Serial entrepreneur, television host and the “world’s most influential matchmaker”, Paul C Brunson wears many hats. On the promotional trail of his TV role as a dating expert on E4’s Celebs Go Virtual Dating, we chatted with him to get his advice on dating and relationships.
Like every prized and valued thing, relationships must be nurtured and protected. What should we all be doing to ensure the flame never dies out in our relationship? Among his many skills, Paul C Brunson is an internationally recognized expert in relationships and so who better than he to answer our burning questions on dating in marriage, how to keep the spark alive and the keys to a successful marriage?
Read our interview with Paul C Brunson.
Melan: How important or not is dating your spouse when you are already married?
Paul: It’s everything. My wife and I do it every week. I think it is a misnomer that dating is simply about seeing if there is romantic interest. It is also about maintaining romantic interest, so dating your spouse is integral to marriage.
How can people who have been married a long time shift the mindset, ‘Okay that’s it, done deal’, to realise the importance of dating in a marriage?
In terms of how you keep it top of your mind, you have to feed it every day. We all have values and our values are the reason why we live life, it’s like our Bible. It is our rule book and it is very important that we feed our values by participating in them every day. If it is family and connection that is important to you, you have to feed into that every day but likewise if that’s not important to you then maybe you shouldn’t be married.
“It is also about maintaining romantic interest, so dating your spouse is integral to marriage.”
What advice what you give for dating over forty?
Quite honesty it is the same that I would give to dating at thirty or twenty. It all depends on if you are interested in committed dating or casual dating, that is the real difference. Casual dating is quick sex, just going out and having a good time maybe without sex. Committed dating is saying that you are looking for a life partner that you are going to commit to. So, if that is your intention it is very important to put that intention up front.
It’s really interesting and I saw this in the series “Celebs Go Virtual Dating”, I won’t give away who it was, but it was one of our celebs. He came into the date and he was asking about life goals, talking about marriage and talking about all these things and the person he was on the date with, the woman, responded in her feedback and said ‘He needs to take it lighter on his dates, he’s too serious’. He heard the feedback and said ‘Okay, I am going to be lighter on my dates’ and I said ‘No, you did the right thing. It is clear she is not interested in a committed relationship at this point because if she was, she would want to talk about life goals and about marriage’. He did the right thing so the key is you should be honest with your intentions from the beginning
In terms of the actual date and everything you said about being committed and so on. What prep do you think people should be doing before going on a date?
First let’s talk about the physical, take a bath please, put on something clean please. We joke about that but let me tell you. The number one reasons across the world why people don’t get a second date is appearance and the notorious halitosis, severe bad breath! This is serious. If you see the most beautiful person in the world but they stand in front of them and you smell that breath, it is not going to work. So that is important. By doing these outward efforts, making sure we are clean and the breath is fresh etc. It is psychology, it impacts our mind state and our minds and then we go into the date more engaging.
“I see real conversation happening in the Black community around the importance of mental health and the importance of abdicating responsibility to professionals.”
What are you views on counselling in a relationship?
Everyone has to. I have been in the dating space now for some time, it is going on twelve years. When I first started, in the Black community in particular, when it came to therapy and counselling people would say ‘No, no, you only go to a therapist if you are crazy’ and if you were not you worked it out yourself. In that decade plus, we have reached a point now where I see real conversation happening in the Black community around the importance of mental health and the importance of abdicating responsibility to professionals. If you are severely overweight and you know you need to get your butt slimmed down, then you go to a trainer and if your tooth is hurting because of all the sweets and your tooth falls out you go to a dentist. Now I think we understand that when the relationship is not feeling like it is going where it needs to be, which is often times the case, we can now go to a counsellor.
In your view is the seven-year itch real?
Yes. I was literally talking to my mentees yesterday saying that the most challenging time in my relationship was year five and year seven. I think what drives that is that two people have to realise that they must grow together and the number one reason for divorce around the world is miscommunication over things like finance. The reason why this miscommunication happens is typically because people grow apart and at year five and year seven is when many couples realise ‘Wow, we are not on the same page.’ They have to then make the decision ‘Do we want to get on the same page?’ which is going to take work and effort or ‘Do we want to just let the page crumble?’ Scientifically it is proven that right around that frame is when you begin to identify that you may not be on the same page.
What is your view on open relationships, and do you think they can ever work?
Absolutely, here is what we have to realise. I think it is dangerous for us to point to any one single relationship and use that as commentary. It is interesting that everyone points to the recent controversy around Will and Jada and says ‘Look, their relationship didn’t work’. Actually, it did because they are together and not only together, but they are building a massive business together, so they are winning and doing the last lap.
What we have to realise about open relationships is that really what we are saying is polyamorous relationships and they are not only highly successful in many different cultures, but they are legal in many cultures. In the United States a lot of people don’t realise that there are several locations in Utah where polygamy is legal. Here is what it all boils down to; what are your values and are you in a relationship that honours your values? That is really the key.
What is the secret to a successful relationship?
It is everything but communication is the life blood of the relationship. I have counselled couples for the last decade. The husband goes off to work and he has a long day. The wife goes off to work and she has a long day. They come back home and instead of talking about their days, their desires and their issues, they wrap it up in something else like social media, drinking or whatever it may be and then they relive that day over and over and over again and three or four years go by and they realise ‘Wow, I don’t even know the person I am living with’. That would have been resolved if on day one you came home and said ‘God honey, I had the worst day let me express how it made me feel, let me tell you about it. You tell me yours and I will tell you mine’. That is all it takes for most relationships to remain strong. That is what it took for my wife and I to get back together strong. We didn’t break up, but it was challenging.
It is all about literally knowing that you are with someone who shares your values, expressing those values and communicating them.
Celebs Go Virtual Dating airs Monday’s at 10pm on E4.