In a moment of teenage desperation, attempting to decipher a text from a guy I was seeing at the time, I found myself resorting to the internet for answers. Skimming my search results, a video of a man offering his interpretation of various texts from other men caught my attention. I was intrigued and decided to give it a watch, not prepared for the rabbit hole I was diving head-first into.
I watched video after video of men explaining how their minds work and how to use that information in my personal dating life. These men, generally going by the title of ‘dating coach’ or ‘relationship expert’, promised to provide me with the all the answers to my dating woes — with their primary source of credibility being the fact that they were men.
So with that, I was quick to dismiss these videos and their authority — regarding them as nothing more than meaningless cash grabs. These men didn’t actually have the answers or desire to help me, they were just a group of vultures finding ways to profit from my misfortunes. Yet, whenever one of these videos slipped their way into my recommended section I couldn’t help myself from watching.
Having been exposed to this world of online dating coaches for so long— watching countless videos of theirs over the years — I finally decided to give them a chance. Being single for the first time in two years, I had forgotten about the difficulties of the dating world. I thought to myself one night that I’d perhaps been too quick to judge these men, that I should give them an opportunity to prove themselves. So, I set up a little experiment for myself and decided to follow one of their videos.
Given the environment of the modern world of dating, I figured what better way to test out these dating coaches’ advice than through Tinder. My main issue with dating has always been actually getting dates and getting to know people. Despite Tinder and other dating apps allowing me the ability to connect with millions, I’m lucky to get anything more than a two message ‘conversation’.
So, my goal from this experiment was to have a genuine conversation over Tinder and land myself a date — nothing too outrageous but certainly not an easy task from experience.
I decided to follow Matthew Hussey’s advice from his video; 3 Risk-Free Messages to Make the First Move Online. Why did I go with that video in particular? Well, there was the fact it was a Matthew Hussey video, who seems to be the top dog in the hierarchy of dating coaches. He’s published books, made television appearances, hosted dating shows — if anyone’s worth seeking dating guidance from, he seems to be the guy.
As well as that, the advice he gave in the video was exactly what I was looking for — a selection of messages I could send to guys to initiate an engaging conversation. I’ve made the first move many a time on dating apps but all my attempts failed to stimulate any discussion. But if these messages really would get the conversation flowing then maybe, just maybe, I could get a date.
The three suggested messages were as follows;
- Are you really (insert a fact about them)?
- I have no idea if we would get along, but I had to send you a message because you also love (fill in the blank)
- That outfit in your profile pic…
So, with my questions ready I started swiping and sent the first three guys I matched with a question each.
Cian was my first match and given that the only information he provided me with was a bio stating ‘Anywhere hiring?’ the only message I could think to send was, ‘Are you really looking for somewhere hiring?’. I’ll admit, I felt like a bit of an idiot sending that message but, much to my surprise, he replied. And straight away the conversation started flowing. I couldn’t remember the last time I had an interaction on Tinder like that — prompt responses, solid banter — the message worked.
Hussey’s reasoning behind message option one is that it makes the conversation about the guy, meaning he can easily relate to it and therefore find it easier to respond. It also gives the impression of a genuine interest in him — setting a positive first impression. And based on Cian’s responses, the logic added up.
Message two went to Rajheem who apparently worked at Dunder Mifflin; ‘I have no idea if we would get along but I had to send you a message because you also love The Office’. This message, I was excited to send — I’ll take any chance I can get to talk about The Office. With that in mind, I wasn’t too surprised to get a reply. We had a small back and forth referencing the show throughout the night however beyond that we didn’t have much to talk about. That being said, I still enjoyed our chat.
And it makes sense that we had a good initial conversation. Hussey describes the advantage of sending a message about shared interests is that you can go beyond showing your interest solely based off looks. He also claims the message puts you in a high-value position so you don’t come off as needy — acknowledging the fact that you don’t even know if you would like the guy. I can only assume this is some psychological trick to try get the guy to chase you, however, seeing as neither of us messaged each other since I can’t vouch for the validity of this claim.
The last message was my least favourite — not only because I thought it was cringey but I could not find a guy with a noteworthy outfit for the life of me. But eventually, I matched with Graham who was sporting a rather unique all yellow ensemble in one of his pictures. I adjusted the message to work for Tinder — ‘That outfit in your third pic with the dog…’ — and two hours later got a response.
Hussey’s messages hit a hat-trick. Although Graham may have instantly assumed I was complimenting his outfit rather than feeling as if he was on a cliff-hanger and become intrigued as Hussey said he would — he still replied and we still had a conversation. We went from a discussing fashion to music, leading to us getting to know each other’s interests and hobbies. All in all, it was pretty pleasant and I did believe there was a genuine mutual interest in learning more about the other person.
However, despite their success as conversation starters, did Hussey’s messages get me a date? I’m happy to report, they did. Cian and I were messaging each other for a few days before we decided to arrange a meet-up. We only grabbed a coffee and a bit of lunch, nothing fancy or romantic, but it was indeed a date.
Going into this experience with such low expectations I would have been impressed with one conversation. But to have three successful conversations and one date — I’m still surprised. I honestly thought Hussey’s messages would be too manufactured and unnatural to work but, evidently, I was wrong and I’m happy about it.
Even if nothing comes of my date it was refreshing to at least go on one — something I haven’t previously been able to achieve. There weren’t any claims that these messages would find me the ‘right guy’ or that they’d lead to romantic success — if a message had the power to do that then there wouldn’t be a need for dating coaches in the first place. But I can’t deny, the results were beyond what was promised and the messages were effective.
Does this mean that these dating coaches do in fact have the answers and that their claims are justified? Not at all, but their advice isn’t entirely worthless. As is the case with most parts of life, dating isn’t black and white. It’s not a science, there’s no proven formula that will give you results. But understanding human psychology to some degree can aid you in any social interaction.
Even if dating was a science, my experiment would be massively flawed. My sample size was ridiculously small, I didn’t have any control group. I could have sent the messages to another group of guys and gotten entirely different results. Equally, I could have sent the same three guys different messages and they could’ve had the same results. There’s no way to draw any definitive conclusions about those specific messages from my experience.
However, the advice in the video wasn’t the messages— it was the reasoning behind them. They offered an insight into how to get people interested and more engaged with a conversation. Any message with the same reasoning could have worked.
The advice from these dating coaches doesn’t need to be taken word for word — it shouldn’t be. You can’t possibly build a healthy and successful relationship on a false and manipulated personality derived from YouTube videos. But they can offer a valuable insight into people’s psyche that, whilst still being yourself, you can use to help build connections.
With all that being said, these are my final thoughts on dating coaches. I still believe that sometimes they are playing with peoples’ desperation for profit, however, they do have some value. They may not provide you with the definitive answers to achieving a successful love life but they do provide insight to help you discover those answers for yourself.
Read more by Matthew Hussey on The Good Men Project
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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