Do You Give Off the Right Signals?
Marie Claire September 2001
By Nancy Rommelmann
We sent two single women who have trouble getting dates out with a love coach. Did he help them meet more people?
David, the love coach
“Women should be on the lookout for men 24 hours a day, and they should look beyond bars and parties to other venues, like the grocery store. It’s also important that they be proactive, and give a smile as a signal that they’re interested. If they don’t, they’ll end up thinking, ”˜shoulda, woulda, coulda.’”
Angie, 28, advertising account coordinator
“Though I do meet men mostly at bars most of them immediately tell about their careers, which is a turnoff. I need to learn how to attract intelligent, down-to-earth guys.”
Stephanie, 29, sales executive
“I just ended a three-year relationship, so I’m out of practice with meeting men. I never know what to say to someone new.
4 PM Coffee shop
DAVID: We began what I like to call “singles boot camp” at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf a small, crowded cafe in Los Angeles, where the 20 and 30 something crowd the outdoor tables. I told Stephanie and Angie that a coffee shop is an ideal place to meet men. As opposed to bars, where most guys are intoxicated and hit on women to impress their friends, men at cafes are usually relaxed and have genuine intentions. If they show an interest, they’re likely to follow through. Then, I told Stephanie and Angie what their modus operandi should be: Make eye contact with a guy, and hold your gaze for five seconds. Count to yourself, if necessary; just don’t drop your stare under any circumstances. Afterward, flash a big smile. If he doesn’t come over, don’t be reluctant to approach him. Engage him in conversation at a coffee station even if you have to pour five extra sugar packets into your coffee to stay long enough. If he’s reading the newspaper, sit nearby and ask to borrow a section.
STEPHANIE: I wasn’t sure I’d have the confidence to approach a stranger. But David kept pointing out different guys, saying, “He just looked at you. Go get him.” This was actually quite helpful. Often, I’m so busy deciding which men I’m attracted to that I don’t notice who might think I’m cute. After 10 minutes, I smiled and made eye contact with a handsome guy who walked by. David insisted that I follow him, so I casually got in line behind him, He ordered a few sugary things, so I asked if liked a lot of sugar. He flirted back and joked about how sweet things bring trouble. I think he would’ve asked me out if I hadn’t been with Angie. As he drove off and waved, I decided I’d come back by myself next time.
ANGIE: I feared the men I approached would already have girlfriends. David told me that’s the wrong mind set; my goal should be to just have a nice conversation with a guy. Then, if I run into him again, there’s a chance he’ll introduce me to his single friends he might be with. Still, it seemed invasive to just to go up to men. But when I see a good-looking man in a running suit, I went for it. I positioned myself next to him and asked if he knew the time. David claims that men are less discerning about come-on lines than women, and they are generally relieved when a woman initiates a conversation. In any case, he started fidgeting with his cell phone so I tried again: “You’re getting your caffeine rush.” He responded with, “It’s not for me,” gave me a friendly nod, and left. David boosted my spirits by reminding me that at least I wouldn’t have to wonder, “What if?” Next thing I knew, I spotted a cute guy sampling caramel coffee. I grabbed a cup and commented on it. He introduced himself and told me he was an actor. We talked for 10 minutes, but he didn’t ask me out. I would have said “yes”.
6 pm Supermarket
DAVID: The great thing about supermarkets is that people shop in their neighborhood, so you’re likely to see them again and again. We went to Whole Foods, a gourmet market that’s always crowded right after work. I told Angie and Stephanie that the real key to meeting men here is to use props. For example, if they see a good-looking guy in the produce section, they can pick up a tomato and ask, “Is this ripe?” Or, they could just walk along the same aisles he does and tease, “You again?” Finally, I advised them to engage a man in conversation for the entire time they’re in the checkout line, then walk out with him and say something straightforward. They could try: “I really enjoyed talking to you, we should definitely do this again.”
STEPHANIE: I saw a handsome guy getting some yogurt, so I grabbed a container and tried to make eye contact with him, but he walked away. I also struck out when I tried to make eye contact with a cute man buying milk. Finally, I noticed another good looking guy and decided to approach him. I let him pass by me a couple of times before positioning myself next to him at the fish counter. Then I asked him to read me a sign, saying I didn’t have my glasses with me. We started chatting, and after a few minutes, I gave him a business card. I was certain he would call me and he did. We’ve yet to get together, though. Our schedules keep conflicting.
ANGIE: I spotted two attractive men, so when they got in a checkout line, I followed, as David had suggested. I commented on how unfair it was that one of them got stuck holding the heavy beer they were buying while the other one only carried chips. They laughed, and we talked for a few minutes. But when they resumed their own conversation, I gave up. Unlike at the more social cafe, at the grocery store, the vibe was, “My ice cream’s melting. I gotta go.” David told me not to sweat it, and to be honest, I didn’t. Just realizing that I can talk to any one without them biting my head off”“is empowering.
9 p.m. A trendy bar
DAVID: I warned Stephanie and Angie not to let their expectation run too high. That is the biggest mistake people make at bars; they think that within three hours, they’ll meet the love of their life. I told them to target a low-key guy, someone sitting in a corner talking to friends. Many women go for the most outgoing man, which can backfire, since he’s usually a player out to collect phone numbers. A subdued guy is more likely to want to meet one woman to whom he’s really attracted. I instructed them to get his attention with the five-second glance, and to keep their heads and bodies facing his, with their arms open-not crossed. This conveys approachability. Finally, I reminded them to go up to as many guys as possible, to get them in the habit of approaching men.
STEPHANIE: Soon after we arrived, a guy came over to us. The first thing he said was, “I used to model in New York.” Angie and I were like, Ewww! David told us to approach two guys on the patio. Angie hit it off with one of them. I am confident that David’s advice works, but part of me still wants a relationship to happen naturally. Plus, though I spoke to many men, I didn’t find one quality guy which is what I really wanted in the end.
ANGIE: I approached two men on the patio and asked for a cigarette. I instantly clicked with one of them, Brian. At the end of the night, he offered to drive me back to my car. I was parked near David’s apartment, so I told David to leave without me. I gave Brian my card before saying goodbye, and he called the next day. We didn’t make solid plans, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get together soon. What David told us was basically common sense: Be aware of your environment, smile, and be outgoing. Still, his advice was helpful, particularly because I felt much bolder by the end of the night.
DAVID: This experiment was a success. It made both women realize that to improve their chances of meeting men, they must leave their comfort zones and make a move. If they continue to approach men, it will become second nature. Now they know that not evey conversation will lead to love, but the more men they meet, the greater their chances of finding the right one.