Great letter from a reader related to dating and mating

dear dr. debby ( quite an alliteration)

    my  girlfriend just  broke up with me and i’m starting  to wonder
    about the wisdom of dating at  all, given the reality  that one has
    to have  chic clothes,  a great patter of  conversation, and a bigger
    than average  … wallet.  then i read your
article on barn sparrows
    attraction to the opposite sex, so my  question is is there a cross
    human  avian  compatibility  here?  if so, how  much are brown magic
    markers  these days  and  how  many  do   i need?

    best  wishes,
[name redacted]


What a sweet letter! I think we’ve all wished it were as easy as brown magic markers (read the original post if you’re new to MSP or don’t recall the story). I don’t know of any quick fix to make one attractive to others – which I suppose is a good thing, though, because we don’t really want to attract everyone else – we generally just want to attract a particular person and at a particular time.

That said, I understand that breakups are often painful both for the person who did the breaking up and the person who was broken up with. Both are difficult in different ways, especially after long relationships. Sometimes it takes time to start again. Time and a willingness to step back into the ring. The book "How to Survive the Loss of a Love" may be particularly useful – occasionally I think the title sounds overly dramatic but for some people it is an issue of feeling like they can survive or push pass an utterly devastating time. And for those who are having a more moderate reaction to the breakup, the book still has very useful tips about taking care of oneself, addressing the heartbreak or disappointment, and taking the time move on at a pace that feels right.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at