Can shy men be taught to be smooth operators? We sent singer Navin Kundra, famed for penning songs about how love passes him by, to Love Systems – a training academy that turns losers in love to lotharios...
On paper he’s every woman’s dream. A handsome, talented pop star with a string of hits under his belt and the ability to serenade us in four different languages... so why is Navin Kundra still single? Well, if you listen to his beautiful ballads, all lovingly dipped in unashamed soppy sentiment (the super hitTere Liya was released on Valentine’s Day), there’s a common running theme – to put it kindly, he’s shy around women he’s attracted to; to tell it like it is: he’s absolutely useless in the dating arena.
As a result, his relationship status in the past decade has been something of a barren wasteland. The details (or rather lack of it) would be enough to warrant bringing in an orchestra of violins. Unable to bear it, we put Navin in touch with Love Systems, a globally renowned programme that teaches men like Navin to come out of their shell and win over any woman that takes their fancy.
Under the one-to-one guidance of the Sri Lankan love guru Jeremy Soul, a Love Systems instructor recognised as being one of the most successful dating coaches in the world, we were assured by the time Jeremy was through with him – Navin would literally have the birds eating out of his hands! Best known for his own philosophies on ‘daytime dating,’ Jeremy believes love can strike at any time, any place, in fact more often than not, in the afternoon. He should know, he’s proud to admit he’s pulled women in every city he’s ever visited and it’s fair to say he’s a pretty well-travelled man. If Navin was ever going to learn how to melt our hearts like yesterday’s ice cream without having to hide behind his guitar, Jeremy was the man to show him how. So we enrolled him on a Love Systems Bootcamp to see if Navin really could be transformed into Don Juan in just one weekend.
So what has the man himself got to say about all this? Time to stop playing the shrinking violet, young man. Ladies and ladies, get ready to go weak at the knees for the new and improved Navin Kundra...
It all started well enough. I had my first girlfriend at sweet 16. We both worked at TGI Fridays – she prepared the fruit while I blended the shakes. I blew it just by being a typical man really, being late for dates, and generally not being as thoughtful towards her as she deserved. I suppose when it ended, I was left thinking I just wasn’t cut out to be a good boyfriend, which must have psychologically stopped me from approaching women. After all, confidence comes from knowing you have something to offer, and you’re not offering much if you’ve convinced yourself you’re no good! I had better luck with women on holiday, particularly a young lady I met in Vegas – but it’s easy to step out of yourself when you’re far away from your real world.
You’d think this would make it easier for me on the social networking scene. I attract thousands of followers on Facebook and MySpace, and we all know having two number one singles under your belt makes you instantly more attractive to women, but what can I say? I hate showing off. And that’s the trick of pulling women, isn’t it? Selling yourself. I guess that’s the problem with letting the music do the talking. I can sing how much I love you, but when it comes to saying it, I get shy, humble and, well, basically end up going home alone!
Attending a ‘dating camp’ is like admitting in public you don’t know how to talk to girls so needless to say I had my reservations about the course and the prospect of meeting other men in my predicament. There were ten of us in the group including a guy who was in a wheelchair. But the Love Systems instructors soon made us all feel that our own physicality was nothing to worry about – how you look should not affect your dating ability. And once we warmed to that idea, and received some valuable inside information about ‘female psychology,’ it was time to crack the mystery of dating. We learned how to approach a girl, how to sustain her interest and finally, how to escalate it to the next level. These afternoon theory sessions were followed by workshops that took place in an actual nightclub to put our pulling techniques to the test!
Each of us had to strike up a conversation with a girl at a bar, talk to one on the dance floor, and scariest of all, go up to a girl in a group of friends – even if some of them were male and quite possibly included her boyfriend! But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. And it’s how you go about it that makes the difference between a yes, a no thanks, and a slap in the face!
A direct approach is to go straight up to a woman, tell her she’s attractive and that I couldn’t possibly leave without introducing myself. A non-direct approach would be to have a wingman, who I discuss on a topic that a girl would be interested in, such as the male Ugg boot, then I casually draw you into our conversation by asking your opinion. It’s a comfortable situation which both of us can walk away from without humiliation if there’s no click. Finally there was the second indirect approach of using humour and sarcasm to grab a girl’s attention – but this one fell flat on its face! I’ve never been the kind of guy who gets straight to the point with a girl, I need weeks for things to develop. Yet here I was scoring 12 phone numbers in one night and on our second night out. I even managed to get a girl to kiss me within a minute of meeting her!
Sustaining interest was about giving a girl the signals that you’re keen and focused on body language – prolonged eye contact, feet facing towards her, increasing the touching, and finally, drawing her in for a kiss. The power of touch is unbelievable; it’s amazing how you can make a girl weak at the knees just by brushing past her.
More than anything, the course left me full of confidence not simply because I had a few new techniques under my belt, but because it forced me to go out there and do something about it. I think, ultimately, that’s the secret to dating. If you have the confidence to approach someone, you’re already halfway there...
“I liked the fact that M. was a successful, independent career woman. I wanted to test myself to see how much my confidence had been raised, and she seemed like a clued up woman who wouldn’t fall for a trick. I was also drawn to her eyes; they have a kindness to them, and her smile – it seemed open and honest, and I figured if I got laughed at, it may as well be a pretty smile! I also got the impression she’d be laid back, which luckily she turned out to be.”
Being an attractive girl, I’m used to getting attention from men whenever I go to bards so I felt comfortable when Navin approached me. On one hand it can be very flattering to be bought a drink by a stranger but it can also make you feel weary that a guy has tried the same tactic loads of times before and you’re just another conquest. Luckily Navin wasn’t one of these guys.
I did my research before and got the impression Navin would be down-to-earth and humble. I was keen to see if this was just an image he hid behind but he turned out to be a total sweetheart.
He was smart and good-looking – just my kind of man! I appreciated he made an effort by wearing a suit. I like to look my best, and like my men to do the same. With the ice nicely broken, he really heated things up by ordering me a drink that arrived with a chili! Not the kind of cocktails I normally opt for but that’s what I liked about him, humour and confidence.
The conversation flowed freely and we connected over our travelling tales – I could tell he would be the ideal travelling companion. When he spoke about his music it was with genuine passion, and not egotistical. I definitely got romantic vibes from him. It felt like we had more of a connection that just being friends, but in all honest I don’t know whether he was playing up for the camera or whether he was genuinely interested in me. I would love to go on a date with him properly away from all the photographers, somewhere where we could have some privacy and get to know each other.
“Other than her striking good looks, Nemisha looked sassy and streetwise, and I was keen to see if she thought any of my techniques were tired or dated. I also liked that on her blind date application form, she put down her best quality as ‘forgiving,’ so at least I knew she wouldn’t be too hard on me if I messed up. Her favourite movie Romeo & Juliet suggested she liked romance, which gave me the confidence to gear up for some serious wooing!”
A friend persuaded me to apply to go on a date with Navin, thinking I deserved a bit of pampering after my recent series of disasters. Sadly Navin just wasn’t my type. When I first laid eyes on him I was surprised at how smartly dressed he was for a first date; I think if he’d dressed more casually, things would have felt a bit more comfortable and we could have relaxed a bit more. But the biggest let down was the fact I just didn’t fancy him. I’m a petite girl and I like a man to match my height or be much taller, but Navin was medium which didn’t really do it for me. Sorry!
His techniques were very full-on, and more the kind of attention I would expect on a second date – he could have cooled it a bit more with the constant eye contact and compliments – it just got too much. But overall he was an extremely friendly guy and I could never fault him for being genuine. He was himself which is a good sign in a guy, and he would make the perfect boyfriend... for someone else!
He gets 10/10 for encouragement. When he found out I like to sing he made me feel very special and, just by talking to me about his own experiences, gave me the confidence to believe in myself. Some of his stories were so inspiring – like performing all over the world and being nominated for so many awards. So although there was no chemistry between us I can see us staying friends – he’s fantastic company and I have no doubt he will make a girl very lucky and very happy soon.
“I knew I didn’t stand a chance with Taj, seeing as she has a boyfriend, but one of the things I learned at Love Systems is not to let the fear of worrying about whether a woman is taken stop you from approaching her. But that’s one of the things about chatting to people you find attractive – you shouldn’t give out the attitude that something had better come out of this or else you’re wasting your time. So it was good practice for me to be charming, knowing there was no agenda.”
When I heard Navin had seen one of my photos and asked me to feature in a blind date article, my first reaction was: thank you, but no. I’m very much in love with my boyfriend! But when the concept was explained to me, that he wanted a ‘taken’ woman’s take on his approach, I agreed to play along just out of intrigue, really.
I must say I was fully prepared to be accosted by a cheeseball sliming all over me and throwing corny lines my way, so I was pleasantly surprised to find him a charming man who knew the difference between being confident and being full of himself! We talked about things that put women off, one of them being how women like attention but don’t want to feel crowded, and how too many compliments can start feeling creepy after a while! But Navin didn’t need to worry about things like that. He’s the kind of guy my boyfriend would like, and my single girl friends would go mad for...
As the course drew to a close with my little black book filled with dozens of numbers of possible future dates, I felt like a new me. I’ve realised that it’s okay to take things faster and that a woman likes a man that gets to the point – if there’s any kind of chemistry, it should be seized at the time, otherwise the signals start getting mixed and the opportunity to ignite passion starts to cool down.
One of the things that used to stop me from approaching women was the feat that they’d see right through my intentions. But I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong about that. Women like a good trick – all magic is based on that, after all. What they don’t like is feeling cheated or duped, so as long as a man appears honest and genuinely interested in her and her alone, the woman is more likely to be flattered than feel creeped out. And the idea that most women will laugh at, or slap a man, just because he tells her he finds her attractive is ludicrous. Women are much kinder than we give them credit for, and very few hate genuine compliments. As long as a man doesn’t appear lecherous, of course!
Although I now know many formulas, I also realise that I can’t do everything by the book. Each date is unique and I still have to stay true to myself and my personality. Most of all I’ve learnt that dating should be fun and natural and I can’t thank the gorgeous Asiana girls who let me test-drive my new skills on them.
The fans I’ve shared my experienced of Love Systems are starting to worry I’ll stop singing love songs now, but you can be rest assured, the new me loves women all the more now!
It’s never too late to start. I was the shy late bloomer, the introvert that stayed at home but one day I forced myself to speak to women. It’s hard at first, but as I explain to my clients – it’s the only way.
Rejection is a fact of life. The more you experience it, the better you became at dealing with it. If you like someone, you will never know if the attraction is mutual unless you ask. You’ll either be rejected... or you’ll succeed.
Confidence comes from practice. The most self-assured daters have a history of asking people out, getting knock backs and picking themselves up again. The more you talk to people, the more relaxed you become around them. Different people connect on different aspects of life, so keep meeting people. And don’t confine yourself to looking for ‘the one’ – there are infinite numbers of people out there with whom you may share a bond.
The first date needs to be perfect. Don’t talk about past relationships, get emotional, mention family dramas, or health problems. Avoid topics you’re not comfortable with; instead find ones that you can click with. If a conversation is going in the wrong direction, shift it to something you both enjoy talking about. If it’s looking hopeless, make a judgment call to either stay friends or call it a day.
Master the art of flirtation. If you feel there’s a shared chemistry, adapt your body language. Rather than sitting opposite, sit next to one another, go in for playful touches so that by the end of the night a kiss comes naturally rather than having the distance of a dinner table between you.
Enlist your friends. Your best mates make you feel relaxed, happy and comfortable, so being around them is the ideal time to be on the lookout. But never embarrass each other or put someone down – your choice of friends is a reflection on you and if the person you’re chatting up like them, it shows you have good taste and are a likeable person.
The trouble with Asian men... Most Asian men are more logical and analytical than they are romantic; thanks to being brought up in a culture where they’re taught to suppress emotions. The ones I meet rarely meet women, apart from weddings twice a year. I advise them to treat finding a partner like applying for a job. Dating is a social skill and you need to learn to perfect it – set your standards, know your strengths, know your strengths and go out there and sell yourself.
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