You know the worst thing about February? It’s not the sleet and the snow or the reality that everything is gray and gloomy. It’s Valentine’s Day, which takes over our lives with a flurry of well-meaning reminders that we should find someone, anyone to share the 14th with (at the very least a hookup).
While Valentine’s Day is unarguably great for the greeting card and the restaurant industries, it’s also a reminder of just how many of us struggle with intimacy. Which is why consultants like Valerie Baber are never short on clients. Baber guides people through thorny relationship quandaries, helping them come out happier, more reflective, and truly ready to engage with others. But she’s clear about one thing up front: It requires effort.
If you’ve never heard of an intimacy coach before, you may have some misconceptions about what one does, so here’s the deal: As an intimacy coach, Baber helps men and women struggling with the issues of love and romance get the love they want. She offers private counseling sessions, speaks to clients all around the world via Skype, and even offers a “wingwoman” service which involves her going out with clients and acting as “social lubricant” (her words) to ease some of the anxieties of modern dating. She’ll give you feedback on your approach and interaction style, and she even offers multi-hour coaching sessions that give clients deep insight into their own patterns of behavior.
Baber’s job, as she sees it, is to correct and challenge people’s incorrect assumptions about sex and relationships and to get them to think more deeply about sex, love, and relationships — things most people don’t think too deeply about, because they’re uncomfortable.
“We’re under the perception that if we love someone, it should just work out. And that is a horribly unhealthy perception to have,” Baber said during a recent phone conversation. “It takes work — and not just physical work, but mental work. We need to be more analytical. We need to be more scientific with love, or we’re going to encounter the same problems that we’ve been encountering.”
So how do you “do the work?” Baber was happy to give all of us some real talk about the biggest mistakes we make in relationships and how to fix them.