Thomas Edwards tells me that I’m beautiful, smart and intimidating. So, naturally, I like the guy.
It’s a good thing, too, because likability, charm and confidence are vital to his career. Edwards’ job as "The Professional Wingman" is to guide his clients to a happy and healthy social life or relationship — and he’s good at it. He can’t help it. The second I hit the stop button on my recorder, he effortlessly slides into asking me questions about my own love life … and I begin to divulge the secrets my best friend doesn’t even know. "I’m only telling you this," I hear myself say, "because you’re a professional."
And professional he is. He is 24 and already he owns a successful business, and he’s doing what he loves.
"I’m not in it for the business, I’m in it to help other people," Edwards said. "It just happened. It wasn’t like I raised my hand in class and told my teacher that I wanted to be a (dating) coach."
Curiously, Edwards’ story isn’t much different from a date doctor you may be more familiar with — Will Smith’s character in the popular romantic comedy, “Hitch.” After being cheated on and dumped in college, Edwards wondered what he was doing wrong. He wanted to make himself more attractive and appealing to women so he could hurry up and find "the one." Being the disciplined hard worker that he is, Edwards spent his time researching what makes people engaging and efficient. He eventually started a blog about his life, but it was his musings on dating and relationships that really sparked an interest in people. A career was born.
Edwards appears to have all the qualities you want in someone guiding one of the most important aspects of your life. He’s handsome, intelligent and funny. He’s charming in a way that makes you want to hang out with him, even if it does come with a hefty price tag. He’s stylish and he knows the Boston singles scene like no one else. I met him at MiniBar in the Copley Square Hotel, the ultra-suave lounge/bar were he meets his clients. He even knew what to order — the mini Kobe beef burgers were his delicious suggestion.
On top of all this, he is a sensitive guy who can charm you stupid while shoving a burger down his throat (in a very gentlemanly way).
"I do it because I have been there. I know what it’s like to think that you’re giving everything to someone that’s really special to you and losing that," Edwards said. "I want people to feel empowered. I want people to feel confident, and I want people to feel as though they can get someone they know that they truly deserve."
In his quest to find you someone you truly deserve, Edwards will meet you for a free consultation where he will begin by questioning you about the history of your love life. "It’s not about the path that lies in front of you, it’s the path that’s behind you," he said.
Edwards has worked with 50 clients, but turns down the ones who are just looking to get laid.
"I’m all about people who want to improve their lives and improve their lives with someone that they want to spend a significant amount of their time with,” he said, “You don’t really benefit from having 24 hour relationships.”
But, for those of you wondering (and I know you are), he does touch on the topic of sex with his clients. He talks about what makes you sexually attractive, as well as how to create a mood that will induce sexual arousal. But after that, he just says no.
"I can only teach so much. After a certain point, you’re kind of on your own. I can’t really do that part for you."
But there’s a lot he can do, according to Ben Margolis, one of Edwards’ clients.
"Everything he says is simple and optimistic,” said the 26-year-old software developer. “There are no routines that he has you memorize; instead he boosts your confidence and makes you realize how to think.”
And it works.
"Thomas changed me for the better. I can walk up to anyone without fearing an awkward situation," Margolis said. "With women, I used to be a hopeless romantic, always trying to impress her with stuff. Now I know that I’m the catch."
Margolis initially hired Edwards for one night out to see if he was the real deal. "My first interaction was a fail since I committed the crime of doing the one two punch of asking â€˜how are you doing’ and â€˜where you guys from?’ People don’t go out to be interviewed! The temperature went down to 10 degrees so I had to leave the women," said Ben.
But his next move was better. "Thomas coached me right there and convinced me to use less questions and talk about myself; naturally the partners in conversation will talk about themselves. A few minutes later, he left me alone again and I ended up approaching again, this time comparing my taste in cocktails with two women, which was far more successful."
Although Margolis has yet to find Ms. Right, he’s built confidence and plans to continue working with Edwards.
Edwards, on the other hand, has found his perfect woman. "We’re pretty devoted to one another. I am totally crazy about her. And it took me a while for me to find that person that I could honestly say could be the one," he swooned.
They’ve been together for three months.
"I am a hopeless romantic, believe me. My sister will even call me a sap because I care so much and I’m so loving," Edwards said.
Once his clients are in a relationship of their own, they often still seek out Edwards’ advice. "My whole theory is: once you get the girl, you gotta know how to keep her," he said.
Attached guys ask what they should buy their girlfriends for Christmas and how to deal when things are moving too fast.
"Women would read Cosmo to find out great, interesting ways to keep their men sexually aroused — what’s the difference with me giving advice of what would be a great gift idea?" he asked.
Speaking of women, Edwards does coach a few. So far he’s worked with three, but women do make up about 40 percent of his requests for service.
"More and more women have been recently approaching me, asking me about the service. But they just tend to take longer with pulling the trigger," he joked.
For women out there who want to know what advice Edwards would give them, I picked his brain for a good hour. He’s overflowing with tips and tricks for both sexes, so guys, you listen up too.
For the ladies
Tip 1: Guys are lazy and nervous. Don’t give them extra work — make yourself approachable when you’re out.
"You’re at the bar, your back is turned, and he knows you’re absolutely gorgeous, there’s no chance in hell he’s gonna walk all the way over here, through a crowded place to approach you because it’s too much. It’s too much buildup to that moment," said Edwards. He suggests making yourself open and receptive. Sit somewhere that allows you to look around, like in the corner. Don’t sit with your back to the room or in the middle of a crowd of girlfriends.
Tip 2: This one is an oldie, but Edwards stresses that it works. "Be a little flirtatious," he said. Touch his shoulder or arm. "It shows you want to break the physical barrier and he’ll know he can touch you back."
Tip 3: Play hard to get — a little. "In any beginning stage of a relationship, there needs to be a cat and mouse chase because as a woman, you want to make sure a guy is worth it," Edwards said.
Tip 4: If he’s just not that into you, move on. "When it comes down to it, if a guy is interested in you, he will make it known."
For the fellas
Tip 1: "It’s all about effort." Period.
Tip 2: "You don’t need a pick up line to start conversations with women," said Edwards. "All you have to do is say, â€˜Hi, I’m insert your name here.’" But, he warns, it won’t work every time.
Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to approach a woman you like, no matter how hot she is. "If you like her let her know. Women like confidence."
Tip 4: If you’re not looking for a committed relationship, be honest about it. Women appreciate it and might be looking for the same thing. Said Edwards, "I don’t know why guys go through all these round-about ways to get there when there’s a straight line."
Now, ladies and gents, Edwards has some oh-so-helpful tips when it comes to a problem all Boston singles face: where can I meet people?
For you young party animals, Edwards quickly lists off the best bars for flirting: MiniBar, Vox, Alibi, places with Happy Hour appetizers, Match on Thursdays (Ladies’ Night), the Financial District between 4 .p.m and 7 p.m. (to meet successful professionals), Rumba, Houston’s, restaurant bars like Legal Seafoods and places that have specials, such as wing night, like The Draft in Allston. Whew.
However, Edwards agrees that it can be hard to meet your next serious relationship when your fourth cocktail has you drunk texting your exes. "Use the whole day," said Edwards.
Be aware when you’re doing everyday activities like grocery shopping, waiting in line at the bank, or even walking down the street.
"Being social doesn’t mean going to bars or going out at night. Being social is having a personality that allows you to interact with other people. And you can be social 24/7. That’s the great thing about it," he said. "You gotta figure out a way to put yourself out there. Being shy is no longer an excuse."
Use your hobbies and things you like to do to meet people with similar interests. Go to wine tastings, go ice skating on the Frog Pond, head to events on the Common. Take cooking classes, yoga classes, salsa lessons, or rock climbing classes.
Great advice, but remember: "One time is not going to turn everything around. It’s gonna take several hundred times."
Edwards’ honesty is one of the many things that make him successful. Margolis would argue that it’s Edwards’ charisma that made him the number one wingman. "Look at the last few elections and you can’t help but realize how much charisma means to people. If John Kerry or Al Gore were more in touch with the American people they might have won the elections. Bill Clinton and George W. were the kind of guys you’d imagine being belly up to a bar with," said Margolis, whose bellied up to the bar with Edwards on many occasions.
"He’s actually a man of few words, and that makes people want to get stories out of him. He’s one of those rare people that can draw out the good parts of the others around him."
And that’s why he does it. Edwards just wants to help people find the love they deserve, but he knows he’s just a facilitator. In reality, it’s up to you to find your own happiness.
Asks Edwards, "How bad do you want it? How far are you willing to go to make it happen for you?"
Special thanks to Vox Populi for being the backdrop of the Blast cover photoshoot.