Former NYU classmates turned co-authors flirt their way onto bookshelves
By Angela Barbuti
Although we may not always give it much thought, there is a certain art to capturing a man's attention. After spending seven years exploring what makes men fall in love with them, friends Ariel Kiley, 32, and Simone Kornfeld, 31, released Smitten: The Way of the Brilliant Flirt, this month. The girls met on their first week as theater majors at NYU, and have been each other's wing women ever since. The pair took time between their jobs - Kiley teaches yoga and Kornfeld is a psychotherapist -and many flirting opportunities, to meet for lunch and an in-depth discussion on what every single girl needs to know.
How did this book project come about?
Simone: Ariel and I were lounging on the beach in Fire Island drinking some rosé and sunning ourselves. Ariel turned to me and said, "You know what makes men really fall in love with you?" I was like, "What?" And she said?
Ariel: 'When you divulge some secret, weird thought that you would think would be unfit for conversation.' And then we just started riffing on things that make men smitten with you.
What was the writing process like?
Simone: Discussions on the phone for two to three hours going over every single line. Ariel lived in LA for a chunk of the time, so we weren't physically together.
Ariel: When we had to make a big change in the book, we would take a vacation together. We went to my house in Vermont, where I grew up. We went to Idaho to write the conclusion. Cook, drink, go out, and let it naturally emerge.
Where are the best places to flirt in the city?
Ariel: People live in New York because they want to play with other people. And you can get away with a lot here. There are beautiful men on subway platforms, cafes?
Simone: We can play a little harder in New York City. People here are intellectual types; there's a little more sarcasm. Pursue your interests and see where that leads you. You may not meet your soul mate, but you're definitely going to meet people to flirt with.
Once you meet a man, where are your favorite date spots?
Ariel: I love to go on adventures specific to the chemistry of that person. Tomorrow night, I'm going to a contemporary ballet with this guy. Another guy invited me to a boxing match in Long Island City recently. Or take an amazing walk. I have a botanical gardens date coming up.
Simone: Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting down and eating with somebody. I would never go to a movie, that's an old cliché. Somebody took me salsa dancing once on our first date.
In your book, you claim that many women have not mastered the art of flirting. Why is that?
Ariel: All the dating messages that are in the mainstream have to do with getting the ring on your finger, getting the dude, and showing him who you are later. We flip that and say it's the relationship with yourself first - you flirt from there and if you find something you want to pursue, amazing.
Simone: A lot of women get confused about what they're supposed to be doing while they're flirting. It's not about pleasing someone else and trying to be what you think the man wants you to be. It's about expressing your authenticity within the conversation.
You also think that one should never be rude in the presence of unwanted flirtation.
Ariel: Being rude doesn't make you feel better. Shaming someone maybe gives you an ego high, but that's a cheap thrill that ultimately hurts your soul.
Simone: If someone's taking the courage to come up to you and admire you, that should be honored always.
One point you make is, if you're working on your exterior too much, you're not working on your interior. So what do you think of plastic surgery?
Simone: Women become addicted to the idea that their physical appearance is going to bring them some sense of security. It can become a sickness. But it is amazing that we can do things like plastic surgery because many people have benefited from this technology.
Ariel: There are women I know who have gotten plastic surgery on a part that was beautiful. It's a bummer when a woman makes that choice before she learns to accept that quirkiness.
I like the part about the Dance Floor predators who come up behind you. I think a lot of us can relate to that.
Ariel: Once Leonardo DiCaprio was behind me in LA. I tried to work with it because I've had a crush on him since puberty. There were rhythm issues going on, so I ultimately danced away.
A lot of your book focuses on in-person flirting. What's your take on online dating?
Simone: It's a great tool. I've done Match. These principles can totally apply to online dating, certainly when you first meet the person, but also when you're communicating in writing. Chemistry is hard to know online, so you have to meet them.
Ariel: How you put together your profile should reflect who you are. You should have unique details about yourself and images that show you more than just generically the most pretty. I did OkCupid. Everyone in Brooklyn does that one. That's the go-to site for funky creatives.
How did Facebook change the way people flirt?
Ariel: I know a guy likes me sometimes when he Facebook friends me - if it's someone you casually know, and suddenly you get the random friend request from them. It's been an indication before that it's on. And then you can scour their profile for more information.
Simone: I never do that. I don't Google people.
Ariel: But you find out if they have kids.
Simone: I like them to tell me that they have kids. I would hope that they would be honest about that!
In the book, you discuss how a man should not downplay the things you love.
Simone: I love pottery. I had a guy tell me once, "What are you, an old woman?" That was a turnoff and not sexy.
You acknowledge that we sometimes get into the rut of working and not cultivating any brainy activities.
Ariel: Pursue your interests because there are other cute boys at your interest too. Participate in activities where you are inspired because it makes you enjoy your life first. And also, it leads to more things. Simone met our book agent in her pottery class.
What do you tell people who ask why you are both still single?
Ariel: We've been in serious relationships that have lasted several years, and they haven't ultimately been people who we wanted to spend our lives with. There's a myth that all these married people have it made. I know a lot that are on the road to divorce and are miserable. But we wrote a book about flirting.
Simone: We didn't write a book about getting married. It's also nice to be single.
Ariel: It's nice to be single right now for both of us.
To learn more about Ariel and Simone's book, visit www.smittenbook.com