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Originally published February 14, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 14, 2005 at 7:47 AM

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Have a fear of rejection? Get over it, says cupid-for-hire

David Wygant's new book is called "Always Talk to Strangers," so we took him to Whole Foods — because he swears you can meet people...

Seattle Times staff reporter

David Wygant's new book is called "Always Talk to Strangers," so we took him to Whole Foods — because he swears you can meet people anywhere — to find some. (Strangers, aisle seven!)

Wygant, a local "date doctor" in the manner of Will Smith's character in the new romantic comedy "Hitch," will tell you that a Kevin James (i.e., your average chubby white dude who can't dance) can date an Amber Valletta (i.e., a tall, leggy model-type) in real life — with a straight face.

We were skeptical. After all, this is not Los Angeles, where Wygant had been working his dating-guru-voodoo-magic — no really, we're taking this seriously — for the past decade. People don't just walk up to strangers and start conversations here, we tried to tell him. Oh pish-tush, he said, or something like that.

But since it is Valentine's Day, and since there are people who actually pay Wygant $10,000 to be a real-life "Hitch," who are we to turn down some free dating advice? Consider it our gift to you, sweets. Happy Valentine's Day!

Q: We're taught at a young age to never talk to strangers. You advocate the opposite. Why?

A: It's called verbal batting practice. A baseball player does not go into a baseball game without taking batting practice, or he's going to be uptight, he's not going to be loose. By going out and flirting with people and being friendly with people, when you meet someone you're attracted to, you've already practiced. It's going to be like second nature to you. And if you talk to enough people, the law of averages says you're going to find someone you like.

Meet the date doctor

Author and dating coach David Wygant will make the following local appearances to promote his book, "Always Talk to Strangers: 3 Simple Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life." The book will be in stores March 1 (Penguin Books, $13.95). For more on Wygant's dating services, visit

Third Place Books7 p.m. March 15, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park (206-366-3333).

Village Books 7:30 p.m. March 18, 1200 11th St., Bellingham (360-671-2626).

Barnes & Noble 7:30 p.m. March 23, 2700 N.E. University Village, Seattle (206-517-4107).

Q: So you're saying people should regularly talk to random strangers they're not attracted to?

A: Let's say you're not attracted to the person, but you're nice and friendly. Then what happens is, the next time you run into them, they're with a friend you're attracted to. They remember you as the nice person that talked to them that one time, and then you've got yourself a referral.

Q: But what if you have a fear of rejection that makes talking to strangers kind of scary?

A: If you took the same attitude with your career, you'd never get a job. In order to get that job, you have to go on interviews and get rejected. In your career, you're willing to deal with rejection in order to move forward. So with rejection, I say get over it. If you're not getting rejected on a regular basis, you're not trying.

Q: So what's a good opening line?

A: Everybody's always worrying about the right thing to say and not paying attention to all the things around them that you can have a conversation about. There is no right line at the right moment. Just say anything. If they're attracted to you, they don't care (what you say). Just break the ice.

Q: What's the biggest mistake guys make when approaching a woman?

A: Guys try too hard to "close." They're always thinking about the next thing to say and not listening, and the next thing you know the conversation's over. Instead of trying so hard to find a way to make the date, stay in the moment. Then all he needs to do is say, "I really enjoyed talking with you, let's get together so we continue this conversation."

Q: Any advice for women?

A: Women can "close" a guy the exact same way. You've got the guy, he's talking to you. He's scared to death to ask you out because he thinks maybe you're just being friendly. Just say, "Well, maybe we'll run into each other again." It's gonna bring up nightmares of all the times he screwed up on casual encounters with women. Take control. Stop waiting to be plucked by a guy because you keep getting plucked by the wrong drunks.

Q: As a real-life date doctor, are there any practical lessons that people can take away from a movie like "Hitch"?

A: Everybody's attracted to someone who's open and friendly and has something to say. Just because somebody's pretty doesn't mean they're not a geek like you inside.

Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or

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