And I’ve read a lot of it while trying to improve my own love life. A few books in, however, I started feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of advice, rules, do’s and don’ts.
More than that, I was struck by how some advice was similar to, or just flat out opposite of, what I’d just read in the book before. Where I’d hoped to kick my romantic adventures into high gear, I was stalled – literally paralyzed by how to implement the guidance I’d just been given.
Was I going to make it worse? Make it better? Did it apply to this particular guy? Did it even apply to me?
It was that last question that really stuck with me – the individual with a unique story, with unique experiences in all areas of my life, including romance – ups, downs, push and pull, broken-hearted or breaking a heart.
What did all of those relationships have in common? Me. All of the decisions I’d ever made – how to act or react to a situation or a particular predicament – were based on my past experiences (with a splash or 10 of advice from others).
I'd made some mistakes and been on the receiving end of them. That’s why we turn to experts and friends in the first place, right? To learn what we did wrong and do better the next time? To understand what just happened after the whiplash of a break up we didn’t see coming? To salvage the relationship we’re in?
It seems relatively simple at first: type your problem into a search field, click a few buttons, and all your problems will be solved. But it’s a rabbit hole. The deeper you go, the more complicated things can sometimes become. And what happens to the fun? That’s what dating is supposed to be, right?
It was while contemplating this that I was struck with the notion that no matter how much or how little advice I read, what really mattered was that I kept one super-important thing in mind. Me! Who I am, what I want, what I believe, and to make decisions accordingly. It wasn’t always going to be fun, or pretty, but it was going to be me.
And that was the beginning of my interactive romantic comedy novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: A Novel Approach to Dating. I took all the dating and relationship advice resources I could get my hands on, mined them for common and contradictory advice, the most common, fun and angsty predicaments and dilemmas, and arranged them into one giant work of fiction – a book where you call the shots (and live or die by the outcome).
How you want to handle the beginning of a relationship; how quickly or slowly you want to take things; how you handle fights; face rejection or how you reject; when to say I love you, or how to deal when you’re faced with an ‘I love you” you can’t return; whether or you want to stay in a relationship or run for the hills; wait for a proposal or make one; live solo or “in sin;” have kids or not; deal with a pregnancy scare (or fake a pregnancy)…you get the picture.
Like everything in life, no matter how much advice we’re given, no matter how many books we read, or tales of life experience we hear, how we handle our romantic relationships is up to us. We have choice. Even when we don’t have a choice in the outcome, we have a choice in how we react to it. And when it ends, we get back up and do it again.
While Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: A Novel Approach to Dating will take you through all the ups and downs, all the stages and anxieties that come with falling in love, it also has the most important part – the fun, the shenanigans and, most importantly, the hijinks.
Like boiling down a decade of relationships into 400 pages, it has hundreds of choices, upwards of 60 endings, and endless opportunities to start over when things end. All without getting out of your jammies. If only real life were like that, eh?
I could use your help in getting Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda off the ground. I’m raising funds for professional editing, formatting and design. In exchange for contributions, you can get an advance copy of the book, win prizes, or even have a character named after you.
Have a gander and decide if you’d like to be a part of something special (and you know, avoid any Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas down the road).