A Drink With Bela Gandhi

A Drink With Bela Gandhi

November 19th, 2012

Founder & President of Smart Dating Academy

We love your nail color!

Thank you! It’s called ‘Soul Mate’ and I didn’t choose that for any reason except my manicurist said I do the same color every two weeks and I needed a slight variation. My pulse was racing and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I can change!’ [Laughs]

When did you realize you had a knack for matchmaking?

Oh my gosh, a long time ago! It started in college with my college roommate … I would tell her she needed to get out more and I went out to a party one night and I came home and I’m literally bubbling over and she’s like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ and I’m like, ‘I met your husband tonight!’ But he had a girlfriend … Fast forward to three years later, I get engaged and my parents throw me an engagement party and the guy is there and the roommate is there because he is a friend of my husband. He kind of grabbed my elbow and he goes, ‘Bela, is that the girl you were obsessed with setting me up with at school?’ and he goes, ‘She is cuter than I remember!’ I said, ‘She’s always been that cute, you’re just single now!’ I told him he had six months before our wedding to man up and call her…I would check in with him every month. Fast forward to month five and he still hadn’t called her! I said, ‘Fine, this is never going to happen.’ Now it’s our wedding night and we are sitting there at our own reception and everyone is dancing and we are drinking champagne looking down from this raised table and we see the two of them slow dancing! It turned out he finally asked her out the Saturday night before. They went out every single night that week! Our wedding was like their eighth date. Two years later they called and said they got engaged!

What had you been doing as a career then?

I was running a chemicals company at this point. I ran a business for twelve years that made Teflon for cookware and bakeware. People say I went from chemistry to chemistry! I put the phone down and—I’m not one of those people that believe in a light bulb going off but—I just said, ‘I’m supposed to do this someday.’ My husband said, ‘Do what?’ and I said, ‘Help people find who they are supposed to be with!’ Ten years later from that date I actually put my plan together and started a business. Now it’s been three years. I started out matchmaking … Most matchmakers will give you a date a month but there is still 60 other meals, what are you going to be doing for the other 59? It evolved six months later [to a date coaching service] …Just this year we had three engagements, two babies and three weddings!

What are some of the biggest mistakes people make while dating these days?

People screen people out so quickly, especially as technology has hit dating. Ten years ago, when we were dating there was no internet, there was no Match.com. So now, people feel like the next best date is a mouse click away. One of the other mistakes I have found that really makes a difference is we are all expecting to be liked, that’s what everyone wants and the best way to get someone to like you is to genuinely like them first. Transition your mindset. Successful dating really starts and ends in your mind. If you are looking for what’s good in that person—I’m not saying this person is going to be your husband or your soul mate—but when you walk in [think], ‘I’m going to find what’s good about this person and I’m going to have fun,’ then the dates start to become more fun. You start to put better energy out there. You get the third date, the fourth date, the guys don’t vaporize. It’s amazing what happens.

What is the number one thing you hear that is a dating deal breaker?

One of the biggest problems that men complain about with women—especially with professionally successful women—is that they have taken on more of a masculine veneer and they want to talk about how successful they are at work and all of these great things they’ve done at work and they have their Blackberries on and they are talking about these big deals and women have taken their work persona to their dates and that is a huge … They are like, ‘ She’s amazing, she is super cool but I’d rather hire her than date her.’ Because it was more competitive.

Do you believe everyone really does have a soul mate?

I believe there is somebody for everybody but I believe that there are lots of different soul mates. So I don’t believe there is only one person for us. That should encourage you! Think of your ‘have to haves’ and as soon as he doesn’t meet one, I don’t care how hot he is, I don’t care how successful he is, throw him back to the pond … It’s big things, like is your religion important to you? It’s the big things that are going to matter long term. Do you want to have kids?

Do you want to work?

We saw you offer a Flirting 101 class. Can you share the cliff notes with us?

Oh, absolutely! One of the best flirting tips I can give you is that if you are interested in someone that is looking at you [give] three seconds of eye contact with a smile! I will warn you it is going to seem like an eternity… Be present.

Does the standard ‘don’t sleep with someone on the first date’ rule still apply these days?

Sex is a big deal. Yes! I’m fairly old school with that because I’ve seen that it makes a difference. Don’t have sex until you have that conversation and you are in an exclusive relationship … There is science to this. So, when we have sex we secret a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is also the hormone in pregnant and nursing women that lets your milk in and also allows you to bond with your babies and puts you into labor. So when we give off this hormone it’s the attachment hormone. So when women have sex with men too early you are flowing with oxytocin, what do you feel? You feel attached! And this is how good women stay with bad guys. Suddenly you’ve had sex and now you can’t stop thinking about this guy even though he might be a complete zero and inconsistent and unreliable but still he gets into our bloodstream because there is oxytocin in the bloodstream. It’s literally scientific.

Is it the same for men?

A lot of guys can get attached to women as well during sex because they secrete oxytocin as well. I think men have a better mechanism to sort of love us and leave us quickly and if they aren’t that into us they can sleep with us and have nothing invested in it. There are all sorts of chemistry; physical and emotional chemistry. Men are clearly wired by physical chemistry first. You have to give them awhile to develop the like. So when we sleep with them too early, a lot of time we stunt that emotional connection. Haven’t you had a guy grow on you? That you weren’t attracted to in the beginning?


And that’s what happens. We are sparked emotionally and that’s when physical chemistry develops. So if a girl tells me, ‘Oh my gosh, he is so hot!’ and lights up like a blow torch I’m like, ‘Whoa! Hold on a second!’ If you need to go out and have a bender then go out and have a bender. [Laughs]

What advice do you give when it comes to texting?

Don’t text too much! People don’t have context when they read a text, like why did he say yes instead of yeah with an exclamation point and a smiley face? [Laughs] And people misinterpret texts all of the time or you’re in a texting marathon, like every ten seconds you are texting back and forth and all of sudden someone has to go to the bathroom and it’s been three minutes and then you’re like, ‘Oh my God, shedoesn’tlike me! See. I knew it was going to go sideways.’ And then we tell ourselves these crazy stories. So I’d say don’t text!

What are the key components when you are considering someone as your life partner? Not everyone has those love at first sight moments.

I tell people all of the time, marry for character. Marry a person that makes you feel happy, makes you feel safe and secure because so much of the time we search for the elusive chemistry and what is chemistry? A lot of it is lust in the very beginning, which is scientifically proven to reduce after two years. So ultimately, I always tell everyone you should be attracted to the person but if it doesn’t hit you over the head date one like, ‘I didn’t feel a connection, toss him back,’ give it three dates. If you think it’s a nice person and there is something good to it, keep dating that person until you know for sure. So now I usually say go up to six dates with that person. And then if you tell me you would run out of the room if he tried to hold your hand then okay we are done.

One topic to avoid in the early stages of dating?

Don’t talk about anything that is negative or that can lead to a debate. First dates are like a job interview. So think about what you are going to say!

What should you do on a first date?

Don’t do coffee. Coffee feels like an interview. It’s awkward! Meet for a drink or an appetizer and cap it at 90 minutes … Leave them wanting more. You know if you are drinking a lot and you are hanging out with this person for eight hours you’re going to probably talk about things that you shouldn’t on the first date. [With] too much time and too much alcohol, you are probably going to go down those dark allies. Then you go home together and it’s all a mess. Abridge it! Make in an hour and half, two hours. If you are having fun, then great, you’ll be looking forward to it again.

What other things do you tell people who are getting out of a relationship or can’t move on past their exes?

If they can’t stop thinking about their ex then either they aren’t ready to do this or you need to cut it off completely. I don’t want you to be in contact with that person anymore. Go and get rid of anything they’ve ever given to you; all pictures, all gifts, like hardcore! Purge yourself! That is bad energy!

You are happily married now. Were you always in great relationships or have you had any crappy boyfriends?

No, not always! Didn’t we all? I had a relationship in college which was what I thought I wanted. I want him to be tall, super smart, very edgy and he was all that was good and bad that I thought I wanted. The highs were really high in the beginning and then the lows were really, really low. It was really hot and cold. There would be days he would just be mean because that is what he felt like that day or he would disappear for five days and finally two years later I said enough is enough. Granted, I was really young. I just said, ‘We are done.’ I’m a finance major, so once I closed the door,I took out my notebook. What did I learn from this guy? What worked? What didn’t work? What was his responsibility? What was mine? What do I know I want in a person? And one of my top three things was that I want someone that is a good person, who has a pleasant disposition everyday. Someone who is nice to me and nice to everyone.

How did your husband propose?

I’m a painter and I’ve always been into art and I love the French impressionists. He took me to the Art Institute for some fake exhibit that was going on … He did it in front of [Claude] Monet’s water lily. I had no idea it was going to happen! I said I should call my parents and he’s like, ‘Everyone is meeting us for dinner.’ Both of our families were there.

Does your husband make you happy every single day?

No! [Laughs] We argue but we never let it escalate.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

I would love to have a drink with Barack Obama! Let’s assume he is alpha [laughs] so whatever he is having I’d love to try it! Tell me what your favorite is and I’ll have that.

Read the original article here.