It’s weird to think that 2013 was seven years ago. It was a time before Trump in the White House, The Bat Kiss, TikTok and Tony Abbott taking bites of raw onion. The world was obsessed with Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and Frozen, and man buns were still ‘new again’.
Yes, it was truly an older, simpler time – but there are still some lessons we can learn from 2013 if we’re ready to listen.
British dating coach Matthew Hussey caused somewhat of a stir back in 2013 with this video cheekily titled ‘Brainal’ – The New Dirty Word For Smart People. Putting the cringy term (and somewhat dated humour of the video) aside, Hussey’s core argument is still highly relevant.
In essence? Being capable of intellectual conversation is sexy.
In 2020, it’s somewhat of a lost art, with dating apps like Tinder and Grindr incentivizing short and to-the-point communication instead of diving in the deep end. You chat just long enough to convince someone to meet in person, and most connections don’t turn into long-term relationships.
While newer dating apps like Bumble and Hinge, which place more emphasis on your bio and answering meaningful questions, purport to encourage more intellectual conversation (and therefore better matches), the reality is they still encourage curt conversation and judging people on physical appearance alone. One Redditor put it best: “app dating is zero effort dating.”
At the other end of the spectrum, you have things like traditional dating websites like OKCupid or eHarmony, and more old-school methods of meeting people like speed dating sessions. These instead arguably encourage far too much intellectual conversation and cultivate a sort of navel-gazing that’s just as bad as the impersonality of dating apps.
That’s perhaps Hussey’s most valuable point: “dry ‘brainal’ really hurts”, or to translate, being overly intellectual during a date can be just as bad as being vacuous.
Sure, I could just call myself a good conversationalist, but that doesn’t sound half as good as saying I’m “great at brainalingus.” #brainal
— Sam Haft (@SamHaft) August 31, 2015
Mastering the art of good conversation is arguably more important than your physical appearance or bank balance. Don’t take our word for it: NYC-based Aussie model Monika Clarke (who also happens to be single) revealed to DMARGE that humour and “appreciating sarcasm” is far more important to her than “the watch you’re wearing while you’re holding your car steering wheel.”
Beyond knowing how to balance small talk with intellectual conversation, another (more contemporaneous) piece of dating advice men should pay heed to is knowing when to show some vulnerability. Like “brainal”, it’s also a balancing act: you don’t want to be too opaque with your feelings, but you don’t want to open up too completely too quickly, as while many women say they want men to be ‘more vulnerable’, some are less comfortable with the reality of that demand than they let on.
If you want to go even further back in time than 2013, here’s some 19th-century dating advice that’s still a lifesaver in 2020.