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The Dating Handbook - How To Attract The Love You Want

Originally Posted: July 26, 2007

Heather Buchanan

In a world of friends with benefits, hooking up, and poetry reduced to the text message, "U R HOT", the physical and emotional sides of love face an even greater divide. Taking time to build trust and intimacy can be a key to a relationship which lasts longer than the conquest. As even the Playboy Bunnies in "The Bunny Book: How to Walk, Talk, Tease and Please like a Playboy Bunny," confess, "No one ever says 'I wish I slept with him sooner.'"

While the thrill and excitement of someone new is undeniable, it is accompanied by feelings of vulnerability. Are you ready to expose your appendix scar, your home bikini wax gone wrong, that funny barking noise you make when...? You get the idea. Revelations are best conducted not only in dim light with a nearby sheet, pillow, or Maltese to hide flaws, but in an atmosphere of knowledge and trust.


Discussions with women about what makes a man sexy revolve not only around confidence, good looks, and generosity (both in and out of the bedroom,) but around a key word - responsibility. A total turn on is a guy who is up front about safe sex and willing to discuss it before diving in. We're living in a liberated age where even Emily Post's "Etiquette," updated by her great-granddaughter-in-law, has a whole section on protocol for STD tests and sharing results.

Smart women are also taking the lead choosing their form of protection carefully for what works best for their body chemistry. You can't pay more attention to your lip gloss than your health. Women who are in touch with their inner goddess honor their bodies and give their sweet gifts only to deserving suitors. And guys, listen up, even if you've got the body of Adonis, the wit of Shakespeare, and more money than Bill Gates, women will still shy away if you're rude to the waitress. Ladies are all about the big P - politeness. Good manners are the lucky charms of the dating world.


For men the qualities which top their lists of what they want in a woman are a good sense of humor, a non-smoker, and adventurousness. While the Barbie doll look alike with every Bergdorf blonde tress in place and flawless make up dressed in designer digs may be a female idol, it is not necessarily that of men. As one guy put it, "If they're too precise in their composition you just know they're going to be high maintenance." Men can sour on the physical perfection when she can't swim in the ocean because it will ruin her hair or frets because her expensive shoes are getting dusty at polo or can't go on a hike to catch the perfect sunset at Jessup Neck Point because her toenails are still wet from her hundred dollar pedicure. Men want a woman who will get dirty, try something new, and eat a hot fudge sundae without an anxiety attack.

The Playboy Bunnies also agree—they get the great body by working out, not by starvation. While the ultra thin young models who grace the pages of fashion magazines may look good in the clothes, they may not look very appetizing naked. As Regina Joseph says in her guide to a sexier mind and body called "The Brazilian Bikini Body Program," "This book asks you to use panache to invest in yourself as a whole person as opposed to using inhuman discipline to squeeze yourself into a microscopic bathing suit." What would the girl from Ipanema be without her curves?


Far too often one side or the other of a new romance will put on too much pressure. Happiness is in the moment and the future will figure itself out. Relationships are organic and should be a natural process where two people take the time to get to know each other. The one piece of advice I almost always give is "Relax." Remember baby steps - as in small moves forward. You don't have to decide on your children's names on the second date. Over time either you will grow closer or you will lose interest. As the Beatles say, "Let it be."

Beware of TMI - too much information. You don't need to reveal your tax problem, Candida condition, or childhood hamster/central vac horror story right away. A bit of mystery is a beautiful thing. One woman who tended towards younger guys had a false front put on her medicine chest to hide her cornucopia of anti-aging products and enough mustache removal cream to depilate a Golden Retriever. The false front just had a little hand cream and a chapstick. You also may want to consider if you have a complete pharmacy of prescription drugs lying around what this says to your potential mate. Too much mystery, however, can also be a liability. If you never see his place that might mean he's married.


Honesty is important so make sure that you're on the same page. If you're a guy who just wants to play the field, don't try to rope in the woman whose biological clock is ticking and really feels ready for marriage and children, wasting her time and her fertile years. She wants to be with a successful man but is she ready to spend nights alone when he's working late all the time? Do you both want to travel - or for that matter prefer to nest at home?

There has to be a basic compatibility along with the va va voom. One man described how his priorities shifted over time, "At first when I was really young all I cared about was a gorgeous girl but then over time I valued someone with intellect and wit and finally companionship. It's like an economic portfolio where you start with all high risk and then blend into a more balanced portfolio."


What both sides are attracted to is someone with substance who has a passion and a talent. That passion also makes a great starting point for meeting someone compatible. The summer calendar in the Hamptons is filled with numerous benefits - lovely evenings of food, wine, music, and silent auctions. They also raise money for a worthy charity or organization which is not only a starting point for a conversation, but a natural path for mutual interest. I saw one man and woman who met last weekend at the Chefs and Champagne event at Wolffer Vineyard who were both members of the James Beard Organization because they loved to cook. They went around the tent tasting various treats of the chefs and picked their favorite, setting their first date as a visit to his restaurant in East Hampton.

So whether it is nature or the environment or animals or children or theatre or gardening or music there are a plethora of events where you can find like-minded potential mates and set a date to pursue that interest. Be sure to check out the pages here at Hamptons.com which are updated each week and are filled with great ideas of where to meet people be it cultural events, sporting activities, art openings, or benefits.


And finally, I am going to sound exactly like my mother - the very best thing you can do when you're heading out and hoping to find that special person is smile. I swear to you it works every time.

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