If anyone knows a thing or two about dating and relationships, it’s April Masini. She is a relationship expert, the author of four relationship advice books, and the founder of the AskApril relationship advice forum. On April’s free advice forum, over 20,000 questions have been asked and answered by nearly 200,000 members. April has over 1.4 million Twitter followers, and more than 620,000 Facebook fans. Below is our exclusive interview with one of america’s leading relationship experts:
What prompted you to start your free relationship advice forum, AskApril.com?
Back in 2003 I was asked to teach a dating class for men in Los Angeles. I was shocked to see that it was standing room only, and it was a big hit. It ended up being the catalyst for the relationship advice book I wrote for men, Date Out of Your League, and I was prompted by lots of people to do the same thing I’d done for men, for women, which is why I wrote Think & Date Like A Man, two years later. The website seemed like a natural progression, and it’s been so dynamic that I’ve kept it going — because I get so many questions, so much press and so much overall good response.
What are some of the most common modern dating problems discussed on your forum?
The more modern dating problems have a lot to do with technology. Long distance relationships are more prevalent than ever because the spectrum of dating sites have made it extremely easy to find someone to talk to and romance no matter what time of day it is in any given part of the world. Ironically, there are those who find love online, and never meet. This creates a special set of problems, that’s related to traditional long distance dating problems where you see each other once a month or once a year for an intense week or two, and then the relationship is all about connecting through technology. Those intense bursts of togetherness can make you think you know someone well enough to marry (or even continue dating), but the reality of day to day is often very different.
Another modern problem is dating single parents who often have kids from one, two and three prior relationships. This means many relationships for you, as a potential date — you have a relationship with your date, his other kids, his or her kids’ other parents, and their significant others, spouses, etc. It creates layers of relationships and layers of challenges.
What advice could you offer to millennials navigating the dating world and having a tough time standing out?
Get offline, and meet people in your day to day life, who might be great dates. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s not where you should live, and it’s not the only way you should find, meet and conduct dates. Most millennials are so used to conducting life by technology, that they forget — or worse, never learn — how to flirt in real life, without emojis and emoticons.
Smile, flirt and make small talk with 20 strangers every day. This is going to expand your real life dating base and give you practice interacting with people in real life. It’s a great way to practice socializing, flirting, getting to know people and practicing the art of conversation (yes, it’s almost lost, but not quite….).
Don’t have sex with a date too quickly. You’ll blend in with all the other hook ups. If you’re a guy, look for someone who’s interesting enough to give chase. And if you’re a woman, be the one who gives a guy chase. You’ll be letting him feel good about the win if he gets that far! And you’ll distinguish yourself from countless, nameless, boozy one nighters.
What is your idea of a SuperDate?
An awesome SuperDate would be a romantic dinner at Keens Steakhouse in NYC for prime porterhouse steak — yes, I eat meat! — followed by a Producer’s Guild screening of an upcoming movie, with a question an answer session following — usually with the director of the film. Afterwards, we’d have dessert at Serendipity where we’d forgo the frozen hot chocolate and instead, split the “Big Apple” pie and ice cream sundae for fun!
Do you think the paradox of choice is causing both men and women to treat their dating prospects badly?
Dating is dictated by filters! Because so much of dating is done on the internet, filters that hone in on a type, are crucial to limiting your numbers of available dates from millions to hundreds! In fact, if you didn’t use the filters, or just used a couple and not a dozen, you’d have enough first dates for the rest of your life. And while this may seem, at first, glance, like a remarkable opportunity, it’s not. It’s dating purgatory. Most people — even those who start out thinking it’s awesome to have so many potential dates….. quickly realize the downside. Sometimes more is not more. It’s less. As soon as we’re more clear on what we’re looking for and fine-tune our filters, the paradox of choice becomes less of an issue. That’s how we get filter reliant – to weed out those we think aren’t appropriate.
I’m a big fan of knowing yourself, and knowing what you want, but a lot of times, the filters we automatically use — online, or in real life — aren’t relevant, or they’re dated, or they’re really filters someone else told us about. For instance, dating outside your own race or religion is a way to open up your dating pool — and if you’ve always just assumed you want to be with someone of a certain race or religion, ask yourself again if this still holds true. Same goes for education level, income level, job and lifestyle. Once you rethink your filters, you may find success in dating that you hadn’t prior.
You’ve been with the same man for 11 years. How do you continue to keep romance on the table?
Because of what I do, I’m really aware of how many relationships fail because romance isn’t prioritized. When you’ve been with someone for a long time, you’ve got a lot of familiarity between you, and that’s not necessarily the same thing as intimacy. When you keep up the car payments and the mortgage payments and you feed the dog and you go to work and do your job, you’ve crossed a lot of T’s and dotted a lot of I’s but that’s not what holds a healthy, happy relationship together. Making each other a priority and putting romance high on the list that includes rotating your tires on your car, is crucial.
It comes down to really simple things, like writing each other love letters and sending little presents when they’re not expected, that makes a difference. Not just “catching” a movie and dinner on the weekend, but really trying to make a date special, and coming up with fresh ideas that are not just stimulating, but that keep us interested in life, and life together. And then of course, replenishing your lingerie drawer every three months doesn’t hurt!