You’ve probably asked yourself at some point, “Could that date have been any worse?” or “Why do I let another bad date get to me?” And of course, you already know the answer: whom you choose to date leads directly to whom you choose to spend your precious life with – which is, without a doubt, the single most important decision you will ever make in your lifetime (every time you make it). To which you rightly respond: “Holy crap, Frank, are you trying to freak me out- cuz I’m frickin’ freakin’ out!”
Well, no, I’m not. I’m trying to bring into the hot glaring light of day the real stuff that may be lurking behind your understandable dating anxiety… the first step to calming all that negative (albeit legitimate) crap down. Yes, it is true, dating will determine your partner who can play a significant role in determining where you live, what you earn, whether you pursue that new career path, what you do in your free time, whether you travel or not, how you feel about yourself, whether you have children, the friends you keep, make or lose, whether you pursue an advanced certificate or degree, and so much more.
To which you rightfully respond, “for the love of god, Frank, so now my life isn’t worth living without Princess Perfect or Captain Wonder Pants?” To which I say “no, don’t buy into the fallacy that you must have a life partner to lead a happy and fulfilled existence – that kind of b.s. is propagated by plenty of people working on their umpteenth divorce preaching all kinds of shit their first, second and third spouse never listened to either.” In fact, I will tell you that the best way to attract an awesome match is to master the art of truly enjoying and thriving on your own first, getting to know your healthy boundaries and strengthening your sense of self – a process we will work together on as we totally revamp your dating approach enabling you to find the right mate who will complement and enhance your already-thriving life.
What I’m trying to get at is that if you seek out a partner that person will impact every major aspect of your life, irrespective of how independent, self-motivated and successful you are. The wrong partner can become an ankle weight in a raging, unpredictable sea, the right partner, a life preserver that gets you through the storm, enabling your next adventure. You want your significant other to positively impact the key phases of your life, not consume them. You don’t have to find your cheerleader necessarily, but you definitely want the person who will support you, believe in you, carry their own weight and catch you when you fall from time to time.
So yes, there’s a lot on the line, but no, my goal is not to make you even more stressed than you were on that awful date with that narcissist who was 15 years older and 40 pounds heavier than his/her massively Facetuned photo on Match.com. My goal is to empower you, despite what’s at stake, to successfully navigate the b.s. of online or speed dating (or even blind dating–god forbid), work through the understandable fatigue and disillusionment that sets in, and finally begin to thrive again, and have some fun for the love of god! You have to strike the right balance between your non-negotiables and your ideals while still opening yourself up to new experiences. You need to remain agile enough to move your fences to incorporate new landscapes – even though the process itself makes you want to electrify your borders and add razor wire. Dating can become so excruciating that we become jaded, closing ourselves off to a nice evening, a good laugh, an unexpected friendship, some good conversation, a networking opportunity or the rewarding long-term relationship that may come from extra effort, sometimes extraordinary effort.
Yes, dating is very difficult, but no matter whether you’re dating for fun, toward marriage, or recovering from a bad breakup, a long-term relationship or divorce, there are ways to build your confidence and attract the right partner for you, considering your current circumstances and your future life goals. Where you’re at right now will dictate the best approach that suits you. Being able to celebrate dating wins that aren’t necessarily relationship-worthy matchups can be crucial. Allowing yourself to have fun on a date with someone who clearly isn’t a life match is a skill and one you must acquire to get you through those lean dating periods before finally breaking through.
The first thing I work on with all my dating clients is bolstering their dating confidence and building a foundational knowledge of the process itself. Dating confidence is certainly related to your overall confidence, but it also factors in a strong grasp of the process: how to spot when a person has revealed themselves to be quite different than the avatar they’re presenting themselves to be in their profile, a text message or a phone call. You’ll also need to know what to put in your own profile (and of equal importance, what to leave out) and what to look for in someone else’s. You’ll want to know which dating site best fits your personality. How to date off-line, without a dating app. How to get the best out of a night of speed dating. How to network and find meetups or events by opening yourself to a more organic form of dating. When and if you should employ a professional matchmaker’s services. And that’s just for starters.
Beyond the strong foundational dating knowledge I will instill is the more crucial emotional resiliency that will get you through the ups and downs in the dating process, and of course by “ups and downs” I’m really referring to getting you through the “down, down, down, up down” process. Dating isn’t easy. You’ve got to celebrate those ups and let the hell go of all those downs, becoming an “agile dater.” Sometimes, the older and wiser we get the more likely we are to outthink our own best interests or over-protect ourselves from even the slightest possibility of rejection. But if you can gamify dating (not to be confused with treating it like some meaningless game) – honing in on the end goal while keeping your sense of self and sense of humor, you will retain your emotional footing and find the enjoyment creeping out between what seems like concrete misery at times. You can become more accepting of yourself so that you can attract a partner that also possesses the self-knowledge necessary to be emotionally present with you.
One of the key skills I help instill in my clients is the ability to rebuild their resilience and retain their sense of self despite the stress, negativity and disillusionment that can consume anyone trying to date. The hard truth is that the more beleaguered you become, the more likely you are to overlook those imperceptible signals that indicate a person’s fundamental character early in the dating process – for good and bad. You may overlook some key character flaw that you just can’t abide or fail to notice some fundamental strengths of someone you didn’t take too seriously initially. With the behavioral exercises and resiliency tools we work on, you’ll be able to consistently summon your true self and convey your natural energy – despite the ups and downs in the process, which will make you far more efficient at spotting a potential match and quickly breezing past those mismatches.
Confidence is very similar to a habit, in fact it could be said that it’s little more than a good habit, and like all habits the way to acquire it is to start with little sticky habits that then turn into key “transformative” habits with repetition, over time. I will give you exercises that help you reevaluate negative self-perceptions, and gradually expand your comfort zones to include what may once have been massively uncomfortable… like the thought of asking that person out.
In addition to addressing the low self-esteem, self-sabotage and related stumbling blocks we can all throw in front of ourselves while putting ourselves out there, I leverage my copywriting expertise to do a forensic analysis of how you’re representing yourself in the online dating community, what type of person your profile is likely to attract in its current state and how I can help you attract the person you actually want to share your precious life and love with. More importantly, I work tirelessly to come up with new and creative solutions and exercises to refresh self-confidence and combat the understandable fatigue and disillusionment that all forms of dating can instill in even the most optimistic and confident among us. Dating online (or otherwise) is a particularly bruising experience requiring a Kevlar-clad constitution, a high tolerance for some bad company and a healthy sense of humor. I’ll help you keep it real, providing upbeat motivation as you progress from swiping left, left, left, left again and again and again damn it, until, with a bit of hard-won positivity, motivation and guidance, you finally get it right.
There are few things more daunting than creating our online dating profiles. I make sure to retain the essence of who you are and the message you want to deliver, but I do so with a keen sense of who it is you’re actually seeking to attract. It’s difficult to keep in mind that our online dating profiles are just another sales tool, our brand if you will. If we keep presenting the things we don’t want, we’re often just pushing away the people we actually do want. I help my clients retain their objectivity, and see their profiles and responses from an outside perspective, while at the same time finding creative ways to reveal who they are and what they’re after. Most importantly I work with them to really focus in on what another profile reveals about a potential mate. In the world of online dating, people reveal their true nature without you ever needing to ask, if you just pay attention to what they’ve said (or didn’t say) in their profile and their initial message to you.
If you’re like me, you may have tried marriage or couples counseling at some point in your life and found it wanting, and by that I mean next to friggin’ useless. Don’t get me wrong, therapy has its place and is of tremendous help – particularly when building your sense of self and dealing with issues related to past trauma, but too many therapists rely on a talk-only regimen that fails to yield optimal results. As crucial as personal insight is, by itself, it doesn’t lead to actual change… but I know what does. Nano-changes that lead to micro changes that lead to teeny-tiny changes which lead to small changes and so on. Bottom line: change leads to change. And change is action. If you truly want to change the direction of your troubled or failing relationship, you must take action. The key here is, that initial action doesn’t have to be some massively disruptive force; when it comes to meaningful change that lasts, the smaller the start, the more likely you will build traction toward consistent progress, rather than becoming quickly overwhelmed and giving up.
Picture yourself on a vast, seemingly endless sea in a small sail boat. If you move that boat’s rudder just a hair, you won’t notice much at first, but gradually, over time, even an infinitesimal adjustment at the outset of your journey will lead to a dramatically different endpoint. With some further small adjustments to the sail, the wind and keel will enable further course corrections, turning your slight change into a major new destination. But to get somewhere different you’ve got to start with some form of action. If you simply sit on deck with your partner and therapist recounting your profound new knowledge of navigation then postulate how much you’d love to change course and land on that life-sustaining island with the hot-bodied, scantily-clad reality TV stars (rather than the sharp rocks your heading for) what good would all the talk or wisdom in the world do? As you near those deadly rocks, in the throes of your consuming panic, you look at your beleaguered partner and are suddenly struck by another profound insight “Hey, I think this thing actually has a motor and a full tank of gas.” Without starting the motor, what frickin’ difference does it make?
No matter what incredible realizations your marital counselor or therapist may have helped you come to, if you weren’t given concrete steps and behavior-based exercises to turn those insights into action, your relationship counselor failed you. I will not fail you. That is not to say every relationship is salvageable – with my help or anyone else’s, it means that saving a relationship takes more than talk, understanding or even communication. It takes action, accountability and want-to by both parties. Therapy has its place (CBT/DBT in particular), and coaching is not therapy. While therapy often strives to uncover the origin of our behaviors, coaching concentrates on a “from this point forward” approach, delivering exercises, assignments and tools tailored to promote that almost imperceptible course correction (spawned by action) that over time can lead to dramatic life change.
It’s paramount to gain insight, into ourselves and into our partners, but simply “talking” once a week to me or anyone else won’t turn that insight into actionable steps that will lead to positive, transformative change. I will help both you and your loved one gain the critical insight you need and turn that wisdom into concrete action that will ensure you improve your overall communication and build go-to coping mechanisms and bounce-back strategies to employ when you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, unheard, stressed out, angry or resentful.
In my life coaching business, I leverage cutting-edge research and diagnostic skills while I work closely with clients to identify and defuse potential triggers, reshape deceptive self-perceptions, build self-confidence and recognize destructive patterns and habits–all leading to healthier relationships through a healthier you.
When you and your significant other agree to be coached by me, I do a hell of a lot more than just listen intently and ask “how does that make you feel?”. I take in all your emotional intensity, all the feelings conveyed, every bit of detailed information I can before creating practical exercises and tools that I customize to meet both of your needs, factoring in your individual learning modes and personal comfort levels–employing real measures empowering you to tone down your triggers and relieve your pain points. And while I make sure I hear everything you’re saying, I won’t just sit there during our session; I will provide specific exercises I want you both to try and we will work together diligently to review the effectiveness of our joint plan as we continue modifying our approach until you both agree you’re headed in the right direction, a path that moves you forward, rather than spinning your wheels churning up the same old crap.
Sometimes couples come to me seeking an amicable separation and end up rebuilding their relationship, sometimes despite both party’s best efforts to reunite the best the path forward may turn out to be that amicable split. The most important factor is to learn from and do our best to correct the mistakes we make and work diligently to modify self-defeating and destructive behaviors so that we not only give our current relationship a fighting chance, but gradually pare down our very human luggage from that check-in trunk to some handsome carry-on Tumi’s that will not only improve our current situation but ensure we don’t repeat and recycle behaviors that would lead to a similar result in our next relationship – should you determine separation to be the best way forward.
To get to what works for your relationship, I might leverage the latest behavioral science from the West and mix it with peer-reviewed mindfulness exercises based on thousand-year-old traditions from the East. If whatever we come up with doesn’t show promise we’ll either tweak it or scrap it until we arrive at something that does. I work my ass off to discover and deliver the most meaningful results for you. For example, one of many go-to tools I use to help both individuals and couples navigate personal relationships is what I refer to as my “Lock Down Corner” strategy. Based on the need for top NFL cornerbacks – and all premier athletes and competitors for that matter – to retain a short memory (in this case forgetting that just-completed pass in order to successfully defend the next long ball), I work closely with my clients to shorten their retention of information that doesn’t serve their long-term interests. This technique effectively counteracts your trigger pressure, easing your foot off your emotional accelerator so that you can reflect before speaking or acting out in resentment or anger. In our relationships with loved ones, often those few words said or that brief cold shoulder brandished in the heat of the moment is piled on top of past slights imagined or real, adding up to an explosive reaction that dwarves the immediate perceived affront. To maintain more harmonious relationships, I help my clients attain greater mindfulness, addressing the situation at hand like the isolated incident it is, and confronting it without the added-on anger or intensity (or stockpiling) that results from grouping perceived or real slights into a noxious slag of rage that seems to come from nowhere.
When we do our best to shorten our memories and live in the present, we allow our partners the same break we deserve when we too resort to our petty frustrations, annoying nitpicking, occasional bitching or sudden temper flares. It’s a process and it takes a great deal of work to undo all the baggage we’ve allowed to build-up or simply tamped down for so many years – but the results can be extraordinary – if not exactly lifesaving, relationship-saving. And that is only one of the many techniques in my relationship-mending arsenal. Contact me now for a free couples’ coaching consultation.