Are Friends the Most Effective Source of Dating Advice?

Apr 14, 2021



We’ve all done it. Picked up the phone, dialed a friend, regaled her with some dating scenario and asked for her advice.


Is this a dating do or a dating don’t?


The answer may surprise you.


Most people would answer that yes, friends are a good source of dating advice.


I would say yes, if your friend happens to be a professional dating coach who has had the benefit of experience of hearing thousands of people’s dating experience, as opposed to a lay person who typically has just their own dating experience and the dating experiences of their friends and family to draw upon to inform their advice.


Now you might say “Hey, wait a minute! That’s self-serving, you’re a dating expert! I just need some free advice, I don’t want to spend any money, so I’d rather call my friends.”  Most dating experts (myself included) give away a lot of free advice in the form of blogs, newsletters, etc.  I’d rather see you make the most of these free resources and get good advice from someone who has seen thousands of different dating scenarios than ask your well-intentioned friends for free advice based on their own experience, which has the statistical problem of small sample size. In science and statistics, small sample size is recognized as a problem because it affects the reliability of results; friends only have so many scenarios that they’ve personally been through to draw upon which represents the small sample size problem versus a professional who has seen hundreds or thousands of scenarios. It’s also worth noting that “free” advice from a friend who means well but doesn't know what they are doing can end up being really expensive if it costs you a broken heart or worse, not to mention costs like therapy, “retail therapy,” poor work performance, and strained friendships if you end up in a bad breakup.


The reality is that while our friends mean well, their advice can often be misguided. (Remember that Sex and City episode on the subject of “he’s just not that into you” where the women made all sorts of far-fetched creative justifications for a man’s dating behavior that totally missed the truth of the matter?)


Next you may be thinking “Well fine then. Maybe I’ll skip calling the girls, but instead I’ll get it straight from the horse’s mouth, I’ll ask a male friend for advice… you know, get a man’s perspective.” While I can see why this might seem logical at first blush, the reality is that men may not always be consciously aware of how they act and why they act that way. What they tell you they want or like may not square with how they actually behave. (If you’ve ever heard a man say he likes the “natural” look when it comes to makeup/appearance, and then oogle one of the Kardashians, you know what I’m talking about re the disconnect between what they say they want and how they actually behave).  


The point is, female friends may be too afraid of hurting your feelings to give you very straight advice about the man you are dating. Men may have a hard time giving you effective advice simply because what they tell you they want may be different than what they actually respond well to in real life. (Both men and women sometimes behave differently in real life than they do if you have them in the hot seat asking them questions about what they like in a person.)


For this reason, I think your most effective source of dating advice is a dating expert who has had the birds’ eye view of working with hundreds or thousands of people in real life dating scenarios. You don’t necessarily have to spend money. You can start with free resources (such as our blog) and soak up as much of the system and advice as you can. Save the phone calls to your friends for when it’s time to just get together and simply enjoy their company. As an additional benefit, your friendships will flourish when you are reaching out to talk about fun, uplifting topics and not always reaching out to burden your friends with yet another story of dating drama. Save the drama for us, give your friends a break, and you will build a future of better dating and better friendships.


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- “Coach Cori” McGraw at the Love Academy for Women



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