Dating After Divorce

This Week at Linx

Lische

As Memorial Day quickly becomes a distant memory, I hope you all had a tremendously relaxing and special holiday weekend. Perhaps some of you headed for the beach for days filled with BBQs, cold beer, sandy toes, and sun-kissed noses, while others of you hopped on a plane to see family or to hit some exotic destination. Or maybe it was good down time just chilling, while others packed in socializing, shopping, and fun brunches out with friends.

Every time I started to write a new blog entry over the weekend, I somehow get completely sidetracked by an urgent client email that required an immediate response, or a new match that I needed to make. Such are the realities of running a small niche business.

It’s been a whirlwind last few weeks at Linx as we have onboarded some truly exceptional new clients – interestingly, a heavier concentration of 45 + individuals in the last few weeks – all extremely successful in their own right, refreshingly down-to-earth, candid about what they seek in a match, and ready for love now! I look forward to doing some new blog entries in the coming weeks to announce a few of these key searches.

I have also been squeezing in some date coaching and even a wardrobe consultation, and I believe there are lessons for everyone in these sessions.

During this particular stretch, though I worked with my clients on a variety of techniques, we focused primarily on early stage dating. For one young woman in technology, I discussed the art of “Flirting 101.” My main lesson was that being too eager or overly sexy can lead a man to discount you as a potential mate and love interest, but not enough flirting can leave even the most intuitive guy confused and unclear about how to proceed. I find it very surprising that so many people see this as a black and white thing. It’s actually very gray. As a woman, you don’t have only two choices.   It’s all about subtlety – each individual has to build an awareness and confidence that allows her to almost unconsciously calibrate a situation and then react naturally in a way that smoothly and metaphorically telegraphs what she is feeling. I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, it is hardest for my clients that come from very analytical backgrounds. Tapping this art means being in touch with your softer, more emotional side and also getting experience across a wide range of interpersonal situations (whether it is at work, with friends, family, or ideally dating.)

For another client, I helped strategize about how to combat shyness. One of the hardest things about building dating confidence can be overcoming stranger anxiety…  you know, the stuff that sets in when we’re about 18 months old, and (for most of us) never really goes away?  The ultimate goal is to build enough confidence to approach strangers you find attractive AND to carry that undeniable confidence over into real life dating. I gave this client homework where her goal was to have small, simple interactions each day with people she does not find attractive, for example asking for the time, making chitchat while waiting in a grocery store line, etc. Seem counter-intuitive? Well, the stakes are low and it is a lot less pressure especially for an exercise like this that can be pretty nerve-wracking regardless of how “hot” or “not” someone is.   Start on the easier end of the spectrum, build up, and don’t immediately try to boil the ocean.

So I can sit here and preach all of this advice and speak in generalities… but I can just hear a reader saying, “that’s great but how do I actually DO this stuff and improve?”

Well, one option is to let me date coach you. LOL. And then you get a ton of individualized attention and narrowly tailored practice. Another client who is doing coaching work just sent in this feedback this morning, “all these efforts have been wonderful in putting my focus on the future, and rediscovering the happy person I am naturally. The coaching process has been very helpful to dig into what is real and make sure that my best self is visible.  It feels good to make an investment in myself.  I appreciate all your help.” It is always nice to receive emails like this where the effort and hard work clients are putting into this process are not only rewarding but they feel as if they are entering a new chapter in their lives with the gusto and confidence required.

A cheaper option to Linx coaching, and I know this may sound corny, is to watch emotional movies (they could, but need not be, romantic comedies) or to read a classic romantic novel, even if you aren’t getting a lot of practice in the real world. My husband uses, to great effect, literature and movies in his Stanford courses on entrepreneurship and leadership because those topics have so much to do with people and even fictional material like movies or books allow a whole class to experience the same people and situations with their diverse real life lenses and to have a productive discussion about all of it. I believe the same thing applies in improving in your artistic dating skills.

On a lighter note, I also did a quick wardrobe consult for one client this week. This 30-year old entrepreneur needed some nice dress shirts, a sport coat, and some pants that were alternatives to jeans. He mentioned that he had a gift certificate to Nordstrom so I headed over there and spent a hour pulling a few select items for him with the help of one of their personal shoppers. I think my client will be pleased with my picks – classic yet with a youthful modern twist- Hugo Boss, AG pants, J Brand pants, and a few dress shirts too.

Beyond all of the coaching this week, we also have screenings for new prospective clients, a couple of new client interviews, and… drumroll… a Dutch media company visiting Linx this week, flying out from the Netherlands to meet with me. Germany has always had a love affair with Linx and Silicon Valley but perhaps the Dutch are catching the virus as well. They will first interview me, and then (this is the best part) set up one of my young male clients with the host of the show – a gorgeous 24-year old who apparently is edgy, vocal, and hip! This will all air in August in a short documentary.

Have a spectacular weekend ahead!

When Harry Met Sally

Couple cuddling affectionate on the beach in winter with the sea in the background

As a professional matchmaker, I experience more than my fair share of moments of serendipity, coincidence, and bizarre irony. If only I could share the details of all the crazy stories and situations from the last 12 years of running Linx Dating…

Today, I watched a very interesting situation unfold from within my network, and see a great opportunity to illustrate two very important points about dating.

The story goes like this. A former female client of mine (let’s call her “Sally”) moved last year from the Bay Area to Boston for grad school. I had worked closely with her when she lived here and had actually matched to her someone with whom she had had a significant relationship. She arrived in Boston, single, and has been dating there with mixed success. Though I am not regularly in touch with clients who have moved, I do keep them on my radar, in my database, and in my mind, should a tailor-made opportunity arise.

Separately, my husband has a friend who recently referred a prospective male client to me who is based in Boston (let’s call him “Harry”). After corresponding with the candidate, we both realized quickly that I am probably not the best day-to-day matchmaker for him, given his plan to stay in Boston. However, I offered to do whatever I could for him with my limited Boston network, including introducing him to friends who might have tips about being single in Boston.

It then occurred to me that “Harry” and “Sally” could be a great match and beyond this should no romantic connection transpire, “Sally” could help strategize about ways to date intelligently in Boston.

I immediately reached out to “Sally” to see if she was still single – delighted to hear from me, she said that she, in fact, was still single and would be open to an introduction. I provided a very high-level overview of the potential match – basic biographical information, age, etc. She almost immediately interrupted me and said, “this guy’s name isn’t ‘Harry’, is it?” I said, “well, yes, it is Harry… wow… you know him?” She went on to say that she had had a first date with “Harry” months and months ago, had been interested and attracted to him, but had never heard from him again, then figuring that he had no further interest in her. She asked me to find out from him if she had done “something wrong” that had subsequently “turned him off.” I agreed to ping him to conjure up any intel I could.

I turned around and reached out to “Harry” and asked if he remembered “Sally,” explaining that apparently they already knew each other. “Harry” immediately remembered their date, described “Sally” to a tee, and said he had been interested in her, but had not followed up because he thought that she had no romantic interest in him. I couldn’t believe what I was reading right before my eyes!

After a few emails back and forth, both “Harry” and “Sally” were game to pick up the pieces where they left off. I proceeded then to “broker” a new meeting so that “Harry” could meet “Sally” again and now we’ll see what happens.

What lessons are here for those of you who are single and looking?

  1. COMMUNICATION, SIGNALS, AND GAMES

I live this every day through my clients. Most of you probably know that there is a whole school of dating thought out there around strategic game playing, veiled communication, pickup artist stuff, etc. At the end of the day, no one wants to be bored and find complete predictability in their romantic dating – and it can be very hard to be transparent, vulnerable or open about your feelings early on in dating because you put yourself at risk to be hurt, and you also might worry that revealing too much too soon could either scare off the other person, or make them feel it is too “easy” and not enough of a challenge.

I won’t deny that there can be truth to all of that. But you have to follow your instincts – if you are out with someone and you honestly believe that there is something there, you don’t have to let it ALL hang out, but give the other person a bone. Show them SOMETHING. Whether it’s a flirtatious comment, touch, look, or whatever… or maybe you just say something if you are comfortable. If you don’t, you run the risk of being in a situation that “Harry” and “Sally” were in. And you might never have known what could have been.   So be aware of how you are coming across, and if you are “feeling it”, don’t get too cute or play it too cool or you just might miss out on something special.

  1. THE POWER OF TRUE NETWORKS

Networking is a brutally abused term. It conjures up images of cheesy salespeople exchanging business cards over a superficial exchange of pleasantries and promises to follow up on whatever they might have been discussing.

But true networking is a long-term investment and I am reminded, on almost a daily basis, how hard anyone, whose career is based heavily on networks, has to work to expand, maintain, and nurture the network.   And I believe you have to build your network with TLC over time, with no regard as to how it might benefit you or anyone else in the future. In other words, it is often a selfless labor of love where you must enjoy the journey and know that it will bear fruit in the most unexpected ways.

The most successful real estate agents work hard over years and years to build meaningful relationships that result in repeat business and high-yield referrals. Moreover, they skillfully mine their specialized markets as arbitrageurs of even the smallest tidbits of information. And, in the process, they have hundreds of prospective deals that never happened, thousands of tidbits of advice they gave that netted them no money, and countless moments of frustration. But all of that work nets them a great reputation and plenty of wonderful deals to secure their business.

Linx Dating, in many ways, is no different. Had I not spend the last 12 years building my network this way, I would never have been in the position to allow my brain and my database to lead me to (unknowingly) reconnect “Harry” and “Sally.”

Everything else aside, it is the power of the Linx Network, that sets us apart in the matchmaking world.

Recruiting | Successful Business Woman in Silicon Valley | Media Opp

Linx has been approached by a top German TV outlet who is looking for a successful

business woman residing in Silicon Valley who would be interested in being interviewed

for a feature segment on Silicon Valley. The production crew will be visiting Silicon Valley

in early April. If you are someone who would be interested in this opportunity to chat about

being an enterprising woman in Silicon Valley and are not camera shy, please email me ASAP

amy@linxdating.com and I will put you in touch with the head of production. Please note that

you or anyone you know does NOT need to be single. You just need to be living in Silicon Valley,

run a successful business, and be up for this fun opportunity.

Something Old, Something New…

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The end of the year is just a month away, which means that we’ll soon be celebrating the beginning of 2015!  Like many of you, I’ll be entering the New Year with a number of hopes and expectations.  I’ll also be armed with a handful of resolutions that I’ve decided are critical to making the most of the 2015, and the bulk of those resolutions are related to self-improvement and finding a healthy relationship.  For those of us who are single and don’t want to be, the promise of a new relationship in the New Year is really powerful; we tend to like the idea of starting off with a clean slate, and – ideally – forgetting whatever wasn’t right about the years and relationships that came before.

Instead of hoping for a new relationship, it might actually make more sense to focus on finding a better relationship.  It can be really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a different relationship will be better by default, but that’s really not the case.  In fact, it’s important to remember that your “new” girlfriend or boyfriend is probably someone else’s old girlfriend or boyfriend, which means that he or she has been trained and programmed by the habits, expectations, and communication style of someone else.  Unless your new beau was just dumped by your identical twin – and the two of you have identical tastes and preferences – the new significant presence in your life is going to require some adjustments (for both of you) in order to make your relationship work just right.  Otherwise, we’re all stuck in a sort of “Goldilocks paradox” where we’re waiting for a complete stranger to behave and communicate in a way that’s tailor made just for us, even if we didn’t do any of the work to make that happen.  If you’re ever had clothing made to measure, you know the satisfaction of having just the right fit; you also know that getting the right fit takes time, effort, and a lot of patience.

It’s really important to keep this in mind, especially in the early stages of dating.  Amy and I often hear complaints like “he kisses me too aggressively,” or “she calls me too often,” or “he picks restaurants that don’t have anything on the menu that I like to eat.”  And people seem to think these complaints are truly valid reasons to end a relationship (or to keep one from getting off the ground).  The truth is that each of these is an opportunity for change and communication; none of these root behaviors is problematic (you want a guy to kiss you, a woman to call you, and a man to pick restaurants) but you have to communicate what does (and doesn’t) work for you.  You have to give people information if you want them to change.  If you want them to change AND stick around, then you also need to give them incentive.

A really common mistake people make when communicating their wants and wishes is to tell their dates that they’re doing something wrong.  The truth is that no adult likes being scolded, and very few behaviors are actually “wrong,” but that doesn’t stop women from saying “you kiss me the wrong way,” or “you grope me like a teenager.”  And men have no qualms about telling women they aren’t appreciative enough, that they send mixed signals, or expect too much communication too early.

When we don’t like someone’s behavior, we try to make it their problem, even if the problem is really ours.  If you want a positive outcome, you need to communicate positively by saying things like “I like it when you…” or “I’d love it if we could….”  People are generally happy to make changes that incite enthusiasm, but they’re unwilling to make those same changes when those requests are worded as criticisms or demands.  Words of encouragement and guidance lead to growth; words of criticism lead to resistance and avoidance.  If you want to establish something full of respect and love and potential, make sure you’re delivering the message you intend in the most positive and considerate way.

In fact, we just casually date coached a 55+ year old client who felt frustrated by the lack of consistent communication coming from the leading man in her life. We told her to express to him encouraging words about how much she adores his company and with that comes a desire to want to hear from him more regularly. Instead of chastising him, she used this very subtle technique that worked wonders. We spoke to her yesterday and she said “It worked! He now checks in with me more regularly and when he’s out of town, he calls me which is great!” We love seeing something like this be so very simple yet so completely effective.

With a bit of luck, the New Year will indeed bring with it a new (and better) relationship.  And as you focus on communicating with someone new, you might also want to try out a bit of that strategy with someone old – yourself.  Try not to focus on what you see as flaws and failures, and put the emphasis instead on where you can grow and improve.  We can never undo the mistakes and missteps of our past, but we can work to avoid them in the future.  And we can be more positive people as a result.  Your relationships can only be as healthy as you are, so if you’re hoping to see big changes in your life (and your love life), don’t be afraid to ask yourself how much of that change should come from within; maybe the “better relationship” you’re looking for is simply a better relationship with yourself!

eComm 101

Written by: Linx staff Michael Normangay-feature

The past week has involved a lot of conversations about how people communicate while dating, and nearly all of those conversations have been about some form of frustration with hearing – and not hearing – from a date. Amy and I have heard complaints about frequency (both too much and too little) concerns about content (both too formal and too familiar) and timing (as in “Isn’t this a little too soon?” and also “Who sends a text at that hour?”) A good friend of mine insists that if you’re seeing someone who’s really into you, there’s no wrong way or bad time to contact a love interest, but given my own recent frustrations with a Poor Communicator, I’d have to disagree. Since the object of my affection is currently bedridden on the East coast in a fin de siècle-style typhoon of influenza, salmonella, and some other viral/bacterial pestilence that is likely the result of too much time spent in airplanes and not enough time spent asleep, I’m letting him off the hook for now. But for everyone else, here’s a refresher on communicating in a mobile and hyperconnected age… sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe that as a teenager, I actually had to be in my bedroom in order for someone to call me.

Control Your Text Drive….

Text is, by far, the easiest form of communication to abuse. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most dangerous. No matter how many emoticons you throw at your date, text messages are meant to be brief, and that brevity tends to make it very hard to understand any suggestion of tone or nuance contained therein. So don’t assume any particular tone or nuance was properly conveyed. Between people who hardly know each other (in other words, with someone you’re newly dating) texts should really only be used to convey facts. You should only use a text to send an address, to let someone know you’re running late, to convey a change in plans, etc. You should use a text to tell someone you’re standing outside, to tell him you’ve claimed a table at the bar, or to let her know your flight just landed. But use text messages sparingly when dating, and only use them to convey information that cannot be misunderstood. If you absolutely must use texts to say something other than “I’m wearing a blue sweater, gray plaid pants, and Prada loafers,” limit yourself to “I had a really great time last night and I can’t wait to see you again.” A text to someone new shouldn’t include words like “sometime”, “possibly” or “maybe.” Ever.
81JPE

Know Your Audience…

Some people love attention; they crave daily texts and phone calls. Some women love it when a guy showers them with text messages, and calls them “Baby” or “Sweetie” after a first date, and some men consider any contact at all between dates to be unnecessary and superfluous… and never the twain shall meet. Most of us are right in the middle, but regardless of where we stand, we all tend to assume that our dates should feel the same way that we do; after all, how could our own stance be anything but reasonable, and assuming we are attracted to reasonable people, should they not feel exactly the same way about how to communicate? It turns that’s not always the case. i-didnt-text-you-jack-daniels-did

When I look at my own relationship, for example, I know that Mr. Poor Communicator literally buries his head in work, spends more than 100 hours a week on his company, and often falls asleep on his couch in positions that are doing permanently bad things to his neck. When we see each other, he is fully focused on being with me, and does an excellent job of blocking out the rest of the world. But when we’re not together, I become a victim of that very same focus. For him, taking the time to call or even text me is just a distraction from the work he needs to finish in order for us to actually be together in person. What he doesn’t understand (because really, when do you bring something like this up?) is that I’m an only child, and my mother used to punish me with days on end of silent treatment, so when I don’t hear from someone I care about – no matter how well I might be able to grasp the underlying intellectual rationale for that silence – I eventually start to feel like I’ve done something wrong or disappointed them. Obviously, it’s important that I figure out a way to convey to him some portion of this.

If you’re in a new relationship or feel like there’s a disconnect in the communication style in your current one, this can be a really important thing to address. And it’s really critical to focus on how you feel, rather than to try to place blame or cast yourself as a victim. For example, I can explain to my guy that “When I don’t hear from someone I care about for a long period of time, I start to worry that I have offended or disappointed that person,” or I can say, “When you ignore me, you make me feel bad about myself.” One of those is likely to elicit an empathetic response and lead to a compromise that deepens the relationship, while the other could just as easily lead to a breakup. Since I don’t want a breakup, it’s really important that I focus on my feelings and my experience and that I give him the chance to be empathetic. If you would also like a compromise and a healthy change in your relationship, then you should give your companion the chance to understand your experience, too.

If you have the opposite problem of hearing from someone too frequently, you can take the approach of saying “I really like you. In the past, I had the tendency to move way too quickly in relationships, and it’s important for me to move slowly. I’m comfortable texting a couple of times a week at this point. That obviously will change as we get to know each other better.” Too often, we tell people what’s “wrong” with their behavior instead of simply expressing to them our needs, expectations, or boundaries. The truth is that there’s usually nothing “wrong” with their behavior; but that doesn’t mean it’s right for us. So have the conversation about what works best for you. Get to know your audience; I hope to be following my own advice as soon as he regains the 9 pounds he lost last week and can actually get on a plane again.

Work on Your Timing…

With travel and time zones playing such big roles in everyone’s lives, it’s really important to pay attention to where you are on the map… and to how far away your love interest happens to be. While you may be counting the days or hours until you can see him or her again, you should also really be counting the hours (on the clock) that separate you. If you leave the country, know what time it is before you text someone; there is nothing more frustrating that getting a 4am “Just saying hey from Seoul” text message, especially if your job requires that you leave your phone on overnight because someone’s life might depend on it. Be respectful of the life and career of the person you’re dating. We all know that traveling for work brings with it a tremendous amount of loneliness and boredom, but you want to be sure that you’re met by excitement – rather than frustration – when you return. An occasional mistake is bound to happen if you’re an avid texter, but if you do regular long haul travel for work, trade in your texts for emails. But if you’re somehow restricted to your phone and you still insist on texting, you can keep yourself out of trouble by sending all of those texts to… an email address.1C6005838-rosagolijan28FA413D-7FBA-FDD4-0A61-331979C22A42.blocks_desktop_medium

With so communication tools at our disposal, it can be hard to know the right tool to use in the right way with the right man or woman, so it’s important to use the oldest tools at our disposal – our mouths and ears – and actually ask about these topics in person when we have the chance. It turns out that in a wired (and increasingly wireless) world, that we’re all wired a little bit differently, so don’t assume that you and your date are automatically going to operate on the same wavelength. Dating is about getting to know someone, and that requires communicating, so you should actually be motivated to figure out the most efficient way to do it. In fact… the sooner you figure out the best way to communicate, the sooner you can start building a real relationship.

Are You… Available?

It goes without saying that everyone who choses to meet with the Linx team has expressed interest in finding a relationship, but that doesn’t mean everyone is actually prepared to be in one.  In fact, figuring out whether or not someone is ready for a relationship can be quite complicated.  And it’s interesting to see the ways in which we all get stuck in places and patterns that keep us from moving forward with our lives.

We often talk about helping people break free from their current dating inertia; for some clients, that involves helping them learn how to date for the very first time; for others, it involves reintroducing them to the dating world after divorce; and for an unfortunate few, it can mean helping them meet incredibly trustworthy, loyal individuals after an experience with infidelity.  These are all, obviously, very big stumbling blocks when it comes to getting into a relationship and they take a lot of work to overcome.  But smaller obstacles can be just as detrimental when it comes to letting another person into your life, and we it comes to find love, many of us are more guilty of standing in our own way than we realize.

Lately, Amy and I have seen a pattern of more and more first(!) dates not even happening because of poor communication and scheduling conflicts.  This is incredibly disheartening for us because we put so much work into each match behind the scenes.  But beyond that, it’s a huge missed opportunity for everyone involved.  And it’s often the result of unreasonable expectations, inflexibility, or not being honest about the amount of time you have to pursue a relationship.

It’s sometimes the case that people honestly do not realize how busy and overcommitted they are until presented with the option of an introduction.  If these are temporary social or charitable engagements that will clear from your schedule in some reasonable amount of time as you get to know someone, don’t sweat it; most of us actually find it attractive when some has a full and active life, and even look forward to eventually being part of it.  Be upfront about your commitments – give your date a roadmap to let him or her know how quickly those obligations might clear, and dating should pretty easily fall into place from there.

If, on the other hand, you find that you really can’t plan to get together because you constantly work late, are always traveling, are on call, or don’t know your schedule, this may not be the time for you to be dating.  And you should admit that.  If work is controlling your life, don’t expect a potential date to let it control his or her life, too.  This may not be your fault, but it’s also not fair to the person attempting to date you.  Let them go for now.  With some luck, he or she will circle back when timing is better on both sides.  But if you press forward when you really don’t have the availability to build a relationship, you’ll just end up engendering hard feelings and frustration.  No one wants that.

If, however, you can’t seem to find the time to meet because you’ll only have a first date on weekends (but don’t have any free time for the next three of them), can’t go out on Thursdays (because you have your fav yoga class on Friday mornings), don’t like Monday dates (because you’re too tired after work), refuse to have a weekend breakfast date because they aren’t romantic (even though you’ll only meet on weekends and don’t have any free weekend evening for the next month) then you may be standing in your own way.  And that is your fault.
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It is really, really important to be open and honest about what you need when you start dating someone.  But it is equally important to not be totally rigid and difficult when it comes to the things you want.  You need to be home by 10pm if it’s a weeknight?  Fine.  You need to meet in the city or in Silicon Valley because you don’t have a car or don’t have a ton or time?  Perfectly understandable.  You only want Saturday night first dates scheduled six weeks in advance with regular phone calls and texts beforehand, and you expect your date to be patient, excited, and agreeable because this is what works best for your social/exercise/shopping/travel calendar?  Absolutely not.  When you’re that limiting and specific with your date, you’re not just telling him or her that you’re busy – you’re telling your date that you expect to dictate all of the terms of your relationship, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of that message.  Ever.

Being flexible isn’t just about dating someone who doesn’t look like the actor you fantasize about or the crush you had in college; it’s about stepping out of the box of your life and realizing that your future is going to look exactly like your present unless you start to make different choices.  Amy hates asking the question “Are you single?” because it’s both too vague and too specific at the same time.  She always prefers to ask people “Are you available?” because it’s important to know if they’re unattached, interested in finding commitment, and willing to do the work it takes to get there.  It’s like asking “Are you single? Are you looking for love?” and “Are you willing to invest in another person in order to find it?” all at the same time.  It’s important to be flexible in a lot of ways when you start dating someone, and that includes being flexible with your time, your attitude, your tastes, and your expectations.  In fact, flexibility is the difference between being single and being available — it’s a measure of how open you are to being surprised, and how willing you are to take a chance on trying to make something work.  It also happens to be attractive. 😉

So what about you?  Are you flexible or are you rigid?  Are you open or are you closed?  Are you just single and expecting a stranger to walk into your life, compliantly play by your rules, and make sure that you live happily ever after?  Or are you available – ready, willing, and able to meet someone else in the middle, prepared to no longer be the obstacle that stands in the way of your own success, and open to finding out what it’s like to let someone else co-star in your personal pursuit of happiness?  The question is yours to answer, but don’t forget that it’s an answer you’re constantly sharing with the world.

Text from NPR Marketplace Feature on Linx

by Shannon Service:

Online dating is a billion dollar industry, and one in three Americans met their match through websites or dating apps. But algorithms don’t always work for everyone, even in Silicon Valley.

Michael Ralston is a software designer and a client of Linx Dating, a boutique matchmaking service in Palo Alto. There’s a lot that he likes about online dating — the time to craft thoughtful responses, multitasking while chatting with someone — but he wasn’t having much luck.

So he tried Linx.

When Ralston joined the matchmaking service his wardrobe was the typical Silicon Valley uniform: jeans and T-shirts. Amy Andersen and Michael Norman of Linx dating took him shopping, got him a haircut and figured out what Michael needed to become more dateable. It is full service, top to bottom.

“Dinner reservations and recommendations, sedan bookings should they not want to drive for the date,” Andersen lists some of Linx’s many services. “Shopping for some proper hand towels, making sure the refrigerator is stocked with some decent wine.” Andersen takes clients ballroom dancing to work on rhythm and letting go.

Linx counter-intuitively brings “Fiddler on the Roof”-style matchmaking to the most connected Valley in the world, but business is booming. Andersen charges up to $100,000 for tailored matchmaking services.

Andersen hit on the idea for Linx one night during a dinner date. She is a strikingly beautiful and charming Stanford grad, yet her date kept looking over her shoulder.

“So I called him on it,” she says. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and he literally said ‘The BBD’. And I said ‘The whatah, whatah, huh?’ and he said ‘the Bigger Better Deal.’”

The “Bigger, Better Deal” is a Silicon Valley anxiety disorder in-which one can’t stop searching for the next hot start-up. Andersen realized that the sheer number of singles online creates a kind of dating BBD.

“The grass is always greener,” Andersen says, “there has to be someone else who’s just a little more interesting, or a little more of a better match.”

A third of Americans agree that online dating’s masses make it hard to pick just one. But if you do win the electronic love lottery, studies show online couples have higher satisfaction and lower divorce rates. So Linx offers a blend—a large enough pool to find deep matches, but not so many that clients get stuck in choice paralysis. Andersen also works with each client individually, zeroing in on their romantic pitfalls.

Her client Michael Ralston is smart, interesting and very sweet, but his weaknesses are confidence and real time communication with women. So Andersen gently hammers away at these challenges.

She runs Ralston through a mock version of the pre-date phone call.

“Ring,” Ralston says, holding his hand like a phone to his ear.

“Hello?,” Andersen replies.

“Hi Amy, this is Michael…. Amy from Linx gave me your number.”

“Oh hi Michael! How was your workday?”

“Um, pretty good. So…” Ralston stumbles, blushing.

“Tell me about it, tell me about your workday,” Andersen says.

Ralston gives up and breaks down laughing.

Andersen drops character and says, “What were you feeling right then when I said, ‘How was your day?’”

“I was like “Oh no!” to be honest,” Ralston says.

They practice the call several times until Ralston is able to go off script and be more spontaneous.

Life lessons, wardrobe make-overs, mock dates. All this costs Ralston over ten grand. But does he think it’s worth the price?

“I’ve always been socially awkward and I think I’m less so now,” he says. “It is expensive. But from one point of view, the answer to that question is—is it going to work?”

High-end matchmakers often say they successfully match up eighty to ninety percent of their clients. But what successful match means is harder to pin down.

Featured in: Marketplace for Monday September 29, 2014

Linx on NPR Today | Playing matchmaker in Silicon Valley

dating

Autumn is just around the corner…. are you ready to Fall in love?

September and October always usher in a very active season at Linx, and this time of year is actually great for dating in general. With summer travel over, the holidays not quite in sight, and evenings still warm, this is the perfect time to focus on your personal life! In order to reap the rewards use deserve this time of year (it is, after all, harvest season) it’s important that you do two things; be positive, and look forward. And here is a plan for doing just that.Autumn-Love

Before your next date, I’d like you to do 2 things.

1.) Make a list of all of your positive qualities. And ONLY your positive qualities. Make it a list of all of the reasons you think someone should want to date you. Yes, all of them. And write them as “I AM…” statements rather than “People think I am…” or a “Someone should like me because….”

This should just be a list of ALL of your positive qualities and attributes, even if they seem really minor or trivial to you. For example, here are a few of mine:

I am compassionate

I listen well

I make an outstanding chocolate chip cookie

I’m naturally affectionate

I have nice forearms (according to E. Jean Carroll)

I do not get morning breath

I am close to my family

I’m good with kids

I’m marriage-minded

I am loyal

I have a great circle of close friends

Note that this is just a small sample of MY list. Yours could (and should) be entirely different. And your list should be long, and exhaustive. It should a true inventory of the things you like about yourself, and absolutely know are the reasons someone else could value, respect, and love you. And once you’ve written the list, you need to read it. Out loud. Several times. You need to accept and embrace all of these things as facts about who you are, and you need to read it over and over again until you can say each of these facts out loud, and not let the little voice inside your head follow any of them with a “But….”

Once you start to accept these great things about yourself, it’s then time to face forward, and think about how you’d like to share these parts of yourself with someone else. Do this by making a list of things you either don’t do as much as you’d like, or don’t do at all, but would want to do in a relationship. For those of us who telecommute or consider ourselves homebodies, it’s really important that this be a list of things meant to take place OUTSIDE of your home. Again, here’s part of my list as an example:

I would like to hike more.

I would like to take weekend trips to Carmel.

I would like to spend more time at Ocean Beach

I would like to go to more romantic restaurants

I would like to see more concerts

I would like to have dinner with other couples

I would like to spend a few weekends in Tahoe and Palm Springs

I would like to plan some international travel

I would like to start cycling

I would like to take a couples’ massage class

I would like to go kayaking

I would like to let someone else get to know me.

This list is just as important as the first; the former is catalog of what/who we are, while the second is roadmap for what we want our lives to look like. When you make this list, you are, in many ways, describing what you want in your relationship. You are giving it shape. You are allowing yourself to visualize it. And once you can visualize it, so can the person with whom you’re on a date.

Often, people go on dates and simply describe their lives just as they are. They tell each other all about how they live as single people, they don’t talk about what they might want to be different, and they don’t allow their dates to see how he or she might fit into the picture. If you want someone in your life, you have to invite them in. You have to let them know what role they might take. And you have to give them the opportunity to be part of a negotiation around shaping a future together. So be sure to work on building self-esteem around all of your positive qualities, and invite someone you like into your life by telling him or her all about what you hope to see happen in your short- and mid-term future; if you believe in the quality of your offering and extend the invitation, how else will your date be able to R.S.V.P. for love?

If you’re ready to find your match, email us today amy@linxdating.com

Sex(y) Ed…

Written by: Linx staff member Michael Norman iStock_000042703430Small

I often get asked about what women should wear on first dates, and I really have just two words to say about that:

Be Sexy.

That’s it. Be Sexy. Despite blog posts and magazine articles to the contrary, there is no uniform for first dates. In fact, sexiness is different for every woman based on her age, her confidence, and her body type. But at any number – whether you’re counting years, reporting your dress size, or looking down at a scale – your first (and really, only goal) when dressing for a date should be achieving some degree of sexiness.

I know some of you are clenching your jaws (and possibly your pearls) when you read this. I can actually hear more than a few silent diatribes about objectification, being liked for who you are, the appeal of intelligence, self-respect, dignity, modesty, propriety, being true to yourself, and leaving something to the imagination. Those points can all be valid depending on the day, but note that I didn’t ask you to wear Lucite heels and a bandage dress borrowed from a Vegas cocktail waitress; I simply asked you to be sexy.

I know it can be harder for some of us than it is for others, so let’s examine some of the feedback clients often give me when they bristle at this suggestion. If you don’t think sexiness is appropriate for a first date, there’s a chance that one or more of these points might apply to you:

I don’t like being objectified. This isn’t about sex.

Hold up. This isn’t about sex? Are you kidding me? So you just want to make a new friend, is that it? Is that what we should tell your date? That you’re just looking for something platonic? Is that why he called you, asked you out, made dinner plans, and is going to pick up the check? Just to make a new friend? You’re right that a first date isn’t about sex, but it is about sexual attraction; that’s really the point of differentiation between a date and every other interaction in your life. If you don’t invite your date to be attracted to you, he won’t be. But hey, maybe you two can just be friends!

I don’t like dressing “that way.” I like to leave something to the imagination.

Again, I’m not telling you how to dress, but I am telling you how to feel. And so much of your mood – in all aspects of your life – can be dictated by clothing choices. Would you wear yoga pants to an important business meeting? Are you going to wear a skirt to SoulCycle? A bathing suit to a doctor’s appointment? (Actually, I did see a woman do that once. Please don’t.) If you want to be kissed, wooed, desired, wanted, you have to dress the part. Even the most conservative among you can spice things up a bit by undoing a button, letting your hair down, or adjusting a hem length. Invite the attention you want; if you don’t want a man to think about you sexually, I’m not sure why you’re going on dates in the first place.

I don’t like my body. You’re asking too much of me.

It can sometimes seem hard to accept, but we all have issues with our bodies. (Personally, I have about 56 inches of scars from 20 different surgeries, so I know of what I speak.) But if you don’t let yourself like your own body, how can you expect someone else to love it? Whether you realize it or not, you do love some parts of your physical self. If you have trouble starting at the top with a list of parts you like, go ahead and start at the bottom. List the things you dislike most and work in reverse. When you get to the top, you’ll know exactly where to focus with your clothing choices; draw attention to the parts of you that you like most (or dislike least), but always be sure to draw attention to yourself. If you don’t, you’re signaling to your date that some other woman in the room is more worthy of his gaze than you are.

I’m only interested in a guy who’s into more than just the superficial.

Yeah. We all are. Note the “more” in that statement. I get that you want him to be into your brain, but you also want him to be into your body. At least, I hope you do. It’s really enlightening to know that our clients who most often stress the importance of a physical connection are among the eldest. People who’ve had forty or fifty years of relationship experience know a lot more than the rest of us do. One of my favorite clients has often said, “There’s absolutely nothing more important than the way a man looks at me.” She’s right. So learn from your elders. (She, by the way, could teach all of us many, many things about the benefits of great tailoring and wearing slightly tight sweaters that have the perfect neckline. She’s also a successful retired attorney who can talk about almost any subject with a twinkle in her eye, a light laugh, and a smile.)

It’s 2014. The idea that guys are visual creatures seems really unevolved to me.

You’re right. It is unevolved. Because men are not particularly evolved when it comes to matter of the, uh, heart. How many generations do you think it takes to change the hardwiring of attraction? And what, exactly, would be the impetus? If anything, the practices of society – and the human body itself – adapt to feed our visually stimulated sexual appetites. You do, realize, right, that makeup is just a way to mimic the physiological signs of arousal? That every time you put on lipstick or blush or eyeliner you’re telling the men around you that you’re… interested? And your body… if you don’t want to attract the male gaze, your body is the biggest traitor of them all. More than one school of evolutionary thought proposes that enlarged female breasts (practically unheard of elsewhere in the animal kingdom) developed as a response to learning to walk upright; apparently human males need some form of cleavage to be not too far from eye level, and we don’t really care if it’s on the back or the front.

So let yourself be sexy. Admit that you’re looking for a connection that’s both physical and cerebral. Embrace the opportunity to advertise your interests. (Please, please don’t wear something that your friends called “cute.”) Learn to love the parts of your body that you already like, and to like the parts of your physique that you think you’ll never love. It’s ok to show some skin, to wear bright colors, to make choices that make it hard for a man to not look at you. It’s ok to want to be the center of attention on your date. In fact, it’s human nature. 😉 iStock_000039223286Small