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Dating Advice from an Actual Expert

Jan 16, 2014

Last week I hosted an Q&A event with some local bloggers and dating coach David Wygant. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the rain of tweets from me, because so much good stuff came out of the conversation, I couldn't help myself. We got a little heckling from the Twittersphere, but trust me, if you're a woman who's frustrated with dating, you'll appreciate what David has to say.

A little about David:
  • He's an American University alum.
  • He is Patti Stanger's dating expert. (Listen to their podcast here.)
  • He regularly writes for the Huffington Post.
  • He's a single dad to a 3-year-old Disney Princess, and he totally gets why I want to be Ariel.
Participating in the Q&A were:
I'll be writing another post to synthesize this talk and add my thoughts, but I wanted to share the whole convo with y'all since it was such a good discussion.

While we were waiting for everyone to join, David talked to us about his daughter and her love for The Little Mermaid. It was, in my opinion, the best way to introduce dating woes that I've ever encountered.

David: Your subconscious mind is programmed in the first five years of your life, the innocent years. As a boy growing up, I watched action stuff. My mind was always focused on action and adventure. Now that I have a daughter, I've been forced to watch The Little Mermaid over and over and over again. My daughter is going to be looking for Prince Eric in 20 years, and I'm going to have to tell her Prince Eric doesn't exist. She'll tell me she's looking for "the one," but the reason she's looking for the one is because of Ariel. Women and their programming is so different from men and their programming, and that's probably the reason why the sexes battle. Women are looking for romance, and most men don't know what romance is.

I don't believe in a new year. Every day is new to me. I'm not big on setting resolutions, but I do set a daily action plan. It's more reasonable and realistic. What do you want? What do you want to experience?

Blogger: I just got out of a relationship where the guy was telling me daily that he wanted to marry me. Now that I'm back into dating, I'm finding it's hard here because it's such a transient city. A lot of us have the impression that men come to DC to make a name for themselves, not to find love, while women are looking for someone. 
D: If you haven't read the book The Five Love Languages, it's a really good read. When you know how you want to show up for love, it will help you in dating. Being single is a mindset, a daily mind game with yourself. We all would love to have someone to come home to. The problem with being single is keeping your mindset good, because you get to a point where the loneliness sets in, and you find yourself in a relationship with someone you shouldn't be with, Mr. Just Good Enough. When you date Mr. Just Good Enough, you'll end up with a life that's just good enough.

A great exercise coming out of a relationship is to write down how you want to feel in a relationship. I call this "dating insurance". How do you want to be loved? Be very specific. What do you need emotionally? Physically? How open, supportive, nurturing and communicative are you? You have to write down everything, the full picture, not just the things you didn't get in your last relationship. By writing this down, you will make you trust your instinct, so when you're on a date with someone and he doesn't seem quite right, you won't compromise on your love values.

B: Doesn't this make you picky? Some people would say this is being unreasonable and I need to compromise.
D: I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. We're talking about feelings here. It's important for you to feel what you need. Being picky is different -- he's got to be between 32 and 37, he's got to like to ski, he's got to be good at political debates. I look at the connection with the person, not at how she's spending her day. As long as she's authentic, she can have different interests. When you get caught up in the superficial, which happens a lot with people who date online, you don't get raw with your feelings.

B: I think dating is terrible, but I can't even get to that point. I'm told I'm intimidating and difficult to approach. I can have this list, but we live in a city where people ask what my political affiliation is then won't talk to me because I'm conservative. We have two layers of superficiality -- looks and politics. 
D: A strong woman needs to be conquered by a strong man, but most men suffer from what I call "approach anxiety". Even if they're strong men at work, they're terrified to approach a woman at Whole Foods. If people tell you you're unapproachable, I have a great exercise for you. Spend one week out in public without any crutches. Lose your phone. Be aware of and open to your surroundings. We're so busy being busy that we can come off as being unapproachable. For a week, I want you to have your eyes forward at all times. See the men around you and notice the men who are looking. Smile at a guy you're attracted to. Smile with your eyes and mouth, not a quick smile then hide and run. I guarantee men are checking you out but they're too afraid to approach because of your quick little smile. Women want George Clooney, the guy who will walk over and strike up a conversation. But most men aren't like this. You'll see, once you smile, they'll start coming over. They're intimidated probably just because of the way you walk. You're a woman who gets stuff done, but that means they have to chase you down. So take extra time in the aisle at Whole Foods. Sit in a restaurant and smile as men walk through the door. This exercise will open you up.

B: I disagree. Guys in DC don't lead with their best foot but with their ego. It's not that we're unapproachable; it's that men have lost their balls. 
D: Men have no balls -- they can't come over and say hello and start a good conversation. But I guarantee you're not as approachable -- smiling, making eye contact -- as you think you are. The problem is, 10% of guys know how to strike up a good conversation, and 90% are idiots. However, they're not idiots altogether. When I do seminars for men, they're really nice, but they don't have a clue what to say to women. Once I introduce them to a woman, they're pretty good after a few minutes.

In a perfect world, men would all be what the Disney characters are. They'd come over, smile, say something clever, engage you in conversation, ask for your phone number, actually call you and ask you out on a date, actually pick a date instead of asking you what you want to eat, and they'd follow up after the date and ask you on a second one. They would actually know how to start a relationship. But men are in their heads so much, and women don't realize this. So you've got to understand men's shortcomings and work within these shortcomings.

B: How do you show someone you like him? 
D: If you're smiling, touching a little during the date, and tell him at the end that you had a good time, what more can you do? Laugh at his stupid jokes so he thinks he's the funniest guy in the world. Be interested in his passions when he talks about them. When he mentions something like, "I've never been to the Lincoln Memorial," hint to him, "Wow, I haven't been in so long!" At the end of the night, send him a text that you had a nice time. If the guy still doesn't ask you out or waits several days to contact you, that means you're with a passive man and there's nothing more you can do. That man is not going to make you feel safe and secure. He's not going to make you feel beautiful. He won't satisfy you on so many levels.

B: I'll date a guy for a few weeks and then when it starts to get serious he leaves. Am I dating the wrong men? How do I figure it out in the beginning?
D: Women are so great about telling men what they want on the first date. The minute you feel a spark of chemistry, it's like True Confessions. Never, ever tell a guy what you want on the first date, because a lot of them are just looking to get laid and they're smart enough to agree with you. Oh yeah, I want a relationship too! They don't know how to be authentic.

The moment you get that gleeful moment of CHEMISTRY!, look at the guy and say, "What are you looking for right now?" Let him speak first. When you ask a guy something deep, you'll know what's authentic. If he's looking for love, he'll look in your eyes and tell you. If he's not, he'll look up and all around and try to come up with an answer. The relationship guys will tell you if they want a relationship. The reason you're fizzling with these guys is they're not where you're at. If they wanted a relationship, they would have worked on it differently.

B: I read in Be Your Own Matchmaker by Patti Stanger that there's a difference between interviewing someone and interrogating someone. 
D: Open-ended questions have all the right answers. Interrogations have all the wrong answers. When you interrogate a man, it takes him back to when he was a kid and his mother was getting onto him about something. By asking open-ended questions, you'll be able to find out if he meets the criteria on your checklist. Men are not good with open-ended questions. They will throw themselves under the bus. You can trick-question guys all day long. How do you like to feel in a relationship? How do you like to show up in a relationship? You'll get a guy that's either very evolved or a babbling idiot with these questions.

A guy may be well-spoken, good looking and have a good job, but he may not be where you are emotionally. Women like men's potential, but if he's lacking an emotional capacity you desire, he's not going to change. Women think they can teach men. I want you to date someone who's your equal, on the same level as you.

B: When you figure out the guy is not the one, what's the most gracious way to tell him? I don't need any more friends, and I don't want to come across as a bitch.
D: You have to have compassion for each other. I think when we get frustrated we lose compassion. But men cringe at sarcasm. Don't have that kind of tonality with us, because then we'll think you're a bitch. When you talk to a man, talk to him like he's 11 years old. Just tell him: "We can be acquaintances, but I want to find someone I really connect with, and I don't want to spend my time just being buddy buddy with someone."

A lot of men can't handle a successful, smart woman, so you've got to find a man who can. But no matter how successful you are, we want you to be sweet and nurturing. The patronizing tonality reminds us of our mother. We will respect your career and success if you nurture us the way we need to be nurtured. If you learn the guy's love language and what he's all about, you'll know how to nurture him. Be as compassionate as possible and be softer than us.

B: I'm in public relations and know how to keep a conversation rolling. I will go on dates where the guy will ask me one or two questions, but I ask lots of questions. How can you get guys to ask more questions?
D: That should go on your list -- you're a good conversationalist. You need somebody who's your equal. You like conversational banter. That's verbal foreplay. You need to stimulate your brain in that way. I'm the same way. When I meet somebody who's not a good conversationalist, I don't think, How can I make her a better conversationalist? I think, Bad conversationalist. Next! 

Communicators need to be with communicators. That's so important. You can't change the guy to make him a better conversationalist. If he's not a good communicator, don't even accept a second date. Find someone who's fun and equally loves conversation.

B: I've heard women have all the power. I feel powerless with guys, trying to keep the momentum going and understanding what they're thinking. Can you explain what that means? 
D: In a way, women have all the power. But in a way, we all have our own power. If you clearly state and define what you want and what you're all about then you have all the power. If the man you're with also communicates every step of the way then you have equal power. We fail when we talk to friends instead of each other. When you feel or want something, you need to communicate it.

One of the biggest troubles we have as adults is stating what our needs, wants and desires are. In reality, the faster you state these things, the more powerful you are. If you want affection and he's not affectionate, you start losing your power because he's not satisfying your needs. You're not stating your needs, wants and desires. In order to love somebody, you love them based on what they need, want and desire. It's an honor to do that for someone. If the guy you're with isn't doing that, you need to talk to him about your expectations and find out if you're on the same page. It's being radically authentic with each other. There's no reason to waste as much time as we waste on relationships that aren't going to work out.

B: I frequently come across guys who are dating multiple women. How do you let him know he's the only one you're seeing and you'd appreciate the same attention?
D: Your smile is really nice! If you said that to me and we were dating, I would look at you and say, "You know what? It's time for an honest conversation." Many women would say, "I know you're dating other women and I'm not going to stand for that!" But you were very sweet there. So, just like that. Say, "I enjoy being with you. I'm not looking to date anybody else. If you'd like to continue seeing other people, that won't work for me, because I'd like to see if we have something going here." Stammer and stutter and be open with him. Being authentic is so much fun. It's hard at the beginning, but if we spoke what's on our mind all the time, we'd do it with passion because we'd be used to it.

B: Do men want to hear that?
D: The right guy will. The guy that's busy dating three of your friends? No. But the right guy who likes you? Absolutely. And that's the guy you're looking for. Why play the game? You'll date a guy for six months while he dates other people, hoping he'll pick you, and after six months he'll tell you it's not really working for him. You just wasted six months of your life on someone, and your self-worth went down the drain.

We're so afraid to speak up and tell people what we really feel. Live by your truth. Have compassion. If someone isn't able to give you what you need, let him go. Honor yourself by being authentic.


I know this was long, but wasn't it great?!  Hearing it in person was even better, y'all. Really, really inspiring, even for people not interested in dating.

If you want to hear more of what David has to say, check out his programs for women: What Men Desire and Connect with Him.

Even better? He'll be in NYC February 22-23 for his yearly bootcamp, where he'll actually take you out to practice what he teaches you. (Think Carrie Bradshaw minus the excessive shoulder hunching and the strong desire to give her a sandwich.)

On a budget? Sign up for his daily newsletter and watch a free video when you do. 

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! As you may notice, we didn't have time to get to all of them, but David is super responsive, so why don't you ask him yourself?

(By the way, I got no payment or gratis anything to host the hangout or write this.) 


  1. Basically women can “date up” but they have to “marry down,” and men will “date down” but will only “marry up”. Men realize this from a young age because to get sex we have to drop our standards. It often takes women a lot longer to realize that in order to get married she will eventually have to “marry down” (settle) or stay single. The longer she waits, the older she gets and the more she will have to compromise.

    That’s why women find dating so difficult.

    If your parents were both 6s, your mother could have spent her 20s hooking up with 8s – but your father couldn’t have. Young women days often do that these days. However, when these women reach their late 20s / 30s they will have to drop back down to dating 6s if they want to secure commitment. This process is difficult to accept because after 10 years of hooking-up with 8s she will have to realize that in fact she was only a 6 the whole time (the same applies for 5s hooking up with 7s, 4s with 6s etc). Truly hypergamous women never realize/accept it and so they keep getting dumped, or stay single.

    “Settling” isn’t the best term to use because it sounds depressing. Perhaps we should say “realignment of priorities?”

    I also agree with you on the idea of a soul-mate. I don’t believe in “the one” as such, rather “the timing” - people who just happen to be looking for the same thing at the same time, and then they meet each other.
    And this is why women going for someone out of her league has much more impact on the sexual market than a man doing so. She'll get laid and he won't.
    Women generally get more dating options even after accounting for the degenerates, criminals and creeps (read unattractive men) and having more options moulds you into different people, whether you like to accept or not. Having more options makes you selective. At the very least it gives you some validation. It makes you less desperate. It gives you a better idea of what kind of men are best for you because you have the privilege to date so many people. Most men just get down on their knees and flip out a ring for the 1st or 2nd woman who show mild interest in them. Most guys simply arent selective and dont have the long checklists because they never get so many options.

    And after a break up or divorce, women are in most cases better off. They can start an active dating and sex life soon after divorce. Its so common to see single freshly divorced moms having sexual relationships with good looking men. Meanwhile most divorced men have no one but prostitutes to turn to. Its all about "options' and women have more of them.

    Women rarely experience sexual rejection. So even when a man isnt interested in committing, it at least validates her as a sexual desirable being. Atleast he found her attractive enough to have sex and share intimacy with. This reminds me of the fact that women never get friend-zoned. Its always a Friend-with-Benefit zone. It is so much better than simply being limited and confined to a non sexual being by the object of your affection/crush.