Reading Carolyn Hax is like a sitting down with a hip, worldly older friend. Her advice may be coming from a secular point of view, but at least it contains much sense and even a bit of refreshing prudishness.
Recently I read her book, “Tell me about it: lying, sulking, and getting fat and 56 other things not to do while looking for love” and I would recommend it to any single looking for advice on things to watch out for while dating (or who is in a dating funk). Excerpts follow.
What not to do when dating:
2. Get fat.
The person who gets fat, who gets big as an adult from eating too much – as opposed to being lifelong big [...] – does himself the grave disservice of making his “issues” immediately visible.
15. Have sex before you mean it.
There is, in fact, no way to make this point without sounding like a prig. So if I’m going to be the prig here, I’m going to be the prig with gusto: Stop having sex with people before you develop an exclusive emotional bond with them, you slut.
22. Pine silently for your “friend”.
Just tell the person your feelings have changed and deal with the consequences. In fact, if you are a man, confess as soon as you feel them change. Otherwise, the object of your affection will pick up on your unexpressed feelings (instantaneously – trust me on this) and will, consciously or not, read your silence as a sign of weakness. Not a great moment for your masculinity. Call it sexist, but I call it true: Women can get away with hesitation, men can’t.
23. Be indecisive.
This much I know: Indecision in men is a deal breaker. [..] A decisive man, on the other hand, is a magnet, for reasons that are hard to describe. [...] Whatever the reason is, it’s gone, pft, the moment a woman sees she has to run the whole show.
47. Listen to your family and friends and ignore your family and friends.
On one subject, though, friends and families almost universally excel. [...] They can tell if you’re happy. If one of them sits you down and says, “I’m worried about you,” listen.
49. Expect marriage to fix a problem.
If you’re considering marriage, don’t look deep into her pretty green eyes and ask if you can imagine life without them. Look deep into your problems with her and ask, “Am I ready to make these permanent?”.
56. Be a single parent and have screwed-up priorities.
Don’t fear being alone. Fear him. Fear the weakness in you that makes you so deeply crave the presence of someone in your life that you’ll let anyone into your life, regardless of how toxic.
58. Rule out the possibility that you might always be single.
Marriage has rewards I won’t torture you by listing here [...] and still, anyone who shares a life with someone is lying if she says there’s nothing about single life she misses (or she’s choosing to forget what she misses about it). [...] Having been both, I’d rate the quality of these common life configurations as follows:
1. Happily coupled
2. Happily single
3. Unhappily single
1,074 Unhappily coupled
Here are some things single people should never take for granted: making your own decisions – great stuff, I could stop the list there. But then I’d leave out the surface perks – viewing habits, eating habits, reading-in-bed habits [...] and the profound ones – where you live and what house you live in and how you live within it. Eight hours of undisturbed sleep, bliss bliss bliss. If there’s a mess, it’s your mess. Ice cream for dinner! Cool! No section off holidays to appease the needy in-laws! Cooler. No compromising on the future you see for yourself. Coolest.
It’s only when you’ve made some sort of peace with yourself that your judgment becomes reliable. Then you can look at your already happy life and decide, does this person add enough to justify the compromises?