Comedians Laura Lane and Angela Spera aren’t single anymore. (Lane is married and Spera is in a relationship.) But they know how hard it can be: “Everybody is kind of confused about what they’re doing because dating has changed so much,” Spera said.
The pair — who host a “This Is Why You’re Single” sketch show and podcast — have lots of advice for singles from their time in the dating trenches. I chatted with them last week, combed through their new book and came away with these five tips that might lessen your dating frustrations. (Their book is written with heterosexual women in mind, but these tips are applicable to anyone.)
1. Maintain a small crew of dating advisers
“We think people ask too many people for advice about what to do,” Lane said in our conversation. For example, when a dater takes screenshots of text messages from a new suitor and solicits advice from a trusted group of seven best friends on what to write back, it can lead to a Frankenstein monster of advice, she says.
“Stick to one or two advisors,” Lane and Spera write in their book, “maybe a third if you absolutely need a tiebreaker.”
Otherwise, the conflicting opinions can get overwhelming. “Once you ask a million people for their opinion, it’s hard to get a million voices out of your head. These voices tend to drown out rationality. Some of these people you wouldn’t even trust to plant-sit for you, so why are you getting their spin on where you should take your love life?”
2. When looking to meet people, choose quality over quantity
Rather than going to places that might have a lot of singles — such as a bar or club where it’s so loud you can barely hear each other — seek out places where you might find people with common interests. “You’re more likely to find compatibility when you do things that you enjoy,” Lane and Spera write. “Dig kale? Join a community garden. Need an audience for your limericks? Go to an open mic.”
Here’s the kind of quantity that can be helpful: Dating multiple people concurrently. That way “you don’t seem so obsessive” about any one person too soon, Lane said in our conversation. “If you have a guy on the back-burner, you’re less excitable,” Spera chimed in. “It prevents you from asking if somebody died.” Just one cautionary note: “You have to make sure, if you’re in the middle of sexting, you don’t start sexting the wrong guy.”
3. Don’t avoid online dating just because you want a cute meeting story
Lane and Spera owe both of their relationships to OkCupid, directly or indirectly. Lane’s husband, for example, went on date with one of her close friends, and though there was no chemistry, they stayed friends. Then Lane met him at their mutual friend’s holiday party. (Spera just met her significant other on OkCupid the old-fashioned way, by messaging each other.)
So it’s not surprising that they’re bullish on online dating. “Think of it this way,” they write. “If there was a party every single person your age within a ten mile radius was attending, would you say, ‘No, I’m going to sit home and focus on not meeting someone so that I can eventually meet someone’? No, you would not. You would go. Well, there is such a party happening on your phone and it’s (usually) free to get in.”
4. When texting, treat a new love interest like your cousin — and don’t over-explain
Texting with a new love interest can be so anxiety-producing — Why hasn’t he written back yet? What did she mean by that? — that you need some hacks to stay sane. Lane and Spera’s is WWITC, or “What Would I Text Cousin?” They’re not promoting incest; this is a trick to prevent overthinking. If you were texting with a cousin, for instance, you won’t be crazy-eager or desperate about planning that brunch or family outing. “It’s just a little expert substitution,” Lane and Spera write. “The important thing is that you treat this new guy,” they write, “like he is just close enough to be polite to but in that distant kind of way that keeps him interested. Be nice, be your smart and funny self but don’t be desperate.”
When you are in the throes of texting, Lane and Spera suggest simple explanations when it comes to scheduling. Try: “Oh no! I can’t, I have plans. Would tomorrow work?” Instead of a full scheduling rundown: “Oh no! I can’t because I have happy hour drinks with my co-workers at 5 p.m. and then dinner with my roommate at 7 p.m., and then I’m going to my friend Ashley’s birthday party. I feel like I haven’t really been a good friend to her lately so I probably have [to stay] till the end and it won’t be over until like 2 a.m.”
That’s a good suggestion for friendships, too. Would needs all that information?
5. Actions speak louder than labels.
For anyone who dwells on the “what are we?” question, Lane and Spera offer this piece of relationship #realtalk: “Labeling someone isn’t always what locks them down. There are ‘boyfriends’ who act like jerks and there are ‘I-don’t-know-what-we-ares’ who treat you like a queen,” they write. “Just like you can’t trust that ‘All Natural’ label on a box of fruit snacks that actually contain formaldehyde, the label of ‘boyfriend’ is nothing more than fancy packaging. Only you know what it’s inside.”