Recently I had the chance to interview writer, journalist, and award-winning dating blogger Kelly Seal about her new book Date Expectations: A Guide to Changing Your Dating Life and Finding Real Love. Perhaps you've read some of Kelly's sage dating advice over on Huffington Post, Digital Romance, or her own blog. If not, here's an opportunity for you to get a glimpse of her perspective and get to know a little bit more about her excellent new book.
Keep reading for romantic insight and more about Date Expectations…
What do you consider the number one most common (or most significant) mistake people make when looking for a relationship?
I think people get trapped in their comfort zones – that is, they tend to gravitate towards the same “type” of girlfriend/ boyfriend even if it isn’t working for them. For instance, a woman might say she just wants a “nice” guy who treats her well, but she goes for the exciting bad boy instead. In her heart, she knows it isn’t working, but it’s much more comfortable to be in a relationship where you know what to expect (excitement, uncertainty) and you can play your familiar role. So you repeat the same cycle over and over again, and then wonder why you keep meeting the same jerks again and again. Guys do it too. Let’s say he wants a woman who is laid-back, but he ends up being attracted to the drama queens. We find a comfort in what we know – going outside of this and trying a new type of relationship feels uncomfortable. It pushes us and makes us grow. This is always a good thing, and usually leads to us finding a lasting relationship.
I imagine that being a speed dating host put you in the position to see a lot of awkward dates and romantic mishaps! What’s the most memorable funny/awkward moment from your time as a host?
Yes, there were WAY too many! I think one of the weirdest experiences that I didn’t mention in my book was when an obviously 60-something man tried to pass himself off as 29 to attend one of our events for twenty-somethings. Since we weren’t allowed to “card” anyone to prove their ages, we convinced his friend to escort him out. Unfortunately he lurked around until it was over and tried to hit on the young women leaving, so we had to intervene! The women thought it was funny, but it was kind of embarrassing for him. Guys – please don’t try to pass yourself off as 30 years younger no matter how young you feel. It doesn’t work!
It seems like speed dating is a little out of vogue these days–would you still recommend it as a way to meet people? What does it offer that online dating doesn’t?
I think apps like Tinder are a new kind of speed dating, only you don’t have to do it in person so it’s even faster to reject potential dates. It’s the same idea though – summing up a person in a minute or two rather than actually going on a date and getting to know him. I don’t think this works for most people. It’s too stressful. There’s too much pressure to be perfect right away – funny, smart, attractive – who can show their real selves under these conditions? But being our real selves is how we connect – when we are real with each other. I think online dating is effective because it’s a bit of a slower process. You can read a profile and chat online first so you get to know them a little better. There isn’t the same kind of instant judgment that comes with dating apps and speed dating.
What is the best advice you have for discouraged singletons who are fed up with the dating scene?
I can so relate because I felt this way for a long time! It was the inspiration for my book. First, I would say to take a step back from it and gain a little perspective. Not all of your dates are bad dates, and not all of them are assholes. Not every date will turn into a relationship. This doesn’t mean that you won’t meet someone great, or that guys are only looking to hook up. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve met since I’ve started writing about dating who really want a relationship. They wonder where all the good women are. They ask me all the time! Believe that there are good men and women out there, and you will meet them. Your perspective shapes your experience, shapes your world.
Also, it’s important to feed your own happiness before you go looking for someone else to do it – do things that you like, whether it’s cooking, running, surfing – whatever. Make yourself happy first, then look for someone to experience these things with you.
There are lots of dating advice books out there; what does Date Expectations do differently?
With Date Expectations, I help people with the process of dating. I think if you’re too focused on the end result – getting the perfect relationship – then you can miss important steps to figuring out what it is you really want. Most people have blinders on – they walk around with the idea of the perfect partner in their heads, and nobody quite lives up to it. Then they are disappointed, or they settle, or they give up. Instead, I help people try to enjoy getting to the relationship – there is magic in meeting new people, in seeing who they are and if there might be potential. I advocate to give your dates a real chance, especially if you’re on the fence. We are all students here. We all have something to learn. If you aren’t having fun meeting people, even people who may not be “the one,” then you’re doing something wrong.
Has your romantic life (or your approach to it) shifted in any significant way since you started the process of writing this book?
Yes, definitely. I rewrote the book entirely, actually – it is far from the place where I started. I could have shared more crazy stories about the men I met, but I chose instead to focus on what all the men I dated – good and bad – taught me about myself. Each person helped me get to where I am today. As far as my marriage, writing the book has challenged me in this place, too. I write about good communication, which can be really hard! It’s a good reminder for myself. Once you have a good relationship, you have to keep building on it. You can’t just say, “That’s it – I’m done, I’ve arrived!”
What’s the one major thing that you want people to take away from Date Expectations?
I want people to feel hopeful. I live in LA, which is a difficult place to date. I hear this from men and women all the time. But still, every day, people meet and connect. They get together. They fall in love. It really happens. It’s hard to see when it isn’t happening to you, but all around us people are getting together. Love exists. When you cultivate more of it in your own life, you’ll attract it to you.