The Scoop: As a Relationship Therapist and Dating Coach, Dr. Susan Edelman is focused on helping women reclaim their power. Dr. Susan has seen how women often overlook their own needs in many different contexts while trying to find a partner. She encourages them to listen to what they want through her coaching practice, blog, and a pair of books that teach them to “Be Your Own Brand of Sexy.” That signature phrase signals to women that they should recognize their individuality in life and love, rather than follow preconceived notions of self-worth.
As a board-Certified Psychiatrist and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford, Dr. Susan Edelman never planned on becoming a dating and relationship coach. Her foray into the field began when a friend’s daughter went to college and asked Dr. Susan what she thought guys meant when they asked to “hang out.”
At first, Dr. Susan was unsure, but soon she found out that the college her friend’s daughter attended had a reputation as a hookup school, where most guys were only interested in sex.
“It was heartbreaking to me,” Dr. Susan said. “All these guys said they just want casual sex and nothing more.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Susan recognized that this hookup culture didn’t just extend to college coeds. Women were being undervalued in many facets of society as well as in dating and relationships. Dr. Susan found that women were often not getting what they wanted from men, and, in turn, settling for less than what they deserve.
“I wanted to empower women to realize they didn’t have to settle for just sex. These women weren’t going to walk through my office door, but they still needed help in this area,” she said.
With the goal of helping more women than she could through therapy, Dr. Susan started to expand her services at her California-based practice to include dating coaching sessions. She developed the mantra “Be Your Own Brand of Sexy” to encourage women to stop feeling like they have to be perfect to deserve affection from the types of men they want to date.
Across the multiple platforms through which she dispenses advice, Dr. Susan’s overarching message remains the same: “I want to help women figure out what’s right for them — as human beings.”
Helping You Foster a Sense of Self-Worth
Over her 30 years of experience in counseling, Dr. Susan has become an expert on what holds women back. One of the most common issues she sees is that women are often overly influenced by suggestions of what a woman should be. She said these suggestions mostly come from pop culture and the media, including TV shows and beauty magazines.
“I’m all about helping women figure out what’s right for them as individuals,” she said. “Instead of being swayed by what your friends say, figure out what’s right for you.”
Dr. Susan said women often don’t know how to ask for what they want — or even know what they want in the first place — because they’re surrounded by an unhealthy culture. Around 90% of American women report they aren’t happy with how they look, Dr. Susan said. Coupled with that lack of self-satisfaction is the crippling belief that women must have complete self-confidence to find healthy relationships.
“But people who are focused on their inner beauty can be confident enough to find relationships,” she said.
So what advice does Dr. Susan provide to women who lack the self-esteem they think they need to find a healthy relationship?
Dr. Susan said she begins by reminding women that they don’t have to please everyone. It doesn’t matter all that much if a love interest doesn’t return their feelings or doesn’t appreciate the way they look. She emphasizes that, in the end, the only thing that truly matters is finding the right person with whom to build a relationship or a marriage.
“As long as you find the person you do connect with, that’s the important thing. You just have to find the right person for you,” Dr. Susan said.
She said that her mission aligns well with the recent self-empowerment #MeToo movement. Many women who have been mistreated by men have come forward to demand better treatment.
That’s what Dr. Susan has encouraged women to do for years.
“The #MeToo movement has been exciting in that women are recognizing the ways they weren’t treated well. It’s wonderful to help empower people,” she said.
Coaching Clients Both Near & Far
Dr. Susan’s first book as part of her mission is called “Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women.” The book details some of the pitfalls women face in contemporary dating and provides readers with ways to show off their best self and forget about men who don’t match their expectations.
“Women of all ages — from women in their 20s to women in their 70s and 80s out there dating again — have read my book and found it helpful,” Dr. Susan said.
Her second book, “What to Say to Men on a Date: Be Your Own Brand of Sexy,” describes how to answer what she calls “loaded questions” that men may ask on dates.
In addition to these books, Dr. Susan shares advice through her blog. Some of the topics about which she has written include: “Can Being a People-Pleaser Mess Up Your Love Life?” and “How to Find Love After [Dating] a Narcissist.” Some men even read her website to get a better idea about women’s concerns, but her platform is geared toward women’s issues.
Women can also take Dr. Susan’s quizzes to decide what self-confidence and dating issues may be hindering their love lives. One of the most popular quizzes — both on her website and in her book — is one that helps women consider whether they’re being their own brand of sexy. She also has quizzes on common dating errors, including one titled “How to Weed Out Toxic Men From Your Life” and another called “Seven Common Dating Mistakes Women Make.”
Her message remains consistent across multiple channels: Some women are trying to be people they’re not rather than playing up their own unique set of strengths and qualities.
Dr. Susan is Developing a Sisterhood That Empowers Women
Though Dr. Susan already interacts with clients in a variety of ways, she plans to expand her offerings to reach even more women. Dr. Susan plans to make a new course available in February 2019. The primary mode of course interaction will be videos, which she said is a more intimate and personal way for people to learn. It will be aimed at helping clients meet their goals and gain confidence in their worthiness.
She hopes that the course will help women think of her more like a real person because of the interactive style.
Also in 2019, she plans to add another platform for sharing her dating advice — discussing issues on her YouTube channel.
“I have a lot of ideas, so I want to do weekly videos. I might make a lot of videos on ideas that I’ve already written about in blogs,” she said.
“So many women don’t recognize when they’re not getting respect. I’m all about empowering women and helping them get better treatment from men.” — Dr. Susan Edelman
“It’s more intimate because you feel like you’re sitting there with the person. I want women to feel like they are sitting there with me in a conversation,” Dr. Susan said.
But what’s even more important to Dr. Susan is creating a sisterhood among women who may have spent years feeling they’re not good enough to have the relationships they want.
“My goal with the online course — and almost all of my content — is to help women to feel they have a sisterhood that supports them,” she said.
Though perhaps she never thought she’d be a relationship therapist and dating coach, the venture has allowed her to spread a message that has always been central to her therapy practice.
“So many women don’t recognize when they’re not getting respect,” Dr. Susan said. “I’m all about empowering women and helping them get better treatment from men.”
For more information, follow Dr. Susan Edelman on Facebook.