In this interview, Rachel Russo, NYC Dating, Relationship, Matchmaking and Image Coach shares extremely useful insights and advice on dating and love. Renowned expert in the City, she caters her services to singles that are looking for serious relationships.

Bolstered by 12 years of experience in the dating and matchmaking industry backed by a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, she delivers here a inspiring, eye-opening and fun interview.

Read, Learn and Apply!

1. Can you tell us a bit about you, your background and how you became a dating and relationship professional?

Well, I grew up in North Jersey-twenty miles outside NYC- and spent a lot of my young years talking about boys, keeping journals about boys, and giving my friends advice about boys! As a teenager, I’d pick up self-help books that my mom had around the house and read the authors’ bios. They were always some relationship expert living in NYC. Fast forward a decade and I was that expert! Thanks to finding a random Craigslist ad, I landed my first post-college job as a matchmaker for a NYC startup and have spent the last eleven years working a matchmaker and dating/relationship coach for well-known agencies and in my own consultancy, Rachel Russo Relationships. Along the way, I also received my master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, published two books, countless blogs, and did many media interviews and events. More recently, I started inspiring other entrepreneurs to get into the love industry by co-creating and teaching an online training program at Matchmaking Institute. It has been quite the journey–never a dull moment here!

2. What do you love the most about helping others with dating/relationship coaching?

I get to do work that truly matters! It is rewarding to see that both my matchmaking and dating and relationship coaching services have inspired people to leave bad relationships, attract more compatible, emotionally-available partners, and ultimately go on to find lasting love and marriage!

3. Can you tell us about the dating, relationship and matchmaking services you offer? And your approach?

I customize matchmaking, dating & relationship coaching, as well as image consulting packages to meet a client’s needs, preferences, budget, and lifestyle. I believe everyone is different and no two clients have the exact same needs. I start out by doing an in-depth consultation in which I really get to know someone—their background, family dynamics, relationship history, career, lifestyle, passions, hobbies, and match criteria. From there, I analyze their strengths and weaknesses for finding or keeping the type of person they want. I create a program that maximizes their opportunities for achieving the goals we determine they’d like to accomplish for their love life. My job is to be a detective and find out about anything that would threaten our chances of success. And then eliminate it, of course. My approach is collaborative and it is focused on uncovering the truth and sharing it in a loving and productive way. We are a team! In fact, I ended up becoming friends with some of my past clients, because I really come to care about and bond with them in this personalized work. I will do whatever it takes to help them get what they want. One time, this included sitting at a café and “spying” on a client’s dates. Another time it involved calling a client’s exes and finding out why they really broke up. I always find out. Some clients think they know what their issues are, but they don’t really know until they work with me!

4. You also offer image coaching. How is it an essential part of the attraction game?

Finding love is both about improving ourselves and being accepted for who we are.   Improvements on the outside make for improvements on the inside when someone is committed to self-growth. When I coach singles to become the best version of their self by making little tweaks to their appearance and presentation, their confidence skyrockets. Anyone will tell you: Confidence is what is really sexy! When I coach to increase confidence, I increase the quality of options in the dating pool.

5. What type of clientele do you usually coach? Match?

At this point in my career, I am lucky to say that I only coach and match clients that I truly like and feel that I can have success with. Most of my clients are single–though I do coach couples who are looking to improve their relationship as well. The people I work with are usually attractive, smart, successful, dynamic individuals who are highly motivated to find and keep a long-term relationship, get married, and/or start a family. They are mostly straight—though I do gay matchmaking and coaching as well! I will work with anyone (who is realistic and can afford me!) who is truly ready to commit to the process of creating a great relationship. My clients are open to honest feedback, and are willing to go deeper if we discover any “love blocks” that could get in the way of our work together. They are all “good peeps”.

6. Any success stories you can tell us about?

Marriage & babies! Yes, it is an awesome feeling to know that I have gotten several couples married and into long-term relationships that may lead to marriage. In a sense, I’ve created them.

7. Do you think it’s challenging to find a date in the City? Why?

It is not challenging to find a date in this city. There are bars on many a corner, and every dating app under the sun at our fingertips is just a download away. Getting a second date becomes more challenging because of all the options. Getting into a lasting-relationship organically—well, some say that’s almost impossible in this modern-day NYC dating scene! The “paradox of choice” comes into play for most New Yorkers. Many have what I call “dating ADD” that keeps them from settling down. In other words, they get addicted to the roller coaster of casual dating/sex (or their careers) and just don’t see the need to focus on finding a real relationship.

8. What are the key things Single New Yorkers should do to attract the right partner in their life?

Dear NYC Singles: If you want to attract the right partner, make it a priority! Get realistic about who you are and what you have to offer before you determine what you are looking for in a match. You have to be who you want to attract! So improve yourself before you put yourself out there. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t order your next boyfriend or girlfriend, the way you order your salad on Seamless.com! Dating is not a create-your-own-and get the perfect option. Your match will come with baggage and flaws. Give him or her a chance instead of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else. As they say, the grass is greener where you water it.  But you won’t be watering anything if you are sitting in your apartment or staying stuck in your same routine. So live your life and switch things up every now and then! Use all the resources of this great city to find compatible singles. Try online dating sites and apps, your friends and matchmakers, events and parties, and even approaching people on line at Whole Foods! You probably came to or stay in NYC for your career ambitions. If you didn’t work hard, you’d never make it here. Now work hard for your love life too! Realize that it is just as-and arguable more-important!

9. You went on 92 Dates (!) in a year once. What did you learn from this incredible experience?

3 Major Takeaways: 1. When dating starts to feel like too much work or becomes emotionally draining, you should take a break! 2. When you are twenty-seven, dating older men is much more fun than dating men your own age! They are more mature and sophisticated, will take you on better dates, will be more interesting to talk to, and will (ideally) be more likely to want a relationship with substance. 3. Serial dating will not get you over your ex—in fact-when you see what else is out there-it may bring you right back to him or her!

10. What are the key spots to meet a potential date in the City?

It all depends on the type you are looking for. Want a finance guy? Go hang out near the South Street Seaport after work. Want a techie who runs a new startup? Head over to Dumbo during lunch and check out the cafés with all Brooklyn guys working on their Macs. If you are interested in dating someone into fitness, go to a gym or run the NYC Marathon. Its common sense, really. Find your target market and then do your homework. Go where they go!

11. What’s the ideal NYC first date for you?

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Even better—brunch on a Sunday! I know some people think this is unromantic or something to do with your girlfriends, but for a first date, I think it is perfect. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I am totally game for getting all dressed up and going to a fancy restaurant for dinner. But there is also something very down to earth and refreshing about having eggs with someone, walking around a bit after, and getting on with your day! It has to be food for me to be impressed though. I mean…I am Italian! Food equals love! Seriously though, I don’t recommend meeting for drinks. It isn’t serious enough, and it leaves women feeling like the guy is either cheap, a player, or a cheap player auditioning them for the meal! I want a man who is interested enough to sit down with me for more than just a drink.

12. What are the things men should avoid doing when looking for a date? What about women?

Anyone looking for a date needs to keep their eyes open when they are out and about. That means being in the moment and not having your head down in your phone. When you meet new people that you might be interested in dating, focus on them. Don’t be looking around the room for a better prospect. Listen to them. Don’t cut them off. Be interesting and interested. Realize that people generally enjoying talking about themselves, so ask open-ended questions. Try not to be cliché. Have manners! Men, chivalry isn’t dead. So don’t let her think you are anything less than a gentleman because you didn’t open the door for her. Please don’t say anything sexist or make inappropriate comments about her body. Don’t take the conversation to a sexual place when you first meet a woman. Ladies, men today still want A LADY! So if you curse like a truck driver, stop. Be in your feminine energy. Don’t just talk about your career. Say “please” and “thank you”. Men like to be appreciated. Oh, and don’t show up to anywhere chomping on gum. Apparently, sophisticated NYC men hate that!

13. You wrote the book” How To Get Over Your Ex: A Step By Step Guide To Mend A Broken Heart Italian American Style”. Can you give us in a gist of the main actions people should take to get over their ex?

Yes! My book is one part self-help and one part celebration of Italian American culture. Cliff Notes: There are certain things about Italian Americans (hint: pride + stubbornness +passion) and their culture that can help people get past a breakup. I hold readers’ hands and show them how to embrace the power of family, faith, food, la dolce vita, and much more. The core messages I provide are actually very simple yet profound. For instance, the first step is to realize the relationship is dead. (Like, Badda Bing, Badda Boom!) And the second is to go through the stages of the grieving process. I give readers permission to get sad and angry and slowly come to a place of acceptance. Only then, can they move on to the rest of the book, which is filled with valuable advice for rebuilding their lives, living in an ex-free zone, and coming back into the dating scene stronger than ever!

14. Anything you’d like to add?

I’d like to invite your readers to take advantage of a special offer– 20% off all a la carte services as described on RachelRusso.com when purchased before Sept 5, 2016. Anyone who is interested can email me at Rachel@RachelRusso.com subject “NY Dating Life”. Oh, and follow me on Twitter @RachelTRusso, but only if you like sassy tweets.