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A few weeks ago, following a random chain of events, I decided to sign up with a dating coach.  I did. And I paid for it too. Lets get the obvious questions out to the way.

No, I’m not desperate to get married.

No, I have not given up on life / love / common sense.

Yes, I do have real bills to pay.

No, I did not win the lottery and I do not have extra money to throw around.

No, I do not think that I’m incapable of getting a man on my own.

That should cover all the big questions.  You know you were thinking it, so now you can stop wondering.

So why the dating coach you ask? My profound reason? Just because. I’ve done the online dating thing for a while and if there is stuff to be learned, I want to know it.  I did quite a bit of research before making the commitment though.  There are a lot of strong opinions both for and against the whole dating coach thing.  Some say its just a scam to exploit desperate lonely folk.  In some cases this is true.  There are unscrupulous folk running around taking unfair advantage of people’s vulnerability and cheating them out of their money.  On the other hand, there are those who legitimately make a study of the best practices of dating and self-presentation, and know how to pass these skills on to others.

I first met Charlie Nox, dating coach extraordinaire, the real deal, and an altogether great person, at a SXSW panel titled ‘Feminists vs. Pick Up Artists.’ Charlie was there representing the pick-up artists.  I liked her enough to read her book, The Babe Hack (get it while its still free), and sign up for her mailing list.  When she announced that she was putting together a small beta group to explore the mysteries of OK Cupid, I decided (after some dithering) to sign up.

Our first session found me and five other intrepid daters smiling nervously at each other and trying not to make eye contact as we video’d in from our various locations across the Goggle-sphere. The thing that struck me as I looked at each member of the group was the number of perspectives represented.  Coming from a variety of demographics, ethnicities, professions and belief systems, each person was smart, funny, accomplished, and attractive. This first meeting began what has been a fascinating three-week, small group journey. Between the Google Hangouts and Facebook group, we examined each other’s profiles, critiqued pictures and messages, challenged, and encouraged each other.  I have since added getting us all together physically, in one place for dinner, to my bucket list. Now THAT will be a blast! This real time dating feedback and support group is something I wish every dater could have.

I won’t go into the specifics of all we learned because you can read it for yourself by downloading The Babe Hack (again, do it now while its free).  So here are my 10 big take-aways:

  1. Focus on being and sharing your authentic self. “Do you booboo.” Do you!
  2. Be honest about what you are really looking for and keep that front and center so that you don’t get distracted from your goal.
  3. Be bold. Go after who you want. If they don’t want you back you have lost nothing. And if they do? Score!!
  4. Be persistent. No responses this week? Keep trying. You are guaranteed to get nothing out if you put nothing in.  Also, the more you practice, the better you get.
  5. Don’t be shody. Take time to craft interesting messages. Your profile is your one chance to make that good impression. Make it count.
  6. You are a horrible judge of your own best pictures. What you may think is fly… maybe not so much. Ask your friends.
  7. Keep experimenting. Rotate your pictures. Change the way you say things. Constantly alter things to see what gets you the best response.
  8. Use your spell check.
  9. Again, because its worth repeating: use your spell check.
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Sometimes life feels like the Skee Lo song ‘I Wish.’ Instead of getting depressed and frustrated, embrace YOU! Your journey, your personality, your nose, your body type, your squeaky voice, your quirky sense of humor, your geekiness… But not your misspelling. Correct that right away.

So folks, I continue on my OK Cupid journey. Or, it may be Craigslist next week. I can however assure you it will never be eHarmony (i.e. the money pit).  Either way, I’ll be having fun with all these great tips I’ve picked up. Maybe I’ll meet someone excellent tomorrow and turn this into a blog about weddings (please God, PLEASE!). But more likely I’ll keep plugging away and sharing ‘interesting’ stories. Either way, I intend to enjoy the journey.