Men, women, and dating… will it ever be right? Linnea Liu Dakin is trying to help, with her seminar “Helping the Nice Guy.” It’s exactly like it sounds: Tips for nice guys who often struggle with dating because they’re being too nice. To explain that problem more completely, Dakin, who has lived (and dated!) in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Venice for almost 10 years sat down for a cup of coffee with the Mirror’s Steve Stajich.
You teach nice guys how to succeed at meeting and dating women. Why do ‘nice’ guys have trouble?
I think nice guys have trouble by the nature of them being nice. They respect women to the point that they don’t want to cross a boundary and bother anyone, but that also means that they never get to talk to women outside of their very small circle. So they miss a lot of opportunities out of their being too respectful.
But I thought women liked bad boys.
I think everyone makes the mistake and thinks they want a bad boy and then after a few times of being treated poorly—
Everyone? Men and women?
Men and women, yeah. Women especially, I think, but men too. I’ve seen plenty of guy friends make really poor choices for their female companions. Hopefully, as you get older you realize, “You know, I think I’d like someone who actually returns my phone calls. And arrives on time and treated me nicely. He doesn’t have to be a doormat and do everything I say, but, you know, he’s a nice human being.” So I think as we get older we realize this. And frankly, the more comfortable you are, the better the intimacy and the sex gets, too.
Give us one little gem from your seminar.
In my opinion, there are two basic kinds of women. There are women who like to feel valued and there are women who need to feel safe. And we don’t have a label on our forehead telling you which one we are. So when you ask us out, you need to give us choices and we’ll tell you which one we are. We may be a woman who needs to feel valued, so we want you to pick us up, we want you to take us to a restaurant. We don’t just want to go for coffee, because then we think you’re cheap. Or we may not want to have you know where we live because we want to feel safe. And then some girls are a little bit of both. It depends on the girl. So I try and help the guys understand that they can phrase the questions when they ask a woman out so that she has the choice and it makes her feel comfortable and then she’ll say yes or no. Whereas if you just say, “Do you want to go out for a cup of coffee…?” and that’s all you say, there’s more of a chance that she’ll say, “No, thank you.”
Do you believe in the concept of “soul mates”? Doesn’t that just make it harder for everybody?
That’s a good question. Life is so crazy and full of unexpected things that I would hope you wouldn’t only get one soul mate. That seems awfully unfair; the odds are pretty high that something could go wrong. Somebody could walk out in front of a bus by accident. So I’m hoping that there’s a few people out there that are really, really good fits for you, and you just have to be smart and lucky and find them.
Is there an age restriction to your seminars? What if a 62 year-old dude who just got divorced shows up… do you take him on?
Absolutely. The only thing I request is that they be over 18, so that I don’t have to worry about any legal issues. I found that, generally, the men that are interested [in the seminar] are from about 25 to early 30’s. And then there’s a jump and then it’s men in their 50’s and 60’s who are back out in the dating world after being out of it for a while and want to get re-educated about what’s happening these days… what are the rules, what’s the game.
Shouldn’t people know intuitively how to talk to the opposite sex?
I think there are some men that were raised in a family without a lot of sisters or didn’t have a lot of female friends or cousins around. So I think they have an innate discomfort. But, absolutely, if you’re right for each other, you should click. You should have some things that you want to talk about. But nice guys tend to hold themselves back. And that’s one of the things that I try to empower them to do. You don’t have to hold yourself back… be yourself. Be obnoxious. Nice guys try and stay polite on ‘grandmother’ behavior–“Yes, sir, no, sir…”–and it’s not fun to be on a date with that!
Do you try and help these guys with the difference between love and sex?
Yes. I try and help them—Okay, here’s one of the things I talk about with guys, with nice guys: When it comes to the point in the relationship where sex is probably going to happen, the nice guys often fall into the trap of “Mother, may I?” Again, they’re being so respectful they ask “May I do these things?” Well, the minute we [women] start to feel like your mother, it’s probably not a good thing… if you want to have sex with us. So I make them understand “Here are some things you can do to communicate what you want to find out…” without turning it into asking for permission.
Can men and women ever get past the money issue? What if a really nice, sensitive guy just doesn’t happen to have fat pockets?
Actually, the pitfall that nice guys fall into is that they are too generous. I know a lot of nice guys that are taken advantage of. Women expect them to pay for everything and… it really becomes unfair. So I try and educate them more on that. Women in their twenties are now more educated and making more money than their counterparts. So, we’re going to have to figure out how to get along with each other.
What does compatibility mean to you?
To me it means–and it’s one of my big themes—that you don’t have to change the way you wear your hair and how you dress and the way you talk to be connected with someone. That if you are right for them, innately, they’ll like who you are. I mean, granted, they may want you to wear a suit once in a while or bathe a little more. But, innately, if you’re right for each other they should like you as a t-shirt and jeans guy. I think that your lives should click without too much stress.
What would you say to people who are going to be alone for Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve?
(PAUSE) Hang in there and don’t commit suicide…? [Laughs]
I think that it’s horrible that we have these templates that cause anybody to feel that they are incomplete or not getting what they’re supposed to get from life just because they don’t have a ‘date.’
No, I agree. I think the biggest thing we all need to start learning—and we know it intellectually although it’s hard to live it—is that we should be happy and content and satisfied and fully joyous just being single. We might not find our soul mate and why do we have to be miserable while we’re waiting or until we meet that person?
What qualifies you to give these seminars?
Part of it is that I have dated a fair amount of nice guys and I like them, but I don’t connect with them. And I can see where they get themselves in trouble, either with me or with friends. I’m the kind of woman that other girls feel comfortable in confiding in. So I have a lot of knowledge from my own experience and my friends. And even random female strangers. And I would say to them, “You should tell him that!” and a girl goes, “No, I couldn’t.” So then I thought, “Well, I’ll tell him.”
Is it intimidating in your own life for men to find out that you teach dating?
During the process of putting this business together, I met the ‘poster boy’ of a nice guy. And he would be horribly embarrassed for me to ever talk about him publicly. So, instead, I’m using him as research. [Laughs]
Upcoming Helping the Nice Guy Seminars will be held in Studio City, CA on 8/3/08, Irvine, CA on 8/10/08 and Redondo Beach, CA on 8/17/08. For more information go to http://www.helpingtheniceguy.com.