South Charlotte

Single and looking at the holidays?

Looking for love this holiday season?

Relationship success expert "Dr. Dar" has helped singles find Mr. or Ms. Right for 12 years.

This love guru - whose full name is Darshana Hawks - coaches singles and couples about finding and keeping healthy relationships.

Hawks is featured on WCCB Fox Fridays at 8 a.m. Her book, "Stop Being Single Now," also teaches people to empower people to take charge of their love life.

"I teach singles how to be their own matchmaker," Hawks says. Happily married for 11 years, Hawks, who lives in Ballantyne and works from her home office there, has tips for navigating the dating scene this Christmas and beyond.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte is the fourth-best city for newly arrived singles. With a city of 731,424 people, singles should have a large pool to choose from.

Loneliness, however, still takes hold.

"The loneliness isn't because they don't have a relationship," Hawks says, but "because they've isolated themselves."

Seeing loving couples on television, in magazines and in real life may spur singles to snap decisions. They may reconnect with an old flame or accept dates with the wrong people, said Hawks.

Singles can combat these urges with new activities. "If you're not a hiker, but you think you might like it, then go try it," she says.

Often, people meet through mutual friends, shared interests, and co-ed extracurricular activities. You'll definitely have more fun than sitting home alone. "You've got to go out," Hawks says.

Holiday parties can be full of landmines for singles. Family, friends and colleagues may ask about their love life. When someone always asks, "Why aren't you married yet?" it may be time to have a kind yet firm discussion with that person.

Hawks recommends the single person nicely tell the questioner to shelve the topic and add, "I appreciate how badly you want this for me." Speaking up is better than suffering in silence, she says.

In addition, singles should bring a friend to the office holiday party. Hawks says they will enjoy themselves more with a buddy than with a date they just met. Plus, spending time with a friend may reveal a potential romantic connection.

Only time will tell if that spark has staying power. "Once the holidays are over, you know," Hawks says.

Hawks said she believes singles and couples should be relationship-conscious year round, not just during the holidays.

Hawks has a unique background in relationship education. She received her doctorate in Spiritual Counseling and Pastoral Counseling from The American Institute of Holistic Theology in 2005. Her techniques are based on coaching, not counseling.

"Coaching is not about what's wrong with you," she says, "It's not about a clinical diagnosis."

She has developed her 4 Step-Dating Formula, or the LOVE Dating Method, as a tool for her clients. With the LOVE method, singles look for prospects, observe the people they meet, verify whether they want to keep seeing someone, and finally evaluate whether they want to let go of or keep the love they find.

Prices vary for Dr. Dar's program. She offers free consultations for new clients.

Her Fast Track to Love home study membership is $59 per month. Private coaching is about $175 per hour. She also offers telecourses, in which singles receive group coaching via one dial-in number. Two of her clients actually "met" over the phone and later started dating.

In the end, Hawks said she hopes singles won't date at a madcap pace during the holidays. Instead, they should enjoy the season with loved ones and friends.

"Because the holidays are about family, go be with your family," she says. "Be less focused on the relationship side as a single."