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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Speed Dating & Date Coaching

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Date Coaching and Online Speed Dating Aren't for Everyone

It seems that date coaching is enjoying continued buzz within the online dating industry, whereas online speed dating is the latest buzz in the media. These activities may seem markedly different, but they share something in common. To succeed with either, you must be a person with strong self-efficacy and a sense of adventure and optimism. In a word, a person must have an element of personal control. Without this quality, date coaching and speed dating can leave a person feeling down, out and terrified. That said, date coaching and online or offline speed dating are probably not for everyone. This article talks about how you can tell if either of these is right for you at this point in your life.


Who controls the steering wheel of your car?

People tend to have one of two general outlooks on the world.  They believe either life events are due to their own behavior and attributes, or they believe that life events happen because of uncontrollable circumstances like chance or the actions of others. Social scientists refer to these mindsets as an “internal locus of control” versus an “external locus of control,” respectively. Which mindset best describes you? Carefully read these three statements:
“When I need assistance, I find it difficult to get others to help me”

“Bad luck has often prevented me from achieving things”

“What happens in my career is mostly beyond my own control”

Those who strongly agree with these statements tend to have a greater “external locus of control” (1,2).  In my experience, employees in this category do not respond well to date coaching or constructive criticism or self-discovery that comes from real-life social interactions like speed dating. However, candid feedback about one’s own personal behaviors and attitudes can greatly benefit those who have an “internal locus of control” – that is, those who value knowledge as power and thereby strive for greater power over the direction in their lives. You are in the “internal locus of control” group if you strongly agree with statements like these (1,2):

“Once I make plans, it is almost certain that I can make them work”

“My major accomplishments are entirely due to my own hard work and abilities”

“I can learn almost anything if I really set my mind to it”

Individuals with a strong internal locus of control routinely seek out opportunities for personal development and happiness. Sometimes this means enlisting the services of a professional date coach, while other times it means exploring possible “blind-spots” and areas of growth privately in the spirit of self-reflection using online assessments to gauge temperament, attitudes and behaviors. But development in all of its forms comes from impartial and honest feedback on where you are and where you want to go.


Donald Trump stated, “You must love what you do or you will not try as hard to gain knowledge.” To find an enduring relationship with someone right for you, you must be clear on your passion, skills, competencies, values and preferences. You must examine your strengths and identify the sources of your intrinsic satisfaction. Learn to assess what’s important in your life and what you value most on a given day, and then establish reasonable expectations using a date coach or by meeting large numbers of people via speed dating. The idea here is to explore and learn what you value and need in a partner. It’s an experiential process that should be fun and fulfilling, not daunting or frightening. Those with adventurous and optimistic outlooks do see it that way. Those who feel they neither have control in their lives nor ever will have control will only find this premise overwhelming, and perhaps even incapacitating.

For the right people, individuals benefit from date coaching and speed dating by:

  • Learning to solve their own problems
  • Learning to identify and act on development needs or goals
  • Building greater confidence
  • Having greater self-awareness and gaining new perspectives
  • Fostering greater adaptability to change
  • Improving work-life balance
  • Reducing stress levels by reinforcing a sense of control and mastery

Ideally all singles would invest in coaching and personal development exercises. However, savvy and forward-thinking people who possess that “internal locus of control” don’t wait for opportunities to come to them. Rather, they take the initiative. And seizing upon experiences that reinforce optimism, self-discovery and self-acceptance offers a competitive edge to driven individuals who want the opportunity to better define and meet their short-term and long-term goals in their love lives… and indeed in across other aspects of their lives.



1Paulhus, D. L. (1983). Sphere-specific measures of perceived control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1253-1265.

2Paulhus, D. L., & Van Selst, M. (1990). The Spheres of Control scale: Ten years of research. Personality and Individual Differences, 11, 1029-1036.

Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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