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Love Lessons From Dating School


Attention, singles! Need advice for making your next date great? We went straight to the source — the experts themselves — and got their top tips to share with you.

By Laura Leu

e know; most of you haven’t needed professional dating advice before—and we bet you’re fine with that. But we’ve found that getting an expert’s take on how to meet people, even possibly that one special person, is easier than ever these days. Wonder what you can learn from dating pros? Read on for some top experts’ best tips—all to benefit your love life.

Do your field work
“Date as many people as you can—within reason, that is. Besides helping you improve your dating skills by getting the practice you need to become a skilled dater, going out
Need an effective opening line? Don’t be afraid to admit you’re nervous.
with lots of people exposes you to the range of possibilities — good and bad — that exist among potential partners and relationships. You’ll come to cherish this knowledge when the time comes to make that all-important choice in a life partner.”
—Renée Gilbert, Ph.D., instructor of “Choosing to Love” in Bellevue, WA

Perfect your pickup line
“The most effective opening line is about being real. If you feel nervous, own it! Try saying something like, ‘Hi! My name is______. I have to confess, I'm a little nervous to introduce myself to you, but when I saw you I knew if I didn't say something, I'd really regret it.’ This approach works for several reasons: When you say ‘I have to confess,’ you immediately engage someone's attention. When you admit that you’re nervous, your openness and vulnerability can endear you to someone. And admitting that you would regret not saying something shows how you seize the moment—you are confident and you take action!”
—Jill Spiegel, instructor at the Learning Annex in Minneapolis, MN

Tune into non-verbal cues
“Unsure about how someone really feels about you? Learn to ‘hear’ what the other person is saying by turning down the volume and ‘listening’ to all the non-verbal messages coming from their facial expressions, overall posture, hands and especially
Don’t answer questions about your romantic past too early on!
their eyes. If he or she leans toward you and maintains an inviting posture, that’s a positive cue. Avoiding eye contact and crossing arms, on the other hand, would be negative cues. Sometimes, we can get sidetracked and blindsided by focusing on what someone is saying to us. We hang on their words, spend a lot of time examining and interpreting them and are often mystified when it turns out we were completely wrong. Non-verbal cues, however, rarely lie.”
—Toni Coleman, instructor of the e-class “Communicate Your Way to Relationship Success”

Keep mum about past relationships
“Being asked about your past may strike you as an innocent question—until you really analyze it. When someone asks you about your last relationship and why it didn't work out, what they're really asking is, ‘So what's wrong with you?’ Don't answer that question! You can't win, and you'll never look good in their eyes no matter what you say. Smile and say you were with a wonderful person. If they want to know all the details, you'll be delighted to answer all inquiries after the fourth date—that is, if they last that long.”
—Wendee Mason, instructor of DateSmart Seminars in San Diego, CA

Skip the bar scene and head to a charity event
“Whether it's a beach cleanup, a cancer research fundraiser, a fine arts fundraiser or a Big Brother/Big Sister Bowl-a-thon, you know the people you meet there are interested in giving something back to the community and to mankind. They have a heightened sense of compassion. Those are the types of people you want to date.”
—Lisa Johnson, instructor at the Learning Annex in Los Angeles, CA

Treat your date like a job interview
“On your date, pretend you’re an employer who is looking to fill a vacancy in his or her company. Instead of worrying if you are smart enough, good-looking enough, or funny enough, you can relax and see if your date is someone you'd like to talk to again—someone who measures up to your standards.”
—Amy Owens, instructor of “First Date Strategies” in Indianapolis, IN

Present problems as opportunities
“If you have a relationship issue brewing with a person you’ve started to date, state your problem or issue as a ‘how to.’ For example, ‘I'd like your help to figure out how we could spend some more time together on the weekends.’ People love to be heroes and solve problems. Then back off and give this person room to deliver.”
—Marty Friedman, instructor at the Learning Annex in San Francisco, CA

Don’t play games
“The games people play in dating and relationships, like trying to be ‘busy’ when they’re not or pretending you have another call coming in, are as old as time, as is the damage they cause. Anytime you project an image that is not real, you are hiding your true self and playing a game you'll eventually lose. You may win attention, sympathy, or admiration for the moment, but it won't last—it's only a game.”
—Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott, instructors of “Relationships I & II” at Seattle Pacific University


Laura Leu is a freelance writer based in New York City.
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