So one of the rather amusing side-effects of my 30 Dates Challenge is the way it’s launched me as an alleged ‘Dating Expert’.
Dating websites and companies have begun to contact me to seek my ‘expertise’. Having spent my summer trialling websites, and attending singles event after singles event, I have a reasonable idea of what works, and what doesn’t.
Last week I wrote my first article for a Dating Website. Yesterday another dating site paid for me to go on a date and review it, and in just over a week I will be speaking at my first singles event!
I’m in the process of turning the 30 Dates by 30 Challenge into a book, and as I send out book synopses to various literary agents, something a number ask is ‘what qualifies me to write about the topic?’ .
And in reality, nothing specifically qualifies me! I don’t have all the answers! But I can talk honestly about what works and doesn’t work on a date. About how to make Dating fun, and remove some of the stigma and stress from it all.
As I get asked more questions about Dating, it only seems sensible to do my own research, and look at some of the books already on the market. A few weeks ago, on my lunch break at work, I headed to Waterstones, and filled my basket with dating guides and rule books. I’ve mentioned before how this goes completely against my grain. Being Single isn’t something you should need a self-help manual for! It’s not a condition, or an addiction. It’s simply a stage of life!
I’ll look at some of the books under the ‘GAMES’ Experiment – even trying some of the weird and wonderful Dating approaches myself over the next few months. However, I thought I would cover the first book I bought under the header ‘WORDS’.
The book is ‘Why You’re Not Married … Yet’ by Tracy McMillan.
As someone who has always found words a stronger way to communicate than actions, I know just how much of a punch carefully-chosen words can pack. And when I saw the title of this particular Singles Guide, quite frankly, I was offended.
I think one of the biggest problems with being Single is the way it is viewed. By both singles themselves, and other people. Being Single shouldn’t be seen as a failure. It shouldn’t be the wrong side of being in a couple. It should be a status you’re responsible for. Something you’ve chosen for yourself. Not something you feel like other people have forced upon you.
And so a title like ‘Why You’re Not Married’ simply suggests marriage is the be all and end all. The end game. The meaning of life.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still someone who hopes one day to get married. And to have kids, And to look back on my life, with a smile on my face.
But that title really does offend me!
Because once again it implies a failing. A victim-status. Fault.
And there is SO much more to being single than simply not being married. Hopefully something those of you who are also single will have gathered from reading this blog!
So it wasn’t with the most open of minds that that I opened this book.
The book begins with a ‘Quiz’ or ’38 Reasons You Might Need This Book’. If you agree with any of the 38 Reasons, you apparently at least ‘sort of’ need the book. If you agree with thirty or more, you really really need the book.
Some of the statements seem sane enough. If the book is about how to meet people, then a good place to start would be ‘I’m at work so much, I’ve thought about painting my office cubicle.’
‘Marriage is stupid. And men suck.’ is also a statement which would probably pose a thorn in the side of any marriage proposals.
But some of the quiz questions simply served to frustrate me further. Why should the fact someone has an ‘advanced degree in a subject where there’s no job at the end’ affect whether she is married or not? (I have friends with PhDs who are happily married!). ‘My mum was gorgeous or extremely well-dressed’. Sorry, still not seeing the correlation!
Rather ironically, one of the reasons someone might find herself unmarried is because ‘My bookshelf is filled with self-help.’ Doesn’t that say it all?!
I scored 9 out of 38 points (including the point for having had a hot mum!). Which meant I ‘sort of need this book.’
I would probably argue otherwise, but then, I’m not married yet, so arguably the book could be written for me.
The book is divided up into ten different reasons why a woman might find herself single.
1) You’re a Bitch
2) You’re Shallow
3) You’re a Slut
4) You’re Crazy
5) You’re Selfish
6) You’re a Mess
7) You Hate Yourself
8) You’re a Liar
9) You’re Acting Like a Diide
10) You’re Godless
I started by trying to read every chapter, and unsurprisingly, those chapters with which I had absolutely no affiliation simply served to frustrate me even further. In fact the only aspect of the exercise that I really enjoyed was writing in the margins of the book, because it reminded me of when I was studying GCSE English!
For those of you wondering, if you’re a Bitch, the answer to finding a guy is to ‘Be Nice’.
The answer to being Too Shallow? Drop your standards! Etc etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t disagree with everything in the book. But equally, I didn’t find a lot of it necessary. The key to the book seems to be understanding why you’re single. And if you’re unhappy with the fact that you’re single, undo that reason.
And perhaps I didn’t do it justice (because I gave up after three long chapters), but personally I don’t think the answer to finding a partner is by picking yourself apart and making yourself feel like crap!
Very few people are true polarised caricatures – The Bitch, The Psycho, The Mess. Humans are complicated people, made up of self-experience, and thousands of different encounters. Very few people look at themselves in the mirror, even in the clearest light, and see only one issue.
But why should you look in the mirror and be finding the issues?
Ironically the chapter entitled ‘You Hate Yourself’ begins by underlining how damaging ‘Self-Hate’ can be. So why encourage single women to pick themselves apart, and see fault in the fact they’re not married yet?
Yes, everyone has her own reasons for being single. And yes, sometimes people do need to make changes to their lives to let others in.
But I don’t see how one sweeping book, essentially several self-help books spliced into one, can help an infinitely different group of singletons.
I have a lot of single friends. And I don’t think I could label each of them with one of the ten chapters, tell them what to fix, and suddenly see them happily married. (An irony when you realise the author has been married and divorced three times!) In fact the book doesn’t even profess to help with lasting relationships – just to ‘get you down the aisle’!
As I said before, I’m no expert in Dating. But what I have learned on this crazy four-month journey, is that Confidence is attractive. And when you’re confident and comfortable in your own skin, other people want to be around you. So rather than looking in the mirror, and picking yourself apart, why not work out how to improve your self-confidence. And start having fun with it all …
Because being single in 2013 really is rather fun! If it wasn’t, then happily married and coupled-up readers wouldn’t have vicariously enjoyed this blog over the summer. And those of us who are single, wouldn’t all be hooked by the game-like nature of Tinder.
As a singleton in 2013, we have a wider net to cast for ‘potential fish’ than ever before.
There are always plenty more fish in the sea, and thanks the social media and the popularity of singles events and dating websites, that sea just gets bigger and bigger.
So instead of beating yourself up for not being married yet, why not start enjoying being Single?! Instead of worrying ‘Why You’re Not Married … Yet’, ask yourself another question. ‘How can you make being Single as much fun as possible?’
And I promise, by the time you’ve answered that question properly, you’ll either be having so much fun Single that you won’t want to settle down yet, or you’ll be exuding enough of a positive vibe to others, that you won’t need to worry about asking ‘Why You’re Not Married Yet?’… because marriage will already be on the cards.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx