Nancy Rotenier: Why can’t people find The One?
Marni Galison: I direct clients to people I think would fit even if it isn’t a perfect match. I hate to use the real estate analogy, but you aren’t going to get the apartment by the park and the apartment with downtown edginess. People who are way over the top in what they want aren’t going to get what they are looking for. You either have to change your expectations or alter yourself to match what you are looking for.
NR: Are looks important?
MG: If you are not taking care of yourself, you are at a serious disadvantage. Harsh stuff, but it’s the reality, at least in New York. There are so many smart, attractive, AND fit women to compete with. And I’m not dealing with men who are looking for perfect. I know good men, and they’re hard to find in the city. On being in shape, just be the best you can be. On your date, you will be a more confident version of yourself.
NR: What are your first-date tips?
MG: Dating taps into insecurities and family issues, and I give clients the first-date-toolbox lecture. One small thing isn’t an issue, but several small things can be a deal breaker. Don’t talk about an ex or politics. Pop an Altoid before you walk in the door, and bring a small mirror to take one final look before arriving. Simple things can help a date run more smoothly. You have 7–10 seconds to make a first impression, and 6–8 subsequent interactions to undo it.
NR: What complaints do you hear most after dates?
MG: Women complain that men don’t know simple manners: they text after a date instead of calling, they don’t walk alongside them, they’re not holding doors open. Women are acting too needy, too available, and put themselves down too much.
NR: What’s the best first-date look?
MG: Find balance—don’t dress too conservatively or too risqué. The universal go-to outfit: if you have good legs, wear a skirt or a wrap dress; if you don’t have good legs, wear pants but only jeans if they look great. And wear a nice top. Whatever you wear, tailored, simple, and elegant is key, no big jewelry, no big bags. And consider getting your hair and makeup done.
NR: Where should you go for a first date?
MG: I normally set up brunch dates. It’s ideal, because you’re taking alcohol out of the equation, and you’re meeting in a very relaxed daytime attitude. And you can’t go somewhere with slow service—if you’re not connecting, it doesn’t work. An hour or hour-and-a-half date is good.
NR: What about ordering food?
MG: Choose something simple and make eye contact. That is more important than the food—that’s not what you’re there for.
NR: Who pays on a first date?
MG: There is no universal rule, but before they go on the date, I tell the couples I set up that the man will pay. I tell women, don’t go for your wallet, don’t do the fake pay move. After the first date, women should make gestures like paying for a cab or drinks when men pay for the rest of the meal. Guys want to see that you aren’t looking for a free ride. Men should do the majority of the inviting, and the person doing the inviting should be the one treating.
NR: Are there dating-manners deal breakers?
MG: If a guy picks a girl up at her house, he is going the extra mile, but it shouldn’t be expected. And if he picks his neighborhood for a first date without offering to pick her up, he’s self-centered. It’s a red flag—don’t go.
NR: And what about that perennial favorite—did he call?
MG: Men often err on the side of too long. You could wait a day or 2, no more. A week, and the girl has written you off.
NR: Should women follow The Rules post-first date?
MG: Have a life and be busy. Let men chase you, they like to chase a little. Men want women who have boundaries. And have open body language but don’t be needy. The principle of The Rules is good, but don’t drive yourself crazy.
NR: Should you play the field or be exclusive?
MG: Maximizing options and having certain expectations sooner as you are older is more important. And you are allowed to ask questions at a certain stage of the game. But everyone should date several people at a time. Until you have the conversation that you are exclusive, you should stand on a neutral field.
NR: How do you decide if a date is relationship material?
MG: Do you turn away the person who has everything in common except for one major thing? What is worth giving up? What do you need? What has to be there? You will know what you need and what would be nice but is not a necessity.
NR: Are men or women more tolerant?
MG: Women generally tolerate more. Men have more options, so they are quicker to rule out people. And, men tend to be more decisive than women. They are more basic, and they know what they want.
NR: What should women know about men?
MG: One, it’s really not about whether you’re a nice person or not. It’s all visual. Body language is huge. It’s attraction, and men react primally. Two, guys want to meet a woman who is cool with things. Women gain so many points by being easy-going and taking pride in their appearance.
NR: What don’t men realize about women?
MG: Women were brought up with a sense of a fairytale guy. Men should realize that chivalry goes a long way. A thoughtful card is just as nice as a big present—it’s the thought that counts. Women aren’t materialistic or demanding—they want to see that the man cares. Money isn’t enough to hold someone. And men should realize that a quick call or text to a girl they like would give them so many more options.
NR: What should everyone know about finding The One?
MG: There is no evil sex—you should just learn the tools to interact with the other sex. Some people have lost faith, but you can change your situation. The most important thing is being happy. Life is stressful, but if you can’t bring happiness into a date, you shouldn’t be going out until you can.