According to the recently launched men’s dating website SocialSharkNYC, dolphins are "harmless creatures that frolic in the water. The ones the girls think are cute and cuddly but give them no daring excitement or thrill."
A Social Shark on the other hand? He's "the life of the party; the one that gets noticed right when he walks into a room. The one that leaves with the girl you’ve been thinking about all night."
Countless dating-related handbooks, guides and rule-bibles exist for women, but the male market is an oft-neglected one. So Social Shark founder Justin Gottlieb, 28, wants a bite of it.
"I have a lot of female friends and they'd tell me horrible stories about dates they went on," Gottlieb said. "I'm going out in the dating world and I’m experiencing it and having a great time." The problem, he decided, was with the guys.
Though the site bears a rather cringe-worthy motto, "Turning Wimps into Pimps," Gottlieb said it actually focuses on helping guys attract girls in whatever capacity they want: to hook up with, to date exclusively, perhaps even to marry.
Social Shark offers tips on approaching women, suggestions for date spots, advice on early relationship protocol like texting frequency, and actual in-person image consultation services. Advisers will evaluate strengths and weaknesses ($50 consultation plus about a $100 per hour for coaching).
One of four advisers on staff might eavesdrop on their client's date to tell him what he's doing wrong or take him shopping to practice conversing with women (after all, girls working retail have no choice but to talk to their customers).
Advisers also encourage men to cultivate interests outside work, like joining a sports league, taking a speed reading class or brushing up on pop culture. Wardrobe consultations are also provided.
But is there one right image that attracts women? Are jocks instructed to ditch their baseball hats, gel their hair and rock tight black t-shirts? (With a founder from New Jersey who worked in party promotion, one must ask.)
Gottlieb clarified he is most comfortable in a soft cotton tee, jeans and sneakers, and then explained the advice goes beyond clothing items. Careful how tight you tuck in that button down because it's accentuating your gut, for example, or stand out with a subtle accessory.
"I'm not telling you to put goggles on your head and a boa," he said.
The site's advisers are so-called experts in dating, men between the ages of 25 and 32 who have lived in Manhattan for at least five years.
Social Shark contains plenty of sweeping assumptions about the opposite sex: an entire blog post argues that women still like the rule of waiting three-days before hearing from a guy, and that any contact before then comes off as needy.
Other advice comes through the "She Said" page, supposedly getting into the minds of real women. So who are they?
“It's a good range,” said Gottlieb. "One of them is a 19-year-old student, one of them is an aspiring pop singer, one of them does interior design." The girls are also geographically diverse, he pointed out, coming both from Manhattan and the boroughs.
These regularly featured women comment on topics like giving out their phone numbers, first dates and booty calls. A responder named Erica wrote, "If you are going to booty call, try to disguise your booty call with a late night meet up. Either meet me out wherever I am, or pick me up from there. Chances are I will ignore you after 3am."
Another girl said first dates can be too awkward, so she'd rather meet up with her potential beau while he's out with his friends (of course, post-college, that doesn't actually qualify as a date).
The site contains general advice, like how a movie is not an ideal way to get to know someone on a first date and it's okay to approach girls in environments other than bars. It also offers its share of somewhat ridiculous suggestions, including that a guy should have three different iTunes playlists —aka (Fore)Playlists—ready at his apartment in preparation for the different types of girl he might take home.
Accuracy aside, much of the content is entertaining. On the Shark Bait page, which answers dating conundrums, someone calling himself Bondtrader88 wrote in with the following:
"I have been dating this girl who wants to wait until marriage to have sex. I told her I think she is going to die a virgin and alone because who would want to marry her under those circumstances. She now hates me. Am I a moron?"
Social Shark's answer? "Yes, you are a moron."
Having only been around for a month, it's difficult to evaluate the site's success rate. And Gottlieb is currently single. "I know the next question is why don’t I have a girlfriend," he said. "But I really don’t want one right now."