If you feel like you keep striking out in love, you’re not alone. Luckily, we here at The Dime have found someone who can help: Colorado-based dating coach Devon Kerns. Devon brings over a decade’s worth of experience to the table, taking a fresh approach to online dating that’s less “self-help” geared, and more focused on empowering singles to develop emotional awareness and intelligence.
We recently spoke with Devon, and were taken aback by his insight into navigating modern romance and helping each of us live our best dating life. He answered all of our hard questions, and imparted some great pearls of wisdom. The bottom line? Don’t give up hope!
The Dime: With all of the apps around (Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel…the list goes on), our friends keep complaining that while they’re constantly swiping, they’re have a hard time making real connections and sustaining interest. Any advice?
Devon: Online dating needs to not be called “dating” but instead “connecting.” We have to get over the idea that it’s not about physical attraction, because we all know that it is. Visual attraction comes FIRST, but then you have to ask yourself in regards to your own profile or the profile of the person you’re interested in, “Do I provide value and humor? Do they?” and get to the offline meeting as quickly as possible. It’s important to see if there is an actual connection in person. But, you’re never going to get that chance if you don’t allow yourself to stand out online. I know that swiping happens, but we have to remember that this is ultimately natural selection, and as such, has been around way longer than dating apps. It still happens all the time in bars—our brains automatically swipe right or left on a potential match. We need to get over the idea that we’ve never had such an abundance of potential matches; it’s not the perceived overabundance, it’s that we’re failing to communicate our individual value. If you’re not bringing any value to stand out and get that potential match to only think about you, then you’re worrying about the wrong thing. And as you’re worrying, he or she is already swiping right on the next person. The net-net: Give me a reason to not swipe again and I won’t.
The Dime: If you’re a guy, can you still date if you're short on cash or you can’t front the bill? Any tricks on how to conquer this expectation?
Devon: Money and dating and money and love are not correlated; chemistry, biology, partnerships, and dating DO NOT require dollars. That is a misguided representation of our media. At the end of the day, men, simply put, want more than anything to be providers. We want to feel that we’re able to take her out and impress her with an experience.
This “provider concept” is a factor of our brains. Ladies can say that men and women are equal—that’s fine. But understand that we as men don’t work the same way from a biological perspective. We’re wired differently. A man feels like less of a man when he can’t provide for a lady that he’s interested in. It doesn’t matter how advanced we get as a society (and I would claim that aside from technology, we’re not that advanced); we have fundamental human needs. Women need trust and security in order to be vulnerable. Men on the other hand, have a tendency to want to jump headfirst into the pursuit of a woman. We see someone we’re interested in, and we’re immediately all in. But, the problem is that we do the wrong thing— we flex muscles, or, in many cases, the size of our wallet. We think if we can’t flex—that is, pay for her—that we’re less of a provider. Therefore, if we can’t pay, we can’t date. But here’s the ticker: we can. I’ve found that women want a guy with a plan; the plan doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to be thoughtful. It could be grabbing a coffee, going on a hike, taking a walk through the park. You can spend as little as $5 to provide a sense of trust and security, and show a woman that you’re interested in and worthy of being her guy.
The #1 dating-related frustration that I hear from women, regardless of age, is that men don’t have a plan. It’s an irritation for 90% of women. If you as a man need a low-budget date idea, here’s what I recommend you say: “I have a plan for us on Thursday. It’ll be a little chilly, so wear jeans and pack a jacket.” She doesn’t need to know anything else about the date—she just wants to know that you’ve thought about it.
The Dime: If you could give millennials looking for love in 2017 three key pieces of advice, what would they be?
- Establish your values and standards and live by them. Ask yourself: What do I stand for in this world? What is my purpose and mission? You’re constantly changing, and learning, and growing, so don’t let yourself be haunted by this. Just figure out your value and that which you bring to the table and stand for right now. Take some time to question what you want that your gut instinct needs met, and more importantly, if you’re in alignment with that. If you’re living in alignment outside of your character, you’re going to feel powerful and strong, but you won’t attract the right person. So, take the time to explore when you feel the most YOU, and know that those moments will lead you to experience vulnerability—and inevitably open up the door for better communication. Decide if you’re living true to what makes you feel empowered; only you can truly know when you’re in and out of that zone, but I guarantee that you’ve experienced it. Figure out what you care about and communicate that. I always try to follow the mantra of going deeper with fewer. In other words, it’s not about the number of people I know or who know me; it’s about turning off the technology, and listening to what others need to love and be loved. Regardless of the outcome, express your feelings first, and then take care to understand how you can best serve, help, or love others.
- Be authentic. I’d add, though, to be authentically true to the right moment. I think we have a tendency to lie and cover up for this, and show instead the side of ourselves that we think is most attractive. We might have an authentic “work” or “going out” version of ourselves, but neither is the same as the one we exude while on a date—for better or for worse. Take some time to figure out how to be authentically YOU in different situations and moments. Discover your authentic self in terms of what you bring to the table—and don’t shy away from it.
- Embrace your crazy. Each of us has a different story, but our human expression and dynamic/needs are the same. Yet unfortunately, we’re programmed to feel we need to be something that we’re not—and that something is often in direct conflict with who we truly are. Take the time to have an introspective conversation with yourself. Ask yourself, for example, “Why didn’t I talk to that girl? If I’m afraid of rejection, thanks for the protection, Brain, but let it go. I know you were scared, but it’s going to be ok. She isn’t going to reject you, and if she does, you, the inner ME, will be fine.” We all know that when we’re pursuing others, that self-talk happens rapidly. So, take a moment to recognize and accept that neurotic part of yourself. That part of your brain that’s telling you NOT to go for it and talk to her? Question it. Remember that she is just another human being; no one cares if she doesn’t want to say “hi” back. The only way to release that expectation is to embrace who you are—“psycho” brain and all—and then put the negative self-talk to rest.
Do you agree with Devon? Why and why not? Do you have any dating tips of your own you wish to share?