Hunting? Hurting? A Dating Success Team Group Can Help You Get a Grip! By Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief, leatherandlaceadvice.com
Dating is not always such fun. The fun generally happens after you’ve found someone special and you’re connecting. Until then, for most people, being part of the “meet market” is hard work, and it can be disappointing and sometimes, downright depressing. Being social may be the last thing on your mind when you’ve had one bad date too many, or you aren’t getting anywhere with your love life, but ironically, getting support from others in a “Dating Success Team” while you’re going through this process can really help you make it through!
Join a Dating Success Team (or start one of your own) and you’ll get support, information and inspiration from others in the same boat, especially while you’re “hunting, “and especially when you’re hurting, Members of a “success team” meet regularly and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences, but unlike group therapy or career counseling, success teams focus on action and results. Success teams are more traditionally used by job hunters, but they are powerful tools which can also inspire and empower you in your search to recruit love. I have been an expert moderator of many Dating Success Teams, and I’ve heard so many stories both online and off about the positive experience people have had in these groups.
For Example, here’s a bit of a story from “Amelia” (not her real name) but the story is a genuine one: “I’m divorced and have custody of my two kids, so when I was ready to look for love again I needed some impartial advice and support to get started. I saw an ad on Craigs List for a dating success team and was pretty nervous about making contact, but the woman who replied to my email was so genuine and nice. She was a non-profit manager who was also a single parent. She invited me to join the dating support group she was forming. A few nights later, six of us agreed to commit ourselves to a two- hour meeting each week. The group was pretty diverse: a financial analyst, a computer programmer, a secretary, a lawyer, a non-profit manager and a construction worker, and we ranged in ages from 20-43. Our differences were actually a plus as they gave us different perspectives on the issues we were facing. As we learned to trust each other, we started hosting the meetings in our homes. We spent some time griping, but we mostly tried to support and motivate each other in reaching our goals. For example, if I said I was going to check our some personal ads online, or try Tinder, normally I might back out but since I knew I had to report to the group, I’d be more motivated to follow through. I know this worked for everyone. We become good friends and even when some of the core members dropped out because they’d found someone special, we stayed in touch. They reminded us that we can and will find the love we seek if we continue to work at it. Other people joined, and the group remained lively and strong. All of this was great, but there was an unexpected benefit which included real support from these caring people. Several times, group members offered to baby sit for me so I could go out and not worry about the evening getting too late. And finally, after being in the group for about 8 months,. I was introduced to “Dave” who is now my husband through a friend of one of the group members. Without a doubt, the dating support team made finding the love I hoped for, much easier and more pleasant!”
Starting Your Own Dating Success Team: If a dating success teams sounds like something you would like to join, you may find advertisements for dating success teams in local publications or online sites that cater to singles, but if you can’t find an already established dating success team looking for new members, consider starting your own. Here’s how to do it:
First and foremost, keep in mind that support teams are active sessions in which all participants both listen & participate. If someone wants to just “lurk” it’s ok for the first session so they can get a feel for the group, but anyone who stays silent and doesn’t participate after that should not be a group member.
One member of the group is designated as time keeper and group leader for that session. Each member gets equal time to report to the group on his or her progress and to ask for specific types of help. No one is exempt from giving a report on their progress or sharing something of their week, although they can choose to take less time. The group can decide if one member needs more time and can vote to give that person extra. Participation usually takes the form of Brainstorming, or asking the group for as many ideas as possible pertaining to a specific need or problem; Barn Raising, or asking the group to help solve a problem or to help obtain needed information; Role Playing, using the group as a test audience to rehearse a verbal presentation, provide feedback on written materials, or walk through a particular problem or situation; and Sympathy, asking the group to help relieve stress and be a sympathetic “ear.”
By mutual consent of the group members, an entire session can be devoted to a theme, or in learning more about a particular topic (e.g., Researching how to safely and effectively use apps., or online dating profiles, to find suitable dates). The topic should be determined in advance, with each group member doing an assigned part of the program.Everyone participating should understand at the outset that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. You alone decide what course of action you will take.
WHAT YOU NEED- The Basics:
1. A group of adults (no less than six and no more than ten would be an ideal number ) over the age of 20 up to any age (you can decide if you want to be more selective in your age limitations) who are actively trying to find someone with whom to have a serious relationship.The ultimate “romantic goal” need not be the same for all participants: some may be seeking marriage, others just a soul mate or special friend; the important thing is that they must be actively searching for someone for an identifiable romantic goal.
2. A group leader (preferably someone who is experienced in facilitating groups and handling group dynamics: someone mature, objective, and nonjudgmental) to get the group “started.”
3. A regularly scheduled time and place to meet (usually an hour to two hours every other week). The group can meet anywhere you choose, as long as the place selected is quiet and fairly private (you don’t want to be in a place where you might run into your co-workers, or your boss, or be interrupted every ten minutes by a waiter asking you: “Is everything all right?“). This usually means taking turns meeting in participants’ homes or in spaces reserved for community activities.
Because the members of the group will come to rely on each other, it is important that each participant understand their individual responsibilities. They are:
Each member is integral to the success of the group. If you can’t make a session, you should notify the group leader at least 24-hours in advance. The group leader has the authority to end a session or shift the discussion if it strays significantly from the agreed-upon format, and to eject any participant who becomes abusive and destructive to the group process.Each paparticipant receives equal time, based on the number of group participants. If you’re late, you join the group in progress. There is no back tracking for late comers, and you may lose your personal time.
When you agree to join the group you should be ready to:
1. Propose a focus for why you’re in the group so the others have an idea of what your goals are.
2.Agree to interact honestly and freely with the other members in the group.
3. Be open minded and be willing to tap the collective experience, expertise and brain-power of the success team group to solve specific problems or pursue specific goals.
4. Listen, participate, network, give and get support.
5. Understand that maintaining confidentiality is paramount. No one must ever discuss personal details or the particulars of the session with anyone outside of the group for any reason.
If you are the Team Leader, you have additional responsibilities: The team leader’s additional responsibilities are to:
1. Be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the focus of the success team process.
2. Be responsible for making sure the sessions begin and end on time;contact all participants if the date, time or place of thesession is changed.
3. Ensure everyone gets “equal time” by dividing the amount of time available by the number of participants at the session (usually five minutes is subtracted for “overrun” or “special issues”)
4. Provide a “two-and one-minute warning” to alert each participant thats/he is nearing the end of his or her time (however, the groupas a whole can elect to give someone additional time)
5. Be impartial and nonjudgmental.In a small group, it is possible for all participants to take turnsbeing the group leader, but only if each member feels comfortable with this arrangement, and each participant feels confident that s/he can meet the above criteria.
The success of a dating success team rises and falls on its members’ active listening and participation. You’ll get more out of your sessions by setting a clear, personal goal for each session you attend, know in advance what you want from the group, and take notes to recall group input. You should be comfortable & candid, but not deliberately hurtful or rude. You always have the right to decline offers of unwanted assistance, or what you view as unreasonable requests for help from others in the group. It’s also wise to make it clear at the outset to potential participants who might not be all that familiar with the concept of a “support team,” that this type of group in not “therapy” and is not designed for (and does not take the place of) private mental health professional counseling, group therapy, crisis counseling, or other intensive, personal counseling. If you sense that someone in your group is deeply troubled, don’t attempt to treat them. The best action is to encourage this person to seek a therapist not instead of but along with your dating success team activities.
Since each participant has a chance to speak each session, here are some guidelines that help clarify what this entails. When it’s your time to take your turn, you will:
1. State briefly the goals and issues you want to focus on at the session and report your progress to the group on your progress from the previous session.
2. Request a specific type of support from the group for that session. Gripe if you must, but you’re there for positive action so don’t waste too much time on sympathy. Instead advise the group as to what steps you’re going to take to reach your stated goal up until the next meeting, and organize your thoughts and goals ahead of time to maximize the benefit from your time with the group.
3. The beauty of the dating success team is that you help others while helping yourself. It’s on a par with the old adage: “to have a friend you have to first BE a friend.” If a participant has trouble describing a problem or what he or she wants to get out of the session, the members of the group should ask: “What can we do to help you? What do you need that we can help provide?”
4. Over time you’ll likely become social with some members (or all of them) and act socially outside of the group. Just remember to keep confidences shared in the group, private.
In these days, when personal relationships often seem to take a back seat to business, isn’t it great that a dating success team combines that best of both worlds? Without debate, a Dating Success Team is an excellent way to feel great (or at least, better and more sane) while you’re looking for a mate!
This article is adapted from Chapter 8: Adjusting Your Recruitment Strategy of the “must-have” book for adult singles: RECRUITING LOVE: USING BUSINESS SKILLS YOU HAVE TO FIND THE LOVE YOU WANT by Alison Blackman Dunham and Jessica Blackman Freedman “The Advice Sisters” *this book is out of print, but we do have copies. Contact Alison Blackman for more information or to learn more about having her moderate your success team.