Unlucky in Love?
Raleigh’s Love Doctors Have the Remedies
By Latisha Catchatoorian
Photos by Joe Reale
One thing Raleigh matchmaker Angela Kelley wants to get straight? Success in love is not solely synonymous with a six-carat Neil Lane diamond on that finger and a walk down a flower-adorned aisle. In fact, she’s not even married.
“Everyone measures success differently. I measure success by someone clicking with another person,” she said. “I’ve been in love and it’s an awesome feeling. I honestly think that’s what everyone on this planet is here to do – to find someone in this big world to love.”
Kelley found love with someone for years, until he unexpectedly passed away.
“It was a nightmare,” she said. “It spun my world around.”
After mourning the loss of her partner and slowly getting back into the dating scene she realized there were a lot of people in the area who wanted to date, but didn’t know how outside of online sites like eharmony.com.
A social butterfly always making new connections, Kelley decided it was time to start her matchmaking business, A+ Introductions. The “A” is for Angela and the fact that she thinks everyone should be on their dating “A game.” She also likes the idea of “adding love to people’s lives,” hence the “+” symbol. She keeps her business intentionally small and focuses on singles 35 years and older.
“In my mind these folks are a little more serious about dating. By this point most people are pretty sure about what they’re looking for, they’re experienced enough, and they have a little bit more money to spend,” she explained.
While Kelley has lived in the area for over 20 years, Raleigh love coach and date doctor Dr. Alma Avery Rubenstein is newer to the 919 area code. When her mother fell ill, Rubenstein moved her life and her business to Raleigh three years ago from the West coast.
A self-described “nice Jewish girl,” Rubenstein had been living out west, where she had opened a café on the Oregon coast after “some guy broke [her] heart.”
“Eventually I auditioned for The Bachelor,” Rubenstein recalls. “I really went on the show to find true love, but I wound up not getting a rose.” Instead of being crushed, Rubenstein used the experience as a catalyst to start her coaching business.
“I was like, I didn’t get a rose, and so I’m going to teach people how to get a rose. I made a website, I milked the PR, and I called every radio station I knew. I kind of morphed my business out of nothing. I tried to make a positive out of a negative,” she said. “I was always fixing people up with other people anyway or saying, ‘You can’t wear that!’ or ‘You’ve got to cut your nose hair!’ I was like this Jewish yenta, always putting people together and helping them with their confidence.”
She calls herself the female Hitch (As in Will Smith’s character from the romantic comedy of the same name). She said she may be terrible at math and science, but she can teach people to go after what they want and help them believe in themselves.
She’s worked with a wide range of clients – from bigwigs at Microsoft to young women who can’t seem to get out of the “friend zone.”
One of the biggest problems she sees regularly?
“There are a lot of people making other people pay for what someone else did in the past or ruining what could be in the future, and it messes up their now,” she said.
Dating coach Dominique Clark, who runs her matchmaking business DClark & Company, echoes Rubenstein’s admonitions. She pinpoints “allowing negative past relationship experiences to prevent people from seeing dating today through a positive lens” as one of the top five dating problems adults face.
Another issue Clark says is common? Waiting for love to show up on the doorstep.
“You have to be proactive about finding love,” agreed Rubenstein.
Fortunately for Kelley, Rubenstein and Clark, it’s the romantic proactivity of the area that has kept these women in business.
“This area is really family-oriented, which is great, but sometimes singles in the area can feel like they’re the only ones,” Kelley said. Her hint: They’re not.
“What’s great about dating in Raleigh is that it’s growing,” Clark added. “The city is consistently attracting new people due to jobs, amazing medical facilities, great colleges and universities, etc. The social scene is booming with new restaurants, lounges and creative events, which can increase a single person’s chances at finding love.”
Though Clark initially studied to become a doctor so she could improve people’s lives through medicine, she now gives people the powerful healing of love and connection.
“I do what I do because I believe everyone is worthy and deserving of love,” she said.
Rubenstein’s favorite part of coaching is seeing people overcome their obstacles.
“I feel like so many people don’t take [enough] risks or chances,” she said. “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
“[This business] is gratifying because everyone wants to find their match,” Kelley added. “It’s always worthwhile to put yourself out there.”