It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single


I think everybody—single or coupled—ought to read Sara Eckel’s wonderful and deceptively light new book, It’s Not You, based on her Modern Love column [in the New York Times] about being single for most of her twenties and thirties. Thin and fun-to-read, the book is also wise and soul-enhancing as Eckel makes a welcome case for commonsense, kindness and empathy in an area of life in which women are too often blamed, by themselves and others. —Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in Brooklyn Magazine

In this comforting love letter to single women, journalist Eckel tackles 27 common criticisms trotted out to unmarried ladies of a certain age—and sets each of those chestnuts on its ear. Advocating for the women who want to marry but haven’t yet found their match, the author picks apart clichéd observations such as “you’re too picky,” “you should have married that guy,” “you have low self-esteem,” and “you’re too desperate,” offering sensible responses for when these questions inevitably come up. Eckel sagely points out that “when you stop picking apart your personality and endlessly replaying the game tapes of your previous relationships, you clear a lot of mental space,” and she rationally discusses why each of these “truisms” are utterly wrong. … A must for any single woman’s personal library. —Publishers Weekly

Sara Eckel has composed an electrically charged response to a world still eager to tie a woman’s value to her marital status. It’s Not You is a thorough and thoughtful debunking of the myths of blame routinely foisted on women who have not (yet or ever) found mates. Eckel is funny, compassionate and righteously resistant to the lies women are told about how personal shortcomings have damned them to singlehood, while smartly standing up to assumptions that there’s anything wrong with unmarried life to begin with. — Rebecca Traister, author of Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything For American Women

It’s Not You masquerades as self-help but it’s really a manifesto, a radical declaration of truths that shouldn’t be all that radical but somehow are nonetheless. Sara Eckel does what no one writing about singleness has yet had the guts to do. She points out that coupling up is often nothing more than a matter of luck and that conventional wisdom about love is no substitute for real wisdom about life—something she has in spades. — Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

What makes It’s Not You stand out among myriad dating guides is Eckel’s tone: devoid of sass for sass’s sake, calm without preaching. —Keziah Weir, Elle

Any woman who’s tired of relatives, friends and co-workers who ask, “Why are you still single?” will appreciate Sara Eckel’s It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. The author—who writes the New York Times “Modern Love” column—has penned a smart, I’ve-got-your-back debunking of the most common remarks made to unmarried women, especially those 30ish and older. —Linda M. Castellitto, BookPage

Finally! Someone said it: Being single does not mean you’re broken. Thank you, Sara Eckel, for speaking up and turning the tables on anyone who dared point their needling finger at poor old singletons negotiating the process of looking for love. It’s Not You is a smart and sane respite from the incessant chatter of relationship self help that places the single person in the middle of a perpetual makeover project. Eckel deftly argues why you don’t need any of it and she’ll make you think about dating in an entirely new light. Her book is fresh, relatable, funny, and empowering, and I’m only one percent mad at her for not writing it sooner. Mostly, I just want to hug her and so will you. — Rachel Machacek, author of The Science of Single

Sara Eckel’s It’s Not You is a funny, thoughtful, and long-overdue response to every well-intentioned tool who insists single women are single because they’re “too” something: picky, available, desperate, intimidating, nice, negative, attractive or, I don’t know, averse to clog dancing. Instead, she assures us we’re fine. The only problem? We simply haven’t met the lug of our dreams yet. Smart, funny and brimming with common sense (and relevant studies), It’s Not You doesn’t preach, criticize, or try to convince you to join a glee club or take up wrestling in order to meet a man. Sage advice from a practical, self-aware (and now, former) singleton. Read it! — Diane Mapes, How to Date in a Post-Dating World

Debunking the myths and well-meaning advice lobbed on to single women today, It’s Not You is like soothing guidance from a best-friend in book form. Fearless, funny,and wise, it’s a reminder to single women everywhere that the best antidote to the overwhelmingly negative dating feedback that prevails is self-compassion. — Ava Chin “Urban Forager” and author of Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal

Blending up-to-date social science studies, Buddhist insights, and often-amusing personal anecdotes, Sara Eckel counters prevailing myths about dating and marriage, and offers solace and very helpful advice to those who feel pained by prolonged singlehood. Above all,this book will resonate with readers because of the way she shares her own struggling,vulnerable heart. I highly recommend it. — Gabriel Cohen, author of Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce

Part Buddhist teacher and part social critic, Sara Eckel tells single women what we older-to-marry folks wish we could go back to say to our own younger self-doubting unmarried selves. She goes beyond giving advice, but imparts actual wisdom about making peace with one’s life in the moment, while also recognizing other possibilities to come. Her arguments are strong because they are based in the latest research, building an updated profile of the powerhouse demographic of modern single women.   Meanwhile, she wittily dispels old but still-pervasive negative “old-maid” stereotypes  — which can make single women their own harshest critics. … This book is a refreshing study of women realizing the best potential of feminism: to realistically accept both the challenges, and the triumphs, of living life on one’s own terms. — Paula Kamen, author of Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution, All in My Head  and Finding Iris Chang

“I’m not an expert,” writes Sara Eckel. “I don’t have a PhD or a reality show.” What Eckel brings to this slight but disarmingly honest book is her own experience as a single woman fielding (unsolicited) advice about her situation. Now happily married, Eckel heard all the digs — you’re too picky, you’re too negative, you’re too demanding, you’re too intimidating — and now, in handy book format, she obliterates them, one by one. By turns silly and serious (with an occasionally heavy dose of Buddhist thought thrown in), “It’s Not You” provides a cheering reminder that life is complicated, and so are people. Instead of torturing yourself with a self-improvement checklist, she asks, why not see yourself “as a flawed but basically lovable human being?” —Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe

At first glance, the concept of a now-married woman writing a book geared towards single women sounds absolutely awful. The idea of a married person saying, “Look! I did it! So obviously you can, too!” in an attempt to be an inspiring “success” story to all the miserable singles in the world makes me want to gag. However, Eckel–a journalist based in Kingston, NY–breaks the norm in the self-help-for-singles genre and provides a feminist answer (or rather, 27 feminist answers) to all the bullshit “advice” and analyses that friends, family, and “experts” alike love to give to single people (especially women) to help them cure the disease of singledom. Rather than using her past as woman who married in her 40s after being single for most of her 20s and 30s to put single people down, Eckel provides a compassionate take on both the external and internal pressures that they face in a society structured around couples and families.
—Wagatwe Wanjuki, Feministing