This week I got some fantastic news from Paris: a couple I introduced and guided as their Coach, Advisor and Matchmaker are tying the knot! He’s an accomplished scientist and she’s an extremely successful young doctor. I couldn’t be happier for them, and I know they will have a beautiful life together. This is my fourth engagement in six months!
Last week, I wrote about the vast amount of dating and relationship advice that has been cropping up online over the last two years. While I’m thrilled more people are interested in becoming skilled relationship coaches or matchmakers, my concern is that untested or second-hand advice – no matter how well-intended – can send you in the wrong direction and add literally years to your search for lasting love.
There is no question that good advice can come from a lot of places.
But in the information age, the internet has made it possible for anyone to launch a website and designate themselves an authority, regardless of their experience. If you look closely, you’ll see quite a bit of borrowing and repurposing of relationship advice and information online.
For example, content farms aggregate relationship articles written by others in order to sell advertising. Online dating sites employ beginning writers or branding experts to read online articles and “create timely content” based on them. And individuals wanting to break into the coaching business take workshops in “launch-marketing” focused on the art of selling, believing they can learn everything they need to know about love itself from their instincts, books and other websites.
The result of all this advice borrowing is a lot of information, but very little expertise.
Everyone working in any industry influences each other to an extent, it’s true. But I believe that even good advice, when it’s taken and distilled from another coach’s repertoire, can actually hurt you. Good advice in the wrong hands can be distorted and misleading. Every month I receive hundreds of emails from women who are confused by this dating-information overload. They are finding that much of this conflicting information yields temporary results and inauthentic behavior.
So this year, my Valentine’s Day gift to you is: a Cheat Sheet!
Here are five concrete things to consider when you’re looking for advice on whom to trust with your heart’s future:
1. Does This Person Have a Track Record of Helping People Like Me?
Modern day coaches have been trained to show you that they can relate to you by “telling their story,” sharing how they too, were single, depressed, on drugs (!), or in some way or another down on their luck. This is meant to connect you to them. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m just like you!” And, it works.
Many of these coaches are extremely well-intentioned. They had their own difficult journey to love and happiness. Once they’ve done the work to get themselves ready for love, and made that lasting connection with a great man or woman, they’re excited! They want to share their approach with you and with everyone else. So they follow the training that tells them to share their story to draw you in.
The problem is that we are all different. One person’s very unique journey isn’t yours.
When you’re drowning at sea, you don’t need someone who’s also in the water. Or someone who knows only a single way to get to shore.
You need the Coast Guard with the big boat and the high-tech periscope! A firm, strong and helpful hand up from a leader who has encountered every possible scenario, who has built up experience helping varied individuals in many different rescue situations. You want someone who’s seen and heard it all, and knows how to guide you through it.
A coach who has only managed to rescue themselves is not necessarily an expert. Would you take financial advice from someone living in a rented one bedroom apartment? Or go to doctor just out of med school for a rare operation you desperately need?
One way to ensure that you’re benefiting from hard-earned wisdom and actual expertise versus a lot of pretty words and marketing, is to look for someone with a track record of working successfully with people just like you, not someone who is just like you. (It’s also important to look at the amount of time they’ve been professionally coaching.)
2. What is Their Relationship Status?
When it comes to dating and relationship advice, you’re going to want to find someone who is already successful at what you personally are looking to achieve. How can someone who isn’t married tell you how to get married? Can someone who is also in the dating market and still looking for “the one” tell you how to find the one? If someone’s own relationship is either non-existent or in constant upheaval, that probably isn’t the person to shed light on what’s holding you back in your own love life.
3. What is the Source Behind the Source?
When I want advice for life and business, I go right to the top. I pay top dollar to be with the best, the wisest, the people who have been at whatever they are doing for a really long time. There are a lot of professional speakers out there, but when I wanted to learn more about speaking from stage, I went straight to Brian Tracy. Brian is the Godfather of all speakers in my opinion. Everyone has learned from him and they’ve adopted his best work.
I could have paid less and gone to someone who just copied what he did, but I wanted the the absolute best. The man who started it all, had seen it all and was still killing it in his business. He’s also one of the classiest, most well loved and respected men in his industry. That too, inspired me to work with him personally. Brian walks the walk and talks the talk.
When it comes to finding any kind of advisor, look for someone who has carved their own path and draws from actual experience and original knowledge to guide you. Where does their advice come from? Compare sites, and cross-check the material. Try to discern where the insights and advice you are considering originated. When you find the origin, see if that person’s advice resonates with you. If so, great! That’s who you should put your trust into.
4. What Are Their Credentials?
What entitles someone to be a dating expert? Did they take a twelve-week course on how to be a life coach? Did they date online for five years, finally figure it out and now feel compelled to teach you?
Nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned, but an advisor’s training is something you’re going to want to look into when you’re choosing where to spend your time, money and faith. I’m not a big believer in workshops that teach people how to be coaches. It’s better than nothing, but – coming from someone who does this every day – it’s just not enough to get you where you need to be. Knowledge is great, but without practical experience in the field, it’s all theory.
I get invited all the time to teach what I know. I always decline because it would take at least three-to-five intense years of mentoring to truly share my brain, heart and knowledge to bring someone to my level of experience, and unfortunately, I don’t have the time for that at this point in my career. (Someday!)
So look at credentials. Ask yourself whether this is repackaged, generic information that someone is using to sell you something (a book, a video series, an e-course, a workshop), or if it’s real vision and knowledge based on know-how. Because that’s what’s going to help you find and secure a fantastic relationship for yourself.
5. Don’t Stress About Getting a Male or Female Perspective
There’s a great mix of both male and female coaches in the dating industry. Men will tell you they can “give you the guy’s perspective” and women “have only their experience with the men they’ve dated.” So, where do you turn then? After all, you’re dying to know what men think, right?
Yes and no. It’s far more important to know what you think, feel and believe. Don’t worry about men.
Once you know yourself really well and you’re comfortable in your skin, men will follow. I’m a female coach, but my advice is all based on my insider knowledge of some of the most eligible marriage minded-men in the country. And while that helps me stand out in the field and gives me quite a bit of practiced insight, the most important thing I can tell you is to know yourself. (I don’t give advice on “how to outplay the players” so obviously, I’m not the right coach for anyone seeking to “get a guy” to do anything.)
Now for the Brightest Side
Most dating and relationship coaches really do want to help you, and yes, make a living at doing so. Their heart is in the right place and some are very, very good. I know these people, and we are all friendly with each other.
But not everyone who tries their hand at this is good at it. Now that you are armed with these tools, I strongly encourage you to do your due diligence.
Don’t get caught up into the hype of internet marketers telling you that if you don’t commit to their course, buy their book, etc. you won’t meet your match. Is their agenda to get your money, or is it to help you? What do they give away for free? Is their material an endless circle designed to keep you paying and paying? Are they simply trying to keep you hanging out on their dating site? What do they want for you, in the long run? It’s perfectly okay to ask yourself these questions and shop around!
Finding your coach or advisor is like finding love. It requires deep listening, patience, an absence of panic, strong emotional intelligence, a lot of research and finally, chemistry! Yes, meeting the person who resonates with you most. Just like you’re not a catch for every person out there, not every coach is right for you!
Look for the expert who will give you usable, actionable advice that resonates with you, and take the rest with a grain of salt. It doesn’t hurt to graze over a lot of different information, as long as you know you’re getting your core needs met with healthy, useful and positive advice from someone with true knowledge and expertise, who speaks to you and the needs of your heart.
Now, I’d love your comments here on the blog. Have you been given advice that only confused you more? Did it make you feel worse? Or, have you found success in certain areas of support in dating that lifted you up and changed the course of your life?
Let me hear from you. I’m listening.