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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Shela Dean Interview 2

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.


Interview with Shela Dean - Part 2

In this installment we continue our exclusive interview with relationship coach Shela Dean. Check out the beginning of our conversation here

In what areas do you find daters needing the most coaching?  That is, are there predictable and common mistakes that daters make or skills they need to hone more?

I think there are two mistakes daters often make:

  1. They too quickly jump to conclusions about each other.
  2. They assume that, unless they hear otherwise, they’re doing everything right.

As to the first point, there’s a reason why they say love is blind. In those early, hormone-filled, wonderful days of falling in love, we tend to see the best in our new sweetheart and overlook faults or personality flaws that will later drive us teeth-clenching crazy! For example, my husband Dale is a great storyteller. I have a bad habit of anticipating the end of his story and blurting it out. When we were first dating, Dale saw this as proof that we were on the same wavelength.  He now sees it as a huge annoyance for which, if I’m not careful, I too often lose Frequent Foreplay Miles!  It’s probably a good thing that love is a bit blind. Having said that, daters need to be careful that they don’t too quickly assume that the person they’re dating is one thing or another.  It takes time to really get to know someone especially when you consider how many ways in which you can and do differ.

As to the second point, it’s common for people who are dating (and even for long-time married couples) to assume that unless their sweetheart is expressing displeasure, they’re doing everything right, they’ve never lost a single Frequent Foreplay Mile, and the relationship is super-peachy keen. It’s easy to think that unless we hear otherwise, we’re perfect. We see our love bug’s faults as though under a giant spotlight but, paradoxically, think that he or she remains blind as a newborn kitten to our faults.  It’s important for partners to remember that each time they inwardly cringe or roll their eyes over something their sweetheart says or does, their sweetheart is doing the same thing about them.  Another of the 10 key benefits of Frequent Foreplay Miles is creating and sustaining a generous state of mind. When you realize and remember that each time you have a critical thought about your partner, your partner is having a critical thought about you, it’s easier to be generous toward and less critical of your sweetie.

Some daters feel that the gender of a date coach has a huge influence on them -- for example, women may want a female date coach for comfort, whereas men may want a female date coach to learn more about how women think and behave. What are your thoughts on the most criteria for choosing a date/relationship coach?

I think rapport trumps gender and is the most important factor in choosing a coach. If the coach demonstrates an ability to understand your point of view and your communication, then you’re on the right track. Don’t look for sympathy, look for empathy.  There’s a big and important difference.  An empathetic coach is someone who is more likely to understand your point of view, get on your wavelength, and coach accordingly.

Style is also important.  My approach is to bring playfulness, humor, and practicality to the process. That works for a lot of people but others may prefer a more serious, studied approach. 

And, finally, trust your gut.  If you feel comfortable with and trust the coach, you’ll get results. If you have your doubts, you’ll hold back and you won’t get the results you want.

What coaching services do you provide and how can people get in touch with you?

I work with couples that want more intimacy, happiness, clarity, and joy in their relationship whether they’re just starting out or the flame of attraction has begun to flicker.  I teach them how to apply Frequent Foreplay Miles to their unique situation and I also counsel couples on specific issues they may need help with.  If they live in the Richmond, Virginia area we meet one-on-one.  Otherwise, coaching is done by telephone.  The best point at which daters should consult with me is when they both acknowledge that they want to take their relationship beyond casual dating.  They can reach me through my website at, through my email address, or by telephone at 804.986.4342.

I’m interested in putting together a focus group of daters who have moved beyond casual dating and who are willing to commit several weeks to applying the Frequent Foreplay Miles strategy to their relationship. If any of your readers are interested, they should get in touch with me.  Focus group members get free coaching in exchange for their participation.


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

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