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Peeps: Meet Lucia, L.A.'s Dating Expert

by M.J. Hamada (writer), Santa Monica, September 24, 2007

Credit:

People living outside of the U.S. (outside of California - heck, outside of L.A.) may have certain preconceived notions about the City of Angels and its residents (Bay Watch and 90210 helped in forming those notions, and now we have shows like The Hills and MTV Cribs to thank). But we Angelenos know what kinds of people live here: um, actors, models, musicians...

Clearly, L.A. is a wellspring of "creative types," and creativity has to do with everything from making the perfect hamburger, to teaching linguistics, to sign-spinning on the corner of Hollywood and Highland. With this series of interviews, I will explore that side of Los Angeles, chatting with some real, down-to-earth L.A. peeps.

First up: Lucia (pronounced the Italian way). Born in Italy and raised in Canada, Lucia now resides in L.A. and gives relationship advice via her weekly online column. She has hosted a public access TV talk show, The Art of Love, and is the author of Lucia's Lessons of Love. You can find Lucia on the cover of The Learning Annex, Fall 2007 edition.


TRIVIA:
Favorite book: Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting.
Favorite movie: Staying Alive.
Influences: Dr. Laura. Dr. Toni.
You in three words: Worldly. Confident. Spiritual.
You as an animal: Cougar.
Worst pickup line: "Don't worry, I'm not gonna pick you up."
Best pickup line: No line--just start talking.
Dream dinner date: Elvis Presley.
Metaphor for L.A.: Mirage.
Website: http://www.theartoflove.net


GENERAL INFO:

MJ: Thank you for doing this interview.

LUCIA: Well, thank you. I love discussing the topic.

MJ: I'm wondering about your very first dating experience.

LUCIA: You know, I grew up in a typical Italian family, so there was no dating when I was younger. I did have one date in high school--and had to sneak away for that. So, I didn't really start dating until joining the army reserve in Canada.

MJ: And what did you learn from your early relationships that would help you in advising people about dating?

LUCIA: My advice doesn't come just from those early relationships. At that age, you don't really know what you're doing. My advice comes from all my relationships, up to last week. I'm still learning, still making mistakes, except now I'm conscious of them.

MJ: What led you to this career?

LUCIA: I've always given dating advice to friends, and one day I thought, "Why not do something with this?" So I started with a column for a paper called Campus Circle (my column's still in there every week), and then I did a local public access TV show called The Art of Love. And I've just continued [giving advice] since then.

MJ: What to you is a good relationship?

LUCIA: I think the best relationship is one where you can totally be yourself. Certain people unlock certain parts of you, and you have to learn who you can be yourself around and who you can't. The right person for you is someone who accepts every part of you, good and bad.

MJ: What are the basic needs for that kind of good, healthy relationship?

LUCIA: Trust, respect and friendship. If you don't have those elements, the relationship's going to fall apart eventually.

MJ: The "Articles" page of your site gives bullet points for the things a person can learn from your articles. I'm interested in three of these. First, what is one thing a man should never say to a woman, and vice versa?

LUCIA: A man should never ask, "How old are you?" Unless she could be under 18, a guy should never ask a woman her age.

MJ: Okay. And what should a woman never say?

LUCIA: The woman should never ask, "Why didn't you call me?" The answer is simple: he didn't want to. What she's really asking is not just "Why didn't you call me?" but "Why didn't you want to call me?" If the guy is really into you, he'll call, and you should never need to ask that question.

MJ: Second, what's one of the red flags a person should watch out for?

LUCIA: If your date gets angry at something that happens, if he's quick to anger, that's really bad. He's supposed to be on his best behavior, so if he gets angry on the date, get out now.

MJ: That reminds me of your article about angry drivers...

LUCIA: Right. You never really know someone until you get in a car with him. If he's not calm, cool and collected on the road, you can know what to expect off the road, too.

MJ: Third, how can you tell if someone is good in bed?

LUCIA: If he or she is willing to try new and different things when you go out to dinner. If a guy always orders a burger and fries, he doesn't sound very experimental. And if he's not willing to experiment with food, he's probably not going to experiment in bed, either.


PHRASES/PHILOSOPHY:

MJ: On your site, you mention the phrase "PTDD"--what does that stand for?

LUCIA: After years of dating and having had so many things go wrong, you become, well, paranoid. I've had a mess of guys flake or cancel at the last minute. So now, whenever I have a date with someone, I still think, "What if he cancels? What if he doesn't show up?" And I attribute that to what I call post-traumatic dating disorder.

MJ: How about "the minefield theory"? As you point out on your site, the difference is that an actual minefield has hidden bombs, whereas the dating field has mines you can detect. It's your job, the adviser, to point out the mines, and then the person can avoid them or...

LUCIA: Walk into them. Right.

MJ: So, why do so many people not try to avoid the mines if they know where they are?

LUCIA: Because our emotions are stronger than our intellect, generally. You may know the situation's not right and this person's bad for you--he's married, abusive, whatever--but your emotional side goes, "Oh, but he make me feel so good..." The way to avoid that is in training oneself to make a logical, rather than an emotional, decision. Begin with the small things. For instance, the other day, somebody invited me out, and I was really tired. Part of me wanted to go; part of me knew I should stay home and relax. I made the logical decision to stay home, and a few hours later, I was happy for it.

MJ: You also write about a flag system. Yellow and orange flags are indicators leading up to the red flags. What are examples of yellow flags?

LUCIA: Each person will have his or her own criteria. As for me, I went on a date recently, and there were a bunch of yellow flags. First, he was an hour late. Then, when he crossed the street, he crossed without me; he left me to walk behind him. He didn't ask me anything about myself at dinner. And at the end of the night, he wanted to come upstairs. So, a bunch of yellow flags added up to one big red flag.

MJ: And if those are yellow flags for you, then what would you consider an orange flag?

LUCIA: It's something more severe. You're not going to break up over it, but... A red flag is something you just cannot ignore. Someone hits you: that's an automatic red flag. The orange flag would be something you're not going to break up over, but if one more thing happens, you've got to get out of there.

MJ: One of your quotes says: "I want to reach as many people as possible to help free them from their delusions surrounding relationships." I'm wondering what you think people are deluded about.

LUCIA: Well, they're waiting for someone to come along and save them. You need to be happy with your own life first. If a woman's not happy in her life and just looking for someone to latch onto, and she thinks he's going to make her life better, then any little thing the guy does is either going to bring her up or bring her down: she's relying on him for her happiness. And that's not a good way to live life, because then you become someone's slave.


DATING IN L.A.:

MJ: Generally, what do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?

LUCIA: Well, there are a lot of people to choose from, and that's a double-edged sword. You're not as compelled to stay with one person because it's like, "Why should I settle for this? There's a ton of people who are hotter..." So there's not as much incentive to make a commitment. It's like having a menu with a hundred different choices: it becomes a lot harder to choose. Also, most people are working on some kind of artistic career, and that's their first priority. So people aren't as relationship-oriented here as they would be in, say, the Midwest.

MJ: You've also written about the weather here...

LUCIA: That's right, because when it's always summer, you aren't in a hurry to make a commitment. It's warm and sunny here; you don't feel the time passing; everybody looks young and great. But meanwhile, the years keep slipping by. [Laughter.]

MJ: What's your take on online dating?

LUCIA: Well, you will definitely meet people there. But you really need to know the rules of the game. There are scammers out there, married people pretending to be single or separated. You just need to be cautious, and don't get too involved until you find out who you're dealing with.

MJ: Do you think the L.A. lifestyle makes dating services like eHarmony more appealing?

LUCIA: Well, yeah. It's like going down a menu--a menu of men. [Laughter.] You just click and go, "Okay, I'll take this one, this one, that one..." Like shopping online.

MJ: Can you suggest some good places for people to meet potential dates?

LUCIA: I tell guys that they should go to nail salons, because that's where the women are. I mean, it's 95% women there, and it's easy to strike up a conversation. And for the women: Home Depot. You can always ask a question, pretend like you're looking for something, and they'll be glad to help you.


SEX:

MJ: How important is sex in a relationship?

LUCIA: What's more important than sex is your sexual compatibility, in terms of how often you want to have sex. That question comes up a lot. If you want to have sex twice a week, and your partner wants it twice a month, then you have an issue. I mean, if you're with someone who doesn't care much about sex, and you don't care, then it won't be a big deal; and if you're with someone who wants to do it every day, same as you, then that's great.

MJ: What are other sex issues your readers ask about?

LUCIA: There's always the problem of infidelity. And if a person's cheating, there's a reason. Generally, that person's not getting what he or she wants at home. On some level, the person feels neglected, so the couple needs to meet each other's needs, and if those needs are not met, they need to discuss it and figure out how to make things better. I had a case where a woman wanted to do something in bed that might be kinky to some, normal to others. I said to suggest it to her partner. And she said, "Oh, no, no--he would never do that." It's like, "Well, then why are you with him?"

MJ: What are your feelings on casual sex and the idea of "friends with benefits"?

LUCIA: The problem with casual sex is that it's not so casual. And friends with benefits--well, it usually ends up benefiting only the man. The woman thinks she'll be able to handle it, but there's a physiological reaction that may not allow her to. During orgasm, the bonding hormone oxytocin is released, and it binds the woman to the man. Its effects are counteracted by testosterone, and they're amplified by estrogen. So even though you think it will be casual, it may end up being something else.

MJ: Oxytocin. As you say in your article, not to be confused with OxyContin.

[Laughter.]



About the Writer

M.J. Hamada is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Peeps: Meet Lucia, L.A.'s Dating Expert

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Glenn T on September 24, 2007 at 03:41 pm
M.J., great work, thorough and informative! I'm looking forward to future pieces... One comment - you claim your series of interviews will cover "real, down-to-earth L.A. peeps" - and after a brief visit to www.theartoflove.net - Ms. Lucia seems like anything but.
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