Dating Tips From a Happy Couple

Hayley and Michael DiMarco, authors and dating experts

Meet Hayley and Michael DiMarco a married couple with forty years of dating experience behind them. Straight from the heart of Nashville, LTK had the opportunity for an entertaining chat with these two best selling authors and dating experts. Explore their decade's worth of dating advice.

About the DiMarco Couple

Although they met through an online dating site, they had interestingly similar backgrounds. Hayley was a published writer whose first official book was titled Datable. A guide written to help teens navigate the dating scene, she received many comments how older teens had trouble finding solutions within the pages geared toward the early dater. So, she then wrote the book Marriable, as she described "the parent book of the teen book. "Michael was in the electronic publishing business and had been involved with providing advice on being single and dating both through print and radio media outlets. Traveling often for his work, he frequented the town of Nashville where Hayley lived. When they did finally connect, they also discovered they were born one month apart and both had grown up in the same area of Oregon.

How They Met

As a work-at-home writer, Hayley had one particular tough week with sickness and deadlines. She realized that she was slightly depressed due to her increasing age and missing out on the dating scene. So, she decided to try online dating as "research" - although as Michael casually mentioned "that was just a cover." Her profile was a well-written display of someone who was trying to not look that desperate.

Michael did the same thing about a week later. "I had been traveling for work for so long and had taken myself out of the dating scene - basically because I felt like a destructive dater", he describes. He had finally come to the conclusion that his life was getting back together, and he needed to get back out there. In his perspective, "online dating is a way to get back into the dating scene - without "really" getting back into it." Therefore, he put up a profile during a free one week trial period. On the eighth day of the trial, one day after it expired, he received an email with all the matches for the week and "up popped Miss 80%." His highest match of the whole trial ended up being Hayley. He had to ask himself now, "how desperate am I?" Luckily for the two of them, he decided it was worth the $19.99 to contact her.

That began what was initially a long distance relationship, first through email, then instant messaging. As strong writers, they hit it off immediately and soon moved to phone conversations and then the eventual first date. As Michael traveled often to Nashville, they agreed to meet for coffee during one of his trips, with the option of dinner afterwards if things went smoothly. Not only did they make it to that dinner, but they have now been married for three years and are parents of a bouncing one year old.

How They Knew This Was It

Hayley was 37 at the time and thought she was simply commitment phobic. So, she surprised herself when after only three months she felt ready to settle down with him. Hayley admitted, "Although I always hated to hear people say this, but I really just knew" he was the one for me.

In Michael's words, "For me it was opposite, I had always been the nice guy who was ready to commit for many years. I actually even got married and divorced in my early 20s and it only lasted a year and a half. So, then I felt the nice guy got me nowhere, and I decided to be the bad guy. By the time Hayley rolled around, I had done this old house remodel to my love life and had kind of got things in order. So, for the first time, I went through and made a rational choice, acknowledging that relationships take work, and marriage is really a commitment of your word. When people ask me, how do I know they are the one? I tell them, the one is the person who you say "I Do" to. Then the rest you have to just figure out." Obviously this mature perspective on relationships came from years of trial and error. Michael had basically concluded it was the right time to take that stab in the dark.

Advice From This Dynamic Duo

What are first date conversations to avoid?

  • Avoid the mention of past relationships.
  • Restrain yourself from divulging too much personal information.
  • Keep the conversation light and avoid negativity.
  • Don't talk about past illnesses or allergies.
  • Shun complaining in general.
  • Stay aware from politics and religion - if this is a critical issue for you, have that conversation before you even go out on a date.

As Michael mentioned, all of these issues are basically following the theme of when do I talk about them? While many people feel they want to dump on a new relationship to ensure they "accept me for me", it is one of those situations where it is too much too soon - "there really is a process to go through first."

How to fight the fear of rejections?

Book cover image of The Art of Rejection

Michael and Hayley wrote a whole book on this topic, The Art of Rejection, but they did nicely sum it up as "you just have to embrace it (rejection), instead of fighting the fear; you really need to take a 180 on rejection and see it as a good thing or a blessing." Michael provided an interesting analogy that "life is a roll of scratch off lottery tickets - if you are a quality person, you are guaranteed winning tickets - a rejection is a losing ticket - so don't lament over the losses - keep looking for those winners."

What is a good way to end a relationship?

Hayley jumped right into this with the requirement to "try to do it in person", unless of course you have only chatted online. It is very important to be clear and direct - as that is truly the kindest thing. If you are too wishy-washy then people will try to convince you differently or they may see hope in the relationship that is not there.

Michael was quick to explain the guy's perspective as they in particular either try to see the "chance" in a breakup, or they also think they need to be heroic and chase after women. The conclusion is to basically remove words like think or might and don't give a reason or excuse - just try to make it short. Michael's advice was to make the breakup relative to how long the relationship has lasted - the less time invested in the relationship the shorter the breakup.

Why do you encourage women to wait for men to contact them?

Hayley and Michael also provide a more historical perspective on the game of dating. In their view, guys love a challenge and if a woman doesn't allow themselves to be chased, men lose interest. While this is certainly a controversial perspective in today's world of equal rights and feminism, it is still an interesting analysis. As Michael explains it, there is a "sense of allurement that goes away" when the woman is doing all the fishing.

What can women do then to attract a man?

Hayley's advice was to focus on flirting and communication. Making eye contact and providing signals that allow the man to take the lead. Essentially, play the roll of showing interest, without actually asking them out.

What about the men?

Michael's advice to men is "to look at the bad boy, don't be the bad boy, but ask yourself why is it the bad boy who always tends to get women without even trying?" In his opinion, it is because women see his confidence. Ultimately the goal should be to slow the relationship down and allow it to have control. This helps to develop healthier relationships. Treat a woman with respect and balance the relationship - have a separate life, demonstrate good relationship etiquette with calling and arranging dates, and focus on your career.

Closing Thoughts

Michael wanted to be sure and quote Haylee on saying "If all of this sounds counter cultural to progress on women's' issues or antiquated - she says - if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you've gotten. So the question is, is that enough?" Basically they ask you to look at the types of men/women you attract? Is this what you want? For women you might need to relinquish some control or men might need to take more risks. This will hopefully bring you one step closer to finding the one.

Further Information

Book cover for The Art of the First Date

Visit their website:

Their Books:

Soon to be released in the beginning of 2007:

  • The Art of Small Talk
  • The Art of the Chase
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Dating Tips From a Happy Couple