Black relationship strategist Natalie Clarice, star of the Oxygen network show Find Me My Man, had been matchmaking for almost a decade when Oxygen chose her to star in her own dating reality TV show. Blunt, bold and to the point, she helps women understand the real reason they’re still single and helps them find true love. Clarice took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of the secret advice she gives her clients behind closed doors. From the most important things to avoid on a first date, to her own five stages of dating, it’s about time we’ve got some dating advice from a happily married Black woman! 

On Making ‘Love’ a Job

As the premier matchmaker on Oxygen’s Find Me My Man, Natalie deals with a lot of different personalities. She details her strategy in pairing two people to create a well-balanced relationship. “It’s a matter of finding personalities that will compliment your client. Sometimes that’s not as easy as people think it is,” she says. “Some women who have a strong demeanor can’t be paired with a guy who also has a strong personality. Successful relationships are always about balance.”

On the Biggest Misconception About Her Job

Natalie says that one of the biggest misconceptions people make about being a matchmaker is underestimating the high levels of stress involved with the job. “My process is that I thoroughly interview the guys. I verify their employment; all of their information,” she says. “It’s a one-on-one process, and it’s very contact. You’re definitely in close communication with these people. Just because you submit your picture doesn’t mean you’re my client. Some people I honestly can’t take on for different reasons. I’m not a miracle worker.”

On What to Avoid During the First Date

It’s a simple piece of advice, but Natalie stresses the importance of not altering your personality or mannerisms based on what you think the other person wants to see. “I know sometimes we may have ways about ourselves that may not be so attractive, and we want to adjust that. But people need to know exactly who you are, and what they’re getting,” Clarice says.

Natalie also strongly advises against showing too much skin on the first date. “Doing so could distract your date or give him the wrong idea about your intentions. Sometimes women dress too provocative when they go out on a date, and the man’s mind tends to swirl in a whole other direction,” she warns. “I tell my ladies all the time, ‘You want him to hear you for what you’re saying and pay attention to you, and not have his mind go all out of control’.”

On When to Disclose Personal Information

Natalie advises to save that for later dates. “Never talk about sex,” she says. “Your personal business is none of his business at the beginning.”

On Coming on Too Strong

“I understand that we’re in the 21st century and women want to believe that things have changed, but believe it or not, old rules still apply. Men are the pursuers and the aggressors,” Natalie says. “When ladies do it, it is a complete turn-off to most men.”

On What to Do When Men Come on Too Strong

Women face a great deal of catcalling in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes it’s flattering; other times, it’s a nuisance. Natalie says that it’s important to quickly recognize what type of guy you’re dealing with, and act on that. “A guy that’s looking real rugged or whatever, of course you’ll be like, ‘Move!’ But a guy who really looks the part, you’re going to treat him like the part. As long as he’s representing himself in a respectful and decent manner, you can stop and give him a little of your time,” she says.

Natalie’s Five Stages of Dating

Love Is in the Air: “When you first meet someone, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I never realized he existed.’ But I advise women to never get too comfortable in this stage.”

Reality: “This is a stage when you realize that he’s just a human being who has flaws, like everyone else.”

Disappointment: “At this point, you realize that eventually he’s going to do something to disappoint you (and you him), because again, he’s not a perfect person. It’s going be a struggle. Many new relationships part in this stage. But if you can get through this phase, then you’re well on your way to building a healthy relationship.” 

Commitment: “This is the stage that begins the first step to a potential serious partnership. If you’ve gotten through the disappointment, you’ve probably made it here.”

Partnership: “Alas, here is the final stage of dating and a sign that you’ve made it through the first four stages.”

Find Me My Man airs Tuesdays, 9/8c on Oxygen. 

—Additional editing by Tamerra Griffin