This book is not about learning to be happily single. In fact, it assumes that the reader is rather miserable about it and would rather die than spend another Valentine’s day having a dinner party with other single friends or having to show up unattached to another holiday event.
The subtitle is “Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back”. And I wonder, did the author come up with that, or did the marketing department make him do it?
Probably the former. The book starts off with an anecdote about a single woman in her mid 30s mentioning that God had not chosen the life of a wife and mother for her. Dr. Cloud disagrees and tells her that if she submits to everything he tells her to do, he guarantees she will be dating someone in six months. Yeah, that’s not creepy or anything. He goes on to state that the reason he thinks this attractive, outgoing woman is single is because she is too passive and that she has some “personal dynamics interfering with her getting married”.
Dr. Cloud challenges this woman to interact with at least five men every week that she has never met before. She can talk to people in line at Starbucks, at church, wherever. In doing this exercise, she realizes that she has an internal monologue that tells her negative things when she’s interacting with men. When she’s able to shut the negativity off and grow, she is able to meet the man that she ends up marrying.
OK, that’s all well and good for Miss Example, but I resent the implication that the reason people are single is because there’s something wrong with them and if only they’d fix it, they’d find true love. In other parts of the book he backpedals a bit and admits that not having found the right person is not completely under a single person’s power, but he makes it pretty clear that he thinks most single people have something broken inside them. I imagine St. Paul might disagree.
Look, I didn’t completely hate this book. It has good sections on being real and honest about who you are, encouraging male readers to take the lead in pursuing a woman, dating as a Christian, and others.
I liked the parts where he talks about singles needing to break out of their stagnant and routine lives. However, I think this might be a problem for people in general, whether single or married. Just think of all the advice out there for long-term married couples on the importance of spicing things up. Also, I don’t think you should go to activities and develop hobbies in the hopes of finding someone to date/marry. That’s just a set up for disappointment.
It’s up for debate whether people should date casually and as many people as they can. Yes, dating can lead to understanding what you are and aren’t looking for in a spouse. But finding the right person isn’t just about numbers. On the other hand, Dr. Cloud also tells singles is to keep it casual and to not rush to judgement, whether that’s getting entangled too soon or to reject a person too quickly. Honestly, tho, casual dating is exhausting. It’s a strategy, not the strategy. Dating books that tell you that following their method leads to 100% success are just plain lying. And that’s why this book is in the “OK” dating advice book pile, not the “Great” pile.
I appreciate the wake up call that God isn’t going to bring you a spouse just because you expect Him to in some kind of cosmic bargain you have drawn up with Him (in your head). I get the impression that there is an overemphasis in some circles of Protestantism on marriage and a devaluation of the single life and that has lead to some pretty wonky beliefs and practices. So, I think this book would ultimately be good for Protestants who grew up with a certain kind of expectation for God to bring them a spouse.