So, I Dated a Dating Coach
Anyone who’s procured multiple significant others over the course of his or her dating career will agree: every romantic relationship is truly unique. The upside to that? Ones that don't work out provide lessons learned. For example: long distance won't work forever, don’t dip your pen in the company ink... and think twice about dating a dating coach.
That last bit of advice comes from my best friend Giselle, who once upon a time got hot and heavy with a professional dating coach we'll call Eric. Eric specifically focused his attention on coaching men; but Giselle is convinced he taught HER way more than he did any client.
How did you and Eric meet?
I was out in the West Village with a friend one Friday night, when a tall handsome guy in his early 30s approached me by the coat rack. He introduced himself as Eric and we began talking. He said he was there with a client, and I assumed Eric was a finance guy taking the client out for business drinks. He eventually revealed he was there helping this guy pick up women. Eric was a dating coach and co-owned a "coaching" business with his friend.
What was your reaction to that?
I was definitely taken aback and thought about walking away. But he was just so cute and charming...
Haha, so then you got his number. How'd your first date go?
Eric took me to a cozy wine bar and the date was incredible from start to finish. He was so personable and seemed interested in me. I was fascinated by his bizarre career and kept asking about it, but he kept trying to start deep life conversations. We had a ton in common and after just one date I thought, "I really like him." At the time, it didn't occur to me that his charisma could be a result of his job.
So you continued to see him, right?
Yes. We planned to have our friends meet on date three. Eric directly asked if my friends were hot and single because otherwise his business partner Jeff* wouldn’t come, which irked me. Jeff ended up joining and was so rude to me. I wondered why would Eric choose a douchebag as a business partner in a line of work that revolves around impressing women. It eventually dawned on me that Jeff didn’t want me around because if Eric was with me, he wasn’t working.
Did you ever meet any of his clients?
Yes, a few. They all seemed like nice-enough guys, some far more awkward than others. Part of the "coaching package" clients paid THOUSANDS of dollars for was staying in Eric and Jeff’s massive apartment. They’d fly in from all over the US and Eastern Europe, then go out every single night searching for women under Eric and/or Jeff’s wing.
While dating Eric, what was the weirdest experience you had relating to his work?
Eric used me as bait with a client once. The coaches were teaching Lenny, an awkward 50-year-old man, how to pick up women on the street. I had to walk back and forth across the apartment as if it was a sidewalk so that Lenny could stop me, come up with a line, then ask me three questions. He had a really hard time with the exercise -- it took two hours, and Eric videotaped the whole thing so Lenny could watch himself afterwards. After that, we went to Nordstrom Rack to get Lenny some new shoes.
Wait, they told clients how to dress, too?
Oh yeah. And what to eat. When we stopped for lunch, Eric told Lenny to order plain chicken with broccoli. I had a burger and fries. Clients were also given strict workout regimens.
But what if they were already in shape?
So, why did you agree to do all this?
Because I really liked Eric. It was that simple. I even went out "girl hunting" with him and a client one time.
Eric and Jeff each had a client, and we all hopped around to five different bars before settling on one that had enough women. The coaches then picked a group of girls and told one of the guys to walk over and start talking to them. After a few minutes, Eric walked over pretending to be the client’s real-life buddy and joined the convo. They did this over and over with different groups of women.
How did you feel watching this?
It was hard not to get jealous because I literally had to stand back and watch my date hit on other women "for work." The girls always drooled over him and not the awkward clients. If Eric wasn’t physically attractive, I truly don’t think he'd be successful at his job. I grew tired of watching, so I went back to his place to get some sleep; around 4am, I woke up to the voices of Eric, his client, and a group of girls in the living room. I was really upset, but he told me it was his job to help his client. What could I do other than accept it?
As a woman, what do you think about this line of business?
It’s shallow and not genuine. Eric claimed it wasn’t about getting clients laid, but from what I saw, it was. He was basically coaching them to tell women exactly what they want to hear so they could score some. For instance, if that client had sincerely been into one of those girls, Eric should have instructed him to get her number and take her out on a real date, not lure her back to his apartment for sex. No one trolls Union Square on a Tuesday for a long-term partner -- if a guy wanted a wife, why would he fly to New York City just for the weekend?
How did things with you and Eric end?
He went out to LA for work for a few months but we still kept in touch while he was out there. When he came back to New York City, he called me from the airport and came straight to my place. I was really happy to see him. After dinner (and sex), we were lying in bed catching up and I noticed he was getting texts from MULTIPLE women. Each girl’s last name was listed as the bar they met at. I felt gross. All those times Eric was sweet to me now felt like a ploy to keep me around on the backburner. He'd even introduced me to his sister, which I naively thought made me special. Because of his job, Eric had the tools and persona to get any girl he wanted, and he used that to his advantage. I decided to let things fizzle out with him. Months later, he texted me saying I had left my scarf at his sister’s house with a picture of it. It was some other girl's scarf, which further showed that I really had just been a number to him.
Do you feel like you date differently now?
Eric really opened my eyes to how much some (NOT all) people will say anything to get laid. Of course I believe there are good guys out there, but I’ve since stopped having one-night stands and sleeping with anyone on the first date. I want to be sure there's a genuine connection and that my suitor isn't just throwing me lines to get me in bed. Oh, also, any time I’m approached on the street now, I’m convinced the guy is on camera.
*Name has been changed.
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Brooke Sager is a contributing writer for Thrillist who giggled mid-interview because “I left my scarf there at your sister’s house” is an actual Taylor Swift lyric. Seriously, look it up. Give her (Brooke, not Taylor) a follow on Instagram and Twitter: @HIHEELZbrooke.