Author Penelope Winters on love, hope and Finding a Guy Like Gilbert
"No relationship stands a chance if we feel that we have to change ourselves to meet with someone else's approval," author Penelope Winters tells Her, as she opens up about her dating guide.
Winters is the author of the dating manifesto Finding a Guy Like Gilbert, described as a self-help guide for "the woman who thinks she has tried everything and is almost ready to give up looking for love—but not quite yet".
She recently spoke to Her about what inspired her to write the book, what makes it stand out compared to other relationship books and why women should be looking for their own Gilbert.
Winters recalled how after giving birth to her son, she was suffering with some anxiety - "I have OCD and it was particularly bad in the months after he was born," she noted - and her husband suggested that, given her interest in dating shows, she should write something to do with dating.
"I decided to write a dating guide for women like myself, who had never had any belief in themselves and felt themselves to be unlucky in love. So, I wrote sort of a memoir, so it's my own story, but it's also written as a sort of instructional guide," she said.
"There's 20 steps, and then other chapters with general advice on learning how to accept yourself, getting ready and expectations for love - and just about life in general.That was what prompted me to write it; I [wanted] to do something that might help other people, because I've read all the self-help guides and books over the years and I've never really found one that made me feel hopeful."
Winters - who also runs the Instagram account @penelope_goes_dating - added that she believes Finding A Guy Like Gilbert stands out because it has a more personal feel to it.
"A lot of the books, they have a lot of wisdom in them. But with my book, it's written from my personal experience. I'm one of those people who has never believed in myself; never felt good enough. And it's sort of written for the type of woman who doesn't believe that she deserves love," she explained.
"It's instructional in that it has 20 steps that I followed, and it takes the reader through my journey - and all the different things I tried to find love. So, it's an easy read, and a lot of common sense. It's honest and written from the heart.
"I think it will help women who have almost come to despair of ever finding love; it will help them start to expect more; the whole thing around the book is that it looks at expectation, and how in life we tend to get what we expect and no more. [The book looks at] the importance of actually feeling, as opposed to just thinking positively. There are a lot of books about manifestation but there aren't really any that are kind of instructional guides about manifesting love specifically into your life."
The 'Gilbert' in question is Gilbert Blythe, from Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables novels - the lead male protagonist of the series.
"One of the chapters in the book is about reconditioning yourself to find nice guys attractive. Now, there are lots of women who, you know, have always found nice men attractive - but there are lots who use it as an excuse, saying 'oh, you know, I'm just attracted to the cold, forbidding types'. Like the Mr. Darcy, who is a decent person but not emotionally available," Winters told us.
"There are a lot of characters in literature who are romantic leads that are, you know, not emotionally available or don't have the characteristics or traits that we should be looking for. And they've been glorified over the years; a lot of women are attached to the notion that they like bad boys, and therefore they don't give nice guys a chance.
"[There's a] chapter which advises women to start finding nice guys attractive and to look at the character of Gilbert. It's actually taken as a compliment, if someone's interested in you - rather than a feature of low self esteem, which I always experienced.
"One of the things I say is that everyone deserves three goes. So, I met my husband on a blind date. And after the first date, I wasn't mad about him, I didn't know him and I wanted to write him off. So I gave him a second date and the interest began to build. By the time we got to the fourth date, I was certain that this was the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
"I'd say that everyone deserves three goes; don't try to anybody off because there's something about them that you don't like, like their shoes or their grammar, don't nitpick. You know, when you start realising that when you like somebody who's doesn't treat you well, it's not that you are inherently attracted to that type of guy or anything. It's just that actually, you just need to work on yourself. And when you actually really appreciate yourself, you're comfortable yourself - even if they're nervous, you'll take that as a compliment, that it's a sign they're interested in or making an effort, you know?"
- Finding a Guy Like Gilbert by Penelope Winters is available now.