Am I wrong for getting a bad feeling about my boyfriend's dating coach?
February 2, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Started dating a great guy, he became my boyfriend probably a month and a half ago. A few weeks into the relationship we were talking and it turns out that he has a "dating coach" and he still meets with her in weekly phone calls because he enjoys her advice. This rubbed the wrong way and googling her, I found she's also totally hot. It just creeps me out that this totally hot woman has so much impact on my boyfriend's life.

But my boyfriend pointed out that he also has lots of female friends and maybe he discusses our relationship with them too. To be honest that didn't make me feel any better, especially since I reduced the intimacy of a few male friendships when my boyfriend and I got more serious (I don't go out drinking with them at night alone or have long chats about relationship problems or whatever, though I still see them for sure and have great friendships with them....apparently things my boyfriend is doing with his female friends it turns out after the dating coach conversation). I'm just getting the impression that my boyfriend has a cadre of woman pulling the strings behind our relationship and it's not a positive feeling, but I also don't want to be a jealous creepster or anything like that. So I haven't really said anything about my negative feelings, but they keep nagging on me and I am feeling less attracted to him and stressed about us, which is worrying and unusual so early on in a relationship. I started worrying that maybe I'm the one who is insecure and I have no right to tell him about how to conduct his social life, and maybe I just need to bail and work on my own issues and then find someone who doesn't stress me out in this way :(
posted by ponytime to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: This is a fundamental difference in how people view relationships and intimacy.

I process "outloud", to understand how I feel about something I need to talk about it. Hubs processes "inside" he doesn't like to talk until he knows what he thinks. Fortunately for me, hubs isnt bothered by the way I process things, and doesn't care if I talk to other people.

If he was bothered that would probably have been a deal breaker for our relationship, because I would have no way to process and express what I'm feeling.

You need to decide if you're actually bothered by boyfriends processing method, or if you're being jealous and possessive. Then you need to decide if you can get over it.

If you can't you'll probably need to break up. Not because you're wrong and he's right but because you want and need different, incompatible things.
posted by dadici at 9:23 AM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Best answer: There really is not any right answer here, because everyone is different. What is right for you or your boyfriend may not be right for someone else. So you can feel perfectly justified to dump him because the dating coach makes you uncomfortable.
posted by Mistress at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't go out drinking with them at night alone or have long chats about relationship problems or whatever...

This is, honestly, kind of weirder than a dude have lady-friends to whom he confides about stuff. People are capable of having perfectly ordinary, platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex, and unless there's some sort of inappropriate-when-in-a-relationship stuff going on among said friends, there's really no reason to expect paring down the friendship because they're dating someone as the same gender as their friends. So unless he is openly flirty and, again, somehow inappropriate with his lady friends, then it sounds like you may be projecting some sort of issue with your male friends onto him. Or maybe not an issue specifically, but you definitely have some sort of "the guy I am dating should not be interacting with attractive women" thing, which is neither fair nor realistic.

That goes double-especially for someone like a dating coach, who makes her money by making sure he ends up in a functional relationship. Like, if her advice gets you two to be a Couple, that's good for her because he'll then tell his friends about his awesome dating coach that got him into an awesome relationship. If you like this dude, you and her, literally, have the same goal.
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2013 [28 favorites]


Best answer: There are two completely different things going on here. One is your jealousy over your boyfriend's platonic girlfriends, and one is feeling skeeved out that your boyfriend has a dating coach who you fear may have helped him manipulate you into a relationship or be otherwise pulling your strings. If the dating coach was an ugly old man you would probably still be feeling both of these things.

To me- and this is just my opinion- the first thing would not bother me, but the second one would.

Having opposite gender friends is fine and healthy, and honestly the fact that you've stopped hanging out with platonic friends just because you have a boyfriend now is odd to me. I wouldn't do it. Friends are important, and they don't present a threat to your relationship. Him having female friends is not a problem. If he is the kind of guy to cheat, he'd cheat whether or not he had female friends.

Now, as to the other thing: yes, I think it is weird that you are dating and he still talks to a dating coach. Isn't her job done by this point? What exactly do they talk about?

Now, that being said:

So I haven't really said anything about my negative feelings, but they keep nagging on me and I am feeling less attracted to him and stressed about us,


No! Bad! TALK TO YOUR BOYFRIEND. What is the point of having an intimate relationship if you can't even express stuff like this? Ignoring it will not make it go away. You want to ignore it because you're afraid bringing it up will kill your relationship- well, ignoring it will kill your relationship. Slowly and horribly. Just sit him down and say "boyfriend, it makes me uncomfortable that you still talk to your dating coach about me because it makes me worry that you have problems in our relationship that you're discussing with her and not me."

Oh, and as for his girl friends? Try to get to know them. And introduce him to your guy friends.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


How would you feel if your bf was seeing a therapist giving him advice on your relationship?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:25 AM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


In answer to the only question you've asked — whether you're "wrong" for having your feelings: no.
posted by John Cohen at 9:25 AM on February 2, 2013


(Of course, if you can't or don't want to get over this, there's plenty of good dudes out there who don't see dating coaches. But, again, the being uncomfortable with him hanging out with attractive female friends thing is unrealistic to hang on to if you intend to date someone who has friends at all.)
posted by griphus at 9:26 AM on February 2, 2013


Response by poster: We discussed the therapist thing because we both have experiences in the past and the thing about therapists is that they are not supposed to tell you what to do, they are supposed to help you explore your feelings. Well at least that is what I've always been told.

The male friendships I pared down were definitely inappropriate and I have no regrets about paring them down just a wee bit to be respectful of my relationship. If I told you the things I did with them, you would think, "ah they are going on dates." We'd go out to a concert and then have dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant and have a heartfelt talk about my life and go out for drinks to the point I get tipsy and I'm hungover the next day. This is exactly what he did with a female friend, a friend he said might have a crush on him, recently.
posted by ponytime at 9:32 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: "worrying and unusual so early in a relationship"

Actually your closer look and instincts have arrived right on time. What is worrying is that you think there is something wrong with you for seeing things differently than your new boyfriend. You're right, you don't want to be demanding or ultimatumish, but you also don't want to pretend you are ok with something you're not ok with. Tall to him, see if there's mutual respect and a middle ground, and if not then just agree it's not a good fit. The timing is perfect, trust and respect yourself.
posted by headnsouth at 9:32 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The male friendships I pared down were definitely inappropriate and I have no regrets about paring them down just a wee bit to be respectful of my relationship. If I told you the things I did with them, you would think, "ah they are going on dates." We'd go out to a concert and then have dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant and have a heartfelt talk about my life and go out for drinks to the point I get tipsy and I'm hungover the next day. This is exactly what he did with a female friend, a friend he said might have a crush on him, recently.

If you did all that with a female friend, I wouldn't think you were a lesbian. None of that sounds inappropriate to me at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:34 AM on February 2, 2013 [39 favorites]


We'd go out to a concert and then have dinner, just the two of us, at a nice restaurant and have a heartfelt talk about my life and go out for drinks to the point I get tipsy and I'm hungover the next day.

I do this with my close male friends. Most of whom are married to other women or in serious, long-term relationships. These are not "dates" because I am not romantically interested in them, they are not romantically interested in me, and our only physical contact is a brief hug at the beginning and end of our time hanging out. That's not inappropriate, to me.

Now, you're entitled to have different ideas of what constitutes an appropriate level of closeness with a person outside of your romantic relationship. However, you've framed your question as though you are objectively right and he is objectively wrong about where that appropriate level is. But it's not an objective question. You have an answer that is right for you, but it's not right for everyone. And you're entitled to break up with someone because they don't share your subjective opinion on that and it makes you uncomfortable. What you're not entitled to do is accuse him of being somehow objectively wrong and make it out to be all his fault because you believe he's behaving inappropriately.
posted by decathecting at 9:38 AM on February 2, 2013 [22 favorites]


...the thing about therapists is that they are not supposed to tell you what to do, they are supposed to help you explore your feelings. Well at least that is what I've always been told.

This depends entirely on the therapist and sort of therapy. I mean, all therapy helps you "explore your feelings," but something like CBT or any other explicitly behavioral-based mode has a component of "your reactions to trying situations are incorrect, and we're going to help you have more appropriate reactions." So that mode of therapy does involve a lot of being told what to do, in a sense, because the goal of the therapy is to get you to stop doing what you're doing now, because it is causing problems.

So, dating coach of therapist, if a guy shows up and says "I've been dating a lady for a month and a half and I want to buy her an engagement ring," they will both say "it is up to you at the end, but that is a really bad idea and here is why and let's figure out why you're wanting to do this because it isn't appropriate or conducive to a healthy relationship."
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Showbiz Liz is probably right, but FWIW - I'm totally offended by both situations.

I'd rather date someone who doesn't need a quorum to be in a relationship with me. Similarly, it would always bother me that every single thing I said or did privately with my partner was being relayed to multiple third person's through my partner's own filters and biases, and then I was being judged by these people! Fuck that.

If your bf has problems in his relationship he should talk to you first, and then a close family member, friend, and/or a therapist or similar professional.

Talking to a cadre of (to you) strangers and getting collective advice is just so privacy violating. And what kind of man is your guy that he requires so much consensus? Does he not know his own mind? Is he socially challenged in some manner? I don't get it.

If I were you, I'd feel very much under a microscope, and I would not feel comfortable knowing my boyfriend had decided to date me (and potentially down the road, break up with me) based on the opinions of a bunch of people not directly involved in my relationship. It's between you and him.

I can't square it. I imagine you must feel like your fate is not your own, and that the potential for being unfairly judged is pretty high the way your boyfriend engineered this whole thing.

I won't tell you what to do since I'm not your dating coach (ha ha) but I absolutely do not blame you for feeling uncomfortable about all of this.
posted by jbenben at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Talking to a cadre of strangers and getting collective advice is just so privacy violating.

...isn't this the exact same thing the OP is doing by posting a question to AskMe?
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on February 2, 2013 [42 favorites]


Best answer: This is exactly what he did with a female friend, a friend he said might have a crush on him, recently.

Ah. You might be picking the wrong evidence, but it's possible your creeped-out vibe is reacting to something real. If a friend has an unreciprocated crush, that's a good time to start discreetly drawing the kind of lines you advocate, in order to be a good friend.

Also: why did he share this information with you? Did he seem boastful? If so, yeah, he's a bit of a player -- if perhaps only a subconscious, pseudo-platonic emo-player, who maybe wanted to heighten his attractiveness in your eyes.
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:50 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Checking in with AskMe should be a one-time thing.

Knowing that your relationship is being monitored and evaluated weekly by multiple people outside of the intimacy between you and your significant other is creepy and off-putting.
posted by jbenben at 9:51 AM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Response by poster: Now, you're entitled to have different ideas of what constitutes an appropriate level of closeness with a person outside of your romantic relationship. However, you've framed your question as though you are objectively right and he is objectively wrong about where that appropriate level is. But it's not an objective question. You have an answer that is right for you, but it's not right for everyone. And you're entitled to break up with someone because they don't share your subjective opinion on that and it makes you uncomfortable. What you're not entitled to do is accuse him of being somehow objectively wrong and make it out to be all his fault because you believe he's behaving inappropriately.

I guess in the end I don't know them, though hearing one of them has a crush on him doesn't make me feel good about their relationship. And I don't know him well enough to trust him considering that. I'd honestly prefer not to hear about these things they are doing together until I get the chance to know him better or maybe even know them. I do know myself and I do know that my male friends who have girlfriends I make an effort to include them or at least consider them. I will have to think about this more. About whether it's a problem with me, him, or with us. I suspect the latter, as I have not had jealousy issues like this in the past.

I do feel like I'm being judged in the end by his dating coach and his cadre of female friends. Since I put this question on here I bought his coaches Kindle book and it is not making me feel any better- it is fairly sexist (says women should dress more conservatively to attract the right man for example) and old-fashioned, though it has some good advice sprinkled in- including not to commit yourself when you do not feel comfortable. I do not feel comfortable.

It's early on in this relationship and instead of being head over heels, I'm mired in doubt.
...isn't this the exact same thing the OP is doing by posting a question to AskMe?

I'm yeah, asking here because I don't think he'd take my doubts very well. Not a good sign. Maybe I need to just break this off and find a relationship I'm not going to need AskMe for like my last one, which sadly ended because we just were in the wrong places in our lives (job transfer issues).
posted by ponytime at 9:51 AM on February 2, 2013


Best answer: ...isn't this the exact same thing the OP is doing by posting a question to AskMe?

No...it's different to know that a partner's friends, who you interact with in real life, know private things about you and have been discussing them. The dating coach is one thing (not sure what to think about that), but having my boyfriend talk about intimate details of our relationship with friends, especially female friends, would actually bother me a little too, even though I know that kind of thing is relatively common...
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:52 AM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Talk to him about it before you do anything, but honestly if this bothers you I'd advise you to leave the relationship. Some men don't really have a lot of female friends and maybe that would be more suitable for you. If he's the female-friend having, dating-coach having type I don't see that changing in the long run. Sounds like you found out early on that you're just not compatible lifestyle-choice wise.

I would not be bothered by anything you listed, btw. I share relationship details with my friends of both genders, if my partner wants to do the same it's all good. They can go out and have dinner with their preferred-gender friends all they want, I don't care if they end up absolutely wasted. But not everyone feels that way, and that's fine too... find someone whose views about this are more compatible with yours.
posted by Autumn at 9:53 AM on February 2, 2013


Knowing that your relationship is being monitored and evalusted weekly by multiple people outside of the intimacy between you and your significant other is creepy and off-putting.

I discuss my relationships pretty extensively with male and female friends. I thought that was pretty normal. I like to talk and process out loud, as someone else has said. As far as I can tell from this question, OP has no evidence that the female friends are "evaluating" or "judging" her, that's just what she's afraid they're doing.
posted by schroedinger at 9:56 AM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Best answer: I am with jbenben that the idea of a coach isn't a problem as much as the breach of trust of two people intimately discussing your relationship and judging what you said/did. I had a similar situation in a relationship where every thing I said and did was relayed to a third party who then twisted everything (they had an agenda) and forced me to justify to my partner their lies and misinformation. That shattered the trust in our relationship.

I feel differently about a therapist who is a professional that focuses on the whole person; this dating coach is focused on a small part of your boyfriend's life and relies on second-hand private and personal information about YOUR life that you have not given permission to share. It is also setting a up a weird power dynamic; if your boyfriend feels he needs professional help navigating healthy relationships (I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he has perhaps had a traumatising incidents in the past that have skewed his idea of normal) shouldn't he be transitioning away from a dating coach to a couple's counsellor that you both would see?

It is completely fair to have a conversation with your boyfriend about personal boundaries and respecting your privacy and come to an agreement.
posted by saucysault at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do feel like I'm being judged in the end by his dating coach and his cadre of female friends.

As schroedinger says, that's an unnecessary assumption. It's possible these conversations involve either no judgment or affirmative judgment: when I talk about my marriage to outsiders, the topic is generally either (a) how can I make things work more smooth? or (b) isn't the missus magnificent?
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:01 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Any friends or coaches who answered 'no' to (b) would be promptly dumped.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:03 AM on February 2, 2013


Response by poster: Yeah, the book, which I wish I could share but it would reveal too much, basically says I'm a ho (I dress wrong, I slept with him too soon, I went over to his place late at night etc.) and there are a variety of quizzes that hilariously say we should break up because we aren't compatible and he might not be in the right place in his life to date anyway. I think I was right to feel judged, and right about my bad feelings.

And yeah I do talk about relationships with my friends, but their purpose is not to evaluate my relationships.
posted by ponytime at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2013


quizzes that hilariously say we should break up because we aren't compatible

So hey: you've got your exit line already written for you.
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:06 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I think that you should separate the two issues in your mind -- getting skeeved out by the fact that he consulted this rather sexist book before dating you and getting skeeved out by his multiple female friends. If I were you, I'd break up with him too, but simply because I don't want any boyfriend who would take advice from a book like that. The female friends thing would be a non-issue in a different relationship.
posted by peacheater at 10:08 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: This is tough. I'm like you in that it would make me uncomfortable to know that my boyfriend was discussing our relationship with a whole circle of people (anyone, really--not just a group of hot women). On the other hand, I have two very close friends with whom I discuss everything, and we've discussed all of our boyfriends and exchanged advice, support, etc for each other. So I've done it too. In fact, the dating coach might be better because at least you don't have to socialize with her--she can know whatever about your relationship and at least you don't have to sit there over dinner and wonder if she knows about x, y, and z.

It's sounds like you're ready to let him go, but I'd just ask more about the dating coach. Her book is fairly sexist and has advice you don't agree with. I'm just wondering: what does he get out of the advice from the dating coach? Has he read the book? I'm just wondering if he is discussing himself (his own issues, insecurities, etc) rather than you and I'm wondering how much influence she has on him. It could be very little and he needs someone to talk to about stuff.

I'm yeah, asking here because I don't think he'd take my doubts very well.

However, if he can't even talk about her and can't listen to your doubts, then yeah, he's not good for you.
posted by biscuits at 10:18 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Yeah, the book, which I wish I could share but it would reveal too much, basically says I'm a ho (I dress wrong, I slept with him too soon, I went over to his place late at night etc.) and there are a variety of quizzes that hilariously say we should break up because we aren't compatible and he might not be in the right place in his life to date anyway.

It might be worth asking him what he actually thinks of these things and expressing your thoughts about what the book says. Just because he has the book and talks to this lady doesn't mean he takes everything she says as gospel.

However, if the mere idea that he has a hot dating coach and a cadre of female friends that he talks to about you bugs you, and you don't even feel comfortable talking to him about it, this sounds like the beginning of a continuously stressful relationship. That stuff would make me pretty uncomfortable for a number of reasons.
posted by wondermouse at 10:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mod note: OP, please don't threadsit. AskMe is for asking questions and getting advice, not a place to process your feelings about your relationship. Let us know if you have questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:50 AM on February 2, 2013


Best answer: Look, you feel however you feel, and you draw the emotional boundaries in your relationship however you need to draw them. If something makes you uncomfortable, it just does.

I'd be concerned if my boyfriend -- with whom it was serious enough that I'd made significant changes to my own social circle -- still even had a "dating coach". We're already dating. What do you need her for?

Re the female friends, I don't know. I typically think it's a good thing when guys I'm dating have close female friends, because it means they trust and value women and see us as basically human and interchangeable with guys on a social level. Which I'm down with. But again, your life, your relationship, your feelings, you do whatever makes sense for you.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: think I was right to feel judged, and right about my bad feelings. And yeah I do talk about relationships with my friends, but their purpose is not to evaluate my relationships.

As other posters have said, I think it's important you differentiate between what this book says, and what his female friends say. The book sounds disturbing. But that still does not mean his female friends are "evaluating" you, or providing scrutiny your own friends do not give when you talk to them about relationships.
posted by schroedinger at 10:54 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I'd be totally skeeved out by his dating coach. Is he paying her? I don't know. It's just gross. It would make me feel uncomfortable on many levels. And she uses sexist/dated rhetoric? I don't think it would be wrong to put your foot down about that.

As for friendships, these are different for all relationships. I'm not comfortable with my husband hanging out solo with women who have an interest in him because he tends to be kind of wishy washy at letting people down gently (he HATES hurting people, and so will act overly friendly to compensate). I know many people on metafilter find any limiting of friendships bad mojo, but every situation is different and I think there's some value in following your instincts on these issues when figuring out what's right for you and your relationship.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best answer: I just want to chime in that a dating coach and a therapist are way, way, way different with different professional ethics, training and objectives. I can totally see where someone could have the right to be skeeved out by their partner seeing a dating coach while in a supposedly monogamous relationship. This is "I'm not that into you and want to keep my options open" behavior. If the boyfriend needs a friendly, objective voice to talk to about relationships, then he needs to be in therapy.

OP is also showing some good self-insight regarding the pulling back on her pseudo-dates with other men. That really comes down to one's own feelings and I'm going to guess that her feelings weren't totally platonic for these male friends, thus initiating the pulling away. That is good emotional intelligence. Of course, you can't know the heart of your partner and asking someone else to pull back from prior friendships is a bad idea.

I tend to overshare with my female friends when I'm outside of a relationship and I draw that back a little bit to respect the privacy of my partner when things get serious. That is to say, I try to only share the private aspects of a monogamous relationship with my closest confidants.
posted by Skwirl at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone. I will bring up my concerns about the dating coach, but I agree with a lot of the posters that the issues with other female friends are possibly pathogenic outgrowths of this initial well-grounded concern and maybe indicate I am a bit insecure, which I need to address on my own.
posted by ponytime at 11:11 AM on February 2, 2013


Best answer: Dating coach: Creepy.

Him: He has friends. Friends talk to each other about their lives. You are part of his life.

You: You're allowed to have friends. Doing things with friends is not a date and it's not your responsibility to shut down your friendships for a boyfriend's sake. In fact, it's your responsibility not to do that.

Both of you: Incompatible.
posted by cmoj at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Reading your question, I'd be in the exact same mind as you. He has a dating coach (who's also a 'hot' woman, which yes he could be contacting with more motivation than advice - we're only human, after all. Maybe not likely, but a possibility). Then we have the fact that it's a Rules-y type, conservative book, which is going to feed him all manner of unhelpful, mysogynist and retro 'tips' - that these probably aren't in alignment with your wider political views is also a problem, btw. Yes, everyone talks about their relationship to a greater or lesser extent from time to time, but he seems to have pretty much outsourced his decision-making process to a third party, who's now functioning as a silent but controlling partner in your relationship. I'm assuming from what I've read he leans quite heavily on her for basic stuff, too? Yes, I'd be concerned. Oh and lastly, the fact that he even has a dating coach at all, especially now you're together - she should be redundant by this point, right? That would be enough for me to not date him. It'd make me think he's incapable of dealing with stuff as an adult, of making the most basic decisions and taking responsibility for them as his, that I'd always have to babysit him, that in arguments he'd always be appealing to "but [DATING COACH] said [X]! As something that would override your authority as his partner. Yep, all of this is too much to ask me to take on.

On his female friends, female friends are not in themselves a problem (men that hang out only with other man usually develop sexist stereotyping of women as 'others' in my experience). But that he's also basically using them as a backup sounding board against you and his dating coach, bleurgh yeah. Not cool.

Look, I've been with people who talk a lot outside the relationship and those who don't, and I've found that those who limit their 'but Dave said...' interactions are more likely to come to you with issues first, and work them out with you, and do all that ironing out and terrifying insecurity confession that will leave your relationship stronger. I had one ex that made all of his relationship decisions without me, with a bunch of his friends instead, and I'd always be the last in line to know what was going on. This to me, is unacceptable. So much private shit! He is a biased, sometimes intentionally untruthful source! A bunch of people get more say in my relationship than I do! No one other than me should dictate what I 'should' put up with! (N.b. We all talk about our SO from time to time, but holding regular referendums is not OK).

I think the best thing for you is to trust your gut. It sounds like this is early on in the dating stage. All the trouble I've ever had with men is when I've fought my instinct and tried to rationalise away big, stand-out issues. If you need to hear this, I would just quietly let him go.
posted by everydayanewday at 11:18 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This question and many of the answers feel like a big muddle of (a) legitimate feelings and values, (b) unconfirmed assumptions, and (c) insecurities.

Legitimate feelings and values: I would like certain details to be private. I would like to date someone who is confident. I believe it is okay to dress a certain way.

Unconfirmed assumptions: "he also has lots of female friends and maybe he discusses our relationship with them too," "getting the impression that my boyfriend has a cadre of woman pulling the strings behind our relationship," "he seems to have pretty much outsourced his decision-making process." The thing to do with unconfirmed assumptions is to ask about them.

Insecurities: "I do feel like I'm being judged in the end by his dating coach and his cadre of female friends," "the book... basically says I'm a ho." The thing to do with insecurities, generally, is to let the other partner know that they exist while owning them and taking responsibility for them.

You say you haven't been jealous before, so it's quite possible that there are real warning signs here, but I'm having trouble sorting those out amidst the assumptions and insecurities. I hope I don't sound harsh because it's totally natural for things like differences in values to lead to moments of "they must be judging me." (But again, we don't even know if he agrees with this book.)

It's most troubling to me that you haven't talked to him about this and don't think doing so will go well (on that last part, why not?). Before ending this, I'd give a try to a conversation where you share your preferences and values with him so that he knows what you want (sharing them as informational items, not as demands), share with him any insecurities that you have while maintaining ownership of them, check in about your assumptions and learn what all of these things (the book, the coach, the friendships) mean to him, learn more about his preferences and values (does HE think women shouldn't dress like you do?), and see if you two are incompatible or whether you can negotiate your way to something that works better.
posted by salvia at 12:22 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, just to share two other perspectives:
If I was a guy who had had trouble getting the relationships I wanted and I'd sought help for what had challenged me and had built up some strong female friendships, I'd be really bummed if someone broke up with me because she read my dating coach's book and felt judged by some of that coach's inachronistic ideas that I didn't even agree with, or if she felt judged or threatened by the presence of my female friends. I think you should give him a chance to explain what these friendships and this coach mean to him.

And speaking from my own perspective, if a guy was actively seeking support to address patterns that weren't working for him, and if he had strong female friendships, to me that might be a very good thing, if I also felt that he was honest and direct with me and also truly into our relationship. Those other factors would suggest to me that if problems arose between us, he'd probably proactively seek solutions, be able to communicate about the issue, and have the support he'd need to get multiple perspectives on what was going on.
posted by salvia at 12:22 PM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best answer: The fact that his dating coach is an attractive woman is a total red herring. Whatever; we all do business with sexy people of the appropriate gender/s. The real question is, why the heck does he have a "dating coach"?? I am super pro-therapy, and the whole dating coach thing just sounds hella skeevy. I would definitely be a bit squicked out if someone I knew used such a service. It potentially betrays a worldview that dating is a realm equalling more than just doing enjoyable activities with people you'd like to have sex or nice conversations with; that it's some sort of para-real game you need to win. And that way lies somewhere between Pickup Street and Artist Road.
posted by threeants at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Best answer: Dude, put all the dating coach, hanging out with friends, whatever stuff aside:

If you're feeling a bit off early in a relationship, and you don't have a history of jealousy issues or feeling off early, ditch it. Early days is when it should be fireworks, hot sex, magic. If it's early days and you're having the kind of doubts and feelings people typically might experience much, much further down the road, just bail, homie. Plenty more fish in the sea. Whatever your preferences, you should feel good about relationships most of the time. Doesn't sound like it here.
posted by smoke at 2:47 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I do not think there's anything wrong with taking a conscious approach to dating or with using templates to navigate some of the most advanced and high-stakes emotional situations any of us will ever be in. A lot of people are revolted by this, often because the advice given in popular systems such as The Rules or PUA material or what have you, is revolting, or is couched in revolting terms. If it helps, not everybody who pays attention to such dating systems embraces the belief systems wholeheartedly, many just take what they need and leave the rest. As a raving feminist, I just put a clothespeg on my nose while reading The Rules and carry on.

I don't think there's anything wrong with paying someone to coach you through any situation, either.

I don't think there's anything wrong with judiciously confiding relationship issues with a third party, and it's better that it's someone who doesn't know both of you, best for it to be someone who knows neither of you. Every week? Well... Maybe to your therapist...

But dating systems are supposed to help you into a relationship and give you general principles for not screwing it up once you're in it. I looked at a PUA forum and a guy was talking about what PUA tactics to use to propose to his GF, and he got a slew of horrified responses like "dude! By this point in your relationship, tactics should be irrelevant! Please tell me you're not *still* relating to her like this!" He responded with a "ha ha fooled ya! Of course I'm kidding!" And they all cooed words to the effect of "someday we, too, shall find the true luv that you have found."

Is it possible that you're horrified for the same reasons they were, and there's been no "haha just kidding!" to calm your fears?

In any case, letting you know of the existence of a dating coach is really crass. He couldn't have at least lied and said she was his life coach? How were you supposed to feel on being presented with this information?

The fact that she's hot, put together with the female friend who he says might have a crush on him, makes me think that this is something of a jealousy plotline gone wrong. A fair jealousy plotline is letting you know he is well thought of by his female friends and acquaintances and moves confidently through the world, for he is a Man Of The World. An unfair jealousy plotline is "my friend might have a crush on me [proceeds to just not visibly draw any boundaries there] plus my hotttt lady dating coach is advising me at all times on what to do next with you! [subtext: plenty more fish in the sea!]" Perhaps he doesn't mean any harm, but that kind of tactic, if done indelicately, is terrible. Dial it up any higher and it becomes flat-out emotionally abusive. (Have you considered the possibility that she's just simply not a very *good* dating coach?)

So yeah, even as someone who both uses and mistrusts popular dating systems, and as someone who has no problem with paying professionals for coaching through all sorts of life situations... It's still pretty easy to see why you're skeeved out by this.

I'm remembering the anecdote about Napoleon's host letting him win at hunting wild boar... The host sent captive boar running across Napoleon's path. And Napoleon found out about it. Well, Napoleon blocked that guy on Facebook so fast it'd make your head spin. I don't think you necessarily have to dump this guy, but it's only natural to be turned off by this.
posted by tel3path at 2:50 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: OP, my advice to you is TRUST YOUR GUT.

Your gut says that you when you have a boyfriend you shouldn't be going out 1:1 and having deep discussions and drinking with other men? Sounds rational to me! Your gut has this one right.

Your gut says that your boyfriend's ongoing faith and advice-taking relationship from a slut-shaming "dating coach" is weird and inappropriate? I see no reason to disbelieve your gut here.

Your gut says that your boyfriend going out and spending evenings 1:1 with women (at least some of whom have crushes on him) and that you're not comfortable with that? Your gut is right! Whatever's going on here, whether it's keeping other options or just grooving on varied female energy, isn't right in the context of YOUR relationship.

Your gut is what matters. I don't think anyone ever ignored what their gut was telling them and then later was like "oh thank God I ignored myself! I feel so much better now that I've put someone else's friendships and priorities before my own feelings!"

And FWIW I think his "dating coach" sounds weird and gross, and I think going out at night and drinking with attractive friends of the opposite sex is a tried-and-true way to find oneself cheating on one's partner.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:33 PM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best answer: Wow, the dating coach thing is so fucking weird. I would lose all respect for him. If you have issues with dating (and thus probably social anxiety), see a licensed professional. The fact that he PAID this scam-artist woman who spews misogynistic, simplistic bullshit to help him land a girlfriend frankly makes him sound like an idiot. Dump him.
posted by imalaowai at 6:18 PM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, so creepy. I would not even like him anymore. I wouldn't blame you if you decided to move on rather than deal with this mess. Christ.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:09 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trust your feelings. DTMFA
posted by BlueHorse at 2:07 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm...I agree that the whole dating coach thing is odd, and would probably creep me out a bit if I were in your shoes. Then again, is there really something wrong in seeking "professional" help in an area of your life that is not going the way you like? You say that you have been in this relationship for about a month and a half, which is not a lot of time in the great scheme of things. Maybe the guy is just very nervous about things, likes you a lot, and feels like he needs advice to keep making the right moves. That shows a certain lack of confidence, and maybe he should have kept her involvement to himself, but is that a deal-breaker for you? Only you can decide, and there is no right or wrong answer.

As for the other stuff, it does not sound like you know for certain how much info he is sharing with his female friends. I agree that he should respect your privacy, but the fact that he told you--or you found out--about the dating coach is probably skewing your thoughts about how much he is discussing you in general. I agree that your instincts are always the best guide, but in this case, if you like the guy and think he is worth the investment, a frank talk about expectations and levels of privacy etc. would be a good idea. That would be the time to tell him that if he wants to pursue a relationship with you, it's time to drop the dating coach.

For me, it would come down to weighing the other good parts of the relationship against the slightly creepy dating coach thing, with the caveat that most people do probably talk about their relationships to others, especially in the early stages--they are just sophisticated enough not to let their partners know about it.
posted by rpfields at 2:39 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> googling her, I found she's also totally hot.

...assuming her online pix really show her actual appearance. If that were not the exact truth it wouldn't be the first time.

I once noticed a rack of Harlequin romances, many with the author given as "Violet Winspear." My wife and I had fun imagining Violet for each other. Her birth name is Ethel and she bangs 'em out at the kitchen table wearing fuzzy slippers, a house dress, bathrobe, and curlers, while smoking a big cigar. See no obvious reason why online dating advice shouldn't come from a similar source. Hey, maybe Ethel has developed a sideline!
posted by jfuller at 8:51 AM on February 3, 2013


Btw, I had a boyfriend at one point who heavily discussed our early relationship with another female friend. There was nothing going on between them (lots of reasons to believe this), but when I found out I was really put off and creeped out... just to know that so many of his early decisions that endeared him to me were actually the idea of someone else, and that maybe he wasn't the person I thought he was. Turned out he kind of wasn't, in a way. And because he felt so guilty about keeping that whole thing a secret, he continued to be really secretive about their friendship. It was just an ugly mess. Everybody talks about their relationship with others, but I think that my bf talking to a bunch of female friends to understand me instead of talking to me to understand me would kind of annoy me (especially if there was lots of night drinking happening), and a dating coach would make me feel like I was dating a no one. Because how do you know who this person is when they're getting all their cues from some random "professional"? It's a sign of maturity to conduct a relationship with the person you're dating, and not with your mother or 10 of your closest friends or whatever. (Plus, it does sound like he's just grooving on the extra female energy, as someone else put it.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:12 AM on February 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not convinced that the dating coach isn't following her fiscal motivation to maintain a client by exploiting the trust relationship. That's the main difference between this and other coaching. If the dating coach is motivated to keep a steady paycheck, they're motivated to keep their client single and they don't have an ethics board to answer to keep their certification like a therapist would. A client in hand is worth a lot more than two in the bush.
posted by Skwirl at 6:26 PM on February 3, 2013


Also tangential advice: when early stuff like this makes you lose a great deal of respect for the person you're with, you do not have to stay with them. In a couple years you might still be thinking about this incident & how similar actions in the future reverberate with this same quality (what you see as oversharing, misplaced trust, creepy dating philosophies) you don't particularly like.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:37 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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