Make Your Own Job: Maria Coder

Need a job? Create one.

For Part 2 of The Greenery’s Make Your Own Job series, meet Maria Coder, InvestiDate-rix extraordinaire.

She teaches online daters how to do a little basic checking on prospective beaus—one of those services you  don’t realize you need until it’s too late.

Because there are some seriously scary fish swimming around out there.

I’ve never joined an online dating service. I was lucky: Hal came along before the era, so I was, mercifully, spared that particular horror.

Confession: I did, however, once place an ad in the Nashville Scene dating section, back in the days before The Interwebs. I was dating someone at the time, so I had no intention of following through; the ad was an experiment, as it turned out, in crowd-sourced nuttiness. It was highly entertaining. And it was also deeply disturbing.

My disc-hucking aviatrix era

The ad went something like this: Blonde, irreverent, disc-hucking aviatrix seeks scintillating conversation, madcap adventure, or simple companionship with human male; golden retriever a workable substitute if suitable human male not available. No U.S. senators.

Daily messages rang into a password-protected voicemail box. My favorite one, which I think best sums up the overall tone and quality of the replies, said: “I don’t know what you mean by the whole golden retriever thing, but I think I might be inter-rested.”

Wow. Online daters, I ache for you. Please carry mace. And an Uzi.

Or…you might consider arming yourself with a little knowledge instead. Enter Maria Coder, savvy savior to the online dating world’s walking wounded.

Coder teaches daters to protect themselves

The backstory: Quiet alarms were beginning to sound in Maria Coder’s head. She thought it was a bit weird that her boyfriend kept minimizing windows whenever she walked by his computer. One night, he didn’t call back when he’d promised to, and it was getting very late.

Worried, she checked his computer, and discovered his ugly little secret: He’d been flirting and sexting with dozens of women on Facebook. That very night, he had left to “liaise” with one of them. “I was devastated,” she says.

Not one to mope for long, Coder took action. She wanted to feel less vulnerable, and took steps to arm herself and others with a little information about fellow online daters. An experienced crime reporter, she knew her way around public records and databases. She knew how to find out if somebody had a police record. And she’d learned to listen when her internal alarm bells went off—because they were usually right.

She’s since started offering those skills to online daters in a seminar series that teaches basic investigative skills. And she’s written a book that came out earlier this month—InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date. For more, read my Nashville Scene profile of her from the Valentine’s week issue.

Coder brings her seminar series to Nashville on Thursday, March 8th, 6:30-8pm, at Bongo After-Hours Theatre. I’ll be there. I’m impressed with her knowledge of search tools and simple, legal investigative techniques regular people can easily use to, say, check the sex offender registry for their beloved’s name. And even if you aren’t sure you want to background check your (potential) true love, you might as well get the tool box, just in case.

A few sample tips and search sites from Coder’s toolbox:

She claims to be a lawyer, but it doesn’t add up. Search trade databases like for her name and company.

He says he was born and raised in Nashville, but he doesn’t seem to know anybody here. Check out for a list of former addresses.

He says he’s an investment banker with an amazing investment opportunity for me. Run away. Now.

Related post: Make Your Own Job—Sarah Souther

One thought on “Make Your Own Job: Maria Coder

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post! I followed this same advice almost a year ago when I took a leap of faith and left my career to start my own PR firm. I quite literally created my own job and each day I wake up knowing I need to hustle to make money–but its been a great experience!

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