Author and life coach Marie Forleo inspires countless numbers of individuals worldwide to live their best lives. Through her work and writings, she has caught the attention of such movers and shakers as Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.
So much so that Winfrey invited Forleo to join her on her Emmy Award-winning series “Super Soul Sunday,” on a new episode entitled “Oprah and Three New Voices: Next Generation of Spiritual Thinkers,” airing Sunday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN.
But it is her bestselling book, Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself, published in 11 languages, that makes Forleo of special interest to eHarmony members.
In this interview, Forleo shares her best advice on relationships — including what she thinks the secret is to being irresistible to men.
eH: What is the secret to being irresistible to men?
Marie: In my humble opinion, it is learning to be present and the art of presence in your life. It sounds a little bit disconnected, but in my experience, when you’re fully present and you’re engaged in your life — passionately engaged in your life — your work, your friends, your social life, cooking, hobbies, you instantly become more attractive. I think all of us make the mistake of sometimes getting lost in our thoughts, either worried about the future, or beating ourselves up about the past. And whenever we’re in one of those states, kind of tripping out in our minds or completely lost in our thoughts, our irresistibility just goes down the drain.
If you’ve ever been around someone who’s fully present and really engaged in what they’re doing, most of us can see they’re instantly attractive, even if they may not be our particular “type.” There’s that life force, that vitality, that energy that exudes from them that you just want to be around.
So, if you’re not present most of the time, but you bring awareness to that and start practicing staying engaged for longer and longer to actually build up the in-the-moment muscle, I like to call it, life takes on a dramatically different flavor. You know, if you go to the gym and you’re not really strong in your bicep muscles, but you keep going to gym and working out, you develop strength and with presence, it’s the same thing.
eH: What do you think is the biggest misstep women make when dating?
Marie: There are lots of them, but I think probably one of the biggest missteps that we make is holding on to our idea of a perfect man. We have this kind of perfect man checklist. Oftentimes, that includes how a man is supposed to look, what his background is, maybe what his life circumstance is. For example, he should be a businessman and wear a suit every day, or he should be a particular height, or a particular race. We have these idealized pictures in our minds of our perfect man and, while it’s great to have standards in terms of how someone is going to treat you, if they’re honest, compassionate, funny, or fun loving, those things we don’t want to change, but what I’ve seen is that with many women is, a perfect person often comes in a package they don’t expect.
That was true in my own life. I’m from New Jersey and I had a habit of dating the same kind of guy over and over. He was a very muscular, Italianesque, New Jersey-looking guy and I would find them all over the place. Once I let go of my pictures of who I thought I should be with, really just started paying attention to everyone and allowed myself a little bit of a wider net of who I’d date and hang out with, I met the man of my dreams — but he didn’t come in a package I expected. He was older; he was Jewish; I’m Catholic. He was divorced. He had a kid. There were all these different things, yet the man was so in alignment and so what I’d always wanted and never knew I could get.
eH: How did you change your picture? How did you get out of the rut of picking the wrong guy over and over again?
Marie: It was really about bringing awareness to [the fact] that I had this ideal, perfect-man checklist. Oftentimes, we have programs running in our own minds that we’re unaware of. It’s almost like a computer that has a bug in it but it’s invisible in the background. You’re like, “Why does this computer keep crashing?” You don’t know what’s wrong with it until you clean out the system.
So for me, it was a personal development; it was a spiritual journey of learning more about my mind, my belief set, all of the inner workings of my mental programming that I never brought awareness to before just because it’s not the kind of stuff that we’re taught in school. Personal development usually starts to happen sometimes in our 20s, 30s, 40s, or even onward. I was lucky enough to start stumbling upon this work in my early 20s. I recognized how much of my life was being run by programs that I absorbed as a little girl growing up in New Jersey, which is why all the men in my life were Italian and looked a particular way.
I put together this picture when I was very, very young and didn’t even realize that that was running in my brain. So, it was a process of personal development and spiritual work. It was almost like a light came on and I was like, “Whoa! Why am I dating the same guy over and over again just in different bodies with different names?” That awareness allowed me to have a shift where I was able to broaden my perspective and start allowing myself to be attracted and even interested in a wider variety of men.
eH: Why do you think men choose one woman over another?
Marie: Hmm, great question. I think it’s a combination of physical attraction, but also I think there’s a spiritual connection. I think that generally speaking, both men and women want to be with someone who when they’re with them, they feel more like themselves. And I think that one of the bad habits that I had before I was able to bring awareness to it was a little bit of man-bashing. In my experience, men don’t want to be around a woman who’s constantly putting men down, where there’s that war of the sexes going on under the surface.
For me, I really had to bring awareness to my own internal programming around “men are pigs,” or “they’re all lazy,” or “they’re not going to clean up and you got to watch out for them.” Again, many of us have these internal scripts running. We don’t even realize it but when we’re around men, we can make them feel like they’re the lesser gender, or they’re not to be trusted. Any human being doesn’t want to be made to feel that way.
I think what makes a man choose one woman over the other is how she helps make him feel. Does she make him feel appreciated, strong, capable, like he’s a good man? Since I wrote the book, that’s probably one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that men want to feel like they’re a good man and, if they’re intrinsically good and you affirm that in them, and you verbally appreciate them as “that was a great job,” or “thanks for helping me here,” they feel like a rock star.
eH: So you think that’s more important than them getting a trophy woman?
Marie: Absolutely, 100 percent. Having someone by your side who believes in you and who loves who you are…because, I think, especially, when we’re dating, of course, physical attraction is important, but all of us know our looks are not going to last forever. Our bodies change, our skin changes, the way we look changes, but who we are inside in our soul, in our being, that doesn’t change. When you find that and when you spend time with someone and they make you feel amazing and they appreciate you for who you are, I think that’s what makes love endure.
eH: What are some initial steps someone can take if they really want to meet someone?
Marie: I think that one of the mistakes that we make is sometimes we don’t think that there’s an opportunity to meet someone 24 hours a day. Here’s what I mean. In my early 20s, my workday was my workday. Going out to get coffee was going out to get coffee, going out to get food was going out to get food. I was very focused on getting things done. Then, if you go out on a date, or if you’re going out socially, that’s the time that you actually meet someone. You know what? What I found was that was limiting myself. There are opportunities to engage and meet people all day long.
So, as you start your day, as you’re going out to work, if you just have this idea that you’re going to engage with your world, interact and be more friendly — and when I say flirt, I don’t mean in an overtly sexual way. I mean more in a connection way. I’m sure you’ve experienced this where you can go and stand in line for coffee and you can look into your cell phone and kind of close off the world, or you can stand in line for coffee and actually interact with people you’re in line with. Say hi to the person behind the counter, ask them how their day was, or how their day is going.
The same thing if you’re on the subway, or you’re traveling anywhere. You can either cocoon yourself off and close off your energy, or you can actually open your energy up so you start interacting. Step number one is to know that from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, the whole day is filled with opportunities to meet people.
eH: One of your MarieTV videos is “How to Prepare for the Biggest Meeting of Your Life.” I thought that maybe some of that was applicable to a first date, like being present and really listening, and making it about what you can give rather than get, but another is follow up. Should a woman follow up after a date?
Marie: My sense, I absolutely believe a woman can and should follow up. I think it’s really about being honest and truthful and here’s what I mean by that. If you’re following up out of a sense of desperation, like “Oh my, God, does he like me? I want to know if he liked me? I need someone in my life.” If there’s that desperate, clingy, needy energy behind it, I don’t think it’s going to go well. Every human being is intuitive and all of us can pick up energy and signals. We can read the subtext of what’s going on.
But if you genuinely had a great time on a date, and you enjoyed his presence and you think of him, “You know, I just want to say thank you,” or “I just want to send a note and say that that was great. I’d love to see you again some time.” That level of clean energy and being direct, my belief is men appreciate that.
We do know that guys love the chase but in my own experience in my life, I’ve never been one to hold back or play games. I think what gets many of us in trouble is we’re too much in our head and not being honest and direct with like, “Hey, I had a great time. I would love to see you again.” If they don’t respond, they don’t respond. But I don’t think any woman would want to be in a relationship with a man where she has to strategize and play a game in order to get her point across.
eH: In your video about relationships, you talked about how you should have the kids conversation, the free-time reality check, and the no-guilt gut check. Let’s start with the kids conversation.
Marie: I think the kids conversation is so important because I feel we’re living in a time that things aren’t as they used to be. For example, 15, 20 or 30 years ago, people got married and they had kids. There was a prescription to the relationship, to love and to a life plan. I feel like we’re living in a time now where all of that has shifted. Folks are getting married later — if they are choosing to get married. There are many couples that are just choosing not to have kids. There are many women who are saying, “You know what? I love children but it’s not really my life path to have one.” I think having that conversation early on is a very respectful way to honor what someone’s beliefs are, and to see whether or not you guys are a good match.
I’ve seen friends in my own life, where the woman is absolutely clear that she wants to have kids, and the guy that she is with is a little on the fence. It’s been rough. I think it’s important before you let things go too far ahead to just know what someone’s dreams are so you can help them honor their life.
eH: Isn’t it also important to believe what someone tells you they want? I don’t know why women think they can change these guys who say they don’t want kids.
Marie: You know what; my friend [author/actress] Kris Carr said the best line about this: “The only time you can change someone is when they’re in diapers.” It’s like the best line ever, because I really do believe that is true.
eH: Another clue of yours as to whether or not you are in the right relationship is to do the free-time reality check. Can you explain that?
Marie: In the particular video that you’re referring to, this young woman was saying, “Gosh, I don’t know if my boyfriend and I are really meant to be.” In that particular instance, she was this free spirit, who was very entrepreneurial, wanted to travel the world and see things, and kind of have this adventure. The guy she was with at the time, his life and what seemed like was making him happy was going to work the same time every day, and in his free time, he wanted to sit down and watch TV and chill out.
The free-time reality check is really having some honest talks about what do you both want. If one person is a travel bug and wants to go on all these adventures, and the other one is really a homebody, again it’s about being honest and honoring someone else’s dreams and desires. If you guys don’t match, it doesn’t mean anyone’s wrong; it just means that there may be someone else that you could have more of a shared experience with. I’m sure there are relationships out there where folks don’t have that much of a shared experience, but I have to tell you in all honestly, I don’t see that as working out very well.
If you desire a high level of intimacy especially, you know if companionship and intimacy and shared experiences is high on your priority list for what makes a great relationship, then you’ve got to make sure you both have a good amount of overlapping interests.
eH: The no-guilt gut check helps determine whether or not you’re in the right relationship. Can you elaborate on that?
Marie: Oftentimes, I think what keeps us in relationships is a sense of guilt because we’re good people and we don’t want to hurt someone. We feel like, “Gosh, I don’t want to see that person in pain. Maybe I can make this work.” Because we’re afraid of having that difficult conversation, because we’re afraid that perhaps our actions are going to cause someone we genuinely care about pain, we stay in a relationship that’s really not right for us.
So, the no-guilt reality check is: Let me imagine a world where if we could end this relationship, my partner would feel absolutely no pain. You know what I mean? There would be no repercussions. They would be 100 percent fine, but we could get out of this relationship and be free and move on. If you imagine that scenario and you feel a sense of aliveness and freedom — You’re like, “Oh my God! That would be the best thing in this world” — then you know that it’s likely time to move on.
eH: Once you’re in a relationship, what is the key to keeping it working?
Marie: I think there are so many. One I’ve heard a lot in my life is it should be easy with the right person. We human beings are complex, right? We’re complex bundles of energy, emotions, histories, baggage, dreams and vision. It’s hard enough for a single person to get their own life right and then, you get two people together with their shared histories and expectations, it takes work.
So I think one of the keys is recognizing that it takes work and to not be afraid of that. I think real time, honest communication is big, and here’s what I mean by that. In relationships, there’s upsets. You feel hurt, you feel rejected, you feel disappointed. Things happen, and, I think, it’s vital if you want to maintain intimacy and a deep love and connection that you have real-time communication to clear things out. Meaning if there’s a disappointment, you don’t wait weeks or months or years before you sit down and clear the slate.
I’ve seen in my own life whenever I’ve said, “That really doesn’t matter, I don’t really need to say anything,” or “That was petty, I should just move on,” it’s as though there’s this growing list of grievances that I’m holding onto and little by little, it chips away at my ability to be intimate and loving with my partner.
Versus when something happens, and there’s an upset, which is normal because we’re human, and Josh and I talk about it; we sit down, we hash it out and we’re like, “Okay, great, that’s what’s happened,” we forgive each other and then we can get back in relationship. We can clear the slate.
I’ll say one more thing. I think in modern relationships, it’s vital that everyone in a relationship creates connection time that’s technology free. I’m Italian, Josh is Jewish. We call our one day a week off Hip Hop Shabbat. All of us are connected 24/7 and people are sleeping with their cell phones, literally, on the side of the bed. They’re constantly texting, checking e-mail, and there’s never any true connection time. I think that it is vital these days to make a weekly date where at least one day a week you’re both completely technology free.
eH: What has been the secret to your relationship happiness and success?
Marie: One of the secrets for us has been a shared desire to help each other become our best selves, and what I mean by that is I feel like Josh supports my dream 1000 percent. He sees the best in me and when he offers feedback or advice, I feel that he has my best interests at heart. It’s not through a framework of: How is this going to impact the relationship? What does this mean? Could this threaten him? He’s constantly looking for what’s going to be best for me. If he has any feedback that can help me get better, it’s always couched in a loving way.
I feel like I’ve done my work over the years to do the same thing for him. So if he asks me for advice and he’s having any kind of challenge or dilemma, I always hold him up in the best light and do my very best to see what his dreams are, where he wants to go, what’s going to make him most happy, and to do my best to marshal my resources, my support, my love, everything that I could possibly support him with to help him live his best life. I think that mutual level of love, support and encouragement keeps us connected.
For more from Marie Forleo, including a look at her MarieTV videos, check out http://www.marieforleo.com/. Then tune in to “Super Soul Sunday” on Nov. 18 on OWN.
Photo Credit: © Harpo, Inc. 2012- George Burns