It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day, and while on your way to return “When Harry Met Sally” to the Blockbuster on Chapel Street, the “I’m my own Valentine” chocolate fest you had last night ferments in your stomach. You know now that eating (no, demolishing) the entire box of obnoxious conversation hearts your mom sent you was the wrong decision. As “One Is the Loneliest Number” echoes through your head for the fiftieth time this morning, you notice nothing but couples emerging from Lanman-Wright. Did Noah’s Arc relocate to Old Campus? Could it be that even freshmen now go “two by two?” Are you the only single one left?
You are not the only one. In fact, unless you’re one of those few exceptions who spotted the love of her life skimming Eliot across an English 125 classroom, most Yalies can’t quite justify placing ‘getting booty’ high on our list of priorities. Yale is not a bar in Key West (as much as we sometimes wish it was.) But never fear, refusing to slap on a tube top and shake your groove thing at Alchemy every Saturday night need not be the last nail in your relationship coffin. Given the number of people on campus unofficially married to their work, it’d be a wonder if you were the only one who hadn’t ‘found’ someone. Help is here, and it goes by the name of Dorie Clark.
“I am not a dating service”, says Clark, perched confidently on a couch at Koffee Too. “I am a dating coach–a consultant just like those employed in all areas of business life–but I coach you to help meet relationship goals.”
Wait–back up the Loveboat–a dating coach?
You’ve had career counseling at UCS. You’ve had a Bass Writing Tutor. You’ve even had a personal trainer. But, a dating coach?
“Dating is not what it was when your parents met. Several years ago, the entire process of meeting someone–let alone starting a relationship–was an entirely different thing,” said Clark as she looked over at her partner. “Now, not only are people infinitely more busy with other aspects of their lives, but the options are much more diverse. Dating is a bigger activity. Sometimes, you need to strategize.”
Yes, you’ll admit, “bring love into my life” falls just below “solve world hunger” on your list of things to do. You have begun to realize that this is Yale 2002, not an episode of “Happy Days;” Orgo problem sets and Russian Lit take precedence over grabbing a malt at Arnolds, and unlike the Fonze, a thirty minute time investment will probably not leave you with a girl under each arm.
It’s so much more complicated these days. You have to do so much more than wallop the jukebox for a free song to land the girl of your dreams.
But a dating coach? Will she make you drop and give her 20 if you don’t get those seven digits off that cutie in your FORMAC section?
“My clients generally come to me with uncertainties or problems–either in finding a partner or getting that partner to commit–and I tailor weekly goals to his or her strengths and weaknesses,” explains Clark.
A serious problem needs a serious solution. The last committed relationship you were in was between you and your palm pilot, and even that crashed. Were you a fool to let the weight of your love life rest on such amateur shoulders? Clark, a graduate of Smith College and Harvard Divinity School, would tend to think so. She prescribes an expert program of a one-time consultation combined with weekly follow-ups that will craft a well-honed, individualized line of attack.
Yet since it’s the day after Valentine’s day, let’s be honest, you need some strategic planning, now. Clark offers a few tried and true battle strategies to get your post 2/14 off to the right start.
Fire when ready.
“It’s 2002–don’t expect the guy to initiate all contact,” warns Clark. Rather than waiting for Mr. Right to ask if you want to go steady, getting up the guts to make the first move can save you a lot of unnecessary pussyfooting.
Know The Enemy.
“When considering people to date, the best strategy is to say ‘what do I NOT want in a partner,’ not to have too many pre-set conditions in your mind,” suggests Clark. “One of the best things about being involved is to grow and learn, and if you always go for the same type then not only are you closing your options, but you are cheating yourself.”
Rules of Engagement.
Clark notes that an appropriate first date for college students might be getting a muffin at Rainbow Caf* or browsing a bookstore. Big, flashy first dates will only send the wrong message about the quality of dates to follow.
“The most important thing about a first date is that you really get to talk to each other, not that you ‘wow’ each other,” says Clark.
“Do not have sex on the first date,” says Clark. “This will only lead both parties to have different ideas of where the relationship stands. It can stop things before they start.”
Avoid Land Mines.
Clark generally suggests giving a potential romantic interest the benefit of the doubt, but there are a few key things that suggest you should look elsewhere.
“Warning signs that a first date probably should not lead into a second include the person repetitively talking about his or her ex, calls and e-mails that are too frequent or intense, or too great a delay in responding to your calls or e-mails,” she said. “A good relationship is like a dance, and each person should each respond to the other with a parallel move.”