For the last seven years, I have been working as a dating coach.
At this point, I’ve sat in deep conversation with over a thousand singles struggling to make their dating lives work.
My coaching clients are mainly women—amazing women, who are successful at everything else in life, but who struggle with their love lives. A lot.
Even though they all have their personal stories of heartbreak, disappointment, and hope, they also have a lot in common.
After thousands of hours in the front row of their love lives, there are a few things I’ve learned that I wish more people knew. Because if this was common knowledge, a lot of people would immediately stop looking for answers to their dating problems in the wrong places and start finding solutions that actually work.
1. Dating problems are not about dating.
As soon as we start to scratch the surface of someone’s dating problems, it turns out that they are not specific to the person’s love life. Someone who lacks boundaries with the person they’re dating usually lacks some boundaries with their friends as well. Someone who is afraid of rejection on dating apps is often scared of rejection from their boss, too. And someone who overthinks their fling usually overthinks a lot of other things.
The problem is that this sort of works in other life areas. Your friends might appreciate that you give more than you take, and your boss certainly does. But when you go on date after date and just feel more and more hurt and hopeless, that’s when you realise something has to change.
This means that when you start breaking these patterns in your love life, they will also improve in many other areas of your life. A majority of my coaching clients change their job during or after the coaching and make other big life changes that are (seemingly) not at all related to dating. Because when we connect with ourselves and our emotions in a genuine way (a must if we want to date successfully), it will shift how we make other life decisions as well.
2. Looking good doesn’t help.
No one would guess that my clients go to a dating coach just from looking at them. According to society’s standards, they shouldn’t have any problems. They’re successful, beautiful, and interesting women, so why on earth would they have dating problems?
Well, thinking that good-looking or successful people don’t have dating problems is like thinking good-looking and successful people don’t get divorced. That’s just not how it works, because how you look is not correlated to your emotional ability to create and sustain good relationships.
When it comes to matters of the heart, you need to be emotionally skilled—and a nice ass can’t help you with that. But just as you can get a personal trainer to get your body into shape, a dating coach will give you the emotional skills you need to get your love life into shape. But not by changing how you look.
3. Family trauma is not required.
The psychology of attachment style is spreading to more and more people. We are starting to see the connection between how love was expressed (or not) in our origin family and how our adult relationships turn out.
But what if your family wasn’t dysfunctional, and you still can’t make your adult relationships work? What if there was no violence or addiction or trauma in your childhood environment and you still still can’t succeed with your dating life? Then what?
Whenever this comes up with a coaching client, I ask them: Did you talk about emotions in your family? Pretty much every time, the answer is no. A lot of people come from families where everything looks good, but the words “I love you” are never spoken, everyone is expected to keep their emotions to themselves, and difficult events are never discussed.
Growing up in a family like that will make us emotionally illiterate, but we will have no idea because we don’t know what we don’t know. It will complicate our adult love lives until we’ve had enough, and we must relearn how to express our emotions in a healthy way.
When we understand that our dating problems are about more than just our dating lives, that changing our body is not the solution, and that we might have grown up in an emotionally illiterate family, we’ve already come a long way.
So stop wasting time thinking your thighs are the problem. Consciously look into what kind of patterns and behaviors mess up your dating life, and see if you can recognize them in other kinds of relationships as well.
But, most important of all, make sure to befriend your emotions and learn to navigate your inner emotional landscape. It will make all the difference.