June 7, 2012

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

It's been two months since I introduced you to Chantal, who was MARCHing in the men. She's a Phoenix hottie who spent the month of March reigning in a series of first date adventures.

Chantal's "MARCH in the Men" Calendar = SUCCESS!

Her goal was to get 15 dates during the 30 days of the month. And even though she was worried about filling her calendar with that personal challenge, she ended up with a whopping 24 dates in March, including two of those dates in one day!

Now that she's finished the project, she's kicking back and assessing, looking forward to more first dates... and maybe some second dates too!

Here's my recent interview with her about her version of March Madness:

Tamara: You first found out about my 31 Dates in 31 Days when a friend dragged you to hear me talk one night. And somehow, an hour later, you left that room bouncing to your computer to tell me you wanted to do your own project! So cool! So what exactly was it about your dating life that made you think a dating project was needed? 
Chantal: Dating life, what dating life?  It was pretty non-existent pre-project.  I'm not going to deny the fact that I began to wonder if something was wrong with me... was I unapproachable, unfriendly, lacking in the grooming and hygiene department, not making enough of an effort to put myself in situations to be asked out? 
In addition to these growing questions and insecurities, the little dating I had been doing was ending badly.  I seemed to keep attracting guys who essentially were looking for friends with benefits, or an unofficial dating arrangement, void of commitment.  This left me hurt, confused and, yes, bitter towards dating and men in general.  I realized I needed to do something different and drastic to adjust my attitude and learn the answers to the questions I had before it was too late and I became a hopeless man-hater, doomed for spinster life all my days.
Tamara: What were you hoping to get from your dating project experience (other than avoid eternal "hopeless man-hating spinster" life)?
Chantal: I was mostly hoping to learn things about myself and how to shift my attitude so that I could enjoy dating and learn to go on first dates without placing somany hopes and expectations for a future relationship on it.  Rather, I wanted to just focus on positive attributes in each man.  I was hoping to learn how to find some common ground with all kinds of men so that I could learn how to be a better dater. Ultimately I wanted to gain experience that would help me restore my hope in dating, improve my weaknesses, recognize traits I'm looking for and exercise discernment.

Tamara: So how did you get so many guys to go out with you?
Chantal: Lie, Beg, Borrow and Steal?  Okay, not really, I never had to lie for a date, not exactly.  But I did have to beg, sort of.  Embarassing I know.  I was so afraid that it would be impossible for me to find just 5 guys to take me on a date, let alone 15+.  I mean if I wasn't getting asked out much the conventional way, there wasn't a ready line of men just waiting to volunteer for the project, right?  So I knew I had to go public.  I created the blog and made a youtube video and launched the site a week or so before the start date.  I enlisted the help of all my friends and family too, begging them to set me up and send any single man with a pulse and no criminal record my way.  I guess it worked...

Tamara: Uhhh... It worked REALLY well! Other than having a date almost every night of the month, in what ways did your dating project seem different from your dating life?
Chantal: Hmmm, I guess it was easier in the sense that I was actually going on dates and men were coming to me, signing up, and actually following through.  They were planning great dates too!, It was also convenient that things got scheduled in advance so it was nice and structured and I knew exactly when I was going out- which was nearly every night for a whole month.  It was exhausting, however.  And since I agreed to go on first dates only during the project it made things a bit complicated when guys were trying to follow-up after their dates and see me again.  My time was limited and it was hard to try and balance my time and not make anyone feel like I was neglecting them.

Tamara: What was the most memorable part of your project?
Chantal: The MEN.  Hands down they are what made my project a success.  Each and every one of them as individuals really impressed me in one way or another.  I took something away from each one of their stories and examples.  They really touched me and I learned so much from each of them as they shared pieces of their lives with me.  They truly inspired me to be a better person in so many ways.
Tamara: I totally agree! Same, same. So, would you do it again?
Chantal: I don't think I'd have the energy or time to do it again anytime soon!  But I definitively don't regret it and would go back and do it all over again if I could.
Tamara: Did you learn anything about yourself? And dating?
Chantal: Heck yes!!  I learned that so many of my dating anxieties were unnecessary and that I had perhaps put unrealistic expectations on myself and men going into initial dates.  I also learned that it's okay to be relaxed and myself, even on a first date.  Dating should be about respect and putting your best foot forward, but not about walking on eggshells.  The more comfortable I was with letting my personality out, the better connection I formed on the dates.

Tamara: So, what about now?? How did your dating project and the lessons you learned from it affect the way you look at dating? 
Chantal: It has really helped me use better judgment when making tough dating decisions, like whether or not to pursue relationships with particular men or not.  I often reflect back on many of the good qualities and traits I really appreciated and long for in my future companion that I saw in some of the men I met during the project.  When I am confronted with uncertainties about current dating situations and the men in my life, I think about how they make me feel and how they treat me and whether or not they inspire me to be a better person.  I've learned to hold onto the hope that there are still good men out there and that dating can be enjoyable.  So I am not going to settle until I find the man for me.  I won't give up now.

Tamara: What advice do you have for other men and women considering this? 
Chantal: Just set a goal and go for it!  If you have the right attitudeand truly want to learn something, you will.  And it will be one of thebest dating experiences of your life.  And one of the biggest eye-openingexperiences for yourself.  Just do it - you won't regret it!

I have a feeling Chantal's summer calendar will be just as busy with guys asking her out.

And what about YOU??? Interested in changing the way you date? Consider taking the Dating Challenge. What do you think? Do you dare to date differently??

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