My senior year in high school I made a dating video. Yes an actual video, none of this digital stuff. To answer those questions you are thinking right now: No, I wasn’t sitting in front of the camera for some dating service, and no, I didn’t get any dates out of it. I played an elusive “Dr. Love” advising my friend Derek on how to win the hearts of our high school ladies for that Friday night date. Looking back on it now, the advice I gave him really wasn’t that effective and they fed into all the stuff you see in movies – basically telling Derek to be all these things that we thought women wanted from the “bad boy,” to “bad pickup line guy.” We were young, we didn’t know better and we learned from shows like “Blind Date” and “Singled Out,” which by the way was the precursor to “The Choice.” Unfortunately, as I got a bit older I see many men and women doing the exact same thing, being someone they are not and trying to game the system, no offense to @NeilStrauss (you rock Neil).
There are a ton of dating and relationship experts out there and I was fortunate to cross paths with David Coleman about five years ago. We became fast friends and we bonded over a passion for people. David travels and speaks around the country about dating and relationships. He also coaches, as he likes to call, the “Romantically Challenged.” David and I usually get a chance to catch up late nights or early mornings over email and each time he comes to town. When I spend time with him I always learn something new, I learn the most by watching David do what he does best, and that’s being David. Here are a few things the Dating Doctor taught me about dating and relationships (yes, they really call him that):
1. Be Yourself
When David was in college guys would pay him to be his wingman. Yes, you read that right - THEY PAID HIM. For a night on the town he would have two or three guys who would tag along and watch David work his magic with women, as he would coach them to the same results. The key was, David didn’t have to tell them to be anyone special or act a certain way – he would say: “be yourself, not somebody else.” Women, and anyone for that matter can tell if you’re fake and trying to be someone you are not. Be who you are naturally and embrace it fully. Being yourself is a privilege you have to earn, but when you can be yourself, you give everyone else around you permission to do the same.
2. Seek to Understand
David never stops studying relationships, but when he first started doing it more purposefully he went to the best source he could find – women. He would pull out lists of questions and ask women everything, but was told that if he wanted to know the real truth, he had to hear what went on in the women’s room. David went into the women’s room, with permission of course, and stood facing a corner of the room so he couldn’t see anything. He had to listen, learn to understand, and not say a word. He still tells this story as one of the most powerful lessons. When you are with a woman or want to be, ask questions, learn something about her, and really understand what she is saying completely.
3. Be Honest
It takes more initiative to be honest than it does to play a game. Be upfront and don’t give her a reason to doubt you. Speak so you are not misunderstood. This also means being honest with yourself. If you are in a relationship or dating someone and you know it is not working out – be honest enough to say something rather than let it drag on until you are both bitter. You will be respected more and trusted more if you are honest with the person you are with.
4. The Most Important Person in the Conversation Isn’t You
David has an ability to take a regular moment and make it better just by paying attention. You know that part of a meal at a restaurant when your server first comes over to greet you; well this is how it usually goes if you eat with David:
David: “Hi, what’s your name?”
David: “Stacy, I am David and this is Dustin. It is a pleasure to meet you.
The conversation usually continues on with each visit that our server makes to the table to take orders and check in. David asks our servers questions, engages them in conversation to learn their opinion, and makes them matter more than any other table they will serve ever will. By the end of the meal we will know a little something about our server and they leave with a smile and a personal expression of gratitude from David. I am always in awe of how he generates a meaningful moment that our server will remember and it means a lot more than a tip. The best part is, David treats everyone this way – making them feel important.
5. Vulnerability is Strength, not Weakness
Open your heart and mind to new experiences and be willing to share with the one you are with. Your ability to be vulnerable in the experience you create with someone will mean a greater ability to develop a real relationship. This doesn’t mean share all your secrets and everything in your life as soon as you meet a person, it means that you must be real and talk about what really matters, not just superficial topics or small talk. The person on the other end of this conversation will respect you more, want to learn more about you, and more importantly you will have made them FEEL something, not just know something.
The thing about the lessons above is that they are the foundation to every great relationship, romantic or otherwise. Take these lessons and apply them. Let David and I know how they are working for you - I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks David for showing us how it is done!