Dating tips from the Beverly Hills’ matchmaker

Marla Martenson  is a real-life Beverly Hills’ matchmakerIn honour of Valentine’s Day, we are re-running advice from one of favourite dating experts. Marla Martenson  is a real-life Beverly Hills’ matchmaker, dating coach, and speaker. She has great tips on how to make February 14 your best Valentine’s Day ever. She’ll even show you how to enjoy the day, even if you are not in a relationship.
Marla is the author of three books: Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting, Good Date, Bad Date, and her memoir, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker.
Don’t miss a word of her very good Valentine’s Day advice:
Valentine’s Day can be daunting when you are single. Images of hearts, Cupids, and lovers seem to be everywhere. Advertisements for flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, and even pajamas flash across your television screen. Even though we all know that it is an overly-commercialized holiday, created as an excuse to sell products and expensive dinners in fancy restaurants, many of us still feel pressure to have a “special someone” to spend that day with. When I was single, I remember always seeming to have the unfortunate timing of never having a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. I felt so blue and lonesome, even though my practical side knew that I shouldn’t. Over the years, I have been asked a lot of questions about love, relationships, and Valentine’s Day. Here are a few of them:

Q: What is a soul mate?
MM: Many theories exist as to what a soul mate actually is. Many believe that a soul mate is someone that you have encountered in many different lifetimes and have loved many times.  That is why the first time you meet them you feel as if you have known them forever before you even knew their name.  There is a déjà vu feeling right from the first meeting. Today, people use the word soul mate more loosely, to mean anyone that you fall madly in love with and they with you.
Q : I hate the fact that I don’t have someone special to spend Valentine’s Day with. How can I get through the day without feeling depressed?
MM: You can two things to turn the day into a “love fest.” First, take yourself out to lunch. Go to a nice restaurant, take a seat at the bar, and order yourself something delish and a glass of champagne. Celebrate you. You are special with or without a man, and today you are going to celebrate just how wonderful you are. The next thing on your list is to do something nice for someone. It can be giving a ride to the store to your elderly neighbor, babysitting for your friend so that she can go out to dinner with her husband, volunteering at an animal shelter, or donating to your favorite charity.
Q: If I have been dating my guy for a short time, should I expect to spend that day with him? Should I give him a Valentine’s Day gift or a card? I am so confused.
MM: It’s fine to give something small. For example, if you know your date is into beer, picking up a six-pack from a select microbrewery says, "I pay attention to what you like." Or, if a guy has mentioned that he loves reading Brad Thor novels, picking up the latest one for him is thoughtful, without being a profession of undying love. If you are both into sports, you could get a couple of tickets to a sporting event for a fun and causal day. Just remember, don’t give a gift with the expectation of receiving one in return. The other person may not have thought to get you something. Make sure you can handle that before giving your gift.
It’s unrealistic to expect a big, romantic evening at this stage of the game. And if he hasn’t expressed his thoughts about Valentine’s Day, you won’t know what to expect, if anything. He may perceive it as just a commercial holiday, corny, or hokey.
Q : It seems like everyone is just busy to date. Are guys really serious these days about finding the right person?
MM: I am asked this question a lot. Men will come in and join my matchmaking service and pay an exorbitant amount of money for me to find them a wife. But then they don’t seem to have the time to really develop a relationship, and in some cases even meet anyone at all. Their heart is in the right place; they really would like to have someone in their life. But oftentimes the men — just like us ladies — are working so darned hard and so many hours, that it seems like chances are slim they’ll be able to cultivate a real relationship. Many men who come to me own several companies and are flying all over the place doing business that dating is put on the back burner. So, my answer to this is, yes, everyone wants to be with their soul mate, but unfortunately society and making a good living has preoccupied many of us with just that.
I also want to point out that if you are on a date with a man, and you seem to be getting along great, but he mentions how busy he is and that he is not really interested in getting married or involved any time soon, it most likely means he is not interested in you in a romantic way. That is his way out of committing to seeing you again or getting involved.
Also, cutting to the chase with a guy right up front is a huge turn-off. Women tend to obsess about marriage whether they are dating anyone or not. And when they meet a guy, they immediately think ‘is he one?’ Getting into a serious relationship is always at the forefront of their minds. When it comes to dating, take your time and see if this guy is worth a second, third, or fourth date. See if you are even compatible before jumping ahead into a marriage-minded frenzy.
Q:  Is it a good idea to ask man out? Or, is it true that men like to be the one to pursue?
MM: Conventional wisdom says, “No, it’s the man’s job to do the pursuing.” But in the modern world we can nudge them a little bit. Guys have of tough time of it, always having to pursue and get rejected a good deal of the time. I think that if a man is showing some interest, you can go ahead and try one of these techniques. Don’t actually use the word “date” or “go out with me.” You don’t want to sound too serious. You can always say something like “I’m going to be in your area for a meeting, would you like to meet for a drink?” A drink can turn into a dinner or a whole evening if things are going well.
You can also ask him for advice. If he is a computer whiz, for example, or knows a lot about cars and you are in the market to buy one, you can always offer to buy him a drink for his help.
So, subtlety is the key. I don’t suggest coming on like a man and flat out asking him for a date. You can suggest a drink or doing something together without seeming like you are the aggressor or chasing him. I still believe that the man likes the challenge and the hunt, and if it comes to easy, he might lose interest quickly. A man is biologically hardwired to do the chasing. As far as who pays for what, if the man asked you out, let him pay. If you suggest an outing, you should pay.



Where the boys are

Marla MartensonIf you are single or have a few single friends who are still looking, don’t skip a word of our exclusive interview with Marla Martenson. She is the author of the very funny memoir Diary of a Beverly Hill’s Matchmaker, as well as two practical guides to finding love: Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate is Waiting and Good Date, Bad Date. Marla shares her professional tips for successful dating, and finding where the boys are, at any age.

DD: How did you become a matchmaker?
MM: It was a total fluke. In 2001, a friend of my husband took over the management position at a video dating service in Los Angeles and offered me a part time job. I worked at the video dating service for a year and a half. After I left, I answered an ad in the back of a newspaper that said, "Talent Scout, Fun Job, Beverly Hills." I showed up, and to my surprise it was an upscale, Beverly Hills matchmaking service. I was hired on the spot and the rest is history.
DD: What are some good places to meet single men, who might actually be interested in a commitment?
MM: Single men are everywhere. Typically a bar is not a good place, but even commitment-minded people go out to bars occasionally to socialize with friends. I met my husband through a mutual friend, which I think is a great way to meet a quality person, because your friends have your best interest at heart. You can up your chances in meeting men by going to where they are, such as, the Apple Store, which is teeming with men checking out the latest Apple computers and gadgets. The dog park is always a good place to strike up a conversation, just ask what kind of breed his dog is, or how he likes that certain breed since you were thinking of getting one yourself. Or even (at) a Sunday afternoon farmer’s market in your town, you can flirt whilst squeezing the tomatoes or picking up some fresh baked goods. The bottom line is to get out there and live your life. Try new things, and you are bound to run into some interesting people — and just maybe your soul mate as well.
DD:  How do you know if a guy is interested or not, if you don’t have a matchmaker for feedback? Some guys send such mix singles.
MM:  When a man in interested, he will "reserve" you for himself. He will not let three weeks go by after a date before he calls you again. He wants to pin you down for the Saturday night date.  He wants to make sure that someone else does not snatch you up.
DD: What is the best outfit to wear on a first date? 
MM:  Men are visual; therefore they want to see what they are getting. Avoid the baggy or puffy dresses. Wear something simple, elegant, and classy that shows your figure — but not too much. If you are wearing slacks, then you can show a bit of cleavage. Or, if you are showing your legs, then cover up the top. Women in Los Angeles tend to dress like hookers on a date, showing everything but their nipples. A man will look at a woman who dresses like that and think that she will be fun for a night, but not someone to take home to mother, or introduce to his business associates. 

DD:  Who is more work in a new relationship, men or women?
MM:  A lot of men comment about women being high-maintenance.  A woman who shows a man that she is easy to be with is a turn-on to a man.

DD: Who pays on first date?
MM: I still subscribe to the old fashioned custom of the man paying for the first date. However, if the woman asks the man out, she should pay.

DD: What are classic ‘first date mistakes?’
MM: There are so many little things that a person can do on a first date to ensure that there will not be a second, so remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. First of all, show up on time. Arriving late to a first date sends the message that you don’t care and have no respect for the other person.
Keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. When tipsy, people tend to "spill their guts" and give way too much information. For example, your date does not need to know about your financial problems, tension with your ex, your horrible childhood, your fight with your mother, your creepy boss, or what medication you are on. Just talk about easy breezy subjects like what wines do you like, films you have seen, places you enjoy traveling to, etc. You want to find out if you have anything in common and enough chemistry to have a second date. Also, keep your BlackBerry or telephone in your purse. Unless you are a doctor of a parent, there is no reason to be constantly checking your phone or texting while on the date. 
DD:  Can you discuss the law of attraction and dating, as well as your belief in affirmations?
MM: My book Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting is all about using affirmations and the Law of Attraction to "pull in" whatever you want in your life, including your soul mate. The Law of Attraction works for health, love, career, relationships, or whatever you desire. What you think about expands. When you place your attention on something and back it with positive emotion, that is when things start to happen. I am a firm believer in affirmations and I use them myself on a daily basis. 

DD: Do you think people wait too long to marry these days?
MM: I don’t know if people wait too long to marry. Actually, I think it is wise to wait until you really know a person, and until one is mature enough to handle a marriage. 
DD: When should you move on in a relationship? Are there clues it is going nowhere?
MM: You should move on in a relationship if you are not happy, or if there is verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Oftentimes we know in our hearts when a relationship is not moving in the direction we want it to, or that our partner is not committed fully, but we choose to ignore the signs because we are attached to the person or relationship. If we listen to our gut feelings and act from that place, we always know what the score is and what do to next.
Marla’s books can be found on or