LOVE BY DESIGN – THE ULTIMATE RELATIONSHIP GUIDE

MARRIED EXPERTS TALK SOLID COUPLING

Yes, we’re the party publication, but we do love love. So we appreciate how challenging it can be for singles of all ages to find it in today’s fast-paced, techno-pulsing world, and for busy couples to keep the flame going. The following piece was penned by two of the planet’s most sought-after experts on the topic: LAURIE DAVIS, the force of nature behind online dating consulting service eFlirt; and THOMAS EDWARDS, JR., founder of dating consulting company The Professional Wingman. The two just happen to be happily married, and they’re here to spark up stagnant love lives, bless their generous souls.

NAVIGATING SINGLEDOM

Dating is an inherent part of our social lives. And socially, our lifestyles are connected in person and on screen. We throw and go to parties, attend fashion shows and benefit events, and head out for lunches, dinners, and so forth. But we also RSVP events online, catch up on our friends’ lives through Instagram, and communicate in emojis. The best single life is a balance of both online and offline. Overload on one and you’ll burn out easily. With that in mind, here are the four staples to designing the perfect dating life.

CREATE A SOCIAL ADVISORY BOARD

In your social life, there are naturally going to be gaps; roles that aren’t fulfilled by your cur- rent crew, or qualities you’d like to boost in yourself. So it’s key to assemble a social advisory board from a small group of people who have these specific characteristics. Maybe you’d like to meet someone who’s great at throwing parties and entertaining a crowd, or you’d love to learn from someone who knows how to get hooked up at events or into clubs. Maybe someone who’s good at making connections with other singles could benefit you. Whatever you’d like to be better at, there’s someone out there who has those tools, and who’s more than willing to help you achieve your own greatness. Look them up, and be pleasantly enriched.

KEEP YOUR APP-TIONS OPEN

Apps are a Social Gal and Gent’s best friend. They let you flirt in real-time with someone, even when no one at the party is striking your fancy. Having two apps downloaded to your phone is ideal, so you can meet different people on each. Try an app like Hinge, that’s curated as carefully as a well-done dinner party; or Bumble, which puts women in control of the conversation; or CoffeeMeetsBagel, that carefully matches you with one cutie per day. Using tech in your love life lets you filter out the people you’re not interested in, while putting a spotlight on the right matches.

CREATE FRIENDSHIPS FROM THE SOURCE

To make significant connections with those you desire, it’s important to have friendships with the gender you’re attracted to. And we do mean just friends! Having attractive platonic relationships in your life carries many benefits. Namely, they will expand your perspective and outlook on dating, and they can be great matchmakers. Women and men live very differently, and there’s a lot to learn from the opposite perspective, including what they look for in a potential partner. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet through them!

TEXT YOUR WAY TO THE NEXT DATE

Once you’ve been on a date, texting is how most communicate. It’s also most commonly used to secure plans for your next night out. We suggest texting for banter instead to develop your relationship. Each few words you type are an “in between” date, a few moments for you to move your relationship forward by learning more about your match. Start by asking what’s happening in their life at the moment. When they text back, don’t just react; ask another question to keep the communication lines open.

FOR PAIRS

We met on Twitter in 140 characters, and when we got together for a cocktail offline, sparks flew. Six years later, we’re still together (and married!) because we designed a relationship we love. Here are some of our must-haves for any couple.

NEVER STOP DATING

So often, people think of “dating” as a means to an end; something they need to do to get into a relationship. Then, they stop courting each other. But those skills you used to get into a relationship are the same ones you need to stay in it. Make sure your partner never forgets the reasons they were attracted to you and wanted to be with you to begin with. We do this with weekly dinner dates, picnics in the park, and day trips. We spend undivided time together – with our phones off – and it’s intentional. No matter how happy you are in your relationship, it’s important to avoid complacency, which can lead to laziness. It helps your relationship stay fresh, no matter how long you’ve been together.

FIND ”YOU” TIME

The best relationships occur when two people are as secure in themselves as they are in each other. Having a healthy balance of time togeth er and time apart allows you to foster both your independence and coupledom. We consciously spend time apart at least once a week, if not more. For example, Thomas might spend all day watching football with his buddies while Laurie shops up and down Fifth Avenue. We share many interests, but we also give each other time to enjoy the things we don’t have in common. When you do this, your relationship will never feel forced. Whether you’re with your friends or pampering yourself solo, you’ll feel refreshed when you return to each other’s side later. Doing this regularly keeps your happiness level high, and gives you the space you need to grow both as individuals and as a couple.

TAKE VACATIONS

Having new experiences that are unique to you, as a couple, furthers your relationship. We love to do this by traveling. Whether it’s a road trip to the Finger Lakes for wine tasting, or a cross-country flight to Hawaii for luaus and Mai Tais, we aim for four trips per year. Getting out of your comfort zone by jetting off to a new destination creates a shared experience, while developing a new level of trust. After all, when you’re somewhere unfamiliar, you only have each other to rely on. This gives you the chance to interact in different ways, even if it’s just by unwinding together.

FLOWERS MATTER

Love is all about the little things, and small gestures can keep the fire alive, because actions speak silently for our feelings. Thomas loves to randomly arrive home with flowers, while Laurie often makes his favourite chilli. The key to doing this is simple: listen to your partner and remember the things they love. The instant gratification may seem trivial and short-lived, but if done often enough, it will keep a smile on your partner’s face and be remembered for a lifetime.

Photography of couple BRIANS PHOTOGRAPHY