Ask any woman her opinion on the state of dating in this town (or most major markets) and unless she’s a 22 year old 5’11” 110 lb runway model dating Fisher Stevens in New York, she’ll most likely scowl, roll her eyes and give you an emphatic “DISMAL” or “It’s a cesspool” or “I just returned from freezing my eggs.” Sex and the City taught us that the 20’s and 30’s can offer up the most entertaining of the wild jungle of dating on the urban island, hell, if we don’t laugh, we will cry (and we still cry, no matter what), as they say. Frankly, from my friends in LA to Boston, to Chicago to San Francisco, and more, dating … and I mean dating with the intent to find MR. / MISS RIGHT (not just right now) is about as easy as making apple pie. Following a recipe. In Japanese. If you are French. Or anyone who cannot read Japanese. Why else is the woeful world of the journey to the center of romance a zillion dollar industry? Because WE. NEED. HELP.
I admit when I was in my most recent serious relationship (which lasted over a year and just ended a few weeks ago) I felt no favor toward those who were whirling dervishes in Singledom. Mainly because I’d spent over ten years there and the icing on the cake was that my friends and even those whom I’d just met, only lamented on the sad state of men. Men by the way, shared the same feelings, they have just as much of a hard time, believe me. I listen. I would turn to my then boyfriend and say, “Oh, thank goodness we are together. I’d just HATE to be back out there again.” And then real life continued, as it were. Since the last time I had a serious boyfriend was over ten years ago, I was out of practice in figuring out how to manage being in a real relationship, the hard work one had to put into it, the recognizing of baggage that I carried and the other as well. By the time I had figured how to get back in the saddle and ride with out falling off, it was over. So now I get to return to the other side. The dark side of the moon. Now I am looking to remember just how to DATE.
Enter Jess McCann, dating coach, author of now two books, one of which is being re-relased Feb 5th with much more updated dating techniques, clients examples and stories and the other, which she is signing and promoting and selling. The first time I laid eyes on this blond, tall, slender beauty, I wasn’t totally convinced I’d be able to learn much from her. It was years ago when I was a dating queen, yes, I’d mastered the art and science of the charm, the wit, the intent and the escape, and she seemed to be too much pretty girl next door. Too sweet. Then I read her book “You Lost Him at Hello” and was like, um, what a smart woman. Good for her. As a salesperson myself, I’d appreciated her applying sales techniques into real life with people. I mean, after all, life is about relationships. Fast forward to today, or rather the other day, when I found out her new book was going to be launching, I was suddenly single and hello UNIVERSE.
So Jess and I meet for coffee at Arlington’s EuroMarket…
“I gotta tell you, I say, I wish I’d read this book before I started dating my ex- I have only read a few chapters, but my goodness, your advice and guidance (which was written in form of a “dear abby” format – the questions were one that had been asked of her 15-20 times by her clients domestically and globally) really hits home,” I tell Jess, as she sits down across from me with her coffee. This time, Jess is no longer wearing a dress with southern style blow out. Her blonde hair is slick straight, her makeup subtle, her attire stylish, yet straight forward. Her smile is genuine, her aura is pure self-aware and confident, but welcoming and comfortable. She looks me in the eye at all time. She rests her chin on her hand and leans forward a few times. She leans back and crosses her legs. Her vocabulary is extensive and her sentences clear and concise.. She is a whole new Jess McCann and I like this woman.
We chat a bit, catch up, talk about those whom we both know and their successes. Jess is married now just over a few years and I ask her about that. She tells me that when she was in her 20’s, she put her career first and enjoyed the dating scene, yet, that last step, well, it was missing. During those dating years, she wasn’t serious about getting married, but the day came when she thought, well, it’s time to take a look and really apply the dating techniques and take it to the next level.
One evening, Jess tells me, she went into Liberty Tavern around 6pm to meet some friends. She saw a gentleman and went up to him and asked to see his menu, as he stood at the bar (a Technique! Ladies, we often have to make the first move – make eye contact, ask for the time, who’s winning the game, etc.) soon, as her friends came, he became part of the conversation. He didn’t get her number, he didn’t ask her out. Her friend got his email and he was invited to a party eventually. Then … the rest is history. Well, it’s not that easy peasy of course. But, Jess says, “I knew after a week.” Huh? She laughs and says, “I’d dated a lot and gotten to know a lot of men, and I figured out exactly what I was looking for. Ironically, when I stripped away all of the superficial qualities and only honed in on the character, the connection, the integrity, the communication, he came in the package that I’d always wanted.”
They dated for a little over a year before he proposed and in less than a year, they were married. Success! A true success story. Jess tells me that what many of us while searching do, is make the mistake of not going deeper into confirming WHAT WE WANT. It isn’t enough to focus on the top three things, we need to be drill down. She mentions that in her book, there are Fatal Flaws, people whom we should stay away from. Like guy who just won’t commit.
I ask her what a dating coach really does. She tells me that her clients come to her as almost a last resort – they want to know what they are doing wrong. It is up to her expertise to diagnose. She listens, asks a lot of questions, and then identifies the issue. Her clients are found all over the world, she even Skypes with some of them or handles via email. Locally, they usually come to her home for appointments. So what are some of these problems and ill used techniques?
“An example is I have three female clients, they are each very different and each one of them only came to me because they go on a first date, and never get asked back out.” Jess says, they are all three ‘self-focused’. “One is very overly into herself and the other two, well, they are negatively self-focused. A guy can feel that aura, hear it in the conversation and run the other way.” She tells me that other problems include how to best present oneself, the lack of finesse, or wardrobe problems. “I have been known to take my clients to the mall to help them shop. I assist clients if they are doing online dating, with their profile building. I even have a camera to take a really good photo of them for the profile!”
But once her client is set for dating and have learned techniques, do they just leave her? “Actually, most of my clients go through a long process, it’s a lifestyle and many have been with me for years.” She has plenty of success stories too, which she is pleased to be able to share in her books.
If it’s lifestyle, what does she suggest to her clients as far as health? “Meditation and a gratitude journal for sure. You have to be in the right mind set if you are truly looking for the right love.” Mind-body connection is key. People in the dating world often have to overcome fear, because with fear comes bad decisions and bad habits. Frustration comes when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result (you know, always choosing “that guy”).
We discuss one of the biggies in today’s society – Texting and Facebook. “Oh, it’s a problem alright.” Jess has an entire chapter in her newest book dedicated to that. “Women fuel the texting. If you don’t want to have a purely textual relationship, be short and to the point or just tell him you don’t text. Don’t have full conversations via text.” (I AGREE!) And Facebook. Well, it can be just poisonous. “What his life was before you, shouldn’t matter on Facebook.” Before Facebook, we dated just fine, before texting, we dated and got married just fine too.
I ask about baggage, which as we (ahem) have as we (ahem) get older, the Louis Vuittons get heavier and heavier. “Get rid of of it!” Jess says emphatically. “Listen, we need to learn to let go of the past, we need to not harbor the past. There are ways for us to work through issues, to learn to forgive, to move forward and each day, you are able to let go a little bit. It’s a process, but we need to do it in order to have a healthy relationship. And Pamela, just a reminder, ‘not all men, are created equal.'”
She gives some resounding parting advice as we wrap up. “Don’t be so proud as to not ask for help. A partner makes life easier and better. If you are wondering why you are having problems finding a partner, be willing to come to the table to make changes.”
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a platform for profiling people who "make it happen" in the Capital region, reviews & topical blog posts. She launched Punch Enterprises, a connector consulting business in 2015 and Pacific Punch based in LA, in 2012. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, VA. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.