June 5, 2012

What it's Really Like Doing a Dating Project ~ Melissa

Two daring daters!
You remember my friend and kindred spirit Melissa, right? She's the one who's gone on not one, but THREE dating extravanganzas! Can you believe it??
She calls them her "dating blitzes," which always makes me think of "blintzes." You know what I'm talking about - those tasty crepe-like treats with creamy cheese and fruit. Mmmmm.
It makes Melissa's adventures seem both fun AND yummy.

Her first blitz took her across America. The second, to Europe. And finally, back to her home in New York City. Recently I asked her to share some details about all of her experiences, what she enjoyed/hated the most, and whether she'd ever dare to go on a FOURTH blitz! Here's my interview with Melissa Braverman.

What was it about your dating life that led you to doing something so dramatically different?

I was feeling a little disenchanted with a pattern I had noticed with dating in New York – that shopping around often seems to be more of a priority here than settling down. I wanted to find out – is it just me? And is it easier to meet the right person if you’re somewhere else?

So what did you find out? IS it "just you?" And is it easier if you're somewhere else?

I found out that it definitely isn’t just me. Pretty much all of the women I met and guys I dated said they were having a tough time finding the right person too. Still, I would say it’sp robably a little easier outside of New York, because it’s much more common in other cities to settle down at a younger age. Here in the Big Apple, there’s no pressure to settle down – you can be single without being judged for it.

You've done several of these blitzes. What keeps making you do them again and again? What were you hoping to get from your dating project experience?
I can honestly say each blitz represented something different for me. The first one was very much about discovering what dating is like outside of New York – and finding out about what had been holding me back from a lasting relationship. I really had no plans to do it again until a good friend of mine suggested I continue my adventure and go to Europe. My European Blitz was almost kind of an antidote to the first one – less about a whirlwind dating marathon and more about exploring the cultural differences in dating, and taking the time to reflect on everything I had learned during my first trip.
Two years later, it felt right to apply all of those lessons to a dating blitz here in my hometown. This one was simply about meeting new people in a fun way that had nothing to do with online dating, speed dating, etc. That’s the irony of doing a dating blitz. People tend to think it’s very unconventional but it’s actually just the opposite, because it’s about making connections the old fashioned way: through other people.
Melissa in Cleveland
Making the first stop of her first dating blitz

How did you manage to find so many people to go out with you?

In this day and age of social media, six degrees of separation is more like two. As soon as I shared what I was doing with friends via email and put it up on Facebook and Twitter, I heard from a lot of singles – people who wanted to introduce me to someone and even a few brave bachelors who nominated themselves! Interestingly, my dating blitzes across the U.S. and Europe were much easier than the one I did recently here in NYC. I think New York guys are more guarded, and many were (understandably) uncomfortable with the fact that I was blogging about my experience – a concern that didn’t really come up during my other trips.

Is it easier or harder to date during your time with the blitzes than with dating without a project?

Both. I think it’s easier in the sense that I didn’t get as hung up on the ups and downs that go along with first dates, because I viewed them as being part of a larger experience. But it’s also harder because going on a series of dates in a short space of time can be exhausting. Sometimes you just don’t feel like making small talk with a perfect stranger!

What was the most memorable part of your recent project?

The most memorable part of my recent project was actually how I connected with one of my dates. He was at a disastrous speed dating event when he ended up meeting a friend of mine afterward. That friend introduced us and this guy and I went out a handful of times. We would never have met if both of us hadn’t been willing to be a little adventurous when it comes to meeting new people. Keeping yourself open and getting out of your comfort zone go a long way when you’re trying to shake up your love life.

Did you learn anything about yourself? Did you learn anything new about dating?

I learned so much about myself Рmost importantly that I was holding on to certain things in my past which were getting in the way of me truly being open to and ready for a relationship. As far as dating, I learned that Рas clich̩ as it sounds Рit really is about making the most of where you are in the journey and not worrying about the destination.

How did your dating project (and the lessons you learned from it) affect the way you look at dating now?

I think one of the biggest takeaways for me is that you can’t really control if or when you meet the right person. I used to treat dating almost like a second job. Though I would love to meet someone special, now it’s more about having fun with the process instead of trying to fill up my calendar with potential Mr. Rights.

Where are you with dating now? Are you burnt out? Open to dating? Hoping for a relationship?

Well, I’m definitely burnt out on dating blitzes! But I’m completely open to dating. I would love to meet someone special, and I’m also appreciating where I am right now in this journey called singlehood – thankful for everything I’ve learned along the way and enjoying the present moment!

What advice do you have for other women considering this?

First and foremost, pace yourself! Though it’s great to have a target number of dates, don’t let that dictate how the experience unfolds. It’s good to have a little breathing room between dates so you don’t wear yourself out. And don’t go into it with preconceived expectations of what will or should happen. Embrace every part of the adventure and no matter what the outcome is, you’ll be glad you did it.

I couldn't agree with Melissa more about, well, everything she's said here. You can hear more from her by visiting her website, Single Gal in the City
I'll get to see her again in person in just a few days when I'll be back in New York City! I have a book event for 31 Dates in 31 Days! It'll be at the Barnes and Noble at 115th and Broadway (by Columbia University). Starts at 6:00pm. Come! And tell your friends!

And if you're interested in your own dating project, check out my Dating Challenge. You could have some fun with a blitz - or three!
All this talk is making me hungry. Mmmmm. Blintzes.

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