Love For Sale – Buyer Beware When it Comes to Online Dating

Man looking shocked at computerIt may sound seriously unromantic to think of your heart as a targeted consumer, but the advent of love as commerce is upon us. From legitimate online dating sites and apps that promise to help you find the perfect match, to professional wingman services that will create your profile or even pose as you online until they collect the coveted phone number?and finally, to the dark world of online dating scams. Rest assured, the commercial choices don’t end once you are coupled up. Hit a bumpy patch in your relationship, or feeling nutty during a divorce, and relationship coaches, marriage counselors and even conscious uncouplers stand at the ready online to serve you. Not to worry if your relationship breaks up anyway, there is an army of free wisdom at


The business of love is an answer to a growing market of single people emerging across the lifespan. Simply put, we are outliving our relationships. When til death do us part was invented, death was pretty imminent. Increasing life spans mean that even the most monogamous may find themselves living through two or even three long-term relationships with stints of single and dating in between. Add to that, the fact that prosperity means women and men need marriage less for economic reasons, and being children of divorce, are wary of bad partner choices. Thus, there are more unmarried adults in America than ever before. And trust me, most are busy dating, and too many become victim to online dating scams falling for fake profiles and false words designed to get your heart strings to send money. Like any service industry, the relationship industry has its pro and cons and even a few buyer beware warnings.


Undoubtedly the biggest advantage to online dating is that it instantly ushers mates into a huge pool of romantic opportunity that might not be found nearby. It also helps people narrow down the field by allowing strategic searches. Want a woman who loves to fish Bass? Maybe shes on Want a guy to sit in a pew with you? Hell likely be on Looking for a kick-ass retirement relationship? Look no further than


But the biggest pro, is also the biggest con. Individuals are still at the controls of their love lives. Online dating gives the illusion that its more scientific and accurate than relying on Cupids bow, but in fact technology has created a paradox of choice. The more choices people are presented with, the more difficult it becomes to make a choice and stick with it. I mean, who eats one entre at a Las Vegas buffet?


The answer to all this, is to beat the market for your heart but getting your brain involved. Relationships are much more about skill than luck anyway. How do you acquire better relationship skills, the kind that will find you real love and help you avoid online dating scams? Well, besides expensive therapy, there are a couple absolutely free ways to learn the complicated mating game. You can log onto The totally free site features daily articles from experts, including dating coaches and matchmakers, as well as Q&A sessions, research studies, and a lively forum. Online, is the authority on all things dating.


You can also listen to my radio talk show every Sunday’s from 4-6 pm Pacific time on KFI AM640 Los Angeles. If you are outside of Los Angeles, download the iHeartRadio app to listen from anywhere!



By the Numbers: The Business of Love

Annual revenue from online Dating Industry: $1,249,000,000.00

Annual revenue from personal matchmaking services $500,000,000.00

Average spent by dating site customer per year $239

Total number of people in the U.S. who have tried online dating 41,250,000

Percent of users who leave dating sites within the first 3 months 10 %

Total annual revenue from professional coaching worldwide is now nearly $2 Billion


Boyfriend Test 2nd ed. Coming in Time for Valentine’s Day!

Boyfriend Test
The Boyfriend Test 2nd edition

One of the most crucial relationship strategies is recognizing?early on that someone is not compatible and simply moving on. Putting a date to The Boyfriend Test is step one in the race for a mate. Because every girl knows, bonding with a low-performace boyfriend is a painful lesson. Sadly, about one-third of American woman suffered some kind of abuse in their childhood. Usually that abuse came by the hand of someone they love. So, for many woman love is entertained with pain and they have poor radar when it comes to reading the signs that a guy isn’t good for them.

That’s why I wrote The Boyfriend Test and why it has endured. Coming in time for Valentine’s Day, a fully revised edition of my best selling book!


Here’s the back cover copy: Girlfriends, are you tired of fretting over the latest lothario who decided he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship — about 24 hours after you changed your Facebook status? Sick of deleting texts from that dream guy you met on Tinder who turned out to be another F-boy? Well, here’s the perfect cure for your many broken hearts — an ounce of prevention in?The Boyfriend Test.? Americas Relationship Expert and television personality, Dr. Wendy Walsh (a dating doyenne who has kissed her fair share of frogs) shows you how to look at yourself, your boyfriend candidates, and couplehood–and put them all to the test.?The Boyfriend Test?helps you evaluate everything from his first-date behavior, his consistency over five dates and a 90-Day probation period. In this fully revised, second edition of her best selling book, Dr. Wendy digs deeper into the nuances involved in tech dating and the influences of attachment style on early dating behaviors. Funny and wise,?The Boyfriend Test?is a must-read for any woman on the brink of starting a new romance, or on the brink of insanity from her current one!



Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.46.36 AMDr. Wendy Walsh is America’s thought leader on relationships. Her live radio show about relationships airs on the nations most listened to talk radio network KFI AM Los Angeles. A former Emmy nominated co-host of The Dr. Phil spinoff, The Doctors, she is also a regular commentator on CNN and Fox news.

Anatomy of a Broken Heart

heart with plaster on green

(Originally written for Darling Magazine)

The pain of loss. That sinking feeling of blackness. Lethargy. Tears triggered by engagement ring ads, a reminder of a future interrupted. The cell phone, once a source of a smile and a quiver over the ping of a lovers text, now lies lifeless in hand.

All these symptoms plus a body that responds to an invisible invader. Some people, when suffering from a broken heart, actually experience a temporary disruption of heart function, perhaps a reaction to stress hormones that produce abnormal pumping and pain that mimics a heart attack. But the center of heartbreak syndrome is often the stomach?a hornets nest of thoughts and feelings?it churns around chemical messengers that signal sadness and terror. Its no wonder that psychologists call the stomach a second brain. Its as if our lover has cut an emotional umbilical cord and we are sailing away from Mother, vulnerable, unmoored. Nauseous. We are dying a tiny death.

For most of us, heartbreak is a necessary loss.

Carly Simon once sang that theres more room in a broken heart, and she may well have been singing about the strange empathy that comes with vulnerability. Its not that one needs a serious abandonment episode to become a kinder person. Its just that a fall from the high horse of love drunkenness lands us down to earth, and from here we can have a much clearer view of what drew us to that racehorse in the first place. Simply put, if used correctly, a broken heart can help us know ourselves better. A broken heart can empower us. Heartbreak can shine a light on our unique attachment style. Parts biological and parts psychological?each person has a unique manner of bonding. Some cling. Some avoid. Some can give care but not receive it while others prefer to only take.

Heartbreak is an opportunity for a prickly reality check.

In our sea of tears, free from the fantasy of what was, we can look clearly at how we swam into the deep waters of a love relationship with a partner who was no longer swimming beside us. We can use the sadness to prevent future heartbreak.

Did we move too fast? When the words I love you gush out, between breaths under a duvet, they are not to be believed. This is not the declaration of loyal dedication, nor the workhorse of sacrifice that secure attachments require. This is a rush for definition?an anxious attachment style that clings fast to fantasy.

Perhaps we ignored some important signs. Maybe we moved at a sensible pace but wore carefully adjusted blinders to selectively ignore some signals that our paramour was less than en par. If we tend to become attracted to dodgy lovers who feel like they are always slipping through our fingers and then artfully reel them in for moments of bliss, we are addicted to something that is more challenge than comfort.

Maybe we pushed love away. And what of those of us who coiled away from too much closeness? The feeling of loss is as confusing as it is painful after we worked so hard to not let our lovers cut close to the bone, only to discover they have sliced us through the heart with their final disappearance.

We let our love die. Perhaps, a good solid love was planted and grew strong but we forgot to tend our garden. The years dragged on until one partner simply crumbled under the boredom.

Its time to stop repeating the past.

Our unique blueprint for love is shaped early in life. It is our individual schema or model in our mind. As adults, we seek out partners to play the familiar roles we need to feel again?to match a secure mothers love or to create a conflict that we aim to right this time around. Early attachment theorists believed that we all come into the world with an attachment style that can blossom or die, depending on how it is pricked or prodded by our environment. And our most influential environment is our primary caregiver.

Some babies are born simply needing more care, attention and contact. Indeed, some children stay drunk on separation anxiety, weaving against mother or daddys trousers long after others have bounded off in search of frogs or flowers. And how parents react to their needy baby is crucial. Patience and kindness can program even the most anxious to trust love and later seek out gentle lovers. But a too-early push or a failure to console when a bumpy playground fall sends a child running for arms can be a prescription for excruciating longing. For these people, love becomes a journey of rebounding between familiar losses.

But what about those other babies, the ones who are born happily sailing from womb to toddler bed with barely a whimper? All goes well if the rocking arms respect the need to wiggle free. But if Mommy or Daddy have unmet needs of their own?needs to over bundle, stroke intrusively, force a bottle on an already full tummy?then baby might learn that love is smothering and engulfing and must be avoided at all costs. These are the girls who hook up and run from beds, the boys who hide behind the safety of texts. For the avoidant, love demands that one must stand sentry against an invasion and defend or vanish when love gets too close.

Finally, what of the baby of any biological ilk who faces a damaged parent, one with wild emotions (chemically induced or not) who treats a child like a punching bag or a pet or a giant burden to ignore? What of that child? What of that version of love? Sadly, this too becomes a blueprint for attachment issues.

The bad news: We seek out our familiar childhood conflict in adult lovers, some hoping to right a wrong, others playing a painful game of repetition compulsion.

The good news: Attachment injuries can be healed!

As conscious, aware, thinking adults, we can do the emotional work of changing our patterns of love and loss. We can deliberately and thoughtfully date a different kind of lover, one who doesnt give us the familiar thrill of a rocky roller coaster ride. We can find an understanding therapist to walk with us through the uncharted territory of safety, gentleness, care.

But when you are in the depths of despair, when the future looks bleak, it is important to recognize this as a gift. It is an awakening. Heartbreaks are a special opportunity to meet your complicated inner world, to make peace with old paths, and forge a new journey. The most important relationship you will ever have is one with yourself. This may well be the year that you learn to be a tender mother to your own psyche, offering forgiveness, consoling and new awareness.


a.COVER_undertheice_draft1[Under the Ice is a creative memoir that excavates the science of love through multi-generational psychological sleuthing. It is parts historical literature and parts memoir. I welcome feedback from readers and book groups. Additional chapters coming soon.]



Daughters are destined to finish the emotional work of their mothers and even that of their grandmothers. If there is silence around trauma, buried pain always gives rise to unspoken instructions. Like robots programmed with the code of an earlier machine, girls walk through an emotional life unknowingly mapped out for them. In their relationships they go back to the scene of the crime, visiting ghosts in new suits that tormented the women before them. But if a girl is lucky. If a girl uses her head. If a girl is brave enough to visit the past and shine a bright light on the darkness, then the code can be broken. This is what happened to me when I discovered my mothers secret. But first I did some psychological sleuthing.

It began when I became a mother myself. There is only one time in our life span, other than during our early life brain development, that the spectacular organ called a brain is poised to grow. After giving birth. A postpartum female brain can expand and acquire new information like toddlers learning three languages. And, at the age of 36, following the birth of my first child, I rode my new brain like a flashy new car. At the end of each new-mother day, numbed by repetitive hits from Barney and The Wiggles, I practically ran out the door to study psychology every evening when my kids Dad came home. At the time, I hadnt heard about the research about postpartum brains?that they are miracles of neuroplasticity?but by the time my first daughter, Carrington, was four years old, my evening and weekend escapes had earned me a masters degree in psychology. Then I had another baby and unknowingly took advantage of another boost in brain growth to obtain a Ph.D. I may not have been learning three languages, but I was learning the language of human connection, and it spurred a life mission that I never expected.

While I sat in one-armed desks, the perfect front-row student, I found myself stunned and amazed with each new psychological fact?that our unconscious early life events act as drivers in our adult relationships, or that even traumas from our grandparents, sprout vine-like in our own personalities?my mind kept pounding out an internal mantra. Every woman should know this! Every woman should know this! The fact that this helpful information is kept secret by psychologists and doled out in snippets for $150 per fifty-minute hour made me sad. I wanted everyone to understand how they are being manipulated by inter-generational psychology?and perhaps more importantly, what we can do to change the path of destiny is this lifetime. It was during graduate school that I wrote my first two books for women, The Boyfriend Test, How to Evaluate His Potential Before You Lose Your Heart, and The Girlfriend Test, How to be a Better Date and a Better Mate. But the real science of love was still stewing inside me. The more I learned, the more I began to understand the choices and situations I had found myself up against in the course of my love-life, and the more I wanted to educate other women so disastrous cycles could be broken and healthy choices and habits could take over.

I began to research my dissertation where I looked at romantic attachment style and a womans ability to breastfeed. You might think these topics are unrelated until you realize that the breastfeeding relationship is probably the most intimate relationship of a womans lifetime. Its complete with eye-gazing, skin-to-skin contact, a non-sexual arousal that comes with suckling, all for, like, seven hours a day! I dont know of any other love relationship with that much interface. What I learned is that if a woman has an avoidant attachment style, that is, she fears intimacy, she will be far more likely to fall victim to the booby traps in our culture that prevent women from engaging in mother natures perfect union, the breastfeeding relationship.

During my research, I began to read deeper into the work of John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory along with other great thinkers, Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main. That led me to the area of ethology, animal imprinting. From there I turned to evolutionary psychology and the great works of evolutionary psychologist David Buss and anthropologist, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, (spelled correctly, I swear) whose research shows us that most human mating behaviors are the same around the world and are ingrained in our DNA. Our cavewoman wisdom is still available to us today, if we only learn how to use it.

Long after my dissertation was defended, I couldnt keep myself focused on psychology alone. There are just too many influences on relationships. Take, for instance, sociology. Ones romantic attachment style, whether it leans anxious or avoidant, might play out differently in Manhattan in 2014 in a dating pool with an over-supply of successful women versus California during the gold rush of 1848, where women were scarce. Mating success is partly a numbers game. Biology holds clues to romantic bonding, too. For example, people with wide mood swings associated with serotonin uptake in the brain tend to have more divorces if they marry someone with the same brain chemistry. And partners with disparate immune systems tend to have better sex.

Each piece of emerging research in the new science of intimate relationships led me to more writing, more blogging, more thinking, more reading and a greater desire to put this into some logical equation. I was desperate to cast a big, bright spotlight on the science of love. After all, my own genes were at stake. I had been blessed with giving birth to two daughters. I feel it is my job to prepare them for life, and in my mind, the most important skill needed to survive is the skill to produce emotionally healthy offspring who have secure attachment styles themselves. Humans have evolved to bond. But when trauma throws a wrench into the delicate cogs of the wheel of Mother Natures perfect plan, a family risks falling out of evolutions chain. Yikes! I became hell-bent on not letting that happen to my daughters descendants because of what had happened to their previous generations.

This is why I wrote UNDER THE ICE, a creative memoir about emotionally transmitted diseases that travel the female line. I hope you enjoy the book. – Dr. Wendy Walsh

FOR COUPLES: Can Divorce Make You Crazy?

ConflictNo doubt about it, divorce hurts. And news research shows that some people — particularly men ? actually get some real mental health problems following divorce. But not everyone.

A divorce can be an emotional obstacle for all parties involved, but new research shows that a divorce may not doom all to depression. Many cases of depression that occur post-divorce are attributed to the separation of a family or marriage that occurs. Past research by Augustine J. Kposowa, of the University of California, Riverside department of sociology, found that after a divorce, men are at a higher risk of suicide than women. The increased risk of suicide may be due to a lack of social interaction after divorce, or stress leading to mental health issues, such as depression. However, new research brings new light to the situation.

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Researchers from the University of Arizona published a study in the journal Clinical Psychological Science clarifying individuals who face depression, or mental health issues, before a divorce are more likely to struggle after the divorce. Lead investigator on the study, David Sbarra, Ph.D. commented on the correlations of post-divorce depression. He explained that the emotional distress of a divorce can make depression, or depressive symptoms, resurface for individuals who already struggled with this mental health disease, particularly at the clinical level. He also noted that divorce is not random, certain people are more inclined to be divorced, like individuals who are dealing with mental health issues.

In conducting their study, the researchers analyzed information from the national Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study, a longitudinal study with data collected over multiple assessments. They compared participants who were separated or divorced to those who remained married. This allowed them to see attributes of people who would get divorced based on factors they identified earlier in the study. Investigators also found that 60 percent of adult participants who had a bout with depression before their divorce or separation had a post-divorce episode of depression. ?In contrast, only 10 percent of adults without a history of depression encountered an episode of depression after their divorce or separation. They did not demonstrate the same increased risk of depression.

The study concluded that divorce itself does not make people depressed, most people who suffer from depression prior to a divorce do not possess the same coping skills for these stressful situations, which may lead to a relapse. Divorce and separation are emotionally difficult, however, this research sends a powerful message that human beings are far more resilient than we might think.

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