It’s never too late to write your own . . . Love Story – 7/20/2005
One morning Ronnie Ann Ryan woke up and realized she had forgotten to do something — meet the right man and get married. Given the fact that she was 40 at the time, this gave her some cause for alarm.
"I had managed to get all the way to 40 without getting married," said Ryan, now 48, of Milford. "I was freaked out. I thought ‘Maybe I should get used to being single.’ "
Instead, she recommitted herself to finding the right mate. She analyzed why she wasn’t meeting men, changed her game plan, and then proceeded to date 30 men over the course of 15 months. "I was curious to see what was out there," she said. "The more men I met, the clearer I got about what I wanted."
The plan worked. Date number 30, Paul Ryan, is now her husband of five years. Her date-a-thon has had a professional payoff as well. For the past three years, she’s been a dating coach who works to help women in their quests for a mate. She also recently self-published the book "MANifesting Mr. Right: It’s Never Too Late to Find the Love You Want," (Photo Restoration & Design, $17.95). The book details how women can find the right guy by improving their outlook, adopting a positive attitude and creating an action plan to meet prospects. Ryan realized she wasn’t getting out enough into the dating scene. For instance, most of her social activities were with her female friends and, while enjoyable, these outings didn’t provide her with opportunities to meet men. So, she made a change. "I did a lot of things to push myself out of my comfort zones," Ryan said.
That included posting personal ads and attending singles dances in hopes of improving her dating odds. One of the most important steps she took was telling her friends that she was looking for Mr. Right. Thus began a string of blind dates.
Her relationship with Paul was the result of a fix-up by Paul’s sister. "He was just a really nice guy with a very big heart," Ryan said. "My No. 1 priority was having a good heart, so I got rid of the other guys."
Up until then, she had hit peaks and valleys in her dating experiment. The "lows" included a 15-minute date with one of her prospects.
"I walked in and he looked at me, looked at his watch and said ‘I have 15 minutes. What do you want to do?’ " Ryan said.
There was no set pattern to her date-a-thon. Sometimes she had dates with as many as two to three different men in a week. Perhaps the most important skill Ryan learned was not to linger too long in a situation that had no future. "I learned how to read between the lines," she said. "Women want to be nice. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I got over that."
However, she also learned to be more open and approachable with men. "What I learned was, the more I relaxed into the process and opened my heart, the better the quality of men that I met."
Through her personal experience, and her coaching work, Ryan’s learned that dating success usually boils down to three basic tactics — smile, be friendly and look your best.
All of these things make you seem approachable, and will signal that you’re open to meeting someone, Ryan said. Though it sounds simple, many women are reluctant to lower their defenses, often out of concern for their safety.
But Ryan said there’s a fine line between protecting yourself and driving people away. "We, as women, are terribly guarded," she said. "That’s understandable, but it’s hard to be approachable when you’re being guarded." Once you make yourself approachable, it’s time to establish a plan of action. Ryan recommends a wide-ranging approach, incorporating not just singles groups or fix-ups, but also things like online dating, and speed dating. "There’s a lot of things to take advantage of," she said.
Much of the advice in the book is similar to what she tells her clients, and Ryan said that many of them find it helpful.
"For the most part, they tell me I’ve helped them become more optimistic [about meeting someone], and if you’re optimistic, you’re more likely to do something."
Ryan has a coaching certificate from the California-based Coaches Training Institute, and has 20 years of experience as a marketing professional. She also does career and business coaching, but the date coaching makes up a significant part of her business, which she runs out of her home. Ryan said although her client base ranges in age from "28 to 68," the majority of the women she sees are in their 40s and 50s.
Generally, she works with her clients for anywhere from four to eight sessions, depending on how much help they need.
The women come from a variety of dating and relationship backgrounds, from just divorced to perpetually single, Ryan said. "Some haven’t been married yet, but are using strategies that aren’t working for them," she said. "Others are just getting back out there."
Clearly, her strategies have worked for her. Paul said he wasn’t aware of his wife-to-be’s dating plan when they first met. However, he does have an appreciation of what she does for her clients, and thinks her advice is sound.
"I think a lot of it is common sense," he said.
He admits that men generally don’t have to go through what Ronnie and her clients do to meet the right mate.
"I don’t think men think about it all that much," Paul Ryan said. "It’s a lot more complicated for women."
"MANifesting Mr. Right" is available at Something of Bev’s, 400 Boston Post Road, Milford, from Amazon.com and from Ryan’s Web site, www.NeverTooLate.biz.
AMANDA CUDA /Connecticut Post