- Dating coaches in cities across the US are helping successful women find fulfilling relationships.
- While the coaches work with both men and women, the genders’ motivations for seeking help seem to be different.
- Male clients tend not to have developed the skills to approach or flirt with women, while the women, who are typically in their 30s and older, have already established themselves professionally and, facing pressure to start a family, are ready to tackle their next challenge.
- Both coaches and clients say the goal isn’t to find the perfect person right away, but to learn the skills to find and maintain a healthy partnership.
- These coaches charge anywhere from $1,800 to $18,000 for different types of services.
On New Year’s Eve 2017, Judith made a resolution she’d never made before: She wanted to be in a meaningful relationship.
She was 32 years old and frustrated with her experiences dating men in New York City, where she works as a hospital administrator.
Judith, who asked not to share her last name to protect her privacy, remembers thinking to herself that the way she was approaching dating wasn’t working out. She paraphrased a common piece of wisdom: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is just a form of insanity.” And, she added, “I literally was going insane with the dating world.”
She considered recruiting professional help. But when she asked her friends whether they thought it was worth paying thousands of dollars for a dating coach, all of them said no. Plus, she knew that “on the internet, you can find anything.” If you want to know how to, say, attract more men on a dating site, you can simply Google it.
By the end of January 2018, Judith had made a decision: She’d hired Damona Hoffman, a certified dating coach and host of the Dates and Mates podcast in Los Angeles. They worked together for three months, checking in biweekly over the phone (Judith could also email or call whenever she needed immediate advice), for which Judith paid just under $3,000.
Today, Judith is still single and dating, turning regularly to the notes from Hoffman. “I don’t regret the decision [to see a dating coach] whatsoever,” she told me. “I had the means to do it,” and “I needed a girlfriend that had the degree and experience to back up all of the advice they would give me.” The Internet, she said, can’t provide that.
‘Oh my gosh, you’re 40. You need to settle down and have a baby’: Coaching clients are often feeling pressured to find love
In cities across the US, a growing number of successful women are hiring dating coaches to help them find long-term relationships. Typically, these women are in their 30s and older; they’ve established themselves professionally and are comfortable financially, but for whatever reason, finding love has proved more challenging.
This phenomenon fits with the broader trend of Americans marrying later, and viewing marriage as what one sociologist calls a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” of their adult life. That is to say, many people are tying the knot only after they’ve achieved professional and financial success; in the past, people generally tended to their love life before hitting these milestones.
To be sure, men seek dating coaching as well. As for Hoffman, about 70% of her clients are women; she said they’re typically high earners, accomplished and career-focused, and “feeling the pressure of society telling them that, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re 40 or almost 40. You need to settle down and have a baby.'” By contrast, she said, the men she sees tend to be less career-focused and haven’t developed the skills to approach or flirt with women. They may also feel less urgency around settling down and starting a family.
Hoffman also mentioned that her business tends to grow through word of mouth — and because men are less inclined to talk to their friends about working with a dating coach, she naturally wound up with more women clients.
“We all think by the time we’re 30, we’re going to have certain things figured out,” said Samantha, a 30-year-old project coordinator in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who started working with a dating coach about four months ago. She preferred not to share her last name to protect her privacy. “For me, I thought definitely I’d be married and have kids, probably, by the time I was 30. And so for it to not be like that, and for me to be coming up on my 30th, I was just a little freaked out.”
Some coaching clients perceive their commitment to their career as having been in direct conflict with their love life. Nadine, 64, sought out dating coaching recently, after she’d semi-retired from running a law firm in New Jersey. “I’ve been very successful in my career,” she told me, “and I’m not worried about a guy getting in the way,” as she might have been when she was younger. Nadine, who preferred not to share her last name for privacy reasons, has never been married, but she’s open to the possibility now.
Nadine paid $14,000 to work with Evan Marc Katz, one of the first dating coaches to market himself as such (he started coaching in 2004). Katz, who works exclusively with women, said those who reach out to him are typically at a breaking point. They write him saying they don’t know what’s wrong with them and they’re afraid of being alone forever, Katz told me.
Samantha Burns, a dating coach and relationship counselor in Boston, has heard the same: “People call me; they’re crying on the phone; they’re so unhappy,” she said. “They desperately want love and acceptance and commitment from a partner. They’re in pain.”
‘Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’: Dating coaches say they teach clients the skills to find a healthy relationship
While matchmakers have existed for millennia, dating coaches are a more modern phenomenon. Though their work is similar, dating coaches will tell you that, unlike matchmakers, their job isn’t to find you the perfect person. Instead, they’re more about instilling in you the skills to find that match yourself — and to maintain a healthy relationship with them. Multiple dating coaches shared with me the same proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
The term “dating coach” is somewhat nebulous. Hoffman said she was certified by the International Dating Coach Association in 2013, but the organization appears to no longer be active. When she first started working as a dating coach, about 13 years ago, Hoffman said, an official organization didn’t exist, and so she became certified as a life coach instead. She’d go to conferences on online dating and matchmaking, “and people were like, ‘You do what?'”
Other dating coaches, like Burns, have backgrounds in marriage and family counseling. When Burns starts working with clients, she immediately assesses their “attachment style,” a psychological term for the way we form bonds with other people.
The dating coaches I spoke to charge between $1,800 and $18,000 for different private-coaching packages. (One former dating coach, Andrea Syrtash, was an exception; she said she charged between $50 and $150 per session because she wanted to make coaching accessible.)
To some women, the price tag on private dating coaching can be jarring. Samantha worked with Burns, who typically charges $3,300 for three months, to come up with a payment plan that she could afford.
Another, 50-something coaching client who declined to share her name because she’d told very few people about dating coaching, paid $9,000 to work with Katz. She said she had “a ton of reservations” and didn’t even share the total figure with her best friends. She made the decision, she said in an email, by asking herself, “What if someone told me that after this six-month process of changing the way I see dating (and interacting with men) that I meet ‘the one’ … would the money be worth it?” She sold some stocks and placed a call to Katz. “Best decision ever,” she wrote.
Other women say signing up for coaching was a no-brainer. “It’s a matter of priorities,” Nadine wrote in an email. “I could pay that for a car or an upgrade on a house, a coat, or a variety of possessions, but at this point in my life, I value [Katz’s] deep knowledge of the dating process and his world of experience, which will save me years of unnecessary mistakes and learning the hard way.”
‘There’s a really pragmatic aspect to love’: Coaching is a combination of concrete exercises and therapy
The coaches I spoke to approach dating logically and systematically: There are goals, and lists, and rules to follow. As Burns put it, “A lot of people feel like, ‘Oh, love is just a feeling.” In fact, she said, too much chemistry at the beginning of a relationship can be a “red flag.” She teaches them that “there’s a really pragmatic aspect to love, and to cultivating it and sustaining it.” Even if you don’t see “fireworks” at first, you can build up to that over time.
Each dating coach has their own roster of probing questions to ask and introspective exercises to have clients complete. Hoffman said she tells her clients to consider the skills that have made them successful in other areas of their life — like their career — and then apply those skills to dating. Syrtash, who has since moved on from coaching to writing books and leading workshops, guides clients in writing lists of dealmakers and deal breakers. There are five items on each side, and Syrtash reminds them, “Someone can be great on paper and a terrible partner!”
Katz teaches every client the “2-2-2” rule: Exchange two messages on the dating site, exchange two emails, and then have two phone calls before a first date. “It specifically teaches people to avoid becoming part of some guy’s texting harem,” he said.
Still, dating coaching is in some ways similar to traditional psychotherapy, in that the coach is there simply to listen to the client and validate their experiences. Of the coaching clients I spoke to, several mentioned that they were learning how to love themselves before they could find someone to love, acknowledging as they said so that these ideas could sound cliche. Samantha said Burns helped her learn to recognize her own role in the unfulfilling relationships she kept winding up in.
“I realized I was dating the same guy almost over and over again,” Samantha said. “They’d start out great and then, all of a sudden, it blows up in your face and you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t get it. What’s going on? Going to Samantha [Burns] made me realize I keep choosing the same type of person because what I’m putting out is what I’m getting back.” The most rewarding part of coaching, Samantha said, is that “it’s not just about looking for that right person. It’s also fixing yourself and making yourself better.”
Dana, 48, who declined to share her last name for privacy reasons, worked with Syrtash about eight years ago (she’s since become a life coach herself), and said she became more realistic about love and dating. Instead of sticking to a “script” — i.e. a fantasy of what a boyfriend and a relationship should be like — Dana looked at the person in front of her, how their relationship was unfolding, and how she really felt about it.
‘I had to be sure that I was 100% committed to not only giving my all to work but also to my personal life’: Commitment is a key part of dating coaching
The most obvious sacrifice that coaching clients make is money. But both the coaches and clients I spoke with say it also requires a considerable investment of time and energy, as well as a reshuffling of priorities.
“What I have to do is to really carve out the time and the commitment in their schedule to invest in dating and to make that the primary focus of their life,” Hoffman said of her clients. “I don’t ask for them to focus on it forever.” For the three to six months that they work with her, Hoffman said, she asks that dating “be the No. 1 focus in their life.”
For clients who have high-octane careers, that can be difficult — even if they elected to sign up for coaching in the first place. “I had a job that was very stressful and very demanding,” Judith said, “and I had to be sure that I was 100% committed to not only giving my all to work but also to my personal life.”
Just two of the coaching clients I spoke to were in a relationship — but all said they’d seen significant improvements in their dating lives and in their overall approach to finding love. The coaches insisted that starting a relationship was neither the goal of coaching nor the ultimate sign of success. “Success didn’t just look like landing X number of dates,” Syrtash wrote in an email. “Success occurred when people gained confidence.”
Katz said he had a client who dated a man for two months before realizing, “This guy isn’t as great as I thought he was.” So she dumped him, took a weeklong hiatus from online dating, and then got back to it. “Is she a failure or is she a success?” Katz said. “I say she’s a success. She found a boyfriend; she attracted a guy; discovered it wasn’t the right guy; had the courage to get rid of him and start all over. That is a huge success in my book.”
To be sure, that’s a convenient thing for a coach to say, since it leaves them wholly unaccountable for whether their process “works.” But coaching clients seemed to echo the same sentiment.
Judith recently went on a date with a man and realized she felt “a little uncomfortable around him.” At first, she brushed her feelings aside, thinking she’d give him a chance at a second date. “I was so happy I had Damona [Hoffman] in my ear saying, ‘Well, let’s think about that. Yes, you want to be in a relationship, but you have to be comfortable with the person.'” Judith told the dating coach in her head, “You’re absolutely right. Let’s not waste my time with this guy.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.