The first thing we tell people who ask us what they should be doing to find the right guy/girl is “Get a life!” What we really mean is go find your bliss NOW. Most successful professionals we meet are so wrapped up in their career that they’ve left little time to cultivate their passions. When I ask them what they do for fun, their eyes glaze over. Usually they’ll say “work out” (really?!) or go out with friends. Which is fine. But what I’m really asking is what sets you on fire? What makes your eyes dance? Your toes curl?
Being well-rounded and interesting with something other than your career to talk about is wildly attractive.
I was interviewing a new male client recently who had all of the time in the world to cultivate his talents. He was a career man who had accumulated financial wealth and little else. A one-trick pony. His topics of conversation revolved around the financial world. He lived a healthy lifestyle and took care of himself but other than that, he had very little to convey. I tried to find out how else he liked to express himself. He loved good food but got bored of going out to restaurants all the time. He had a beautiful home with a to-die-for “virgin” kitchen. After I told him that women think a man in the kitchen is sexy, his eyes widened. “Why not learn 3 dishes really well so when you invite a woman over for dinner, you can show her your confidence in the kitchen”. He was game. I also encouraged him to learn about wine. He got nervous. “Start exploring! Have fun with it. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to your taste; pick three wines that you like and learn enough about them so you can tell a story”, I suggested.
A Renaissance man in the making. Bringing more layers into a relationship makes it more interesting and exciting. These are the basics, gentlemen!
The other day I was getting feedback from two clients who just went out on a date. She was smitten; he was on the fence. He wasn’t so sure about the chemistry he felt for her and mentioned that she was rigid and somewhat flat. When I encouraged him to tell me what he liked about her, he said something interesting. Apparently when she started talking about her art and music, she became more appealing. He used words like “animated”, “more attractive” and “passionate” to describe her. Tell me more! I urged. The more positive qualities he recounted, the more convinced he became that he was too quick to judge her (that’s a whole other blog!!!) and decided to see her again. All in the name of sharing one’s passion.
Being single is a fantastic time to design the life you want or at least enjoy the freedom of exploring your own tastes.
When I was single in my 30’s, I used to think what an excellent opportunity it was for me to develop my “skills” – whether it was learning how to be a better cook, attending more art openings so I could be more well-versed in art, learning how to plant a garden or making a signature Bellini – I wanted to enter a new relationship “bearing gifts”. This mind-set not only increases your confidence level, it increases your value which means you get to choose higher-quality “fish” in the sea of potential love. Win-Win.
So...what are you bringing to the table?
Italy had just the right amount of adventure and style that I craved. A tall, single American girl living in Milan had its perks. After awhile, I got used to Italian men’s enthusiastic appreciation for women and grew to expect it. (Once when a full day elapsed and not one man flirted with me, I rushed home to look in the mirror to see what was “wrong”). Italian men’s playfulness and machismo was refreshing; women were revered for just being female and sexuality was conveyed with ease. These Romeos didn’t wait for happy hour or the alcohol to kick in before they approached a woman; they were pretty much turned on 24/7. You never knew who you’d meet when you were at the bar drinking your espresso at 8am.
Gallantry was something else I wasn’t used to but greatly appreciated.
Italian men are raised to protect and respect women so they have a natural confidence when guiding you; you’re made to feel like you’re in the best hands. They don’t care if you’re a feminist or if a chivalrous gesture could potentially offend you. I only cared that I was finally being led and not leading.
What I love most about Italian men is their sense of romance. They’ll charm and disarm you with their passionate appreciation of culture, history, art, music and food. It’s not cool or romantic to talk sports or politics with women. They’re more interested in taking you to charming osterias on the top of sacred hilltops or listening to opera singers perform in a private garden at dusk or introducing you to secret spots in the middle of an enchanting countryside where Old Italian women make fresh mozzarella cheese.
Spontaneity and imagination is the cornerstone of courtship with sensuality leading the way. An Italian man is not afraid to express himself and let a woman know how he feels about them right away. Few games are played; bold moves are made. Women are rarely in the dark, unless they want to be. They can be tricky though. Once I was invited to a dinner party at my boss’s house. When I arrived, I immediately noted the silence. Where are the others? With great nonchalance, he indicated that I must have misunderstood him (He spoke fluent English). But rarely did I miss the second-guessing and over-obsessing that infiltrated my dating world back home. No wonder American women are accused of being overly-aggressive with men: they’re trying to get an answer!
They say “Americans live to work, Europeans work to live”. This is true in all aspects of Italian life. An Italian man’s love life is almost more important than his career. A lot of his time is devoted to surprising and delighting his woman. In America, it seems that having a successful love life is secondary to having a successful career. You people get more pleasure from your job than from your woman?! my friend Franco once asked me in disbelief.
While Americans tend to define themselves by their jobs, Italians define themselves by the quality of their relationships. There’s a big emphasis on family, friends and frivolity.
By the time I met my Italian husband, I had been living in Italy for six years. On our first date, he made me cry (a good cry), on our second, he took me to the most romantic grappa bar in the city and on the third; he cooked me an amazing dish of pasta carbonara. But it wasn’t until after the first month we were together and he wanted to introduce me to his family that I knew he was The One. As we walked towards the restaurant on the beach, I could hear laughter and loud voices. He squeezed my hand. The next thing I see is a table packed with twenty Italians all getting up and moving towards me with smiles, kisses, well wishes and wine.
I finally found my dolce Home.