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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Building Your Digital Dating Presence Part 3 - Photos and Names

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 23, 2016


Many people, particularly men, scan the online profiles by solely looking at the photos. They will only read the profiles of good-looking singles or profiles with ‘sexy’ pictures and do not bother opening profiles of people they don’t find attractive. So choosing the right photos is critical.

Yes, you need a photo. Rule number one: if you want to succeed at online dating, you must include photos in your profile. No matter how eloquent, clever, or interesting your bio reads, if you do not post at least one photo, your chances of meeting someone are severely hampered. Ask yourself, would you honestly take the time to connect with someone online that did not post a photo?  Wouldn’t you wonder why the person didn’t include a photo? Probably even the most well-meaning of us would assume something was wrong; either the person was unattractive and embarrassed about their appearance or they were hiding something of a possibly negative nature/ So, even if the reason for not posting a picture were benign, it is much better not to stay hidden because most people probably wouldn’t take the chance to find out.

There may be truly exceptional cases, though. For example, once a woman who had not posted her photo contacted me. She told me that she liked what she read about me and that she had not included her photo because she was the CEO of a well-known corporation. However, she offered to email her photo. I don’t think I would have agreed to meet if she hadn’t. But, I understood why she wanted to stay incognito.

How many photos do you need?  When it comes to deciding how many photos and which ones to choose, the old ‘not too few and not too many’ adage comes to mind. Profiles featuring a dozen photos can be a sign of self-confidence, or taken to the extreme, narcissism. Again, a little mystery goes a long way when meeting someone new. A good rule of thumb for posting is three to five photos. You can pour through your current photos, maybe ask a friend to help you choose the best shots, or shoot a fresh set on your own or even professionally. Any method works as long as you keep in mind that the photos, like your profile, are not for you. These photos are sales tools, carefully selected to attract new people into your life.

First, you’ll need a headshot that provides a clear picture of your face. That means a current photo without sunglasses or your favorite hat. If you’re a guy, women want to see your eyes, your teeth, and your hair. A warm smile can go a long way in a headshot. If you want to project a more circumspect, moody vibe, that’s cool, however try including another photo of you smiling. You should also choose a photo of yourself in a social setting. Some good options are of you attending an event, such as a wedding, a family celebration, a conference or an outing, or a dinner. One of the photos should show other people with whom you are having a good time so that people know you are social and have fun and enjoy being in the company of others. Another possibility, if you are athletic, is to include an action shot of you participating in a favorite activity, preferably outdoors. If you’re in good shape, consider having a photo of you at the beach, hiking, or playing a sport showing off your fitness. This can include shots of you boating, skiing, running, or even playing with your dog at the beach. You get the picture. You want the world to see that you’re fit, active, healthy, and fun. If you are not athletically inclined or have body issues, choose a photo of you doing things you are passionate about, possibly playing an instrument, painting, or whatever tells some truths about the authentic you.

Finally, consider a ‘wildcard’ photo with you doing something unexpected like a cultural event or concert, standing in front of the Pyramids, or at a Halloween party where you can show off your bad-girl outfit. If you’re over forty, there’s a good chance that you’ve been married or have kids. If so, consider including a photo with your children if it feels right for you, but only choose photos that give your prospects an authentic sense of who you are.

Do you think I’m sexy? Here’s a word of caution about posting sexy photos, especially when you’re over forty. Let’s start with the guys. Keep your shirts on and no flexing. It’s okay to show a picture of yourself surfing or involved in a physical activity where you normally do not wear a shirt. But, there are not many situations where shirts are not required.

Now for the gals. It’s okay to be proud of your body and to be comfortable showing it off. But, keep in mind that sexy photos usually result in sexual responses. Regardless of age guys are hopelessly visual creatures. Many grown men still go crazy when they see photos of women dressed in lingerie or a Brazilian bikini. So sure, if you are a woman, you’ll get a lot of responses when you post sexy photos. Sex is good and it sells. But, come on, you’ll want quality responses versus the sheer number of hits you’ll get from a hot photo if you are serious about meeting someone to have a meaningful relationship.

The money shot. After honing down the number of pictures to post, you need to choose a primary photo. This is your most important photo because it’s the one people see first. So it should be the photo you are most comfortable with and the one that best communicates your personal brand. For many people, the primary photo is the headshot. Pick the photograph that you like best. Then ask a friend for their input and when you make a decision, stick with your primary photo for while. This way you will also get a sense of how much interest you are garnering before changing it.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

You might think the first step in creating an engaging online profile is choosing a catchy headline and user name. Actually the best time to come up with those handles is after crafting your bio and selecting the right photos. You want to make sure your user name fits the rest of your profile and isn’t too random or cutesy. Try to come up with something simple, positive, and fun without being too silly and without using your real name. Although my name is Robert, a few of my friends called me Maximum Bob, the name of an Elmore Leonard novel. My birthday is on the twenty-second of the month. So I used Maximum22. It’s not Shakespeare, but it sounds positive and many women playfully referred to me as Max in their correspondence. So it worked for me.

Now, for a headline. Here is where people either try too hard or don’t put any effort into this key component of your profile. Some dating websites and apps do not require a headline, but for the ones that do, again try your best to come up with something short and represents who you are and what you’re looking for. And what works best is to use a short set of words rather than a long multisyllabic words. Once you have some ideas, test them out on a friend. By now, you’re probably buying a nice lunch for all your friends’ help with your profile and photos. But, you should be ready to post your profile and get the party started! And again, don’t sign up for more than three online services at a time. Managing all the responses, particularly if you are an attractive woman or man, takes time. You want to avoid being overwhelmed and overexposed.

You may think that the rules for setting up a successful online profile and presence are not that different when you are over forty. In many ways it’s true. The rules are basically the same, but when you are over forty, you want to show just a tad more class and restraint, at least when posting online. You can always fly your freak flag in person. 

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 2

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Stay Positive – It’s important to be in a good frame of mind when writing your profile because your mood impacts your decisions about what or what not you include in your profile. How we feel about ourselves is often communicated by what we post online. So, it’s important to focus on the positive. Think of your bio as both an introduction and a conversation starter. Would you like meeting someone new who starts by saying, “I don’t like… I don’t like…” or with a list of negative things to say? It’s a buzz kill that short-circuits people’s interest. So try not to include all the things you don’t like in your profile. Everyone has pet peeves and personal characteristics that rub them the wrong way. But, your online bio is not the place for them. Unless you have an overarching deal-breaker such as being allergic to dogs or not wanting to date a smoker, do your very best to eliminate the negatives from your profile.

Finally, self-perception, how we feel about ourselves, is also communicated by what’s posted online. Just as a list of negatives of what turns us off is not desirable, also avoid including anything negative about yourself. Focus on your good qualities. Talk to your friends to come up with a list. Then ask a friend to read it and give you feedback. A short list of positives communicates confidence. A list that is too long reeks of narcissism.

Honesty - Another critical component of your profile is honesty. Many online daters have been known to stretch the truth about their height, weight, occupation, and of course, their age. I don’t condone it but in some ways it’s understandable. For example, people age differently. If a forty-one year-old woman in great shape identifies herself as thirty-nine it probably won’t be a deal-breaker. But, if things work out over the long term, eventually she’ll find herself in a situation where she needs to tell the truth. The bottom line is that if you are less than truthful about any aspect of who you are, you’re taking a chance. Your true height, weight, occupation, marital and financial status will eventually surface, so be prepared for the possibility of losing someone due to what you may consider only to be a white lie. You never know what the deal breakers are for other people.

One area of your profile where dishonesty will not be tolerated is your current relationship status. You always need to be absolutely truthful about your current relationship status. Always let your connections know if you are separated, divorced, or even in an open marriage. The other person deserves your respect, and that means knowing your dating status. The same honesty applies to kids. You cannot hide this fact, nor should you. Another area where honesty is helpful is letting the market know if you’re interested in dating casually or looking for a relationship. When it comes to online dating, it’s best to stay open-minded. Many casual daters meet their match online and evolve into a committed relationship. And that’s a good thing. On the other hand don’t let honesty keep you from showcasing the very best version of you to the online dating universe. Take a tip from politicians and savvy marketers who know ways to shape the truth. Maybe due to your current financial situation you have not been able to travel as much as you did previously. That does not mean you cannot profess your love of travel and penchant for snorkeling in the Caribbean. You can also mention far off places you’d like to visit. In any case, when it comes to travel, you can set your sights higher than the neighborhood amusement park if you want to communicate your sense of adventure and lust for exotic locales, especially if you’re interested in meeting someone who shares a similar interest.

Food is another area where you can have fun. Most singles eventually share a meal on a date. Since everyone experiences food through their own personal lens, sharing your likes and experiences is where honesty can help you find a better match. In today’s culture food tells a lot about a person. That makes it a topic worth considering for your bio. Beyond the cliché, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, food is definitely an area for bonding that bridges many cultures, lifestyles, and financial status.  Consider a mention of your fondness for Asian fusion, your favorite restaurant, or that special dish you like to cook. A woman who prefers five star dining is probably not going to enjoy a night out with a guy who chows down on fast food every day. Also mention if you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or whatever food restrictions you feel is important to share. These days, food choices might become a commonality that makes it easier to connect with someone new.

Your Wish List Your profile should include a short list of the qualities you’re seeking in a partner. The keyword is short, meaning no more than two or three characteristics in a partner that are important to you. I realize that over the years many people have compiled built lengthy lists of must-haves for their prospective partners. These lists include everything from income level and profession to their date’s taste in shoes. Long detailed lists like these do not guarantee success in online dating. Rather, it may become an obstacle by narrowing the range of people that are “acceptable” to date. If you’ve decided that online dating is for you, I suggest putting that list aside or trimming it down to a few mission critical must-haves. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for the same results you’ve gotten in traditional offline dating—a general frustration that there aren’t any people worthwhile to date. If there is one definitive truth about online dating, it’s that you’ll meet lots of people you never would have met if you had not signed up for the service. That’s a good starting point. So, limit the list, keep your profile positive, and remain open-minded.

To be continued…

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 1: Getting Started

Robert Manni - Monday, June 06, 2016


“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, THE REPUBLIC

Before jumping into the digital dating fray, take a deep breath, exhale, and relax. Dating is supposed to be fun, right? As Plato knew so many centuries ago, how we begin often determines our chances for success. Our first steps are critical in making that all-important first impression and drawing the kind of person to you that you want to date. Too often singles rush into online dating fueled by emotional triggers like eagerness, anxiety, and desire. They quickly sign up for a plethora of web services and apps based solely on their friends’ experiences without fully considering which services best fit their particular needs. Then they slap together a profile, upload it, and hope for the best. This kind of approach will rarely bring success. To avoid wasting time attracting and engaging with the wrong people, your digital platform should clearly communicate who your are, what you want, and what you offer to the thousands of singles who will be looking at your profile online. If you take the time to set yourself up the right way, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment and have much better odds for attracting your ideal mate.

HOW MANY DATING SERVICES ARE RIGHT FOR YOU?

Initially, talking to your friends is a good way to get some candid views of what’s out there. They can tell you the pros and cons of the apps and sites they use, but before signing up for any of them. It’s important to determine how much time you really have for dating and how many websites and apps you can handle or else you can get overwhelmed. I suggest choosing no more than three services or apps when starting out. If offered, try a trial membership before committing. This way you can get a feel for the various features before committing to a membership. Keep your initial list to a minimum. Managing a number of subscriptions takes time, so limiting the number makes the process manageable. It also protects your profile from overexposure. Other daters who’ve subscribed to multiple dating services will certainly see your profile as it pops up. Due to the algorithms used by most dating websites, new profiles or profiles with changes usually zoom to the top. If you are over forty and plastered all over dozens dating websites, other prospects may view you as desperate. Another practical consideration is money. Almost all the dating websites and apps charge fees and this can add up quite quickly. Better to reserve more funds for all of those dates you’re going to score. Remember, after you get comfortable with the nuances of online dating, you can always sign up on additional websites.

YOUR PROFILE

Do Your Research - A great way to get started is by looking at other profiles and seeing what others have done that you like. Ask yourself what kind of information was shared and how it was framed that sparked your interest. This includes not only what others included, but also what was left out of these profiles that made you want to know more about that particular person. Scanning profiles doesn’t take long and it can be fun. It’s a worthwhile investment that can help prepare you to craft a winning profile.

Keep it Brief and to the Point - Putting together a crisp, to-the-point bio may sound easy, but many daters over forty including professionals, business executives, and teachers struggle when crafting their online dating ‘resume’. Many are uncertain where to begin and what to highlight in their profile. They over-think the process and weave long, wordy, tedious biographies instead of short, easily digestible profiles. Age is certainly a factor in this. The older we get, the more we’ve seen and done. Many of us may have already gone through first marriages and careers and are already into the second and third chapters of our lives. So it’s better to keep this biography streamlined. Focus on current interests and only include details that are important to you now. Remember, the profile is a reflection of the person who writes it. So regardless of good looks or personal accomplishments, if what they post is overly long, ponderous bio, readers will subconsciously wonder if he or she is boring, too. That’s why it is important to keep your copy focused and on the short side. Everything included should only reinforce your personal brand image.

 On the flip side, keeping things brief does not mean writing so little that things appear disjointed, and for some brevity is a euphemism for laziness. For example, there are a lot of guys who don’t take their profile seriously. They throw a few sentences together and post it with a few random photos. They assume that everyone will know who they are and what they are all about, but, the point is, everyone doesn’t, and most won’t waste time trying to find out when there are so many other profiles that are clearer and easier to read. A dater’s bio and photos are the most critical components of your online dating presence, so it’s worth the time to craft them to a level of the people they want to meet. So, what should you include?

Cover the basics about yourself, the type of person you are looking for, and what you have to offer. That means sharing what you do for a living, where you live, your interests, and the kind of people with whom you like to socialize. A few short paragraphs are all that’s necessary. Keep your profile crisp, short, and fun. Leaving a little mystery and something for the imagination can work wonders.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 3)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 23, 2016


I was still determined to master the art of online dating by using my skills as a long-term marketer and advertiser. I reminded myself that my profile was not for me. I was not the customer. My profile was for the person I wanted to date.

So I reviewed my profile and once again asked myself what I wanted, what made me different, and what I had to offer a woman. It’s easy to be self-critical, but we’re all special in some ways. I identified the qualities that I thought separated me from the herd and asked a few women I knew if they agreed. I asked them what they looked for in a man. Most of them wanted to date a guy with a job, a dream, confidence, and a sense of humor, kindness, and relatively good looks.  I used this feedback in my profile and made sure there were no typos or grammatical errors. I also changed my specs for the type of women I was interested in meeting. I realized I wanted to date women who knew what they wanted, shared my values, and were emotionally available. Finally, I expanded my geographic search parameters beyond the world of Manhattan and the ‘lists’. You may have read about women’s lengthy lists of must-have qualities men need to have to be even considered datable. My advice? Shake it off. Be yourself because nothing beats authenticity. Ultimately, everyone wants to be with someone who’s interested in the real person, not the “best front” we sometimes present during our initial weeks of a courtship.

Then I went back online. I decided to keep my contact rules in place before meeting anyone in person. If things did not feel right when we met, I wouldn’t waste our time. I’d share a drink and move on. However, even if there was no spark or the possibility of a romantic connection, it was important to treat the women I met respectfully. In today’s digital dating scene, it’s easy to disappear like a ghost or simply delete someone with a keystroke, but we’re dealing with people who are just like us. People who have feelings and who are also searching for a connection. So if there was no real chemistry with my date, I did my best to keep the conversation going until she finished her cocktail. It was the least I could do. As a result, some of the women that I met became friends. In fact, a few of them even set me up on dates with their cute friends. It pays to be nice.

With my newly updated profile, I was getting better responses from women than when I first signed up. When I saw someone I was attracted to, I read her profile a few times to get a sense of whom she really was. I made sure her bio wasn’t laced with, “Me, me, me…” or  “I don’t like…” I’d send a brief note— never a wink or a poke. I’d also mention something she had included in her profile—maybe that Korean dish she made or her recent trip to a yoga retreat. I might also add something about me that wasn’t in my profile. If she replied, I’d respond with another short note and my phone number, full name and personal email address. This way she could Google me to make sure I wasn’t an axe-murderer. If everything checked out, I’d suggest that all important phone call. Most women sent back their phone number so I could initiate the first call.

If the call went well, I’d suggest meeting for a glass of wine or coffee depending on her preference. A word of caution—no matter how great things might feel during the email and phone call, don’t invite someone to dinner without first meeting them in person. As mentioned, the vibe could change dramatically when meeting for the first time, and first dates can take bad turns. If you have dinner with someone you’ve never met and there’s no chemistry, it can make for a long, uncomfortable, and often awkward evening.

As I continued to date, I also continued to fine-tune my set of rules. I found that when meeting someone new, it was best to make it a short night. If things were clicking, I’d suggest a second glass of wine. If things were really going well, I’d offer to take her someplace else for a quick bite. Then I’d call it a night and hail her a cab. I found that a show of restraint added a sprinkle of mystery and stoked the anticipation of a second date. Soon I was dating more and more interesting women—clothing designers, entrepreneurs, fitness models, photojournalists, and teachers, along with selected professionals and corporate types. Most importantly, I was connecting with almost every woman. After a few months of non-stop dating, I got into a relationship with an attractive woman, took a break from the site, and dated for a year. After the relationship ran its course, I logged back on the site, reviewed my profile yet again, made a few more tweaks and in no time began dating like crazy for another year. My online dating system was working like a well-oiled machine.  Having a clear set of rules helped, but I soon found out that, as in life, when it comes to online dating there are no unbreakable rules.

Like other indulgences, online dating has a shelf life. I reached a point where I was content. My system was doing a lion’s share of the work. Dating had become easy. And as soulless as it sounds to me now, at the time, I thought I’d be happy dating for the rest of my life. Everything changed though late one night when I logged onto the site. A new woman had winked at me. She was pretty, even if her photo was a random late night selfie without makeup. I was intrigued by her photo and by the carefree flow of her profile. So I began the usual process. I emailed her and she replied the following day. We exchanged another email. The vibe felt right so I sent her my number and suggested a phone call. However, this woman did not think that a phone call was necessary. She suggested that we meet in person. I wrote back, trying my best to arrange a phone call, but she again declined. What about my rules?  I needed to make a decision.

I was torn. My rules worked. Why should I change? I read her profile again and stared at her cute photo before my intuition kicked in. This feels right, so, what the hell? It’s just a rule that I made up. We skipped the call and met on a balmy July evening. Things went well. Real well. And I wanted to see her again. I followed up by text after our date and we got together again the following week. Out of curiosity I looked up her profile again, but it was gone. When we got together for dinner I asked why her profile was hidden. She told me that she’d only signed up on the site for a three-day trial. Since she had a good time she wanted to give us a chance. She saw no reason to stay active on the site. I wisely deleted my account shortly after and we were engaged one year later. We’ve been married for six years. I know now that online dating is an art, not a science. It’s okay to go with your gut and break your rules now and then.

The bottom line is that if you pay attention to what you are putting out and who you are, online dating can be fun and fruitful. You might stub your toe and get your heart broken a few times along the way, but you can win. Always show respect for yourself and the people you meet. And, don’t take anything too seriously. Remember; dating and meeting new people can be an adventure, not something that creates anxiety. If you take the time to build your personal brand (know yourself, what you want, and what you have to offer), communicate clearly both online and in person, and display the confidence from a well-lived life, you’ll be on your way to making the right connections.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 16, 2016


It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. I couldn’t agree more.

Take my experience for instance in online dating. After being with a woman for five years, one day she said that the relationship was over. I’d always thought that when a woman had issues with the relationship, her guy would be the first person to know. I assumed that the woman would want to have, you know—the talk. But in this case, she packed up her bags and was gone. I found out a few weeks later that she had already moved in with another guy. I was blindsided and devastated. Man, I was pissed off. But once I had time to really think about our relationship, my emotions shifted from pain to relief. I realized our relationship really hadn’t been working and I owned up to my share of why it went wrong. I asked myself if I wanted to be with a woman who was unhappy and didn’t want to be with me. And the answer was, of course, I didn’t. I was glad it was over.

It took some time, but I licked my wounds and self-assessed. I definitely did not want to make the same mistakes again. When I felt I was ready to meet new women, I realized, most of my friends were married and had kids, so they were not going out to meet women with me. So, initially I returned to my old habits of trolling the bars, gyms, classes, and bookstores alone. Hunting as a lone wolf soon proved to be a tough world for a guy over forty, especially after years of being in a live-in relationship. So much had changed that soon, there was no fun going out on my own. After a few lonely Friday and Saturday nights, I had to do something new. I decided to give online dating a try.

I signed up at the most popular online dating site. Like most guys, I slapped together my profile and anxiously dove into the fray. At first, I perused only the women with pretty pictures and pursued dates solely based on women’s photos. As a result, I met a lot of attractive women. I’d sit across from them thinking, they’re nice looking, but where’s the ‘spark’? Something was definitely wrong. I was not using the head perched on my shoulders to make my decisions. I was wasting a lot of time and money meeting the wrong women. I needed a reboot. The best thing I did was to take a break and hide my profile. I reviewed my personal brand (who I was, what I was looking for, and what I had to offer) and reworked my profile making sure it had the right messaging and photos to attract the type of partner I was looking for. This was the first important step in developing an online routine that finally worked for me.

After reposting my profile with a new headline, photo, and bio I went back to the work of dating. I set a few directional rules for myself. I decided not to invest too much time with online connections I met online before deciding whether or not to move forward. I’d exchange a few emails, maybe starting with a compliment or question about something in her profile. Then, if I liked her response I’d decide to talk on the phone. The call was always helpful. Nowadays, after a text or a tweet, people meet up without having a call. I wouldn’t take that chance too readily. The energy exchanged when emailing or texting is quite different than what we experience on a call. I’ve had experiences where the emails would flow with wit and élan, then come to an awkward silence when I got them on the phone. And even if that first call lasted an hour it did not guarantee success. Very often the energy dramatically changes, again, when we meet someone in person for the first time. I’ve found that we can’t control chemistry, and it’s impossible to predict. I paid attention to how the energy felt at every touch point—from first contact online to email, then to a phone call before asking a woman for a date. All this saved a lot of time and disappointment.

In time, I learned that, like my initial foray into online dating, other people also charged in without figuring out what they wanted from the experience. There were a lot of lonely people out there. And many of them were over forty and desperate for love and attention. They’d sign up on a dating website in haste and plunge into the unchartered online dating waters like new members of the Polar Bear Club on January 1st. After a few failed dates and often the icy chill of rejection, many singles withdrew from these websites as quickly as they dove in.

Here’s an example of what happened while I was developing my online dating chops. I met a woman for a date at a bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. She was a senior-level television executive. She was attractive, successful, and immaculately dressed in a white designer suit. We’d exchanged two short emails and a quick phone call before agreeing to meet after work. Everything felt good and I was looking forward to our date. Over small talk and a glass of wine I sensed the tension in her voice and body. I asked her about her job, thinking that she’d had a tough day. She told me she worked in television ad sales and she was having a banner year. So I asked her how long she’d been dating online. She said I was her first date. She’d signed up for the service the day after her long-term boyfriend dumped her. Initially, I thought that was a favorable omen for rebound sex, but she was so out of sync that I didn’t want to get intimate with someone in her vulnerable state of mind. I asked her if she had considered taking some time for herself before jumping back into the dating scene. Her eyes welled up with tears. Then she said, “I don’t want to be alone.” Sadly, this attractive, high-powered television executive was an emotional shambles.

This was not the first time I met someone who was obviously not ready to date. I consoled her over a Chardonnay before grabbing the check and hailing her a cab. The following day, Ms. TV Executive sent me a lovely email, thanking me for being so understanding. But our short night was another reminder that I needed to do a better job when screening dates. I was still doing something wrong. Many of the women I had met were fun online and on the phone, but uptight and anxious in person. Between learning about their lists of must-haves or surviving first dates that felt like job interviews, this online dating thing was quickly lose its appeal. I realized that I kept going out with women who reminded me of my ex—corporate stars who were not enjoying the ride. It was time for another break from the site.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, May 06, 2016


When I was in my twenties, I met women the old fashioned way. This was before the age of ubiquitous cell phones, female wingmen, and dating apps. In the old days, drumming up the nerve to approach a woman took courage.

Like a lot of young men I wasn’t always comfortable in my own skin.  If I saw a lady who appealed to me, I’d drum up the courage to greet her with a friendly hello. Then, hopefully, I’d come up with something to say, an interesting question, or anything to keep things going. It was a challenge, but over time, I developed a decent rap. Sometimes I’d lose my nerve and stand at the bar too long nursing my Amstel Light. So, I’d lose out to some other guy who’d beat me to the punch. I met a lot of women and sure, I got shot down plenty of times too, but it was all part of putting myself on the front lines.

In many ways, meeting women the old fashioned way was a lot like sales. To succeed you needed to know who you were and what you had to offer. You had to qualify your prospect quickly so you wouldn’t waste time with someone who was married or in a committed relationship. Most importantly, you needed to know how to strike up a conversation and close the deal. So, I learned how to ask the right kind of questions, and stay positive in the face of rejection, and how to overcome obstacles to make a connection. Over time, I became fearless and experienced a lot of success. I met women in bars, gyms, laundry mats, libraries, bookstores, buses, airplanes, or just about anywhere. And, beyond ‘winning’ at the mating game, meeting women was fun.

But the times have changed. Technology has now made men lazy. These days, a guy can score dates with smart, successful, attractive women while sitting at home in his tighty-whiteys by just plinking on his laptop. All of the apps and websites have made it very convenient for men to meet women. You could say that technology has made dating much, much easier. But, hold on. From what I can tell, technology can only take you so far. Whether you are a man or woman, to make a real connection with a member of the opposite sex you still need self-confidence, conversational skills, a sense of humor, and a dash of self-deprecation.

There's still a lot to be said from those days when a man had to learn how to approach a woman, face-to-face, literally on the front lines. Men used to study ‘pick-up’ lines and share the best ones with their pals. It took a lot of nerve to step up to the plate and simply be you.

Here is a scenario of how things might have played out back in the day. A guy walks into a bar. He scans the room and takes the seat next to a pretty woman sitting alone nursing a glass of wine. He settles in and orders a beer. Out of the corner of his eye he casually checks out the woman seated next to him. Sensing his gaze, she takes out a cigarette. He strikes a match and holds it out for her. She exhales smoke, smiles and thanks him. “Hi, I’m Lou,” he says. “Cindy,” she responds. From here, anything could happen. That’s how lots of guys met women before technology took over our lives and smoking was banned in bars.

If that scene were replayed today, the woman at the bar would probably be on her phone texting or checking emails. She might not notice the guy sitting next to her and he might not even look up from his phone to notice her. The guy would probably order a beer, place his phone on the bar and stare up at the bar’s two-dozen giant television screens. Between sips of beer, he’d check his phone. Maybe he’d check his online dating app to see if anyone in the bar was on the same service. Then, when his friends would show up, all the guys would stand around drinking, watching the games and discussing their fantasy sports teams. Meanwhile, the attractive woman seated next to them, would greet her cute friend’s arrival and the ladies would probably chat over a drink before moving to a table to discuss their jobs and talk about why there are no good men around.

While technology has made things really convenient in a lot of ways, the problem is that people, today, are distracted by waves of ubiquitous media. Most people have trouble being present in the world directly around them and this makes it hard for them to connect. These days, when young people go out, an impenetrable wall of phones, apps, emails, texts, TV’s and a closed circle of friends usually surround them. In most cases, they don’t organically engage with new people. This brings along a new set of challenges to dating in today’s tech-driven culture. It seems that to succeed in today’s fast-paced scene, you need a blend of digital dexterity and that, all-important, old school charm. The digital portion of the equation is relatively easy to pick up. But knowing how to strike up a good conversation and converse with confidence and finesse takes time. But it’s worth it. In this area, daters over forty a big advantage over younger daters who rely too heavily on their cell phones, iPads, and laptops to communicate.

The trick is to learn your way around today’s digital dating landscape while deploying your old school charm. If you want to succeed, you need to stay up-to-date on the multitude of digital dating tools and apps. It’s critical that you learn how to communicate quickly and effectively through your digital device. His will get you half way to the finish line. I’ve learned that to win, you still need to be fluent in the art of conversation and flirtation. That can only take place in person. After all, no matter how much game and witty repartee you may demonstrate in your texts or emails, eventually you’ll find yourself face to face with the object of your desire. That’s the only place where real chemistry can happen.  

To be continued…

How to Date Like a Champ in 2016

Robert Manni - Friday, January 22, 2016


It is the best of times and the worst of times…for dating. Modern life moves quickly. We want what we want, and we want it right now. We don’t have time to suffer fools when searching for our perfect match. With the advent of dating apps and websites, if you master the moves of the digital dating game, your pipeline of prospects can be filled to the brim. After all, you can set up a month’s worth of dates while sitting at home in your tighty-whiteys watching the Rangers game. And if you don’t dig that new connection, they’re gone with a keystroke. So what’s the problem, Guy’s Guy?

Like I said, it’s both the best and worst of times for dating. When we indulge in too much of a good thing, like ice cream, expensive bourbon, or for some guys strip clubs and recreational drugs, we lose our appreciation, our purpose, and our cash. To succeed at dating in 2016 we have to manage our minds, our hearts, and our balls or else we can waste a lot of time, effort, and money.

So, here is a Guys' Guy's refresher course for dating like a pro in today’s whacked out singles scene. And this goes for the ladies also. Drum roll please…

Know who you are and what you want – In many ways, dating successfully is like running a solid advertising campaign. You need to know who you are, what makes special, and what your target market is looking for. Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised, amigo, by how many singles are flailing about in a desperate effort to find someone to care for them. It’s sad. Don’t date those people, at least not until they figure out who they are and what they want. Focus on you, your personal brand, and what you want.

Making tech work for you – I’m assuming most guys, and many women, favor digital apps for making connections. They may be efficient, but digital apps alone will not make you a winner in the dating game. Between Tinder, Match, OK Cupid, Bumble, Tangle, Hinge, and the like, you don’t need to be Ryan Gosling or a genius to connect online with a lot of really cool women. All you need to do is fill out your profile built around a positive overview of you and the type of person you’re searching for. Include a photo of yourself smiling, not smirking, with your shirt on and without your Mets cap worn backwards. If you want to date casually, say so. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t work for guys unless they are on Tinder hitting on chicks in bars also looking for a hook up. Use spell check, be polite and ask open-ended questions that lead to an offline meet up. That means, being you and not behaving like the thousands of lazy horn dogs using digital apps for one reason to get laid.

Limit yourself to three dating apps at a time. Otherwise things can get out of hand quickly. You can get overloaded with prospects, which may sound like a good thing, but really isn’t. If you don’t take the time to sort through your prospects mindfully (I keep using that word for a reason), you may eliminate a potential keeper because of a minor nit like maybe she’s a Patriots fan. Don’t be that guy.

Offline is where we live - To make tech really work for you you’ll need your offline game in order. That means polishing your social skills and displaying casual confidence and integrity like knowing how to look into her eyes so she sees that you’re paying attention (without being creepy), and polishing your ability to close the deal. Of course you want to make a more intimate connection under the sheets, so you need to learn how to be intimate before getting intimate. So your goal in any dating engagement should be to move the landscape from online to offline. That’s how you will get to know one another in a real way.

And, you can’t build your offline game if you’re eyes are glued to your phone. Push yourself to chat up ladies where they livein the bars, after yoga class, waiting for coffee, in a bookstore, or anywhere women hang out. The point is, after you make a connection with a woman online or offline, you’ll spend 99% of your time together offline. Learn how to approach and talk to women. That means being friendly, smiling, and engaging in light conversation anywhere and everywhere women live. It’s called being a human being and it’s fun because most women are nice, even if they may not look that friendly with their puffy coats and ear buds on while riding the C train.

Be kind, be honest, make an effort – As described earlier, you can score dates in your tighty-whiteys, but don’t let that make you lazy and unappreciative. When dating a new woman, remember that she is a lady and deserves to be treated as such. If you are interested, explore her tastes, make a plan, and pick up the check on that first date if you ask her out. Yes, it’s old school, but most women will appreciate this rare display of chivalry and will not quibble over the check. If she insists on paying half (probably so she doesn’t think she owes you any favors), let her. It’s that simple. And if your date or the chemistry is not what you hoped for, don’t just bounce. You made a commitment to share a half hour with another well-intended human being. You can cut it off after one quick drink. And who knows? In that short time things could change or new information may surface that shifts the landscape. Maybe she becomes a friend, or she may have business contacts, or better yet she has some hot girlfriends that might make a better match for you. Just be nice. It’s not that difficult, amigo.

There’s more; lots more when it comes to dating in 2016. But if you take to heart what I’ve described above, I think you will find yourself in a really good place to manage your dating life like a champ. And that’s you, isn’t it?

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is George Clooney. Why him, you ask? He was a long-term bachelor, but never a jerk to women as far as we know. He is smooth and unshakeable. He excels in the art of conversation. He is a philanthropist and an accomplished actor. And, oh by the way, he finally married a brilliant career woman who doesn’t need his star power. Yeah, he’s a certified Guy's Guy.

Ask The Guy's Guy: Meeting an Online Connection for the First Time

Robert Manni - Monday, September 21, 2015

Ask the Guy's Guy: How to Connect with Someone Online

Robert Manni - Friday, August 28, 2015

Technology and Dating: Boom or Bust?

Robert Manni - Friday, April 25, 2014


It’s the best of times and the worst of times.

The preponderance of technology into modern life has pulled the world closer together while at the same time creating more separation. Dating is a prime example of this technological fall out with both men and women paying a price. So let’s take a quick look at how technology and social media have enabled dating and also made it more challenging to find mate.

The good stuff.

Hooray for online dating. Everyone is busy and people don’t have the time to troll the bars and clubs to find their mate. Women can hang with their BFF’s while occasionally checking their phones for the next group of guys who reach out and tell them they’re hot.  And dudes can score dates with hot women while sitting at home in their tighty whiteys. Dating online is fast, empowering and fun. If you’re a guy, all you need is spell check, a photo with your shirt on and the patience to mindfully read woman’s person’s profile. After a short message or email you exchange digits and you’re off and running.

When you get together everything can change quickly. But so what if there aren’t any sparks? When you meet online, you can end it with one keystroke— delete. It’s generally considered that people we meet online are disposal and replaceable. That’s not necessarily fair, but it’s how the game is played. So if you can check your feelings at the door, you have a shot at finding a match. And millions do every day. My wife likes to say that she found me online and there are so many others who have found their soul mate online.

Things to keep in mind.

Not everyone has a thick skin and can deal with the cut and dry aspects of online dating. So we need to remind ourselves that there is a human being with real feelings and emotions person behind their online persona. Just because you met online doesn’t make he or she less deserving of your respect. Keep your standards high and don’t forget the words— please, excuse me, and thank you. And if she’s interested and it’s not a match at least let her know that there were no sparkles if she asks.

Another consideration is that, an itchy trigger finger on that delete button could prevent you from getting to know someone who is worth a little extra effort. Not everyone is consistently at the top of his or her game when flirting online or during that first meet up. That’s not to suggest that you waste your time on an obviously bad fit. But if you think about some of your best friends or lovers, did those relationships always begin under the best circumstances?

Oops.

Between Facebook, Twitter and Tinder we live in an age of maximum exposure. And once something finds its way online, it’s there forever. Keep that in mind next time you think it’s acceptable to sext pics of your junk to a lady or before you take that selfie while drinking from that bottle of chocolate whipped cream vodka. These might not be images you want to share with a prospective mate or potential employer.

Technology and social media can be a dater’s best friend or worst enemy.  Always remember that dating is a face-to-face activity. Keep it real, amigo.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is any dude who picks up the phone and asks a woman out instead of hitting her up by text to see if she wants to hang out. 


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