I am a single female in my mid-twenties. Therefore, an embarrassingly large amount of my time is spent thinking, talking, whining and freaking out about dating and relationships. If I had a nickel for every minute spent on this, my student loans would be completely paid off and I would be hopping around town in a sleek, sexy BMW as opposed to my 2000 Mazda that smells like a grandma. (Not even my grandma. Just a grandma in general.)
While I—unfortunately—don’t get paid for the time I spend mulling over relationships, there is one woman in Austin who does. Julia McCurley is the brain behind Something More
, the premiere offline matchmaking service for singles in Austin
. McCurley likes to say that her job is to make love all day. Not a bad gig!
Something More was established when McCurley, a former headhunter/recruiting executive in the tech industry, decided it was time for a career transition. She had retired, married, had a baby and was active with charitable groups around town, but she missed the business world.
“My friends and family encouraged me to do this because there wasn’t anyone here on the ground in Austin doing offline, personalized matchmaking. And recruiting is a lot like matchmaking. You're interviewing people, getting beyond their resume, and trying to make a good match.”
McCurley works with single professionals in Austin. Her clients range in age from 26 to 77. Many have tried online dating—but the online dating industry is very similar to the weight loss industry: results not typical. She has an extensive screening process before taking on clients, but the most important factors are an open heart, an open mind and realistic expectations. Also, honesty. This prevents the awkwardness that ensues upon finding out your date is married (not-so-shocking fact: 35% of people on dating websites are married).
Being in the business of love, McCurley is an expert on dating and helping her clients find “the one.” I decided to pick her brain a bit and find out some of her best tips. These are usually reserved for paying clients, but I’ll go ahead and share them with you here, because with over 50,000 singles in Austin, it's safe to say these could apply to you.
Julia McCurley’s top 5 rules for dating:
Seeing is believing. Austin is a laid-back city where flip-flops are the norm and “jorts” are a perfectly acceptable form of trouser. However, when going on a date, McCurley says it’s important to look like you made an effort. Ladies: pick out a great outfit, take down the ponytail and get your nails done. Men: wear a nice shirt, ditch the cargos (actually, you can burn those because cargo shorts are never OK) and shave. You want to look your best and show the other person that you like them enough to step it up a bit.
Leave the baggage at home. On a first date, it’s best to keep things light. Don’t reveal the skeletons in your closet up front. Avoid discussing the huge fight you had with your mom that morning. And even though your ex sent you into an emotional tailspin last week when he texted you, there’s no reason to let your new love interest in on the gritty details. There’s plenty of time to get into those things, but starting too early can ruin any long-term potential.
Two ears, one mouth. You should listen twice as much as you speak. This tip can actually go hand in hand with the one above. If you are listening more than you talk, it’s less likely that you’ll break out the baggage. Ask a lot of questions; McCurley suggests following the FORM rule: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Motivation. Do they have any brothers or sisters? What do they do for work? What activities do they enjoy on the weekend? What’s their dream job?
Checklists are for the grocery store. The longer we stay on the dating scene, the longer our checklist gets, and unfortunately, we nix people if they don’t check off every box on that list. Instead, McCurley says to think about your negotiables and non-negotiables. Negotiables include: tall, dark hair, Adonis body. Non-negotiables include: honest, faithful, family-oriented. The thing is, we’re all going to age, and our current supermodel bodies will sag and fade with the years. It’s more important to find that person that will be your best friend and support you in the long run.
Fireworks are for the 4th of July. Fireworks are a huge misconception. Many people go on dates but then blow the person off because there weren’t any “fireworks,” or “the spark” just wasn’t there. But that “spark” doesn’t always come immediately. How many happy couples do you know who started as friends? McCurley has a three-date rule. Go on three dates and see if there is a real connection. If after three dates you’re not feeling it, then you can decide to just be friends. Who knows? Maybe they have another friend they can introduce you to.
McCurley also shared some things that men and women do wrong on dates. As you can imagine, there’s a veritable laundry list of mistakes—I have made roughly half of them, and am guilty of the most common one women make: acting like the boss. Many professional women are in a position of authority for 50+ hours a week, and they find it difficult to turn that off.
“Women rely a lot on their professional requirements as a way to attract a man, but I have never had a male client come to me asking for a partner with a Harvard MBA and a C-level title.”
It can be a controversial opinion, in 2011, that ladies need to be OK with being ladies. But McCurley notes that many women demand to be treated as such, which brings us to the most common issue among men: lack of chivalry. Men don’t open doors anymore or let the woman order first. Sadly, most women don’t even notice this as a vice because lack of chivalry has become the norm. But if men want women to embrace their femininity, they should respond by treating them appropriately.
I once went on a date with a guy who did all of the above—opened my door, let me order first, even pulled my chair out for me. It was quite the refreshing change of pace. However, he was about 5 inches shorter than his Match.com profile led me to believe, so we didn’t work out. Honesty is one of my non-negotiables and chivalry only goes so far—5’1” to be exact—without honesty to back it up.
Something More just celebrated its two-year anniversary, and continues to grow.
“There are over 50,000 singles in Austin, so we have a lot of work to do!” says McCurley.