Justin Cohen gets to the heart of relationship hurdles on M-Net’s ‘The Single Wives SA’

While dating apps have become the New Age conduit to finding love, it doesn’t make the process any less challenging.

In fact, the baggage of the past often becomes the kryptonite in most relationships. While some people are able to seek out professional help in dealing with their issues, others simply soldier on in the false hope that they have things under control until they find themselves repeating past mistakes.

Thankfully, the six contestants on M-Net’s The Single Wives SA –Angel Pather, Chantelle Thrupp-Snow, Genevieve Stander, Helen Zondo, Nikki Nell and Tori Celliers – have expert dating coaches Justin Cohen and Mapaseka Mokwele steering them towards a healthier and long-lasting romance.

In a recent tête-à-tête with Cohen, who is renowned for transforming lives as a motivational speaker as well as a talk show host, he shed light on his interaction with the reality show’s contestants.

By the way, the best-selling author, who recently released Winning with Relationships: 21 Laws of Influence in Love and Business, landed his TV gig on the recommendation of a friend he hasn’t seen in three decades.

He explained: “A coach I went to school with, Leah Sefor, had been doing some work with M-Net. They asked if she knew of a male coach for a new show. The last time I saw Leah was thirty years ago, so I was really touched that she thought of me. It does show that we develop a network over a lifetime and that network determines our net worth!”

Mapaseka Mokwele and Justin Cohen are the expert dating coaches on ’The Single Wives SA’.

On the show, he is joined by Mokwele who, aside from her wealth of experience helming shows in the broadcast space, has her Master’s in management and business executive coaching.

On how they complement each other, Cohen offered: “We have a very high respect and regard for one another. I think we fill in each others gaps. Mapaseka does an immense amount of relationship coaching where I do more presenting and training. Her experience gives her a tremendous breadth and depth of knowledge, not only did the ladies learn from her, so did I. It doesn’t hurt that we really like each other. More than my co-host and coach, she is my work wife (don’t tell her husband!).”

Although the women on the show are similar in that they have had their hearts broken and are looking for love, their journeys are poles apart.

When asked about his contribution in helping heal some deeply embedded emotional, psychological and, in one case, physical scars, he said: “Our history is not our destiny. I think the psychotherapy industry has placed too much weight on the past. Of course, trauma can have an impact but, far more than what has happened, our lives are determined by how we respond to what has happened.

“My job is to help people find a more resourceful response and perhaps to even see that their wound can become their super power. The greatest thing that ever happened to David was Goliath.

“Adversity is the way that life educates us.”

On Zondo trying really hard to move forward despite having been a victim of gender-based violence, he offered: “Most of us know about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fewer have heard of post-traumatic growth (PTG). Many people bounce back from trauma with greater wisdom, humility and appreciation of life. Helen is one of those people.”

Cohen doesn’t cushion the truth from women, especially when addressing certain behaviour patterns or a mindset that might be holding them back. We recently saw Nikkie reduced to tears when he raised a problem with her.

On the bond he forged with them, he shared: “Over the series, I fell in love with each one of these women. That’s because each one of them was willing to drop their defences and reveal their pain and vulnerability. In doing so they were able to heal and grow. I felt immense pride as each of them transformed in their own way.”

The Single Wives SA airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) Thursday at 7.30pm.