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SINGLES : Coaches to Offer Game Plans on How to Succeed at Romance : A convention Sunday for the unattached will cover everything from proper courtship to bad opening lines.

September 23, 1993|KATHLEEN WILLIAMS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Those who wish to consult a romance coach will find one Sunday at the Singles Convention in Ventura. The event appears to follow the popular theory that singles would rather double up.

The program also includes authors of texts on finding the ideal mate, as well as Bryan Redfield, billed as a former Hollywood bartender who has heard the disastrous opening lines of 10,000 unattached people. He will divulge those miscues in the afternoon's keynote address, "Classic Mistakes in Meeting the Opposite Sex."

On the positive side, there will be a discussion on "Happily Ever After . . . With a Little Help."

The help is available from Suzanne M. Brierley, president of Romanceworks Inc. of Irvine. Brierley has five years experience coaching men and women in how to meet, court and wed partners who fit their ideals.

"If you don't know the rules of the dating game, how a courtship should work and all about the dynamics of love, no matter how well you know yourself, you're not going to accomplish anything--unless you're incredibly lucky," the romance expert said during a recent interview.

With half of U.S. marriages ending in divorce and 40% of the adult population currently single, according to the latest U.S. census, she may have a point.

In her analysis: "People--especially women--give too much too soon. They short-circuit the falling in love process, and before they know it they are over-encumbering a new relationship with sex and responsibilities."

Instead, she teaches clients courtship: a period of time in which they build up a "bank account" of positive memories to be used when the conflict stage swings into place.

That way, she said, they can reflect, "You know, we really have a good thing here; let's get through this."

A romance coach also instructs singles on "how to spot opportunities, how to create opportunities and how to prepare for opportunities so that when (one strikes), they're ready!"

It's a pragmatic, if calculated, approach to true love.

"We plan for our careers, don't we?" the counselor said. "All of a sudden when we are 28, we don't say, 'Gee, I think I'm going to look in the paper and find a job as a surgeon.' "

Brierley, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is completing an M.A. in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University, was not always in the romance business. She was recruited by a psychologist friend who had clients completing therapy and wanting to embark on intimate relationships.

"(This woman) had been married for 20 years to her childhood sweetheart and had never dated. She found herself on Friday afternoons calling me because she knew that I'd been very successful in this area," said Brierley, who is single and describes herself as having a wide social circle.

Brierley began holding short sessions in dating behavior for a few clients, and evolved into offering private consultations for men and women plus six-hour "Lovewise Seminars" for women only. These cost $75 and come with a money-back guarantee if clients don't become engaged within two years. No one has requested a refund, she says.

For those who still don't have a partner with whom to work things out, she offers strategies for finding one.

"Some people think that it's not as good if it doesn't happen accidentally--if it's not all left up to destiny," she said. "And I want to explode that myth, because I think we can create our destiny. We have to quit thinking about how this used to happen in the old days, where people introduced us through family."

Mixing, even for non-mixers, is an aspect Brierley concentrates on, and it plays a critical role in her guidance.

"People tell me they just don't meet the caliber (of person) they are looking for. Well, they just don't know how to position themselves socially," she said. "They're out there, because I meet them all the time. And there's new ones coming on the market all the time."

* WHERE AND WHEN

WHAT: The seminar is co-sponsored by Ventura and Oxnard colleges' Community Services, and American Singles of San Rafael.

WHEN: Sunday seminars 1 to 5 p.m. Comedy and dance party 7 p.m. to midnight

WHERE: Doubletree Hotel, 2055 Harbor Blvd., Ventura. Take Seaward Avenue exit off the Ventura Freeway. West on Seaward Avenue, right on Harbor Boulevard.

How: Preregister by calling 654-6459 or 986-5822. Cost: $25 for entire convention; $15 for either session.

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