Monica Parikh is a dating coach and the founder of School of Love NYC, a site intended to help people find happy, healthy relationships. Her personal path has been filled with failure (a traumatic divorce) and unusual anecdote (dating 67 of NYC’s most eligible bachelors).
In this series, The Love Trials, Monica pairs her personal insights with positive psychology and spirituality: The series is a collaboration with Aimee Hartstein, a LCSW with 20 years of experience.
Bobby* was the 64th man I dated after my divorce. An entrepreneur, he sold his first Internet company for nearly $2 billion. He collected $10,000 bottles of wine, had a six-figure telescope in his living room, and spent his time circumnavigating the globe with dignitaries.
We were introduced by an amateur matchmaker (who prided herself on a 99 percent success rate). I cannot lie—after a lifetime of hard work and self-sufficiency, I daydreamed a bit about marrying a billionaire. Oh, the freedom it would provide!
The matchmaker prescribed two dates for us. On our first, Bobby talked a lot—about himself. He bragged about the people he knew and the places he had been, including NASA’s headquarters and the recent TED Conference. He shared details of his divorce, going so far as to call his ex-wife a “witch”—seemingly without consideration of the fact that she was the mother of his three children.
He didn’t ask any questions. When I spoke, he bulldozed me by speaking louder. He didn’t speak to me as much as he spoke at me.
On our second date, I ordered a glass of wine. He told the waitress to cancel my order, preferring that I share his glass. He demanded that I take a bite of his steak, although I am a vegetarian. At the end of our evening, he impatiently asked whether we would be having sex, saying if I wasn’t interested, “many other women would be.”
Not surprisingly, I left unimpressed.
In my coaching practice, articles, and book, I constantly urge singles to focus on what’s truly important in their search for a partner. While many of my clients want a “rich” partner, I encourage them to think more about finding a “wealthy” one instead. Rich people are a dime a dozen. Wealthy ones are the rarest of gems. Allow me to explain the difference:
1. A rich person buys expensive things. A wealthy person savors valuable experiences.
Money allows certain indulgences—fancy cars, expensive watches, fine food. But wealthy people understand that life’s best experiences are available to all of us. Find someone who appreciates holding your hand during an evening walk, the scent of fresh roses, the overpowering beauty of live music, and the sound of friends laughing over a shared meal. Life has many ups and downs. A wealthy partner will make you feel blessed no matter the circumstances.
2. A rich person mistakes money for class. A wealthy person understands that manners and consideration are priceless.
Money cannot buy class. Want to be exceptional? Treat each and every person with respect and courtesy. Tip generously. Look people in the eye. Refuse to speak poorly of people—even your exes. Writer Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Bobby, unfortunately, made me feel like an accessory at the table as opposed to a person with my own accomplishments, hopes, and dreams.
3. A rich person talks. A wealthy person shares.
Rich people mistakenly believe that conversation is about domination. Wealthy people understand that conversation is a game of ping pong—a dialogue in which both people feel heard, valued, and understood. As best said by Dale Carnegie, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
4. A rich person mistakes accomplishment for character. A wealthy person understands that character is the ultimate accomplishment.
While Bobby’s career was laudable, the men who impressed me most during this dating period exhibited modesty, preferring to reveal their character slowly over time. My partner—Number 67 of the men I dated—visits an elderly client at home every week. As a veterinarian, he not only treats her cats, he tends to her soul, providing warmth and conversation to someone who is lonely. He would never brag about this. But it's exactly what made him my everyday hero.
“No doubt about it, my happiest clients are those who have chosen partners who exhibit kindness and generosity,” said my collaborator, relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW. “These essential characteristics pay dividends time and time again.”
5. A rich person thinks about what they can have. A wealthy person thinks about what they can give.
We come into this world with nothing. We will leave in the same way. If you're one of the lucky ones, you’ll spend your life using your gifts in service to others. Our purpose is to leave the world a little better than we found it. Find a partner who motivates you to strive for your highest potential. Work diligently on your own self-improvement so you can likewise inspire them to greatness. Relationships, when we choose wisely, have the ability to heal us from childhood wounds and the hardships of everyday life.