Bad Advice Is Wrecking Shidduchim

By Mrs. Amber Adler

Recently, I was on a public forum where a dating coach decided to try to pick up clients by sharing advice he had given. It was the worst advice that I have heard in a long while. I was mortified.

A never-married girl said that she dated a divorced guy for four weeks. She liked him. However, when she brought up the idea of their dating exclusively, he said no, and further said that he was “not ready to get married again.”

The guy, selfishly, wasted four weeks of this girl’s life by leading her on. He dated her when he wasn’t looking for marriage. In the mainstream world, that’s the game. In our world, we date for the purpose of marriage.

The girl sought advice and what she was given by the coach was very disturbing. The girl generally asked what she should do. The “coach”–I use that word loosely–went on to say how she should wait for her potential spouse to be ready for the “exclusive” commitment. The coach then said no one could expect to be exclusive with someone after dating for only four weeks. When I heard that, I nearly fell of my chair!

A “coach” told a girl to waste her time on a guy who didn’t even respect her enough to be honest about where he was holding in terms of emotional availability. After four weeks wasted, this guy stole her time and now this coach is advising her to throw away her dignity as well.

If you respect yourself then you refuse to be a pawn. You are looking for someone who will be your partner, not your master. If there is no honesty or respect within the first four weeks of dating, you can kiss even the smallest moments of marital bliss goodbye.

So, after my shock, I was left wondering: Is this what is happening to the dating scene? I’ve heard some bad advice, but this advice is worse because someone might mistake it as useful.

Yet you can steer clear of similar mistakes:

Be honest with yourself. If the girl in this example had been honest with herself, she would never have asked anyone what to do in this situation. She could have quickly seen on her own that she was looking to get to know someone for the purpose of marriage who wasn’t on the same page as her. This means, stop dating. The brick wall is in front of you. You are not on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and it is not your job to break it down.

Seek advice wisely. Unfortunately, some “coaches” just give quick or easy answers. Personally, I advise, as needed, by use of a business outlook. Then I break things down from there. That doesn’t mean this is the only approach you can benefit from. It also doesn’t mean all advice should be crafted the same way. Still, when you need someone to give you objective advice, you need to do your homework on where their method of advice comes from. If their strategy makes sense for you, then try it out. If someone is just winging it, that’s a bad route. Steer clear of loose cannons.

Choose your actions wisely. When you want to get married, you take the task seriously. No one launches an organization without a plan. Can you imagine a fundraiser who just assumes that the money for their projects will come from “somewhere,” if they “keep trying”? Be smart. Determine your direction. Then go straight there. This is your life. It is a limited-time offer.

Mrs. Amber Adler is the author of “1,000 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married.” The book includes specific questions to ask the Baal Teshuva, FFB, convert, divorced, divorced with children, and more. The 1000+ questions range from first-date icebreakers to discovering emunah levels and even help with asking those tricky financial questions. For more information, see

Baila Sebrow Responds

In all fields, there are people who falsely claim to be experts. Life coaching, which has in recent years gained popularity, is no exception. True, there are training courses and certification exams for life coaches. But, unlike for psychotherapists and social workers, there is very little to no government regulation.

The areas of expertise of coaches run the gamut from career and executive coaching to health and well-being, and now dating as well. With all the media hype of dating difficulties, not just in the frum circles but secular as well, dating coaches are now extremely sought-after, and theirs has become a lucrative field.

The dating scene today has become so dysfunctional that singles are turning to coaches to help them decide if they should even accept a date for a cup of coffee. Some of these singles will not proceed to accept any follow-up date without the coach’s approval. Many people have gotten married because their coach guided them correctly. Others have found themselves to be in a more confused state, causing them to go from coach to coach, because the root problem may never have been recognized and identified.

While there are first-rate coaches possessing keen perception who intuitively guide their clients to success, there are also those who have done a lot of damage to their clients. One of the major risks with some of these coaches is their inability to recognize when their client requires clinical therapy–which is more than they are qualified to provide. As a result, there have been clients who were wrongly advised, and consequently suffered serious ramifications.

However, to be fair, I am not ready to clobber the coach that Amber Adler wrote about here. As stated, this was a public forum, and whether the coach was trying to pick up clients is not the issue. A girl whom this coach had never met before and had no client—coach relationship with presented a spur-of-the-moment dating dilemma. Furthermore, as is common at public forums, speakers are given a limited amount of time to respond.

So we may be missing key elements and even seemingly minor details that would give a better overview about the relationship of this divorced guy and never-married girl. Although she stated that they dated for four weeks, we do not actually know if this couple dated every day or several times a week of those four weeks. Nor do we know if those four weeks meant that they dated once each week, leaving us to assume they might have dated just four times. With so little information, this coach should not have been so quick to dole out advice. Instead, he should have had enough confidence in himself to tell this girl that he would need to speak with her in greater detail.

I agree that the coach gave this girl bad advice and should not have sided with the guy before gaining an honest understanding of her situation. In addition, abruptly telling a girl not to expect to be exclusive in a guy’s life or implying that she should be in a position where she can potentially lose self-respect is injurious to her mental well-being.

That forum is a case-in-point of how careful people must be when they consider retaining the services of a life coach. They should preferably get a recommendation from someone who benefited from that person. But prospective clients should also use good judgment by first verifying the credentials of the coach. It is very important to make sure that the coach is accredited from a recognized school.

As long as there are no serious psychological issues, accepting the guidance of a coach can assist in making life more enjoyable. But, as in all of life’s choices, one must proceed with caution.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at v


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