I love dating advice. The notion that someone out there knows what to do about the personal experiences I'm having with my love life is fascinating, and I constantly find myself obsessed with hunting down answers. And my new favorite dating tip comes from the new book, Appily Ever After, by Benjamin Daly. A modern dating savant, Benjamin focuses on dating apps and offers a step by step practical guide for navigating them efficiently.
Benjamin's book begins with a simple exercise, the first portion of which is called "Your Brief." First, write out all the qualities you're looking for in a potential partner and star the ones which are most important to you. I read this book on a recent flight from JFK to Chicago and decided to take the exercise seriously. I wrote out attributes like successful, fun, healthy lifestyle, socially conscious, and cute. I starred "healthy lifestyle" and "successful" and turned the page.
I was suddenly and inexplicably radiating pure confidence through this awareness of my greatest strengths.
Next up, "Your Value." Benjamin instructs you to write out 50 qualities that make yourself a great catch. Sure, I'm cute, ambitious, and have a membership to the Museum of Natural History, but after about 10, I was coming up short. Benjamin and his book insisted I keep going and not stop until I'd come up with all 50 qualities. Trapped 30,000 feet in the air, I embraced the challenge and wracked my brain for another 40 lovable attributes, slowly rediscovering myself in the process. I had forgotten how intuitive I am with animals and children, or the fact that I have a particularly delightful disposition (unless I'm very hungry). The exercise was meditative, captivating and at times, and really hard, but it resulted in magic that I've since been trying to replicate. By the time I arrived at the gate in Chicago, I had also landed on "reasonably athletic" and "nails usually look nice" for numbers 49 and 50. I felt so satisfied and confident in the things that made me exactly who I am. I'm a veritable catch, I realized.
Then the most amazing thing happened.
I was suddenly and inexplicably radiating pure confidence through this awareness of my greatest strengths. When I caught the next leg of my flight from Chicago to San Diego, I got an unexpected upgrade to first class. I boarded, ordered champagne, and inadvertently bewitched my seat mate. A seasoned CEO type, the gentleman to my left looked like he could fly the plane if he needed to, but was just as content to enjoy his 2 p.m. sauvignon blanc. We lightly chatted about the companies he'd built and sold, and I told a dreamy story of my ambitious move to New York. Before I knew it, he was graciously inquiring if he might connect me with his handsome and successful adult son. I gave him my business card and hopped off that plane as if I owned it.
While spending some time in my hometown, I met up with the son and we had a good time! But the jury is still out on whether enough sparks will fly across the country to warrant a second date now that I'm back in NYC. In the meantime, though, I devoured the rest of Appily Ever After and collected a few more dating tips to try out in the wild. Here are some of my favorites:
"If you want to attract the guy outlined in your brief, you need to curate your photos to match him," Benjamin explained. Referring back to my brief which had a star next to "Healthy," I ditched my heavily edited, borderline catfishing bikini pic, and instead opted for a recent shot of me rocking my apron and slicing tomatoes. I've since noticed an uptick in opening conversations about farmers' markets and a decline in invitations to get a drink after bedtime on a weeknight.
"Discomfort is the entry price to success," said Ben, when explaining that all of us experience fear when it comes to dating. While the butterflies of a first date are great, you also shouldn't be afraid to get beyond that point. In his book, Benjamin suggests to dive in headfirst, addressing your fear of commitment and committing anyway. I haven't made it past a fourth date in a while, but I'm certain this is good advice once I work my way up to it.
And finally, Benjamin said, "Finding your dream person is a numbers game." You bet it is. I've recently wondered if perhaps I'm going on too many first dates, but on the contrary, by Benjamin's standards, I get a gold star. His advice is simple: make it easy for the right match to find you by going out on a lot of dates. Three dates in a weekend? Do it. Doubleheader on a Thursday? Sounds efficient to Ben. Just make sure you're not burning yourself out by going on so many dates you end up sick of the whole thing. My takeaway from this tip is that I should keep going on 1-3 dates a week and only slow down when someone is incredible enough to make me want to.
These tips only scratch the surface of what Benjamin Daly's gem of a book has to offer, and I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage you to give that little confidence-boosting exercise a go. Write out 50 things that make you awesome, because regardless of whether you're single or taken, we could all use a little reminder that we're a catch. The results of focusing on your value are so immediate and powerful that I can all but guarantee you'll find some sort of unexpected upgrade.