I demonstrated the ruth of the cliché that those who can't do, teach. My career as a relationship know-it-all began shortly after my marriage did a 180, leaving me emotionally and financially bankrupt. These days, my standard response to anyone experiencing doubts about going through with a legal union is to listen to his or her gut. The night before my wedding, my gut sang arias, performed jumping jacks, and did everything but foment an appendicitis attack to get my attention.
No use. Like most of the stubbornly clueless I now counsel, I ignored my instincts and at age 20 committed myself to a lying spendthrift who snaked through our meager nest egg. Four years later, I ran for my life. Within days, the magazine company I toiled for—inappropriately named Ideal Publishing—also went belly-up.
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Scrambling for a new beginning (at least I had the sense to search for a something rather than a someone), I parlayed my love of writing and telling others how to run their lives into a gig editing Woman's Own magazine. Before long, I was offering nuggets like "It's important to recognize signs a guy won't hurt you before you're sucked in, and to open your heart to the appeal of that worthy specimen known as a diamond in the rough."
Readers may have embraced these "obvious-isms," but I wasn't through with my own bad-boy run. I loaned my newly replenished savings to a live-in lover eager to start a business managing fellow stand-up comics. That enterprise bombed; so did our relationship.
My bank account once again decimated (eight years later, I'm still waiting for repayment), I still didn't question my taste in men. After all, talk shows were calling Woman's Own to seek my input on topics such as "My Fiancé's a Flirt."
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I was a natural, from the beginning. I would spend mornings distraught over a promising date that had morphed into a silent phone, yet once the TV-camera lights glowed, I'd quip, "Crying over a man who doesn't appreciate you is as wasteful as buying retail. Cut your losses and go for the true bargain." I wasn't sure what that meant, but since my host would chortle appreciatively, I came to realize it wasn't the soundness of the advice that mattered, but its entertainment value. After one Good Day New York appearance, in which I was introduced as "Sherry Amatenstein, relationship expert," a former boyfriend's mother, chancing upon the program, scoffed, "Expert? That's David's ex-girlfriend!"