Dating Coaching Questions:
What is a Dating Coach?
Dating and Relationship Coach: Really?
If you’ve found this article because you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, worried and discouraged about your love life and now you’re thinking about getting a dating coach, Googling “dating coaches near me,” or just trying to figure out what the heck a dating coach even is… hello, I’m Dr. Lisa, and… I’m sorry. I have been a dating and relationship coach in Denver (and a therapist) for a long time and have worked with many people who’ve had the same experiences. In addition to having a lot of empathy for how you’re feeling right now, I’d also like you to know that this experience is very, very common.
I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent with clients who want more than anything to have a healthy, enduring new relationship with someone they love… and who can love them back. They’ve gone on so many first dates. Dating apps with the same generic profiles are taking up precious space on their phones and in their minds. They’re texting with a dozen people at the same time, but have no idea who the person behind the avatar really is.
Many of them had just gotten out of a long term relationship and very anxious about the prospect of modern dating. They’re finally ready to settle down and start a family, but feel like they’re surrounded by players and flakes. Or — even worse — they get into a string of months-to-years long relationships with people that wind up fizzling or feeling very disappointing for them. They feel like they’re wasting time but do not know how to find their person, so they keep dating people… and keep having the same experiences over and over again.
It is so hard. I get it. If you’re reading this and find yourself wincing in recognition at any of these scenarios, or thinking, “Yes! Me too!” I am so glad that we are here together today. You do not have to continue struggling on your own.
You may have just had a reaction to me saying that you don’t have to do this on your own. I know that there’s a strong myth in our culture that “everyone else has this figured out” or that you “shouldn’t” need support in figuring out relationships, or that when you miraculously find the right person everything will fall into place. Those are actually self-limiting beliefs that are an obstacle to your being able to create the relationship you want.
What about all those people gleefully posting about their fantastic relationships? What do they have in common? Most of them got help. Even though they don’t talk about it, smart people who are in happy and healthy relationships often arrived there because they got help along the way. They worked with a dating coach, relationship coach, or therapist in order to get to where they are now.
Wait, wait, I’m serious! But if you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you: “Online Dating Coaches” have a questionable reputation and there’s a good reason why.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #1
Not All Dating Coaches Are The Same
I’m sure the term “dating coach” might make you think of guys with very white teeth and meticulously trimmed beards with large YouTube followings telling you to insult a woman to get her attention, or a gossip columnist telling you exactly how many dates you have to wait to sleep with someone if you EVER hope to get a diamond ring. I look at stuff like this and it feels like a joke to me too. You may be asking yourself “How can dating coaching possibly work? It has to just be a giant scam!”
While, unfortunately, the dating coach market is overflowing with this shade of grifter, real, effective dating coaching is so much more than the offerings you might find on Instagram. Dating coaching is more than just getting X amount of numbers when you get to a bar, or getting a proposal in X amount of months. There is such a thing as real dating and relationship coaching, and at can be extremely valuable.
Very good dating and relationship coaching is a deeply internal journey that, if taken with a trained, compassionate, and helpful coach, can tell you more about who you are, how you love, and finding love that lasts.
But the dating coaching industry is a minefield. Did you know that just like virtually anyone can call themselves a “life coach” without any education or credential, literally anyone can be a “dating coach” too. That surprises some people to know, but it’s true.
It is also true that there are authentic relationship experts in the world who offer dating coaching services. For example, marriage and family therapists are a special type of licensed therapist with specialized graduate degrees (Master’s or doctorates) specifically in couples and family. They have years of experience in helping individuals, couples, and families develop healthy relationships using evidence-based approaches. And… some marriage and family therapists have additional training in dating and relationship coaching strategies designed to help people create healthy and happy new relationships.
So, that’s the difference. YouTuber Dating Coach with the beard and “secret seduction strategies” vs. licensed marriage and family therapist with years of experience in evidence-based approaches devoted to healthy relationships.
Completely different things, but both fall under the term “dating coach.”
When I talk about “dating coaching” I am talking about the latter. That is what I am. I am licensed as a marriage and family therapist, I am a licensed psychologist and I am a board-certified coach. I believe that the type of experience you would have with me, or someone like me, is the kind of experience that you deserve to have.
So I’m going to tell you more about what a dating coach is, and what dating coaches do, but I wanted to define our terms here and to help you to understand what kind of dating coach I’m talking about — because they are not all the same.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #2
What Does a Dating Coach Do?
An expert dating coach (a therapist who specializes in relationships, and uses dating and relationship coaching strategies with you) helps you develop your goals and find better success in your dating life. If you don’t actually know what your goals are, or what you’re looking for in a relationship, a dating coach can help you learn through introspective exercises and practices.
The best dating coach doesn’t have a step-by-step program for you to follow to the letter to get results; instead, they work closely with you to figure out what it is that YOU need to work on, what finding the right person looks like for you, etc. Since every relationship is deeply personal and unique, your dating coaching program should be as well.
Another important thing to know is that a good dating coach can help you get under the hood and identify the patterns (your patterns) and understand how they are impacting the results you’ve been getting in your relationships. These are often blindspots — unconscious core beliefs, expectations, and even thoughts and feelings that impact how we show up in our interactions with others.
A very good dating coach — the kind who is also a therapist — can help you go way, way deeper than “what kind of online dating profile photo will get me noticed.” A genuinely good and valuable dating coach will help you identify the *real* reasons why it’s been challenging for you to connect with your ideal partner. Are you unintentionally choosing the wrong people? (And dismissing the people who might be wonderful partners for you?) Or are you choosing the right people, but unknowingly engaging in behaviors that cause you to lose yourself in relationships, or subconsciously pushing them away?
A good dating coach — one who has a solid background in marriage and family therapy, and who is genuinely a relationship expert — can help you answer those questions and not just “date” but rather, grow. Grow into a person who is clear about who they are, what they want and need in a relationship, and know how to confidently create the kind of healthy, happy, enduring relationship they want.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #3
Who Is Dating Coaching For?
Dating coaching is most effective for people who are feeling frustrated with the results they’re getting in their dating life, and are ready to change it. Whether that means you’re ready to settle into a long-term relationship, or just want to do some personal development work to make sure you’re clear and confident about how to create the kind of relationship you want, we can help.
A dating coach can be especially effective if you’ve just gotten out of a long term relationship or marriage and are ready to start dating again. The world of dating has probably changed IMMENSELY since you’ve last been single, And it may feel like dating is getting harder. More importantly, YOU’VE changed. Being single at 25 is a lot different than being single at 50, because you’re now a person with completely different expectations, needs, and experiences.
People come into dating coaching for many reasons. But people who choose to work with Growing Self for dating and relationship coaching value personal development, personal growth, and are interested in a self discovery process that helps them develop healthy new relationships.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #4
How Do I Find a Dating Coach?
Since coaching is an unregulated industry, finding the right coach can feel like a real minefield. How can you be sure you’re not wasting your money and time, and potentially setting yourself back?
First things first, you’re going to want to look for some kind of training. While dating coaching is NOT the same as therapy, the best dating coach will be a licensed therapist who has undergone some coaching training. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) make the best dating coaches, since they are trained specifically in understanding relationship and family dynamics, and learning how and why they go awry.
If you are considering working with a dating coach who does not have a credential as a marriage and family therapist, do be cautious. If they cite a “dating coach training” program as part of their professional qualifications, be sure to do some digging around what their “training program” actually involved.
Sad but true: Just like the coaching profession is unregulated, so is the coaching TRAINING arena. Anyone can set up an online course, and call it a “dating coach training program,” sending potentially questionable “credentialed” coaches into the world — with as little as a half-day webinar under their belt. Terrifying prospect!
There are some universally accepted and reputable coaching training programs however! In your search, look for “Board Certified Coach” (BCC), or “International Coaching Federation” (ICF). While they are nowhere near as robust as a master’s degree or doctorate in marriage and family therapy, at least coaches who have gone through accredited coaching programs have some coach training.
But again, if you’d like to know with more certainty that you are connecting with a genuinely helpful relationship coach or dating coach, look for one that has put in the time and effort to obtain a legitimate credential as a therapist, or as a marriage and family therapist — and then offers coaching services in addition to that. Then you’ll know that there is a strong foundation of knowledge that they are using to support you in a more meaningful growth process.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #6
Warning Signs for Bad Dating Coaches
Unfortunately, the dating coach sea is inundated with highly unqualified coaches. The problem is that dating coaching, as a profession, is almost entirely unregulated. Anyone can wake up one morning and think “I’d be a great dating coach!”, set up an Instagram account, and have their first client booked in a matter of hours. No training, no certificate! Scary, huh? Don’t worry, there are ways to suss out if someone is under-qualified (no matter how kind and well-meaning) and save yourself from losing money and hope in the process.
No Free Consultation // Cookie Cutter Packages
If a dating coach expects you to pay for the very first session, or commit to some kind of package, run the other way! It’s a warning sign of a questionable coach who’s more concerned about the bottom line of their business than about ensuring that their services are going to be genuinely helpful to you.
Any coach, counselor, or therapist knows that their services are highly unique to their clients, and empowers potential clients to talk with them first, ask questions, and make sure their style can actually help their client’s issues. And especially for dating coaches, a free consultation is a great way to ensure that the prospective client actually would benefit from coaching.
Another very good reason to choose a dating coach who has a background as a therapist is this: Sometimes, the obstacles to achieving healthy relationships are due to more serious issues. Things like major depressive disorder, social anxiety, or a trauma history can and do create mayhem in our personal lives. Having a consultation meeting with a therapist who provides dating coaching will increase the likelihood that you’ll get an accurate assessment of your real needs, and guidance for how to meet them.
For example, if you meet with a therapist who provides coaching and during a consultation share your perceptions of the issues in dating which, to their (well-qualified) ear sounds more like a description of untreated mental health symptoms, they’re going to redirect you towards therapy. Because they know that without it, dating coaching will not be helpful to you.
In contrast, an unqualified, untrained “dating coach” eager to get going and start billing you for their services will not have any understanding of the true obstacles to creating healthy relationships. You might wind up spending lots of time and money attempting “dating coaching” that gets you nowhere… because it’s not what you really need right now. What a waste!
Cagey About Questions
A great dating coach will happily answer any and all of your questions, especially about their credentials! If your coach is vague about how and where they trained, what their process for coaching is, or dismissive about your concerns with how the program is going, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Just like a good therapist needs to be able to articulate how their approach to therapy will help you (and what the plan for change is), a good coach will be able to tell you — in a way that makes sense to you — how their approach will help you grow and get better results. Remember, you’re the client, and should be empowered to make sure your time and money is being spent on productive coaching.
One-Size-Fits-All Dating Coaching
Beware anyone who says they can get you a girlfriend in six weeks or less, or assures you of other miraculous results. That’s just not how relationships work, and an authentic relationship expert knows that. There is no magic formula to get a proposal by the end of the year, and no coach can guarantee success by offering you a few generalized tips.
A truly good coach will look at your situation and work with you to come up with the best plan to help you achieve your goals. Thoughtful personal growth work and relationship coaching involves doing an assessment to understand, with clarity, what obstacles you face, and what your forward trajectory will involve. You’ll be invited to talk about your relationship history, the life experiences that shaped you, and get clarity about your goals… and your current obstacles to attaining them.
A great dating coach will then take all this information and help you create an action plan to refine your strategy, gain new self awareness, and potentially new communication or relationship skills — all depending on your unique needs.
One-size-fits-all dating coaching programs with a cookie-cutter approach don’t work well because you are not a cookie! While online dating programs can certainly offer you general information, and basic strategies, they are not the same thing as meaningful, growth oriented, private dating coaching services. Don’t get tricked into believing that they are.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #7
Is Dating Coaching Worth It?
The Value of Dating Coaching
The answer to that question is going to be completely up to you and your unique life journey. What is it worth to you to be in a genuinely compatible relationship? If this is one of your most precious life goals, working with an expert dating coach who helps you attain that might be one of the most valuable investments you ever make in your life.
The Cost of Dating Coaching
And if you’re thinking, “How much is a dating coach?” I have great news: While we can’t measure the value of having a happy marriage, or having a stable family in dollars and cents, truly valuable dating and relationship coaching can be very affordable. Interestingly, it’s often the best dating coaches (the ones who also offer therapy) who can be the most reasonable to work with from a financial perspective.
For example, at Growing Self, we believe that exceptionally meaningful and valuable personal growth work should be affordable. That’s why many of the expert dating coaches on our team offer sliding-scale rates to accommodate any income level. You shouldn’t have to be a CEO to get help with your relationships, after all! Learn more about our rates and insurance, if you’re interested.
The Process of Dating Coaching
You may also be wondering if you have the time to put towards dating coaching. A very valid question, because in order for dating coaching to work for you, it will require both effort and participation on your part. You can’t just show up to an hour session every week, download all your thoughts and feelings onto your dating coach, and expect to see results!
Dating coaching, like dating itself, is an active process. Imagine if you just listened to your partner’s problems every week, and then did nothing to address them. Or if they just gave you a list of things to fix, and you got no say in? That wouldn’t make for a very functional relationship, would it?
Your relationship with your dating coach will be the same way. You’ll need to work together, ractively, to see results. Dating coaching involves a lot of introspection, figuring out what the core issue in your dating life is, and working to fix it. You’ll have a lot of exercises to do, a lot of self-reflection, and may have some uncomfortable moments. But they always say that there is no growth without discomfort.
And finally, you have to ask, “Is your long-term happiness worth the short-term cost?” Are you prepared for more years of losing yourself in relationships, of failed first dates and frustrating situationships? Are you tired of wondering what is wrong with you that no one can seem to stick around? How sustainable is your current situation? Is it worth a little bit of a risk to finally stop spinning your wheels and open yourself to real, fulfilling love?
I can’t answer those questions for you. This decision is 100% up to you. But what I can say is that dating coaching can be so fulfilling, so life-changing, that it’s worth giving a shot. You are worthy of love and respect, and dating coaching could be just the thing to finally help you achieve it.
What is a Dating Coach? Pro Tip #8
Good Dating Coaches Are Here For You.
I have personally worked with countless single clients on their journey towards growth and love, and have witnessed the joyful results that people get when they “Find the One.” My clients, prior to this, have put in a lot of time and effort into becoming happy, healthy, emotionally available, emotionally mature people who — when they do “find the one” are truly prepared to have a fantastic relationship.
I know that you aren’t just looking to date. You are seeking to love and be loved in return. You aren’t solely focused on finding a partner — you are thinking about how to develop emotional intimacy, and how to be a good partner. When you connect with the one you’ve been waiting for — and have worked on yourself in preparation for a healthy relationship — it’s going to be so beautiful.
I’m getting a little teary just thinking about some of these stories as I write these words to you. I hope that reading through this article has provided information about what is a dating coach, the different kinds of dating coaches out there, and enough perspective to make an informed decision about whether dating coaching will be helpful to you.
Wishing you all the best,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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