Are you single and ready to mingle? Singletons (women, that is) often have it rough: constant, invasive questioning about why you’re flying solo and/or childless; dirty looks and poor behaviour from smug marrieds at parties (clearly, you are a husband stealer); and then there’s other people’s rude and awkward fascination with your interesting sex life (or lack there of).
I know – I’ve been there. I once made the mistake of wearing a daring, low-cut dress to a New Year’s Eve party almost entirely made up of married people, at which I had countless Bridget Jones’ Diary-esque cringeworthy moments of my very own. If I wasn’t having to explain why I was single, I was getting serious side-eye in my dress, not that I had absolutely any intention of getting cosy with someone that night. I mean, God forbid a single woman could be happy in her own skin and just enjoy herself at a party? Sometimes, your singleton status can make others really uncomfortable.
So, what’s a single gal to do? For starters, you could empower yourself by checking out Dr Nikki Goldstein’s new book: #singlebutdating: 10 Steps to a More Dateable You (pictured). I wish this book, and more like it, were around when I was single.
Dr Goldstein, herself a sexy, young singleton, is a leading Australian sexologist and sex and relationships commentator. Her life experience – coupled with her psychology degree, postgraduate diploma in counseling and doctorate of human sexuality, make her a credible authority on the subjects.
And here’s what I love most: she wrote #singlebutdating women to arm women with the tools they need to not only survive in the #singlebutdating world, but to revel in it. Isn’t that refreshing?
Here, Dr Goldstein reveals her top sex and dating tips, her inspiration for the book and what she hopes to achieve with it.
What inspired you to write a book on single but dating (SBD) women? I felt that I was left without a label to describe my love and dating life. There have been moments in my life where I was not exactly single, but when asked if I had a boyfriend, I was unsure how to answer. It’s not like there were a lack of men in my life and I definitely wasn’t waiting at home for the phone to ring, but I didn’t want pity for my so-called “single” status. I also felt like so many of the dating books out there were telling women to change in order to trap a man and there was nothing empowering them to work out how they wanted to date. We don’t need set-in-stone rules – we need advice, empowerment, information and knowledge of possible outcomes so we can make better and healthier decision for ourselves.
Are you currently SBD? When writing the book, I went on a man ban for 18 weeks and it was one of the most interesting times of my dating life. I learnt so much about myself and got to take a good look at how I had been dating from a distance without the distraction of men and really take time to explore what I wanted from the opposite sex. Since publishing the book, I am back dating and currently an SBD woman (and having more fun now knowing what I want and how I want to date than before).
What makes you qualified to give dating advice? For this book, I was able to reflect from my professional life as a sexologist and relationship expert with a history of academic and clinical experience, but also my own dating life, as I had had years of colourful dating experiences. It was the first time I decided to get really personal with my work and share my own stories. This is the book I wanted years ago, so in a way I am my own audience.
Have you had many long-term relationships? I have had one in particular that lasted about six years and after that have had a series of what I like to call “mini relationships”: (under six months) flings, holiday romances and dates with some great men. With each person, I feel I have learnt more about myself and who I am and I’m so appreciative that these people were at one stage in my life.
What are some top benefits for SBD women? They have a chance to discover what they want in their love lives and their lives in general before they enter long-term or more committed relationships. How do we know what we want if we haven’t explored different options and sometimes had what we don’t want? Love is not always enough in relationships and even if it is we need to experience what love is and what love isn’t so we can identity the right feelings when they come along.
There is a lot of confusion over what constitutes love, lust, validation and security. You might think it’s true love, when it actual fact the relationship you are in is validating your sense of self-worth and those feelings lead you to believe that it’s love. It’s important for woman to take time to work on themselves so they are able to enter relationships based on what they want not what everyone else around them is telling them they should want. Being an SBD woman just gives you the time and permission to work all of that out.
Why should women entertain the idea of a man ban? I think it’s great for women every so often to step back and have a good, hard look at their love and dating lives. It doesn’t have to be for too long. Given we are in a world which preaches the strong message that a boyfriend or partner means worthiness and validation, we need to be very careful of our dating and sexual behaviours. Sometimes, it takes that distance to be able to analyse and assess what is really going on in your own life. Are you sleeping with that guy because you really wanted to, or because you were feeling a little low and thought it might give you a self-esteem boost? Did you go out on a date with that guy because you really did like him or because it was nice to have someone who was pursuing you? When we are in the midst of it it’s hard to tell why we do what we do, but some distance can give the most insightful view.
What was the book writing process like? It was very quick; it was something I had wanted to do for some time and an idea that had been sitting in my head, but from contract to holding the first-bound draft in my hands was 18 weeks. I went into hibernation and worked like I’ve never worked before. It was not only a challenge professionally, but personally too. When you take yourself out of the society you live in and stay at home in gym clothes and sweat pants, you really need to look to yourself for confidence, validation and positive vibes.
Do you have any other books in the works? I loved writing #sinlgebutdating and found a new passion. Four weeks into book one and I was already looking at what was next with ideas flowing fasting than I could type. There was so much more I could have put into this book that I had to start to consider book two. Let’s just say this is a first, but will not be an only for me. I’m getting ready to go back into hibernation with my laptop again soon.
How will your book aid SBD women? Hopefully it will empower them to think differently about the dating game. I wanted to give permission to women that it’s OK and even amazing to be #singlebutdating right now and that maybe for those who are considering this as a lifestyle choice, to let them know it’s not so scary and can actually be very useful in the long-term. With this book, I wanted to empower women so they are able to make choices from their own internal wants and desires, instead of acting in response to the influences around them.
It’s OK for women to have one-night stands, booty calls and date multiple people if that’s what they want, but they first of all need to work out if it’s what they really want and understand any consequences and risks attached. My book #singlebutdating will not only empower women, but help them to become the most datable versions of themselves, not from changing every aspect of their lives, but by bringing out the best version of who they really are on the inside.
How can women combat society’s negativity towards SBD women? They can continue to challenge the messages they get fed; ask where it comes from and also why it’s there. Often, we take messages of what is sexy and attractive from the society around us and accept them as the status quo. It’s important to continually analyse these messages and think: “Is this so-called ideal one that I believe in and one that works for me?” It’s also useful for women to have a voice and not be afraid to share their thoughts and opinions, even if they feel they are different to everyone else.
Why are you passionate about sex education? I’m passionate about it because a lack of education is what lets us down on so many levels. We get minimal sex education, nearly none about relationships and dating and then we are expecting to get it right. We put so much importance on relationships and our sex lives that it’s unfair we do not have the right information to work on it. We will never get to a stage where we say “OK, this amount of sex education is enough and adequate now,” because it is multifaceted subject which impacts so much of our lives. Sex education and the delivery of information and thoughts, whether for adults or teens and children, should not been seen as a niche or something that we should get to if we have time – it should be a priority.
What are some top sex myths in Australia as pertaining to SBD women? I think it’s this idea that stems from the Madonna/whore complex that if we have too much sex we are ruined in some way. Some men want woman to be kinda sexual, but then are turned off by a woman with too much sexual experience or desire (but please note I said “some men”, not all). There is still this feeling in our society that a women who expresses herself too much sexually is not a good thing. But why is that? I would think that – especially from a man’s point of view – a woman who was sexually enthusiastic (doesn’t that sound better than “slut”) would make a better lover as hopefully she would know what she wants and likes in the bedroom and is better able to connect emotionally and physically. We have always tried to control woman’s sexually with this fear of degradation and maybe it’s time we were more aware of where it seeps into our society. Virginity does not mean innocence and sexuality should never equate to guilt, slut and whore.
Any final tips to help wome feel empowered and fulfilled while SBD? A lot of single and SBD women can feel a little down about the dating game and there are a lot of pressures out there and emotions attached. It’s important to look at the positives and what you do have in your life, not focus on the negative and what you are missing out on. Once women are in a negative head-space, it might only send them further down, so it’s important to stop yourself and flick that switch to positivity. And people are more attracted to happy, positive people, so it will help in the attraction stakes too. It’s harder than it sounds, but once you can master that art, dating and even self-esteem really does become a lot easier. Find little ways to make yourself happy and acknowledge when the world around you is bringing you down.
#singlebutdating, $29.99, is in all good book stores now and is also available as an e-book. Visit drnikki.com.au.