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Literary Scene: Dating in the post-pandemic age

Dating has become a little easier as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic recedes.

But men, especially those over 45, might still find dating somewhat intimidating.

If so, Noelle Benson has the perfect book for you. And she wrote it.

She describes her “What Men Don’t Know About Dating Is a Lot!” (65 pages; $11.99, print; $7.99, digital; 2021) as “a post-pandemic book for all single men between 45 and 75-years-old who feel it’s essential to ‘quaranteam.’”

Benson says the book “tells men a lot about things that they should know, but often don’t.”

Benson, a Salisbury High School graduate, Class of 1980, lives in Kennett Square, Chester County. She works in medical marketing.

“What Men Don’t Know” is her first book, a project she took on during the pandemic.

The first name Noelle is a pen name. She said she was tired of getting phone calls for “Mr. Noel Benson.”

In her book, Benson tells men to look at themselves,

“Get on a dating site and be honest about what you yourself want before you can even think about meeting other people. Be clear on what you want,” Benson says.

“Some men aren’t really focusing on dating. They are not focused on a real connection. They are just interested in meeting someone and hooking up. Dating is not sex,” she says.

Honesty is a vital, Benson emphasizes: “Be authentic. Present the best possible view. That would be a great start.”

The book tells stories about a surprising number of people who misrepresent themselves.

“People think it is OK to falsify things on a profile,” she says.

Benson points out that many times men use photos of themselves taken when they were much younger, or even photos of other men. Of course, there is no way to cover this up when meeting in person.

Benson is stylishly dressed for the interview. She notes that men should make a point to be the same way.

“Men often show up in stained clothes or clothes that are out of style. They haven’t been to a mall in this millennium. If women did what they did, they would be super unhappy.

“A woman has to maintain herself. If she is not perfect, men don’t like it, but they don’t think they have to practice the same thing. A woman has to be a great package, but men are not doing their part.”

The book has many suggestions about clothing, appearance, shopping and health.

Although at times Benson has found dating to be “exhausting and disillusioning,” she reflects on her experiences with humor:

“I have ae handful of girlfriends who are single. We tell stories about what has happened to us and find ourselves falling on the floor laughing.

“I have been in restaurants and have seen girlfriends with people I have dated. I have texted them saying, ‘That guy is a creep’ and they text back saying, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

She writes many stories in her book of her unfortunate dates with men who did things that defy common sense. Benson includes these encounters to give examples of what not to do when meeting someone.

The book deals frankly with sex. Some men mistakenly bring this subject up right away (including photos), while others getting back into a dating scene might be worried about it. Again, Benson says honesty and openness with sensitivity is the best course to take:

“Of all the things that people do that they do not talk about, including drugs, alcohol, lying, cheating and stealing, sex is the only normal one. It is what we are. Sex is the only thing we are supposed to be doing. There is nothing unhealthy about it.”

Benson says that men getting back into the dating scene after many years might have another barrier towards understanding the opposite sex:

“Some men have outdated beliefs about the roles of women and men. Women have their own money and their own careers ­– not everyone, but many more than in the past. A lot of men still think women are needy.”

“Literary Scene” is a column about authors, books and publishing. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

Noelle Benson