You need to …the condundrum that is advice

Munch_The_Scream_lithographyI enjoy being single and 41. My life is rich, way more fun and joyful than I ever expected 41 to be (I thought it would involved a lot more sweatpants).

I just wish there was a little less of the singleness sometimes. I’ve had 2 dates this year and one drunken hook up. Arid doesn’t begin to describe my love life.. I think my fridge has seen more action.

On a visit to San Francisco this weekend, I was delighted to receive zero feedback or advice about my single status – a refreshingly unusual state of affairs. Upon meeting most people these days, they’re full of unsolicited advice for how to address my *gasp* non partnered state.  And its not just me… to most partnered people we’re just doing it all wrong.

‘Stop looking’

‘Don’t give up’

‘You’re trying too hard’

‘You’re not trying hard enough’

‘You need to be more/ less picky’

‘I did a mantra/daily affirmation/vision board which totally worked’

‘Read this book, it totally works’

‘You’re on the wrong dating site- try OkCupid/ eHarmony/ Chemistry/Glutenfreelove.com’

‘You need to give it more than a few days.. you need to let love grow’

‘If there’s no chemistry within the first 5 minutes, you should leave’

‘Are you sure you really want to be with someone? Maybe you actually don’t’

Its draining. The advice, not the being single.

But my SF friends, who themselves found love later and via a dating site, know better.  Theirs was a highly non traditional courtship and I don’t think anyone would take advice based on their path to love; ‘move to another country after the first date’ as a successful dating strategy? You’ve got to be kidding. Except it worked and their 2 year old cutie is a testament to ‘don’t rule anything out’.

Another of my friends met her husband in bar while she was backpacking in Germany (he was on leave from the Australian army). He visited her a year later to catch up and married her 2 weeks into his visit. 13 years and 3 kids later, I think you’d call that ‘successful’ and hardly an advertisement for long term dating.

One of my girlfriends met her partner while at a party in NYC. She was an Manhattanite, an actress and a committed big city girl. He was a suburban dad from Denver. They couldn’t be further apart geographically, politically, temperamentally and lacked shared interests. 10 years later they’re happy as clams and still together. So much for finding someone who shares the same interests.

And then there’s the match story. I know everyone has a friend of their sister’s husband or their buddies next door neighbor who met their partner on match.com, but I actually do have a friend (in fact multiples) who met via online dating. The same site as me. The same city. And all on the first date they went on. Now part of me thinks ‘extremely good fortune’ and part of me thinks ‘low standards’ but they all wound up with great guys.

It seems that everyone, or most people, eventually find someone to be with. Whether its timing or circumstance, divine intervention or dogged, sweaty perseverance.. I’d like to believe if you want it, it will show up. (sadly, I don’t believe that works for large stashes of cash). And despite the circumstances, love will find a way. Apparently. Just not for me.

So, in a fit of ‘WTF?’ I decided to finally, after 7 years, ask a friend for help. Ask her and her husband to take a look at my profile and to be honest. After all, I am a writer by trade and for entertainment, but feedback never hurts. Maybe there were a few things in there which I needed to tweak? We’re consultants by trade so hey, consult my profile. Help me make it better.  Plus with a male and female perspective.. I’d have it covered.

An hour later I got her red lined document back and had a momentary seizure.

Every single line, barring the actual facts (I am 41, white and 5ft 3), was edited. Whole paragraphs were tagged ‘NO!’ in red and to be honest (horrifically), every single word she wrote was true. Me, the writer, apparently not the best writer about myself.  In fact, I’m still amazed I’ve had a date in 7 years at all once I read her feedback. And sadly I couldn’t dispute anything she wrote.. Rereading it, I seemed bitter and cold, demanding and inflexible, ‘fuck you’ and ‘I don’t give a shit’. Yikes. I was scared of me. Screw the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, make way for the Girl with the Mehendi Tattoo. She’s terrifying. You’d need balls of steel and a brain of a cucumber to sign up for that chick. No wonder dudes always seemed so relieved when they actually met me.

After all, only a sadist would approach the person in that profile.

girl-with-the-dragon-tattooThen I heard back from her husband.

He loved it.

(and I don’t think he’s a sadist?)

So now I’m more confused than ever. Do I go with what I know to be true – my profile isn’t very good, makes me sound incredibly scary, bitter and weird – or do I go with ‘the dude liked it’?

After all, I do want to date dudes.

I think I’m going to settle on the middle ground. A little frankness, a little softness,  light humor but a little more Monet, a little less Munchian ‘Scream’. God knows, based on this year, it can’t get much worse.

And meanwhile well I’m rethinking my writing. I’m not sure that I’m cut out to write the light romantic chick lit I love.. I think I might be better cut out for cold sadomasochistic horror stories. Apparently I’m really good at writing that type of scary shit.

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