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The Dating Project | ‘The Dating Coach’

Sarah Rose

Dating with a view to marriage is no other thing than work. I am a writer in New York, but Sex & the City this ain’t. Carrie had friends who weren’t repopulating the planet. She had fancy shoes. I have fuzzy Crocs. I get commuter rail and Brooklyn birthday parties. She got limos and glam soirees. I actually exist.

This is a project and it is a schlep. I used to believe in surgical strikes, now I’m carpet bombing. I’m on three different dating websites. I ask total strangers if they know anyone single because I have dated the pool of my friends’ friends’ friends dry. Somewhere, someone is going to make me laugh and swoon. I haven’t met him yet. I’m trying.

I hope it will end. Happily.

I’ve been in the dating game for 25 years and figured I could use a pro to evaluate my pitching and hitting. Donna Barnes has a substantial media presence and a long list of DIY articles in magazines I read during pedicures: “Are You Too Masculine for Your Man?”; “Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist”; “What Not to Do After a Good First Date.”

A blond, former model, she emanates faith in happily ever after, though she has not yet got her championship ring. She is a student of mating because she wants to understand how she is alone. I was hoping she would be ripe for comedy, but no part of that very human concern made me want to skewer her. I can’t understand it myself.

We ordered a glass of wine and got to work on the intake interview.

Coach: Tell me what you like in a man, what your type is?
Me: Rhodes Scholars. Nobelists. Paul Krugman. I like ‘em smart.
Coach: You date Rhodes Scholars?
Me: Only two.

I got a thorough dating check-up.

Coach: How long was your longest relationship?
Me: Six years.
Coach: Your last relationship?
Me: Six months.
Coach: Are you friends with your exes?
Me: Many, but by no means all.

She tested my break-ups, kicked the tires of my parents, and checked the oil on my finances.

Coach: What would you say your dating philosophy is?
Me: Our lives ought to be better for knowing each other. No one should leave any worse off.

She lectured me on the dating brain, on left-handed men and the MRIs of concert pianists. She Freakonomicked me and drew life lessons from presidential biographies. She poked all my pop culture pet peeves. But even as my eyes rolled skywards, I was interested in her final assessment.

Coach: Basically I’m not worried. You’re doing this right.
Me: Then why am I alone?
Coach: You haven’t found the right guy. There isn’t any dating pathology here.

I got a clean bill of health. Is that worth $275?

We were about to leave the bar when the man sitting next to us asked for my number. It’s rare that total strangers ask me out. But he was cute enough. So I gave him my card. How could I not with a coach cheering me on?

Coach: Yes! I love that you said yes.

Go, team me.

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