Matthew Hussey might be young, but he's not inexperienced: The dating expert has helped women as old as 83 find love. Hussey, who is a regular on "The Today Show: Kathie Lee and Hoda," wrote the New York Times bestseller "Get the Guy" and hosts seminars and retreats for women looking for love. We caught up with Hussey after his "Get the Guy: Live" seminar in New York in April.
I was at your seminar and one woman challenged some of your ideas and your other fans got really upset and booed her. Why do you think your followers are so protective of you?
There’s a special kind of relationship that happens, especially when you’re on YouTube posting videos every week. People feel part of your life and you’re part of their life. When you’re building that audience online, it’s a community of people and you feel like they’re growing with you and that creates a bond. It’s something special. They don’t need to be quite so defensive, though.
You’re very young – you’re only 27. How did you become so influential at such a young age?
I started out teaching guys. I was only 17, working with people one-to-one and it was because I loved the material. I was just interested in people, psychology and body language communications.
A lot of guys asked me about their love lives even though I was talking about confidence. I led seminars for guys and started small and ended up hiring out whole theaters in London. I did that for two years, coaching 10,000 guys, so women started coming up to me and asking why I wasn’t doing the same for them. So I started talking about men. I started with five women in the room and now at seminars, you can have 1,000 or above.
Women have heard a lot of psychologist and aphoristic stuff – be you, be the most confident you, open your heart, blah blah blah, and we have something different here because we really are offering solutions and practical advice. That’s stuff you’re really unlikely to see anywhere else. I don’t say, “Here are general principles.” I think of what texts do women get and what should they respond and that’s what’s been very powerful about it. I think that’s what women really appreciate.
How does a 17-year-old get clients?
My dad was an entrepreneur and that was something I learned growing up. I had a feel for how you get clients. I’d talk to anyone and everyone. I’m all about giving value first; I gave them knowledge and told them what I learned and they’d enjoy it and ask me for more and I’d say, “You’re welcome to take me on as a coach,” and then I started getting written up about in newspapers when I was 18 and got featured in a documentary when I was approaching 19. People started to get to know about me
You just said you give value first and you talk about that a lot in your seminars and your book. What does that mean?
It follows reciprocity. Give first; expect second. If I want you to be flirtatious with me, I have to be flirtatious with you. If I want someone to smile at me, then I have to smile at them. I have to show my value and not sit around and hope they’ll just see my value. For example, someone who doesn’t have value goes over to someone to talk for 20 minutes, seeming like they have nowhere better to be, and someone who shows value can say they like something the person is wearing and walk away and give some space. There are thousands of ways to demonstrate value.
So why are you still single?
At the moment, I’m having a great time and derive lots of meaning and fulfillment from my work and my friends and the women that I see and I have a great time with it.
You’ve said before that women can continue to keep seeing someone casually, but why would they do that if they’re really looking for a relationship?
What’s the harm in seeing someone you’re having a good time with? If there’s someone you really, really like and you know seeing them once in a while is going to mess you up, then I’d encourage you not to see that person because that’s not worth it for your emotional health. It’s okay if you’re just having fun with someone and you’re saying maybe I’ll see you once in a while or casually, and who says that even involves sex. But I don’t say do that and stop looking elsewhere. I think people should do that and keep looking for more options.
What are the most important aspects of your approach?
The reality of what is different about my approach is that it gives women the ability to be proactive in their love lives without losing femininity, without feeling like they’re the pursuers. I show women if you want to text a guy first, that’s fine, but here’s what you should say if you want to get in touch with a guy who’s gone cold and here’s how you do it without seeming desperate or needy.
If you see a guy at a bar, here’s a way to do it without looking like you’re the one making the first move. It allows you to be proactive in a high-value way without compromising your position as a woman. Too much of the advice out there is about hanging out and waiting for something to happen. My experience over the years is that most guys are not running around to women they like. They might when they’re drunk at bars and clubs, but in the daytime, when they see they’re someone attracted to, they’re not going to do that.
Instead of going home with the guy who hit on them in the club, women can go on a date with someone they met on the street or café during the daytime in a context that’s much more innocent and less presumptuous.
How can women get men to approach them, then?
“The Look,” which I teach, is one way and it will make a huge difference. The other way is to be close. Get near him and you won’t look like you’re doing anything if you ask a favor – that looks completely innocent. Be in the main part of the bar where people walk past or can see you. Be where the traffic is.
You also counsel women on how to sustain relationships. How can women get their men to step up their game after they’ve been together for a long time?
I think the key step is to up your own game. I feel that a lot of people who say their partner has gotten lazy have gotten lazy themselves. Are they doing things that would excite their partner? Are they coming home to surprise their partner? You only have the right to ask for something once you’re already doing it for your partner. That would be my first comment. The second is figure out exactly what you want your partner to do or do differently because it’s very vague. Figure out what you want specifically.
What if you’re trying to get your husband to take out the garbage?
People get too into nagging and as soon as you’re into the nagging, you’re fighting a losing battle. Get out of the nagging cycle and be very open and honest about it and say, “It would mean a lot to me if you did this. This isn’t about me trying to get you to do something silly where I just want to nag or control you. I’ll never be a nag, but it’s not just taking out the garbage – it’s what it means to me. It shows you’re there for me and being a genuine teammate.” People argue when they should get back to a place where they say you and I are teammates and taking out the garbage isn’t important, but it’s a little thing that shows me you’re in my corner.
How do you approach serious topics with a man without coming off as threatening?
It’s about maintaining your composure as a woman and showing that you’re in control. Very often when people lose their temper or threaten a guy it shows that they’ve lost control. You can absolutely have a serious conversation with a guy, but the most powerful series of conversations you have are not the ones where you lose your temper: “If you don’t want to settle down, that’s something I want to do. I’m not in a casual phase of my life and I get if you are, but that’s not where I am.”
You can have those serious conversations of course and you can have someone who keeps flaking on you and you might say, “Why are you being so flaky? It ruined my whole day waiting for you,” but you can say instead, “You know what? You’re flakier than I remembered. I arranged some stuff around you, but you’re not here,” and just let them know. The next time they ask you to do something, let them know: “I’m not sure. I don’t want to rearrange a bunch of things if you’re not there,” but there’s a fine line. Many people get to the point where they suddenly look like they’re over-invested and that’s where you lose your power.