Author Paul C Brunson sits down with Think Positive! Mag to share his wisdom as a modern day matchmaker. We picked Paul’s brain on dating, love, relationships, and marriage.
Do yourself two favors. Read the articl,e then go and pick up “Its Complicated.” Paul’s best selling book.
What types of relationships where you exposed to growing up?
I had the full spectrum from healthy and loving to witnessing abusive and dysfunctional. I think having that full spectrum allowed me to have better perspective beyond adolescence.
How did those relationships frame your ideas about love?
I learned the whole concept of marriage is forever from my mother. The commonalities around a lot of the stories in my childhood were around the importance and the strength of a vow. The institution of marriage and how important it is, not just between a husband and wife but also in terms of children, strength of community and the strength of a nation. I think that was the bedrock to the shaping of my paradigm around relationships and what leads a lot of my thoughts today.
Tell us how you met your wife?
It was interesting because we met in an orientation before we started our freshman year at Old Dominion University. We became very good friends that blossomed into a romantic relationship.
How did you know she was the one?
I believe you never know if they’re the one; until it’s done. I know that may sound a bit morbid but I strongly believe you can love again. If God forbid I get hit by a bus tonight, my wife can enter into a new relationship and have just as strong if not a stronger love with him, and then he could be the one.
How did you come to be the “real life Hitch” and relationship extraordinaire?
I had a summer camp in 2008 here in DC and we had 100 students, they were all from lower income households. Most were Black and Latino kids that were in this program. I was checking them in at the registration table and realized not 1 of the 100 had two parents in the household. This blew me away. I couldn’t believe there was not one. Thinking about a solution made me come alive and I knew there was something I had to do. It wasn’t until that time that I knew this was my passion.
Just to sidetrack a little bit, a lot of men fall into this. We want to find our passion and get on it. For me, I always wanted to find that thing. I was good at a lot of things but never great at one thing. I was beyond 30 and it was at that moment that I found out this was my passion. Once I knew, I quit my job and we literally took all of the resources and said, “Ok if I’m going to become a relationship expert I have to really study everything I can read, go to conferences and get certified as a life coach.” After that year, I was ready to start.
How does one know if they are in need of a Life coach?
There is a dramatic increase of people aggregating more responsibilities to experts. We are going to experts for everything. Life coaching just became en vogue over the last few years. Life coaching is ken to general mentorship. Think about the power of a mentor. Life coaching is essentially the same thing. The big difference is that a life coach has experience and is objective, which is important. How you know you need a life coach is the same question of how do you know you need a mentor. Everyone can benefit from a mentor, just like everyone can benefit from a life coach.
What is the demographic of your clientele?
It is predominately African American and predominately female. However, once LoveTown USA hit the air we have been contacted by men, all ethnicities, and all sexual persuasions. We have a good number of everyone contacting us. We have a huge waiting list, which is definitely a blessing.
What are of the dos and don’ts you recommend to your clientele for first dates?
First dates are really interesting and I think it depends on whether or not you’ve met the person before. If you have never met the person, plan a very short date and do it in a public place. If you’ve never seen them before you don’t know if you are attracted to them yet. Attraction in my opinion is very important in the long term success of the relationship. If you are not attracted to them then why even waste your time? That’s why I encourage a short interaction initially. Now, if you’ve already met that person, you’ve seen them and are attracted to them, then go on a longer date – but make sure it’s an activity.
The whole dinner and movie thing is not only played out but it’s very ineffective. The dinner, for so many folks, is so scripted. It doesn’t allow you to observe how the person acts and ultimately it’s about what we do not necessarily about what we say.
If spirituality is a value of yours, you can set across the table from someone and they can talk about how spiritual they are for an hour but that doesn’t mean anything until you can actually see it coming out in their life. That’s why activities are key.
Generations X and Y seem to focus on careers first and their relationships last. Could waiting for success before finding a mate be detrimental?
I definitely understand why that is. You think about our parents and grandparents, they were the first to begin to emerge with college education and out of blue collar work into white collar work. They begin to see education as the path to success. They beat it into our heads. In the 1960s and 70s, African Americans had the highest rates of marriage in the world. I don’t think they were saying education over everything else, they were saying education probably with the assumption we would be in relationship as well.
I think we may have gotten it misconstrued. The key to success in life is not independence, nor is it dependence, it is interdependence! To be interdependent you need another person. Therefore, when you think about success, I believe having a strong partner can allow you to expedite that success versus being alone.
What steps can a person take to expedite romantic maturity?
I believe that love mentorship is very important, that’s the key. You want to build your romantic quotient; it would be great to place someone in your life that has it so that you can see it. I believe in that whole 100 black men mantra of they will be what they see. I think taking in better content like Think Positive Magazine, for example. We unfortunately take in a whole lot of garbage. I believe really patrolling what enters our minds is very important in terms of building that romantic EQ.
Do you think a person’s reliance on “types” limit them when trying to find a partner?
It can limit, but that limitation is sometimes a good thing. It depends on how you perceive your type. Is that type based on preferences or is it based on needs? Is it based on things you like or is it based on values? If you are looking at your type in what I believe is the correct way which is values, personality and needs and if that limits the number of people in your life then that’s a good thing. If your type is based on physical characteristics that are meaningless to long term happiness like, “Oh he has to be over six feet tall,” then that’s not smart.
What does it mean to be a good husband?
Being a good husband is about talking and then walking your talk. When I say “talking” that is about being a communicator. The number one reason why couples break up is not infidelity; it is around the inability to communicate. I believe that we as men are biologically built to be less verbal then women. Being a great communicator, which often times the best communicators are listeners. Second, is walking the talk in the things that you value. It is extremely important to actually deliver on those things. Lastly, a good husband is someone who maintains their walk within their values. Consistency is everything.
How important is it to examine and learn from failed and successful relationships alike?
Very important! My favorite mantra is, “Fail fast to succeed faster.”In essence, that means to look at your experiences as just that, experiences! I live by this mantra now. You may have wanted a different result, but if you learned from that result it was still a positive experience. You now know how not to reap that. You learn and you move forward. With successful relationships, it’s very important to see and understand what healthy means and what it look like.
With a low number of young people growing up in two parent households, it’s hard to know what a healthy functioning relationship looks like. It’s important just to see it. When my wife and I started Brown Sugar parties a big part was not just for singles to come over and interact with each other but to watch my wife and I interact.
What hurdles should we be prepared to overcome in order to find a suitable mate, get married and maintain love?
I would begin with loving thyself. I dedicated a whole chapter in the book to this. It’s a subject a lot of people give lip service to but when I begin working with my clients I see where there is not true love for themselves. This is something I really want men to come to grips with as well. Second, is to do the self exploration to identify what your values are and your personality type. And to really do the hard work and know what your needs versus your wants are. I’d love to have a Lamborghini, but that’s not a need. I can actually get by in the minivan that my wife and I have. Last but not least is to know the power of a healthy love.
Think about the power you get out of a healthy relationship! The ability to have someone you know is holding you down 24/7. The ability to have someone you can hold at night, share the best of times with and the worst of times without judgment. All of those positive pieces are important to embrace and understand.
What was the motivation behind writing your new book, “Its Complicated?”
Have you ever heard of a book called The Rules? It was a landmark relationship book that came out in the 90s. It became the bible around relationships. There were rules I agreed with and some I didn’t. But what’s interesting is that this book really set the groundwork around how a lot of people interact now. I wanted to do something fresh and different. I thought about a modern version of that book because relationships have changed a lot over the last 20 years. That’s what really gave me the inspiration to make it happen.
What kind of best practices do you want people to take away from your book?
My mentor, Rachel Greenwald, is a world renowned match maker. She went to Harvard business school and has written several best selling books, she is just all around awesome. After she read the book she said, “Paul I’ve read hundreds of relationship books and I didn’t think anything new could be said on the topic but this book is new and more importantly is going to change lives.”
Having her to say that was the best endorsement I could ever have. So in terms of takeaways, the book is great for everyone. The book is great if you are single and wanting to be in a romantic relationship. It’s great if you are in a committed relationship and want to strengthen it even more. It even is great if you are thinking about platonic relationship and you want to strengthen your relationship with your co-workers or people in your church. It’s this all inclusive book that I think will be a life changer for some folks.
You have a show on Oprah’s OWN network. Tell us about Love Town, USA.
Love Town, USA is probably one of the most unique TV productions ever. It’s being billed as the largest social experiment in the history of television. It’s about love and understanding love and understanding in order to receive love you have to be love. Love is not just romance. Love is grace, patience, and forgiveness.
What happens is myself and my co-host go to a city for 30 days and basically show people how to be the love. It’s an awesome concept. I want more people to watch it. I believe it is reality TV done right.
What’s next for Paul Brunson?
I’m going to keep doing it, keep going, and keep grinding. I can’t stop, I won’t stop! Obviously we have our show that airs all the way until October. The book comes out October 11th. I’m going to keep travelling the world talking about the book for at least another year. We have our “It’s Complicated” book tour which we have dates booked all the way until December 8th.