Things I Have Learned From Reading Dating Books   Leave a comment

Even though I am taking a break from the online dating world, I am still engaging my mind in one of my favorite activities regarding dating – research.

Yes, you read that right. Research.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with me over the past few years, you will know I do a lot of research, partially because it is literally my job, but mainly because I like to have a lot of information on a wide variety of subjects – whether it’s what vacuum cleaner to buy when mine unceremoniously died (a Caribbean Blue Bissell Zing bagless canister if you’re wondering; it weighs less than five pounds and cleans my three area rugs beautifully; and it’s blue, so it’s a win all around), where to stay on this summer’s vacation to London, or what movies I want to see. Or what movies I really shouldn’t see. I just like information.  A lot.

So, over the past two and a half years, I have read more books on dating than I ever thought I would in my entire life. (Given that the number of these books I thought I would read over the course of my life falls in the zero to one range, this is not an impressive fact, but still…)

The following are some of the nuggets of information I have gleaned from these life manuals:

Be on more than one site at a time.

I imagine this is a great idea if you live in an area with a large population. If you live in a smaller geographic area, not so much. I can tell you from experience that regardless of which site you are on – whether paid, free, or niche – if you live in a populationally-challenged area (cough, the Pioneer valley, cough) you see many of the same people on the different sites. There is some variation in the matches that show up, but more often than not, you are being matched with guys you have already seen, not to mention possibly already dated.

Have/Don’t Have a plan.

There is conflicting information in the books on this one. Some books insist on strategy, checking out the profiles of other women to see what they have (or claim to have) that you don’t or setting up multiple accounts each with a different type of profile. (Really? Who has that kind of time? Or money if you’re dealing with a paid subscription service? Certainly not me.) Others say you should let the people dating know exactly what you are looking for right off. Do you want marriage and babies? Say so! If the guy runs away screaming, he’s not who you are looking for. If he doesn’t, jump in with both feet.

Other books insist you need to go into online dating without a plan. Or at least without mentioning a plan. Coming right out and saying you’re here for marriage and babies will scare off prospective partners who may not realize they are looking for a long-term serious relationship until they meet you. Would you want to go out on a date with someone who immediately asked you to marry them? Of course not! Personally, I’d wonder if they were a psychopath. But that’s just me.

Stay positive. (And not in an ‘I’m positive I’m going to be alone forever’ vein)

Now, I admit to having issues with this one, most of which stem not from any dating experiences I have had but from my struggles with trying to get pregnant lo, these many years past.

One of the things I noticed about most of the books and articles I read while going through my three years of fertility treatments was that they had been written by people who had successfully navigated the issue. Meaning, whether through luck, hormone therapy, IVF, or adoption, they were parents. While I will always remember the anguish I went through trying to get pregnant, once the medical treatments worked, and I held my son in my arms, it changed how I looked at the experience. Once on the other side, I could no longer completely understand the feelings of my counterparts who were still desperately trying to have a baby. It wasn’t that my memories had been erased or my feelings had changed but the way in which I looked at the whole experience had been altered.

The trend seems to hold true with dating books, as well. Many – but not all – have been written by people who have met their special someone and really, really want to share the secret of their success with the lonely single masses so they too can meet their other half.

And to them I say the same thing I said to my friends who got pregnant while I was still trying: You‘re experience, while valid, is not my experience. You no longer understand.

Reach for the stars/Settle

Here was another set of dichotomous guidelines. Most of the books I read insist you should keep your standards high. If you want to find that high-powered lawyer who loves to travel and spends his free time volunteering at the local animal shelter cuddling animals that are recovering from surgery, then go for it! Believe you will find him (and in yourself), and it will happen!

Right up until your reality check bounces… Hard.

The opposing theory says to take a good look at your wants and scale them down. Sort of like when you’re buying a house. You may want a three bedroom, two and a half bath house with a three-car garage, but perhaps that sweet bungalow with two bedrooms, one bath, the large storage shed, and the really well-laid out kitchen is more what you need. It works the same with dating. You may want the well-traveled lawyer with a six-figure income, but really what you need is someone who has time for you, is kind, and understands your kids come first. It’s less about settling and more about finding out what kind of relationship you need as well as want.

Now, to be honest, I have enjoyed reading some of these books. The ones that included funny stories of dates gone awry not only made me laugh, they made me feel better about some of my own experiences. But where they lose me is here:

Most dating books are written by those who have already found love. Or at least had by publication time. The most recent one – which is still sitting on my dresser at home – was written by a woman who went on over 100 dates before she found her current sweetie. It’s full of advice that seems useful, and the stories of some of her missteps are quite entertaining.

That said, here’s my problem with it. Do you know how she met the new love of her life? By chance. When she went back and looked at his profile more closely, she realized that because of the answers he gave when his filled out his online entrance exam (my words), there was no way he would have popped up in her feed or in any search she would have executed. It was complete chance that sent him her way.

And that’s where she lost me.

All of the advice in the world won’t help you meet your mate online if fate is the only way you’ll get together, and once everyone realizes this, the dating industry will start watching its profits go right down the drain. To be fair, the author does state if she hadn’t followed her own advice there might not have been a second date or the ones that came after. But, really, you can’t plan for chance. If you could it would be called ‘plan’ or ‘I knew this would happen someday’, not ‘chance.’

So, how am I planning for chance? I’m so glad you asked.

I have signed up for a ballroom dancing class at the local community college which starts in a few weeks. I realize it will probably mostly be women who have registered, but I’m going for fun and to meet people – not only men – to expand both my circle of acquaintances and my barely existent mad dancing skills. And in the next few days (i.e., once I remember or can retrieve my password) I will be joining a new meetup group for writers, which may mean more than one blog entry a month. May. I make no promises.

But isn’t that what chance is all about?

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Posted January 28, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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