We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Hamilton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The most notable risk–that ultimately led me to create my business–was when I decided to live on the road for a few years right before the pandemic. I left New York in 2017 to “try on” multiple cities to live in and, because I was a single sex & dating columnist for Playboy at the time, learn the dating cultures of each. Over the course of 2017 and 2018, I lived in 40 Airbnbs while driving cross-country and learned what it was like to date in Boston, Asheville, Austin, Denver, Chicago, Miami, Missoula, and Portland. It was an incredible experience and helped me learn the unique dating challenges that come with living in different parts of the country.
Dating allowed me to build community as a digital nomad and explore all the cities I lived in–but there was a method to the madness. It wasn’t too far into the road trip that I learned how to consistently set up great dates with awesome people–and how to replicate the process easily since I was only living in places for 4-8 weeks at a time before I had to pack up and do it all over again! Soon enough, friends and peers started coming to me to ask for advice: How was I able to have so much fun and always find great dates in new places when I was changing zip codes so often? That’s how I started teaching the dating skills I do today.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I help diet culture dropouts learn the skills they want to learn (or re-learn) now that they’re no longer dieting. Very often for folks, that means rejoining the dating scene or dating with a healthier approach.
I love teaching folks the skills necessary to make dating something that compliments their current life instead of complicates it, which means 1. cultivating a neutral mindset around rejection (a lot harder than it sounds!), 2. building body appreciation and trust, 3. setting and maintaining boundaries, and 4. approaching dating without a goal-oriented mindset (i.e. “I want a boyfriend or nothing at all”-type thinking). It also means some fun stuff, too, like cowriting a bio together, swiping with me as your wing-woman, and starting conversations on apps that lend themselves to deeper conversation than typical dating app conversation fodder like “Cats or dogs?” or “Tacos or pizza?”
As a dating columnist and humorist for places like Tinder, Bumble, and Playboy, I like to bring a humor and a real-talk approach (after all, I am from New York) to my clients, as well as serve as a trusted ED recovery ally since I’m over 14 years recovered from bulimia. I know how hard it is to stop dieting and I know how hard dating is–I love sharing all that I’ve learned to help make things a little easier (and with a lot of laughs along the way).
What I want the world to know how is how tightly knitted the diet industry and dating industry are–and how they actually work together to sell scarcity and a narrative that a prerequisite to finding The One is having the one definition of a perfect body. Both industries can cause feelings of inadequacy and I’m so happy when I help a client realize they don’t need to stress about their body or their relationship status. To be able to bring levity to a really beautiful part of life–dating is one of the most fun things to do after giving up dieting!–makes my job really wonderful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of the best parts of recovering from an eating disorder is enjoying food, so I am definitely a foodie! I’d take my friend on a culinary tour of LA–I really enjoyed Spoon by H before they tragically had to close due to the pandemic, but I also love Northern Thai Food Club, Night + Market (where my partner and I had our first date!), Fox’s (in Altadena), The Stand (in Pasadena), Civil Coffee, Jon + Vinny’s (I love their signature salad with breadcrumbs), and when I miss NYC, I always hit up Prince St. Pizza now that they have a location in LA (the spicy vodka square is to die for).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch inspired the work I do today. I am 14 years recovered from an eating disorder and the reason I’m an anti-diet dating coach is I tend to work with women and non-binary folks who have decided to stop dieting. Dieting often takes up so much mental real estate in our brains that there isn’t much room for anything else, including a healthy relationship and/or a healthy relationship with dating or singledom.
“Intuitive Eating” teaches readers how to trust their bodies, which is the foundation of so much beneficial work, but is especially important in the dating world. Our bodies know what they’re doing and are beautiful at every size, and once you believe that, so many doors open when it comes to dating.