When you're confused about love and relationships, what do people usually tell you? "Write it down on a list.” Self-proclaimed "multi-faceted, mutli-talented go-getter" Elena Murzello took that concept and literally made it into a book - The Love List. Getting experiences from singles, couples, divorcees, as well as her own life, she made it easy to write "the right list.” We sat down with Murzello while she was in town on a press tour at the Ace Hotel to discuss her book and how her experiences as a nurse and a jack-of-all-trades gives her a leg up on other love gurus.
Labeling Men: Tell us about your project.
Elena Murzello: I actually went through a really bad break up.
L.M: How long ago was that?
E.M: That would be three and a half years go, almost four. So I was in a relationship for a long time, from [age] 19 to 29, we ended up breaking up and through that, I came up with the concept of the book and I started writing things down and it kind of flourished from there.
L.M: That was the inspiration, just sitting down and thinking about it?
E.M: Yes, sitting down and reflecting. Very cathartic in a way. So after the breakup, a girlfriend and I had gone away on a trip and I was telling her about this list that I had made about my ex-boyfriend, and she said "Oh, well I should make a list too." So we're sitting on the beach making this list. Two weeks later, after we got home, she found her boyfriend and I was like "Something is up! There is something to this list idea." The book came up actually researching something for my friend begrudgingly.
E.M: You know when you go on the Internet, there’s some of those ads on the side. It was like "send us your pitch, we would love to hear from you!" So I clicked on it and I had this love list idea and I thought that I should write a book on that, and it all came together. Three and half years later, I'm here!
L.M: We know you're a nurse, among other things. Do you feel that you're not just a "love guru," but it adds something different to the mix.
E.M: Oh yeah. It all boils down to that I just want to help people. That is what nursing is about. You are with people at their worst time ever usually in their life. I help and see them through that. When strangers read my book, they say "I can totally relate to that,” “that helped me,” or “I didn't consider this in the way.” It makes me feel really good because you touched somebody's life in a way that is unexpected and I think that yeah, it does sort of give me an advantage in terms of reaching people that you normally wouldn't reach and be able to be personable and talk to people because I'm used to that. I'm used to going into a room and going to people, "Hi, I'm Elena, I'm going to be your nurse today. We're going to have a great day. This is what we are going to do...” Getting that rapport right away is really important. My book isn't scholarly, it isn't English Lit. I wanted it to be fun, I wanted it to be casual but also relatable. When you read it you're just like, "Oh, okay!" It’s like sitting down with a girlfriend over cocktails or whatever and chatting about stuff.
L.M: That is great! So is the book something a bunch of girlfriends should get together and read about?
E.M: Yes. Like I was saying, it’s not scholarly at all, it’s a short read, under 100 pages, it would probably take an hour. Yeah, it’s definitely one of those fun books where you go and say, "Oh, this is perfect for so and so,” "This works for this person right now in their life." I recently did a collaboration with Packed Party so they have these boxes made up where you send people all over the states and one of these boxes is called "You Don't Need Him Anyways."
E.M: My book is included in that box. I am so grateful and so honored, now it’s reaching a totally different audience, girlfriends in Arkansas are sending it to their girlfriends who just had a break up in Ohio. It’s really nice!
L.M: That is nice! And it’s something that just spreads really quickly.
L.M: We know if we read a book like this, we're sending it to our best friends in San Diego.
E.M: Exactly! Word travels fast with anything like dating and relationships, it’s relatable to other people. I think breakups are something that most people go through.
L.M: If you had to choose one characteristic for a guy that is needed, if not, they are gone, what would it be?
E.M: Respect. That would be one. The other one would be honesty, but I think those two tie in together. A lot of people get together with other people and then they find out, "Oh, this person is changing me" or "They are always late," and it all boils down to respect; respecting yourself and respecting the other person that you're with. Be on time, respect is very important.
L.M: Are you based overseas?
E.M: I'm actually based in Vancouver, I don't really consider that overseas. That’s where I live.
L.M: Oh really, we hear it is beautiful and one place we should visit. We went to Toronto once and didn't care for it much.
E.M: Yeah, if you're from here [NYC] and go to Toronto, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s a big city with lots of people, nothing really different. Vancouver is very different, if you go there, it’s the only place you go and it’s the ocean on the west side and the mountains are to the north, it’s very picturesque. You can go golfing and go skiing on the same day, it’s very chill. It’s still a city, I believe it’s the third largest city in Canada, it’s very homey.
L.M: The best of both worlds?
E.M: Yes, totally.
L.M: So our question was, do you feel like there is a difference with respect and in general with Canadian guys versus American guys?
E.M: I think that there is a little bit of a difference. I feel like American guys are definitely a little more outgoing and they are willing to talk. Especially when I'm here, a lot of guys will come up to me and just start talking to me. In Canada they are a bit more reserved, I think a little more laid back so you [girls] would have to make the first move or to be friendly. Funny thing about that, I saw a quote it was something like, "Being nice is so rare nowadays that when a person is nice, it’s often confused with flirting.” I think that it;s sad in a way, because can't you just be nice to a stranger and not want to flirt with them or anything like that. Yeah, I think there is a little difference in the level of being comfortable with approaching women with American versus Canadian.
L.M: Would that be the biggest difference?
E.M: I would say yes. I mean, there are good-looking people everywhere! That’s not the issue. There is definitely a different mix of people and obviously in New York there are so many people. But I hear in New York, it’s something like four girls to every guy in Manhattan, apparently.
L.M: We did not know that.
E.M: For guys, it’s the place to be with your pick. I don't know, we'll have to research those stats later. Have you not heard that?
L.M: No, none of our girlfriends have told us anything like that. Maybe that is why a lot of them are single, too much competition!
[Editors note: We did our research, and thankfully for the ladies, this a myth. The actual statistics are 53% girls and 47% guys in New York City. Avoid the Upper East Side or Chelsea where the numbers are two to one.]
L.M: Tell us a little about why you're in New York now.
E.M: I'm here to promote the book, go to a couple of events, meet people. This weekend I dropped off stuff for Creeds Collective.
L.M: That’s funny, we just went to their event! [view our write-up of the event here]
E.M: Yeah, you might have my book! It’s attached to a USB.
L.M: We went to their opening event.
E.M: No, it’s not in that one, it’s in their latest one, the boozy brunch. I think we [Creeds Collective] followed each other on Instagram really randomly. I'm actually meeting with the PR people behind them later this afternoon - and we talked about events and I supplied them stuff for their goodie bag.
L.M: I think I know them. Janine? Yeah, she's really nice.
E.M: Yes! And Justine. Such a small world!
L.M: Oh definitely. We're going to ask you a few questions about fashion. What is one fashion faux-pas that men make on first dates?
E.M: I don't know if you consider this fashion as much as it is beauty fashion, but too much cologne could really [makes disgusted face]. I've had that before. Too much cologne and dirty fingernails. Dirty shoes, stuff like that. I like a neat looking person and I feel like if your shirt is wrinkled or if you could see dirt - if it’s obvious - then it’s very off-putting.
L.M: Get polished!
E.M: Yes, that’s it!
L.M: What would you say is the biggest problem people have with dating?
E.M: Confidence. I would say as a broad statement overall - I meet guys, like I go to a gym and it’s mostly martial arts and the guys there are lovely people but their confidence level is a little on the low side. Some people are just over-confident and then he comes off as a jerk, as arrogant and you don't like it. It’s confidence in approaching people, it’s the way you carry yourself, it kind of wraps around that. A lot of people have had a hard time, they've had breakups and I understand that and getting back on that horse again. That’s a whole confidence as well, really taking your personal inventory and going, "Okay, I'm a good person, I have good stuff going for me,” really falling in love with yourself helps that as well. Broad statement - I think confidence overall.
L.M: Would that be your one piece of dating advice?
E.M: Yes actually, I think it would be, and formalizing. That is what my book is about, formalizing what you actually want versus what you "need.” Because a lot of people feel that they need the most good-looking person, the smartest person, and maybe at the end of the day, you actually don't need that. You need that person who takes care of you or the person that you can wake up next to without makeup and be okay with or that person you take road trips with and sing crazy songs, stuff like that people don't usually think of. They think of the immediate look of the person and, of course, it’s what attracts a person initially, but it’s those long lasting qualities that are going to carry you through a relationship. Going back to being a nurse, I've seen people at their worst and you kind of internalize it thinking, "What is that person going to be like five years if they lose their job, if there is a death, can they cope with that, can they be resilient?" I think that is my piece on it.
L.M: What does the future hold you?
E.M: Expect some cool collaborations with local and international artists on a number of media platforms. Future books - sure, why not? - and more travel. When it comes to keeping people on their toes to what's coming next, I will not disappoint.
Follow Elena’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram @ElenaMurzello and don't forget to check out her website at www.ElenaMurzello.com.
Interview by Nisim Frank