And So It Begins…

Over the weekend, I was doing some quick research regarding the marketability of the book I’m working on. You know, the one about crushes that I’ve mentioned a few times now to some people (tentatively titled “How to Crush Without Being Crushed”… working on website ideas, too). This involved browsing the “Relationship” stacks at Borders when I was there (though no too closely, because I’m shy, apparently) and then coming home and digging through 100 titles in an Amazon.com search for “relationship, crush” or something similar.

Well, there’s plenty of relationship books out there, that’s for sure.

The thing is, from what I could browse on Amazon, I really find most of them disgusting.

There seem to be two main foci for relationship books: Getting Laid (for the guys) and Getting Married (for the girls). And almost all pander toward the most base, shallow reasoning behind either.

For the guys you can have your pick of books about how to talk your way into her pants, how to talk her clothes off, how to date hot women, how to make her scream for more in bed, how to dress like a million dollars (so you can bang rich women) or how to date more so you don’t end up old, alone and surrounded by comic books and action figures.

For the women there’s how to convince him to marry you, how to get him to give you anything you want, how to marry the hot man and make all your girlfriends jealous, how to steal away the man you want to marry, how to please a man to the point he’ll marry you or how to not end up old, alone and surrounded by twelve dozen cats and empty ice cream containers.

I’m hoping the severe lack of books with actual substance is due to the search terms I eventually used.

Sure, the “Venus and Mars” books popped up, but their depth of encouraging understanding for the sake of an actual relationship was in the minority. In fact, the most books I remember that dealt with actual relationships were of a distinctly Christian, “don’t you dare even think about having sex until you’re married” flavor. (And, really, for most people, that’s not very realistic.)

There is so much to relationships than sex or marriage. I’ll admit, I’m obviously no expert on dating or sex–I’ve only had four girlfriends (and only three of them had sex involved)–but I do know more than a few things about relationships. I’ve got those a-plenty.

And, looking around at other people’s lives and the general state of the world, I can’t help but think that I’m doing something right. I’ve got good friends that reach back to my childhood. The bulk of my friends, I’ve had for nearly a decade. The newer ones seem to be sticking around nicely, too. I’m even still on good terms with three out of four of my exes (and I’m certain it would be four out of four if I hadn’t lost touch with that one when both our lives got very busy and complex).

The relationship book market seems skewed toward short term fixes to problems that really aren’t that big. At least not when you put them in perspective.

Sure, sex is good (and fun, from what I remember of it). But it’s nothing to base a real relationship on. It’s not the greatest choice for a main goal in life, either.

Marriage? Good idea, but far from mandatory. But if you have to “trick” the man (or woman) into it, exactly how long do you think it’s going to last?

Our relationships with other people all start in the same place: how good a relationship we have with ourselves.

If we’re not our own friend, how are we going to be a friend to anyone else? And why would anyone else want to befriend us?

If we’re not comfortable with who we are right now, we have to at least accept it as a temporary state of being and then work to become the person we would be comfortable with. You learn the difference between your wants and your needs. You learn how to say “no” and stick to it and how to say “yes” and mean it. You learn… about Love.

That journey from self-doubt to self-respect is where we pick up the friends we make. By actually moving forward along that path, and helping those around us do the same thing, we can see our relationships grow. Romance happens if the conditions are right and lasts if it’s cultivated over time. Sex happens when it happens. Marriage, too.

Based on what I saw of the relationship book market, the biggest focus is on the self. But not how to understand the self or make you a better person. Instead, the focus is on how to get what you want. At all costs.

And that just doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

That’s why the book I write isn’t going to be about relationships.

It’s going to be about crushes.

Crushes aren’t relationships–they’re mirrors of our own desires and perceptions. Through them, we learn not about the object of our crush, but about ourselves. Used correctly, they can be a wonderful vehicle for learning, for fun and (here I speak from years of experience) for real relationships.

So, I’ve seriously begun work on this project. I’m going to be doing some more research and I’m interested in what everyone out there thinks. I want to hear your crush stories, I want to know if you’ve ever come across any books that deal with crushes (in a good or a bad way), I want to know if you think there’s actually a market out there for something like this.

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