By now Im sure youve all heard of Marie Stuart of Marie Dates America. A Boston resident, Ms. Stuart is the publisher of Utah Loveawake Singles Magazine; when readers began to ask her about her own dating experiences she was inspired to challenge herself to date 50 men across all 50 American states! The journey was also an opportunity to raise money for her favorite charity, Save the Children. Noel was able to finish her travels in August- 10 days early!
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Ms. Stuart to get her take on her experiences and see what we could learn from her. Read on:
Z: I know youve mentioned them before, but I think theyre good to reiterate. What were your rules for dates during your adventure?
MS: I wanted the men that I met on this journey to take me seriously. Establishing a few rules, made things easier for me and set boundaries for my dates.
- No sex: In my personal life, I do not have sex on a first date. I took that same rule on the road with me. Many tried to coerce me into breaking that rule, they failed.
- No heavy drinking: On most dates, I did not drink alcohol at all. If the date insisted on having drinks, I would only order one.
- Will not go anywhere private with anyone: Every time I met a date, it was always in a very public area. A few tried to lure me into their apartments. Traveling alone, my safety became my number one priority. If a date insisted on meeting privately, I canceled.
- Will not bring anyone inside my hotel room: I tried my best to not share the name of the hotels which I stayed in. Though, couple times, I had to bring dates in the lobby of hotels. One guy asked if he could go to my room because he didn't feel comfortable talking in the lobby. When I said no, he asked if he could use my room's bathroom (the lobby didn't have a visitors' bathroom). I alerted the front desk clerk and kept my hotel room wide open while he used the bathroom. As soon as he was done, he said "this is not what I expected, I'm out of here."
- Will not ride in anyone's car or go into their home: I never rode in anyone's car. I did, however, go to the parents' home of one of my dates. I was a bit skeptical when he first asked me to visit his parents. Later, when I met his parents, I actually liked them better than my date.
Z: I assume that many of the men knew of your challenge and goal. How did they react?
MS: A few of the men only agreed to date me because they were curious about my adventure. I suppose they wanted to meet the woman crazy enough to travel the U.S. just to go on one date with them. Many of the men who canceled dates with me, did feel that going on a date with me was a waste of time. I suspected it was because most of them were simply looking for sex and did not take my dating quest seriously.
Z: Some women find it difficult to get one or two dates in one month, LOL! How were you able to schedule 50? What resources did you use or take advantage of?
MS: It is hard to find the type of men whom we deem date-worthy. However, for my dating quest, I was open to meet men who normally I wouldn't consider my type. I wanted to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly. I joined three dating websites; Loveawake.com, Plentlyoffish.com, and OkCupid. With the help my personal coach, Karen, I secured the services of Two Of Us, a personal introduction agency. Two Of Us held two mixers for me in Pittsburgh, PA and in Birmingham, AL. Laura Occhipinti, owner of the New Jersey Young Professionals, provided my New Jersey date. I had many men cancel on me and had to find last minute dates. I would go to home improvement stores, restaurants, and other social venues. I would walk up to a guy and ask if he would be my date for that particular state. Most of my on-the-go-dates were intrigued by the concept and agreed to represent their state.
Z: Have any of your 50 dates showed any romantic promise?
MS: Though the purpose of my trip was to date all 50 states, I was genuinely looking to make a connection with someone. I did meet four people who I promised second dates to. So far, I've had two second dates with two of the guys and I'm waiting to see the other two guys again.
Z: From your experience dating men across the country what advice would you give to actively dating women?
MS: When going on a date, it's best to keep a neutral state of mind. Don't go in with high expectations or judgmental thoughts. Dating is fun and when you least expected it, you will find the right person for you. Starting with the first date, always be yourself. The first impression does speak volume. You want a man who wants you for who you are all the time, not who you think he might like you to be.
Z: What would you say was the most important thing you learned on your dating adventure?
MS: I learned that men are not as complicated as women think. The men from each U.S. regions are very different from one another. The southern states were the friendliest. The mid-western states were very laid back but many lacked cultural tolerance. I live in the east and I think people here move in such fast pace that they rarely stop to just relax. The western states were, in my opinion, the most aggressive. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter which region a guy comes from, if he's into you, you'll know right away. Though I was rushing from states to dates, I knew who the gentleman were.
Z: I'm looking forward to reading your upcoming book! When should I start checking bookstores?
MS: I have finished the first draft of the book and have been shopping around for a publishing house. If all goes well, I hope to have the book in stores by next Summer.
As mentioned Marie is currently working on her book about her dating adventure. To find out more about Marie check out her blog here (also see my side bar) and join her Facebook page here.