How Humorist Justin Halpern Found The One
Humorist Justin Halpern, author of I Suck at Girls and Sh*t My Dad Says, shares his thoughts on love, marriage, and why we all “suck” sometimes when it comes to dating.
hen author and Twitter celeb Justin Halpern was considering proposing to his now-wife, he told his father — who responded in typical Sh*t My Dad Says fashion with, “You’ve been dating her four
years… it ain’t like you found a parallel universe!” But seeing that Justin was actually a bit nervous, his father gave him the sage directive that he should take an entire day, go off somewhere on his own, and think about all the things he’d learned about women, relationships, and himself over the years in order to make an “educated guess” on whether proposing was the right decision.
The result? Halpern realized that, even though he actually wasn’t very good with women, he’d found one who liked him a lot — and that was enough for him. In his latest collection of hilarious and relatable stories, I Suck at Girls, Halpern chronicles all of those important formative moments that led to his current status as a happily married man.
And in this personal interview, he shares a few other tidbits about things he learned along the way — like how all of us could really use a little bit of help with dating!
What inspired you to write the new book, I Suck at Girls?
I wanted to write something that I thought was funny and an honest take on what adolescence and dating is like for most people. I feel like the stories in my book are the stories that everybody has [experienced themselves]. There are a lot of books from men talking about all the women they’ve slept with, and then there are books about people going through these excruciating high school and college dating experiences, but I didn’t think there was anything out there for “most” people.
Agreed! The book was very relatable, and everyone has their own slightly mortifying (but true) coming-of-age stories. But, you don’t really think you sucked at dating, right
Actually, I think almost everyone “sucks,” to some degree. I mean, I definitely think I sucked, but I think that’s also part of the process. You learn something from every relationship. I think what I came to learn after it was all said and done is that I really do think love is about going through a series of losses that are painful — and sometimes, humiliating — and then, if you finally succeed… then you’ve won! If you can find that one person who is right for you, then it doesn’t matter if the last 30 people you dated were terrible.
At one point in the book, you mention that you’d spent most of your time in previous relationships trying to not screw them up. Do you think a lot of daters sabotage themselves by worrying about that instead of just enjoying the process and the connection that’s right front of them?
I definitely think that a lot of people (myself included) have a tendency to just want to not screw things up — especially when you first start realizing that you like someone. And inevitably, in trying to not screw things up, you end up doing it anyway. I think part of human nature is that when you have something you like, you do not want to lose it. But I feel like that’s kind of the worst way to handle relationships… at least, for me it was.
Then how would you suggest that people who find themselves in a similar situation actually curb that worrying impulse?
One of the things I always said to remember later on when I was dating is, “I just need to enjoy it and be
myself, and then if it doesn’t work, it wasn’t supposed to work.” I can’t be trying to hedge my bets so that I’m not as upset when each person leaves. If someone leaves, oh well. You can’t treat every date like it’s your last meal.
|I think almost everyone “sucks,” to some degree.|
How did that epiphany help you move things forward with your now-wife, Amanda?
My wife wouldn’t put up with a lot of my neurotic crap, so I think when I’d start to exhibit those sorts of behaviors, she would say, “Stop it! What are you doing?” She understood that I was kind of neurotic, and she liked that about me. I think it wasn’t so much like I had an epiphany, but more that I just met someone who I really sort of clicked with — who understood all the weird things about me. It’s about finding someone who accepts you exactly as you are.
Obviously, we know your father has some pretty hilarious — but also serious — uh, stuff to say. What are some of the best pieces of advice he gave you about dating and women over the years?
I think the best thing he ever told me was to never listen to advice from anyone who tries to generalize about women. Guys are so quick to say, “Oh, women are like this,” but if you do that, you’ve just said something stupid that basically blanketed a billion people. He said, “There are three billion women in the world and they’re all different, and people hate being treated on a mass scale. Bureaucracy doesn’t work when you’re dealing with relationships.” Dad told me to just take everything on a person-to-person basis, and people will appreciate you for doing that.
As a man who finally met and married the right woman for him, what words of encouragement do you have for singles that feel burned out on dating right now?
I guess the only piece of advice I ever offer anybody is that breakups and losses are going to happen — and that they are necessary. It’s not the end of the world when these things happen, because again, you really just need to make it work only once. I wish I could go back and tell myself, “Feel the breakups when they happen, but try not to let them — and feelings of loneliness — consume your life.” I feel like I wasn’t really able to become decent at dating until I was OK with being alone. And then, once I was actually OK with being alone, I thought: “I can go out and date and not put so much pressure on myself, because If it doesn’t work out, well, who cares?”