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The best way to find love in the modern world may be to approach dating like dieting

Shana Lebowitz
dinner date

Reuters/Eddie Keogh


  • Dating and dieting have a lot in common, according to Joanna Coles.
  • Coles is the former editor of Cosmo and Marie Claire magazines, the chief content officer at Hearst Magazines, and the author of the new book "Love Rules."
  • In the book, Coles shows readers how to identify the people who are standing between you and the love you want.
  • For example, Coles says your relationship with an ex is a kind of "junk love" that is best eliminated from your diet.


About midway through Joanna Coles' new guide to modern dating, "Love Rules," she offers an analogy between food and sex that will hit awfully close to home for many readers:

"In the same way you pick idly at chips promising this is literally your last one, you may be in a relationship that you know isn't going anywhere, but you're hungry for love, and it feels less frightening than nothing."

Yikes.

Coles is the former editor of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire magazines; she's currently the chief content officer of Hearst Magazines.

"Love Rules" is premised on the idea that the best way to find love is to approach dating like dieting, which is to say intentionally, methodically, and with the willingness to tweak if something isn't working. Just as many health experts recommend keeping a food diary, Coles advises keeping a love journal, where you record your current habits and reflect on what it is you really want.

'Junk love' can be just as bad for you as junk food

The comparison between food and love may seem trite, but I found the parallels between junk food and what Coles labels "junk love" surprisingly compelling.

Coles uses a doughnut as a "metaphor for your ex — warm, sweet, familiar, and loaded with trans fats that clog the arteries and eventually lead to a blockage of the heart." When you sleep with said ex, Coles says, it's easy and temporarily gratifying — but it may also sabotage your chances of finding long-term love.

The point here is simple, at least in theory: Set a goal (whether that's finding long-term love or something else) and identify the obstacles preventing you from getting there. Maybe those obstacles are crunchy and salty; maybe they're texting you to "hang out" at 2 a.m. You can't cut out the waste until you see it clearly.

Coles also shares a valuable, if somewhat unconventional, exercise  that can help readers recognize their personal obstacles. She writes: "Make a list of all the people in your life and rate them in terms of energy in, energy out. Is there anyone in your life right now who is blocking your love quest?" Coles says it could just as well be an ex or a best friend who's especially judgmental.

With regards to the ever-present ex, Coles recommends "giving yourself a clean break" and "quitting, cold turkey." This, as anyone who's tried to quit an ex or a post-work snacking habit knows, can feel impossible.

But it's conceivable that simply being aware of your counterproductive habits — and being motivated to break them — is a big first step in actually ditching them.

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