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TODAY contributor
updated 9/28/2012 10:28:51 AM ET 2012-09-28T14:28:51

Dr. Gilda Carle

Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in TODAY.com’s “30-second therapist” series.

Q: I am a single woman who works at the top level of management in a traditionally male business. Professionally, I come into contact with a lot of men each day. Every so often, I will be asked to coffee to talk business, to tour another organization or to take part in some other activity by individuals who do not work for the organization but are business partners, committee members, etc. Many of these men are unmarried and of a similar age. I have taken these meetings, and have acted professionally and have stayed on the topic of the business throughout our interaction. However, I have had the feeling that perhaps some of these men had actually asked me on a date. In appropriate situations (when they are not closely involved with the organization), I might consider dating them. In other circumstances, it is not appropriate and I do not want to give the impression of having done anything that does not seem right. How can I better tell if they are asking for a date or if it is indeed business that they are interested in before I accept a "meeting"? —Confused Professional

Dear Confused,
Career professionals often refrain from pursuing personal interests because of sexual harassment lawsuits and other complications. Despite that, plenty of couples do meet at work.

A vast majority of interpersonal messages are transmitted through body language (55 percent) and vocal intonation (38 percent). These nonverbal vibes trump the meager impact of words. So if you sense interest, trust your gut’s veracity. When appropriate, encourage interest by smiling and extending eye contact beyond the cordial five seconds.

If you’re still uncertain, request the agenda of a suggested “meeting.” But even then, note that words are easier to spin than nonverbal cues. Surely a departure for successful concrete thinkers, proficiency in reading messages without words is a vital skill to hone. —Dr. Gilda  

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Q: I had a one-night stand with a married man, and I’m having trouble letting go of him. I am stuck and I know I should leave him, but it’s hard. I keep thinking he will leave his wife, but he might lose his son. What can I do? —Stuck

Dear Stuck,
One reason to avoid the wrong relationship with the wrong man is the hormone oxytocin. After intimacy, this “bonding” chemical prompts women to jump to the fantasy of more.

An affair is excitingly passionate at first, but eventually the messy details prevail. Chances are your lover won’t leave his wife. If he did, chances are you’d never trust him. As my Gilda-Gram  says, “Trust is the basis for lasting passion.” If this guy lost his son during your affair, he probably wouldn’t trust you either. Then you’d see how fragile the heat had been!

Girl, this ain’t no country song! Is this dude you hardly know worth a heartbreak future? —Dr. Gilda

Do you agree with Dr. Gilda’s advice? Do you have your own? Share it in the comments below.

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Click here to send them in!

Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.

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