True Love No Shame: Talking about dating with Laurie Davis Edwards of The Worthy One

For this week’s episode, I interviewed Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of The Worthy One — a community to empower women and their love lives — and author of Love at First Click.

You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below.

Dani: You just launched the Worthy One and your background before this was an online dating consultant. How did the change happen?

Laurie: The interesting thing is I feel like I’ve been doing it for the last like 18 months. Just under the E-Flirt name. So E-Flirt is my original brand. What I did under that brand is we helped people date online, write their profiles, manage their accounts even for them back in the day. We used to write their messages for them, search for them and really help them make decisions with their love lives. Because that could feel really overwhelming sometimes when you’re online. But what I found through that work is that the really great thing is half of our clients were in relationships after working with us. And while that’s so exciting, I started to get kind of curious about the other fifty. Like what’s happening with all these other people.

And I realized that the ones who had moved towards a relationship, they really were the type of people who used the coaching that was offered to them. That we offered in all our packages and they used the coaching to challenge themselves, to challenge their beliefs that they held about dating and love and what that could mean for them. And move through their fears. And so they moved to a place of worthiness when it came to love. And that’s what the coaching did for them. And so I started to realize that actually none of this doing everything for them really mattered at all, right. It wasn’t the messages we wrote that created the change.

So about 18 months ago we stopped doing everything for you and instead just started coaching my clients deeper through the things that were blocking them from finding love. And that is now what the worthy one is. The Worthy One, really we focus on women, helping women. Because there are so many stories that we tell ourselves. And a big one is that we’re not good enough, right. We’re not skinny enough, we’re not pretty enough, we’re not smart enough. We second guess ourselves all the time. And instead we should really be asking ourselves who is worth of you, right? Who is worthy of you? Not who are you worthy of. So, what we do at the Worthy One is coach women deeply through releasing these stories and these fears that we hold on to that we don’t want to feel in whole lives. Not just in our love lives.

Dani: In your TED talk on digital dating, you talk about how you were really inspired by your mother’s choice about who to marry. What did your parents tell you about dating and intimacy growing up?

Laurie: The interesting thing is I was raised Catholic and my mom was Catholic as well. And especially in, you know, God-fearing woman like you would just say yes. Especially back then in the early 80’s, to the man who was going to be the dad to your child, you would just marry them. And he asked her to get married and she said no, because she didn’t love him. And so, the biggest message I heard from my mom was that you choose love, right. And you honor love. And that is way more important to lead with. And that’s what she taught me. She taught me to kind of lead my whole life with love, which is part of what’s lead me to here in my career, right.

But, you know, the interesting thing is my whole life I got to see my mom fall in love, because she get married. She married the man who I called dad around the time I was six. And it was so beautiful to watch that happen. To watch the way he treated her. To watched the way that she looked at him. All those little moments that we’re really taught these days from like fairy tales or we have this image in our head of what it’s like. Like I got to see that first hand. I also got see, you know, their little tiffs and conflicts first hand. And recognized that love isn’t perfect. No relationship is perfect. So that’s something that I learned really early on too.

I think that like seeing the progression of their relationship was something that was really special for me. And what my place was within their relationship too and how he treated me like throughout the journey. And the closeness that we got in their coming together.

Dani: What are the misconceptions or the most important things for people to know when they’re first starting out with online dating?

Laurie: Well speaking of choice, you’re kind of forced to make all these decisions online.

It can seem really exciting at the beginning and then what I see is a lot of people get really disheartened by it. And part of it is because we get too choosy, you know. I think one of the big things that I took away from my mom’s story is that there is no perfect, right. But yet in a world where we can literally click boxes and say how tall we want someone to be and how, you know, like what level of education we want them to have and all of these things. It can start to feel like we’re like building our perfect person.

But we don’t know what that perfect person’s going to look like until you meet that person. So I think that’s a really important thing to consider. I’m responsible for 150 marriages at this point and almost every single one of those couples, it was not the person that they had imagined in your head. It was something different. It was something that ended up being greater. But when we hold this idea of what perfect is like, and we feel like we need to match that, the greater can’t happen. We hold ourselves back.

So as you’re going through, if you’re online dating, and I still teach all of my clients about online dating, because it’s just the way dating happens today.

But as you’re going through and choosing, remember that first all you’re asking when you look at someone’s profile is … when you see all the faces on the screen, like are they worth a click? And then when you click in and you’re reading their profile and looking at their photos, the next question is are they worth a cocktail or a coffee? I like to say a margarita because it reminds us also that dating really should be fun.

I think so often when we see someone’s profile we think, is that the one? And then we’re judging them against this idea we have. When really you haven’t even said hello to that person yet. So how could you ever possibly know if they’re the one or not? First you have to meet them. And even then, even after your first date, the question is more like, you know, did we have a connection? Not, is this the one for me? And I think this is especially true, when you’re so marriage minded.

Dani: In church you’re kind of taught like you should only date someone who has the same religion as you. And for me, I mean that really limited my prospects. What do you find in terms of the relationships that you’ve seen work?

Laurie: You know I do find that while in my clients who are married, most of them it’s not the exact picture, the values are the thing that do matter. The values are the things that do sync and work. That said, like is religion important to you in a partner? Some people would answer that like yes. They absolutely need to practice my religion and go to church with me every week and be involved. And another is some other people might say well it’s important that my partner support me in my religion, but not necessarily be there for every step of the way with me. So it depends on how you answer that question on whether or not someone needs to practice your exact faith. Maybe it’s important to you that someone has faith and that they be Christian, but not necessarily, you know, whatever your denomination is, for example. So I would encourage you to do like a little bit of searching around that. What may that look like for you?

And a really interesting story to share actually is my own brother. He wasn’t particularly religious growing up. He grew up Catholic, but he wasn’t like very involved, you know. He was just kind of as involved as needed to be. And then when we got older he like wouldn’t come to mass with us sometimes even on holidays, which was fine. It’s his choice, right. But he met an amazing woman who is really Christian and now so is he. And it kind of like reconnected him to the church. And they are really involved. She volunteers a lot and so does he. It’s been really beautiful for me to watch this like my brother become so connected to God again. So, obviously that’s not the norm and you don’t want to date with it in mind that they can change.

Dani: Coming from the very conservative background to then going out and starting to date was around flirting. And it’s actually hard especially when you’re kind of taught, you know, you’re supposed to preserve as much as you can for your future husband. That turned into, if I can’t see this person as being my potential spouse, then I’m not even going to flirt with them. Now my challenge is, how I show this person I’m actually interested?

Laurie: Remember when I said earlier, dating’s supposed to be fun.

You can start to ask yourself these questions, like are they the one? Is this the first thing God intended me to be with? And then it starts to take this heavy tone, right. And so I can see how you would feel like well I’m just not going to flirt with them, because why would I do that if I don’t see the possibility here.

But just because you’re flirting with someone doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Just like dating is supposed to be fun, so is flirting. Flirting is part of the process. And you can flirt with your friends too, right.

There’s a flirting formula that my husband has created. So, my husband is a dating coach too. While my original expertise is more online dating, his original expertise is more in offline. The flirting formula that he always shares is complementing plus teasing to the power of touching. And the reason why it’s to the power of touching is just like any equation like that when it’s to the power of something, when you do that it elevates it so much more, right. But if you’re just starting out, don’t worry about the touching yet. Complementing plus teasing, right.

That’s where you can start with flirting and what that looks like. And that’s something, like I said, that you might also do with a friend. So it’s a really easy transition. Touching is definitely more directly flirting. I mean touching like, maybe you’re laughing and you touch their elbow. Or, you know what I mean, like little tiny touching like that. Hugging someone is touching them. So any little moments like that that you can create makes all that complementing and teasing like that together just so much more elevating and clearer for them that you’re actually flirting too.

The other thing is that sometimes we want to make sure the other person knows we’re flirting. Touching is the thing that definitely is the biggest signal to someone.

Dani: One thing that surprised me when I started dating non-Christians was there is no expectation to sleep with someone on the first date. I didn’t know the etiquette at all. Are there any norms and how do you communicate your desires?

Laurie: I don’t really find that there are norms. I think there are all these ideas that there are norms. You’ll hear people say all the time, like the three date rule. And if I have a third date, like if I don’t have sex with him, he’s not going to see me anymore. None of that stuff is true.

I mean, literally I’ve worked with thousands of people and I can tell you that they’ve all kind of been on a different time line as far as sex and intimacy is concerned. And it was no indication of how fast or slow they went that they ended up married either. But I do think it’s important for you to decide what’s right for you. And to be honest, it’s something that you can think about now, but until you meet the next person who you’re considering having sex with or being intimate with in anyway, you won’t know really what that looks like. Because it’s going to be about the person and the connection that you guys have.

And when you create these hard and fast rules like the third date and three months or however long it is, that you might meet someone and that might change. You might feel like I need more time. And that’s okay. But what is most important is that you communicate to the other person what you’re comfortable with. It’s okay to tell someone you want to go slow. It’s okay to not be ready when they’re ready.

Buy my book, Shameless: How I Lost My Virginity and Kept My Faith, now: