Date Coach: “First Date to Soulmate” | S2, Ep.15


Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re T.H. & Jessica. 

T.H.: Welcome everybody to today’s podcast. We are happy to have Julianne Cantarella with us today. She is a certified social worker, but more importantly for us today,

she is also a certified date coach. What does that even mean? It’s going to be my first question. Let’s just start with that. What does it mean?

Julianne: It means I help people with their love lives. A certified professional matchmaker/dating coach is someone who really helps people, typically women, in my case I do work more with women than men although I do have men as clients, I help them lay the foundation for healthy relationships.

I have a boutique coaching program, it’s called From First Date to Soulmate and I hold their hand through the entire dating process and get them out and dating and help them date successfully. I help them uncover any self-limiting beliefs, negative patterns of behavior and really identify when someone’s investing in them and is a good match with them.

Jessica: I love the whole First Date to Soulmate. That is such a good tagline. I think some people are going to be curious, what does it entail to be a certified dating coach? What kind of training or what goes into that? Obviously, the therapeutic background that you have is applicable, but

I think people would be wondering what makes one person an expert in that?

Julianne: Sure. I’m glad you brought up the last piece of my credentials which is I’m a licensed social worker and I worked as a therapist for about 15 years before I got into this realm of helping people with their relationships romantically. Then I decided that I wanted to take a step further and I am an ICF-certified relationship coach. Really, I fall under the life coaching realm but specifically on working with people and their relationships. I’ve been doing that for 15 years so it’s been a long time and I love what I do.

T.H.: So you must have seen an opportunity during your regular therapy practice. You must have seen an opportunity from all your clients coming to you with dating qualms and questioning themselves. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I find a good guy? Where do you even start with your magic wand here with these kinds of people? I was one of those people; Jess is one of those people.

Jessica: We’re all one of those people [laughs].

T.H.: How do you do your magic around that?

Julianne: Okay. So basically, it’s a big question you’re asking, but basically, we start with really on the coaching part of it. We really understand what is going on for the client. What are those blocks? What has been their experience? What is bringing them to date coaching? Then I work a little bit around that to help them move into the idea and space that they want to date.

When I launched my program back in 2009, I did my due diligence. I looked around to see what other coaches were doing just to get a sense of what was happening.

What I saw was there were great programs and people were learning skills, they were learning tools, but then they were walking away and going, okay, now what?

That’s where I saw the gap. That’s where I saw I needed to fill the gap. This was all the way back in 2009. I said how can I get my clients out and dating, right? I can actually coach them in real-time to help them have more success. We didn’t have to look far because there’s online dating, and then I did my due diligence there. I went online, I spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out what was working, what wasn’t working for clients, and how can I make their experience that much better. Because what I uncovered was you have to market yourself. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, and I am the first one to admit it. I was like, wait for a second, you have to market yourself? I just didn’t like the whole idea. I didn’t like the [inaudible] precedent?

T.H.: It doesn’t sound authentic.

Julianne: It doesn’t!

Jessica: My initial instinct in hearing that isn’t even necessarily so much that it’s not romantic or not authentic because I feel like then you go on the date and then you’re not who they think you are because you’ve put out all of this stuff to market yourself. It’s like, is it real?

Julianne: So I’m going to interrupt you [laughs]. I would never do that.

I want my clients to have really good first dates. What happens is people are online and they don’t put the best version of themselves out there.

They think, this is me, and they take any old picture and they’re like, oh you can see my face and I look halfway decent. Most of the time it’s a selfie, it’s a horrible angle, and it’s horrible lighting. It’s just horrible. Then they’re expecting Prince Charming to come along and they’re like, why isn’t he coming along? Why am I not getting the response I want? Why am I getting these horrible men? And it’s like as I say, it’s not online dating. Everybody’s like, online dating stinks! I’m like, no, online dating doesn’t stink; the user stinks. That’s what I change, is how you’re using online dating.

Jessica: So what’s step one?

Julianne: To marketing? What’s step one is photos. Your photo determines 94% of your success. I have three photographers who work for me, and they’ve been with me since about – I launched my program in 2009. I tried a different bunch of photographers, and three of them have stuck with me since 2010/11. That’s step one. We have a photoshoot, and I have an outline of what you should and shouldn’t wear. I come to every photo shoot as well because I’m extremely hands-on. My program I’m very proud of, I have a 93% success rate. There are other companies out – I’ll share with you, over this last year, I’ve had three clients come to me who used another very large firm who kind of took my idea, but it’s a mill, right? So I’m one on one, and I work one on one with my clients, and I am there from the first date to their soulmate.

Jessica: Let me ask you really quickly because I think one of the questions that come up is what does that mean, a success rate? Like success rate in terms of your clients are then actually meeting someone?

Julianne:  No. It means they’re actually ending up in committed relationships or married.

Jessica: Oh, that’s what I mean. They’re actually meeting someone –

Julianne: Yeah. Well, no, some companies will say I sent you on a date and that’s a success. No.

Jessica: Oh. No, no. I mean, like whatever your endgame is, some people might want to get married, some people might just want to be in a committed relationship, whatever it is that their intention was initially, you’re saying you have a 94% rate and that they get what they’ve been looking for?

Julianne: Right. They end up in committed relationships or married. So then once I have the photos done, I have a professional profiler who writes for me, her name is Kathy, and she’s been with me since about 2012. I used to write all the profiles, I don’t have the time anymore. Then I do an assessment of each client to find out where I want to put them, which site I want to put them on, as well as really determining that we’re moving past their obstacles and their self-limiting beliefs and all of that. Then I get them up and running and out and dating, and I literally hold their hand through the process.

T.H.: So let’s take a giant step backward now. I was speaking with Julianne before our podcast, I presented to you that there are many different men and women that must come to you in different stages of dating readiness.

What Julianne said to me, which is really important to make all of this successful and for you to have success in your business, are they even ready for dating? Are they in a good headspace to put their best self forward?

And I’ll let you answer that, but I’ll just say from my own personal experience, I’ve been very successful with online dating. It was really also the timing for me. Like it wasn’t the dating, but I was in a good space at the time that I met someone really great, so then it worked out. Otherwise, I’m just on a tear and just funneling through like, you’re 12 o’clock, you’re four o’clock, see you Tuesday. I don’t even know who that sounds like, Jessica, but that was me too and we’re not alone.

Jessica: Yes, so how do you make sure that you’re in the right space?

T.H.: Right. And that you’re taking them on at the right time. What kind of advice do you give people and how do you evaluate them to make sure they’re ready to be your client?

Julianne: Absolutely. So I do an assessment of them, I’ll meet with them, I’ll find out where they’ve been, what is their experience, why are they coming to me now, what is it that they’re looking for in a partner, and is it realistic? Very often people come to me and they have this grandiose idea of who their partner is going to be. We kind of flesh that out and we talk about it through coaching to really get a better sense of what’s right for them. Very often it’s the, I want that six-foot-tall, six-figured man who’s gorgeous, but they don’t think about if that man going to respect them. Is that man going to treasure them, cherish them, and treat them the way they need to be treated? And we kind of circle around that. I cover everything when it comes to preparing them for dating and hopefully a healthy relationship.

T.H.: And if they’re not ready, what do you do if they come to you?

Julianne: It depends. If someone comes to me and let’s say they’re suffering from anxiety, and I see that, then I will refer them out. I won’t take someone on if I don’t feel that they’re prepared to move forward. I don’t think that’s fair to them, nor me. I have an arsenal of social worker therapists that I refer out to just from my days in the industry.

Jessica: I think that’s just so important.

T.H.: When people come to you, I’m curious, what’s sort of the process? So they’ve been trying to date, they haven’t been successful in finding what they’re looking for, so they come to you.

Can you give us a little bit of what the road looks like? Like, we start here, then we do this, and then we do this, to give people an idea of what the program entails?

Julianne: Sure. So basically, what I had said earlier. I’ll meet with someone, I’ll get a sense of where they are, we’ll do a little coaching to prepare them, do the photoshoot, the profile, I assess them to determine the sites where I want to put them, and then I get them up and running. What’s different about me is that I’m behind the scenes with them, and I’m coaching them in real-time. To give you an example, I’m working with a woman right now, she’s in her 50s, and she’s never dated before.

I literally just had a session with her before we hopped on. She’s never dated before, there’s a lot of anxiety and preconceived ideas around what dating is, on who these people are who she’s meeting, as well as some of the issues that she’s brought with her from past relationships. I’m working to combat that in real-time and dispel those myths for her. We coach her on that, and I help her move through the anxiety, are these people real? Are they of quality? That’s the type of thing I tackle. It’s very different for everyone, so for me to put it in a nutshell, it really isn’t – I have another client who’s 73 years old, who’s widowed, and she came to me after six years of dating unsuccessfully. Then she started to work with me and it was a huge mind shift. She said this is what I needed. I needed the mind shift so that I could do this successfully. And let me tell you something, she is crushing it online, and I’m not kidding. The men are beating – 

T.H.: That’s so great.

Julianne: It is. It is. And she said I didn’t market myself. She was getting the not-so-great men. Now she’s getting CEOs of companies, doctors, and lawyers. She’s like, how did this happen? I’m like it’s part of the marketing. You have to show the best version of yourself.

Jessica: So I’m curious, you said figuring out which are the right sites for people. I know people that are literally on every site. They’re on Bumble, they’re on Hinge, they’re on Coffee Meets Bagel. Why one over the other? What makes a person right for one versus another?

Julianne: So that’s a really hard question.

Jessica: For someone who’s listening, what are they going to think? Is it like, I’m like this, and so you’re saying this would be the better site for them?

Julianne: Well, it’s not as simple as that. I wish it was. It’s just getting a sense of what that person’s values are, their life experiences, and where I know that those types of people land in terms of online dating sites. Is it 100%? Do I hit the bull’s eye every time? No, I don’t. But I really try to steer people to the site where I know they’re going to more likely meet someone who shares those goals, values, and relationship vision. That’s what I’m aiming them for. More often than not, you’re going to find someone where I’m directing you. I do comparisons. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and sometimes I’ll see people who are like Mary’s like Sue, and Sue had a good experience on this site, let me try this for her. So that’s what I do, the comparison piece of it.

T.H.: Is it based on age at all? Like I would assume Tinder is for a much younger age, not for a 60-70-year-old, and maybe Match and J-Date is for an older group? Then there are new apps that come out all the time. There’s something called Tawkify or something that I see on Instagram for working people. I feel like there are guys reaching out to me on LinkedIn. I don’t know who the fuck they are, they’re like in Timbuktu, but they’re all of a sudden are interested in my career, like what? [Laughs]. So they’re art? [inaudible] related and profession related like based on your interest and your age?

Julianne: Not necessarily. You can really use any site as long as you’re using it properly.

You’re really going to want to use it to your advantage, and that’s what people don’t understand. It doesn’t matter if you land on Match, eHarmony, or whatever. It’s how you use it, right? There is definitely going to be a younger set on Tinder, right? That’s just the way it goes. So something like less of an app and more on your laptop that you can utilize, I would say for someone probably like 60-70, it’s fine. But it’s more about truly how you use it, how you market, and how you communicate. To give you an example, the woman who I just got off the phone with, I was online with her yesterday. I literally just launched her. I work very closely in the first weeks, very closely at moments every day I speak to my client. She exchanged cell phone numbers with a man. He got back to her and said that he wanted to call at a certain time, and then she went back to him and I told her what to say. He read it and didn’t answer. She’s like, he read it, he didn’t answer, and he’s never going to get back to me. I’m like, no, this is what happens, and this is called a big gap in communication. I said, from my experience, my suspicion is he read it, he now has your contact information, and he’s going to call you when he said he’s going to. Oh, no, I’m telling you he read it. I said let’s just take a deep breath and let’s see what happens. I said I’m pretty sure he’s going to call you. Then she pushed back on why didn’t he write anything. I said because he’s got your number, he’s going to call you. Sure enough today, she told me, you’re right, he called me last night. But she wasn’t even going to be by the phone. She’s like, that’s it, like she was getting ready to give up already. Because that’s what happens, there’s a big huge ball of miscommunication and that’s where the problem happens. When you learn to communicate well, especially when you’re using online sites, you’ll have more success. That’s what I help my clients do, is manage the communication and that gray area that people aren’t sure of what’s happening.

T.H.: Julianne also told me that she’s some of her clients’ secret escape during a date. If they’re on a date, tell us afterward.

Jessica: Do tell!

Julianne: Well, more so I’m their cheerleader before they walk in. So my clients have unlimited email and texting to me whenever they need to contact me. If I’m not in the middle of dinner with my family or doing something that I can’t get to the phone, they can always text me and say, okay, I’m walking into the date, and I’m a little anxious. I’ll either take a call with them, or I’ll text them and be like, you’ve got this, this is just a date. I always say you’re not marrying them, you’re just meeting them, you’re just finding out who they are, and calming them a little bit down and calling them.

Jessica: That’s amazing. So I have so many more questions. I know this conversation could be extended and we could be talking for hours. We’re definitely going to have to have you back to continue the conversation. I have a feeling we have people that are listening, that are going to have questions for you. We’d love to have you back at a time when we can have you answer people’s questions specifically. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with the ExExperts community. For anyone out there who is interested in the program and wants to reach out to you directly, what are the best ways for them to find you?

Julianne: They can definitely google me at You can find me there. I’m also on Instagram @julianne.relationshipexpert. Same with Facebook. I’m also on Twitter. I don’t do a lot there, but you can find me there if you’re on Twitter. And definitely give me a call. You can find my information on my website.

Jessica: Okay, good. And we’ll have all of that information on our website as well so people can click right through to find you. Thank you so much for being here today. We look forward to the next time.

Julianne: I’d love it. Thank you so much.

Goodbye: For everyone out there listening, if you know anyone at all who would benefit from what we talked about today please share this episode and everything exEXPERTS.  Be sure and click to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and please follow us on social media @exEXPERTS Divorce etc… on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and our website at  Thanks for listening!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.