I arrive early to the London event space in which Matthew Hussey is about to regale an audience with his trademarked techniques to “get the guy”. It’s still 30 minutes until showtime but inside the auditorium every seat is full. The speakers blast The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and Charlie Puth’s “How Long”. Female ushers an army in skinny jeans and white shirts, high-five me as I walk past. “This is going to change your life!” chirps one, fizzing with energy. The room is teeming with hundreds of women, from early 20s hipsters to ladies in their 60s eager to listen to Hussey, whose combination of directness and charm has made him something of an Our Man Behind Enemy Lines. (The war is dating, enemy lines are men. All men.)
Next to me is Anna, 23, who discovered Hussey via his popular videos. “I like his sincerity,” she explains, and the fact that he succinctly articulates what she is finding to be true of dating: bolstered by the banquet of choices available on dating apps, many men are floundering in the commitment category. For me, a single woman in her – Christ, I’ll just say it – late 20s, Anna’s comments ring true. And neither of us are alone. According to Tinder, there are 3.5 million people in Australia swiping left and right with reckless abandon. At the last census in late 2016, almost a quarter of Australians lived in single households, a number slated to swell by 63 per cent by 2036. In America, and many other countries, more people are single now than ever before.
Hussey is here to do something about that. At midday on the dot, he walks onstage to the kind of thunderous applause usually reserved for pint-sized pop Lotharios.
“Who is single? Hands up!” he addresses the crowd. About half the room responds. “Who is not sure if they’re in a relationship?” He asks. The crowd roars with laughter and almost half the audience put up their hands. A woman in front of me raises both in the air, wiggling her fingers. Hussey smiles beatifically at the room. “Doesn’t that just about sum it up?”
Shy and introverted growing up in Essex, England, at age 11 Hussey started borrowing his father’s self-help books on how to connect with people. He applied the advice first to his teachers at school, then in his part-time job as a DJ. In his late teens, he began working as a life coach, guiding men on how to speak to women. But when he pivoted and began working with women in 2008, business really took off. Two years later he started posting on YouTube, attracting more than 1.3 million subscribers and 212 million views of his snappy dating-advice clips. In 2013, he released his New York Times bestselling book, Get The Guy. Then came the live tours, which sent Hussey around the globe, preaching his message to more than 100,000 fans. His clients include Christina Aguilera, for whom he worked as a life coach, and Eva Longoria, who was so impressed with his message she hired him as a matchmaker on her 2013 dating show Ready for Love.
Much of Hussey’s content is free, but for many it’s not enough. That’s when you have to start paying. The live events start from $30, the five-day biannual retreat in Florida is $5350. For the more discerning customer, he charges $14,265 an hour for a one-on-one coaching session.
Currently, he’s starring as the dating expert on the Channel Seven reality show The Single Wives. It’s the latest in a string of shows capitalising on our collective obsession with romance. Love as a pop-culture construct is booming, and it’s in part because our own dating lives have become so complicated. There are apps and platforms aplenty upon which to meet people, but they come with their own set of issues. Every week a new dating buzzword – ghosting, breadcrumbing, orbiting, zombieing (when an ex-partner returns seemingly from the dead and re-enters your life with the universal “U up?” text) – is inaugurated into the vernacular. There’s more choice than ever before, but it breeds indecision and allows commitment-phobes to proliferate.
Hussey’s strategy to master the minefield isn’t groundbreaking. In fact, it’s radically simple: be confident, be proactive and don’t waste time on people who aren’t invested in you. It’s a cocktail of self-empowerment, fearlessness and a discerning bullshit radar that has resonated with the millions of women who consume his content every day. If you’re going to “get the guy”, Hussey suggests weeding “low-value people” out of your life.
“In some ways the [dating] landscape has changed,” he says. “A lot of people are on those apps … and when you can always rely on a new message on a dating app, you don’t have the same hunger to go and talk to that person in real life. “But what hasn’t changed is human nature,” he adds. “So if you’re still good in a room, if you’re charming, if you have a lot going for you and you’re curious … you’re still going to win.” (Hussey often talks like this. For him, the dating game is a literal game, and getting the guy is tantamount to a hat-trick at the soccer World Cup.) “And that’s why I think the old [dating] skills,” by which he means self-confidence and flirting, “are a premium these days.”
The first time I meet Hussey is after the live show. For more than two hours the audience sat absolutely riveted, eyes glued to his face. When it’s all over – the “was that good for you?” moment – they desperately clamour to be near him, to take a selfie or tell him how he has impacted their most personal, intimate lives.
Emma, 39, went on Hussey’s retreat two years ago. “On paper I should have been happy with my life. I had a great job, a nice flat, a partner,” she says. “But something was missing.” She scrimped and saved and jumped on a plane to Florida. “My boyfriend thought I was going to come back and break up with him. It was touch and go for a while… But we worked through it because of the retreat and now we’re stronger than ever. I told Matthew, ‘You changed my life.’”
I am not immune to the thrall either. I wait to one side with Hussey’s assistant, who promises she will introduce me once the crowd dies down. I want to ask him how I should keep my dating morale up after meandering through one nonstarter of a relationship after another. How can I stop myself from pouring all my energies into the type of men that Hussey would define as “low-value” partners?
I make small talk with Lara, a Hussey devotee. She admits she is currently engaged in an “almost relationship” that Hussey would disapprove of, and wants to go on the retreat for a second time to help her correct her course.
Our conversation is cut short as the man himself walks past, bracketed by a team of security guards. “We’re talking today, right?” he says, looking me in the eye. “Awesome.” In seconds he’s already passed us, women trailing him as he leaves the building.
The second time I meet Hussey he is driving home from the live show. There is no rest for a dating guru in this age of romantic minefields. Hussey is en route to film a webinar for online subscribers desperate to know the secret to long lasting relationships.
The most common question Hussey is asked is this: “How do I get more from a guy who is not investing in me?” It comes in a variety of forms, whether it’s about ghosting, meeting the family, a second date. But the essential need is the same: I want more. And this man isn’t giving it to me.
“There’s so much emphasis on getting someone to do more who, bottom line, is not trying,” Hussey says. “The way to get someone else to do more for us is to focus on how to be the most attractive we can be.” He’s not talking physically but rather emotionally. How confident are you? How much do you love your life? How high is your self-esteem? How much satisfaction do you get from your job, your family, your friends, your passions? “That’s what we have agency over,” Hussey says. “We’re never going to control what someone gives us.”
Hussey is 31. He has been doing this for more than a decade. He remembers filming a video when he was 24 about coping with break-ups and an onlooker approached him and demanded: “Have you ever actually been heartbroken?”
He concedes his manner might have been a little glib. “I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more patient with people’s pain because I’ve been humbled by my own experiences over time.”
He’s had heartbreak of his own and long stretches of being single. Five years ago, Hussey decided to leave London and move to Los Angeles, which was both a professionally successful but personally isolating time. “I would do a seminar and [then] come home and it was sometimes lonely at the end of those days,” he reflects. “I wanted to connect with someone.”
But those times are over. “My team has grown, and I’m having a wonderful time in my life. And I have someone; I feel really lucky.”
He’s talking about Camila Cabello, the 21-year-old singer of that unforgettable bop “Havana” and his girlfriend over the past year. (“I feel like I’ve never been happier in my life,” Cabello has said of her boyfriend.)
The biggest lesson he’s learnt in love is to “stop competing with your partner”, he explains. “Your success is my success … Killing your ego is something I apply to my relationship all the time.”
It’s a message that may soon find its way into Hussey’s work. So far, he has mostly focused on the first initial flush of dating: meeting men, sparking their interest, decoding their texts, ushering them from one date to the next. But that could change as Hussey’s own life evolves. After what he has called a “string of one-year relationships” things appear to be going strong with Cabello. Sometime soon he would love to have kids. “Things have gotten better and better in my life,” Hussey tells me.
At the start of the live show, he revealed the secret to a strong relationship: the importance of finding someone with whom you not only have a connection, but with whom you might want to build a castle – a life – with. Together.
Hussey might have found that person to start building his castle with. And now, more than ever, he wants to help others do the same. “Get out there and enjoy life, because life is stupidly short,” he explains of his organisation’s philosophy. “It’s about making the world a little less lonely.”
How To Get The Guy
according to Mathew Hussey
Be confident, curious
and charming. Be
great, because it’s
the only measure
that really matters.
Love life because if
you don’t, you can’t
have a love life.
Know your value
(and don’t let anyone
Meet more people
(but dispense with the
wrong people, fast).
that scare you.
needs candidly, but
Move on, and fast
if your needs are not
the connection and
under-value the castle.
The castle is the only
thing that matters