When Sara Eckel published her essay “Sometimes it’s not you, or the math” in the Modern Love section of the New York Times three years ago, she wasn’t expecting the outpouring of positive feedback she ended up receiving.
The piece details the personal growth and pain Eckel went through while being single throughout her 30s “I thoughtI was writing
about my small world in New York City,” says Eckel, but people from all around the world reached out to her to say how much they could relate. “I had written similar pieces in the past along that theme, because I kept having this epiphany that I’m fine the way I am.”
“I kept having that epiphany,” she repeats. “But I kept forgetting it.”
It was that piece that led Eckel to write her book “It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons That You’re Single.” “In a way, it is written for my single self,” Eckel says. “Because I did torture myself with that question, ‘What is wrong with me?’"
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Throughout the book, Eckel breaks down the common stereotypes single women constantly hear from their families and popular culture, shares anecdotes and examines sociological studies about single life. (She’d eventually meet her husband at 39).
One of the things that Eckel discovered was how easily the women she spoke to who married later in life adapted to living with a partner. “You always hear about how hard it is to adjust to marriage if you are older,” she says. “I felt like I wasn’t getting the proper training for being in a relationship because I had pretty much always been single.”
“But I wanted this thing to change and once it did, I was so happy and I realized that if it meant compromises, then I would do it,” she says.
Publishers have been printing books about how to find love for centuries, and Eckel says she understands why those messages appeal to so many. “Love is what most of us want,” she points out. “Because so many of us want it, of course we’re going to read something that says ‘Here are the 10 things to do to make it happen.’”
“We’re constantly told, ‘to get a better job do this,’ or ‘to make more money just do this,’” Eckel continues. “With love, it’s just so much more elusive. But there will always be people trying to figure it out.”
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.