How to Not Die Alone
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What You Will Learn from How to Not Die Alone
In How to Not Die Alone, dating coach and matchmaker Logan Ury touches on different factors that could be preventing us from finding love. Remember the happily ever after fallacy? It’s the mistaken belief that the hard work of love is about finding someone – but that’s only the first act of your love story. The next part is hard, too – making the relationship last for the long haul.
You might think that you don’t need to buy a book about dating and relationships. Isn’t love something effortless, natural, and organic? You should be falling in love without thinking your way into it because love is a spontaneous chemical reaction, not a calculated decision. Even though people hold onto these beliefs, finding love doesn’t always work out perfectly. But here’s the truth: while love may be a natural instinct, dating isn’t.
Drawn from years of research, insights from behavioural science, and real-life experiences, How to Not Die Alone offers guidance to finding, building, and sustaining a relationship that accommodates your needs.
Different types of Lovers
Logan Ury doesn’t want to be just another love guru who offers unscientific advice. She thought, What if she applied behavioral science tools to help people make better decisions in their romantic relationships? After almost a decade in the tech industry, she quit her job and set out to help people find and maintain lasting relationships. She believes our natural errors in decision-making cause us to stumble. Behavioral science is the missing piece that can help people change their behavior, break bad patterns, and find lasting love.
To start off – there are three types of people when it comes to dating. Have a listen to the descriptions to see which one you fall into:
You want the soul mate, the happily ever after – the whole fairy tale. You love love. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet. Your motto: It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.
You love doing research, exploring all of your options, and turning over every stone until you’re confident you’ve found the right one. You make decisions carefully. You want to be 100 percent certain about something before you make your choice. Your motto: Why settle?
You don’t think you’re ready for dating because you’re not the person you want to be yet. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely ready before you start a new project – the same goes for dating. Your motto: I’ll wait until I’m a catch.
Although they seem quite different, the Romanticiser, Maximiser, and Hesitater have one major thing in common: unrealistic expectations. The Romanticiser has unrealistic expectations of relationships; The Maximiser has unrealistic expectations of their partner; The Hesitater has unrealistic expectations of themselves.
Overcoming Romanticiser tendencies
Romanticisers believe that love is something that happens to you and that the reason they’re single is they just haven’t met the right person yet. Romanticisers might not consciously identify with fairy tales, yet they expect their lives to resemble one. They believe the perfect person will walk into their lives one day. All they have to do is wait for that moment, and once Prince Charming or Cinderella appears, love will be effortless.
The problem with fairy tales
In behavioral science, we know mindset matters. Our attitudes and expectations create the context for our experience, which in turn affects how we interpret information and make decisions. When it comes to romantic relationships, psychologist Renae Franiuk found that people have either:
- A soul mate mindset: the belief that relationship satisfaction comes from finding the right person;
- A work-it-out mindset: the belief that relationship success derives from putting in effort.
If you have the ‘soulmate’ mindset – this impacts how you act at every stage of the relationship. First, it affects the way they approach finding a partner. In their mind, love is something that happens to you, like lightning striking. So why try? Romanticisers wait for love and won’t put the effort into creating love.
Second, this mindset influences whom you’re willing to go out with. People with soul mate beliefs tend to have a very specific vision of how their partner will look. Since Romanticisers are confident they know what their future partner will look like, when they meet someone who doesn’t match that image, they won’t give that person a chance. They end up missing out on great potential matches. When they start dating someone they believe is ‘the one’, their sky-high expectations can propel the relationship forward. But when the couple hits an inevitable obstacle – for instance, a particularly heated fight – they give up on the relationship rather than trying to overcome it.
In comparison, those with the work-it-out mindset believe that relationships take effort, and that love is an action you take, not something that happens to you. People with the work-it-out mindset tend to fare better in relationships because when they stumble, they put in the work needed to get the relationship back on track, rather than giving up.
How to Fight Back Against The Ideals of Romanticism
Romanticiser Intensifier #1: Disney’s Prince Charming
Soul mate belief: ‘The one’ is out there, and he or she looks just like you imagined. Disney tells us that one day we’ll get swept off our feet by our own Prince or Princess Charming. This tendency plagues more than just straight women; there are Romanticisers of all different genders and sexual orientations. This person has every positive quality they want and none of the bad ones. In animated Disney movies, people fall in love without even knowing each other.
Work-it-out mindset shift: Even Prince Charming has a morning breath. No one is perfect, including you. It’s time to give up on this idea of perfection.
Romanticiser Intensifier #2: Disney’s Happily Ever After
Soul mate belief: The hard work of love is finding someone. Everything after that is easy. Disney movies depict everything a couple goes through leading up to the marriage – the courtship, the conflict, the evil witch standing in their way. But once they vanquish their foes and can finally be together, the couple’s challenge ends. After that, happily ever after, right? Wrong. This is the Happily-Ever-After Fallacy—the false notion that the hard part of love is finding someone.
Work-it-out mindset shift: No relationship is easy all the time. Even the healthiest, most rewarding marriages require effort. Finding someone can be hard, but often the real challenge comes later. The hard part is the daily work you put in to grow and sustain a great relationship. The hard part is feeling excited to see your spouse at the end of the day, after thirty years and two kids, long after the honeymoon period is over. The hard part is remembering why you love someone during all the logistical, financial, emotional, and spiritual challenges life throws at you.
Romanticiser Intensifier #3: The Rom-Com Meeting
Soul mate belief: Love will find you, and it’ll probably happen in a really great meet-cute way you’ll want to tell your friends about. We all know rom-coms are not real life. Yet they’ve still surreptitiously bored their way into our collective subconscious. The rom-com promotes the idea that love finds you and not the other way around. That love at first sight is real. That all you have to do is live your life and one day your future husband or wife will magically appear. While I acknowledge that people do meet in real life all the time – at parties, events, even protests – the problem with this idea is that it gives people permission to be overly passive in their love lives.
Work-it-out mindset shift: Love takes work—from finding it to keeping it alive. The magic of a relationship doesn’t depend on a serendipitous or cinematic meeting. You need to put in the effort to find someone. The magic lies in the fact that two strangers come together and create a life. It’s not important where or how they met.
Maximisers VS Satisficers
Maximisers obsess over making the best possible decision. They’re compelled to explore every possible option before they feel like they can choose. Yet this compulsion becomes daunting, and ultimately unfeasible, when they face a vast number of possibilities.
On the other end of the spectrum are Satisficers. They have standards, but they aren’t overly concerned that there might be something better out there. They know their criteria, and they hunt until they find the ‘good enough’ option. It’s not that they settle; they’re simply making a decision once they’ve gathered some evidence and identified a satisfactory option.
The Wisdom of Satisficing
Maximisers want to turn over every stone before they make a decision. That presents a particularly tough challenge when it comes to dating. You can’t go out with every eligible single in your city, let alone the whole world. If you hope to get married or commit to a long-term relationship, eventually, you’ll need to make a decision with the information you have. Here’s the good news: We have an incredible tool working on our behalf to make us happy – our brain. Once we commit to something, our brain helps us rationalise why it was the right choice.
Rationalisation is our ability to convince ourselves we did the right thing. Imagine you buy an expensive winter coat that you can return within thirty days. You take it home and weigh its pros and cons. Even if you keep the coat, you can’t shake that list of cons in your head.
But when you buy a coat on the final sale, you immediately commit to liking it. You can’t return it, so why worry about its drawbacks? That’s the power of rationalisation. Embrace it. This works for dating, too. When you commit to someone, your brain will do its best to convince you it was a good decision. Satisficers inherently understand this idea and benefit from it.
Now, perhaps you’re thinking: I’m not looking to make a merely ‘good’ decision and settle. But this is a common misunderstanding about satisficing. Remember, Satiscers can have very high standards. They may look around for a while until they find an option that meets their expectations. The difference is, once they find something that meets their standards, they are happy with it. They don’t wonder what else is out there.
A lot of hesitaters seem like they’d be a great catch, but they aren’t actively dating. I call this bunch the Hesitaters. They come to me because they feel like they should be dating, but they’re having trouble taking action. When I ask why they haven’t been going on dates, their ‘I’ll be ready when…’ excuses start tumbling out:
- ‘I’ll be ready when I lose ten pounds.’
- ‘I’ll be ready when I get promoted.’
- ‘I’ll be ready once I finish grad school.’
- ‘I’ll be ready when I have new pictures for my dating profile.’
- ‘I’ll be ready when things calm down at work.’
We all want to improve along some dimension but these aspirations can turn into excuses. Fear paralyses the Hesitaters: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough. No wonder they avoid dating. However, you can’t fail at something you never attempt. People who wait until they are 100% ready underestimate what they’re missing out on.
Conclusion of How to Not Die Alone
A lasting relationship is the culmination of a series of decisions, including when to get out there, whom to date, how to end it with the wrong person, when to settle down with the right one, and everything in between. Make good decisions, and you propel yourself toward a great love story. Make bad ones, and you veer off course, doomed to repeat the same harmful patterns over and over. Great relationships are created, not discovered. The opportunity to build the relationship of your dreams is in your hands – How to Not Die offers helpful insights and practical approaches to achieve that. If you’re looking for more self-help book options on relationships, you should check out our reviews of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendrix & Helen LaKelly Hunt, or Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson.