Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paul C. Brunson emphatically believes that dating and finding love in 2012 (and 2013 and beyond) doesn’t have to be complicated. He’s gaining national acclaim as a leading relationship coach and matchmaker, and some lady named Oprah—you might’ve heard of her—handpicked him to co-host a show on OWN called Lovetown, USA.

Paul has made countless television appearances, has successfully helped hundreds of clients improve their relationships or find love, and he’s releasing his first book this week (October 11), It’s Complicated: But It Doesn’t Have To Be. As if his first book wasn’t already highly anticipated, he’s embarked on a cross-country tour to promote it, meet his fans, and, as he says, to inform and entertain you.

The tour, It’s Complicated Live!” stops in Charlotte on Wednesday, October 17 at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte Chamber Belk Action Center. Tickets range from $35 to $50 and include a copy of his book. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

Relationship expert, TV personality, and author Paul C. Brunson. Credit: paulcbrunson.com

I talked to Paul by phone last week, while he waited in an airport in route to the next city for his tour. In the interview below, you’ll learn more about his book and upcoming event, why you should analyze relationship data you read, and why he has such a positive outlook on love.

Tell me about your tour.
The whole idea with the tour is to create awareness around the book (It’s Complicated: But It Doesn’t Have To Be), to create awareness around the TV show, Lovetown, and also to create an environment to educate. It’s an interactive discussion with live music, and it’s really a good time. We’ve done six or seven cities so far. We’ve had really good reviews. It’s a good balance of information and entertainment.

The content is for anyone that’s interested in strengthening their relationship, whether that’s romantic or platonic—and anyone who likes to have a good time. If you want both of the above, this is the perfect event for you.

The title of matchmaker gets used a lot these days. How would you describe what you do?
You get those titles as relationship expert or matchmaker, but I always look at why I started doing this. And the reason I started this was really about family, about community, and it was about how there’s a direct tie between a strong community, coming from their being a strong family. And the key piece is strong families having two parents in the household. So I look at this as almost community activism work. That’s how I perceive my work, more as community work.

What made the timing right for you to write your first book?
The book came about because whenever I would prepare for coaching or prepare for a seminar, I noticed I was always pulling from different resources. I’d pull from my favorite book on psychology or biology or digital-age dating, or pickup artistry because I think there’s some value in that about body language. So there were always six or seven books that I would go to. When I started writing my column for Essence, I started realizing there’s a way to combine all of that information and frame it in a way that’s entertaining. Once I was able to do that with the Essence column, I realized that I really do have a unique voice and that’s when I decided to write the book.

We hear a lot about people getting married later in life, and that divorce rates are really high. How do you address that?
I think the first thing to consider is where we’re getting this information and data from. For example, the notion that divorce rates are really high. What’s interesting is over the last 20 years, divorce rates are actually slightly lower, so the trend is that they’re lowering. Also, when you look at—and I address this in the first chapter of my book—people getting married later in life, a lot of it has to do with societal changes that have basically allowed us to live longer. So we’re living longer which means our marriages are just as long. So even though we’re getting married later, that’s not indicative of anything bad, per se. So a lot of the book and a lot of what I like to do is have us examine this information we’re getting from media and analyze to see if this is a good thing or a bad thing, is it trending one way or another way. When you look at the number of people in this country who believe that there’s value in marriage, that percentage, which is in the 90th percentile, is stronger than it’s ever been. Now, views on marriage have decreased, yes, but those who see value in it is higher than ever before. So I think there are a lot of positive data points.

Continue reading interview after the jump.

How do you reassure the woman who has celebrated her 30th or 35th birthday, who’s never been married, and who might feel that she’s never going to get married?
I would say a couple of things to, somewhat, reassure them. The one thing is that all women, no matter what their ethnicity is, by the time of death, nearly 90 percent of women have been married. So the vast majority, 9 out of 10 women, will have been married in their lifetime. So just because you’re not married at 30, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be married at 35, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be married at 40. So I think that’s one thing to grasp a hold of, that’s really important. The second thing is, okay, you’re turning 30, and you haven’t met your man yet. What are you doing differently? That’s the number one question I ask. What are you doing that’s different from what you were doing three years ago or five years ago? If you’re doing the same thing and expecting a different result, that’s the definition of insanity. I would start examining the things you’re doing differently.

You mentioned women “no matter what their ethnicity is,” but we hear and read a lot about the state of black love and black relationships. Is it unfairly singled out or should more focus be placed on it?
It is hands down, unquestionably unfairly singled out, and I say that with no hesitation whatsoever. The reason why I say that is because—and this goes back to looking at the data—you can make a strong argument that the constitution of marriage or the brand of marriage has decreased. And it’s decreasing in every community, in every ethnicity around the globe. When you pull out certain data points, for example, one of the most prevalent ones over the last few years has been about the number of black women who are single. But the one thing that I never, ever heard once mentioned in the media—and I happened to mention it when I was on Dr. Drew['s show]—is that the number of women who are white and single is significantly higher than the number of black women.

Then the next data point I hear is, ‘Oh, black men marry outside their race at higher rates than anyone else…look at Kanye West and all these guys.’ And I say to myself, that’s crazy because Asian women and Asian men in this country marry outside of their race at much higher rates than African Americans. So those are just two examples of how some groups are unfairly pointed at. And I wish that the conversation about love would just be about that—about love—and that we wouldn’t pick out the black face of it. Because let’s just talk about relationships, period, in this country. That’s what the focus should be.

What impact has social media had on relationships?
It’s been a great thing and it’s been a terrible thing. What we have to understand is that with social media we’re more connected than ever before, and at the same time we’re more disconnected than ever before because we’re spending less real time having conversations. But ultimately, there’s never a tool that is to blame for a relationship going south. It’s the people that are behind the tool. So I don’t think we can point to it and say because of social media we’re seeing an increase in divorce rates. We can’t blame that on social media… There are pros and cons, but I actually like the introduction of social media into relationships. I use it all the time with my clients and I think it’s a great tool if used correctly.

What inspires and motivates you as you speak to people around the country?
I think when people think about matchmakers they think, okay when there’s a marriage that’s the ultimate success for them. And I just had a client get married in July. But the number one satisfaction for me is when I get an 18 year-old who is in his first year of college, and says, ‘I read your blog, Paul, and now I understand that when I’m walking down the street, the woman should be on the inside and not the outside because that’s the chivalrous thing to do.’ Or when I get a Facebook message or email from a woman who is 24 years old, goes on her first date, and says, ‘You know what, Paul, because of your article I decided not to have sex with him on the first date. And that’s the best decision I could’ve made.’ It’s those little things….those are the things that keep me moving, and keep me understanding that this is what I feel God put me on this planet to do.

Follow Paul Brunson on Twitter @paulcbrunson; follow me @HollidayInk.


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