A 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 â€” 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.
â€œWith 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,â€ said Dr. Janice D. Bennett, a Manhattan-based dating coach who also writes the biweekly â€œLove Coachâ€ column for JMatch.com. â€œWithout a coach, singles can easily and even carelessly reject someone who could make a suitable partner.â€
â€œMany singles are not going to go to their parents, a shrink, a rabbi or married friends to talk about dating,â€ said dating adviser Devorah Rose Kigel. â€œSomeone who’s been there can often provide the clarity and objectivity necessary to make decisions about a potential relationship.â€
Approaches, techniques, and even terminology can differ from coach to coach, but whether the adviser is a â€œcoach,â€ â€œmentorâ€ or â€œguru,â€ identifying clients’ goals and creating realistic expectations is a vital step. Bennett, founder of Focused Coaching Services (focusedcoachingservices.com), uses a tool of her own creation â€“â€“ the â€œdating roadmapâ€ â€“â€“ to help clients identify what they’re really looking for.
â€œPeople 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,â€ Bennett explained, asserting that the roadmap makes clients â€œmuch more realistic and subsequently more receptive to romance when it happens. We determine which aspects of the vision are mandatory and which are negotiable.â€
â€œ â€˜You complete me’ as a concept doesn’t work,â€ said Rebecca Benjamin, the self-proclaimed singles guru of Westchester and founder of Love Locally, a relationship coaching and matchmaking business (www.lovelocally.com). â€œCoaching 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.â€
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 (www.jewishdatingandmarriage.com), reports that many men are looking for â€œfrum Barbieâ€ and that women, too, harbor unrealistic expectations. â€œYou can’t marry someone based on the fact that she’s a size 6, or because he makes a lot of money,â€ she said. â€œThose things are not what you build a lasting relationship on.â€
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 â€œThe focus of marriage is about growing and giving, rather than â€˜what can this person give to me.’ â€
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. â€œHormones are rushing and the biological clock is ticking, which can make religious singles feel frustrated, and, unfortunately, desperate,â€ Bennett said. â€œAs 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.â€
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, â€œChemistry, Love & Chocolate,â€ 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 www.jewishexperience.org. And Benjamin is a Westchester coordinator for HurryDate, where singles go on a series of four-minute dates; details are available at www.hurrydate.com.
â€œApproaching each date as your last first date is a lot of pressure. Women who wear desperation as a fragrance are their own worst enemy,â€ Benjamin noted, adding that a change of attitude can be a saving grace. â€œFind 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,â€ she said, â€œthat’s a huge thing.â€ n
Esther D. Kustanowitz writes The First Person Singular column, which appears every other week. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org