Top Tips From Dating Coaches

These gurus help single people improve their dating game. Here, they reveal their trade secrets for making a fantastic first impression.

By Laura Gilbert

emember back in high school when you had a coach screaming at you to run faster or hit that softball harder? Well, it turns out that people who are looking to improve their dating game can also get the kick-in-the-butt they need—from dating coaches. These professionals assess how their clients dress, speak, and act during dates and offer advice to optimize their clients’ “performance,” so to speak. Which got us wondering: What kind of insider advice do these coaches have to offer? We decided to find out—and our results are here for you to use.

If you like someone, show it!
“If you’re on a first date and you’re attracted to someone, the best thing you can do is show it with enthusiasm! When you’re nervous, it’s hard to be enthusiastic, but being reserved
“Research shows that a person who gives a compliment actually experiences the same rush of feeling good as
the person who
receives it.”
can come across as being disinterested. So force yourself to smile, make eye contact, ask questions, and throw out a few compliments. The last thing you want is to miss a great romantic opportunity because the other person thought you couldn’t care less about meeting again!”
—Rhonda Findling, M.A., dating consultant ( and author of Don’t Call That Man: A Survival Guide to Letting Go

Look your very best
“Guys, first impressions count, so look like you have style. If you don’t have style, go to a clothing store, find a hot girl, and say, ‘You need to help me find a pair of jeans and a shirt that look good on me.’ She can explain what to wear. And don’t wear your work shoes—women notice shoes. If you wear funky shoes, women will check them out with a big smile. Plus, make sure you notice what your date’s wearing and tell her it’s nice, because she spent a lot of time and maybe a bunch of money, too, getting ready. My advice for women, on the other hand, is choose something you feel sexy in, not just look sexy in. Men will notice the difference.”
—David Wygant, dating agent and coach based in Los Angeles ( and author of Always Talk to Strangers: 3 Simple Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life

Make your date short and sweet
“Scheduling a short date sends the message that you’re busy—which makes you interesting—but that you really want to get together and will make time for the person. And since you’re not dragging things out until the conversation gets dull and awkward, you can leave each other on a high note and walk away thinking ‘This is cool, I can’t wait to see this person again.’ People don’t fall in love with each other on a date; they fall in love when they’re apart and thinking later about how much fun they had.”
—Katherin Scott, Coach Katherin the Dating Coach in Snoqualmie, WA (

Keep the conversation comfortable
“A lot of times when you get nervous you start thinking about what you’re going to say
“An awkward pause after the person has finished says that you’ve been listening, while saying ‘Oh I know!’ after something makes the person feel cut off.”
next, and you wind up missing what your date is saying. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a moment to process what they’ve said. A silent pause after the person has finished still says that you’ve been listening, while saying ‘Oh, I know!’ after something makes the person feel cut off. Also, do whatever you can not to fidget—don’t play with your hair or chew gum. It conveys that you’re nervous, and that makes the other person nervous about why they’re making you nervous.”
—Zohar Adner, stress/relationship coach in New York City (

Give a compliment that counts
“One key thing I emphasize to my clients is the power of the compliment. There’s interesting research that shows that a person who gives a compliment actually experiences the same rush of feeling good as the person who receives it. It’s an amazing power that can really improve the night for both of you. When you meet the person, you’re probably thinking something, like ‘Gosh, your eyes are blue,’ or ‘How sweet that he opened the door.’ Say it, and you’ve pierced his or her heart. It should be something genuine and that’s unique to them—don’t compliment, say, their shirt, which anyone could wear, but the way their shirt looks with their eyes. People love someone who truly sees him, so let know you notice they’re special.”
—Tonja Evetts Weimer, M.A., relationship coach in Greenville, SC (

Look like you’re listening
“The biggest complaint that I’ve heard from women is that men don’t ask enough questions, that they don’t listen. So, make sure you’re asking questions about the other person, and when your date is talking, show you’re listening by nodding your head, making eye contact, and smiling—when people get nervous or are trying to concentrate really hard on what someone’s saying, they can forget to smile. The most popular person is never the most attractive one. It’s the person who really shows an interest in who they’re talking to.”
—Gail Prince, M.Ed., singles coach in Evanston, IL (

Freelance writer Laura Gilbert contributes to Maxim, Stuff, Giant, and Time Out New York.
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