Posted on Tue, Feb. 07, 2012
Dating advice from the pros
By Cindy Krischer Goodman
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff
(Dan Silverman is a Miami dating coach. He coaches busy men and women on being in relationships. This is Silverman at Bouganvilla in South Miami on Friday, February 3, 2012)
It’s Friday evening and Dan Silverman has taken a well-dressed man to Lincoln Road where he’s prodding him to go up and talk to attractive women. Tonight, as usual, Silverman accompanies him and provides feedback afterward. “I’m looking at whether the approach comes off as natural and how the women are responding with their body language,” he says.
Silverman is a dating coach, a hot career that’s gaining traction across the country. Today, attitudes about relationships are turned upside down — with texting and online dating, unemployment and female independence, the dynamics are evolving. For the first time in history, the marriage rate has dropped below 50 percent. But there still are many people who want to meet the right mate — they just need a little help.
“People are spending so much time working, they’re neglecting their social life,” Silverman says. “When they do get out there, they want instant chemistry and sometimes dating is work.”
A dating coach might scrutinize body language, rework your online profile, improve your flirting skills and even show you how to keep a relationship. A coach may force you to toss out your mental checklist for the perfect mate and open yourself to a revised, realistic edition of Mr. or Mrs. Right. On the flip side, the services won’t include fixing you up on dates or digging deep into your past to analyze behaviors.
No one can say how many dating coaches exist because the profession is unregulated. Anyone can offer “relationship coaching,” although some have degrees in psychology and others are certified in coaching. The International Coach Federation, a professional association, surveyed coaches worldwide in 2011 and of about 12,000 respondents, about 2.1 percent said they specialized in some kind of relationship coaching.
Those in the profession say it requires strong people skills, candor, marketing ability and willingness to work evenings and weekends. Coaches often charge per session or in monthly packages — anywhere from $125 to $300 per 60 to 90 minute session or $500 to $1,000 a month for a package. Coaches have different methods of working — some conduct sessions over the phone, in person or both, and others host full day workshops or weekend boot camps. Some even consider themselves “on call” and give out their mobile numbers for pre- and post-date emergencies.
Silverman, 29, president of Miami Dating Coach, loves his job and approaches it from personal experience. He has a bachelor’s degree in theater and an MBA from University of Miami. He’s been an actor and a teacher and worked for three years as an office manager in his father’s private psychology practice. He’s also still on the dating scene, honing his skills in real-life scenarios. Silverman launched into the business by offering workshops for men and drummed up enough interest to offer one-on-one coaching. After six years, he began coaching women, too. Recently, he’s begun hosting singles parties as an ancillary service.
About a year ago, Antonio Mould, 36, stumbled upon Silverman’s website and attended one of his workshops for single men. He followed it up with individual coaching, which taught him to change how he viewed himself. “I didn’t feel confident because I didn’t have a huge apartment and tons of money. I wasn’t putting myself out there in the best light. I learned to focus on what I do have to offer.”
Mould began to present himself better, dressing nicer and showing more confidence with women. As a result, he’s been going on more dates. “It hasn’t solved all my problems, but it has made a difference.”
Geoffrey Schmidt, 35, of Boca Raton, calls himself the Florida Dating Coach, and takes a different approach than Silverman. I don’t teach tricks, he explains. “I’m about bringing my client into a place where he’s more comfortable in his own skin, clear about what he wants and moving through dating from a position of confidence.”
Schmidt, who is a master certified coach and has started other businesses, has found people initially come to him for business coaching and then hire him for relationship help. Often, he says, they assert themselves in business but mistakenly assume they need to behave a certain way on dates.
Schmidt will work with his clients on uncovering where they’re going wrong. “I help them become authentic so they don’t have to settle, mislead someone or stay in a relationship because they’re too insecure to get out.”
Some dating coaches combine psychology with coaching techniques. Jennifer Styers, who calls herself “The Love Coach,” is one. Styers, based in Dallas, started out coaching working women, but found men wanted her help, too. Most of the women she coaches are single, mid-career professionals. “A lot of them have gotten to 40 something, built their careers but they have no balance.”