Book Notes: Author offers guide on getting back out there
“Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup,” by Susan J. Elliott. Da Capo Lifelong/Perseus Books Group, Boston, 2014. 271 pages. $14.99.
“Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup” is the sage, uncompromising friend you come home to after a rough first date.
This is also the voice of reason and experience that will steer you right during the confounding period of romance, rejection and/or re-entry. When you are head-over-heels, author Susan J. Elliott is on your nightstand saying “There’s true love and then there’s real love. Real love is what matters. Be careful. What’s left after the chemistry subsides may not be what you are looking for.”
There’s something about Elliott that says wisdom, experience, compassion and level-headedness. You don’t think self-help when you read her. You think, “Thank you, I needed that.” In fact “GBOT,” as Elliott calls this book, is good for anyone working on relationship issues.
Whether it’s romantic love or a conference with the boss, boundaries and communication skills are key.
Elliott starts with inventories. She asks the reader to list what’s most important to him or her with regard to self and with regard to potential love interests. She wants you to list boundaries and deal breakers. These are the core tenets from which future decisions and behavior follow.
Yes, you can make exceptions, and sometimes you will reassess because circumstances change. And you will give second chances. Third chances, however, call for decisions; otherwise, she says, you’re negotiating with yourself.
“Negotiating with yourself is another term for lowering your standards — the one thing you must never do. On the third strike, the person is out,” writes Elliott.
Why read this book? Can’t we simply rely on our gut, which is, after all, part of Elliott’s strategy?
The author makes the point that dating, in particular, is fraught with confusing twists and turns. Dating is emotional. “Love is blind” is an adage that rings true. Dating even calls up one’s complicated past — sometimes all the way back to childhood. Further, those starting out again may not be in the best frame of mind after an abusive relationship or the loss of a beloved mate.
There are people who haven’t dated in decades. Social norms have changed. The task of re-learning, adjusting and configuring boundaries under these circumstances can be overwhelming. Is it OK to dislike porn? Is it OK to want exclusivity? Go back to your boundaries and double-check what’s right for you.
Setting guidelines and boundaries is more than comforting, it is prudent. Elliott counsels readers to be patient, take time and carefully observe. If there are red flags, actively note and heed them. She gives examples, quotes people from her consulting business and workshops and she shares anecdotes from her own life. We see what she’s talking about when we read other people’s accounts.
There’s the man who, after three years, always moves on. There’s the wife who limits her husband’s activities to such a degree that his friends are disheartened. And we learn that Elliott got out of an abusive relationship, worked hard to recover, found a beloved husband who, just two weeks after she submitted the manuscript for her earlier book, “Getting Past Your Breakup,” was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
After he died she broke her back in a fall, hurt her hand badly in a fall from a ladder during Hurricane Sandy in NYC, then hurt her knee and discovered a tumor in her knee. She was alone and hurting in a house once filled with happiness and laughter. Starting over meant moving out of that house and beginning not just from scratch but also from a very vulnerable state physically and mentally.
Readers will like and trust Susan Elliott. She’s professional, grounded and educated in her field. And her counsel is spot on. She writes: After surviving the loss of a relationship, after recovering and building good strength and self-esteem, “Don’t throw away the new you for a new relationship. The trade-off isn’t worth it.”
Caution is what this book is all about. A little caution at the start prevents a world of grief down the road.
Rae Padilla Francoeur’s memoir, “Free Fall: A Late-in-Life Love Affair,” is available online or in some bookstores. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org Read her blog at freefallrae.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at @RaeAF.