Say what you want about Patti Stanger, aka Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker (and you could say a lot — the woman isn't exactly known for being reserved), but the career matchmaker and dating expert knows a thing or two about the language of love. Or, at least, the language of prepping two strangers for an awkward date and hoping they've followed her advice. (And heaven help the poor dater who neglects to follow Stanger's advice.)
Now in its seventh season, "The Millionaire Matchmaker" features wealthy but hapless men (and sometimes ladies, too) who turn to Stanger's dating club in an effort to find that elusive special someone. And, if that unicorn isn't out there, they at least hope to find someone who can stand their company (and stand to spend their money) long enough to get into their pants.
It's a tough world out there for the single and romantically challenged, and Stanger wields tough love dating advice with an iron fist. We checked in with the matchmaker in preview of the show's new season to get some dating advice for the perennially single among us out here in the real world.
What’s the most common mistake you see guys making, in the early stages of dating?
Not making the plans for the date. Just winging it, thinking, "Where can we go?" And in a big city, especially around Christmastime, you need a reservation.
What about women?
Women talk about the ex too much. They complain about dating, which neutralizes the date and conversation — and isn’t sexy. They over-talk things.
In that case, what are some of your main pieces of advice for guys and girls, when setting out on a first date?
I think the first thing is making it fun and flirty. Even if you don’t end up with that person, you definitely plan a great date, and woman should definitely be appreciative of it. And if a date isn’t good, then think about fixing that person up with someone you know. If you do that, they’ll owe you, and will usually set you up with someone they know. It’s all part of keeping the train moving out of the station. Six degrees of separation is almost 90 percent of how people meet.
And the other thing is getting proactive. Getting online — it’s not for the dateless and the desperate! Facebook, LinkedIn, people are now using that for dating. Find your niche. If your niche is business, then do it on LinkedIn.
Speaking to that, how do you think the dating landscape has changed with the rise of online dating?
We have more opportunity to meet people we’ve never met before, internationally, not just in the United States. And it’s big. But we’re disposable at the same time. So, even though we’re getting more avenues and more people, we’re discarding quicker and we’re not giving people a chance, because maybe their shoes are wrong or maybe they don’t have enough hair on their head. It’s so strange, especially men versus women, there is always going to be someone better around the corner.
Then the other thing is that we know too much about our lives. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re tweeting about the place you went last night, and you got drunk with your girlfriends. You had a really great time, and you came home at 2 a.m., and maybe you cursed a little on Twitter. A guy sees that and he’s like, "OK, I liked her up until that point" and he judges her. So we are judging everyone now. Like the pictures on Facebook — if you’re not perfectly done up, or you’re drinking a bunch of beers. You know, you’re there with a beer bong, you know what I’m saying. We’re taking it so extremely, like you know everything about that person just because of the photo they posted on Facebook.
So, you wouldn’t suggest Googling or stalking a potential date through social media?
For a woman, it’s proactive to Google a man. Like, to see that there aren’t 20 girls on the Internet saying that he stuck them with the bill or that he stranded them in a restaurant. But if you’re doing it a) to find out their net worth or b) see what their story is, then you’re going to snooze, you lose. Most men have the worst pictures they ever dreamed of themselves on their Facebook pages. And they don’t think about that stuff, it’s not important to them. The image of the girl is, but not themselves. So you’re going to discard a guy — because women are much more critical when it comes to looks — because he wore the wrong pair of pants and is still wearing his members only jacket. You can change a man’s wardrobe, you can cut his hair, you can shave his beard, straighten his teeth. There are a lot of things you can do to a man if the raw material is there. How does he treat you? Does he have a good business ethic, where he could take care of you financially? Those more important things are going by the wayside, just because the man doesn’t look right.
Wait, do you really think that women are more critical of looks than men?
Yeah, way more. That’s why I never show the men’s pictures to them. I always show women’s pictures to men, but not the other way around. We used to do it and it didn’t work. They would be like, "Well, I don’t like the fact that he wore a ring and jewelry." And I’m sitting there thinking, "What the hell?!"
So, it’s actually more that women are more critical of the way men present themselves.
I think they are critical of themselves, and they magnify it on the men. Because a woman is overweight, or she’s not pretty enough or her boobs are flat — then she reflect it on the man. It’s projection.
On the show you have a no sex before monogamy rule...
If you want to get married! And have a serious relationship.
But isn’t there the danger that you’ll establish this monogamous relationship, sans sex, and then, when you finally test out the goods, you could find out the other person sucks in bed?
Well, then you get to move right to someone else.
But, now you’re monogamous. Aren’t you already invested?
No, you’re not tied at the hip. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. You say, ‘We’ve chosen monogamy for a) safety reasons, b) because I don’t want to put my emotions at risk — if you go and step out on me, I’m going to feel shitty about myself or c) it makes you feel good that you’re claimed and wanted. So monogamy is everything to that degree. But if you try the goods and you think there’s no salvaging it — I mean, you won’t know 100 percent because even if the kissing is there and all the heavy petting is there, if he doesn’t know how to use the wand and there’s no magic — and you can’t teach him — then you’re on to the next person because you’re not going to be sexually attracted to them anymore.
Where do oral sex and handjobs fit into the no sex before monogamy rule?
Oral sex is fine — for the guy to give to you. You can’t give it to him. I’ll give you that one, it’s a one-sided deal, baby. No handjobs either. His penis is off limits. He wants to give it to you, fine, but his penis is off limits. I will warn you, though, if he goes down on you, you’re going to want to put it in. Unless you are a lesbian.
I think there is something to be said for instant attraction. People are always saying, ‘Oh, give the guy a chance, he’ll grow on you.’ I don’t buy it, personally. Thoughts?
There are two types of “growing on.” There’s the "I’m a friend and you’re a friend, and I’ve always wondered what it was like." And if the kiss is good, then it can actually work. If the kiss is bad, you’ll end up just staying friends. Then there’s also when the chemistry is off the chain, like with my boyfriend. When I smell him I go catnip crazy, and yet, if he didn’t have the goods, I wouldn’t have ended up with him, because I am all sexual. I’m a very sexual person, so if I don’t get enough sex I get crabby. I get mean and nasty. I would rather be with my vibrator than him.
But yes, it can grow, and it can be better than you thought. Especially if you are relaxed with the person. I had a friend recently, she went to college with this guy and they were best friends for four years and lost touch when they graduated and they had this connection, but they were always dating other people. Now they’re dating for the first time and they’re in their 50s! They both had been married and had kids, and she looked and me said, "You know, this the best relationship I have ever had. I didn’t have to worry if I farted or if my makeup wasn’t on today. He knows me, the sex is off the chain." And I told her it’s because she’s so relaxed with him. You have that foundation. And it’s just a beautiful relationship at an older age. And they got together [through] Facebook! You never know what’s going to happen around the corner, you never know what’s going to resurface. And you know what? The nerd in high school turns out to be Brad Pitt in real life.
In the club you also have a two-drink maximum rule. Do you think that’s something should always apply to dating?
Most women cannot handle their alcohol. I mean you see ["The Real Housewives"] they’re all like feathers. The alcohol goes to the brain after one drink, so that’s part one. Part two, you will get a lush kind of reputation from the man, if you drink past two. Men go, "Well, she drank too much," and I ask [how many] and they say two or three, and I say, "Two?! And you’re freaking out?" They are judgmental.
The other thing is, if you go to two drinks, and you’re eating, and you can hold your liquor and you hit a third one, no good ever comes from it. It’s like something in the brain clicks and says, "OK, now we are going to go cray cray and take our panties off. And we’re going to dance on the bar, and we’re going to stay out till three in the morning when I have a big presentation the next day." You kind of forget who you are. And then you go home with a loser, he turns out to be a gas station attendant. He gives you one good orgasm, you fall madly in love, you spend five years with him, and your whole life is ruined. So why waste that?
So how many dates should you go on with a guy before it’s OK to get a little ... loose?
Well, I think sex is OK. You know, fooling around, like, the precursor to intercourse is fine. I think whatever you think is best, but as long as you can slow it down. Because it he gets all revved up and gets a little physical and you don’t know him well enough, he could get a little aggressive and not listen to you. No means no. What if you get carried away? Women have a lot of sexual appetites right now. I have this theory. We’re eating this food with steroids in it, hormones, and it’s making us a little more juicy-goosey downstairs and so we want more today, we want good sex. Like the Masters and Johnson rule — we don’t want just average sex. We don’t just want sex to get the ring. We want to make our money. The threshold is so high right now. So it’s like we’re in this place where we want it all. And we want to be the man. But we have oxytocin, a chemical in our brain, that basically tells us we can be falling in love with a loser and make us feel like we are in love with everyone. And men don’t have that, so they have a home court advantage.
What’s your policy about paying on a first date — should women offer, make that gesture?
No! Women should never offer unless they are in a monogamous, committed relationship. And then it should still be three to one. Let him lead financially. This is not you being cheap. You can do other things; you can cook for him, you can take his shirts to the cleaner, make the reservations for a hotel for a vacation. But the minute you start to put the money down, he who spends the most becomes the “man.”
Now, you’re married, you’re dating for a long time, you’re on a trip, you’re both going to hit the cash a fair amount of times — but he should be the primary. And it’s going to be hard for a lot of men to hear me say that, because they are going to say that it’s not fair, it takes two to make it, and she makes more than me. It’s a tough ride for a woman who makes more. It never works out. He takes it, he’s oppressed by it, and then he bites the hand that feeds him. Because he’s resentful of it and you took his job away.
There is an episode on the show where a heavier blonde girl…
The Humpty Dumpty with the plumber. She basically bought his affection. In the real world, if you have to eat at the Olive Garden over Le Cirque, you do it to make him feel empowered. And you eat all those breadsticks and you lick that soup and you just tell him that it’s the best meal you ever had. And if you don’t do that, then he’s not going to want to date you anymore anyway.
Uh, but don’t you think that’s a bad double standard? Women date rich, unattractive men for their money all the time, and that’s deemed OK.
It’s a double standard that is never going to change, because men don’t see it that way. It’s all in the male brain. If the men were equal opportunity and everything was 50/50, the world would be a better place, but they don’t see it that way. And I always hear the story where the guy took advantage of the girl for three or four years financially and then went and married someone else. I hear this story over and over and over again. Because the men resent it.
OK, let’s move on. When you’re dating early on, sexting: yes or no?
Sexting is fine. When you’re committed, monogamy-wise. Otherwise, it’s going to fall into the wrong hands. He can make fun of you.
What are some appropriate things to sext, then?
Wait for him to sext you first, then sext him back. Don’t be an initiator sexter. You might cross boundaries that you don’t want to cross until you’re ready. And it could push you over the edge. It sounds great in theory, to get that Playboy shot, but that thing can end up on the Internet. And you don’t know any man that well.
What’s the nicest way to blow a guy off?
My favorite way is to just say, "I just don’t feel chemistry … so you’re not going to get laid." I know someone for you, and I will send him or her your way. You can even text him, email it, over the phone — don’t go overboard.
If you’re on a first date and the guy is just a raging douchebag, is it OK to sort of sneak off to the bathroom and just leave?
Well I have had [a situation] where it’s been really physically inappropriate, where someone actually got violent, and they went to the maître'd, and the maître'd slipped him out the back. The best advice I have is to always have at least 100 bucks cash stashed in your purse. But in most major cities, we have Uber — put your Uber credit card info in, know that you can get out of there when you want. But if you’re in the middle of nowhere and you have to call a taxi service, you have to have emergency money.
Finally, what’s the cheesiest pick-up line you’ve ever gotten?
When God made you, he broke the mold.
"The Millionaire Matchmaker" airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on Bravo.