Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. It's a lesson that a single guy from Bradley Beach, N.J., should take to heart.
Robert Darling, 56, is a currently unemployed man who, for the last 10 years, has been literally panhandling for affection three times a week at three Big Apple landmarks: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbus Circle and Wall Street.
Darling wears his heart on his sleeve, and a big sandwich board announcing his availability for that special woman.
While some may equate sandwich boards more with Depression-era bums walking around exhorting people to "Eat At Joe's" than budding romantic prospects, Darling thinks his cardboard calling card is actually a selling point.
"I think it's pretty good," he told HuffPost Weird News. "It's handmade and people can see what I wrote on the back and front. I've thought about getting one made more professionally, but this is my good luck sign."
Or is it? As the Wall Street Journal reported, Darling has been begging for more than a decade and has yet to hook anything close to lasting love.
Maybe it's because his message, written in multi-colored marker, lacks subtlety. The first line reads: ”I’m looking for a wealthy lady to be my wife."
Yep. Darling, whose background includes working security at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan, is looking for security himself -- both emotional and financial.
He gets attention, no doubt about that. But even though lots of ladies want their pictures taken with this panhandler for love, so far, not many women want to take things to the next level.
Well, one did. But it didn't work out as he hoped.
”It was a woman who wanted me to marry her friend, to get her a green card,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m not here to get someone a green card. I’m here to get a wife.”
He may be waiting a while, according to dating experts like Sophia McDonald, a Russian-born matchmaker in Seattle, who says Darling's seduction-by-sandwich-board technique is "ridiculous."
"He's doing this on the street, and it's obviously not working," McDonald told HuffPost.
However, she's not ultimately saying the technique is bad -- just the guy doing it.
"Imagine George Clooney was doing this," she said. "Hell yes, it would work. But he's not attractive and the sign doesn't say what he's offering or explain what a woman would love him for. Instead, he's asking for everything coming to him. It's all gimme, gimme gimme!"
Darling concedes he hears that a lot, but says the unique medium of the sandwich board has limitations.
"I should put down what I have to offer, but it's hard to get all that stuff on the card," he said.
For the record, Darling says he is educated and once studied political science at Rutgers University. "The Newark campus," he specified.
He also enjoys world history and ethnic cuisines. Although it wasn't confirmed, it's a safe bet he also enjoys long walks along the beach.
"I've never been arrested," he volunteered.
Also, Darling wants his future wife to know he isn't completely viewing things through dollar signs: He also wants a smart woman who will make him laugh and enjoys listening to the band Genesis on the audio cassettes he carries with him.
Minneapolis-based relationship coach Kareem Ahmed, who runs an online dating site called InboxCupid, doesn't think Darling is as delusional as McDonald does. Just a few changes could get him on the road to romance, the coach advises.
"He seems desperate," Ahmed said, adding that a wardrobe change is in order. Darling's idea of dressing for success seem more akin to Dilbert than any of the style tips in men's magazines. His typical outfit is khaki pants and a t-shirt or short-sleeved button-down shirt.
"He should wear a suit, or tux or even a bowtie," Ahmed said. "Dress like you already have the job you want -- or the woman."
Darling could also use a stiff shot of reality in regards to his potential bride's bank account.
"He says he won't settle for anyone who has less than $750,000," Ahmed said. "He should set his expectations lower or at least be more discreet about the money aspect."
Darling should be casting his net wider than three New York street corners, according to the coach.
"Social media would really help here," Ahmed said. "Maybe if he blogged as 'The Panhandling Bachelor,' he could get his message further than New York. He sounds like a character, so a blog would be good."
However, some people think the panhandling approach is completely hopeless for attracting any kind of woman.
Jean-Pierre LeBlanc, a former motorcycle racer who offers relationship seminars in Vancouver, B.C., says Darling's sandwich board technique is "exactly wrong" for achieving his goal.
"It doesn't appeal to a woman who wants a strong provider, nor a self-sufficient woman who would prefer a boy toy who knows all the good clubs," LeBlanc said. "Plus, a sandwich board is the lowest paid job a person can do. The fact he's using it to find a wife shows just how ill-equipped he is."
LeBlanc does have an idea that might work for Darling, though: "He'd do better if he dumped the sandwich board and brought two folding chairs and offer to just listen to the women," LeBlanc said. "That would make him different than most other men."
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Robert Darling, 56, lives in Bradley Beach, N.J., but goes to New York three times a week and holds up signs like these in hopes of finding his future wife. He's been doing this for 10 years and has one date to show for it -- and she just wanted him to marry her friend for a green card.
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