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Match.com’s dating coaches might help save modern love

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Romance has gone to the cloud—now the biggest venue for meeting. But would-be couples eventually need to take it offline and into real life.

Now Match (formerly Match.com) is seizing on the IRL phase of courtship, branching beyond algorithms to provide its own dating coaches. “This is the first time a dating app is going beyond just a first date, to stick with our members and help them be successful,” says Hesam Hosseini, who took over as Match CEO in January 2018.

Introduced in New York City in May, the AskMatch coaching service is now available in 18 states and Washington, D.C., with plans to expand to all U.S. subscribers by January 2020. The coaching—typically over the phone—is included in Match’s standard subscription, which averages around $35 per month, depending on how long people sign up for. Four months into the program, Match has identified some overriding concerns and trends among its subscribers, which it shared exclusively with Fast Company.

By adding coaching, Match is pursuing the very aftermarket that it and sister services owned by IAC subsidiary Match Group helped create—but at a steep discount. Traditional dating and relationship services may charge several hundred dollars per session, or thousands for a multimonth package.

The push to personal is also Hosseini’s way to differentiate the 24-year-old brand. Tinder currently tops all the dating app rankings and has been the dynamo of Match Group, which overall grew both total revenue and average subscribers by about 18% over the previous year, according to the company’s latest quarterly earnings report.

Technology has made it easier to meet people. A new study by Stanford University and University of New Mexico researchers (based on a national survey from 2017) found that online has outstripped other ways to meet, like introductions by friends or real-life flirting. About 39% of straight and 65% of same-sex couples in the U.S. now connect through sites and apps.

But algorithms haven’t fixed human vulnerabilities, misperceptions, and bad habits. It may have made them worse. “This sounds crazy, but we get people who say, ‘I need help flirting. I forgot how to flirt,'” says Katie Wilson, a veteran dating coach who came to Match in December 2018 to build its team.

That’s no surprise to independent coaches. “Flirting is something that a lot of people have a hard time with,” says Maya Diamond, a Bay Area dating and relationship coach who isn’t affiliated with Match.

Related: How Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg helps people find their person

What else do AskMatch customers need help with? “We get everything under the sun,” says Wilson, who spent four and a half years as a manager and director at matchmaking company Three Day Rule. The L.A.-based boutique service has had a partnership since 2014 with Match, which refers users who want to “get a high-touch approach,” as founder Talia Goldstein describes it, including personalized matchmaking. Three Day Rule coaches will appear in tips videos for AskMatch.

Among common problems, men often get stuck in the “friend zone,” says Wilson, with pleasant dates that don’t progress to romance. Should they try to be more of a “bad boy,” they’ve asked Match coaches. Men also request more help in general on strategies for getting replies to their first messages.

Coaches also help temper unrealistic expectations, where New Yorkers seem to excel. “We know New York City-based women are more likely to call about dating fatigue than the rest of us,” says Wilson. They are fatigued from going on a lot of........

© Fast Company