4 June 2016

Joss says something: Dating will always be a thing

Following on from my experience of DATE LAB a few weeks ago, I was delighted when founder Joss Wyatt agreed to answer some questions about the nature of love and dating. 

Trained by Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger and Matchmaking Instutite founder, Lisa Clampitt, Joss has brought her experience to the UK and is keen to bring together singletons in London with her agency DATE LAB, which believes in "finding chemistry through science". Not only does it offer singles events, it also offers various services - wardrobe need to be more 'date appropriate'? Unsure how to answer that message? Never fear, help is at hand - all in the name of helping people find 'the one'.

1. What drew you to the matchmaking field? If you weren't in your job, what would you be doing?

I’ve always had an interest in the psychology and neuroscience of attraction. The mental and chemical processes we go through when courting someone (or being courted) are fascinating. Starting an offline dating agency was a way to bring my interest to life. As far as matchmaking goes, I wanted to offer a young and urban alternative to the long-established introduction agencies and I think that I’ve achieved that. If I weren’t in the dating industry, I would probably be working towards a doctorate in counselling Psychology.

2. Have you met someone through your scientific matchmaking efforts?

I don’t think my partner would be too happy about that! We’ve been together for almost four years and he has always been incredibly supportive of my endeavours. I think I’m a little different from other dating industry professionals in that I was in a relationship before becoming interested in the sector. Most matchmakers and coaches get into the dating industry while they’re looking for the one (and often they end up finding them!). I was always interested in the science behind dating and attraction, so you could say that my interest in dating is based on academia rather than a personal desire to meet someone. I’m in a very rewarding and satisfying relationship and, as corny as it sounds, I want other people to also experience what it’s like to be in a wonderful relationship.

3. What is your weirdest dating story?

I think the weirdest date I’ve been on was with my ex, who I ended up dating on and off for a couple of years. We’d met at our university bar and he’d asked me out. On our first date he was far less talkative than when I’d first met. He seemed disinterested and aloof. As we were walking down the street from one pub to another, he suddenly told me, “I don’t want a girlfriend!” I was quite taken aback. Here was a relative stranger telling me he didn’t want to be in a relationship during our very first date. The weirdest part was that despite the aloofness and sudden declaration that he wasn’t looking for a relationship, he was the one who asked me out! I told him to chill out and said we’d only just met, but then becoming more curious I asked why he’d asked me on a date. He said it was ‘because I was nice’ and ‘because he liked me’. Being older and wiser now, I can see the red flags. Instead, I spent the next two years convincing myself that I could change his mind and that I was, very gradually, doing so. If he didn’t want a girlfriend, why did he spend literally weeks on end at my place, why did he meet my Mum, and why did he tell me he loved me? But guess what, we ended up breaking up because he couldn’t commit in the way I wanted him to. A lesson to all women: don’t try to change a man and if they say they don’t want a relationship, believe them. 

4. If someone is on a date and they want/need to urgently leave, what is the best "get out" method?

Most people have a contingency plan before they go on a date, and that’s both men and women. At the start of the date, let the person know that you have to leave at a certain time, and if you end up having a great time your fictional plans can always fall through. Planning is key.

5. How do you see the future of dating? Do you think people will become jaded by dating apps and revert to the more "traditional" dating methods?

Dating will always be a thing. I think that people are tired of apps because it’s easy come, easy go. Dating apps and dating sites will continue to exist, and people will still meet on them! I do think that people will, however, start to look offline for answers. I have a feeling that matchmaking will become more popular, especially considering how big it is in the US. I also think that there’s a trend towards combining offline and offline services, namely companies offering singles advice on how to increase their online dating success. My company, DATE LAB offers coaching for online dating, as well as regular coaching. And, of course, there’s always dating events!

6. What's the best date you've been on, and why?

The best date I’ve been on was the first date I ever went on with my current partner. It wasn’t just the date itself, but also how he asked me out. I was at home with my flatmate and I saw that he was calling. I don’t think this had ever happened before – a guy I had just met (and who I liked quite a bit) was calling - not texting - me. I panicked and asked her what to do, and she yelled at me to answer it. Calmly and confidently, he said he had tickets to a Zombies concert in Angel and wondered if I’d like to go with him. There was something so old school about it, and I don’t just mean the band! I really liked that he had called to ask me out and that we went to a gig. It wasn’t just a standard text asking me out for drinks. When I rocked up to the station where we’d arranged to meet, I saw that we were both wearing maroon trousers and leather jackets. Wearing matching outfits on a first dates was quite comical, but a nice little detail I can look back on now. I liked that he was a gentleman and to this day, I haven’t met anyone as thoughtful or as kind as him.

7. Do you also believe in Patti's "no sex before monogamy" mantra?

Having been trained by Patti in LA a few years ago, I understand where she’s coming from. As a matchmaker, I would encourage clients to get to know each other before they start a physical relationship. We’re not pimps, after all. Because there’s a higher emotional investment in matchmaking, it’s best to establish an emotional bond before having sex. Matchmaking aside, I think that the US is very different from Europe; deep down its values are more conservative. In Europe, and especially in Britain, relationships often start out physical and become emotional. That said, I would most certainly not recommend trying to start a relationship by having a one-night stand. It’s important to be clear on your own values and relationship goals before jumping into bed with anyone.

8. London is an impersonal city. Where do you think is the best place to meet people?

Dating is about numbers. When you’re looking for a job, you don’t apply for just one or two positions. You spread your bets, looking on various job boards, talking to your professional connections, attending networking events, and going to recruiters. When you’re looking to meet people, you should cover your bases. Go to different bars, ask if any of your friends have single friends, try dating sites and apps, go to dating events and consider hiring a matchmaker (who is the equivalent of a recruiter when it comes to dating).

9. Why do you think there is still a stigma attached to meeting via dating apps/speed-dating events?

I think that Tinder has done a lot to reduce the stigma attached to online dating. Events are still tricky, funnily enough. I think people have this idea that if you’re investing time or money into dating, you must be desperate. Tinder isn’t a huge investment despite the amount of time people spend on it. Going to an event, or to a matchmaker, is a different story. There’s an implicit assumption that these people need help, even if it’s not the case. At the end of the day we are animals, and needing assistance in the form of events or industry professionals is often interpreted as an inability to attract a 'mate' on your own. If we apply logic to this, however, we can see that busy work lives, shrinking pools of eligible singles and app-fatigue are all decent reasons for wanting to take a step beyond Tinder and Thursday night pub visits.

10. You've lived in a variety of different cities - are there any interesting similarities & differences in dating stance?

I grew up in Australia and lived in Germany (both in Berlin and in Regensburg, Bavaria) and I do think that people from Germanic and Scandinavian countries take a much more logical, liberal and egalitarian approach to dating and sex. I can’t speak too much to the Australian dating scene – I’ve been gone for too long! 

I was also fortunate enough to learn from flirting expert, cultural anthropologist and founder of Flirtology, Jean Smith, about the different dating and flirting behaviours in London, Paris, New York and Stockholm. Flirting – and dating – are heavily influenced by culture, but there are also very basic similarities. I don’t want to give away Jean’s secrets, so you’ll have to ask her for more information. All I will say is this: my ex is from Paris, but having learnt about cultural differences in flirting and dating from Jean, it makes much more sense that I’m with an Englishman now!

11. Finally, What advice do you have for people who are maybe a little apprehensive about putting themselves out there and starting to date?

I would say, whatever thoughts you might be having, whatever anxieties you may feel, just remember this: someone else has been in your shoes and has felt those exact feelings. Emotions are not unique, we only think they are. As soon as you realise that you're not the only person who’s felt awkward and apprehensive about dating then it becomes much easier to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone.

More practically speaking, and to bring the science into it a bit, see dating as the search for a new friend. Research has shown that the two biggest factors for a successful relationship are 1) to be friends with your partner; and 2) to like your partner as a person. Looking for a great friend is a far less daunting idea than looking for a hot, steamy, whirlwind romance.

Men's tickets for the next DATE LAB are still available >> here << Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events from the matchmaking company, including City Mixers.

*All images courtesy of DATE LAB and Joss Wyatt

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