It's kind of cool having a life coach and dating expert as a close friend.
My friend Andrea Syrtash and I met at a digital media party a few years ago. When she told me that she worked as a dating coach, my first instinct was to smuggle her away for several hours to pick her brain.
Since that day, Andrea has helped me during my many heightened relationship moments in my life. She's always that calm voice helping me snap out of my fears. I've always said that one day she'll be the Rachael Ray of dating. She's already well on her way; Rodale just published her book, He's Just Not Your Type and That's a Good Thing.
Andrea -- who is gorgeous and smart, spent most of her adult life dating the typical man you'd bring home to your Jewish mother. Somehow though, she became coined "the runaway bride" because she couldn't bring herself to commit to these "perfect" men. One day, Andrea's future husband -- a drummer and teacher -- strolled into her life. He wasn't someone Andrea ever thought she'd end up with. But she followed her heart and went for it. They fell in love, got married and she is thrilled with her colorful life and relationship.
Coincidentally, I too started dating differently about a year or so ago. I stopped idealizing and wanting the guys every girl wanted. I became more conscious, open, and looked for diamonds in the ruff. I mean, we all know I'm not perfect. So why should my dates be?
Andrea's book is about dating the non-type. Not settling for less, but settling for what's important: The person over looks; how he treats you versus what he does for a living; how it feels to be together versus what you think your kids might look like one day. You know, the obvious stuff that sometimes escapes you when you're sitting across from each other on a date.
Here are some more good bits from Andrea's book:
Don't 'Should' Yourself to Death
Andrea felt she should be with someone more polished and sophisticated. But that was her ego talking, and her way of pleasing everyone except herself. Replace the word "should" with "want". You want to connect with someone. "Should keeps you from taking risks, connecting with your values, and following your heart," she writes.
Get Connected to Yourself
Before you find your other half, you have to get clear on your passions and values. Andrea doesn't believe you find your match when you're not looking, but rather when you're looking in the right places. Those places are in line with your deep interests. In researching ancient sources like Kabbalah and Aristotle about love, she mentions that when we're not aligned with our calling and most authentic self, then matchmaking gets derailed. She encourages women to get aligned with their passions and values before hoping to attract a suitable partner.
Change Your Attitude
In her book, Andrea mentions a friend of hers who was out with a guy on a date. Halfway through, the man excused himself to the bathroom and actually climbed out the window to escape! Andrea's friend had two choices: Laugh it off, or swear off dating. Your attitude is everything. When I started feeling more positive and realizing there's a gift in every conversation I have (even If I'm with a George Kastanza type), my romantic life started changing.
Andrea's book is a great read for those who feel stuck in a dating rut. Don't close the door on a suitable mate just because he doesn't match the story you've been rehearsing in your head. Change the way you date, and the dates around you will change.
For more stories about finding zen in the city, go to DowntownDharma.com.