The 6 Biggest Misconceptions About Date Coaching
The current dating landscape can be an emotionally taxing beast, but never fear! Date coaches are here to help. Here’s what a lot of people get wrong about date coaching.
1. Date coaching is only for inexperienced people that are bad at dating
This is not only false, it’s a little absurd. If you want someone to help you get fit, you may see a trainer. If you want to learn something new, many seek out a teacher for that subject. Coaching is for everyone. We go to humans because they have expertise, unique perspective, and they are able to hold you accountable. Every dater I’ve ever met could use a bounce board for their experiences, their goals and their progress. Many clients aren’t looking to change bad habits or learn how to date but would like someone to help guide their journey.
Coaching is also about personalization. Coaches can use experience and stories to better illustrate something that is particular to their client. Books and videos cannot do this. They are not personalized or tailored in a true human sense. This is a key aspect of coaching. You are taking the time to explore your personal strengths and goals, and then held accountable for those goals. You have a place to share progress, share experiences, and you are moving forward in the way that works for you…specifically.
Being a great date or knowing how to be a better dater is not intuitive. It takes practice and reflection. You may think people that are “outgoing” or classically “charming” are great dates. If there is anything I’ve cemented in my time as a date coach and matchmaker, it’s that everyone finds different kinds of behaviors charming or attractive. A suave talker who pulls out chairs and open doors might work for some folks but others really don’t love it. They don’t want to be talked over or down to, and find some of that silly or unnecessary. Oppositely, some people find very sexually explicit dates charming, but others find that behavior not to their taste or see a red flag in terms of timing, their values, and their comfort levels.
Date coaching is for anyone who just wants a place to set goals and be accountable to them, period. The great daters do it, the bad daters do it. We should all do it.
2. Date coaching is like therapy
Coaching is not therapy and should never be a substitute or placeholder for therapy. Psychotherapy generally works on a conflict, mental illness or emotional problem of some sort that a person may have or feels they have, and therapists tend to work on things in the past and present for healing.
Coaches are about the future. We want support you in achieving goals using your strengths. Although we do act like thought partners asking deep, and often times provocative, questions, it’s really about you taking the time to reflect and come up with a path forward. It’s surprising to most people how little space they give themselves to do this work, and as the coaching world likes to remind us — our thoughts determine our reality. It’s incredibly important to us all to have a non-judgmental space to think deeply and reflect on how to move forward.
3. Date coaches aren’t certified
Coaching is an actual profession with guidelines and ethics. My opinion — any professional coach worth their salt will have studied with an accredited institution of some kind. The bigger ones require a hefty minimum amount of education, certification hours and even ongoing education requirements to stay certified.
Do your homework before you spend money and see what your coach’s background is. A 2-hour online class is not enough. Sometimes a coach has a lot of knowledge and background in the field they’re coaching in and that matters too.
Go for someone that matches your vibe. I have a business education background with a long history of project management, so many folks that want a more serious and data driven approach might find a better fit with me. I have also been exploring online dating and writing about it for over ten years so clients can get a sense of my style, my humor, and see that I have a lot of real world experience doing it. That might really appeal to someone going through the apps and getting into the nitty gritty details. I know the interfaces, the user experience and have a deep understanding of common problems and behaviors in the online dating world. I even have a date consulting aspect to my business where I make recommendations built on research and experience. Not for nothing, I’m a professional matchmaker, giving me access to a lot of current dating issues. And to boot, I study with one of the best schools for coaching in general. This is not a side gig for me — I’m a friggin’ professional.
Not all coaches may have as much real world experience, but they may have other backgrounds that speak to you including counseling, spiritual practice or other specialties outside of what professional coaching schools offer.
4. Date coaching is about astrology and woo-woo stuff
As mentioned, some date coaches are heavily into practices outside of accredited education requirements — and that’s okay! But you should do your research and ask your prospective coach about what methods they use or what guides their coaching practice. Many folks have their own branding of the same thing such as “strengths based”, “positive psychology”, or “whole person coaching”. These things all live in around the same world and they’re all great.
Find someone that works for you! If you’re into energy healing, intuition, astrology or a specific personality measurement such as EQ, love languages, Meyers Briggs, The Big Five, Clifton Strengths or something else, it’s all good. Just know, the profession of coaching as outlined by ICF (International Coaching Federation) has its own standards. Everything outside of that is about specialty and flare.
5. Date coaching is about someone telling you what to do or say
Wrong. That’s consulting. And that’s cool too! When someone is assessing your current situation and then making recommendations independently of you, that’s more of a consulting position.We never want to actually tell daters what to do or say literally, but if we are consulting, we can absolutely make recommendations about where they should put their efforts next or shed light on what we think of a situation. The goal here again is that the client is the one that still needs to do the work. After all, authenticity is an important part of being a great date.
My opinion — this consulting work should be performed separately from coaching. When I’m consulting, I’m actually looking at someone’s goals and then measuring these against their current methods, resources and success rates. This may include which methods or apps they’re using for dating, their photos, language, their experience on dates, their planning, their follow-up, their feelings and what’s worked or hasn’t. I have a very fun list of things to try to open up more opportunities for dating and I’m not your friends or family, so I have no other agenda than to get you dating and having a good time. That’s pretty cool.
When I’m coaching, I’m a thought partner, asking provocative questions that guide clients into formulating appropriate goals and steps for themselves and then holding them accountable to those. You might be thinking, why do I need a person for that? I could just think about stuff myself! But research has shown coaching is an effective method of improving people’s lives and achieving their goals. It’s no wonder it’s one of the largest growing sectors in the world.
6. Date coaching tells you everything you’re doing wrong
Date coaching is actually the opposite! Most coaches will find your strengths and then it’s about dialing those strengths up or down. It’s a truly beautiful way of addressing goals and understanding how our personalities can work.
In my own study of coaching I’ve had a lot of opportunities to be a coachee as well. One of the most exciting moments was looking at an assessment of my strengths — and working through how I can use them too much or not enough and how they might interact with others. Having a professional coach guide you through these sensitive aspects is crucial to the process.
One of my big goals in working with current daters is to improve the dating community overall, and that means encouraging people to better themselves by bravely setting the standards for behaviors and expectations. Those things are so hard to do alone. You need support. I always say — be the dater you want to see in the world! Get help, get feedback, get perspective. Isn’t that what you would want your dates to do as well? It’s a crazy world out there with all the platforms full of profiles. Don’t go it alone.
Many of the other professional matchmakers that I know are coaches and it makes sense — we are totally immersed in the world of dating and we digest the feedback from daters every single day. Trust us. We know what’s going on from the perspective that you, as the dater, don’t get to see. We get to see truths from the other side. We get to see how people’s inner worlds during a date may conflict with their outer behavior. We see the inequities in communication and how people’s physical desires and core values interact with their expectations or ego.
Date coaching is so very needed. I can’t tell you how many feedback calls or emails I’ve seen that tug at my coaching heart. Many folks are perfectly lovely people, but their behaviors (especially on first dates) are undeniably unaware…and all they probably need is a good coach.
Change the way you date. Get a coach. Get dating.
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