“Let’s be honest Matt, apart from Coppers, where do we go to meet guys?”
She then quickly got tearful and explained that she was 35 and that she had never had a boyfriend, despite years of trying. I glanced around the room; she was by no means the only woman crying there.
It was one of the most unusual Sundays I have ever had, as a journalist or otherwise. After defiantly dismissing an ad I had found on GroupOn for a ‘Get the Guy’ seminar, I had convinced my boss that I should go. It would be gas. He would be so offensive. Women don’t need an advice from some guy who looks like Daniel Radcliffe and Ryan Gosling’s English lovechild, or any man for that matter-the raging feminist in me couldn’t wait to go. I hate to admit this, but I was actually completely wrong to be so dismissive.
If the hype is to be believed, Matthew Hussey actually has the stats to back up his position as a self-styled ‘human dynamics expert’. He had already brought his dating wisdom to 20 cities, most of them in North America (no surprise there, I thought). The day before, he had spoken to a room of 1000 London ladies seeking his supposedly expert advice. He had thus far coached 80,000 women at live shows and 3 million online. His book had been featured in the New York Times Bestsellers List and he has a slot on the Today Show. He usually charges £800 for a 5 day retreat. Thanks to GroupOn I was luckily there for €9 and only six hours. As we sat in our seats and were blasted inexplicably with Calvin Harris and Good Day by Nappy Roots, I was skeptical.
I had run into an old classmate in the bathroom who is gorgeous, whose wardrobe I had always envied and was just that little bit older than me. She berated how difficult it was to meet men that weren’t assholes, and told me she had been dragged as part of a Facebook group of single women she had joined. We exchanged Tinder stories; the friend who had met his girlfriend there a few months ago, the man who had been horribly rude to her when she told him she wasn’t interested and dropped the completely ludicrous weight-related F bomb. Did I have a boyfriend? Yes, I admitted sheepishly. To be honest, I had no clue where I’d go looking for another one. Maybe Matthew would enlighten me, I joked. All very serious and not very funny, her friends dodged out of shot when she attempted to take a picture of them while we were shouting at each other over David Guetta. There was an air of palpable embarrassment by the time he finally stepped on stage.
First, came a disclaimer from Matthew: If you’re single it should be because you choose to be. If you’re in a relationship it shouldn’t be by default. He wasn’t implying that everyone should have a significant other. Success, he said, should be measured by happiness, not being in a relationship. Fair point. Predictably, he kissed each volunteer on the cheek and told a pretty pointless story about the time Eva Longoria flirted with him in front of his mom. Oh yeah, that time. He also insisted on monitoring our dubious dance moves (mine being particularly dubious) to ‘Happy’ while he recorded us for one of his many Youtube videos. After a few tracks and feeling a little too much like a badly coordinated performing monkey 5 and a half hours in, I had quietly left. But I’m not going to pretend that he didn’t have a few decent points to make about the often extremely questionable world of dating, and life in general for that matter.
1. Face to face dinner is a bad idea. My completely unsexy eating skills alone can vouch for this. Matthew’s main point however, is that when we sit opposite each other all of our energy (bare with me) is pointed at each other, making things intense and way more awkward than they need to be. Instead, do something where you are facing the same direction such as sitting at a bar. It makes it ten times harder to seem creepy when you touch your date, and a hell of a lot easier to at least attempt to flirt.
2. Broaden your horizons. At one point Matthew stretched his arms out in front of him and asked: "If you were meeting this many men, how many of them would you find attractive?" Our fairly judgmental but realistic panel insisted only half. Of this half, he asked how many would we want to date. That cut out another half of our imaginary suitors. And how many of these could we see ourselves having a long-term relationship with? His hands were dangerously close at this stage. In order for us to actually meet men we were genuinely interested in, we’d have to be constantly introducing new ones to our potential dating pool. Variety makes one picky and less likely to settle on the first inoffensive eejit that comes along.
2. Stop making excuses. Be a flame not a moth. Or something. I can guarantee that you are pretty enough, smart enough and have enough time for the right person. Moths just bump into things with no real direction; this is not where you want to be with your dating life. By going towards ‘flame’ like situations, like the gym, you are constantly running into new people. However, you should seek more intense ‘flames’ like classes within gyms. Aim for classes with a high intake of the gender you’d like to attract in which you are forced to talk to each other, so if you’re looking to meet a new Prince Charming, your yoga class probably won’t do the job.
3. Don’t be too available.
“Would you like to do something this weekend?”
“Yeah sure sounds good, what would you like to do?”
“I don’t mind, what would you like to do?”
Enough. This is like the non-committed but equally annoying version of “no, you hang up first”. Accept specific plans for time frames that actually suit you. The fact that you were planning on spending the weekend with Netflix, your dog and €30 worth of Dominos is not a reason to tell him/her that you are free all weekend and can push those drinks with the girls if that’s the only time s/he’s free… It will define how much he values your time if you always have some whenever s/he asks.
4. Be easy on men. Not necessarily easy, easy. But if you’d like Channing Tatum’s long lost Irish brother to come talk to you, make eye contact with him to communicate so. As all men continually fear doing the Walk of Shame back from being rejected, being close by helps too. Make an excuse to come over, this may sound ridiculous but bars, bins and even the milk counter in Starbucks are your friend for starting conversations.
5. Have your own life. Men, just like women, are attracted to self-sufficient, happy and independent people. Instead of staring at each other over dinner, invite them along to things you’d be doing anyway. You’ll look far more attractive and less nervous laughing with your friends while you go kayaking in the docks than you will in a stuffy city centre restaurant. Or so Matthew insists. And at the end of the day, who now lives in LA and gets to flirt with Eva Longoria in his spare time?
Matthew Hussey might just know a thing or two after all.Follow Hannah's musings on life here: @bananapop2