Ask Ada: Are Dating Coaches Actually Helpful?

Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice! Today’s question comes from someone struggling to improve her love life with a dating coach.

Hi Ada,

I hate dating, but I’m trying to put myself out there more. After seeing a million ads for dating coaches, I decided to take the plunge and get some professional dating advice. After every session, though, I feel depressed.

My dating coach hates everything about me: how I talk, how I carry myself, and the questions I ask men. He tells me that I’m scaring guys off and that they will lose interest in me if I don’t find a way to be “softer.” This is all advice that I’d expect from my mother, not from a guy my age. Is my coach’s approach to my love life OK?

Signed,

Loveless

Hi Loveless,

Whether or not your dating coach’s approach is appropriate depends on what goal you’re working towards together. If you told this guy, “I want you to grind my self-esteem to a pulp,” I’d say that he’s doing a good job and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Maybe, if your dating coach is feeling extra sweet, he’ll also tell you to lose some weight and even throw in a discount code for a Shakeology subscription. Aren’t you lucky?

Just kidding. Don’t get the Shakeology subscription. 

I don’t know you, Loveless. Maybe you really are scaring men off. Maybe you need to lay off the cyberstalking and stop sending threatening messages to your exes. But since you said you hated dating, I’m going to assume that your dating coach didn’t mean that you’re really doing anything dangerous when he gave you that bit of feedback.

Remember that “men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.” In other words, straight dudes don’t tend to keep company of women who are genuinely scary. Society hasn’t conditioned them to override their own self-preservation for the sake of keeping the peace. If you were really so “scary,” you wouldn’t be dealing with your coach, you’d be dealing with the police.

So what does your coach’s feedback mean? My take is that when he says “This is what men want,” he means “This is what my friends and I want.” Did he even ask you about your goals, hopes, and dreams? Because even if he did, it doesn’t seem like he retained a single word you said.

The reason why your dating coach’s advice sounds suspiciously like your mother’s is that it comes from the same place: the assumption that any relationship is better than no relationship. He clearly believes that you should be grateful that a man pays attention to you. You could start dating a serial killer, and he’d still call your love life a success. 

The saddest thing is that there are tons of guys out there who want a real partner – someone they respect, someone they trust, someone who shares their interests and goals. These are guys with smarts and emotional intelligence, guys who would be happy to spend time with an outspoken, self-assured woman like yourself. But they can’t meet you because there are too many boneheads telling women to act like vapid clones with no personality, and there are also too many women who listen to those idiots. 

My concrete advice, Loveless, is to cut your losses. If you have committed to a number of sessions, pay this guy, but don’t attend those sessions. Consider this a crash course in trusting your instincts. Next time something seems “off,” you will leave the situation sooner. 

My less concrete advice is to sit down and think hard about the kind of behaviour you’re willing to accept from others. Do you care more about being in a relationship than about the quality of that relationship? Will you take abuse if others disguise it as help? Or are you going to chase your own happiness, even if it means that you might have fewer partners and please fewer people?

There’s nothing wrong with saying that you hate dating and choosing to focus on yourself, Loveless. Live your values, and accept yourself.

Good luck,

Ada

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Feature Image by Jake Noren on Unsplash

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