How to Grow Old and Gray With a Self-Help Book


Finally! Confirmation that “the rules” are bullshit, that he may, in fact, just be that into you, and that men and women are both from EARTH. Singles, enter into the pack of lies, partial truths, and ridiculousness — along with, maybe, the occasional half-nugget of valid information — about how to get a date/boyfriend/husband/wife-person: Self-help books that tell you to play games actually make it harder to find someone. Who knew? Fuck, you should really just be yourself?

Of course, we overachieving New York types know that playing games is always easier (and sometimes more fun) than just being yourself. Who are you, anyway? It depends on the day. Sometimes the hour. Nonetheless, according to at least one social psychologist in London, if you want a relationship:

Singles of both sexes should focus on just being themselves and having fun.

What? No more coquettish asking of strangers in Whole Foods how they plan to cook the tomatoes in their basket (thanks, Mom)? No more sitting by the phone waiting for him to call, paralyzed to move one’s own fingers because that might scare him off (not that we ever did that)? No more only accepting a date a month in advance? And does this mean that we can respond to a late-night booty call and still hope to someday maybe, if we play our cards right, have the honor of becoming someone’s wife?

Maybe. According to Dr. Petra Boynton, there is no science in the romantic strategies touted by self-help books. Those writers are just — gasp! — trying to sell you something. And, in fact,

The best ice-breaking chat-up line might be straightforward “Hello, how are you?” she said.


Meanwhile, other things that apparently don’t work:
• Men who offer “back-handed” compliments (a/k/a, insults) to prove their confidence and dominance to ladies. Guys, you’ll only attract the sort who keeps asking you if her butt looks big, won’t take no for an answer, and then cries when you finally say “sorta.”
• Men who sit with their legs wide open to attract women with their masterful crotch regions.
• Women who make crazy/coy eyes at a potential suitor. (They only look crazy.)
• Playing hard to get. Being mean. Making veiled or unveiled threats. Filing your nails with knives. Never calling someone back, ever.
• Sharing your favorite learnings from your collection of self-help books.
• Also: “Sticking your hip out to accentuate your curves is not necessarily seen as a sign of fertility.” (It is, however, a possible sign of scoliosis.)

Good to know, but all of this begs the question: What if being yourself involves reading self-help books?