So the question you’re probably asking yourself by now is whether I actually know what I’m talking about.
The answer? Quite possibly not.
Oh, I know a lot about a lot of stuff. And I know a little about a lot more stuff. But I know absolutely nothing about a whole bunch of other stuff, which, mind you, doesn’t prevent me from spouting off about it anyway. But if you think I’m trying to set myself up as the Latest Greatest Oracle of Relationship Wisdom, think again.
No matter what the experts tell you, there is no magic formula for landing a mate. And maybe that’s as it should be. After all, isn't the greatest thing about love its sheer unpredictability?
Nevertheless, you’ve read this far—thank you!—so I assume you’re looking for some sort of inspirational advice to guide you as you go about the remainder of your life. And if that’s the case, you’re obviously still…out there.
God love ya.
I honestly don’t have the heart to dash your hopes and crush your little spirits myself—reality will take care of that soon enough. Instead, I feel it my solemn duty to support and instruct you in the ways of this callous world, because, based on all the wailing and gnashing of teeth I’ve heard out there, you need all the help you can get.
Thus, even though I’m the last person in the world you should be coming to for advice on how to get married, allow me to give you something that’s far more important: advice on how to be single. I like to think of it as my “Singular Manifesto,” a Bill of Rights, if you will, for those of you who have tired of all the chipper, happy, “buck up—it’s not that bad!” bullshit you usually hear when your marital status comes into question.
So here’s a dose of hard-core, in-your-face, reality-based advice that is definitely not intended to help you land the perfect spouse but just might prevent you from landing the wrong one.
Ready? Here goes.
The Singular Manifesto
Article 1: You have the right to be picky. Enough, already, with the whole “You’re too picky and no one is ever going to live up to your unrealistic expectations” crap. Of course you’re picky! You should be picky! You’re looking for a life partner, not a sweater. Personally, I don’t think people are picky enough. The pressure to couple up in this society is so unrelenting it’s bound to break even the most confirmed bachelors and bachelorettes among us. But here’s a little secret: You know all those people who are always running around complaining about how “hard” marriage is? You know why it’s so hard for them? Because they never really wanted to be married in the first place! They’re sharing a life day in, day out, with someone they never really liked all that much in the first place but shrugged and settled for because they were tired of all the nagging! That’s why so few widows end up remarrying after their spouses die. They’ve been there. They know better. So aim high—your very sanity hangs in the balance.
Article 2: You have the right to give what you get. I don’t know what it is about the relationship game that makes us tolerate behavior that would be absolutely unacceptable anywhere else, but from here on out you have my express permission to reciprocate in kind whenever someone’s behavior exceeds the bounds of human tolerance. The Internet date who ended up being six inches shorter, thirty years older, and a whole lot more pockmarked than the picture on his profile? That’s grounds for on-the-spot termination of the evening without further comment or explanation. The same goes for blowhards who are snotty to the wait staff, creeps who won’t leave you alone in airport waiting lounges, assholes who won’t get off—let alone turn off—their cell phones at the movies, and manipulative freaks who force you to consume desserts you don’t want. You don’t need any explanations, polite excuses, or preplanned “fallback” phone calls from friends designed to rescue you from a potentially horrible evening with any of these people. They need to be kicked to the curb rapidly, bluntly, and without further ado. How else will they learn? Repeat after me: “This isn’t working out. I don’t like you. I’m going home.” These magic words will extricate you from any bad social situation with no need for elaboration. Use them. Use them a lot. They will work. And if they don’t—well, then, that just proves my point, doesn’t it?
Article 3: You have the right to tell well-meaning friends and relatives to bugger off when they begin to pester you about your marital status. Why do people feel so entitled to meddle in one of the most personal decisions you will ever make? They’re not and they shouldn’t, but the only way they’re ever going to learn this is if you tell them so. And this applies particularly to those well-meaning friends and relatives who have a track record of setting you up on blind dates with losers. You are not obliged to suffer through yet another evening of dull conversations and awkward silences simply because your Aunt Ethel’s next door neighbor’s cousin’s brother-in-law just got divorced for the third time and is “actively looking.” In the words of Nancy Reagan: Just Say No. It feels good. Trust me.
Article 4: You have the right to completely screw up your love life and get upset about it anyway. The phrases “It’s my own fault,” “I should have known better,” and “I was so stupid” are to be permanently excised from the Singular Vernacular. Maybe it was, maybe you should have, and maybe you were—but so what? If someone is treating you badly, it’s that person’s fault, not yours. You’re the victim here, so act like it! Snarl, storm around, rant away to your friends, plot revenge, and feel as bitter and betrayed as you like. Your love is a very precious, special, and unique gift. It is not given freely, and when it is given it deserves to be taken seriously. And when it is not taken seriously, when someone else stomps on it thoughtlessly and callously, you have the right to be outraged. Period. How dare they?
Article 5: You have the right to hope. You are not stupid or naïve to want to believe the best about the people you love. You are not a fool for telling yourself that someone has not called you back because he or she is “too busy at work.” You are not an idiot because you have an ideal and refuse to compromise on that ideal simply because everyone else tells you you’re crazy. You are only wrong if you let your hope take over your life and inform every decision you make, blinding you to reality and paralyzing your future. That’s when I might have to show up at your door and shake a little sense into you.
The late, great Ann Landers once wrote, “It’s better to be alone than to wish you were.” There is nothing lonelier than being trapped inside a life with someone you don’t want to be with. It’s like being on a bad date that never ends. Believe me—that will break your spirit a lot more quickly than even the most singular of existences.
And, deep down, you know this. That’s why you picked this book up in the first place. Because you know.
You know ending up single is not the worst thing that can happen to you.
It might even be…dare I say it?
A blessing in the skies.