If you've ever been a single lady, then you've doubtless been on the receiving end of some well-meaning dating advice. Maybe you've even dispensed some yourself. "Just be yourself," we've been counselled. "If it's meant to be, it'll happen."
Matthew Hussey wants to know how that's working out for you.
The English motivational speaker and relationship expert argues that "just be yourself" is terrible dating advice -- especially if "being yourself" means being a self-sabotager who lacks the self-confidence to put herself out there. (And don't even get him started on that second piece of advice.)
His new book, the New York Times bestseller Get the Guy: Learn Secrets of the Male Mind to Find the Man You Want and the Love You Deserve, eschews self-help speak in favour of blunt, straightforward advice to help (straight) women take control of their love lives by building up their self-confidence. He's bringing his popular live seminar, Get the Guy Live, to the Burton Cummings Theatre on Tuesday.
Hussey speaks from experience. The 26-year-old knows first-hand how crippling a lack of confidence can be.
"I, quite frankly, always gave too much of a damn about what other people thought," says the Brit, who divides his time between Los Angeles and London. "I missed out on a lot in high school. I would've loved to talk to the girl over there or gone out for the school play. I just didn't get it. It angered me. I thought, 'I'm a nice guy. I don't get why I'm not getting what I deserve.'"
Hussey made an important realization. "I wasn't getting what I deserved because I didn't deserve it. I didn't have the courage to get out there and ask for it. Life doesn't reward people who don't ask.
"I'll be honest and say nice guys (and girls) should finish last -- especially if they've been using 'nice' as a euphemism for being a coward. People say, 'Be yourself,' but that doesn't give them anything to do."
Likewise, Hussey doesn't say "be confident." Get the Guy offers specific techniques and tips that can help women feel more at ease in social situations -- and therefore more at ease chatting up a cute guy. (The take-home message? There's nothing wrong with you, so stop standing in your own way.)
Hussey began his career as a "confidence coach" when he was still a teenager. "I knew, at 17 years old, that no one would take me seriously as a life coach -- but what I did know about is overcoming a fear of what people thought. That's the No. 1 thing that holds people back."
He worked exclusively with men, offering one-on-one and group coaching. It wasn't long before female friends started asking him to hold seminars for women that offered insight into the male perspective.
"The truth is, I was terrified of the idea of working with women -- but I got to the point where I said I'd try." He started with a small, invite-only event. "I went in saying, 'I'm not going to tell you about you -- because I don't know about you. But I do know about guys because I've worked with 10,000 of them.' And they loved it."
In addition to a bestselling book, Hussey has now coached 50,000 women through his sell-out seminars and he's reached three million more online via his viral YouTube videos. He's a Today Show regular and was a matchmaker on Eva Longoria's short-lived dating show, Ready for Love. His private coaching roster includes everyone from CEOs to celebrities; among his past clients is Christina Aguilera.
Get the Guy Live events were previously reserved for women only, but Hussey says the rules have relaxed and men can attend if they wish. And while his advice tends to focus on heterosexual relationships, it's not exclusive. "I don't profess to be an expert on gay relationships," he says, "but we've had great feedback from gay singles."
Hussey hopes that those in attendance will be inspired to get out and be an active participant in their lives, rather than treat life as something that passively happens to them.
"I don't believe life is a search for who you are," he adds. "I think life is about creating who you are. You decide who you want to be in this life.
"I find there's a nobility attached to uncertainty. I always think of that One Direction lyric, 'You don't know you're beautiful/that's what makes you beautiful.'"
Sorry, Directioners, but that's a steaming pile of garbage. "A healthy, confident adult doesn't find it attractive when someone puts themselves down," Hussey says.
After all, men are attracted to the same qualities that women find attractive, namely self-assuredness and confidence.
"One of the biggest things I've learned is that, if you're certain about yourself, it's the trait that trumps everything else. If you have a certainty about life, it's by far and away the most attractive quality a human can have."