Interview with Nanci Kavich, the co-founder of Profile Wingman (profilewingman.com). “I help people write their online dating profiles and to navigate the world of on- and offline dating in general. It’s so hard to make yourself three-dimensional and have your personality come through and attract the person you want to attract...that’s where we come in.”
What books or websites would you recommend to people interested in cultivating healthy relationships and intimacy?
I have a blog kind of about every topic, which I send my clients to often depending on what they’re struggling with. Everybody has their own issues or baggage, or things that are holding them back, so there’s not one book or one website to help everybody. But there is a website out there called Elite Daily (elitedaily.com) that does a lot of blogs about relationships and mostly relating to twenty-somethings. I’m a huge fan of TED Talks (ted.com), and there’s an app for that; anything you want help with, they’re so inspirational.
I think the big thing is kind of identifying where it is you need help and just being open to it. I’ve personally even watched a movie or read a novel and something just resonates with me: ‘That’s me and that’s what I should change about myself.’ It’s being aware of where you need help and (then) it shows up. It’s like hearing a new word you’ve never heard before and then all of a sudden you’re hearing that word all the time.
What are the top things people should know about healthy relationships and intimacy?
This is something that we talk with clients all of the time, three basic rules: The first thing is, you need to establish a goal for yourself. What is it you’re hoping for yourself, relationship-wise? Are you looking to get married and have kids? Are you hoping to just have a random hookup? Whatever it is, every one of your actions has to follow that goal. Like for me, I’m 45 years old; if I want to get married again, I shouldn’t be going out with a 24-year-old. That’s just deviating from my goal, it’s diluting my goal; it’s wasting everybody’s time.
Number two: you need to be happy with yourself, you need to be well-adjusted with yourself.
I have a girlfriend who just broke up with her boyfriend and she’s admittedly a mess! She feels like she has all this baggage and she’s not over him yet and she’s wanting to start dating again, and I’m like, ‘You’re not ready.’ You need to become okay with yourself first. If you’re not happy with yourself, if you’re insecure or whatever it is, how do you expect someone to like you and treat you right?...You need to present the best of yourself and you’ll be treated the best.
The third thing is to be honest who you are and show your true self. People tell me all the time, ‘You know what I like about you? You’re always yourself.’ I cannot believe that is something that’s an anomaly to people. Especially a first date, you’re trying to put on this air of who you think you should be. You need to be who you are and you want to be liked for who you are. If you’re liked for this person you’re pretending to be, eventually you’re going to stop pretending and your true self is going to come through. And they may not like that person. You have to be honest up-front with everything.
What are the top misconceptions about relationships and intimacy?
Opposites attract: That’s a common one you hear, but really, people are looking for someone similar to them. You want someone with the same interests, who you can go to music festival with or go for a bike ride with. If you’re with someone who’s a golf fanatic and you’re not, you’re being left home while they go golfing for eight hours a day. You want to have your own hobbies as well, but I think it’s better that you have more similarities.
Another: Age matters. If it goes toward my goal and I’m just looking for someone to hang out with and I have a childlike spirit, then maybe a 24-year-old and I would have a lot of fun. You didn’t watch the same TV shows growing up, so that’s one place you can’t have conversations but you can learn from each other and as long as it goes with your goal, age doesn’t really matter.
The third (misconception): You need chemistry right away. That’s a big thing for people. Sure, you walk into a date and you know right away whether you’re attracted to that person; I agree with that, but you need to focus on the bigger picture. If this is a nice person you get along with and they’re kind to you and you have a lot of common interests, then who knows? You hear this all the time about people being friends for years and all of a sudden getting together and they’re married for the rest of their lives. There’s something real to that because if you had that friendship base, that’s what you need. And you could have that one drunken night where you get together and, ‘Wow, I am attracted to you!’ A lot of times when the chemistry and the sex is the thing that stands out the most, you miss the other side.
What do you tell teenagers about sex?
(Profile Wingman serves adult clients only, but) it’s funny, because we have a chat window on the site and teenagers will often ask us questions in the chat window. Because our main profile is ‘Wingman’, they think we’re guys and it’s usually male teenagers asking ‘How do I talk to this girl?’ or ‘When is the right time to make a move?’ and things like that.
I have two daughters and I’ve always told them, ‘Don’t do anything you’ll regret. Always make it your decision, don’t let anyone talk you into anything because at the end of the day, you have to live with your own actions.’ I tell them boys will do anything and you have to do what you want to do. The teenage brain—literally, medically—has this thing where they don’t think through things, they’re impulsive. Teens have to stop and consciously make themselves think before they act. It’s all about respect, about the boys respecting the girls and the girls demanding respect, not only sexually but in general. You should be treated the way you want to be treated and not expect anything less. That’s one thing I was able to teach my kids.
What do you think is the most romantic music?
It’s whatever moves you. A lot of music will bring you back to a time—almost like a sense—that brings you back to a memory, romantic times or times when you felt wonderful. There are also certain songs like for me, its ‘Into the Mystic’, I’ll make out with anyone during that song (laughing). There are just some songs that might make you feel that way, like My Morning Jacket, or Lionel Richie, hopeful, romantic...but it’s different for everybody.
You know you have that song when you were dating? I know I can tell you exactly what that song was with my high-school boyfriend. While you’re dating, it becomes a romantic song because you make it that way. And it can be anything; I remember one of our romantic songs was ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’. Another one was “Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, and there was one Led Zeppelin song in there.
You know when your relationship and intimacy are healthy when ___________?
I think it’s when you’re confident in the trust and honesty in the relationship. And you really care about and respect this person. Respect is huge; even when you fight it’s a respectful fight with no name-calling. It’s committing to a mindset and treating this person like they’re gold.
Everybody has issues: You have issues. So do they. Accept that and each other; not every day is going to be hunky-dory. You’re not always going to be happy and it’s a matter of being there for each other. It’s supporting each other and accepting each other for what you are.
How has communication changed regarding dating, relationships and sex from past to present?
The world has become so impersonal and people are hiding behind their computer screens and their filtered photos. The whole online world is all so curated and all so what you want to show people and not necessarily what is actually the reality. As much as I think you have to have a good online profile, I think that you need to get offline as soon as possible and meet this person in person. Any electronic communication is not real, it’s seeing this person’s writing style.
(While meeting online), you need to realize I’m just an illusion at this point. No, I’m not a 70-year-old-dude sitting in my boxer shorts, but I’m creating this. And that’s all going to go away when we meet. People put so much weight into electronic communication, but if you don’t know the person things don’t translate like sarcasm and humor. I wrote a blog about this called ‘Lost in Translation’ where a lot of times things can end before you even meet because things get lost in electronic communication.
My other business, RSVP Notes (rsvpnotes.com), is a stationery store in Countryside Village, and my goal is to bring back the handwritten note because I think the world has become so impersonal. I think the handwritten note is coming back because I think people are realizing how cold our communication is. When you get a letter in the mail, it’s so warm and it’s something that will last and when you need to feel that warmth again, you can pull it out. Do you ever try to pull up an email or a text to feel that warmth?
How do legal and privacy issues affect the way people approach modern relationships?
What this brought up in my mind was your relationship status on Facebook and how things have become so public. I remember I was dating a guy once where we had a full-on conversation where we worked through, ‘We’ll become Facebook official and we’ll change our status.’ Mark Zuckerberg would be so proud. But at the end of the conversation I thought, but why was that an hour-long conversation?
It’s just so strange that everything has become so public. And we kind of saw this when the Internet began, that our privacy was going to go away, and now we’ve just accepted it and embraced it. And now there’s almost too much and there are people who are oversharing with sexting and sending nude photos and the sex videos. It’s just become so much and it’s commonplace, and that’s the other end of the non-personalization. Nothing’s sacred anymore.
Are alternative lifestyles more accepted or more challenging today?
I think it’s getting there. It depends. I actually recently met someone online who is in an open relationship and his wife has a boyfriend and he’s looking for a girlfriend, and they’re like a normal West Omaha couple. He took offense to the fact that they’re not swingers and there’s kind of a stigma about swingers; I think it’s a misunderstood thing, but people are just curious. There was a rumor a while ago that if you have a troll or a rock in your front yard, that meant that you’re a swinger--I asked him about that and he said that’s not true.
But I think it’s more okay to be discussed. I think that people aren’t as judgmental, because with the Internet so much is shared and there’s not as much as stigma as there used to be because we realize it is more common than we think.
I have a profile client in California who is passionate about the healing power of ‘cuddle parties’— it’s an actual thing, cuddleparty.com. There’s even an app for that now. At first I was like ‘What?’ but I realized that’s actually a good thing. Apparently there are people that use (the app) just to hook up, but I actually tried it and met a guy and we just cuddled. There are people who need that, intimacy without the sex. If it works for you, who are we to judge?
We (Profile Wingman) say we accept anyone and we don’t judge; we’ll write for any dating site except for Ashley Madison (clientele are people in committed relationships but looking to cheat).
Are GLBTQ relationships more accepted or more challenging today?
People—more now than ever—are realizing that ‘your lifestyle doesn’t affect me, so why should I care about your lifestyle?’ People are out now and it is being talked about and I think that’s a healthy lesson for us and to get us to the place we need to be eventually.