The Gaggle: How the Men You Know Will Help You Find the Love You Want, a self-help book on dating, relationships, and love by Jessica Massa, casts off traditional dating myths and lore by offering a guide on how to view and inhabit what Massa calls the “Post-Dating World”: (n.). “A new romantic landscape developed in reaction to the strict rules, terrifying divorce rates, and non-irrelevant benchmarks of traditional dating culture; characterized by a generational embrace of ambiguous interpersonal connections and the rise of non-dates, techno-romance, and the gaggle.”
The journey to The Gaggle began with a night of despairing over relationships past. As they commiserated about life and love, best friends Massa and Rebecca Weigand discovered that their ideas about how much they were or weren’t dating and how the guys they did date never seemed to be the right “fit” were due to outdated perspectives.
Massa went on a nationwide trip, hitting big cities like Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City and smaller areas like Green Bay, Baton Rouge, Boulder, and Provo. Interviewees were both male and female, between the ages of 22 and 35, and either single, coupled, or happily married. While Massa was on the road, she and Weigand launched a website, ‘WTF is up with my love life?’ (wtflovelife.com, which now reroutes to the-gaggle.com, a modern romance blog based on the book), and found contributors pooling in by word of mouth.
I found myself randomly on the website while searching the web for the perfect way to attract the guy I had a crush on. Despite how charming and charismatic I may come across, I tend to be on the shier side when it comes to guys. In fact, I’m the girl who stutters, fidgets with her hair, and finds her shoes so appealing at all the wrong moments until I can utter that “I have a pen that you could borrow.” Uh… yeah.
through the use of non-dates, romantic possibilities are suddenly all around you
So, during what became something short of a research project, I began combing through wtflovelife.com and I stumbled upon the various roles in one’s “Gaggle”: (n.) “The select group of guys in your life – many of whom you are not explicitly romantically involved with – who play different roles, fulfill different needs, and help you to figure out who you are, what you want, and what kind of relationship you ultimately desire.”
It was the summer of 2012, and the book had just come out and was nearly impossible to find in stores. I gave up and returned to life as I knew it. However, once I did decide to pursue the book, I felt like something had shifted in my mind – I suddenly had all the cards in my hand.
In the Post-Dating World, Massa says “everything and nothing is a date”, and through the use of non-dates, romantic possibilities are suddenly all around you. Massa describes a non-date as “an ambiguous interaction, sometimes face-to-face and sometimes involving technology that is not explicitly romantic but does not feel entirely platonic either.” By eliminating the pressures of traditional dating, planning, and settings, you are free to set yourself up for “spontaneous romantic possibilities” that can become the foundation for a truly fulfilling relationship.
Massa sees “techno-romance” – IM, email, social networks, and dating sites – as a modern way to introduce us to new gaggle members, communicate with them, and ultimately create the kind of dynamic we wish to have with prospective mates. These technologies allow us to juggle multiple prospects or to pursue relationships halfway across the globe. These online interactions are perfectly in tune with our increasingly global society, and hey, sometimes it’s just easier to find your footing behind the screen.
What Massa and Weigand coined as one’s “gaggle” is merely what one would call your “basket of eggs”, or your friends. Its purpose is to allow you differentiate between these people, thereby increasing you chances of ultimately finding the right mate. You have the opportunity to explore meaningful connections with those you interact with on a daily basis, and identifying these gaggle members provides insight into your personality, what attracts you, your desires, and your ideal companionship. By leveling the playing field – according to your standards – Massa says you are reducing the chances (if not eliminating) of succumbing to negative vibes and reltionship neuroses, which can keep you from attracting the partners you seek. The book reaches out to women and men alike and communicates no matter one’s sexual orientation. Readers also get the chance to learn which role they actively fill in others’ gaggles, and how to increase, decrease, or even change that role.
The Gaggle invites a sense of fun and productivity into being single, and that’s the positive mentality one must have in order to navigate through the Post-Dating World. Massa will be at post-post-dating-empowerment again with another book, The Gaggle: How to Find Love in the Post-Dating World, due out on February 5 of this year.