Book Brief: It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single by Sara Eckel

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It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single
by Sara Eckel
2014, TarcherPerigee

The Idea

its-not-you-sara-eckelDating advice is horrible. The premise is always “you’re doing it wrong” or “you’re not enough” or “change yourself.” Still, it’s seductive to think that some new piece of advice will be the magic formula that manifests Mr. or Ms. Right and end in happily ever after.

Eckel challenges every “reason” we’ve heard before, whether from dating advice books or well-meaning friends or popular culture, and offers optimistic counter-evidence and practical guidance to reframe singledom as possibly the most rewarding time of life.

Recommended For

Obviously, for single people, especially for those who are past the wheeeeeeeeeee! stage of dating and feeling a bit daunted. Definitely for anyone who has succumbed to the bullying advice of traditional tomes like The Rules or Why Men Love Bitches (ugh). In a perfect world, every smug married would also read this book to remember that really, relationships are a matter of the right person and right timing, not a matter of doing it perfectly or being perfect.

The Pros

This book reads like a collection of magazine articles — quick, complete, and upbeat with insight. I read it in one sitting. The tone is both optimistic and realistic, and balances a journalistic approach with real stories and heartening insights.

Contrary to the spectrum of books that try to impose a formula on life and love, this book is refreshingly compassionate and intelligent, not just about being single, but about all our relationship choices. She also draws from my recent favorites – Oliver Burkeman and Mari Ruti (great reads) as well as popular favorites like Stephanie Coontz, Brene Brown, and Pema Chodron.

The Cons

Not enough people are reading this book? Seriously, can we start a fund to air-drop copies to every Bachelor-esque show and anyone who shares those horrible “Reasons Why You’re Still Single” posts on social media?

While the book might not ring as pitch-perfect to those with less similar backgrounds, or with less experience in/affinity for Buddhism, it’s enormously positive to have a calm, non-accusatory, wise, genuinely curious voice in the needlessly cacophonous “debate” on singleness.

My Take

At 37, I’ve never been married and I’m rarely coupled, and I often fall prey to the idea that I’m doing it wrong, or worse, that I’m wrong. One day, I had a reckoning with myself, clearing all the theories aside to assess my perma-coupled friends to figured out exactly what, in real life, they had in common. Was it that each person has reached some ideal level of (per the usual dating advice library) being less picky, less intimidating, or even self-love? Nope. There are a lot of coupled people who are still jerks, who haven’t worked through their issues, who let a good one get away. The only thing they have in common is that they simply didn’t give up altogether… until they do, which is okay too! I’ve come to believe that quality of relationship is far more important than duration or permanence. Accordingly, coupling doesn’t carry the urgency most dating tomes would have us believe.

Fun Fact

This book is based on Eckel’s Modern Love essay in The New York Times, Sometimes, It’s Not You,” one of the most popular of all time. So many readers responded to it so positively that a full book was inevitable.

Sara has an excellent blog on her site and you can even get a free bonus chapter of her book at

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