doryn Wallach:

There are a lot of parts of marriage that are boring.


Christine Chang:

Right. Because it's predictable. Because the person is reliable. They'll show up for you.


Doryn Wallach:

I know things that are coming out of my husbands mouth before they come out almost every single ... I can predict sentences that are about to come out of his mouth.


Christine Chang:

Right. So it's what would you rather have? So when you're dating in your 40s it's good to be clear on what you're looking for because are you looking for your next life partner or co pilot in life or are you looking just to date just to get to know yourself right now? Because that will determine how you want to show up as well. Or if you have kids, are you looking for someone that you can introduce to your kids that you want to bring home? And I think if you're kind of freshly divorced or you're creating a new chapter of your life, I think the diving into learning about yourself should be the priority first. And go into the mindset of dating with curiosity that you are learning about yourself. Not I'm trying to make things work. I want to get this right. Because that kind of energy is ... Number one, even if you don't straight out say it, people can feel that pressure and last I checked, no one likes that kind of pressure when it comes to dating. Viewing it as curiosity makes it fun.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. And I'd also ... I would imagine that after ... Especially if you've divorced and have been married a long time, it's like being in your early 20s again. You need to date. You might even need to have a relationship before you find that relationship to kind of relearn again what it is you do and don't want. You might not even know until you experience it.


Christine Chang:

Totally. Aren't you still learning things about yourself even in your marriage?


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, of course. Daily.


Christine Chang:

Yeah. It never stops. So as you're dating more when you have your list of preferences ... I updated mine as I dated. And a lot of times it'd be something like ... Usually it was on the bad side more, like oh, I definitely don't want someone who smokes or something like that. For me personally, that was nonnegotiable just because health is really important to me. But I mean, whatever. Or you'll learn that someone does something and you didn't even know that you were attracted to this kind of person. Like, oh, I like that. I like when a guy does that.


Doryn Wallach:

A topic that's come up a lot of my friends that are dating right now, and this is relevant to what's going on right now, how do you date or meet somebody in COVID? Do you have any tips on this?


Christine Chang:

Sure.


Doryn Wallach:

Honestly, for the women, I think it's very depressing for some women that I've talked to who are like, "I was kind of just getting started and then this happened and now what? How long is this going to go on for before I can see somebody that I trust and be intimate with somebody?" I think that must be really scary. I've thought about it a lot.


Christine Chang:

Right. I think it can be a fantastic time to meet someone now in that with the Zoom calls and things like that, there's more Zoom calls in general before you meet them in person because of COVID. You get to know them better. People have to put forth more effort. So it weeds out people pretty quick if they're not willing to put forth the effort to get to know you in that way. Or you learn what some of their values are. Like how they handle COVID or the current political climate. You learn about someone faster now because you see what they're like in a more stressful situation. So in that sense it's a good thing. And online dating, I know people have mixed feelings about online dating and those dating apps. I usually recommend if you really do not feel good about it, do not go swipe because it's just going to be really depressing for you. However, if you are in a more optimistic head space, that's when you can go swipe. And it's just another way of meeting people. There's nothing good or bad about it. It's just like swiping through, again, with curiosity. Just see where it goes. You're not committing to anything yet right?


Doryn Wallach:

How else do you meet people today? Last time I went on a date was 1996.


Christine Chang:

Okay. It might be a little different with COVID but in general, I mean from a logic perspective too, the more you are around people, the more people you'll meet. Whether it is a romantic interest or not. And so that's why I usually recommend people do the things that genuinely interest you. Because even if you meet a romantic partner or not, you're meeting cool people that like to do the same things you like to do and they might have friends. So you're increasing your chances by being around people. Because if you're just in your house or your apartment all the time and you're not online dating, you're not talking to anyone, it's a very low chance you'll meet someone new because you're just talking to the same friends and things like that. Some women say, "But I'm so introverted." I mean, I grew up super shy and introverted but it's something I wanted to change for myself. Number one, I did it for work. I needed to be a people person for work. But it poured over to my personal life as well that I wanted to create a community of friends and I wanted to date and meet a guy so I had to learn to come out of my shell.


Doryn Wallach:

This is really funny because the other day I was having a therapy session and I said, "I'm kind of an introvert/extrovert. I can talk to anybody and I love being around people but then I get like ooh. I'm antisocial for a little while. It's too much for me and I'm happy just being at home. But I was saying to my therapist, I said, "Now that I'm working from home and basically my only interacting during the day is going to pick my son up at school and maybe occasionally seeing a friend if I can," I said, "really I'm having a hard time with not having any interaction with people outside of my family." And she said to me, "Well, go join some sort of group or go find your people somewhere, whatever that is." And I said, "It's COVID. It's not so easy to do that." She's like, "You know Doryn, there are things going on outside. There are things going on online. There are ways to do that." So I think the advice stands for both dating or just being lonely at home at this stage of our lives during COVID.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. Yeah, a lot of people are feeling lonely right now. Just know you're not alone and I mean, people feel different about COVID, but if you really don't want to be outside around people, you can join an online book club. You just meet people. You just want to meet people. Everyone knows someone. Really focus on just feeling good and things that make you happy. Because that is a good indicator that you're in alignment and on the right track. Because in life most people just say, "I want to feel good and I want to be happy." So if you do feel good and you do feel happy, what's going on externally in your life, whether there's a partner or not, those things matter less. Because sometimes people will get the partner and then they're still miserable. So it's like what's the point? What's the point right? Why do you want that? So when you're dating think about feeling good. What makes you feel good? And your emotional intelligence system I think is just very intelligent and that will tell you if you're on the right track.


Doryn Wallach:

I think also thinking about ... I've mentioned this before just to women our age. But I think thinking about things that brought you joy when you were a child, as silly as that sounds. Like what were your friends like at that time? Before you formed who you were and you formed insecurity and shyness, whatever it is that happened as you grew older, what were you looking for in those people? It's interesting. I say that with interests now. What brought you joy? I'm trying to bring back those things into my life. I have an electric scooter that I love and I just go out on it and I go up the West Side Highway in Manhattan and it just makes me so happy. And I loved scooting when I was a kid. I think it works kind of in that direction too. If there's something that brought you joy, maybe it's important to find a partner who also does that or lifts you or makes you step outside of your comfort zone if you're a person that's used to sticking to a comfort zone.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. And you're right, a lot of our needs and our wishes and desires, it's the little kid in us. Those needs. And it could be something as simple as start drawing again or just playing. Being more playful with things. Not trying to get results or not caring too much what people think. I mean, that's a tough one to work on but the more that I personally worked on it, caring less what other people think, that's made life a lot, lot easier.


Doryn Wallach:

You had mentioned to me that you had three excellent questions to ask on a first date to get a glimpse of someone's character. And I want to hear those. I just told somebody recently, we're contemplating leaving Manhattan and she brought the town my husband grew up in, and I said, "Do you know on our first date when he said he grew up there, I was like, 'I just want you to know I'm never going to live there.' And he was like, 'What? It's our first date.' I was like, 'It's just not the town for me so I just want to be clear about that.'" It was very funny. That's just who I am. I'm very much like here's who I am and if you don't like me then move on. So tell me, what are the three excellent questions?


Christine Chang:

Sure. And by the way, I love being direct as well. I think the distinction is when you're direct it's more inquisitive instead ... Or out of curiosity versus you're interrogating someone. Like I'm just curious. So the first question is what have been your relationship patterns? And I like this question because it shows how much self awareness someone has. Whether they've healed from previous relationships. Because if they get triggered and I don't even want to talk about it, you know they're not fully healed from it. How vulnerable they're willing to be. I think it tells a lot about where someone is and especially self awareness. Because when I did a lot of work on myself I wanted someone who had done the work on themselves as well, who had dove into it. Because I was so clear on who I was at that point that if they have zero awareness of what they've done in the past or what kind of patterns that they've had that just hasn't worked out, that would have probably been a touch relationship. So that's the first question that I love to ask.

And by the way, this doesn't necessarily have to be on the first date. It could just be when you're comfortable, like gradually getting to know somebody. And the second question is asking about their friends. Like who's your best friend? What do you like about him? Because I think friends are a really good indicator of who somebody is.


Doryn Wallach:

Stay away from the guy who has no friends.


Christine Chang:

Correct. Absolutely. That is a flag if they do not have any friends. And if they have longterm friendships, that is a good sign. That's loyalty right there. They know how to maintain a longterm relationship.


Doryn Wallach:

My husband is still friends with nine of his high school, elementary school friends and even larger amount of his college friends. And that to me is so telling of who he is.


Christine Chang:

Absolutely. That's such a good skill. Two of my good friends are from college but I don't really keep in touch with anyone from high school. But I feel like in general men tend to be pretty loyal with that. I mean, that they have childhood friends.


Doryn Wallach:

But they don't want to make the effort later in life to meet new people.


Christine Chang:

Right. So asking about their best friend and what they like about them. Or their family as well. Like if family's really important to you, asking like, "Oh, how often do you see your family?" Or, "Where does your family live?" And that will tell a lot about a person as well is their relationship with their family. And the third question is what are your pet peeves? Because it shows someone's tolerance levels, it shows whether they take responsibility for things or they're more blaming. What is the tone that they say it? Like, "I can't stand when people chew like that." Or is it like, "I don't know. I have this weird thing with when people chew. I'm really sensitive to it." So those three questions-


Doryn Wallach:

That's great. I love that.


Christine Chang:

Would give you some insight.


Doryn Wallach:

I love that. And also, if it's something that you do that is their pet peeve, that's a good red flag.


Christine Chang:

Right. Like, oh-


Doryn Wallach:

Might be something you don't want to give up. Might just part of ... No. That's what I do. What are the three important questions to ask yourself when choosing a life partner?


Christine Chang:

Sure. The first one, I mean, this might sound silly and obvious, but do they want to be in a committed relationship with you? Because some people, especially if you tend to be the chaser or want to convince someone something ... I mean, that is number one. Do they want to be in a committed relationship with you? Because you should not have to convince anybody that they should want to be with you. And for me, because my self worth used to be not high in this area, so sometimes when I was dating they wouldn't be sure. Or there would be another woman