If you don’t already listen to The Great Love Debate podcast with Brian Howie, I highly recommend it. The content and tenor of the episodes vary widely, with guests ranging from to prominent psychologists and authors like John Gray (“Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus”) to past Bachelors and Bachelorettes (Ali Fedotowsky, Nick Viall, etc.) But the constant is that it’s always about dating, love, and relationships.
In addition to the podcast, which is recorded in LA, they also tour the world — from the US to Asia — with a live single-mingle town-hall style show, and this Monday night they were in New York . . . And, on account of forthcoming dating novel, I was just asked to be one of the on-stage experts!
Here are The Top Five Things I Learned from Being on The Great Love Debate:
1. People have really firm, preconceived notions of what makes for a good first date. I love the psychological/sociological aspects of dating and meeting new people, so I’m perfectly happy with the let’s cut-straight-to-the-dishing coffee, drinks, or dinner date. But when asked if a coffee date’s a good first date, the audience booed. Actually booed. The consensus was that it’s too much like an interview (?). I suggested doing a casual activity, like walking the High Line or the Brooklyn Bridge — that way the more serious, getting-to-know-you talk can be punctuated with people watching or random observations about the surrounding architecture or foliage. When it was suggested you could walk with ice cream, again, booing ensued. WHO DOESN’T LIKE ICE CREAM???
Me, I loved every ice cream date I’ve ever been on. But word to the wise: consider offering two diametrically opposed first date options when asking a lady/gent out. Because the audience taught me that suggesting ice cream could lead to an automatic rejection.
2. I have a waaaaay over-animated, overly expressive face, and apparently I gesticulate wildly when talking. This makes me a hilariously unphotogenic host.
By comparison, check out Amy Paffrath sitting next to me. Amy was the host of “Dating Naked” and MTV’s “Jersey Shore: After Hours.” Look at how positive and enthusiastic and supportive Amy looks. This is why one of us is a TV host and the other is an author.
3. You can have a super badass job and a really kind, intelligent-sounding profile (hi, audience member who is a singer-songwriter AND a professor at Hunter College!) but online daters need an entry point, so give them something to work with: Maybe pose a question they can respond to. Or, take a page from Alison’s profile in MATCH MADE IN MANHATTAN, and play two truths and a lie. Make it fun, make it easy, keep them guessing. Or asking.
4. Some of the stories audience members wanted feedback or advice on were certifiably insane — chock full of all kinds of illegal antics like breaking and entering a landmark cultural institution on a first date, or being drugged with laxatives by a suitor. I turned to Amy and said that I hear all these exhilarating/terrifying/raunchy tales and feel like I haven’t lived — and yet I was the one in the room who had written a book full of dating stories 😉 95% of the people you’ll date are lovely and possess many redeeming qualities. Some, however, may not. Stay safe out there.
5. The Great Love Debate strives to answer the question “Why is Everyone Still Single?” I was surprised, and a bit discouraged, to see how incensed certain audience members became when dishing on the NYC dating scene. There are no dating rights or wrongs (well, don’t poison your date please, re: #4 above), but try not to despair if/when your date turns out not to be your soul mate. Instead, maybe try making it a game in your head:
If he/she’s not for me, can I . . .
(A) set him/her up with my friend/roommate/brother/sister? One person’s loss can definitely be another’s gain.
(B) see us being friends? I was just saying that I needed a new running partner and he/she lives right near me and is currently telling me about his/her training for the upcoming Central Park 10K…
(C) learn one new thing today? About his/her career, in a field I know nothing about? About his/her hobby, which I’ve never tried my own hand at? About his/her favorite Netflix series, since I need a new bingefest?
And if the answer’s none of the above, you can always opt for (D) spin this into a chapter when I finally pen that dating novel I’ve always been meaning to write 😉 Or, if writing’s not your thing, Billy Procida (two seats down from me on stage) began his podcast by interviewing all the women he’d previously had relationships with. . . So many ways to turn those lemons into lemonade!