Kristen McGuiness discusses her book, a personal journey of self-discovery.
By Kari Arneson for Cupid's Pulse
Kristen McGuiness is your average 30-something woman – she has a great career working at a non-profit in Los Angeles and a great boyfriend who might just be The One. But what’s different about McGuiness is how she got to where she is today. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, she knew she had to think outside the box to sort out her priorities. Single, newly sober and exploring a new city, McGuiness decided to try something crazy – but possibly brilliant – to find the new love of her life. A sympathetic boss, a spiritual healer and a handful of blind dates helped her reach her goal of 51 dates in 50 weeks, and which ultimately the unique experience depicted in her book, 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life. Equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching, this book takes readers on McGuiness’ personal journey of self-discovery as she imparts valuable wisdom on life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Cupid was lucky enough to talk to McGuiness about what those 51 dates were like, what it’s like to date sober, and how while looking for a man, she ended up finding herself:
What made you decide to embark on such an ambitious project of going on 51 dates in 50 weeks?
Like all good ideas, it was basically born out of desperation. I had been single for three years, had only gone on a couple of dates in that time, I hadn’t heard the words “I love you” from a man’s mouth since the year 2000 and I knew something had to change. I decided I would go on a date a week for a year, and then when Britney Spears kept getting sent to the hospital under a 51/50 (California state code for forced psychological evaluation), I figured I would take a note from her and go on 51 dates in 50 weeks.
How do you manage to keep a sense of humor after so many dating disappointments?
Oh, the dates were filled with humor. I have to say, I was laughing with most of my dates, not at them. I discovered that most of the dates were looking for the same thing I was – a fun, loving, committed relationship that might one day produce children. And we could all laugh at the positions we were in – most of us 30+, still wondering when our partner was going to come.
How did being a recovering addict make your dating experience different from other women’s experiences?
Well, for one thing, I couldn’t drink, so I had to be willing to go in there, be honest, be funny, have a good time and not have a drink. But it also made it much more interesting, because a lot of my dates didn’t drink either, so the conversation and the expectations were different. Back when I was drinking, most dates would end with a one-night stand. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I didn’t really get to know anyone. Coming into these dates sober, I got to have a whole new experience with dating and with men.
What would you say is the most important thing you learned about dating, love and relationships during those 50 weeks?
Since the book wasn’t just about traditional dates – the dates also include my mom, my father, and a spiritual healer I met throughout the course of the book – the journey was as much about finding myself as it was about finding a man. At a certain point, my boss asked me what constituted a date, and I realized that it was anything that brought me closer to true love. And I learned that healing my relationship with my father, learning to grow out of my insecurities and fears, were just as important as meeting the right guy. Because I had met the right guy before, and I was nowhere near ready. I knew that in order to meet the right person, I still had some work to do on me, and as much as the book was about finding love, it was also about my own inner-journey and healing.
In your book, you say that you would always get the same reaction from people when they found out you were single: “It’ll happen when you least expect it.” What is your best piece of advice for single women who feel hopeless like you did?
Don’t give up. I ultimately did find the love I was looking for. It didn’t so much happen “when” I least expected it, but “how” I least expected it. What I came to find through the book is that singlehood can be a great, magical adventure if you go out and live life. At the beginning I had begun to consign myself to nights where I went to the gym, came home, ate a salad and settled in to watch TV by myself with some Tofuti Cuties. By the end, I was riding horses through the woods, going to sweat lodges in the mountains, discovering my city and myself, and I was going out on lots of dates. And I also think that’s key: date, date, date. Because I found what I wanted through those dates, I learned what was important to me. And ultimately, when the right guy showed up, I was ready.