Rachel New is a dating and relationships coach in London, UK.
She tells us that, “I’ve worked in research at the University of Oxford in social psychology as well as in teaching. I have an evidence-based, therapeutic approach and encourage mindful and ethical dating. I offer one-to-one consultations as well as group workshops, all online. I work with all ages, genders, sexual preferences, ethnicities, abilities and backgrounds, and my advice is gender-free. I also enjoy writing – both fiction and blogging about the psychology of dating – and have even done stand-up comedy about dating!”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up in a deprived, diverse part of London, UK, with a state school education. My parents brought us up with politically left-wing values. I did not expect to be treated differently because of my gender and took my equality for granted. We were encouraged not to label people by their gender, and an old school friend recently reminded me that we called boyfriends and girlfriends “personfriends”! After graduating with a degree in Psychology and Philosophy, I got married, moved to a country town and became a high school teacher and teacher trainer. Later I worked in a research lab in social psychology at the University of Oxford. Between the ages of 26 and 38, I struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome and worked part-time, which meant it was hard to get opportunities for career progression. My strategy was to expand my existing job roles to the point where I would be asked to take on greater responsibilities (such as Head of Department in a high school and training teachers across the UK) simply by being very creative and taking the initiative to set up and drive my own projects forward. Another example of this is despite not having a PhD, I am a first author and co-author on a number of peer-reviewed research papers. There were times when it was hard to believe that I had potential in the workplace because I didn’t have much energy and lived in fear of depleting my physical and mental resources, so had to be very disciplined about pacing myself. But I hope I am proof that working part-time or having poor health does not need to be a barrier to expanding your career. At 38, I made a dramatic recovery from chronic fatigue by using the Gupta Programme which suggests that we get stuck in a chronic state of hyper-arousal, quickly using up all the body’s store of energy (https://www.guptaprogram.com/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-treatment/). After two weeks, I was completely back to normal and able to play tennis again! After this, I was able to work more but chose to remain part-time because I valued a good work-life balance, with time to reflect, read, enjoy the natural world and be creative without rushing. I also wanted to make up for lost time with plenty of tennis, dance, music-making and volunteering.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
In 2015, after twenty years of marriage, I went through an amicable divorce, and moved back to London. I had discovered that I needed to be part of a diverse, culturally rich community and loved making new friends. I started dating, which got me interested in the psychology of dating and relationships, and how norms of online dating evolved and then affected the way relationships began. I also noted that some people – like me – had very positive, healthy experiences of dating, and others did not. So I became interested in how people’s upbringing and past relationships affected the way they dealt with emotions, setbacks, and their relationships with themselves. I began coaching friends in their dating lives and found my ideas worked! I could see from other dating coaches’ work that there was a gap in the market for very evidence-based coaching, as well as ethical and healthy dating. I got a good range of training in mindfulness, couples therapy, life coaching, and counselling. I started my business while still working at Oxford but eventually the business became my full-time work.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
Over the last seven years, I’ve learnt not to compare myself to others who like to use a lot of social media or public performance. It doesn’t make me feel good about myself! Instead, I have a website with lots of high value blog posts and recommendations from clients, and this seems to be enough for me to get work (with a little help from Google Ads). I try to stay true to my values and encourage people to be kind to each other when online dating and gently challenge bad behaviours. Behind each dating profile is a human person with their own burdens, insecurities and desire to love and be loved, however much that might be disguised. We can find ways to bring out the best in them, even if we decide they are not right for us. And we can be compassionate to ourselves and become curious about any negative beliefs such as “I’m not lovable” or “Online dating is hopeless“. I love helping people become more resilient in their dating and relating, and often this involves looking at patterns of behaviour, emotions and their accompanying bodily sensations, beliefs, and attitudes – and working out where those come from. I run online courses on healthy dating and self-care in dating (https://rachelnewdatingcoach.co.uk/coaching-programme/) which I’m especially proud of – it brings together all my experience as a teacher (I love writing handouts with activities and exercises and leading group workshops!) and in research in psychology.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I have a dating workbook (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Workbook-self-development-intelligent-authentic/dp/B09KDYSKW4) and what I’m especially proud of here is that it’s gender-free and therefore appropriate for ALL genders (as is all my coaching). Many dating coaches have different advice for men and women which I think widens the gap between the genders and for heterosexual daters creates a “them and us” mentality. Instead, I like to emphasise the overlaps between genders and the fact that we all fall in love in the same way and the same neurochemicals are involved in attraction for everyone. We know from research in neuroscience that the differences between male and female are less than the differences within them (read Daphna Joel’s book Gender Mosaic to find out more). I hope we will start to interpret people’s behaviour less in terms of their gender: we all have traditionally masculine and feminine traits and we don’t have to revert to stereotypes when we are dating!
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would like to encourage you to believe that we can change attitudes, patterns of behaviour and even unequal structures in society by modelling good relationship skills. For example, it’s possible to communicate and work with others in ways that bring out the best in them, and to ask for what you want in a way that doesn’t make the other person feel bad or threatened. We can model not being defensive and being able to say “Good point” rather than jumping straight to trying to convert someone to our point of view. We can model showing appreciation and admiration for people – including those that we manage or partner with in the workplace. We can model being relaxed and at ease with ourselves, able to express both vulnerability and strength without shame. And we can do all of this in our public and personal lives, with co-workers, family members, friends and even strangers. I believe living like this can be revolutionary!
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
I would like to see a different working model – like the four day week or shorter working days – so that everyone can have a better work-life balance. I think it’s great that there are more opportunities for women at the top and they clearly have all the skills needed, but many chose not to because they value other ways of living. It should be possible to have high levels of responsibility and skill without burn-out and I hope women will lead the way in changing the norms of working conditions. I would also like women to lead the way in modelling healthier ways of leading – through collaboration, cooperation, and consultation.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
You can build resilience in all your relationships – whether work, family, or friends – by learning to understand that almost all miscommunication or lack of cooperation is related to psychological needs that stem from our upbringing. One person feels threatened because of a fear of depletion of resources; another is unable to be compassionate because they didn’t experience it as a child; another cannot be flexible because their self-esteem is too low; and another is critical of others because they are critical of themselves. By hearing others’ words and behaviour as an expression of their needs, we don’t need to interpret it as a reflection on our competence.