How POPS changed my life.
I am referring to Privately Owned Public Spaces, not those cupcakes on a stick that they sell at Starbucks. Those are just weird. Though they are only 170 calories and they’re darn cute. But I digress.
Public space changed my life the first time in ’99, when I met my husband on a street corner. Now it’s changing my business life—who knew that all one has to do is go out in public? I guess on some level I did.
As with most things in my crazy-sexy-cool life, I came upon the POPS serendipitously. [Disclaimer: Please note that my characterization of my life may be highly exaggerated given that I have an eight-year-old son, a pile of bills to pay, and an anxiety disorder. But at least on Tuesdays, I have a crazy-sexy-cool life.]
I was trying to find retail space in New York City for a potential Matchmaker Café site that would fit into my budget. My budget was a maximum of $0. A girl can dream. I came across the empty space in Lincoln Center, next to the Apple store, that used to be Ollie’s, and I noticed that it was empty and locked. I was walking down that block on a frigid winter Tuesday because it is the same block where my husband and I met on the street, incidentally. For those of you who believe in fate, this fact is significant.
I did a quick survey of the premises, knowing that the space had been a public space and having a gut feeling that it wasn’t supposed to be closed. I had no understanding of POPS or their legalities, but something seemed fishy. Thanks to the handy “Open to Public” POPS sign and to the magic of Google, I had the email address of Professor Jerold Kayden, within minutes. He literally wrote the book on the POPS. And within a few more minutes, he emailed me back!
So, short story long, we had a phone meeting and I was told that yes, it’s true, that POPS is not allowed to be closed. But no, in fact, I could not make a Matchmaker Café in that space for free, even if it is benefitting the public, because that would be commercialization of the space. I was crushed. But he invited me to his conference at Harvard to learn more about public space and its uses. It was a free conference. And my old stomping grounds. So I went. It was a crazy snow storm but I put on my Dickie’s coveralls that have a Matchmaker Café patch on them and I got on the train.
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Nancy Slotnick: How POPS Changed my Life
A lot of girls swear by the “thank you” text after a first date. (We’re assuming the guy pays- because he should. :-)) And most guys say that they like to get the thank you text. Or email. But whenever something’s done out of obligation it loses its power. I’m not denying the importance of thanking the guy. But look at the text above, and now imagine saying (or hearing it) it in your most sexy sultry voice while looking a guy straight in the eye, leaning in and showing a hint of cleavage at the same time? Now that’s a powerful move.
Timing is everything. My husband and I missed the first season of 24. We got introduced to it when Fox ran a marathon on Labor Day of 24 hours consecutively, just as they really happened when Jack Bauer was really there. It was so realistic. Well, not really. But the draw of watching it in real time was so powerful that we became instant addicts of the show for life. We couldn’t even bear to go to the gym that Labor Day (well, we did but they had TV’s there) or go to sleep because of what we were missing. It was never the same in future seasons of course but we were happy loyal fans most of the time. It was the timing that got us.
So too is dating. The momentum, the pace, the immediacy as well as the suspense (you can’t give it all up in the first episode) are all what make things exciting. That’s why you have to “leave it all on the field” on the first date. Don’t get complacent and think- I’ll just send the thank you email tomorrow and then I can show how I feel on the 2nd date. You might not get a 2nd date!
Speaking of 2nd date, a lot of the clients that I coach ask me what to do after the first date to make the second date happen. My answer to the girls is this: Nothing.
As I alluded to above, what you do to get the 2nd date always happens on the 1st date. You can’t try to strongarm it afterwards. It just doesn’t work. On the 1st date, be flirty, interesting and interested. Be on time; thank him if he pays. If he doesn’t pay, be very skeptical. (Unless you asked him out.) Always kiss on the 1st date if you like the guy. Don’t maul him; it should come from him but help him create an opportunity for it to happen. Then say good night sweetly and turn and walk away with a spring in your step. That’s what I mean by “leave it all on the field.”
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Nancy Slotnick: “thx 4 the drinks. I had a great time.”
If the friend of my enemy is my enemy, then is the friend of my date going to be my date? A lot of guys may want it that way. (and some girls too.) What about the Facebook friend of my date? Facebook doesn’t make it easy to keep your dating life on the down low. If you are Facebook friends with your date, then chances are she has her ways of finding out who else you are dating. And that’s a good thing in my book. If you are really trying to two-time your girlfriend with her best friend you should at least have the decency to be stealthy about it.
The public nature of Facebook also makes it complicated to use Facebook for dating. You want to use your social network to find dates, but you also don’t want everyone in your social network to know everything you’re doing.
So a lot of people try to keep their social life and their dating life separate. I have been a dating coach for over a decade. I teach singles how to expand their network to try to get more dates. And I have to say from my experience, on the prospect of keeping your social life and your dating life separate: “How stupid is that?” Sorry if that doesn’t sound very professional. But it gets me all riled up when I see inefficiency. Dating is an inefficient process anyway. Trying to keep your social network and your dating network separate is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
It’s been scientifically proven that your mate is highly likely to be within 2 degrees of separation from you. [I read this in Scientific American] One of the biggest complaints that I hear from singles is that it’s so hard to meet people. So you have to start with who you know and the easiest way to find them, i.e. Facebook.
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Nancy Slotnick: Facebook Frenemies
There’s a story in my parents’ marriage. Long ago, before I was born, my mom once asked my Dad “Do I look fat in this?” He answered honestly. Once. So it begs the question- is talking about a woman’s weight (or a man’s for that matter) fair game in a relationship? We all know guys are very visual. And probably the #1 fear that most guys have (even though conventional wisdom says it’s “snakes”) is that their girlfriend, or wife, will get fat. Is this fair? Is this superficial? Is this misogynist? Maybe all three, but it is what it is. If he is stifled from talking about it, it only makes things worse.
I have been a dating coach for over 10 years, talking about women’s sex lives and dating lives and everything in between. You would think that I have dealt with the most personal topics you can imagine. But it wasn’t until this year, when I started dabbling in coaching on weight loss, that I really started to piss women off. Some actually quit just because I raised the topic. Is that fair? I don’t know. But I like to ask: “Do you want it to be fair or do you want to be happy?”
Let’s just say that you’re single and you’ve gained 10 lbs (which means 15 lbs in girl lbs.) Or that you are 10-15 lbs heavier than you’d like to be. What if I were to say that losing 15 lbs would dramatically increase the chance that you could get any guy that you want. Well, at least you could get to the 2nd date a lot better. Would you do it?
On the flip side, maybe staying overweight is a way of ensuring that you won’t get what you want. Maybe the extra fat literally and figuratively keeps people further away. Maybe eating is a replacement for sex. Or for the vulnerability that you feel because you can’t control sex in the same way that you can control food.
Wait, this blog is getting too heavy- put it this way- doesn’t sex feel better when you’re skinny? Can you even have sex after a meal at Carmine’s? When you tell yourself “I want him to love me for me!,” is that just an excuse for being lazy?
Women’s commitment issues come out in the funniest ways. A guy who isn’t ready to settle down will generally just say “I’m not ready for a relationship.” Women will bury themselves in Ben & Jerry’s and wonder “Why doesn’t he call?” That’s still a commitment issue!
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Nancy Slotnick: Do I Look Fat in this Blog?
It happens when you least expect it. That’s what they say anyway. But I was always expecting it. And it still happened for me. It didn’t happen how I expected it. I met my husband on the street. When I was single, I had opened a dating Café with the idea in mind that necessity is the mother of invention. I had imagined that the right guy would just walk through the doors one day. But it wasn’t happening. So I set out to look outside my Café and take matters into my own hands. I met my husband within 2 weeks of that. (you can read the whole story here)
But my story is not typical, I know. Many people swear by the “least expect it” story. Here’s one example from this week’s post on the Matchmaker Café fan page:
@Britta Alexander: It was for me! I finally gave up on finding the one, moved into a loft in Brooklyn, practiced my violin day and night, and my future husband was listening to me through the walls. Turns out he was the roommate on the other half of the shared loft. So there’s a strategy: just move around and live with complete strangers!
So I tried to analyze the common denominator of these seemingly contradictory philosophies and here’s what I conclude. It depends how you expect it. If you have too much negative attention on it (i.e. why isn’t happening?!? I have such bad luck with dating!! L) then it can’t happen. If you feel entitled to meeting someone but are not doing the work on yourself, it can’t happen. If you are so busy working that your Cablight is not on, (like I was) then it can’t happen.
On the other hand, if you are open and willing to make yourself vulnerable without putting expectations on how or when, then the universe will work hard to send it to you. If you become grounded in who you are and move towards the life that you want to have with a partner, it will happen faster. If you are really ready, you will just walk out your door and the One will be there. If you read Britta’s story carefully, you can see that she was willing to move somewhere new and live with complete strangers! That takes courage and confidence. And by practicing violin she was developing her core sense of herself. She was not shy about the world hearing her. And that is very powerful.
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Nancy Slotnick: When You Least Expect It
Arizona Diet Iced Tea- Peach flavor
Organic baby spinach
Oh sorry- that’s my grocery list. And it’s so easy to just go across the street and get it all. If only finding a mate could be so easy. Some people have a grocery list for what they look for in a partner. But is that a wise way to go about it? I’ve seen a lot of people seeking love in my years in the dating business and I have to say that the ones who are successful do not usually have a checklist the size of a dictionary. The people that I see using a spreadsheet to track their dates are generally too removed from their emotions to find love.
Matchmaker Café and other online dating sites are a kind of grocery store for dates. It seems like it should be so easy to plug in our criteria and have the internet machine spit out the answer. So why can’t we just order up the person we want like Chinese take-out? I would tip the delivery guy so well for that. But the conversation around the “checklist” always leads to one conclusion- that the chemistry and the checklist are at odds. How to have both is the big question.
It can be done. So here’s the checklist for the resolution of the checklist question:
- Do not have 73 things on your checklist- that’s only ok for reality TV stars on shows called “Miss Advised”
- Have 3 dealbreakers- that’s reasonable
- Have a picture of what you want that has details- that’s ok
- Let your picture morph if you meet someone you like
- Don’t be anal or rigid about your checklist
- Go with your gut- if you have passion about someone- listen to it
- If more than 5 friends have told you you’re too picky- you probably are
- If your checklist is too long, you need to look inward
- Recognize that the checklist is about being in control; Love is an out of control experience
- People are not objects, so you can’t order them up like groceries
- If you are a checklist person, you may be a narcissist
- If you are a narcissist, there is hope for you (other than being a reality TV star). But you have to want to change.
- You can’t outsource love, because of #10.
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Nancy Slotnick: The Checklist
I am pretty strong. I have been known to be impressive to my neighbor on the treadmill next to me and to the occasional trainer at Equinox. However, I suck at Pilates. My core is my kryptonite. My husband does Pilates religiously and I keep hoping that the osmosis will kick in, but no such luck. I keep striving nonetheless, because they say that core strength is what matters. And I find that to be true when it comes to the spirit as well.
Think about standing, with your core engaged, as someone tries to push you over. You feel the push but you can stay steady. If your core is not engaged, you might just fall right to the pavement- ouch. Now apply that metaphor (did you get yet that this is a metaphor?) to dating. You meet someone and have a few dates, only to be flat-out rejected. If you are strong in your spiritual core, you will jump right back onto the dating bandwagon and turn your Cablight on. If your soul’s six pack is only a two pack, then you may just seclude yourself with a box of Entenman’s and resolve never to date again. Pilates for your soul is what you need.
A client of mine coined the phrase of being “in the vortex.” I love that concept. It refers to that feeling when you’re aligned with the universe, everything is going your way and you can create any outcome you want. I felt that way when I met my husband. I’ve felt it at many points in my life. But what’s hard is to bring yourself back to that feeling when you’re off your game. When you wake up in the morning in a funk, on the “wrong side of the bed,” how do you get back into the vortex? Pilates for your soul.
This involves affirmations. And I know your thinking Stuart Smalley right now and you are getting skeptical. (That is if you are old enough to remember when SNL was really funny.) But affirmations do work. And the power of positive thinking can be very powerful. I have helped a lot of people find love and sometimes it just comes down to believing love is out there and remaining unwavering. Strong at your core. Pilates for your soul.
If you meet someone and you are all excited and you start to tell your friends and your mom and they start making you doubt yourself, do not waver. Strong at your core. Pilates for your soul. Don’t even tell people your dating stories (unless you’ve hired a professional like me.) People have the best of intentions but they will always have their own agenda, whether it’s conscious or otherwise. They will try to throw you off your game- they can’t help it- it’s a natural principle. So you have to be strong at your core. Have a picture of how your story ends and stick to it no matter what. Practice your pilates so that no one can throw you off your game. Do your spiritual crunches, in other words, your affirmations. Spend a few hours per week just thinking about what your life will be like when you have the relationship that you’ve always wanted. Picture every detail and then start searching. It won’t take long.
And if you start to falter, just channel Stuart and you can’t go wrong:
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.”
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Nancy Slotnick: Pilates for Your Soul
I’m going to make it official: communication is no longer linear. What do I mean by that? Linear communication is the tennis volley. You write a letter to a friend or lover. (Snail mail, anyone? I don’t think so.) You wait for a response. You email someone. They reply to your email. Your text bubbles are evenly matched and go back and forth in a relatively equal fashion.
What’s non-linear communication? Posting Happy Birthday on your friend’s Facebook wall and never expecting a reply. Texting someone multiple times because they never reply to your texts. (Not recommended in a dating context.) Needing to email someone a few times before they notice. Tweeting.
We have come to expect one directional communication. Is this human connection? Yes, it’s a form of it. Is it a good way to promote a cause, share breaking news or start a revolution? Totally. Is it a good way to make you feel totally popular on your birthday? Absolutely. Does it help you stay in touch with acquaintances and stay on their radar screen for party invites and the like? Yes! Is it healthy in the realm of dating and romantic relationships? Hell no. There’s the rub.
I am considered to be a dating expert (Well, Oprah called me one so that makes it so.) Yet I don’t have many hardfast rules in my arsenal. I’m not a Rules Girl in that way. But I have always had one rule in dating that is extremely useful:
“Don’t make two moves in a row.”
Useful until now, that is. The reason why it works is because you get to find out if the person is truly interested or not. The convention wisdom is that if they are interested, they will reply back. You can avoid a lot of wasted time this way. Rather than continually reaching out to someone who says they’re busy when what they are really trying to say is: “Not interested,” you just wait to see if they reply. Radio silence gives you your answer.
But these days it is pretty impossible to tell if someone just didn’t get the message. How many times do you get a little Facebook chat push notification on your phone and then it marks it as read before you even open it? And how many friends do you have that either never reply on Facebook, or only reply on Facebook, or will reply to a text but don’t read your email or vice versa? And then if you ever attempt to date someone 10 years your junior or your senior, you completely can’t synch up your communication methods?
In the words of Charlie Brown, “Argh!!” And speaking of Charlie Brown, it often feels like the people on the other end of all of my communication media are just like those grown-ups on the Peanuts: “wah-wah-wahwah-waaah!” I want to crawl under a rock. But that doesn’t play well in dating either. So what to do?
Always stay confident and think positive about the other person, whilst trying to keep the conversation as linear as possible. Notice what’s you and what’s them. (In other words- “Are your text bubbles HUGE and they reply: “K.”? But never never make assumptions about why the person isn’t responding in the way you’d like. You can have hunches, and certainly don’t hold off all your other plans while waiting for a reply, but don’t give in to getting paranoid.
I had some business dealings recently with a company that I found online. They make patches that iron onto uniforms and T-shirts. I couldn’t find a phone number on the website so I emailed them to ask if we could talk by phone for them to answer some questions for me. It seemed so much easier for me to deal with it by phone. But the very nice guy on the other end of email kept answering each question I had quite promptly. He never answered my question about speaking by phone. I resisted the urge to be annoyed with the fact that I couldn’t talk to him by phone and we got the deal done.
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Nancy Slotnick: Are you there, Buddy? It’s me, Margaret.
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”— Dr. Seuss
My sister invited me to her first annual Dr. Seuss-themed Passover Seder. “I hope you’re serving Green Eggs, no Ham,” I quipped. But I was so excited for her! The idea is so fun and original and so antithetical to the Passover seders of our youth, that it is a demonstration of freedom in her life. Which seems fitting for the theme of the holiday. Freedom from slavery, escaping to a new world, doing stuff that makes us feel like we’re going to get in trouble, but getting away with it. I feel like Thing One and Thing Two.
“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one.” -–Three Dog Night
In my role as a dating coach, I’m helping single clients shoot for two. I have to convince them that two is better than one when most of them have experienced the above. I say in my marketing materials that I will help you to find “the One.” I should stop saying that, because it’s a misnomer. To say that you are looking to find “the One” makes the other person too important. I should say; “I will help you to find your Two.” You are your own Number One.
The song repeats though—“One is the loneliest number, one is the loneliest number, one is the loneliest number” just to make sure we remember. As bad as two can be, it’s better than one. I’ve been married for 11 years and my personal goal for freedom this Passover is to find the One within the Two. What does that mean to me? It means finding your own voice even in the face of someone you love, who disagrees with you. And in-so-doing, you make your relationship work better. It’s ironic. It sometimes feels like you have to get rid of the other person, like Moses with Pharoah. We want to get someone else’s permission to “Let my people go.” But all we need to do really is get out of our own way.
“No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know,” Three Dog’s song continues. It’s so true. I stopped saying No to myself. My husband and I saw the film “No” last week. It’s a true story about when an advertising campaign in Chile in the ‘80s had the opportunity to overthrow the prevailing dictatorship. They just had to get a majority to vote “No.” Which might not be hard if they could get a majority to vote at all. No one was going to bother to vote because they could not even imagine the life that could be possible with freedom. One of the most brilliant part of the campaign was that they added a + to the No and made it No+ or No Mas. No Mas Pinochet. No Mas Pharoah. No Mas oppression. Let our People Go.
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Nancy Slotnick: A Suess Seder
“The only way you could meet my crazy was by doing something crazy yourself. Thank you. I love you. I knew it the minute I met you. I’m sorry it took so long for me to catch up. I just got stuck. Pat.”
We all bring our crazy to a relationship. Silver Linings does a beautiful job of writing a relationship where both participants are crazy but they take turns. They meet each other where they’re at. They end sentences with a preposition. They scream and throw dishes in public. They hug people whom they have a restraining order against or from. They end sentences with a preposition again. Did I mention that people call me crazy? They think I’m dreaming my life away, just like John Lennon wrote.
I struggle with how to let people into my life without letting them take over. How to embrace my crazy without getting caught up in it. How to recognize someone else’s crazy when they’re telling you it’s you. And when it’s also you. So complicated.
Spoiler alert- I’m going to talk about Silver Linings some more- I just loved it so much. It is rare for a romantic comedy (nay, romantic comedy/drama) to get it right without being trite. One of my favorite scenes was at the diner. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) opens up about herself and seems to be having a moment with Pat. She offers to help her out and then he insults her by not wanting to be associated with her in the context of his ex-wife.
Rather than crying and running out of the restaurant (at first, at least), which I would have done, she balks. That’s the best word for her face. She looks at him, condescendingly, and says; “You actually think I’m crazier than you.” Not in the form of a question, but as a statement of disbelief. It’s great. I admire that. I wish that in the midst of a heating argument I could have the composure to do that. It was awesome. And then she smashes all the dishes off the table in one fell swoop and runs out of the restaurant, crying. I kind of wish I could do that too.
The beauty of it is that Pat realizes in that moment that he’s crossed a line and then he comes to the rescue on her crazy. They go back and forth on this as their relationship blooms. And that gives new meaning to the phrase the “dance of intimacy.”
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Nancy Slotnick: People Think I’m Crazy…