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TOPIC TITLE: Will Your Dating Skills Get You A Second Date?
Created On 7/24/13 6:04 PM
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7/24/13 6:04 PM
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(Originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Mind, Body & Soul)

By Sara Kahan, LMSW


Do you enjoy meeting people?

Do you find yourself searching for something to say when you meet someone new?

What if you don’t know what to say?

What if you do something awkward and people laugh at you?

How will you react if you get rejected?

Social interaction is supposed to be fun, but when you are a person struggling with a developmental, psychiatric or cognitive disability, and struggling with social skill deficits, it can be difficult. Many individuals may be well suited for many circumstances in life but exhibit poor social and dating skills. Proper support can be helpful in taking the necessary steps needed to make the connections we want, and to deepen the relationships we already have.

Devorah came to the social skills group complaining that she has not gone out on a date for several years. Her experiences with dating have not gone well in the past.
She often felt anxious before a date, and during the date she would clam up and hardly say anything at all. This would place the burden of carrying the conversation on her date, which she knew left a poor impression. Her body was so tense and her stress so great that when she got home from the date, she had a pounding headache. Needless to say, her experiences were unpleasant for her and the rejection she often received was excruciatingly painful.

Since joining a social skills group and listening to others share similar stories, Devorah began to feel more courageous about starting to date again.

The group applauded her for her courage and got to work on giving her advice and tips. Adam, a member of the group, offered to pretend to be Devorah's date so they could practice. Before the role play began, Devorah wanted to know what she could do to make herself feel more relaxed.
Shalom suggested she come up with a list of topics she wants to discuss and to discover if there will be common interests between them. He also suggested she practice the deep breathing exercises she learned.

“What if the conversation won’t flow smoothly and I will feel awkward”, Devorah asked? “How will I know he likes me and how will I know I like him?” “Take it easy,” advises Chaya, a fellow member, and don’t let your mind race so fast. Try to enjoy the date and take it nice and slow. Think of the verbal and non verbal communication we talked about. Make eye contact with him, your body should face him, and lean slightly forward. This shows him you are interested and that you are paying attention to him. Read his body language for the same cues and it will help you know what he is feeling about you.”

Now they were ready to begin. Adam began by asking Devorah where she would like to go. He gave her two restaurant choices so it would be easier for her to decide. He opened the door for her and they pretended to be sitting at a restaurant. Devorah made eye contact and thanked him for moving the chair out for her. Once seated, they began to make small talk about where they grew up, where they currently live, where they go to shul, and what school they went to.

Devorah discovered that they both like American History and when they began talking about their fascination with various historical figures, the conversation became animated. Devorah did not even have to use the joke she prepared as backup in case the conversation ran dry. After about ten minutes, the role play ended and the group got a chance to review how well they did.

Devorah surprised herself at how much more confident she felt, and how much more positive she was about her ability to date. The group encouraged Devorah to continue practicing her skills and to report back the next time she and Adam had a practice date.

Outlined above, is a sample of the skill building exercises taught in a Social Skills Group. The goals are to increase socialization skills, feel more confident in various social settings, and connect more easily with others. Dating can be fun, relaxing and an opportunity to put forward your best traits. OHEL’s social skills group can help bring out the best in you.

Sarah Kahan, LMSW is the Coordinator of the Morris Pinsky Simcha Program @ OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services. Individuals interested in the program could contact her at 718-686-3262. She also counsels individuals, couples, adolescents and their parents. Sarah_kahan@ohelfamily.org.


Edited: 7/24/13 at 6:05 PM by JewishPress
 
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