Single Spotlight is a Heartalytics interview series in which our editor interviews and features different singles from the Tawkify network. Please note that while this column unmasks one eligible community member every quarter, the Tawkify network remains completely confidential. If you would like to be considered for our next Single Spotlight, join the waiting list. Get ready to meet Matchable Member, the lovely and enigmatic, Jessie Older!
V: Let's start from the beginning. Jessie, where are you from?
J: I was born in Northern California, Palo Alto actually at Stanford Hospital at Stanford University. My dad was doing his residency there at that time. He went to medical school at Stanford as well.
V: Our CEO, Kenneth, went to Stanford…
J: Yes, I remember reading about that! Stanford holds a very special place in my heart. But when I was 2, we moved to Tampa. I did study the summer before my senior year of high school at Stanford though. It was a great experience…I had the opportunity to enroll in subjects not accessible otherwise, and made friends with students from different countries—who are still my friends today! For college, I went out to USC, University of Southern California, studied there for 2 years and then went abroad to Paris, living there at 19 as a sophomore.
V: What an adventure! Typically, undergraduate students don't travel abroad until their junior year, yes?
J: That's right! My grades were good, I wanted to go, so the university said, OK! And coincidentally, leaving at that time might have been a blessing in disguise because that's the year the Rodney King riots happened in LA. My brother was out there, watching everything unfold from the rooftops, and such. He seemed thankful I wasn't there. And I remember telling him, Oh I love Paris I don't want to go back to LA! I want a European city where I don't need a car. (I didn't have a car anyway!).
V: The Parisian lifestyle certainly seems to have its charms, especially for a pretty 19 year old collegiate!
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J: Yes, I was charmed! But after that year abroad, I transferred to Boston University and finished my studies there. To this day, I absolutely love Boston.
V: What happened next?
J: Well, at 23 I moved to Argentina for just over a year. That was a really fun city to live in. Especially the Embassy parties. After that, I returned to Tampa and furthered my career in Corporate Training, including travel throughout Latin America. I did not live abroad again until my early 30’s when I lived in Switzerland, which is where I got my MBA—from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. I spent some of that time living in Zurich as well. Then I worked for an international contract manufacturing company managing builds..that was 2006...I must have been 34 to 35 when I moved to Mexico to do a training for them. And then I went to Costa Rica when I was 40. What I miss about living in Costa Rica was waking up and seeing the monkeys on the roofs playing and the cute sloth that lived in the tree just above where I lived.
V: Jessie! You've been all over the place! (I bet that sloth misses you too!).
J: Well, it wasn't every single year that I was living abroad. There have been some gaps (which is nice too!), but yes, I've moved around quite a bit.
V: You are a true international woman. Do you think being so well traveled has offered you a different perspective on life, on romance even?
J: Well...yes. My parents frequently brought my brother and me along with them on vacations. We got to see other parts of the world early on. It does grant a different perspective...and I definitely caught that wanderlust from my dad. I'm a lot like him.
“Maybe that wanderlust has bled over into my love life too.”
V: How so?
J: I wanted to see the world, focus on my career. You know, do what I wanted to do! I don't think I was mature enough yet...
V: But, that's not unusual! If you were a man, we might not be talking about this at all. A career focused single man, that's business as usual. It should be business as usual for you too.
V: I'm curious, what's the dating scene like in Tampa?
J: Well, it's hard...you have a lot of singles and a lot of young people too because we have some great universities here, like the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. Both, very good universities. We also have excellent medical facilities here, so you have a lot of doctors...also a lot of lawyers. Tampa is an excellent market for business, so there are a lot of entrepreneurs here as well...and excellent sport teams...but we also have A LOT of strip joints.
V: I wasn't aware of that…interesting...
J: Yes, because I personally think it changes the culture of a city, especially when you have as many as we do.
V: Would I be correct to assume it's not super helpful?
J: You would. I've tried the online dating thing here, I didn't swipe right very often. Look, I have friends who've met online in Tampa and gotten married. I have other friends who have never met anyone online here that they dated seriously. For me, the whole online thing...
”I've just found that the men I've met online weren't that serious.”
V: Singles in other cities will likely sympathize with you there. It all comes down to the Paradox of Choice.
J: Exactly, too many options! My dad has always said he thinks all men are players until they fall in love.
J: You know, until they meet 'the one' that they want to be with. Now, I wouldn't say all men all players...but in this dating climate, with seemingly unlimited alternatives...you could say that it's easy to "play" around.
V: Too much of a good thing, maybe?
V: To cut through the clutter, we ask our clients to identify their top 3 match priorities. What are yours?
J: Well...for me, trust is very big. Also, I connect best with men that are fun-loving. Teasing in a fun way, shared humor, that's very important. I love to laugh! And also…I really like an affectionate man.
V: I wonder if physical touch is your love language?
J: Yes, I read that book, and I think that's true. I also think gift giving is another big one for me. A gift can express how you feel about someone. Not just the gift itself, but how it's given. It can be a real act of love and understanding. Do they wrap it up, or just plop it down? I had a boyfriend who would do the latter, I mean really?!
V: Men should know how to gift wrap too, or at least get it wrapped at the shop! A well-selected and presented gift absolutely makes me feel loved, like someone truly knows and sees me.
J: Yes and when I buy a gift for someone I care about...I like to buy them something that they feel is special and can tell I took the time to buy it and (of course) wrap it, even with just a simple gift bag. When they open it with a big smile….this is what puts a smile on my face and a tingle in my heart.
V: Absolutely, giving is the best part!
J: Yes…and physical touch is also big because it expresses a desire to be close to one another.
“When I love someone, I want to express that love with affection, and in return, know my partner feels the same by their affection.”
V: So you need a man with those love languages too! I wonder, do you have a physical type?
J: You know it's funny, I have dated men from all over! I guess if I had to say...I prefer tall. It doesn't matter to me one bit if they have dark or light hair. I'm attracted to both. Nothing too specific, but I absolutely do need to feel physically attracted. My mom thinks that is ‘superficial,’ but there has to be some spark in the beginning! Recently I have been watching Asian television shows on Netflix and have found the Asian men in the leading roles to be quite handsome. So stylish, with impeccable manners and know-how to express their affection towards the women they love once they discover their feelings for them. I know it is television but it is also an expression of their culture. Maybe I am a romantic at heart...
V: We need more romantics. Tell me about your parents. I've gathered they are still married, yes?
J: Yes! It's been more than 50 years, we celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last year.
V: Wow! What's their secret, do you think?
J: Communication. Communication. Communication.
V: Tell me more!
J: They would tell you the same. Also...close friends of mine who have been married forever told me that there comes a time in every relationship where you're faced with: either we're going to make it or we're not. If you make the decision together to stick it out, that's when you know that you'll make it, no matter what. Really, it's a mindset—through thick and thin, we will work it out.
V: That's what I think most of us want. To feel that way about someone. Even when it's falling apart, you still want to be together.
J: Yes, then there's the mindset of: Well, if I don't like it, I'll just get divorced. That doesn't work. Of course there are going to be difficult times.
V: That's maybe the one thing you can count on! So it's a mindset, a commitment despite, that keeps people together...
J: It seems that way to me.
“Also, my grandmother once told me that there should always be a kitchen big enough to dance in.”
V: Great point, Jessie's grandmother! You've been on several Tawkify dates...I'd like to hear about your favorite so far.
J: Probably...the first one! It was quite interesting, and so was he. Something unexpected happened.
V: Tell me!
J: Well, we were having a good time when another party was seated at the table beside us. All the sudden, my date goes, "Oh my god." By complete chance, a woman he recently dated was seated with her friends right next to us. He was immediately honest about what was going on, I said it was no big deal, and best to carry on.
V: I just went and looked up the date feedback while you were talking about this. He said you handled the situation with total grace...
J: Thank you, yes, he was a funny guy, we had fun together, I think. When we left, he wasn't certain whether or not to acknowledge their party on the way out. I said that we should, we did, and it was totally A-OK.
V: I would feel more comfortable running into any sticky situation with you by my side too! And I can see that all of your Tawkify matches have remarked on your social graces (and beauty!) and they all also marked 'yes' to seeing you again. That's one heck of a date feedback record.
J: Thank you!
V: So, we've established that you're well traveled, that you've dated across the globe. You've held some interesting positions and acquired a great education. With all of that in mind, what advice do you have for other single women?
J: For the ladies, be yourselves! Sometimes, we like someone so much that we aren't being genuine, and worse, we then overlook the red flags right in front of us.
“We could all change that, choose better for ourselves, and not waste our time in relationships that aren't working.”
J: Personally, I've stayed in a relationship way too long. My friends warned me, but I stuck it out, and of course they were right. If the relationship isn't going where you need it to go, get out! We know what we want, and like we've already covered, there are plenty of eligible men out there. Pick up the lessons from that past relationship and move on.
V: And don't repeat the same mistakes and date that same guy all over again.
V: What advice do you have for single men?
J: For the men out there...you know, we really like to be treated like ladies. At least I do.
V: Me too!
J: When a man takes me out and plans for the evening, it makes me feel special, and valued.
V: Some people feel like romance is dead. What do you think?
J: I think romance isn't dead if we keep it alive. A man with manners...I'll be frank…
“Manners are the sexiest thing on a man, more than looks.”
J: I always judge a date based on how I feel afterwards and how their manners were. I'll be honest with you, I did almost get married at one point, we were very close to that...but he didn't value that, at all really. This is an example of not minding the red flags!
V: Absolutely, core values really do have to be aligned for things to endure. You are...sophisticated. You need a sophisticated man, I think.
J: Thank you! Aside from that, I also think it's really nice when the man takes the lead and has a plan. My mom says: in every relationship there's a chief and there's an indian. If you knew my parents you might think she's the chief, she's more outgoing, while my dad is quite soft-spoken. But, I would actually say he is the chief.
V: But your mom is a powerful woman in her own right, yes?
J: Oh yes, she is. On business matters, she is absolutely the chief. I guess we should edit the chief and indian concept...because in every relationship each party is good at different things, and has to share leadership, for sure. But in general I think people assume, after meeting me, that I want to be the chief. But that's not actually the case. Now, I'm not saying I want to be barefoot and pregnant and not ever work (I couldn't do that!).
“But it would absolutely be nice to feel like I was in a relationship with someone who could take the lead.”
J: I'm pretty flexible, and easy-going, it's nice when a man has a plan and can lead us.
V: That would be nice...I don't know if you feel this way, but I feel like I'm always making the plans. In everything in life, I’m in the power seat. In romance, it would be nice to take that hat off and enjoy someone else taking care of me for once.
J: Yes, and to be able to trust in that, trust that your partner 'has something' and you can let go of some control...
V: You know, there was a study that tried to identify the sexiest thing a man could ever say. You know what came out on top, by far?
J: Tell me
V: "I've got this"
J: Point made. Also guys, women like to be surprised! At least I do. I mean, who doesn't love happy surprises? That to me really shows something. It's like...a magic thing on earth.
V: Absolutely agree!
J: I have a good friend in Ecuador and she has the sweetest boyfriend. He'll just show up at her work every once in a while with food she likes, or just to say he was missing her and wanted to come say hello. Little surprises are nice too.
V: Did you hear that guys? Jessie likes surprises!
J: And for both men and women, I have a rule:
“If I want to be friends with a man I just met, I will give it 3 dates to see if anything grows romantically.”
J: Sometimes you really can’t tell from a first meeting.
V: That’s wise, Jessie, many of our matchmakers have expressed very similar advice in other articles….so we recently published an article about men approaching women. This can be a difficult balance to strike for men in the current dating climate. How do you like to be approached?
J: Be straight up! I like direct and polite, something like: I think you're charming and I'd like to get to know you. I don’t like when a man steps around it instead of being clear.
“Why not just say: you're really cute, I would love to take you out to dinner.”
V: That's what a chief would do…
J: It is, isn't it?
V: OK, this might be our most important question...and I know you love movies so we'll go in that direction: you're stuck on an island for eternity, what man do you bring (alive or dead, real or fictional), and what film do you bring?
J: Honestly...someone like James Bond. I would bring James Bond.
V: Excellent choice! He would be handy for survival as well!
J: Yes, but you'd need to keep things light. An island for eternity...that could be tough, so why not bring along...a romantic comedy? What about My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
V: You are full of surprises, I did not see that one coming!