Tough Love: A Coach Encourages Singles to Stop the Blame

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This article was prepared for the March 17, 2004

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Tough Love: A Coach Encourages Singles to Stop the Blame


Susan E. Race knows what it’s like on both sides of the singles fence

– B.D. (before divorce) and A.D. (after divorce). A certified coach,

consultant, and author, Race started speaking on workplace and

relationship issues in 1998. When she got divorced in 2001, she says,

"I had to relearn myself how to cultivate and grow rewarding

relationships. After a divorce, all your social circles change. I

recognized the things I was distressed about in observing other

singles, which compelled and propelled me to be more effective in the

way I approached being single."

Her observations also prompted her to retool a seminar she had been

giving on building powerful relationships into "The Magic of Authentic

Relationships," which she presents at the Radisson Princeton, on

Saturday, March 27, at 7 p.m. The seminar will be followed by a dance

social in the hotel’s grand ballroom hosted by Professionals and

Business Singles Network, at 8:30 p.m.

A native of Long Island, the daughter of a self-employed salesman,

Race has the same no-nonsense, wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moxie as

radio psychologist Dr. Laura. She doesn’t waste any time zeroing in on

the core issues plaguing singles today. "What I’m seeing,

unfortunately, is a desperation that comes from fear, loneliness, nad

frustration. With the media touting statistics about a 60% divorce

rate, people are running scared. There’s a doom and gloom approach to

relationships now, singles are saying ‘what’s going to make this


She says too many singles complain about the singles life. "The

universal law of attraction says we get what we put out. All these

singles are drawing to themselves is more negativity. If you look at

singles who have a more positive approach – they tend to attract more

people who are happier being around that kind of person."

Race doesn’t take the sympathy route and her strategies aren’t for the

weak-kneed; she advocates hard-core soul-searching, proactive change,

and celebrating – instead of criticizing or blaming – the differences

between the sexes. "There’s fingerpointing and blaming by both sexes,"

she says. "We can’t ignore the gender dynamic. Men are driven by

physical prowess – sex – and women are driven by relationships and

tend to be more verbal. They hang on to every word a man says like

gospel. When he says, "I’ll call you," the woman hangs around and

waits. When he doesn’t call, instead of looking at herself to see if

something might be wrong, she says, ‘Oh, the man is so horrible.’

"Men say, ‘I just don’t understand women.’ Well, it’s true, women send

confusing messages – we are unclear about what we want," Race says.

Her strategies are founded on well-known psychological theory. Race

earned her bachelors in education and psychology from the University

of Massachusetts in 1973, her masters in human behavior and

development from Drexel University in 1976, and her professional

coaching certificate in 2001. At her seminar, Race uses Maslow’s

heirarchy of needs as a foundation for helping singles turn their

attitude around.

"Maslow’s heirarchy of needs says that, in order to live successfully,

we first have to come from a point of integrity – living your own

beliefs; if you want to be respected, you need to let (your partner)

know your needs, you need to speak up for yourself. Those needs, in

order, are food, clothing, shelter, safety, security, social needs

(inclusion and acceptance), and self-actualization. If these basic

needs aren’t met, we die; if you use them metaphorically in a

relationship, if your needs aren’t met, the relationship dies, and

your needs will keep haunting you. They will bite you where it hurts.

"When singles say to me, ‘You just don’t understand,’ I say, ‘Take a

deep breath and relax. Look at yourself: what is it about you that’s

preventing you from attracting the relationships you want?’ Her

seminar focuses on three core strategies for helping singles become

more productive and positive.

1. Distinguish your needs and wants. "For example," says Race, "being

with other people is a human need; the want is the kind of people and

the kind of relationship you want. The irony is that since we need to

be accepted, we’re always looking to others for validation, when most

of us loathe a part of ourselves. That’s what we should be looking at.

We have to accept ourselves first – that means being honest and

listening to yourself; monitor and observe the thoughts that go

through your head – thoughts create your beliefs, beliefs inspire your

actions, your actions produce results. If you’re holding a belief that

you’re ugly, no matter who you meet, you’ll repel people."

2. Ask yourself, if you were a member of the opposite sex, would you

be attracted to you? Race says this is a great way to open up the

gender difference issue and get singles to focus on their strengths.

She gives an example of a highly-paid professional she was coaching.

The woman had such low self-esteem that she was uncomfortable to be

around. She had many male friends and every time they introduced her

to their female friends, the women didn’t like her. She was extremely

needy, a chronic complainer, and constantly blamed others. "How many

of us enjoy being around chronic complainers?," asks Race. To get out

of this kind of negative rut, she recommends that singles shift the

focus of their attention on remembering a successful relationship or

personal or professional experience they have had. What were the

components of that relationship or experience? What went right? What

are your strengths?

3. Take the humanitarian perspective. Race is a firm believer that

when singles participate in volunteer work for a cause they really

care about, they not only take their mind off their own problems by

seeing others who are worse off in different ways, but they exude a

more positive aura. "When people do something they are excited about,

that creates a different persona and puts them around people who share

their values."

Race’s bottom line: "Get a life and stop complaining. Stop kvetching."

This includes singles who are divorced, who she tells to stop talking

about their divorce. Her message to all singles may smack of tough

love, but it’s delivered from the heart: "Get over yoursel, and get on

with your life. It’s not always about you. We need to look for a

positive way to ‘feed our hunger.’ What are you hungry for and how are

you feeding yourself?"

-Jamie Saxon

"The Magic of Authentic Relationships," Saturday, March 27, Radisson

Princeton, 7 p.m. Free. Followed by dance social in the grand

ballroom, sponsored by Professionals and Business Singles Network. For

directions, visit

Race is also hosting "Relationship Breakthroughs," a group coaching

series for women via tele-conference for eight Mondays, April 5

through May 24. Preparid registration $240. For more information call

Ralph at 888-348-5544.

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Singles Groups

Among Friends, 609-915-4788. Among the oldest and largest singles

groups in the area, for ages 45+. Social get togethers for an evening

of relevant discussion, music, dinner. First Friday of every month,

the Unitarian Church of Princeton, 50 Cherry Hill Road, 8 to 10 p.m.

$10. Contact: Bonnie Williams.

Book and Movie Club, 609-587-7265. Small informal discussion groups,

biweekly trips to movies, ages 40+, meetings alternate Fridays, 8

p.m., P.J.’s Pancake House, Nassau Street, Princeton. E-mail:

Central Jersey Singles, 732-723-1585. East Brunswick-based

organization that meets in private homes for buffets, speakers,

dancing, and mingling. Age range varies. No membership fee, but events

cost approximately $25.

Dinnermates, a dinner and networking group for business and

professional singles that meets Friday and Saturday evenings at fine

restaurants. Mates are grouped together according to age (20s to early

40s) and there are roughly 200 members to date.

Fifty Something Singles, 215-493-6494. Buffet and discussion at the

Princeton YMCA, second and fourth Thursdays, at 7 p.m. $1 if you bring

a dish, $5 if you don’t. Contact: Steve.

Mercer County Single Volunteers, a non-profit with the motto: "Connect

by Helping Others." Meetings held first and third Tuesday of each

month at the Hamilton Township Library at 7 p.m. Upcoming events:

Wednesday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Sweeney’s Saloon,

666 S. Broad Street (Adeline Street), Trenton; Sunday, March 21,

Brunch at General’s Quarters Restaurant and Lounge, Mercer Airport,

11:30 a.m.

Music and Art Lovers’ Connection, Kimmel Center, Verizon Hall,

Philadelphia, 888-348-5544. Singles nights start with a buffet at

Toto’s followed by a concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Princeton Singles, PO Box 1457, Princeton 08542. A 50s-plus social

club with more than 100 members who meets for pitch and putt, house

parties, dining, and dancing. Dues are $25 a year.

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. Also Voice Personal Ads and an

introduction service for shy singles. Median age is late 40s; 60

percent are women. Newcomers welcome. Events hotline: 800-537-3859.

Contact: Ralph Israel, 888-348-5544. For a schedule of events, visit One-year membership, $65. Upcoming event: dance

party, Radisson Princeton, begins with seminar, "The Magic of

Authentic Relationships" with coach/ consultant Susan E. Race (see

story page 41), 7 p.m., dance at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 27;

Friday, April 2, dance social, La Villa Ristorante, in the ballroom,

2275 Kuser Road, Hamilton.

Rhythm and Bugs, Hamilton, 609-252-0502. A community-oriented social

swing dance held on frequent Fridays in central New Jersey. No partner

necessary; 40-50 participants, most of them single. All dances are

held at St. Matthias Episcopal CHurch, 2200 Genesee Street, Hamilton.

$5. Fourth Fridays have live swing jazz music, $10. Beginner lindy hop

lesson 8 to 9 p.m.; dance from 9 p.m. to midnight. Upcoming dates: March 19 and


SingleFaces, 732-542-2200 (24-hour hotline). An upbeat upscale scene

that brings singles together at Top 40 dance parties in 30 different

north Jersey and Central Jersey locations, $12. Ages 30s, 40s, and

50s. Upcoming events: Saturday, March 20, dance party, PNC Arts

Center, Holmdel, with free seminar, "Secrets of Successful Online

Dating" with consultant Deborah Livingston, 8:30 p.m. Contact: Sy

Bassman. For a schedule of events visit

Single Gourmet of Greater Philadelphia, 215-732-0260. A

Philadelphia-based 750-person social club that hosts three to five

restaurant affairs per month, including a trip to Le Bec Fin during

the winter holiday season. Also organizes romantic getaways to places

like Santa Fe and New Orleans. Upcoming events and trips: Wine and

food festival in New Orleans, May 28 to 31. Contact: Florence Weltman.

One-year membership, $99.

Single Women Friends Group, Mercer/Middlesex/Monmouth County area. A

lively club of single, divorced, widowed, and never married straight

women, ages late 40s to early 60s who enjoy dining out, the theater,

movies, and single events. To join or for more information contact via

E-mail at

Singles Speak-Up Toastmasters, 908-371-1323. Improve your speaking

skills while having fun, meets first and third Friday at 7:30 p.m.,

Kingston Presbyterian Church, Route 27, Kingston.

Widows and Widowers, Mercer County chapter, 609-587-8959 or

609-896-3818. Upcoming event: Monthly dance social Friday, March 26,

DAV Hall, 911 Arena Drive, Hamilton, 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be


Yoga for Singles, 609-924-7294. Princeton Center for Yoga & Health,

Montgomery Professional Center, 50 Vreeland Drive, Suite 506,

Skillman. Second Friday of every month. $20; $15 if you pre-pay.

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Sporting Singles

Princeton Indoor Tennis Center, 609-799-8214. Tennis parties first and

third Saturdays March and April.

Somerset Hills Single Hikers, 732-863-4909. Meets the first, third,

and fifth Sunday morning in the realtor’s lot across Hillside Avenue

from Willie’s Tavern, Route 202, Bedminster, 2nd light north of Route

287. Six to eight-miles hikes. Bring water. No reservations are

required; hikers are encouraged to just show up. Upcoming hikes:

Saturday, March 21, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, Oakland

Weekend Racquets, Brunswick Hills Racquet Club, 1020 Route 18 Shopping

Plaza (across from Seville Diner), East Brunswick, 732-432-7728 or

E-mail Sunday tennis parties for intermediate to

advanced intermediate players only, 6 to 10 p.m. Tennis balls and

liquid refreshments only. Mix and mingle on the courts. New price:

$20. Upcoming date: March 21 (no party March 28). Contact: Sherman


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