love coachA Coach For Big-League Dating
Esther D. Kustanowitz – Staff Writer
The Jewish Week

I’m far from being SportsGirl. But even I know that the athletes who rule the courts, fields and arenas of professional sports don’t get there because of natural aptitude alone. They have coaches — experienced trained advisers who tell them when to drop back 10 yards and punt, or play defense, or to B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E. In dating too, coaching is often required to help singles prep for big-league play.

“With a coach, singles are willing to be more flexible because they’ve had the opportunity to look really long and hard at what they’ve envisioned,” said Dr. Janice D. Bennett, a Manhattan-based dating coach who also writes the biweekly “Love Coach” column for “Without a coach, singles can easily and even carelessly reject someone who could make a suitable partner.”

“Many singles are not going to go to their parents, a shrink, a rabbi or married friends to talk about dating,” said dating adviser Devorah Rose Kigel. “Someone who’s been there can often provide the clarity and objectivity necessary to make decisions about a potential relationship.”

Approaches, techniques, and even terminology can differ from coach to coach, but whether the adviser is a “coach,” “mentor” or “guru,” identifying clients’ goals and creating realistic expectations is a vital step. Bennett, founder of Focused Coaching Services (, uses a tool of her own creation –– the “dating roadmap” –– to help clients identify what they’re really looking for.

“People are brainwashed by Hollywood media stereotypes that there’s supposed to be a click and that’s what they should be looking for while dating,” Bennett explained, asserting that the roadmap makes clients “much more realistic and subsequently more receptive to romance when it happens. We determine which aspects of the vision are mandatory and which are negotiable.”

“ ‘You complete me’ as a concept doesn’t work,” said Rebecca Benjamin, the self-proclaimed singles guru of Westchester and founder of Love Locally, a relationship coaching and matchmaking business ( “Coaching is about being complete with yourself before you find someone to be your companion. With coaching, you’re talking about people who have made finding the right person a priority.”

Often, coaches note, people aren’t actually looking for what they think they’re looking for. Kigel, who was trained by prominent dating mentor Rosie Einhorn, founder of Sasson V’Simcha (, reports that many men are looking for “frum Barbie” and that women, too, harbor unrealistic expectations. “You can’t marry someone based on the fact that she’s a size 6, or because he makes a lot of money,” she said. “Those things are not what you build a lasting relationship on.”

Many singles are looking for Mr./Ms. Perfect; however, the focus shouldn’t be on finding someone perfect, but on finding someone perfect for you, Kigel said “The focus of marriage is about growing and giving, rather than ‘what can this person give to me.’ ”

Social and religious pressures create a formidable source of stress for daters; singles who are shomer negiah and abstain from physical contact outside of marriage, are under particular pressure to marry, Bennett observed. “Hormones are rushing and the biological clock is ticking, which can make religious singles feel frustrated, and, unfortunately, desperate,” Bennett said. “As a baalas teshuvah, I recognize how being desperate interferes with attaining the desired relationship, and I’m also able to understand the part of the world where sexuality contributes a great deal to relationship-decision making.”

Many coaches are also involved in today’s singles scene. Bennett has worked with the National Council of Young Israel and Aish Hatorah. Her next workshop, “Chemistry, Love & Chocolate,” will be at Aish New York on March 29. Kigel teaches a Jewish Women’s Issues class at the Manhattan Jewish Experience class that will likely resume in late spring or early summer; details are available at And Benjamin is a Westchester coordinator for HurryDate, where singles go on a series of four-minute dates; details are available at

“Approaching each date as your last first date is a lot of pressure. Women who wear desperation as a fragrance are their own worst enemy,” Benjamin noted, adding that a change of attitude can be a saving grace. “Find one person and befriend them; you can have a good time. Maybe the guy you want to talk to is in the bathroom. Give it a chance. If I can help people to maintain optimism,” she said, “that’s a huge thing.” n

Esther D. Kustanowitz writes The First Person Singular column, which appears every other week. She can be reached at

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Laya Millman


  • I would just love it, hell I’d pay, to watch a coach accompany her client on a date, and in the middle of date, say supper, the coach screams:


  • Heh. Hey shtreimel. I know who you are btw. You know both me and muffti too. Do the initials AN mean anything to you?
    Heh …

  • Yeah, they’re mine. Who are you punk? One sec…one sec, let me guess, were you involved with that fiasco that broke out in Dawson…you know the one, the thing that transpired from “Hole In The Sheet”? Mocs vs Pollacks?

  • Shtreimel. You TOTALLY know both me and Muffti. Geez. What kind of weed do they have out there? Must be suppah powerful. Anyhow, you can always call and I’ll ‘splain. But you do know us. And we know you. Do you still have the number?

  • I think we need to steer the conversation back to what’s really important here. The quality of the writing in this undoubtedly Pulitzer-worthy piece of journalism about the magnificences of Dr. Janice and her good works.

    Nice that you know each other, but we all know each other. It’s called Jewish Geography–look into it.

  • Muffti enjoyed Esther’s writing. But he can truly say, the day he hires a coach is the day he just gives up trying to get laid/married/whatever.

  • Yes, we all know each other. What an incestuous bunch we are! All except T.M., of course. He hasn’t made it to NYC yet.

  • hehehe…TM, Muffti is afraid that it will take more than that to get his stupid self lucky.

  • *sigh* Yes, incestuous. That’s another word that gets caught in the anti-spam filter …

  • Janice, is it okay if, uh, you know, when I become incestuous, I stick to the female Jewliciousers? Jus’ askin’.

  • Muffti’s problem is he’s all up in the book learnin’. Without long tresses for agile princesses to climb, princes encased in the ivory towers of academia will have to make do with the company of Kant and not—oh, never mind. That’s too raunchy for me. The V-chip will short circuit my brain if I finish that.

    And FWIW to the Muffti, my understanding is that Dr. Janice does NOT accompany you on your dates, if that makes the idea any more palatable.

  • Muffti is relieved to hear that. Though he’s been on a few dates where he was so confused that perhaps the presence of Dr. J would have helped matters. At least they would have made things more fun.

    In any case, E, Muffti isn’t sure if you’ve heard, but they let women attend university these days. Even graduate school. The ivory tower is packed full of ’em.

  • Well, Muffti, to tell you the truth, I did have a male client who asked me to sit at another table when he was meeting a woman. I was supposed to overhear their conversation, then call him on his cell when I thought he needed help.

    We decided instead that I would give him a thorough preparation before the date. This ultimately made him every more secure AND desirable! He said, “Janice, I felt like I had you in my back pocket.”

    Esther’s right. Muffti should get out of that ivory tower . Only then can he get lucky.

  • Muffti may be a little luckier than all y’all think. But anytime you want to make the Muffti feel more desireable, J, take your best shot!