What happens when Seattle’s basic single tech bros can’t get a date? They call Kirkland’s Marina Lavochin, a 34-year-old dating coach who swears she can turn bumbling, single coders into effective daters.
“I’m not Cupid,” says Lavochin. “I like teaching skills.” The awkward singles of Seattle are of a type, she says: “They can’t lead, they’re so uncertain.” Lavochin idolized James Bond in her Russian childhood and tries to impart the same swagger in her clients.
Her three-month program—a $3,000 package—begins when clients take personality tests. A makeover follows, where Lavochin picks out well-fitting blazers, jeans, V-necks, and Chuck Taylor–style sneakers for her baggy-clothed singles. Clients practice making small talk with strangers as “homework,” and once Lavochin swaps mirror selfies and vague OkCupid profiles for professional photos and her own detailed write-ups, the online dates start rolling in.
Whether this singular boot camp can fix the city’s awkward, left-brained singles depends on one thing: Are we really drowning in lovelorn tech bros at all? In 2015, CityLab and Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute estimated that Seattle has 1,068 single adult men to every 1,000 unattached women; many of those extra Y chromosomes are likely in tech, seeing as in 2016 Amazon reported that just 25 percent of its professional employees were women.
But it’s hard to say if the dudes are as awkward and socially inept as Lavochin claims. Anecdotally, it’s a popular outlook, but it’s as hard to prove as the Seattle Freeze, the term for our city’s infamously chilly reputation. In the late-millennial cohort Lavochin mostly serves, there’s evidence of a decline in social skills; this year Men’s Health reported that “65 percent of millennials don’t feel confident in face-to-face social interactions.” That sure puts a damper on dating.
Lavochin cites her own Tinder- and OkCupid-fueled research; she set out to go on 100 internet dates to get a read on the singles scene (number 74 became a boyfriend). That was enough to see Seattle’s patterns, she says. And most of her 300-plus clients have embraced her one-size-fits-all formula. “They like that it’s a recipe.”