All The Dating Advice You’ll Need From Five (Very) Alternative Dating Gurus
The heyday of Neil Strauss and The Game is long gone (he’s now married, and faithful, with a kid), the PUA movement is looked at by most as majorly cringe-worthy, and seduction is no longer seen as a viable day job. So who do you turn to when you need a little dating advice these days? A different kind of pick-up artist.
We looked to some standout people in the fields of comedy, psychology and even a voice expert for solid dating advice you can count on. Meet the new, alternative dating gurus. No negging required.
Catherine Hakim, sociologist
Who’s that? Hakim is a British social scientist based at the Institute for the Study of Civil Society. Which is a thing. She is also the author of a book called Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom
What’s her advice? If you’re not seen as attractive, there are ways to change that. Hakim says that everyone’s perceived attractiveness comes down to something called erotic capital, a collection of attributes that, when taken together, form a powerful personal asset that’s essential to our success in and out of the bedroom. The more of each element of erotic capital you possess, the higher your overall erotic net worth.
As Hakim describes in her book, “Erotic capital combines six elements of physical and social attractiveness: beauty, sex appeal, fitness and liveliness, social skills, sexuality, and skills of self-presentation. These are typically inextricably linked in the real world, even if all available research seeks to tease out the separate strands in order to measure their independent effects. Appearance is the easiest to capture, as everyone sees you. Sexuality only becomes important in adult private life, although it may possibly promote confidence with colleagues at work. The five main components shape the person you are from the day you are born, and the way you are perceived by everyone around you.”
The point, then, is to learn to exploit the attributes you can do something about, in order to increase your net erotic capital. If you don’t have the physical appearance you’d like, or you’re not getting the responses you’d like from how you look, you can change that by spending more time and putting more importance on appearance, for example. Savile Row exists for a reason.
Aziz Ansari, comedian
Who’s that? Yeah, the guy from Master of None and Parks and Recreation. As well as being professionally hysterical, Ansari co-wrote a book delving into the mysteries of love and dating called Modern Romance.
What’s his advice? Quit swiping left on autopilot, because most of the time we don’t actually know what we want in a partner. There are studies that say we have no idea what will really make us happy (we prioritise more money over relationship quality, for example, when research shows it’s actually flipped). And it’s the same with attraction.
According to an interview with Vanity Fair: “When Aziz was writing stand-up about online dating, he experimented with filling out the forms of dummy accounts on several dating sites. The person he truthfully described he wanted to find ‘was a little younger than me, small, with dark hair.’ But the woman he’s been dating for the past two years and is now happily living with in Los Angeles is a little older, taller, and blonde.”
Additionally, Match.com’s own research algorithm confirms the surprising discovery that the partner people say they want online often doesn’t match up to the one they’re actually interested in. The key then, seems to be to stop being so hard on ourselves and others.
In his book, Ansari points out that most people stink at online dating, which he likens to “a second job that requires knowledge and skills that very few of us have”. Sometimes, maybe it’s best to just give people a chance – including ourselves. Thanks for widening our options, Aziz.
Alain de Botton, philosopher
Who’s that? A prolific author, presenter and philosopher, de Botton has written extensively about happiness and has explored modern relationships in his fiction work, including Essays in Love.
What’s his advice? Looking for that perfect woman? The “cool girl” (Gone Girl reference) who will down pints and talk dirty and be your shoulder to cry on when you need it? Well, she doesn’t exist.
The good news? Someone slightly crazy but still very loveable probably does.
“A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities,” de Botton told us in a recent interview promoting his new book The Course Of Love.
No one’s perfect. The key is finding someone who’s the same amount of crazy as you. Good luck, psycho.
Jeremy Fisher, voice expert and musician
Who’s that? Fisher is prize-winning musician and co-author of the book This Is A Voice, published by the Wellcome Collection
What’s his advice? First date? Sweaty palms? Chances are your voice is about to give you away. “A tight voice sounds strained, emotional and nervous,” says Fisher. And we all know that’s never attractive.
“By doing this 2-minute exercise you can train your voice to hold this open sound whenever you need it. You’ll sound warmer, more inviting and more personal,” he says.
Before a date, make sure you open your throat by opening your vocal chords. Do this by whispering the phrase “Harry Potter” (that’s from Jeremy, not us) very quietly, then whisper it loudly, making it as tight and evil as you can. You should feel your throat tighten and narrow, and hear the turbulence as your vocal chords squeeze inwards in your neck.
Now, to widen them, repeat the phrase completely silently. Air will be coming out of your mouth but you shouldn’t be able to hear it at all. Put your hands over your ears to check if you can hear anything. If you are “whispering” completely silently and your airflow is still moving, you have succeeded in opening your vocal chords. Now go get ‘er.
David P. Barash, psychologist
Who’s that? A psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, whose new book Out of Eden tackles the ever-tricky subject of monogamy.
What’s his advice? According to Barash, the simple truth (and in many ways “it’s complicated” truth) is that monogamy can be more of a societal pressure than a biological inclination. So, if you’re dating someone and still have the urge to be unfaithful, know that there’s nothing wrong with you – it’s absolutely normal.
“Monogamy isn’t natural, so make sure to talk to your partner about expectations long-term. The reality, however, is that no one is cut out for monogamy – being tempted or turned on simply shows that you’re a healthy mammal. Congratulations! And ditto for your partner. The next question is what are you going to do about it?” Barash told AskMen in an interview.
The dating game is full of people holding off “getting serious” for want of possibly better options. The best thing to do might be to give monogamy a real go, and just realise it’s human nature to be turned on by other people. Although if the desire to bang people other than the person you’re dating is consistently stronger than wanting to bang the person you’re with, you should probably go do that.