Dating coach Evan Marc Katz presents No More Bad Dates at TEDxStJohns conference (Transcript)
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Evan Marc Katz – Dating coach
Ask a stranger: What do you think of online dating? What are they going to tell you? ‘I hate online dating. Online dating sucks. Men suck, women suck, profile suck. Everybody is stupid, everybody lies. Guys were in such a rush to meet. Nobody has anything interesting to say’. This is the going wisdom about online dating evidently.
Now I understand that. I will acknowledge that. I dated online for many years. I am a dating coach. So I understand. At the same time, complaining that online dating sucks is kind of like complaining that the gym is not helping you lose weight. I mean, it’s not the gym’s job. Think about it. Some gyms have better equipment, some gyms have better classes. But ultimately whether you lose weight is not up to the gym, it’s you — how often do you work out, how effectively, how intensely do you work out?
So as we frame today’s discussion, I just want you to consider not what’s wrong with online dating, which is valid, but rather what am I doing to yield the best possible results in online dating. That’s what we can control.
So I’m an unusual messenger for a number of reasons, not in the least of the fact that I love online dating. I mean I was like I’m that one guy who was like man, I love that crap. I moved to LA, I was 24-25 years old. I was a writer. I worked from home, wasn’t big on the club or the bar scene. So for me this was a natural fit, the same people that I didn’t necessarily have the courage or access to approach in real life, I could talk to them online, just by being cute friendly. And so I dated, no exaggeration, 300 people over the course of 10 years of online dating before I got married. I say with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.
So I had such a wonderful experience, such a unique experience that I started to coach the stuff. And now for over a decade, I’ve been helping people fall in love using online dating. I work with women, smart strong successful women from around the world of all ages helping them fall in love. I’ve helped a 41-year old woman in a wheelchair, a woman who was 80 pounds over weight, woman of 65 never been on a date before. These are my real clients who fell in love using the online dating system that I’m going to share with you today.
So if I sound somewhat evangelical about my own stuff, the reason why is that I’ve seen it work over and over and over again. And I’m very confident that it’s going to work for you.
So what’s wrong with online dating? To me, it’s not the online portion of online dating, the dating part of online dating. It’s the bad first date. You know what I’m talking about — someone has to know what I’m talking about you. You get dressed up, you drive across town, you sit at the coffee shop, and two minutes into the date, you’re like, ‘Oh my God! What am I doing here? Why does this happen to me over and over again? How do I keep on meeting these freaks?’ I don’t know the answer to that question. I bet you know the answer to that question. It’s instant gratification. We’re an instant gratification society. We’re texting, we’re tinder, how quickly can we make this stuff happen. That’s why you go on bad blind dates over and over and over again.
So I want to posit today that if you listen to what I’m about to share with you, you’re going to go on fewer bad dates, better first dates. And you’re going to move off-line from the dating site in less than a week. That’s not a tremendous time investment to ensure a higher quality experience. Yet this isn’t the way most people approach online dating.
So before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to do this, let’s establish one thing: Guys are terrible at online dating. I mean, you don’t even know how bad guys are on online dating. I hate to throw my whole gender under the bus but let’s roll him over, right?
I told the client that I was doing this presentation. I said, send me a picture of your inbox. I had no idea exactly what I was going to get in return. But this totally validated everything. 289 messages, subject headers: hello, hi, hi, none. Hello, hi, you are gorgeous, you’re so beautiful, very attractive. This is what women are dealing with. They have to make the best of that.
Now we know intellectually that not all guys are bad. This doesn’t mean these men are not relationship-oriented or intelligent. There’s something about the way people use this medium that isn’t working. And so we have to figure out what are these guys doing, why do they do this. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and let’s have some sympathy for these guys.
The reason we’re talking about why guys are so bad at online dating is that they are the aggressors. They’re the ones who have to put themselves out. So it’s going to be a lot more obvious when they’re screwing up than women. So for women who get very scornful of men have a little sympathy for these poor Schmucks, right? They’re doing the best they can, it’s just not very good.
Guys get online, they see a bunch of attractive photos. And again for instant gratification, dating site gives you the option of doing the free wink. You know the free wink? It’s what guys do – wink, wink, wink, wink, wink. You’re a woman, you’ve got 289 emails, you’re going to pay attention to the guy who winked at you. No, you’re not. So the guys, they’re not dumb, they say, huh winking didn’t work very well. Maybe I got to work a little harder. So they do, beef up their profile a little bit, find some really attractive women, because you could only write to the really attractive ones. Why? Because they’re there.
So they write to the most attractive women, and they talk about why she’s great, why he’s great, how much they have in common and then maybe a thousand word autobiography about him, right? Puts 20 minutes into writing an email, hours and hours, sends out a dozen of them. Nobody writes back. Why? You’re a woman, you’ve got 289 emails. Do you want to read some guys’ autobiography, some stranger, of course not.
So his intention is pure, he’s trying to differentiate himself but it’s not working. He is inadvertently coming across as kind of needy, little over-the-top little stalker-ish. Not the goal, just the byproduct. So he says, huh, well, if writing all these long emails isn’t working, I guess it’s what they say, it’s a numbers game. So I got to play the number.
So how do guys play the numbers? Didn’t answer, I read your profile, think you’re attractive, check me out if you like what you see. Hope to hear from you soon. It’s a form letter, cut paste them. So what they do, they send out 50 form letters. You’re a woman, you’ve got options, you’ve got 289 guys writing to you. You want to write to the guy who wrote you the form letter that he clearly wrote to every other woman on the dating site, insert your name here. So again, and sympathize with these guys.
Everything they’re trying make sense, the long stalker emails and the winks and the form letters. Just none of it’s working. So they’re throwing a whole bunch of crap up against the wall, none of it’s sticking. And they come to these conclusions, very logical conclusions. First conclusion is that women — most attractive women are like rock stars. They got tons of people throwing themselves at them. It’s really competitive. They’re probably going to take the profile down first, because they’re so inundated by responses they get overwhelmed. And it’s really competitive. And I know, if I met her she’d like me is what guys tell themselves. I know she’d like me if she met me. I am not even getting a chance, I can’t even get in the door. I got to move fast before she disappeared.
And on the other hand, everybody has had the experience in online dating of spending a whole month getting to know someone. And then showing up in the date, and finding out that person lied about their height or weight or their age. And that’s endemic to the medium.
So huh, well, I can’t spend a whole month getting to know someone only to find out that they misrepresented. So what am I going to do? Well, I’m going to move faster. That makes sense, right? So again we’re getting this reinforcement, that speed is the answer. Speed and volume, and that’s sort of the going story for guys. The answer to successful online dating is speed and volume.
So their next round of emails says something to the effect of – “Dear Amber, I read your profile. I am not really good at this thing. Let’s see if there is chemistry. Here’s my phone number. Text me, what are you doing on Saturday night?” It’s like all of it right in the first email. Let’s go, come on, please don’t disappear, don’t lie to me, don’t go out with anybody else. Please choose me. Attractive, huh? So this is how we see the kind of emails that we see in the inbox – this panicky, direct, it’s all because guys are failures at online dating. This is the result.
So guys become convinced that speed and volume is the solution to online dating. In fact, it’s the problem with online dating. Remember the bad blind-date slide, that’s how you end up on bad blind dates. You go out with total strangers. That’s the problem. Yet guys think it’s the solution. This is why we need a paradigm shift in how we view online dating.
So I stumbled onto this. I’m no genius. I was just a slut. And so I spent years going out with people and people share things with you. You tell your war stories and women would tell me about these guys, they’d show me their inboxes, they’d read these messages. It’s astoundingly stupid to the point that you can’t even believe it’s happening. Some guys like hey, you’re hot, let’s do it. I’m competing with that. That was easy.
So I figured if every guy was going to zig, I was just going to zag. If every guy is giving her this all-out verbal assault, why she needs to meet him yesterday, I will spend a little bit more time writing emails and thank clever things and spend a little more time talking on the phone and I had a completely different online dating experience than anybody I knew. Everybody else is talking about failure. I got to pick people up at their house. I got to drive them home at the end of the night first date, all because I put in a little bit more time upfront. And so when I became a coach, I started to coach this very simple philosophy. I told guys slow down, every other guys in a rush, you slow down. And it worked.
And then I started to coach women. I told them same thing. You’re letting him dictate the terms, slow him down, give him the incentives to please you, give him incentive to court you. And it worked.
And so this is what it looks like in a very simple Venn diagram form. I am only capable of making a very simple Venn diagram. Men, in general, want speed; women, in general, want comfort. And again by comfort it means I don’t want to go out with a potential serial killer. Like these are reasonable terms. We’re not saying I need a whole month to do a background check on you. Men want speed, women want comfort and the space between is a good first date where both parties are getting their needs met. I think this is reasonable.
And so the issue here is that men based on that inbox that I showed you earlier are unintentionally making women feel uncomfortable. Believe me, all the guys who make you feel uncomfortable it’s not their goal — how can I make her life miserable? How can I say something creepy? It’s never the goal. It’s the byproduct of their failures, right? Don’t disappear, don’t lie, let’s meet, let’s see if there is chemistry, let’s go.
So imagine you’re at a bar, you got 50 guys lined up to give you the phone number. It’s overwhelming. And that’s what happens online. Attractive woman has guys, just let’s meet, let’s meet, phone number is piling up. And it’s not the way women like to meet men.
So what’s the medium in which women do meet men where men have to make them comfortable before they get their phone number? I call it real life. You remember real life. Some of you do, some of you don’t. I’m 41, so I do. Before there was an Internet, you would talk to people at parties and stuff. And so when a guy talks to a woman at a party, he doesn’t tap her on the shoulder and be like, hey you’re in red, I like red. Here’s my number. A terrible way to meet someone. That’s what people do on the internet. You have a dog, I have a dog, let’s go on a date.
So how do guys meet women in real life? Talk to someone at a party, say something cute, talk for a half hour, it’s real fun, organic. He says, ‘Hey, you want to step outside for a little bit more bite out there. I’ll get you a drink’. She goes, ‘Yeah, that sounds fun, sure’. You go outside, conversation continues, moves — and an hour passes like that, and then he looks at his watch, he is like ‘Oh my god, I got to go. I’ve had so much fun talking to you tonight. If I get your number I’d love to take you out later this week’. And she says, ‘Yeah that sounds great. Thank you’. Does everybody remember that? Doesn’t that feel good the connection followed by the date. Right now we’ve got it reversed, right? We want the date and then we want the connection.
So all I’m talking about tonight in my very long-winded presentation before I get to my point is that we want to make online dating feel like real life, because real life feels good. That’s the whole principle behind this.
So how do we do this? I call it the 2/2/2 rule, I’ve been teaching it for years. It ain’t that complicated. I made it up, it came out of my head, it’s not one of the 10 commandments written in stone. So you can feel free to play with it. But the very basic idea is that you want to go 2 e-mails back and forth from each party on the dating site, 2 e-mails back and forth on Gmail or Yahoo, 2 phone calls in a first date. Whole thing takes less than a week, not terribly complicated, not a tremendous amount of work, highly highly effective.
So how do we use this complicated 2/2/2 rule? Well, first of all, I think it’s important to note it’s not about 2/2/2. 2/2/2 doesn’t matter, right? It could be 5/3/1, no one is counting. The whole point is that we understand each other and then understand and respect the fact that women need a little comfort before they meet. Women understand the guys want to move fast, that they are entitled to that, right? So this is based on a mutual understanding. We’re finding that point on the graph where it feels good to both genders.
So it starts with having a good conversation on the dating site, has to start with a good conversation on the dating site. Now good conversation isn’t that hard except it is, because hey, what’s up? Not good conversation. So what do you do for fun? Not good conversation. A good conversation is about being inquisitive, being thoughtful, being interesting, right? Having opinions, having observations, writing paragraphs, not one liners. This isn’t texting. If you’re a good conversationalist, no one’s going to say man, screw this, I’m out of here. Good conversation sustains itself and it grows, again it’s like being at a party, you’re enjoying it.
And when you make a good connection online, it gives you leverage as a woman to say, ‘Oh by the way, Brad, what’s your regular email address? I’ll be in much better touch on Gmail. And you know what that is, that’s, hey, let’s step outside where it’s a little more quiet. You’re getting more personal, you’re getting more intimate, you’re isolating the person. He’s talking to 10 women on OkCupid, he’s talking to one person on Gmail, that’s you, all because she said hey, let’s step outside. Conversation continues. You might say, hey, let’s meet. You don’t just meet, that brings us back where we started.
You don’t want to go on blind dates with strangers. So what you do is you schedule a phone call. Now again I know people’s resistance to this. Most people won’t do this. But understand it’s imperative because if you don’t schedule phone call, here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to start texting, right? Texting is the death of communication. It’s ubiquitous, I’m not trying to put the genie back in the bottle and pretend it’s not. The problem is you don’t get to know someone very well by texting. I guarantee it. I could talk to you for five minutes on the phone. I’m going to get to know you a lot better than if we did one line text back and forth for a week, not even close. There’s something about the nuance of communicating with someone live that texting leaves out. So you don’t want to get caught in texting.
So why schedule a phone call? Not just call. Well, you could pick up the phone and call. The problem is you’re precipitating another problem that comes with online dating and that’s friction. Things go wrong. So I call you at 8PM, you call me back at 9, I’m not around. I call you the next day at 2, you call me back during your lunch hour. Suddenly we’re playing phone tag, suddenly it’s difficult. Suddenly it’s not enjoyable. We’re losing momentum. You might give up, I might give up. That’s the problem with I’ll call you in general at some time, right? I’m around tonight at 7:30, can’t wait to hear your voice. Talk to you then. Set up an appointment, so you just get it right. This phone call is your first date and this replaces the coffee date. If you have a good phone call the guy earns the first date. I give advice to women, so it’s always directed at them.
So the value of this — very simple. Number one, you are screening. Screening is so important to avoid bad dates, because if you’re emailing some guy and it comes off as functionally illiterate, stupid, negative, difficult abrasive, incurious lazy, you don’t go out with him. Problem solved. You screen out all the guys who aren’t good conversationalists, who wouldn’t make you comfortable. If you’re carrying your end of the bargain, it’s great.
And so the flip side of screening is relationship building. When this goes well, this is just like the cocktail party, right? It is. You are having a great conversation and what’s happening? You’re building up trust, rapport, anticipation, excitement. This is the way dating is supposed to feel: ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait to go out with the guy that I’ve been talking to all week’. That’s the feeling we’re trying to evoke, so we enjoy dating once again. You would rather guarantee, go on one great date on a Saturday night, than three blind dates with total strangers, guarantee, and that’s all I’m proposing.
And the last thing, the surprising thing, this saves time. That sounds like a lot of work 2/2/2, it’s not. Emails take no time to write and a phone call and I talk to you for 20 minutes on the phone and I want to put a bullet in my head, because I’m so bored. Guess what we don’t go on a date. I don’t have to get dressed up, drive across town, spend a hundred dollars and two hours on you. That’s valuable and vice versa. If you have a great phone call, that’s the first date.
And so I’m not — I believe in technology, I understand chemistry. I know people have objections, guys are like I can just text someone I can get laid, I get it. The problem is people aren’t enjoying dating. They’re opting out of it. And I think women have the right to enjoy dating. There’s not much to this thing but at the end of the day if you just slow down a bit, follow the 2/2/2 rule, go from email to the phone to the real-life date, you’re going to go on fewer bad dates, better first dates and evoke the feelings that you want that make you excited and optimistic about dating again. So please give it a shot, try it out. Let me know how it feels. I thank you so much for your time and attention.