By Meriel Rose.
Cynthia Spillman, who is the founder of the International Dating Agency and a well known dating coach, makes some extremely good points in ‘From Dinner Date to Soulmate’. I think my favourites were, ‘Your loss is…not the whole story of who you are as a person’ and ‘Happiness is an inside job’.
Reading this book was little bit like sitting down with a dear longstanding friend and hearing her say, a little brusquely, ‘what you need to do is…’. You listen to her, because you know she has helpful things to say, and because she has a big heart in the right place, but you pick and choose what feels right for you. It is a book that is full of good advice, good ideas and good exercises which will undoubtedly help and support us on the way to finding a new relationship.
Sometimes I felt there might be a kinder way of saying something – the tone may be in danger of alienating some readers – but it would be a shame if that put people off as there as some wonderful and affirming messages in this book. I can tell that the writer has an extremely good heart. I would read it alongside the self compassion writing of Kristin Neff or Tara Brach just to make sure I am looking after my self esteem as well as my dating readiness.
The first thing I noticed about the book is that it assumes that all the readers are heterosexual. It is still perfectly possible to benefit from it as a LGBT person, and for future editions it is something that would be easy to change.
The book is divided into three parts: Be Prepared, How to Find Potential Partners and Moving from First Date to Soulmate. Each part has easy to read pen portraits of real daters, and useful practical exercises which would serve the reader well to help shift unhelpful mindsets and work out what we really want and need in a relationship.
Some of the exercises are quick ‘tickbox’ tasks, others require more time and thought. A notebook and a set of nice pens would be a real asset! Some people might like to do the exercises with a friend, coach or counsellor for moral support and to help with potential blind spots. I was really glad that the book included women going through the menopause, and women with and without children as that made it feel more inclusive.
Each chapter ends with WOEs to WOWs (Words of Wisdom), and these would be really useful as a quick read and recap, especially when in a new relationship or when starting out on dating. There is also a great summary chapter at the end of the book. This is a good book to dip in and out during the dating process as well as before you start, and would also be good to rejuvenate flagging daters.
In summary, I would recommend reading this book and taking from it what serves you – it’s brisk, positive and practical and would be useful as part of a range of books about dating and self care.
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Born into 1970s Birmingham, Meriel escaped as soon as she could to York, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, India and now East Sussex. She works as a teacher and counsellor, and enjoys musical theatre, walking, reading very long books and is planning to start dating in January 2018. Meriel hasn’t got any children, but has three cats called George, Taylor and Pauline Fossil the 2nd.