Corrections or additions?

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

single."

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

workshop.

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

area."

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

all costs."

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."

-Deb Cooperman

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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