There have been many surprises since I became a Rules Dating Coach. I’ve been pleasantly shocked by just how powerful these techniques are – enabling me to help many lovelorn clients prompt a proposal from the men in their lives in a matter of weeks! Also surprising has been the hostility of some male readers to the simple advice I give women who are simply looking for a way to date with more self-esteem, and avoid needless heartache. Given that sometime hostility, the absolute BIGGEST surprise of all has been the number of straight, hetero men seeking out my coaching advice on how better to meet and date the woman of their dreams!
When I first started getting these requests for relationship coaching from men, I carefully explained that a) I coach women (not men), and b) I coach women in a very specific Rules-approach to dating. Moreover, this approach is premised upon the differences between men and women, and I focus on the feminine side of the equation. I refer the men to my blog, where all of this is spelled out in black and white (or at least fuchsia and lavender). Well, despite all this dissuading (or because of it? After all, that would be The Rules!) when my first male coaching client insisted that I give him a chance, I capitulated and signed him up for a monthly unlimited package.
The result of this experiment was yet another pleasant surprise: Despite my initial misgivings, I was thrilled by how much progress I was able to make with my newbie male client. Among our achievements: totally overhauling his OLD (online dating profile), creating a simplified e-mail “template” he could personalize and send out to prospects, role-playing lighter conversation for initial phone contacts and DZs (date zeroes), etc.
The other surprise, is that while The Rules is aimed at women – and based on the innate differences between the genders – there are a few rules that can benefit both men and women. Here are three that I feel have the most crossover application:
Rule #1: While “being a creature unlike any other” is unlikely to resonate with most men, the basic message of looking one’s best is something they really do need to hear. Men are more likely than women to discount their own looks as a factor in attracting the opposite sex, and specifically are more likely to overlook problems with excess weight. The difference is that the men I’ve coached are actually more sensitive than women about receiving advice on how to improve their appearance. I pull no punches with my female clients, telling them to do whatever they can to be as attractive as possible – lose weight, get highlights, extensions, implants, teeth-whitening, you name it! My male clients have much more fragile egos!
Rule #19: Don’t Open Up Too Fast. While men are much less likely to commit this error, there is a breed of guys who are unusually in touch with their feelings, and willing on a first or second date to share emotional intimacies about previous relationships, the details of their upbringing, or even the kind of woman they are looking for. While some male candor can be particularly appealing to women, sharing too much too soon can be a turnoff, regardless of your gender. Moreover, I tell men if they are doing too much of the talking – perhaps out of nervousness – they’re not doing much listening, and again, this is as true for men as for women.
Rule #30: Next! And Other Rules for Dealing with Rejection. I am perfectly comfortable with the generalization that on the whole women tend to be more sensitive in relationships than are men. I don’t remember if it was either Sherrie Schneider or Ellen Fein (the two co-authors of The Rules) who once observed to me that “men recover quickly.” And in general, I absolutely agree that men recover from rejection more quickly than do women. But at the same time, there is a sensitivity spectrum for both genders – and just as there are some women who have such thick skins that they have less need for The Rules, there are also some men who have such relatively thin skins that they could probably benefit from those aspects of The Rules that focus on cultivating resilience. Chief among these is the importance of not getting so thrown by rejection – whether it’s the minor rejection of a woman not responding to your e-mail or a major rejection of a girlfriend breaking up with you – that your feelings of resentment begin to poison your perspective on romance in general.
I’m not sure whether I’ll continue this adventure in coaching men, but I do know that I’ve learned from, as well as helped, my male clients — and that in turn helps me be a better coach for my Rules Girls clients.