It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a few more good years must be in search of a man.
Ha! This is nonsense, of course. There are plenty of women out there who are delighted to be single and have no interest whatsoever in finding a partner. Don’t you hate generalisations?
However, if you have picked up this book, you are probably searching for a man, whether for an evening or two, a relationship, or for life. If this is the case, let me clarify upfront so you don’t get misled: this is not a guide to finding a new soulmate. I am not qualified to write that book. At the time of writing, my most intimate relationship is with my cat. And she’s a girl.
But before you go searching for the book that will tell you how to find a man, know this: no one is qualified to write that book. There is no one in the world who can guarantee you a new partner. You can follow all “The Rules” you like, you can join every dating site online, you can write a brilliant profile and present yourself beautifully, you can go on a hundred dates in a hundred days, and you still may end up alone.
On the other hand, you could put this book down, walk down the road in your tracksuit pants to get a skinny latte, and meet the man of your dreams in the café. (Not the café down the road from me, there are never any single men there.)
There is a huge amount of luck involved in finding love, and no book can give you luck. What my book can do, however, is help you to enjoy the search.
Dating can be exhilarating and exciting and genuinely pleasurable. There are flirtations and flutters, first kisses and first sex. There is delicious anticipation, and unexpected connections. I have met some gorgeous men over the past few years. I have been on some wonderful dates and had a couple of memorable relationships.
But I have also made pretty much every mistake that a newbie to the dating world can make. I have chosen spectacularly inappropriate men, ignored red flags, compromised my boundaries, and wasted a huge amount of time. And yet, I have come out the other side. It has taken a few years, but I have learned all the pitfalls and the secrets, and I can pass them on to you.
I have made every single mistake available to a single human female in the dating world, so that you don’t have to make them. I have written a survival guide to get you through your dating life. And this, my friends, this, I am qualified to do.
Now, some of your married friends will glance at this book and say, “Gosh, you’re brave. I could never cope with dating. If I got divorced I’d give up and stay alone forever.”
In fact, my married friends do say this to me. They say it all the time. But they are not the ones who sit at home on a Saturday night when the kids are with their dad. They are not the ones who crave male companionship and intimacy, and are forced to settle for a cuddle with the cat. And they are not the ones who face a lifetime of celibacy unless they get off their arses and do something about it.
But you know what else? They’re not the ones who have experienced the soaring heights of dating. They haven’t had the knee-trembling first touches, the crazy good sex, the hours of laugh-out-loud text exchanges, or the thrill of a new romance. I have had some sensational moments over the past few years, and I promise that you will too.
Dating is a roller-coaster, full of highs and lows, punctuated with long, stagnant periods waiting for the ride to start. I can’t help you to get off the roller-coaster with the man of your dreams, but I can help you to stay sane while you ride.
And if you laugh at some of the ridiculous situations my own roller-coaster has taken me, well, that’s just fine too.
Bookstores are full of dating manuals, offering rules on how to snare a man. Jump online and you will find countless posts outlining the exact steps to take to lure a man into your love web and keep him there forever.
Now, you are, no doubt, a busy woman, and don’t have time to collate all the information. So I have done the research for you. And here I present my Top Dating Rules for Women, as found online and in books.
Only put in 30 per cent effort. (Calculate “30 per cent” by determining “one-third” effort and then taking off a little bit more.)
Never see him with less than seven days’ notice. (Preferably written notice, via snail mail, with a stamp.)
If you want a child, don’t mention it on the first few dates. (Oh no, it is far better to wait until you are both emotionally invested in the relationship so that you can have a painful break-up if he doesn’t want kids.)
Never return a call or text immediately. (Because that would show that you have manners and men hate manners.)
If you had an amazing first date, text them the next day and let them know. (Um … better disregard rule number four.)
Keep your man standing on quicksand by shifting landmarks and goalposts constantly. (For example: ‘I like pie.’ ‘I hate pie!’ ‘Give me pie!’ ‘Take that stupid pie away!’)
If you like someone, you better let them know. (So … er … you DO like pie.)
Don’t be clingy. (So don’t show you like them TOO much.)
Never ever reply to emails on weekends. Wait until a weekday. (You should never reply to personal emails during personal time. Only reply to emails during work hours when you should be working. That is much sexier.)
Ensure you receive flowers. If he doesn’t know what a florist is, dump him. (Even if he’s your dream man in every other way. Even if you don’t like flowers. Even if you’re allergic to flowers! Even if you know that actions, not flowers, are the measure of a person’s affection. Dump the bastard.)
Never ever sleep with a guy until he has fallen for you. Sex early in your dating game plan will ruin everything. (In fact, why have sex at all? Stay celibate for best results.)
Come across as cool and sophisticated. (Because every single man in the world is looking for a cool and sophisticated woman. Even the men who don’t think they are. What would they know?)
Go easy on the makeup. (Only wear thirty per cent of your usual makeup. See rule number one.)
Keep the conversation light and fun. (Do not connect on a deeper level. This may lead to emotional intimacy which may lead to sex and that will ruin everything. See rule number 11.)
Laugh at his jokes. (And if he doesn’t tell jokes, just laugh at random moments during the date. That will keep things light and fun!)
Let him pay. (Because it is 1960.)
Offer to split the bill. (Disregard rule number 16.)
There are more rules, of course, some reasonable, some insane. But at the crux of all these ‘dating rules’ is the same implicit message: If you are trying to find a man, you cannot possibly be yourself.
I hate that message. I reject it entirely. I believe we should all be ourselves, that we absolutely must be ourselves. Following a set of rules to make a person love you is just game playing and manipulation, and I don’t want to play games, and I don’t want to be played. Dating is a process of two people getting to know each other. It is not about manipulating another person, or lying to get what you want.
Of course, some of these techniques will work, at least in the short term. If you laugh at a man’s jokes and play hard to get, he might temporarily become more interested in you.
But what comes next? Will you keep him interested? Do you play games forever? What happens if you stop the games and allow yourself to be ‘caught’?
This entire model of dating is flawed, and I don’t believe it works. I have never lost a man because I refuse to play games. When a man has rejected me, we were either not compatible, or he wasn’t ready for commitment, or he was still in love with his ex, or he just didn’t like me enough.
Now, there are certainly things you can do to put a man off, such as texting him around the clock, being jealous or volatile, or requiring constant assurance of his affections.
But game playing and ‘rules’ aren’t the answer here. The answer is to work on your insecurities, and to be okay within yourself. If you are emotionally healthy (well, as healthy as any of us are with a few decades of life behind us), then you absolutely don’t need to play games.
There is only one rule I follow when it comes to dating, and only one rule you need to remember. This is the rule I will impart in this book, and the rule you should drum into your head as you navigate the world of dating.
Look after yourself.
It is as simple and complex as that. Everything that follows is about that one rule. But before we get into looking after yourself, you need to know when to begin.