Three years ago, a little online dating site popped up called HowAboutWe. Unlike most online dating sites, HowAboutWe wasn’t dependent on the whole “I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain” style of profile. Instead, it asked users to propose date ideas—“How about we… have a Nostalgia Night, complete with a Clarissa Explains It All marathon?” “How about we… hit up the Treasure Island Flea for wacky vintage finds, then grab lunch from a food truck and nosh with the San Francisco skyline as our backdrop?” “How about we… find a community garden and spend the afternoon getting down and dirty, followed by lemonade and popsicles?”
What a novel idea!
Since then, HowAboutWe has grown into a pretty revolutionary way to date in the digital age. They also have a fabulous blog called The Date Report—and out of the site, its blog, and one of its best writers (the incomparable Chiara Atik), what is perhaps the first truly modern guide to dating has emerged.
Modern Dating: A Field Guide ($11.19, amazon.com) isn’t The Rules. It isn’t even Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating. And it’s certainly not Sex and the Single Girl. What it IS, though, is one of the most comprehensive guides to playing the dating game in this day and age I’ve ever seen. Full of no-nonsense dating advice, facts and figures, sex tips, date ideas, and more, it’s got you covered from singledom all the way through the Committed-with-a-capital-C relationship stage. Oh, and when you buy the book, you get three months free on HowAboutWe. Bonus!
I gave Modern Dating: A Field Guide a read, and believe you me, there are loads of important lessons about dating, love, and life inside. Here are my top seven takeaways:
1. Being single is not a problem to solve.
Gone are the days when girls’ parents would marry them off to someone three times their age at the ripe old age of 17. Gone are the days of women spending their entire adult lives popping out baby after baby (and hopefully living through all that childbirth). Gone are the days of women being financially dependent on their husbands to survive. Aren’t you glad you didn’t live in the Middle Ages? The colonial era? Or even the ‘60s? We may take it for granted, but these days, women can own property, get a job, own a car, vote, or do any of a million other things previous generations couldn’t—including being single if we darn well feel like it.
Being single is not a problem to solve; it’s a right that we can have if we want it, or pass on if we don’t. If you want a relationship? Great! If you don’t? That’s cool, too! Being single doesn’t mean being lonely—but it does mean that you’ve always got complete control over your DVR, and that if you want to stay in all weekend in your pajamas ordering takeout and marathoning all seven season of The West Wing, you’ve got no one to answer to but yourself. Awesome.
At the same…
2. …Dating is good for you.
Know too, though, that dating is good for you. Romance and excitement are always fun additions to any life, regardless as to how seriously (or not) you take them. Furthermore, the skills you pick up while daring—knowing how to meet new people, being able to strike up a conversation, the ability to read body language, building confidence, and so on—will take you far in life, even if romance isn’t part of the picture.
3. Learning to cultivate “lightness” is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.
Pretty much across the board, women who are happy with their relationships have what Chiara calls “lightness” in their approach to their romantic lives—whether they’re in a long-term relationship, playing the field, or totally single. The key to lightness is not to worry too much about dating. This can be hard to accomplish, but ultimately, people who pair off want to be with someone who is happy—so do whatever it takes to learn how to be happy without dates, sex, flirtation, cute guys liking you Facebook photos, and so on. Find whatever works for you, and roll with it.