Dating is this wondrous dichotomy of excitement and anxiety. It's a heady blend of wildly unpredictable emotions and feelings. It can run the gamut between the nightmarish "you would not believe this date I had" and the blissful, "oh my God, he's the one."
When negotiating this minefield, it always helps to talk. Friends and family are great, but it's also a good idea to get the thoughts of experts, those who have dedicated their lives to helping everyone find happiness. That's why we've approached excellent folks like lifestyle coaches and authors Cheyenne Bostock and Stephan LaBossiere, marriage therapist and radio host Dr. Jane Greer and psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert. Now we turn to Kimberly Seltzer, a Dating and Makeover expert and owner of SeltzerStyle.com. She uses a "wing gal approach" with her clients, doing in-field experiences and working on critical elements like body language and first impressions.
She is also the Co-host and Lead Love Expert of a traveling dating show, the Great Love Debate, and she will soon be co-hosting a podcast dubbed Full Disclosure. You may have seen some of her articles at places like the Huffington Post and YourTango, and she has been mentioned in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Redbook and Fox News Magazine. Kimberly was nice enough to answer some of our questions and all you single peeps out there should appreciate the replies!
GaG: As you can see in our "How Do I Look" section we see a ton of questions centering on a person's look or image. Some may call this vain or superficial, but wouldn't you agree that our self-image is critical to our lives? And what would you recommend to those with poor self-images?
Kimberly: "It’s interesting because I have had a ton of clients mostly in their 20s and 30s struggling with this exact issue. People’s image is even more important today and looked at more than ever before. Social media and technology have played a big role in this where it’s creating a phenomenon of people constantly comparing themselves to others.
Also, one’s image online has a skewed representation of people’s lives.
Because most people only post themselves in the best light, it can cause others to feel badly about their own life or self-image, for instance wishing they looked like a photo-shopped picture! Image is how others perceive you and that determines how others treat you. That is important in the relationship of feeling good inside and out. I recommend to my clients who have a poor self-image and constantly are comparing themselves to others to really focus on self-love in many ways. I usually tell people to do a social media fast and do strength-based exercises so that people start focusing on what they like about themselves. Shopping and education on what clothes flatter a figure is also really helpful for men and women who have body image issues."
GaG: In your experience, are men or women more likely to admit they need a "makeover?" And when you use the word "makeover," are you always referring to the physical or are you also talking about attitude?
Kimberly: "Great question! What is interesting is that my client base is actually pretty evenly distributed between men and women. The difference is women more readily admit to wanting one and it’s socially acceptable. Men come to me almost in 'secret' or someone refers them to me not realizing that they need one. I absolutely use the word, 'makeover' as something that occurs as an overall state of change. Because I’m a therapist, dating coach and an image expert, I use a three-pronged approach in transforming people in a holistic way.
It’s like a domino effect. When you put a sexy outfit on a woman and she sees herself in a different light, she suddenly walks and acts different and then people respond differently to her. That’s the magic."
GaG: Why do so many young people today find dating so difficult and so confusing?
Kimberly: "I wish there was an easy answer to this question. There are many variables that contribute to difficulties in dating in today’s society. There are so many choices, resources, various age groups, social media images and conflicting information, that people are getting confused.
We are living in an era of instant gratification and choices so that when things don’t work out it’s easy to find something else.
On top of it, you have the divorce world and people dating over the age 40 floundering, trying to find themselves and date in a very different world than they once knew. I work with people in the early 20s all the way up to late 70s and each generation has their own set of challenges, which is a whole other blog."
GaG: We see a lot of "is it normal?" questions. Do you find that people ask this a lot in regards to dating, love, sex, etc.?
Kimberly: "Yes, I hear this kind of question around seeking normalcy more and more. I think the underlying issue around this question relates to again people’s feelings or lack thereof around self-image and confidence. People love people who love themselves and when there is a lack of confidence people seek answers to find it. But mostly, confidence has to do with experience so I find that people in their 20s/30s who haven’t been married and the divorced crowd tend to ask this more often as it relates to a lack of experience and direction."
GaG: Who do you think has more difficulty interpreting the other gender's signals? And do you recommend being more proactive or cautious when it comes to acting on those signals?
Kimberly: "In general, research shows that men have more difficulties reading signals and emotions. Women are better able to read facial expressions, observe behavior and interpret interactions (sometimes albeit to our detriment!). When I coach men and women I go out with them in the field and watch how they flirt, give signals and communicate with the opposite sex.
I find that both men and women can struggle reading signs of attraction and giving signals that they are interested.
90% of communication is nonverbal so I really teach people to be more aware of their body language and signals they are sending. Overall, both sexes have a responsibility when it comes to approachability. Women need to send obvious smoke signals to men that they are open to being approached and men need to stop hesitating and get out of their head.
In terms of being proactive vs. cautious with signals, I actually try to get people to stop thinking for what others want and focus more on what they want. In other words, if you see a woman smiling at you or who looks like she is open to meeting you, then don’t worry about being “too forward” and just go and say hi. What is the worst thing that can happen? I find that many people miss opportunities in meeting one another just simply because they are worried about being too cautious or aggressive. There is no such thing as rejection, only experience."
GaG: If you could offer only one piece of advice to all the frustrated singles out there, what would it be?
Kimberly: "That it’s not about focusing on getting the man or getting the woman or blaming the opposite sex. It’s about YOU. If you are not happy about the people you are attracting or you are not meeting people at all, then you need to look in the mirror and see what you are doing to create this pattern in your life. You can’t change other people, all you can do is change yourself to get a different result. And if you need help in getting there, then you need to contact me! ;)"
As always, we thank those who have taken the time to speak to us. Kimberly can help you in a variety of ways; guys, need help putting together a dating outfit? Or how about a live makeover? Hey look, we all think we need no assistance in the dating category but really, what can it hurt? And why skimp on our love lives? Why skimp on ourselves?