Things you only know if you are single

SAMANTHA BRETT
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2011

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OPINION: Love. Sex. Flings. Romance. Casual encounters. Blind dates. Random hook-ups. Bad dates. Worse dates. Old flings re-emerging. Sexting etiquette. Dumping etiquette.

It's universally acknowledged that there are some things you only know if you are single, many things you'd rather not have found out, and a few things you never thought you'd have to know about but nevertheless are now forced to Google and then go to therapy for. 

Well-meaning coupled-up friends will dish out as much (hopeless, contradicting, strange?) advice as they can muster, breezily singing their own praises and their ability to "snag" the person of their dreams and "get them to commit" due to their brilliant tactical manoeuvres and due diligence which you, dear singleton, are clearly missing.

Others (mostly the newly engaged) will come to you when things are less peaches and cream and will swear to you that single life is something to be revered, not pitied.

"No one ever tells you the truth about what it's really like to plan a wedding, smile at the in-laws or stick to a budget," said one such type. "One is better off eloping. Or just staying single. Can I sleep on your couch tonight?"

Things a singleton is supposed to "learn" from well-meaning twosomes are usually about as helpful as throwing a drowning man both ends of a rope. Nevertheless one has to listen to their droning and tactical advice, nod politely and admit (begrudgingly) that, yes, they know more than you because they're hitched and you're not.

From some of the most recent nuggets of information I've heard, here are the top things you would only be told if you're single ...

How to get a guy to propose

There are some women out there who have made it their mission in life to get engaged. After much pain, yearning, suffering and pleading, they're planning their wedding with glee. And now they're telling everyone who will listen: "If you don't lay out your I-want-to-be-engaged cards upfront, how will a man ever know what to do? You must make it known right away what your intentions are. If he doesn't share them, he has the chance to walk away."

Then there are some women who royally messed up any chance at waltzing down the aisle by acting like a Ring-Crazed Husband-Hunter. Like one such RCHH, who begged her boyfriend of two years (whom she lived with) to propose. When he bought her a handbag for her birthday and not a diamond ring, she cried, cracked his laptop screen with her high heel and promptly moved out. The second time around she made sure there was no mention of weddings, white dresses or kids' names ... up until the moment when he figured it all out on his own. She's just celebrated her first wedding anniversary.

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"Keep any plans to yourself," she tells any single woman who will listen. "Seriously, never ever bring it up. It will only scare him away. He will figure it out. As long as you don't act too keen." 

Deal breakers are to be broken

One singleton remarks she broke up with a man because she wanted to move to Europe with him but he wouldn't go. So she went on her own, but soon came back. Two years on she's discovered he's living in Italy, happily dating an Italian model and is about to open up his own restaurant there. 

Another woman dumped a dude due to his lack of willingness to do any exercise. Years later he's now running marathons and she's struggling to get rid of her post-pregnancy baby weight.

A man I know dumped a woman because she didn't want to get married. She thought she was supposed to pretend she didn't want to get married so that he would come up with it all on his own. In the end they both lost out. 

Living together before marriage is a good (bad?) idea

"You're supposed to live together before you get married," says Harriet. That's because when she married George, they had never lived under the same roof before. His health habits (and strange internet habits) shocked and repelled her to the point whereby nine months on they're getting a divorce. "I'll never marry someone I haven't shared a house with," she now tells anyone who will listen. "Don't you do the same."

Shelly lived with her boyfriend for six years, before realising that living with him meant he was never going to propose when he already had what he wanted: sex on tap, meals on tap and someone paying half his rent. It would be customary at this point in this column to quote the saying, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" To which Harriet cries, "If free milk means avoiding divorce, stuff your price tag - give it for free!"

It's a numbers game

A singleton will learn all the ways to "find someone", which these days includes going online, getting set up by mutual friends, Facebook stalking, going on a dating hiatus, calling up an old flame, avoiding any old flames, playing games, not playing games, being yourself, being more confident, being less talkative, being more talkative, dressing less sluttily, dressing sexier ... the list goes on.

One woman I know logged on to an online dating site and set up 50 dates back-to-back in the space of a few days. She did eventually meet The One after the fifth date on the fifth day at 5pm. Thank goodness. Another stopped dating altogether until one whom she liked came along unexpectedly while she was shopping for groceries. "It was only when I had a clear head and no other dates on the horizon that I could recognise the right thing when it was in front of me."

Acting keen v playing games

"You must always be yourself and not hold anything back," says newly engaged Tina. "With Tom it was just easy. Our communication was never an issue. We didn't play games."

"Oh, so you called him?" I ask.

"What? Oh no. Never. I always let him initiate. It has to be the man doing all the work at the beginning. Otherwise it will never work in the long term."

Sigh...  

- Sydney Morning Herald

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