In the lead up to Valentine's Day, Amy Spencer is giddy for all the singles out there.
With her new book out next week, Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide To Using Dating Optimism To Find Your Perfect Match, Ms. Spencer hopes to purge singles of their most pessimistic thoughts and help them pluck their half-orange. (That's Spanish for mi media naranja – one's perfect other half.)
Playing off the law of attraction popularized by the best-selling self-help tome The Secret, as well as theories of neuroplasticity, Ms. Spencer argues that singles don't have to conceal who they are, play games or exhaust themselves on abysmal dates. They must simply be their “most authentic selves,” while meditating on their ideal relationship – preferably daily.
“We attract what we think about, focus on and feel,” Ms. Spencer writes in the exclamation-point-laden book, one of many lobbed at singles at this time of year. She spoke to The Globe and Mail from Venice, Calif., where she lives with her half-orange … er, husband.
You write that we can attract our ideal partners simply by thinking about it regularly. Tell me about that.
Basically, it's this idea that what we're thinking is not just ephemeral. Our thoughts are electric impulses in our brains. When we have specific thoughts, we strengthen particular neuropathways and what is stored in our brains, which changes the structure and function of our emotional brain. If you can change that, you can change everything, from the way your body language reacts to the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you. This of course changes what you attract.
How do you know this works?
Well it worked for me. I was single in New York City and I was having a great time for many, many years. Eventually I found myself tiring of dating. When I went home at night, alone, I would be really bummed out. I started to feel slightly desperate, which is of course the one word that no single girl ever wants to utter or think or feel. I hated the idea that this prime of my life was being wasted on not being happy. I decided that I was going to flip it and become a dating optimist. It essentially changed my entire life and eventually led me to my husband.
How did this philosophy play out in meeting your husband?
Oftentimes, I wanted to hang out with my family or my married friends but I felt that as a single person trying to find a relationship, I was supposed to go to the parties and try and meet somebody. I would walk in the room, scan the crowd, look for the right guy, not find him and go home depressed. I thought, why were my happy life and my single life two separate things? It was in fact one of these days where I wasn't at a singles event but spending time with my family that I ran into my husband.
You write about “focusing every cell” in your body “on attracting this guy – whoever he was” to you. You compared it to Lance Armstrong's visualizations during the Tour de France. How much of it is natural when you're focusing every cell on your body on it? Is that living?
To get what you want in a relationship, I'm saying that you need to add a passion that is greater than what you might think of in an average day. With all the other thoughts you're having – work, your to-do list, the vacation you're planning – you need to create a huge spike that says, “Above and beyond all that, I want to find the right relationship.” For five or 10 minutes in little spurts throughout the day, every day, create that orange buzz, which is that good hum of happiness in your belly when you're focusing on how amazing it's going to feel when you meet your other half. It makes you smile and feel lighter, and that to me is a natural feeling.
So run me through a typical day.
The idea might be that when you wake up in the morning and you're putting your coffee on, you think, “Today is going to be a great day in the step to meet my right half.” The most hopeful time in the day is the morning when you think anything can happen.
And what if nothing happens?
Well the idea is that everything is happening throughout the day to take you closer to your other half. My belief is that it's our job as single people to put the energy out there and create this buzz in ourselves and then look to the world around us to find the clues that it's giving us and follow the path.
You write about “openly hoping” for a life partner in front of everyone in your circle. Wouldn't that turn people off?
It's more the pity you get from people when you're single and you say, “I'm going to meet my other half!” They generally say, “Aw, you will.” That to me was the hardest part, but I was prepared for it and I knew it would pass. It also empowered me. It was me deciding to take the relationship I was going to have into my own hands.
What happens if you've filled your life out so fully that a relationship becomes secondary?
I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. The ultimate goal is to be happy – don't wait for a relationship to be happy, become happy now. But I think ultimately someone who really wants a relationship and a family, that's not something that goes away.
Do you think singles are overwhelmed by the focus on their singledom – including books like yours – ahead of Valentine's Day?
Yes, but the truth is, if you're single and you want to be in a relationship, you're thinking about your singleness all the time anyway.