No Need to Be a Dating Dud

Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005

Romance 101

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Sept. 24, 2001 -- On one of her least memorable blind dates, Ruth, 31, got her ear talked off.

"He talked about his last girlfriend and how he gets picked up all the time by women," says Ruth, a New York City-based e-commerce executive. "He talked about how he loves to fly to Nice for the weekend and then jump on a helicopter to Monaco."

Yet he didn't even spring for dinner.

"It was horrendous," she says. Obviously, there was no second date.

Romance coach Paul A. Falzone, the CEO and founder of the Right One and the Together Dating Service, isn't surprised.

"If it's 'I, I, I' or 'Me, Me, Me,' it's such a turnoff. If you're doing well, good for you -- but keep it to yourself," he tells WebMD.

A growing number of single and even married men and women seem to crave such advice.

In an era where we hire coaches to help us organize our closets, our finances, and just about every other aspect of our lives, it's no wonder that a growing group of individuals, like Falzone, are making their living as romance coaches.

Who Me?

The romance coaches offer tips on appearance, teach dating etiquette, give e-feedback on dates gone wrong, and trouble-shoot for ongoing problems. Falzone says such services can benefit "anybody who is trying to get back out there and anyone who has been out there and is not succeeding."

Falls Church, Va.-based executive romance coach Leslie Karsner, author of The Long Distance Romance Guide and the forthcoming The Romance Plan, has been coaching single and married folk for four years.

Her practice began when, as an executive coach, her clients focused on romance issues. "These Fortune 500 executives would talk to me about relationships, romance, or some aspects of their love life and I realized that this is the area that is most important to people," says Karsner, also the romance coach for U-date, an online meeting service, and the founder of

"I have clients that are therapists, Fortune 500 executives, housewives, homemakers, and retired 75-year-olds," says Karsner, who is engaged. She works on an ad hoc basis for romance emergencies or on an ongoing basis. One coaching session costs $95/hour, but when customers buy three-month packages, they get a discount.

"My married clients are often looking to enhance their marriage by getting to a place where they share their wants, needs, and desires. For single clients, I am a confidant, a cheerleader, and often a kick in the pants to get things going," she says.

"A lot of times, a client will come to me on the cusp of getting out of a relationship that hasn't worked so they can build up the strength to be single again," she says.

Besides dating etiquette, Falzone also helps clients improve their image. "If you come into our office and are missing your bottom set of teeth or your weight is a problem, we set you straight," he says.

They also offer feedback. "Let's say a client who went on a date with another client says: 'Paul is a nice guy, but he dwelled on his last relationship,' then we call Paul and say, 'You may want to refrain from talking about your past relationship next time.'"

So, how do you keep the music playing once you find Mr. or Ms. Right?

Even though she never asks for it, Greg Godek brings his wife of 11 years, Tracy, a hot cup of tea each night before bed.

Godek, a romance lecturer based in Jolla, Calif., and the author of 1,001 Ways to be Romantic, practices what he preaches.

"I try to do something romantic every day," he says. "This is what will sustain you for 50 years in a marriage."

Romance is about being creative and being active, he says. "Wake up tomorrow morning and write 'I love you' on the bathroom mirror with a piece of soap or have dinner in bed," he says.

And, he says, choose customized romance over generic romance.

Sure, flowers, candy and jewelry are romantic, but make gestures that are more specific to your partner, he says. Does she love Barbra Streisand? If so, does she own every disc or movie?

"When you make gestures that are specific for your partner, you say 'I know you; I appreciate you and am taking and action based on it,'" he says.

TOP 10 Dating Tips from the experts

Here's the Top Ten list from dating experts:

  1. Be realistic. "People get disappointed when they are expecting a knight in shining armor on a white horse and he shows up in a Volkswagen," Falzone says.
  2. Get out of the house. "Romance is not going to come knocking on the door," Karsner says. Instead of having coffee at home before work, get coffee in route to the office and try different places.
  3. Don't talk about your ex or yourself too much. "You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion," Falzone says.
  4. Extend your vacation mindset. "You smile more on vacation and look at strangers, so take that mindset into your everyday workplace and life," Karsner says.
  5. Keep it light. "You don't have to get into deep, dark secrets the first time that you meet," Falzone says.
  6. Break out the good stuff. "Wear your favorite dress or outfit, don't let it sit in your closet," Karsner says. "Make that special occasion now."
  7. If you are really shy, have a cocktail before you go out to loosen yourself up, Falzone says. He does not condone heavy drinking or any drinking among people with alcohol problems.
  8. Sharpen your appreciation skills. "One of the things I end up coaching people on is overcoming a jaded heart," Karsner says. "Be open to possibilities and see the good in everything that comes along."
  9. Treat everyone you date as you would want your brother or sister to be treated, Falzone says.
  10. Keep romance alive. Be creative and active and choose customized romance over generic romance, Godek says.

For more information about Together Dating Service and The Right One, call (800) 818-DATE, or visit and For more information about U-Date or the romance institute, visit the web sites at and

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