Crazy, Stupid Love - What I Learned From A Dating Guru

19/09/2011 13:05 BST | Updated 19/11/2011 10:12 GMT

Crazy Stupid Love is packed with relationships and, as is the way in Hollywood, not one of them runs smoothly.

The film stars Steve Carell as straight-laced Cal Weaver. Married to his high-school sweetheart, he finds himself thrown hastily back into the dating market when his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) tells him she's cheated and wants a divorce.

What ensues is in an honest look at what happens when a man who hasn't dated in decades, whose wardrobe consists of The Gap and who has a peculiar insistence on drinking through straws, gets back into the game.

We cringe for him as he stoops over vodka and cranberry juice and whines about Emily to everyone in his local bar (of course they are all far more shiny and attractive than him).

In the UK, the freshly separated male is more likely to be nursing a pint and eating peanuts as the rest of the pub shouts about football, but the premise is the same, he becomes that man that everyone avoids.

Cal's knight in shining armour comes by way of Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a man who's so gorgeous, suave and cool that Casanova himself would have felt inferior. In an effort to help Cal get over his wife and start living his life, Jacob opens Cal's eyes to the many female options before him, not to mention manly drinks.

Meanwhile, Cal's 13-year-old son, Robbie, is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter Jessica. Both father and son are left pining for the women that they believe they're destined to be with.

Crazy Stupid Love raises the eternal question of soulmates - do they really exist? And if the perceived One is lost, can we get them back? Or is there a way to suck it up and move on?

After watching rom-coms we're often left with such questions in our mind and I can't count the times friends have pined for their relationships to be "like in the movies".

With a head full of questions and a heart that was wishing I could meet just one man that dressed like Jacob, I met with real-life dating expert Matthew Hussey in a central London cocktail bar.

Hussey, the self-professed "world's leading dating coach for women", has met thousands of men like Cal Weaver.

From starting out helping men with presentation and confidence issues, he's gone on to become a fully-fledged relationship guru and the closest I was going to come to the film's male makeover character Jacob.

Of course I don't know about his personal dating preferences - I wasn't going to ask if he picks up a different women every night - but with all that knowledge about women's minds, an impressively sharp suit and a big shiny watch, it's evident that he could.

If I did want someone like Ryan Gosling to notice me in a bar, Hussey advised I do the modern-day equivalent of dropping a white handkerchief as I walked by, "men love to be needed" he explained.

"By asking a man to hold your coat while you carry drinks to your table it gives an excuse to talk to him, not only will he be happy you asked him to help, he'll talk to you when you take it back if he's interested," Hussey reasons.

Although I can't contest to whether this technique works (give me a chance), I can report Hussey's advice on three of the rom-com world's most burning relationship dilemmas...

The 'When Harry Met Sally' Scenario

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) had been great friends for years and they both liked having a friend of the opposite sex. Not exactly a riveting plot line is it?

So then, just like many friends in real life, they were confronted with the problem: Can a man and a woman be just friends, without sex getting in the way?

Hussey thinks not.

"Usually friendships between men and women start with attraction from one side or the other. There's usually some sort of imbalance and one ends up settling for friendship."

If you've got into the friend zone and want to get out of it Hussey says you can, you just need to know how. His top tip? No, don't ask for sleepovers. Instead "tell them when they look attractive".

"Don't do it in a playful way, say it in a way that you're kind of surprised that you think that. If you've complimented them on their jacket, follow it up with something like 'take it off, it's too much, I'm not supposed to see you like that'.

"People love it when they think they're doing something a bit naughty," advises the relationship expert.

The 'Friends With Benefits' Issue

Can people ever just have sex and not let little annoying things like feelings and love get in the way? That's what Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake attempt to test in Friends With Benefits and of course a fairly predictable outcome arises.

I ask Hussey if there's a way to make it work?

"It's extremely difficult to have a sexual relationship without having any feelings. It's only possible if you're not attracted to that person, but if you're sleeping with that person you're most likely to be attracted to them - unless you're literally doing it out of utter boredom and loneliness. It takes an emotionally divorced person to do that."

The 'Crazy Stupid Love' Problem

Cal and his son Robbie both think they've found their soulmate in Crazy Stupid Love and, to them, it feels like no one else will ever compare. From Disney fairytales that peddle the 'one true love' line, to modern day comedies, soulmates are presented as a golden truth, but do they really exist outside films?

"I think someone becomes your soulmate. I don't think they start off as your soulmate. I don't really believe in them, no one would ever find the person for them if there was just one person in the whole world," Hussey reasons.

"Shared values, habits that you love and lots of shared experiences mean that person starts to become your soulmate. Acts of love, like actually doing a loving thing for someone not just having the feelings, cements it."

WATCH the Crazy Stupid Love trailer:

Visit Matthew Hussey's website here.

Crazy Stupid Love is in cinemas from Friday 23 September.