I’ve never been one to deny that I need tremendous help in the relationship department. Could we not have simply been born experts in the field of relationships or at least have been created with a “relationship expertise” gene that could have been switched on in case of malfunction? This could have assisted in eradicating the love diseases that plague so many of us. As this is not the case, I’ve often found myself flipping through books in the self-help section of my local bookstores. I would of course always dress for the occasion wearing full black attire, my New York Yankees cap and dark sunglasses. The attire would at times include gloves as not to leave behind any sort of physical evidence that I had sifted through the books in that section (thank you NCIS).
Do you notice that there are never more than two people browsing the shelves at one time? It’s as if there is some inherent code that must be followed once you’ve stepped within the borders of the self-help territory. This code serves to respect the need for a certain level of privacy that individuals skimming through these types of books may require. I am often curious to know which books people have picked up from the shelves and what relationship issues they may be dealing with. There’s a hint of voyeurism at play since each book title gives us a glimpse into the private life of our fellow self-help devotee. Once the book has been purchased (I will never divulge how many I have bought) usually an all-nighter follows where I take the time to analyze and cram all of this essential information. Why the rush you ask? If I were to meet my first husband let’s say tomorrow, should I not be prepared?
Some time ago, I was prepping for Mr. Right while still dating in the process and I was getting ready to meet a new guy later that day. I had a gym bag with me because I had stayed at a friend’s house the night before which was filled with an unnecessary amount of clothes and beauty products. As I was fishing for my wallet, a book I was reading fell out. He reached over to pick it up and I could have died on the spot when he read the title out loud: “The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.” “This looks like an interesting book” he said. “Yeah it’s for research,” I muttered. For research?! Riiiight. Like anyone would buy that. Thankfully, he didn’t probe any further. I was beyond mortified. I’m usually good with these things; you know, hiding the evidence that I may be in serious need of a psychotherapy session.
I recounted the horror to a friend and we began to discuss the hilarity of it all. In a society where we consume self-help books at the same rate that we breathe in air, why are we so embarrassed to share with others that we’ve read the latest version of “He’s Just Not That Into You”? These books are being purchased, there’s no denying that, so why are we made to feel that we are less than for choosing to get assistance in this department? Relationships are so entrenched in our daily lives that it should be of no surprise that this is an area in which we may need the most help. Even relationship experts are not immune to relationship failures, remember the ladies of the show Miss Advised? I stand by every single decision I’ve made to purchase my relationship books; there is absolutely no shame in my game.
I may not openly flaunt my collection, but I will be the first to quote what I have learned, share the titles of the books and go as far as lending them to you. I’m not perfect – none of us are. The next time you happen to stumble upon someone clearly hypnotized by the self-help book they’re reading (you know the kind: chewing their hair, hyperventilating while continuously repeating “tomorrow will be a better day”) go ahead and giggle, but just remember that they are trying. They know they need help, they want things to change and for things to make sense. They’ve let go of their pride, walked into that aisle like the bad ass person that they are and now they are attempting to truly make themselves believe that tomorrow will be a better day.