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This article by Deb Cooperman was prepared for the July 14, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
This Sexologist Says, ‘Change Your Date-a-tude’
There’s a scene in the movie "When Harry Met Sally" when Sally (Meg
Ryan) announces to her girlfriends that she and her boyfriend of five
years have just broken up. Her friend, Marie (Carrie Fisher), is in
disbelief: "But you guys were a couple! You had someone to go places
with. You had a date on national holidays!" – as if these things were
reason enough to stay in the relationship.
Singles in America are bombarded from the media and the Internet –
dating websites, matchmaking services, Madison Avenue, reality dating
shows, romantic novels, pop music and Hollywood – with the ideal of
perfect couple-dom. But for Dr. Susan Kaye, a relationship expert, the
dream is potentially a nightmare. "We’re a society that’s so invested
in coupling that we think something is missing in our lives if we’re
Kaye will presents an interactive workshop, Successful Single," about
creating a life that satisfies you – single or not – on Saturday, July
17, at the Radisson Hotel in Princeton at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the
Princeton Business Singles Network, the $25 admission fee includes
admission to the dance/social that follows directly after the
Singles really suffer, Kaye says, when they buy into the dream that
they are incomplete without a partner. With the way our society is set
up, "when you’re not a part of a couple, you’re not part of the
American Dream," Kaye says. "We put undue stress on ourselves, trying
to look good to attract a partner" instead of carving out a satisfying
life as a single. The get-a-partner-at-all-costs attitude – what Kaye
calls "date-a-tude," "can really hinder you," she says. "The thing
that hurts us the most (when dating) is desperation."
Raised in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in farm country, Kaye is the eldest
of five. Her mother stayed at home, and her father had his own
business as a successful paving contractor. Kaye was not encouraged to
study beyond high school, because, as her mother told her: "Girls
don’t go to college." Kaye says: "I married right out of high school.
I was 19. That’s what you did. You got married and you stayed in the
But Kaye says she always had "a vision of myself as a doctor. So I
decided I would get a job at a college or university so I could take
classes for free." She got a job at Villanova. Her marriage thing
didn’t work out, but the college thing did. Kaye, now a single mother
of two young girls, juggled work as both a massage therapist and
bartender for several years, but managed to earn her degree in Human
Service (a combination degree of psychology and sociology) from
Villanova. "It took seven years, but I did it – cum laude. Not bad for
a single mom studying on the bathroom floor," she says.
An association with noted sexologists Bill Stayton and Carol
Cobb-Nettleson, who she had met during her "juggling years," inspired
Kaye to direct her advanced studies in the area of relationship and
sexuality at the Institute for the Advancement of Human Sexuality in
San Francisco. She completed her Ph.D. five years ago and now counsels
individuals and couples on relationship and sexuality issues.
She says the challenge for most singles is creating a life that makes
you happy with or without a partner. Being part of a couple is "how
we’re programmed. So if you’re single and you feel that pull to
`couple’ every time you meet someone, you have an agenda. Is this
Prince Charming? Could she be `the one’? You miss out on opportunities
that way. We aren’t ourselves. We’re so busy putting our best face
forward that we don’t confront. When we’re dating, we spend 100% of
our energy on nurturing the relationship. We don’t have to do much. We
leave things out."
After you’ve been together for a while, "the real relationship becomes
a PIECE OF, not the focus of your life," says Kaye. And if you’ve
bought into the Jerry Maguire myth that your partner should "complete
you," you’re in for some trouble. For example, you might think there
is something wrong if your partner wants to keep old friends of the
opposite sex. "You think that is a reflection on your relationship,
and no one can be all things to all people," she says. That’s not
possible. "But so many people buy into the myth. That’s why I see so
many couples in my office."
On the other hand, says Kaye, if you’re living a life that makes you
happy to start with, you’re more likely to wind up with a compatible
partner. "Singles should have a `Plan B.’ Having a `Plan B’ makes
dating be about choosing, not about having to be in a relationship at
Currently single herself, Kaye practices what she teaches. "I might
like to get partnered again, but I could see myself living in a house
with women," she says. Or maybe in a co-housing situation "like a
kibbutz or getting myself a van and keeping a P.O. box and driving
around the country in my van. But whether I get partnered or not, I
have an amazing life."
Successful Singles with Susan Kaye Ph.D., Saturday, July 17, 7 p.m.,
Radisson Hotel, 4355 Route 1 at Ridge Road, Princeton. $25, includes
complimentary admission to the dance/social following the workshop.
For more information visit www.PBSNinfo.com.
Professional and Business Singles Network, 800-537-3859. A
30,000-member organization that hosts nearly 50 activities per month
at locations between Philadelphia and Central Jersey. House parties,
dances, seminars, barbecues. Ages 30s to 60s. Also Voice Personal Ads
and an introduction service for shy singles. Newcomers welcome. Events
hotline: 800-537-3859. Contact: Ralph Israel, 888-348-5544. For a
schedule of events, visit www.pbsninfo.com. One-year membership, $65.
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