There’s a scene from a movie in which a dude nicknames another character “Frances Un-dateable” and chases her all over town. He thinks it’s charming. It’s not. My girlfriends started calling me “Faran Un-dateable” after my boyfriend and I split. A year later, they still haven’t stopped.
But that’s not the worst of it. That comes a little later, when I’m introduced to the very actor in the film who calls her un-dateable! We’re at a party. His friends are trying to set us up. He’s not trying to be charming. (He is.) I would totally go out with him, but guess what? Mr. Un-dateable thinks I’m actually un-dateable. Seriously.
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So my interest is piqued when this assignment arrives: check out Sweet Pea, the new dating app that has “empathy, kindness, and respect” in its mission statement and an article on fuckboys on their blog. Idealistic and firmly rooted in reality? I’m in. Of course there’s a catch: the assignment isn’t just to check out their app—it’s also to give my dating profiles a makeover with help from a life coach. I’m skeptical. I’m annoyed. But I’m also literally “un-dateable” so what the hell, let’s go.
Step One: Commit to Doing the Work
“I pray you’re just trying to get laid,” says Lauren Handel Zander. She’s a life coach and author who’s guided everyone from rock stars to CEOs, and even mitigated corporate battles. But right now, she’s just trying to figure out if I’m a femme bot. “All your [dating app] photos are you being a party girl,” Zander says matter-of-factly. “We get it. You’re smoking hot. You’re out all night, all the time.” She stops on a photo of me in a vintage Galliano dress, submerged in a swimming pool at 4 a.m. “If all you want is a hot guy to take to bed, you’re all set,” she says. “If you’re looking for a life partner, this isn’t going to help.”
“I don’t know if I believe in life partners,” I answer. “I think people do a lot of damage thinking they have to be with someone else.”
“Well, I do believe in finding your soul mate,” Zander answers. She’s not earnest or preachy, which I appreciate. But she’s talking about scary stuff, like love and commitment, so I hold my breath as she continues. “I’ve helped people find the crazy love of their life love. But I look at it like this: Who doesn’t want a million dollars? Everyone does. Who’s willing to put in the work to make millions of dollars? Not everyone. I think the number of people willing to put in the work to find their soul mate is around the same range. And I’m mortified that people don’t do the work to find that person. Because they could.”
Step Two: Admit What You Want in Your Profile
According to Zander, “the work” involves admitting what you want and owning who you are—even on something as casual as a dating app. “You can find love on an app, absolutely. But you have to be honest.” That starts with my bio description. Right now it says, I love art supply stores and dance parties. Once Rihanna told me I was cute.
Zander instructs me to write a bit more about what I love and what I do, along with what I’m looking for in another person. “If I knew that, I’d already have it,” I snap. She’s not buying it. “When you don’t tell people who you are, it’s like you’re putting up a wall for no reason. But that’s not a wall to keep. That’s not your wailing wall, okay? There’s nothing spiritually sacred about it. It’s stucco. It’s drywall. Tear it down.”
Okay, but isn’t it desperate/psycho to say, I’m looking for someone I actually want in my life. I think I believe in love, but I also believe in myself, and right now I’m good with that. Want to prove me wrong?
“What’s desperate is lying to yourself, and to others,” Zander says. “If you look at what’s happening in our culture right now, the biggest thing I want to eradicate is lying. There shouldn’t be fake news on TV. There shouldn’t be fake news in politics. And you shouldn’t create fake news for yourself, or what you want in a partner.” Fair enough.
Step Three: Make Your Photos More Diverse
“You can have one sexy picture,” says Zander, “but I’d rather see happy pictures where you’re honestly somewhere that’s meaningful to you. And you also want to give people context—show them your community, your friends.”
I tell Zander I can’t show my friends in a dating app, because they’re all hotter than me. The dude would automatically start sweating them instead.
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“Humans are way smarter and more intuitive than you give them credit for,” Zander replies. “Your soul mate recognizes you when they see you. They’re not thinking, ‘Why isn’t she as hot as her friends?’ They’re thinking, ‘Cool, she has her own little family in New York.'”
Step Four: Learn the Four H’s (Hell Not Included)
“Every human has three voices competing for attention,” says Zander. “Their head, heart, and hoo-ha, otherwise known as the vagina. When I get a person to sort out their dating patterns, usually people get two out of the three. You hear these people saying, ‘You have to compromise.’ That’s a lie, to me. Compromising is how you don’t get your soul mate. Eighty-five percent of what you want is not good, not good enough. You should be able to find someone you like, you love, you respect, and you want to have sex with.”
Okay. But I haven’t. So…?
“So, there’s a fourth ‘H’ after head, heart, and hoo-ha,” says Zander. “The hunt. Get out there. Talk to people. Fill out your profile in an honest way. That’s part of the hunt.”
Step Five: Honesty Is Sexy
“Telling the truth is hot.” Zander says. “You can say, ‘I’m really looking for my person. They’d better be good.’ But you also have to tell the truth to yourself,” she says. “Be honest with yourself if you like someone. Be honest with yourself if you don’t. Otherwise, you’re just going to be manipulating someone else, and yourself, for a relationship you might not even want. To me, that’s desperate. Not saying, ‘I’m multi-faceted, I have a lot of parts to me, I want to be with someone who acknowledges them and I want to have fun, too.'”
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