Daeandwrite: Hello Heather Dugan! Thanks so much for joining daeandwrite to answer a few questions about your book, Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt and Advice Between Friends.
Heather: Smiling and waving at you, Pam!
Daeandwrite: First question: Is that even possible? When do we grow up? 21? 35? 50?
Heather: To be grown up in all segments of our lives? Probably not. I certainly haven’t crossed any finish line yet! Think you have to be changing your furnace filter regularly and planning more non-microwave based dinners… The maturing process is more of a bar graph—we surge up with color-spiking achievement in some areas and barely splash the white background in others. Most of us grow on an “as needed” basis—with life experiences serving as the building blocks for further development. In our twenties, we grow careers and relationships. We may feel “grown up” because of the contrast between college and career—Haha, weren’t we adorable back then when we—“Seriously!”—knew it all? In our thirties, there is often a family focus as we begin to better grasp our ties to past and future. It’s more “throw up” than “grow up.” By our fifties, most of us are beginning to realize that many of the things we’ve already learned are suspect. Because we didn’t really learn them—we simply accepted them as truth. Once we begin taking inventory of our actual beliefs, we start growing up for real. We’ve less to lose and more to gain by being genuine—and we’re aware of the smaller space ahead. And often—we’re back to pursuing relationships. After the grief and/or anger we feel with a midlife breakup or death, there can be a sense of urgency—we did some things wrong, we have second or third chances…but we’re running out of time. Gotta grow up and get on with it!
Daeandwrite: What trips up so many of us in the dating world? Do men and women face the same issues?
Heather: The biggest roadblock—by far—is neediness. Prime examples would be the “I gotta check and see if he got my text” text and the “I can’t sit at home this weekend!” consolation date. Because even with our Internet-driven, social media-crazy lifestyles, more of us are isolated...more of us are alone. Our Google search skills are often better than our interpersonal ones! And many expect dating to be this magical fairy godmother gift that will transform a lonely life. That’s untenable pressure for a new relationship. Neediness also leads to “anyone is better than no one” space filler choices and the desperate fanning of embers that are better left to flicker on out—which is why it is so important for adult singles to build other connections into their lives! And yes, men and women do “needy” equally well. We see it—and run from it—in others, but have a hard time recognizing it in ourselves.
Daeandwrite: How did you develop the idea for Date Like A Grown-Up? I know a lot of the examples you give have happened to you or your friends, but how did the idea come about to put it all in a book?
Heather: I’ve written a lot of articles on business and interpersonal connection and have an advice column at Salary.com. Even before the book, I fielded a lot of questions on relationship situations and choices. And I kept repeating myself! Realizing that I had learned concepts that were beneficial to many of us kind of stirred up my nurturing instincts, and I expanded the one-on-one conversations into Date Like A Grownup. The dating anecdotes you mention are the “pictures” in my book and seemed essential for a couple of reasons. First, they illustrate what it looks like when we stray from dating like a grownup. Secondly, they help us move from “I can’t believe I did that” to “I’m not the only one… I can do better next time.”
Daeandwrite: Since the book has been out, what kind of reactions do you get from people who’ve read it? Do they tell you their successes or failures?
Heather: One of my favorite reviews came from a guy who said it was really about “living” as a grownup—he nailed it! I hear from men and women reevaluating their approach—walking away from space-filler relationships that kept them unavailable for a “right fit” match. They’re excited about personal revelations and resolved to change their own futures. That kind of feedback is truly thrilling. And I hear a lot of great—i.e. awful!—stories of unbelievably bad dating experiences that would be implausible in fiction! Just got a text (seriously—right now as I type) from a friend whose blind date wore a red clown nose so that she could spot him waiting at the bar. Yes, an adult male on this planet thought that would be a good idea…
Daeandwrite: You and I have been friends since college (and I’ll thank you not to mention how many actual years ago that was) and you always seemed to be a pretty successful dater. What do you think it is about women that men look for when inviting someone on a date or in accepting one? What do women look for when inviting someone on a date or accepting one?
Heather: It’s funny how “busy” can play as “successful”… in business and in our personal lives. Sometimes, we’re just dancing from foot to foot. I met a lot of two or three-date guys in college, but I didn’t really connect with anybody back then—I was more into the “conceal” than the “reveal.” But our base needs don’t change that much… Men are drawn to women they want to see in the dark, but will build a future with the one they can talk to over a turkey sandwich. Appreciation is one of the big ones for guys—they want to be with a woman who makes them feel good about themselves. And self-confidence is a huge attractant for all healthy adults—both sexes. Women vary a little—we love a good spark but can be warmed to a boil by a good man who nurtures and takes out the trash. For us juggling types—love may flow easier toward the sexy smart guy who also helps make the bed and the coffee.
Daeandwrite: What’s next? Marry Like a Grown-Up?
Heather: Good thought, Pam! But I’m starting before that and expanding on a key element in the Date Like A Grownup life strategy. It’s ironic that we start with girlfriends, gravitate to a “get the guy” focus (often at the expense of our friendships) only to wander on back to seeking women friends when we’re single again. A big part of growing a strong love relationship is maintaining a larger life platform that includes strong supportive connection and our own grownup pursuits. So, I’m writing a Cabernet Coaches book that explores the value and power of connected friendships. I’m also finishing up Profile on Page Nine—the next Angie Wharton book to follow Pickup in Aisle Twelve—and getting ready to start recording the audio version of Date Like A Grownup! Testing…testing…(ahem… is this thing on?).
Daeandwrite: OK, here’s the challenging part. Plan a menu for a book club discussion of your book and if you have any recipe(s) you’d like to share, please do!
Heather: Oh please! Can I just clean out your basement or something? OK… I can do this. The Cabernet Coaches—who are basically my book club on wheels—are big on happy hour appetizers—small plates and ample beverages. So… let me troll through some of our favorite happy hour specials.
Beverage: For most of us it’s a decent Cabernet (or I’ll take a dry Riesling in the summer) and water (for whiter teeth!).
Appetizer(s): Our meals usually come off the happy hour menu. The perfect happy hour appetizer will be: shareable, eaten with fingers or one eating utensil (using both knife and fork leaves no hand for gesticulating or reaching for the wine glass) and will not require much focus—never order something that requires a mental departure from the conversation… pasta is risky… if the story is good, that linguini will land in your lap.
Better alternatives from Columbus area restaurants include:
Spicy tuna rolls with wasabi, soy and ginger (use chopsticks for best flavor) —Molly Woo’s Asian Bistro
Bang Bang Shrimp (fiery pile of oceanic protein) —Bonefish Grill
Mussels with jalapenos and tomatoes in a white wine broth (with grilled toast) —J Lui
Thai Chicken Skewers (with mini-cucumber salad and spicy peanut sauce) —Brazenhead Irish Pub
Flatbread pizza with arugula, mushrooms and tomatoes (more than enough for two) —Marcella’s Italian Kitchen
In a notable departure from “heat and eat,” I’ve actually improved upon the Flatbread Pizza and will—for the very first time—offer up my ever-evolving recipe…sauce pan clatter, please…
Heather’s Fabulous Flatbread (serves four)
Ingredients: Naan bread (four)
4 Tbs pesto
Fresh or packaged arugula
1 pkg of diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 diced red pepper
1 can of quartered artichokes, pieced into
Diced cooked chicken (optional)
Sliced banana peppers (optional)
Crumbled feta cheese]
Shaved parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place Naan bread onto pizza stones or cookie sheets. Spread with thin layer of pesto. Add sun-dried tomatoes, and then, a generous amount of arugula. Brush lightly with olive oil. Top with red pepper, artichoke and banana peppers or chicken if desired. Sprinkle with feta and parmesan. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until cheese begins to melt and bottom of bread begins to brown. Remove from oven and cut with pizza cutter. *I’ve made these with anything and everything—asparagus, mushrooms, pineapple pieces…, and always keep Naan bread, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto on hand for desperate improv dinners.
Daeandwrite: Thank you so much for joining us here today, Heather. Date Like a Grown-Up is a blast to read and will make a very fun book to discuss over one, two or several glasses of wine.
Heather: Thank you, Pam! I really hope you can come to Columbus and join the Cabernet Coaches on a Wednesday evening some time soon!
Get your copy at http://www.amazon.com/Date-Like-Grownup-Anecdotes-Admissions/dp/099134930X