Before You Begin
This book is not about getting the guy. It’s about getting the guy you want and not wasting time on the ones who aren’t right for you. You have the power to decide who you’re in a relationship with—whether it’s by your behaviors or by your actual choice.
Most women assume that the opportunity for romance starts on the first date. Well, I’m here to tell you that opportunity begins right now. Yes, now. Because there will be no first date until you get some basics down, and that includes the basics of being a woman in the twenty-first century.
You don’t need to change a single thing about who you are. But you might need to start changing some of the things you’re doing.
Think about it: What separates the daters from the nondaters? It’s not beauty or every Hollywood actress would be married. And it’s not career or every Hollywood actress would be married. No, it’s all about how you behave.
Are you a strong, independent woman who has her own hobbies and interests in life? Do you have a network of friends and an active social life whether you’re in a relationship or not? Are you out there meeting people, reaching out, being open to going on dates no matter who the person is or what he does for a living? Do you desire a healthy relationship? Or are you just desperate for one?
You don’t need to change a single thing about who you are. But you might need to start changing some of the things you’re doing.
Because there is nothing that sends a man running like a woman who doesn’t want to do anything but obsess over him. That’s boring for him, and I promise, you’ll get bored pretty quick, too. So let’s talk about how to date, and how not to date. It’s pretty simple stuff. So simple we all work very hard to complicate it.
This is not about teaching you how to play mind games, or how to pretend you’re too cool when you’re really a nice, sensitive, and open woman who just wants to say what’s on her mind. If that’s who you are, own it. But no matter what, you still have to be aware of that little dance everyone does when they’re first getting to know someone. You’ve been messing it up not because you were being yourself, but because you were being yourself while ignoring all the things you need to do in order to build a proper foundation for a relationship.
No more excuses or whining. You need to start dating the right way, the way you were never taught, and yet somehow—miraculously—are supposed to be an expert at.
That’s why I’m here.
I am your expert, and it’s a role that’s been hard won. You see, I’ve learned these lessons through my own field research. I’ve been hurt, dumped, and left brokenhearted by men I thought would be my knight in shining armor. And was it always their fault? Sadly, no. Though I have certainly dated my fair share of a**holes, I also had to start looking at myself. What was my part in all this? Where was I to blame? And, like you, I had to learn how to do something different.
Best Foot Forward
Let’s face it: first impressions count. I have been on way too many dates were the guy looked as if he just came from the gym. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was actually working to not impress me. And the same goes for you. Sometimes you may walk into a date looking as if you just rolled out of your bed, or even worse, someone else’s bed. In many ways, going on a date is like going on an interview—and for possibly the most important position of your life—so dress like it. This has nothing to do with looks. I am sure if you looked around at all your friends in relationships, you would quickly realize that it’s not about being a supermodel.
You need to play the part if you want to get the part.
First impressions are all about the packaging—what you’re wearing, how you’re carrying yourself, whether you’re presenting yourself as a confident and self-assured woman or someone who doesn’t have the energy or esteem to put herself together. In order to get the part, you need to play the part. You should wear an outfit that speaks to who you are—this is not about being someone else—an outfit that you’d be comfortable wearing to dinner with your family. No cleavage, no skirts so short you can’t bend over, and no heels so high that you can’t make it down a flight of stairs. On the other hand, you also don’t need to go on the date looking like a nun, so watch out for anything that either hides your body so much he can’t see you’re a woman or anything too boyish that he mistakes you for one of the guys. As one of my clients recently told me, “There’s nothing worse than showing up to a date and she’s wearing the same clothes as me.” So stay away from power-woman suits or active-wear gym clothes—even if your Lululemon yoga pants look great on you. Basically, if it’s nice enough for church or the holidays, then it’s nice enough for a date. If you wouldn’t wear it in front of a preacher or your grandmother, then don’t wear it out with a man you are meeting for the first time.
The same goes with your grooming. If you usually don’t do your hair or wear makeup, fine. But you can manage to pull out the hairbrush and put on some Chapstick so you look fresh in your natural beauty. You want him to see that this date is important to you. You don’t need to look like you’re about to step onto the red carpet, but you do need to get ready with the intention that you might be meeting someone very important. You would want him to look nice for you, so how about looking nice for him?
STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
When it comes to dating, you should never be someone you’re not. For example, I can’t stop talking. Ever. I’ve been this way since I was a little kid and you’re certainly not going to get me to stop now. Especially not for a man. When I go on dates, I am the same silly, bubbly, energetic nonstop talker that I am in every situation in my life. I wish I could come in and be some mysterious Angelina Jolie type, all brooding and sexy, but I can’t.
But that’s not a problem. I know from the men I have dated that they love my energy. I make them laugh and feel at ease, and they have a lot of fun in my presence. The problem is not my personality. Nor is it yours. You are fine just as you are. Whether you’re an extrovert like me or the quiet and mysterious type like Ms. Jolie, the trouble doesn’t come in who you are, but rather in how you act.
The Power of Positive Dating
For any woman who complains that there aren’t any good men out there, my first question is: Are you looking for them? Because I’ll tell you right now, Mr. Right is not circling your block, waiting for you to come out of your house. And if there is someone doing that, call the cops. Now.
Mr. Right is out busy living his life. He’s sitting in traffic listening to morning radio. He’s answering his phone at the office and rolling his eyes at his boss. He’s out with his friends, playing darts at the corner bar, and scoping the room for a cute girl. He’s going back to his apartment at night and watching Sports Center while he checks his e-mails before he goes to bed. He is busy. But he is also waiting for you.
And here is your chance to find him.
But first you need to leave the house.
If you’re going to be a powerful dater, you need to have a powerful life. You, like him, need to be busy. Because one of the things I do remember from years in school learning stuff I can no longer apply is that a body in motion stays in motion. The same goes with dating. If you are out there, having a good time, you will attract people who are looking to have a good time with you.
If you’re going to be a powerful dater, you need to have a powerful life.
WHERE THE BOYS ARE
There are men everywhere. I mean that. Go over to your local market right now to pick up some milk, and chances are you will see one. They are out there and they’re actually easy to meet. You just need to ask the right people and get out to the right places. Here are eight suggestions.
1. Bars and restaurants. I know people say you’ll never meet your boyfriend at a bar but that is so not true. As long you only give him your number, and don’t go home with him, your future boyfriend could be at your corner pub or restaurant right now.
2. Friends and family. Let’s face it. They know people. A lot of people. Some of whom are probably wonderful single men. Don’t be afraid to send an e-mail or make some phone calls and ask for their help.
3. The office. Workplace romance? This can be a little difficult to negotiate. However, we spend most of our time at the office, so don’t shut someone down just because you work with him. And don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers if they have any single friends.
4. Online dating. By far the easiest way to get a date these days. Sure, there might be a lot of frogs on the Internet sites, but there are also a lot of princes. Match, eHarmony, OKCupid all have eligible men looking for eligible women.
5. Intramural sports. Though it’s important you maintain your role as the girl in a relationship, let’s face it, most guys love sports. So if there is a sport you love, find a coed IM team and join it.
6. Hobbies. Remember when you were a kid and you played piano or took a pottery class? Well, it’s time to find that inner child and take classes in things that you’ve always wanted to do, especially ones with other people—no private lessons. You’d be surprised how many men are doing the same thing, and how many cute teachers are leading them.
7. Concerts, comedy clubs, sporting events. Basically any public place where people gather—you’re not going to find a guy in your living room, so go where the people are. Get tickets to your town’s basketball team, hit the movies with some friends, and see your favorite band play. If you’re willing to flirt, you can meet a guy anywhere.
8. Community events. From the farmers’ market to street fairs to volunteer events, your future boyfriend could be right around the corner from you. Check out your community calendar and get out there.
Be the change you wish to see. Stop making excuses that keep you in the dating closet. Sit down and list what stops you from dating. Put it all down—the fears, the challenges, the excuses. And then start seeing what you can change and what you can’t. Get into action on what you can. None of us is perfect. Even Halle Berry has bad days. (Perhaps.) Start now to put into action what you need to do in order to feel good about yourself and your life.
Join a gym. Work on some self-love. Look for the job that’s right for you. Then let go of the rest. This is not an overnight process but it also doesn’t need to take over your life. If you start taking some simple steps now, you will build your confidence and your self-worth. And you will quickly become a powerful dater, not to mention a pretty busy (and happy!) woman.
You Can’t Get What You Want If You Don’t Know What You Want
It’s important to have a clear and concise roadmap to meeting and getting the one you want. Yes, the one you want.
Falling in love isn’t just a matter of fate, it’s a matter of you going out and making the right choices and creating the right environment for love to grow.
Because here’s the thing: What almost all men realize, and yet oddly, what most women forget, is that you are the one in control. Yes, you, lady! No matter how long you date, or whether things end up working out or not, you are the one who holds the power. Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of this important fact, so we end up feeling completely out of control, giving away our most important tool to successful dating.
The first step to taking back control is to figure out what you’re looking for in the first place. I know way too many women who start dating a man, and halfway through the first few weeks, somehow decide that they were looking for someone entirely different. Don’t forget that you get to choose who you’re with. This is your adventure, so don’t let just anyone join you on it.
Years ago, a friend told me to write down the top qualities I was looking for in a guy. It could include looks, but really the most important things were about who he was on the inside.
This is my list:
3. Loves his job
4. Wants a family
5. Tall (sorry, but I love tall guys)
8. Knows how to treat a lady
I have since used that list as a guide. Whenever I start dating someone, I pull it out and see if he fits the criteria.
Now, do I break up with him just because one thing is off? No way. But I also keep my priorities in mind, making sure that I am getting into a relationship that honors what’s on my list—most of the time. Look, we aren’t perfect, and certainly, I’m not. But I can promise you that if you are willing to do the work that it takes to date, you will get better at it, and you will start having fun.
What does your list look like?
Trust the Process
The next guy you go on a date with might be the love of your life, but chances are you’re going to have to kiss (and I mean only kiss) a few more frogs before you get to the prince. (No dissecting, please.) I hope that for every date, you refer to this book and think about—really think about—what your approach is going to be for those first eight weeks. This isn’t a novel that you read once and toss on your bookshelf. This is a living reference that you should be highlighting, underlining, bookmarking, and picking up every time you need a little friendly advice. It’s just like the relationship I have with my clients who call or e-mail whenever they have a dating question or problem. But lucky you—you have all the same answers in this book.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, and I am not saying that all of these guidelines will feel natural at first. But if you put in the effort, you will realize the power you’ve had all along: the power to find everlasting love in this otherwise crazy world.
Are you up for it?
Copyright © 2012 by Amy Laurent