Interview with date coach Simon Markx on the ethics of flirting in UVA/VU ethics magazine Flirtatious.
Ethic flirting tips
What to expect when you interview a dating coach? I think the name itself already evokes some gnarly associations. We’ve all seen videos of shitty pick-up artists trying to be all ‘alpha’, while they’re actually just being a douche. That is why we were more than surprised when the person who did our interview was nothing like this.
Not an arrogant alpha male but just a friendly dude you meet on the street: Meet Simon Markx, a psychological and communication schooled coach, who works at a hospital for young people with disabilities, while at the same time running his own coaching business in which he, among other things, helps people find love. Not in the “magical”, fairy tale way, however. To find love, you actually have to do the work.
Our main reason for the interview was twofold: getting into the ethics of flirting as he teaches flirting and secondly, delving into the bad rep of the learnability that flirting has. For the second point, Simon distances himself straight away. He indicates a clear difference between himself, being a dating coach who helps people find the courage to ask someone out, and the ‘pickup-coach’, who is there to ‘help guys catch lots of strange’.
Ethics of flirting
Our main question was of course the ethics of flirting. Rhetorics can be used for good and bad, and so can flirting, “All is allowed in love and war.” Simon describes himself as a noble good-doer, only teaching people who really need help some tips and tricks. Those poor sods who were never able to learn when they were younger. He explicitly states that he does not help people who come to him to become a ‘player’.
Simon himself uses his own morals to guide his judgment on who to help. When we dig a little deeper, however, a question emerges. He brings up approach anxiety: a fear of actually stepping up to someone that interests you.
Teaching these people how to do this involves practice approaching a lot. You can ask the question, is it ethical to use people for practice like that? Should you not ‘just’ meet people that you know you’ll be interested in? Then again, how would you know that from first glance, you can only know after actually getting to know the person. What do you think?
We live in a knowledge-based economy. The first 20 odd years of our lives are reserved for learning, but it doesn’t stop there. Many young people set their motto for life to be: “A lifelong journey of learning”. Courses are being offered for everything, programming, planning, and leadership.
What about flirting? You don’t hear about it that much, but in this day and age with little to no contact with other humans as we are all glued to their virtual representations over our devices, you would expect it to be more useful than ever. So why are these courses so hidden and more often than not taught by shady dudes with names as “Attraction Gym”.
Simon explains. “It is silly that learning to date has such a bad rep. I feel like 30 years ago a couple of dudes who started in a toxic way, ruined it for everyone now”. Simon suggests an attitude change is warranted. It isn’t logically coherent. It is ‘cool’ if someone is good at flirting naturally, but if they were taught, it’s ‘bad’.
Modern-day male identity crisis
Males have an identity crisis. Over the years, there have been several iterations of what makes a man sexy. From the strong man to the hopeless romantic, a la don Juan, we seem to have ended in the era of the metro man. A metro man is a man of ambiguous sexuality who cares a lot about grooming. Obviously, this is not authentic to all men. This begs the question: “Is there no space for the manly man anymore?”
Simon explains the #metoo movement has made it a lot more tricky. A tenet of the manly man is being assertive, maybe even dominant. This of course is a risky stance to take in a world where consent forms lure around every corner. There is no answer right now. Only the future will tell in what way the pendulum will swing.
It’s a buzzword in the wellness industry and is synonymous to learning to be confident: “just be yourself”. What does that even mean? What if I am not something that I am particularly proud of, and even if I am, how do I put that to practise? Fair questions. Simon addresses this in two ways: There’s the inner work and the outer work and they are interconnected.
Outer work is indeed, straightening yourself up to become an attractive person. He helps (mostly men) with tips on grooming themselves, and takes usable pictures of them for potential dating profiles “Guys, stop using shitty photos” – all women, including Simon. The inner work is also important. Mostly, it is about changing negative beliefs about the world and themselves. Teaching them that not everyone is against them and learning to appreciate themselves.
As you can tell the inner and outer work go hand in hand. You gain confidence from firmly establishing yourself in the world. You dare to do this more by practising self-acceptance. A final tip he gives is “don’t alter yourself to fit the person you are meeting.” You’re better off doubling down on the aspects of you that are authentic to you. That is, being yourself while simultaneously coming across confident”.
Ethics of flirting tips
- Women hate when men are showing off. Simon says: “Show don’t tell” Looks matter less for men, unfair? -maybe, true nonetheless.
- Stop watching porn
- Simon recommends: “Sure, if you like drinking, drink a bit, but never more than the other party. Especially if dating makes you nervous, getting drunk only gets you to make a fool out of yourself”
Dating coach Simon Markx
By means of the aforementioned GROW method and appropriate questioning, I aim to hold up a mirror to my clients and help them see everything more clearly.
Whatever you struggle with in your life, in whatever area, at whatever stage; you do not need to worry with me as your coach.
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