Sarah Showfety Interview – Roadmap To Get Off The Dating Treadmill
“Roadmap to Get Off the Dating Treadmill”
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Sarah Showfety
Sarah Showfety is a New York-based author, transformational life coach and speaker. Her debut memoir, Dating by the Books: One Blundering Singleton’s Search for Love in the Self-Help Aisle, chronicles her misadventures taking the advice of a different dating guidebook each month in a quest to find love.
(00:47): Hello everyone and welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. We and our guests discuss relationships and health and wellness, each of which contributes to meaningful and fulfilling lives.
This is Jasbina, your host. I’m a former practicing lawyer and the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.
During today’s show, we’ll be discussing Sarah’s memoir, Dating by the Books: One Blundering Singleton’s Search for Love in the Self-Help Aisle wherein Sarah chronicles the time she spent following the advice of various dating guides to see if she can find love after six years of swinging and missing on the New York singles scene. Welcome, Sarah.
(1:55): Thank you so much for having me, Jasbina. It’s great to be here.
(2:08): I had been dating for a long time. It felt like forever. I was coming up with the same results. I was having a lot of shorter term relationships. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall with the whole dating thing. I was really looking for a long-term committed relationship and marriage. On my 33rd birthday, I realized that it was my ninth birthday without a boyfriend.
I had boyfriends in between but never actually on my birthday. I made a resolution shortly after that, that next year would be different. I embarked on a mission to find out what I was doing wrong, how I could fix it and how I could find someone who could be a long-term partner.
I gave myself a year to do it. The plan that I devised was that I would start reading these different dating and relationship advice guides and take that advice. I had tried a lot of other stuff, like therapy, coaching, blind dates, online dates and the whole shebang. None of it had really worked yet. I got really committed to change what was going on and find a partner.
(3:48): You mentioned how you read different books. You were striving for a book a month. Is that right?
(4:00): Yes. That was the plan. It didn’t always go exactly according to plan but that is the structure that I was following.
(4:09): Given all the books you read, were there any common views expressed by a significant majority of the dating self-help guides? If so, what are the top ones that you found expressed over and over again by the guides?
(4:31): Absolutely. There were common themes. The number one thing is to love yourself. It sounds very basic and cliché but that’s really what needs to come first. Then there were all sorts of different tips and techniques. A lot of the books said to keep a first date short. You don’t want to go on one of these marathon four-hour dates when you first meet someone. Both people are nervous.
You want to keep it short, ask a lot of questions and get a lot of information. Don’t reveal too much too soon. This is not the time to talk about your sister’s death, your divorce or anything that’s going on for you legally or health-wise. They all said to be sure to keep it fun and light and avoid heavier topics such as exes, politics, religion or anything that depresses you. There were a lot of rules on using the phone and texting, because that’s so much of how people date in this day and age. The books were primarily geared towards women. I can only speak for what they were saying from my perspective as a reader.
They were saying things like, “You don’t have to return every phone call, but don’t keep a guy waiting for days and days.” You’re striking that balance between being enthusiastic and interested but not so overly eager. That was another key point. I think a lot of women have this notion, myself included before I embarked on this project, that men will just come after you.
He’ll see you from across the room or across the produce aisle. He’ll be so moved, he will come and talk to you. Sometimes that happens. A lot of the books said to start being responsible for what you want to create. Go and talk to that guy or smile. They really encouraged women not to be passive. You don’t want to be overly aggressive but don’t sit back and wait for the man of your dreams to be deposited on your doorstep.
It was a lot about body language and how you can draw attention to yourself in a way that a man has a reason to come and talk to you. It’s really about being an active participant in the dating and mating game rather than waiting, which is how a lot of women have been taught to go about courtship. That’s really changed.
(7:44): I think it’s empowering to know that there are things you can do to be more approachable and to grease the wheel for a guy to approach you. I think women sometimes feel that it’s the guy’s job to do that. As women, we might not realize how vulnerable that makes guys. Anything to ease that for guys enhances your chances of the guys you are interested in coming and approaching you.
Given the books that you read, are there any polar opposite perspectives or really differing perspectives expressed in some of the different guides by the different experts and authors?
(8:45): For the most part, the books have a lot of common themes. There was one I read called If the Buddha Dated and that one was different. That one was really about bringing a spiritual consciousness to dating and relationships. As you can imagine, that is very different from someone who is giving you a roster of advice. That one was very clear that it did not have specific rules for men and women.
It was more about being awake, confronting your fears and peeling off the masks of yourself so that you can have an authentic relationship. That’s very different from what the prototypical classic dating book author is going to tell you. The dating books usually invite you to manage how people are going to perceive you as well as manage the things that you say.
A lot of the books talk about how it’s almost like a job interview when you’re going on your first date. They don’t explicitly say this. You don’t want to give away the farm. You want to say enough. You want to be pleasant. You want it to be short and sweet. That’s very different from, if you’re dating on the spiritual path, that’s all about authenticity. It’s a very different message.
(10:52): That’s interesting. You said that the majority of the dating books mentioned self-love being a great starting point for that search for a life partner. It seems like If the Buddha Dated gives some tools to arrive at self-love. Is that right?
(11:30): Yes, it did. I don’t remember exactly because it’s been a while since I read it. They had exercises about making peace with your past. A lot of the books had stuff like that. It was just couched in different terms. For example, Patti Stanger the Millionaire Matchmaker, who is about as far as you can get from a Buddhist would say stuff like, “Go through your past five exes and figure out what you learned, what you liked about them and what you didn’t like.”
The Buddhist book dealt with a similar thing, but much deeper and it goes back much farther. It’s about making peace with all of your past, your parents and various sources of anger or grief that you may be holding onto from your childhood. It was a lot more comprehensive than some of the other dating books that I read.
(12:44): Sarah, your great sense of humor comes through in your book loud and clear. I’d love for you to share with our listeners one or two of your funniest or craziest dating stories during this year-long journey or from the years leading up to your resolution.
(13:16): This falls in nicely with one of the main tenets of the book, which is not to spend a lot of time on the phone with someone who you’ve just started dating. One of the main characters in the book, I have what I call a phone relationship with him. It’s not actually a relationship because we barely ever see each other. We live four or five blocks from each other in the same neighborhood, yet we just keep talking on the phone for hours and hours.
I went out with him on New Year’s Eve. For the whole month of January, I was sick and he was sick. We just keep talking on the phone. Patti Stanger has this line where she says, “Women fall in love between their ears. Men fall in love between their legs.” I don’t want to botch the expression, and I might have. When you spend a lot of time talking with someone, you form what feels like an emotional bond.
It brought me back to being 13 years old and spending all this time on the phone with my first crush because we couldn’t actually go out. It set up this really weird, awkward thing. I thought we were much farther along in a “relationship” than we really were. When he started to get dodgy and pull away, I thought, “Whoa, what is happening here?” That’s a cautionary tale.
Be cautious about spending a lot of time on the phone. Just go and have dates. If a guy is spending a lot of time on the phone with you, there’s something going on there. It could be that maybe he’s seeing other people. It could be that he has a barrier to intimacy and this helps him keep that in place. It’s suspicious. Don’t do what I did and spend a month on the phone with someone and think that you’re headed somewhere, only to find out that you’re not.
(16:03): I think that’s a really compelling insight, especially in the world of online dating. Sometimes your first interaction might be via phone. Since we have a nationwide practice and operate with a niche clientele of South Asians, we are making introductions for people in different cities all the time. I always suggest meeting sooner rather than later, even under those circumstances. Like you said, you can easily develop an emotional attachment in a phone relationship. I think that is really compelling.
Of all of the dating self-help guides that you’ve read, which one or ones resonated the most with you and why do you think that is?
(17:05): In a way, I almost fell in love with each guide, with a few exceptions. I love the first one I read. It’s called You Lost Him at Hello. That one was coming at dating using sales techniques, which I thought was so interesting. It was about attracting attention to your product by wearing eye-catching accessories. It was all about ice breakers, qualifying the buyer and closing the sale. It was really neat. I have a special place for that one because it was the first one that I read. It was written by a woman in her early thirties who I could really relate to.
There was one written by a guy named Steve Santagati that’s called The Manual. I love that as well. I read that about halfway through. That was such a refreshing change because it was written by a man. I really felt like I was getting the inside scoop, behind the scenes, inside of a guy’s brain perspective that I was partially getting from the women, because they’re very savvy, but it was missing that extra bump in knowledge from simply being a man.
Some of them, interestingly, scared me more than helped me. There was one with the frightening title Why He Didn’t Call You Back. It’s still a great book. I don’t mean to disparage the book in any way. It was still helpful. Rachel Greenwald interviewed 1,000 men over the course of five or ten years and found out the actual reasons why men didn’t call women back. It was scary to hear in their own words how small the reasons were why they weren’t calling women back.
There is the Dr. Phil book, Love Smart. I wasn’t so into that one. I would say that Patti Stanger stands out because I find her hilarious. Diana Kirschner wrote Love in 90 Days. I actually met her. She had a big influence and lots of really positive, helpful things to say to me in person that really helped me. Those are my favorites.
(20:01): You mentioned The Manual by Steve Santagati. You said you felt you were getting into the guy’s brain. Are there any particular insights that you want to share with our female listeners in terms of getting inside the guy’s brain? Did you have any “aha” moments from that book?
(20:29): He said a couple of interesting things that other books didn’t say. He had this technique called “Be aggressive, then back away.” That would be a woman going up to a man and saying something really flirty and almost “aggressive” like, “You’re cute. Here’s my number.” And then you walk away. She’s not hanging around for a conversation. She’s just making her presence known and then leaving.
He said that was one of the biggest turn-ons that he’d ever had. That woman was really confident. He also said that it was important to change up your communication pattern with a guy. Always keep him guessing. Don’t always use the phone. If he calls you, text him back. If he emails you, call him. Change it up to keep him on his toes. A lot of it was about adapting to a guy’s need for excitement, variety and to feel like he doesn’t have you yet.
(21:55): There is that idea of walking up to a guy, saying something and then walking away. That’s almost the ultimate of what we were initially talking about in terms of not waiting around or waiting to be swept off your feet from across the room. You’re giving a guy some indication that you would welcome him engaging you. It strikes me as the ultimate of that in a cool way.
(22:28): Yes. There was something that he said that some of the female authors also said. Sherry Argov wrote Why Men Love Bitches. She said it as well. Guys actually want you to give them a little shit. They don’t want someone who is passive. This isn’t to say that they want someone who is argumentative.
A guy can actually be turned on by a woman who is really sure of herself, really stands her ground, teases him and gives him a little shit about maybe his waistline. She teases him in some way. That is actually appealing to guys. What guys don’t want is a woman who is just going to lie down, be available whenever and take anything that he dishes out but not give it back.
(23:48): That’s coming back to confidence, being self-assured and loving yourself. It’s interesting how it all does come back to that. I know I’m putting you on the spot.
I couldn’t help notice the many references you have to Indians in your book. In some ways, it’s not surprising, given that you’re based in New York City. There are so many Indians and South Asians there. I thought this would be a great opportunity for our listeners. Many of them are South Asian. I’d like them to hear your unedited, unbiased impression based on your personal experiences dating or observing South Asians in the dating world.
(24:44): I don’t have a lot of experience dating Indians. I’ve always found them really beautiful, both the men and the women. I’m fair skinned, blonde hair with green eyes. I find them visually appealing. The color is gorgeous. I just find Indians gorgeous. I went out on one date with an Indian guy in the book. I don’t have a ton of insight on what they’re like to date.
Almost all of the Indians that I’ve ever come in contact with exude a brightness of spirit that’s noticeable and remarkable. I had a few Indian roommates in college. I find them very vibrant and fun-loving. They are usually very well educated because I know that’s important within the community. There were definitely some moments where I thought, “I should just find myself a beautiful, brilliant Indian statistician.”
(26:22): I had to ask that question. Sarah, it’s been such a pleasure. I appreciate you sharing your insights with us. They’ve been really interesting. I’m wondering if there is any last thought or take-home message that you’d like to leave our listeners with.
(26:37): What it really comes down to is that it’s not all about all of these tips and techniques. There are some things that you can do to shift how you’re being in the dating world but, first and foremost, it’s about becoming aware of how you’re sabotaging yourself. You need to become responsible for those patterns and habits and then change them so that you don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
I got all this advice, but I’m convinced that’s not really what made the difference for me. What really made the difference for me was becoming reacquainted with my value so that I would no longer tolerate some of the things that I was tolerating in dating. That is when I started really getting in touch with my own value, my joy, my well-being and things that were important to me. I actually took my focus off finding someone. That’s when I met my fiancée.
(27:52): What a great way to end this. Congratulations. You were getting in touch with your value. Would you like to share your website with our listeners in case they’d like to reach out to you? What’s the best way for them to do that?
(28:31): That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us today. It’s really been a pleasure.
(28:36): Thank you so much, Jasbina. I had fun. Thanks for the opportunity.
(28:40): In case you joined us late or would like to share this show with people in your life, I’d like to remind you that today’s radio show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate you hanging out with us. Do email me with topics you’d like discussed in future shows. Make sure to join us for next month’s show. Take care, everyone.
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