Confessions From a Former Online Dating Coach

If you asked me seven years ago if I would ever become an online dating coach I would have said yes. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with the courtship process. The selection of a mate might be the most single important decision of your life. Think about how much time, effort, and emotion we pour into finding a partner, and then continuously growing that relationship. My parents were from a generation that got married a few years out of high school, between the ages of 19 and 22. They didn’t have social media or the internet to help them cross paths with new people; it was whoever was already in your social circle that determined who you were going to marry. Today, it’s more complicated. To a certain extent there might be too many options for singles — but that’s where someone like me comes in.

I spent three years working for an online dating consulting company called eFlirt Expert. There was many tasks I performed that would make most peoples head spin. The one that fascinates people the most is how we helped date for our VIP clients. We had a team that performed with profile writing, messaging and photo selection. I dabbled in all three, but most of my time was spent searching dating sites for potential matches that best fit for that client. So yes, I spent most of my days checking out both men and women. I’ve sifted through thousands and thousands of profiles and have seen online dating from every angle. Angles that no one ever gets to see or experience. It was a rollercoaster of a ride, mentally.

I don’t think anything can prepare you for the emotions associated with helping others find love and you can’t help but live vicariously through your clients, which helps get a better gauge on their mindset and what they’re experiencing at the moment. While this is key when giving advice and assist in running their online dating accounts, the lesson learned is that what’s good for business isn’t always what’s good for yourself. Here are some emotions and situations I faced as an online dating coach.

Having seasonal mood swings.

At eFlirt, online dating season was quiet in the summer, picks up in the fall, and is in full swing by the holidays. I don’t even want to talk about what Valentine ’s Day week was like — it’s basically singles getting into full-blown meltdowns dealing with the loneliness and the social pressures of being a bachelor or bachelorette.

There were days where I want to smash my computer into a million pieces, but I did that job because I love to help people with their dating problems. Of course, there comes a point where too many singles are asking for help all at once. Sure, many of the issues we face as dating coaches are repetitive, but each person has their own ways of coping with the troubles they face.

Being single during the warm summer months is exciting and full of adventure. Once the days get shorter and the nights get colder those feelings shift. No one wants to feel alone on those cold dark nights, especially around the holidays. Lucky for me we’re on the cusp of the cuffing season — we all go through it (as a bachelor, I feel it too). Hook me up with a girl who will show up to my house on Sundays sporting a Patriots jersey with pumpkin muffins from Dunkin’s in hand and my heart will melt. You can cuff me to her all winter long.

Throwing stones when you live in a glass house.

Being a dating coach doesn’t mean I’m immune to dating problems of my own. At times, disagreements in your own relationships can provide useful examples of what not to do or how to pull yourself out of trouble, while other times it makes you doubt the advice you give. When you have relationship problems of your own it can feel like you’re not qualified to give advice, which is something you must get over.

I’m often faced with similar situations to give advice on that I’m currently going through in my own life. It’s one thing to give advice; it’s another to take it (Being hypocritical is almost part of the job.) Aside from a typical profile stuff, you have to give advice on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to know the context and history of your clients’ situations: the correct guidance isn’t what’s best for you, it’s what’s best for them. I can use my own dating experience for talking points, but it shouldn’t be the end all be all for coming up with a final resolution.

Embracing the victories.

The ultimate goal for a dating coach is hearing that one of your clients found love with “the One” and not just any One. We’re not miracle workers, so finding the one can take months or years, but you need to remember to celebrate the little victories along the way. Dating should be a continuous process of learning about yourself, what you want or don’t want in a relationship while becoming comfortable with who you are. It’s important for clients to reduce uncertainty and build up confidence.  

Little victories we see along the way can be as simple as a client admitting they’ve been too picky when it comes to who they’re willing to communicate with. We can give advice and point toward areas of improvement and change, but ultimately, the client needs to look in the mirror on his or her own and take ownership of things they can and should improve on. It’s these minor achievements that lead to a more confident and secure person. Those personality traits are very important to have if you’re going to succeed in a serious relationship. Taking time to acknowledge them is a reminder you’re doing a good job as a dating coach.

Listening. Period.

One of the best skills I’ve developed from that job was listening. I’ll fully admit, I’ll never truly know what women want. However, listening correctly allows you to ask follow up questions which leads to more detailed information.

We received questionnaires from clients on a daily basis. Our questionnaires ask a range of questions that poke and prod of the inner works of our clients’ life and mindset. Asking the correct follow up questions will create new avenues of important personal details, and these details allow us to learn the nuts and bolts of what make our clients tick.

Applying these listening skills to my personal life has made me a better friend and romantic partner. Too often it seems people are focused on getting their next opinion or comment out and miss what’s being said at that very moment. I will say at times it’s made me almost too focused on the details, if that’s even possible.

No, I can’t hear women’s literal thoughts, but that would be nice.

Being hypersensitive to details.

The private struggles you have about your own relationship issues while being a dating coach are the things nobody sees or can relate to. It was my job to help people with their dating concerns and issues first and foremost. The last thing you want to do after a long day of work is deal with your own relationship problems, so you’ve got to find a way to leave work at work – which is always easier said than done.

Focusing on you after the workday.

It’s easy for clients’ dating problems and future goals to subconsciously float around in your head. At any given moment the weight of those thoughts can come crashing down and it can feel overwhelming. I’ll admit, separating work from my personal life is something I used to struggle with daily. It’s a switch that’s difficult to turn off.

When you spend all day helping others with their relationship issues, it leaves you wanting to stay clear of your own. It sounds strange to say it, but your personal relationship problems often make you feel like you’re still at work. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a dating coach. I’m like everyone else though, when it comes to down time I want distance myself from anything that has to do with work to ensure I get a sufficient break. The last thing I’d wanted to do was sit down and run my two online dating profiles when I’ve been in and out of 10 to 15 clients’ profiles in a given day. Hell, I spend half my days creeping men for our female clients (I got a thing for Greek gods and Italian stallions, apparently).

Even on a strictly a personal level, online dating can feel exhausting at times with so many options at your fingertips. It’s important to shut things down and just breathe. So how did I seek out new dates  and work on my own romantic relationships without feeling like I was forever punching a dating  timecard? I’m still not 100 percent sure, but when I find the answer, I’ll let you know.  You secure a relationship with an awesome girlfriend (who you met online of course) leave eFlirt and start your own dating app called Icebrkr.

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