Last week I noted that the reality show “Millionaire Matchmaker” had caught my attention. I was simultaneously captivated and repulsed by the central player in the show, matchmaker Patti Stanger. I became further captivated — and a little bit impressed — with her dating advice for men and women.
She has a general list of dos and don’ts for both men and women, wherein she talks about making contact. First, respond in kind; that is, respond to a text with a text, an email with an email, and a call with a call. In other words, don’t answer an email with a phone call. In all cases, for both men and women, she thinks 48 hours on weekdays are enough time to respond to a call and 72 hours on weekends.
That didn’t strike me as particularly useful or helpful; it sounded like more rules that only end up adding noise to the Relationship X Ray Machine.
Beyond that, she has separate lists of advice for men and for women, but they boil down to one idea: let men be men and let women be women. By that, she advises men to take the lead and women to follow. I was surprised that she supports traditional gender roles and relationships. It seemed incongruous, given her persona as a hip, modern Hollywood businesswoman.
For instance, she asks men to have a solid plan in place before asking a woman on a date. Men should decide where to have dinner, where to go afterwards and a back-up third location if things are going well.
She has two reasons for this. One, so that women see this man is fully in charge and has taken her evening into careful consideration by planning thoughtfully. Second, so the man assures himself that there wouldn’t be any embarrassing situations if he were to go to a restaurant without a reservation, for instance, and then get turned away.
I should reiterate here that Patti only deals with multi-millionaires and she expects the situations wherein the millionaire is the man to be reflective of his status. In other words, if the man is making the reservations, the restaurant better be upscale. She blatantly directs the men to “drop bank,” or spend big money, on the first date.
Other advice she has for men: When planning dates, be respectful of women’s schedules. Don’t call the day before asking for a date. She recommends to arrange a date within a week, no longer than that. Patti feels that if a woman’s schedule isn’t being taken into consideration, she could infer that he might think whatever she does on her own time just isn’t all that important. I thought that was an interesting insight on Patti’s part.
Because she wants the men to “drop bank,” she makes sure they know to tip very generously on dates. Although she doesn’t overtly state it, it’s clear why she wants the men to do that: They need to show the women they are capable of supporting them. Obviously they are capable, being millionaires, but she doesn’t want them to come across as cheap. And she knows that many, many of them are. (That only confirmed my long-standing suspicion: that the rich stay rich by being cheap).
In the cases where the woman is the millionaire, Patti still demands that the male date “drops bank.” I thought this was particularly interesting: In the cases where the man is the millionaire, the women she chooses for dates don’t have to have a minimum income. But in the reverse, the men she chooses almost always need to have a lucrative career and a solid income. This, again, shows her belief in traditional roles.
Although she advises both men and women to be polite and well-mannered (which they usually aren’t, but that’s where the drama starts, so it’s all in the name of reality TV) she emphasizes how men need to be chivalrous gentlemen. She wants to see men opening doors, helping women with coats, guiding her over a potentially tricky curb or staircase.
At the end of the date, if the man is interested, he needs to ask for a second date. She doesn’t want the men calling a few days later to ask for one. She also wants the men to try for a kiss or hug by the end, but she repeatedly emphasizes that the men need to watch for “the signal” from a woman. She didn’t describe what that signal might be, but I suppose that might be an individual matter.
For both parties, she emphasizes the importance of communication. First, keep the dialogue going as a ping-pong match instead of a debate. Another thing about the conversations, which seems fairly obvious: Under no circumstances should either party bring up past relationships. First, avoid bringing up how many past dates are in the past for a reason. It is tempting, of course, to share war stories in order to bond with each other, but there is a downside. No one wants to feel like they’re on a conveyor belt of failed dates.
Next, don’t bring it up as a point of comparison, even later on. By comparison, not meaning “I wish you were more like him/her.” More like, “Well, the reason I reacted that way was because of a past relationship…” This is particularly tricky, but she feels it helps to avoid patterns that were established in those past relationships.
Speaking of open communication without bringing up negativity, the Millionaire Matchmaker does not want the first few dates to be forums for discussion of religion or politics. As she says, “It will come later organically.” But if it is brought up too soon, it might become a deal breaker; whereas if dates give each other a chance and find the chemistry is right, it may become a much smaller concern. (This is an issue that, presumably, CatholicMatch members would disagree with, believing that some deals should be broken when significant religious differences exist.)
Speaking of deal breakers, Patti had one bit of advice I found fascinating: She asks both parties to list the biggest ones — really major non-negotiables, such as geographic area or desire for children — on a piece of paper and keep it handy for immediately after the first date. Then, review it and see if their date had any dealbreakers. She recommends if there are any, don’t consider a second date. This is not to keep people rigid and narrow-minded in their search. It is to prevent the shallow things — looks, mostly — from overriding the serious concerns. She feels this is the biggest trap people fall into. She often helps to write the list so that shallow deal breakers (looks, height, taste in music or clothes) are avoided.
As for the women, she has a long list of advice. First, don’t do any of the asking out or date planning; let the men take the lead. Don’t make the first call or the first move. At the end of a date, don’t offer an additional phone number or ask for more time with him. Don’t call him until he calls you.
Other things she advised that were practical and wise were a bit more subtle but made a big difference to the men. Because the men are expected to plan the date, it is advisable for women to ask where they’re going so they can dress appropriately. Patti wants the women showing up on time; in other words, leave plenty of time for primping before the date so it doesn’t cause lateness. Call ahead if it’s a traffic situation or something similar. Be considerate in that way. Be appreciative of his chivalrous, gentlemanly gestures and thank him. She also doesn’t want needless dating; so women should never accept a date with someone just for the sake of going out. It wastes the man’s time.
For single women, she offers one final bit of advice: If you want to meet men, go out alone. As she says, “Those who travel in packs don’t attract.” In other words, leave Girls’ Night Out for the girls only; don’t expect a single man to approach a group of women. She then gives step-by-step directions about this.
She advises women to bring a good, gender-neutral book (as a conversation starter) to a bar or restaurant that is a guy magnet: sports bars or high-end steakhouses. Choose the bar according to your interests; don’t go to a sports bar if you hate sports. Find the happy hour spots that are near office buildings if you want a businessman or near a courthouse if you want a lawyer. Most interestingly, she advises the women to tip the bartender generously and if he seems trustworthy, tell him you’re single. Bartenders often forge great friendships with the regulars. They are also good judges of character and if they like you (presumably because you tipped well) they would keep you away from the chronic alcoholics or the players.
So what say you, CatholicMatchers? Is this sage advice? Do you find it all annoying? Is Patti onto something fresh and new by staying old-fashioned? Or is she putting the Relationship X-Ray Machine into overdrive? Should we dismiss every bit of advice just because we don’t like her persona? I’d love to read your thoughts.