— Love and Other (Near) Disasters

I saw a dating coach after nearly a decade of being single — here's what happened

NBC

When you’ve been single for nine years and have given up hope of ever finding love, just what miracles can a dating coach make for you?

No promises were made by Jessica Elizabeth Opert, Love & Relationship Coach, but the conviction was clear in her voice. She truly believed that she could help turn my two-star straight-to-video horror flick of a love life into a smash hit rom-com — or at least put me on the red carpet so I could sashay down it.

“If you keep shooting arrows hoping to hit some shit,” she said, firing on all cylinders during our first session, “that’s exactly what you’re going to hit: some shit.”

Well, she sure had me at hello!

I found myself perplexed when she asked a simple but earth shattering question: “What are your values when it comes to looking for love?”

I thought I knew, but found myself stuttering, blustering, and desperately grasping at buzzwords to explain my answer. With Jessica’s all-too-knowing patient glance, I knew I had been rumbled and it was time to come clean. I didn’t know what my values were. It felt like I didn’t even know what the word meant, and therefore did not know what I claimed to be looking for.

“I want a man who is emotionally balanced, financially responsible, confident, loving, affectionate, kind, honest, and attractive,” I reasoned.

She hit me with it once more: “And what does each of those things actually look and sound like?”

I felt embarrassed almost, that after nine years of spinsterdom, I could not readily explain. But I was put at ease and reassured that the bottom was a good place to start — as the only way was up.

So what does “starting from the bottom” look like?

First, we had to narrow in on my problems.

I have the same relationship with different faces, and I fall in love with the idea of what someone “seems” like, rather than who they actually are.

So then, months into a relationship, I realize that I don’t actually know — or even like — the person, nor do we share similar ideals or values.

molly insecure
HBO

And so Jessica and I set to work, and explored what real chemistry sounds like through actual conversation and actions, rather than relying on the idea of a “spark.”

“People often call this spark ‘chemistry,’” she added. “Chemistry by definition is the combinations of elements plus the catalyst (the spark) that leads to the creation of something different and new.”

And then she shared an important lesson:

“If you just have the spark, you don’t have chemistry.”

Jessica explained that a relationship requires all of the elements — similar senses of humor, shared hobbies, compatible values about family, kindness, etc. And then, if you add that spark, “you get boom! That’s real chemistry.”

We then looked at the negative beliefs I held about love and relationships that I had developed throughout my childhood.

“Very very few of us are naturally good at relationships,” she continued. “When we are young children, we are constantly downloading everything we see and hear around us. This crucial period of life forms…how we navigate the world. When we carry around a negative narrative, constantly self-talking ourselves out of trying new things, or curtailing what we believe we deserve in life, we are short changing ourselves before the world has a chance to offer us opportunity.”

To combat this, we created positive mantras to boost my self-confidence, and rejuvenated my wardrobe without spending a penny.

By getting rid of clothes I no longer felt attractive in, I discovered favorite pieces hidden in the back of my closet. I also invested in a kickass red lipstick which makes me feel like Supergirl donning a cape.

red lipstick
Shutterstock

But talk is cheap people. I have to put myself out there to get results. I used to think this meant getting dolled up and hitting the town on a Friday or Saturday night — but it doesn’t.

Putting myself out there includes simply doing activities I enjoy, just because I enjoy them, and because you never know who you’re going to meet and when.

As a busy woman with a demanding career and other personal commitments, time for these activities can sometimes be limited. I tried out a couple of dating websites, but I couldn’t help feeling that I had somehow failed in the love game because I dabbled in online dating. Jessica pointed out that I shouldn’t feel that way — times have changed.

“In the 18-29 age group culture, that [online dating] stigma no longer exists,” explains Jessica. “…For the 30 plus crowd, the stigma is mostly rooted in a self-subscribed level of shame. We believe in our mind, there must be something wrong with us that we can’t meet someone in the real world…[but] in reality…when someone says, ‘I met the love of my life online,’ people’s responses are typically either ‘me too,’ or ‘tell me how you did it’ — not ‘wow, how sad for you.’”

online dating
Image Source/Getty Images

Was I successful? Did I land the super hot emotionally-balanced, kind, loving, funny stud muffin of my dreams after eight weeks of dating coaching? That answer would be no, not yet!

But I am more confident about the kind of partner I am looking for, and have found amazing new places to go to try and meet someone.

For people who, like me, have been single a while, Jessica offered some tips to help Cupid direct his bow your way.

“The first thing is to ask for help,” she says. “It’s okay if you don’t have this all sorted and that you might even need some help sorting it. Secondly, spend some time really defining what you want and need in a relationship and in a partner…Then identify what stands between you and this ‘happy ending.'”

couple holding hands
Soren Hald/Getty Images

She continues, “It’s not that special person magically appearing. More often than not, it’s knowing…how to spot them, and where to find them. Believe you are worthy of it, risk vulnerability, and open yourself up…Put yourself out there and get out of your own way… [And] if this is a priority for you, act like it. Carve out the time, put in the work, stay authentic to you.”

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