If love is a game, do you need a coach?

Dating coaches offer advice on everything from how to dress to how to flirt. For a price, some will even act as wingmen.

By Catherine Price
September 28, 2007 10:58PM (UTC)
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There are times when writing for this blog leads to revelations about my own life. Today's insight? I should be a dating coach. Yes. See, according to the New York Times, there are people out there who are charging well upward of $125 an hour to help people learn how to date.

I'm not saying that I myself am an excellent dater, or even that I offer particularly good advice. But I like talking to people about dating. In fact, I -- like many people -- already spend a lot of time discussing my friends' love lives. Most of the time, I enjoy it. So why not get paid for it?


The Times' piece is written by a woman who has actually hired a dating coach herself. This coach apparently tells her clients that they must devote at least 15 hours a week to their dating lives (only three of which can come from surfing Internet dating sites), and tells them that they should keep their "cab lights" on (i.e., the lights on the top of taxis that indicate their availability). Other coaches mentioned in the piece advise clients on how to dress and whether to kiss on the first date. One coach even attends bars with one of her clients and evaluates the women he's considering approaching. (Hiring your female dating coach as a wingman -- does this strike anyone else as a bad idea?)

I was already interested at $125 an hour -- but then I read the part of the article that describes a coach who charges $5,000 to $10,000 to hang out with clients over the weekend. Sometimes he'll put them through simulated dates; sometimes he'll teach them how to flirt. (Sometimes they just stay at home and do each other's nails.) I commend the man for his ability to convince people that this is worth $10,000 but it does seem crazy, considering that no degree or certification is required to become a dating coach (further motivation, you might say, to become one). And being a coach doesn't always require you to be a genius -- one woman mentioned by the Times flew to Los Angeles for a dating boot camp and came away with the realization that she was shy.

I don't mean to totally mock the idea of getting dating help. After all, it can be very useful to have an outside person act, as the Times puts it, as a cheerleader for your personal life. But I do question whether it's really worth the money. After all, if you spend 15 hours a week doing anything, you're likely to become more successful at it. Do you really need to hire a coach?

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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