July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How Can I Convince My Friend to See a Dating Coach?

Dear Dr. Chani,

I am writing to you about a friend I am worried about. There is a 40-something-year-old bachelor who lives in my community. I often host him for Shabbat lunch with my family. He is kind and friendly. I see no reason why he could not be happily married. Yet, over the years, I have tried to set him up unsuccessfully. Each time I set him up with someone, he gives up after a few dates.

As I reflected back on our many conversations throughout the years, it dawned upon me that maybe the reason he is unwilling to get married is that he doesn’t feel that he can leave his parents’ home. Based on what he has told me, his parents don’t get along very well. His father is critical and domineering, and his mother frequently fails to live up to his father’s expectations. It seems that my friend views it as his role to keep the peace.

As long as he lives under his parents’ roof, he might feel that he can serve as a buffer for his mother. When his mother pushes his father’s buttons, he knows how his father thinks and what to say to calm his father down. Maybe he also feels that since he lives at home, he distracts some of the attention away from his parents’ relationship. My friend has a few siblings who are married with families. They don’t have much to do with their parents. He is the only child remaining at home.

My friend has never mentioned outright that he feels this way. It is a theory I formulated based on our many conversations over the years. I could be way off base and just imagining things.

I feel bad for my friend and would love to help him out. I have tried to recommend that he see a dating coach. I hoped that he would share his background and get insights into what is blocking him from getting married. But he says he has no problems and has no interest in talking about his past. He unequivocally refuses to see a dating coach. What can I suggest to my friend that can help his situation?

Thanks for your help,

Menachem

Dear Menachem,

It is very sensitive and noble of you to be concerned about your friend and to put so much effort into helping him get married. Aside from setting him up, you have deeply listened and pieced together a theory about what may be blocking his way to marriage.

It is difficult to know what your friend’s challenges are solely based on your letter. Let’s assume that your theory is correct: Your friend is consciously or unconsciously thwarting any attempts to develop a relationship so that he can remain at his parents’ home and mediate their marriage. What can you do to help him?

You have tried to convince your friend to see a dating coach. This was a brilliant strategy on your part. One way to help your friend take a step back and examine his circumstances is for him to speak to a professional who can help him reflect from a distance. A therapist can ask probing questions to help him be in touch with his feelings and gain insights. A therapist can also help him connect the possible dots between his concerns about his parents’ marriage and his hesitation to begin his own family.

Until now, your friend has refused to see a professional because “he has no problems and he has no interest in talking about his past.” It makes sense that he rejects seeing a therapist because he does not have “problems.” People often associate speaking to a professional with having a mental health disorder, major life challenge or trauma. Since your friend sees himself as functioning well in all other areas of his life, he sees no reason to see a professional about his dating experiences.

Specifically, many people who have been dating for a while feel vulnerable when they are advised to speak with a professional. To a person who has spent years dating, seeking professional guidance means acknowledging that there may have been something you could have done to help you get married earlier. It is easier to believe that you are doing everything you can to find a life partner and the rest is out of your control. When you seek a dating therapist, you are admitting that there may be something within your control that has been holding you back from marriage. Sometimes it is more comforting to stick with the status quo and hope that everything will work out on its own.

The truth is that everyone who is serious about finding a life partner can benefit from speaking to a dating coach. Speaking with a professional is an opportunity to refine their thinking, develop new skills and create strategies to manage their challenges. The process can increase their confidence and enable them to make better decisions. In addition, we all have biases and blind spots. These can impair our ability to be the most productive that we can be, in life, and in dating. These are not “problems,” but they do impair us from living life to its maximum. When there seems to be no glaring goal that we aren’t reaching, we might have the luxury of ignoring these blind spots (although maybe we should not). Yet when we are stuck in a period where we can clearly see we aren’t being productive or reaching our goals, it can sound the alarm and prompt us to reach out for assistance that we might not have focused on getting for a long time.

When you consider how to go about getting your friend to see a professional, think about it as a process, not an event. Imagine that it is like planting a seed in his mind and watering it from time to time until it takes root and grows on its own in his mind. You have already planted the seed by suggesting in the past that he see a professional.

What are various ways you can water that seed? Firstly, it is important to address one of your friend’s concerns. Let him know that speaking to a dating coach does not necessarily mean that he has to discuss his past. A dating coach will usually ask open-ended questions to guide his thinking. He is welcome to delve into his past or to stick to exploring his current reality or imagined future. Most coaches and therapists will not take a person down a path that they don’t want to walk down. They might ask what is stopping him from exploring it, but they will not usually force it. It is his life and the coach is there to help him, not to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do.

What else can you do to encourage him? You might want to do research to find expert professionals who you think would be a good fit and provide him with their names and contact information. In addition, one of the most powerful ways to motivate your friend can be through personal or proximal examples. Do you know someone who benefited from speaking to a particular dating coach? Share their story with him. If possible, arrange for him to discuss the experience with the other person who benefited from it. This can normalize coaching in your friend’s eyes and allow him to know more about what the coaching experience is like.

What about your friend’s possible unspoken concern that if he sees a therapist now, he is admitting that there are things he could have done to help him marry earlier? It can be helpful to remind your friend that life moves forward. We can often regret things we have done in the past. It might have exerted a toll on us. Why should we add to the price by sacrificing our present and our future, too?

Your friend is blessed to have you so concerned about him. I hope that your concern and advice, as well as your friend’s own efforts, will open up new vistas for him.

Wishing you much success,

Chani

*Note: The names and identifying details of individuals have been changed to protect their privacy.


Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach, specializing in teaching emotional connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples, and teaches online courses to help you create your ideal relationship. Get free relationship resources and contact her at www.chanimaybruch.com 

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