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How Not to Live Vi-Carrie-ously Through Cartoon Characters

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Are you a Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha, Carrie, or a fool? If you answered the latter, you just might have more self-awareness than most of your female counterparts.

The other day, I did what any self-respecting girl coming off a bad date - in Brooklyn, no less - would do. After the ghastly hour-long train ride back to the city (now I finally understand what the "F" stands for in F train), and after the appetite suppressant wore off, I bee-lined to the nearest café and unabashedly dove into what I should have let myself eat on the date: a rich piece of Tollhouse pie and 2% milk.

Such is normal girl behavior when lamenting an ill-conceived blind date with "Eccentric Eye Patch" guy (no pun intended).

What's not normal behavior is the conversation unspooling next to me. Two presumably single women conversing in Sex and the City-speak. "How's your Mr. Big doing?" one asks un-ironically of the other. "Ugh," grunts the other friend as she rolls her eyes in surface-level contemplation, "Don't get me started!" The beginnings of a Borscht Belt comedy routine, this is not.

So why are reasonably intelligent women around the city acting out the lives of fictitious characters - and not even noticing it?

Horrified by this overt display of literally living vi-Carrie-ously, all I could do was look down at my now anemic-looking slice of cake and pray for the restoration of sanity to America's single women.

At 28, which is really just an unconvincing euphemism for 30, I've seen a disturbing trend become all the more pervasive recently: the borderline unhealthy obsession with the poorly-drawn characters of Sex and the City and its ugly manifestations in our own dating lives.

Why is a huge swath of the singles population still feeding into this SATC-fueled fantasy about dating? Based on box office trends this weekend, there seems to be a whole new generation of single girls who will be deluding themselves that certain altar-allergic men are worth fighting for; that they'll develop a sudden change of heart, that they'll come around, or worse - that if we hang around long enough, things just might turn a corner.

SATC
is the quiet killer of the single woman's dating life - and it doesn't even come with a warning. It's a fantasy far too many women - even the smart ones - have fed into for far too long. Instead of letting gravity get them down, women getting increasingly older and single instead decide to parrot the lives of TV characters, failing to address their own.

I say it's high time to reclaim your life - and let the fictitious ones fade into the background where they belong.

Among the feedback (read: hate mail) that I've gotten from readers for my new book The Panic Years, there's been a slim, but effusive segment that has thanked me for rejecting that false SATC mindset that contributes to the dating disservice of millions of single women.

While far from alarmist, The Panic Years reconditions marriage-minded (and self-destructive) women to disentangle themselves from their counter-productive course. With all the chatter lately about the relevance of marriage - is it alive, dead, anti-feminist or plain old unfashionable? - to all of that, I say the institution of marriage is alive and well - because the proof is in the panickers! The proof is in the millions of young women who prematurely panic into their pillows at night! Whereas the SATC gals unapologetically celebrated the single life and the sexual exploits that accompanied that life, The Panic Years explores the phenomenon of women unapologetically celebrating settling down. Of course it's easier to join the fray and continue to nurse these SATC-inspired delusions about dating - but if marriage is anywhere on your mental map, do so at your own peril.

The same women I interviewed for the book - women who claim they so desperately want to get married - are the same ones who still fixate on the Sex and the City fantasy that men and their ingrained behaviors could maybe, potentially, hopefully, turn around.

As "wedding season" breathlessly arrives - and an ex-boyfriend's Times' wedding announcement cost me a precious night of sleep over the Memorial Day weekend - women still insist on damaging their own dating lives in an effort to avoid damaging their egos: if he's clearly given up on you, it's time that you give up on him and - perhaps more of an emotional incarceration - the idea of him. (You're not a moment too soon for that move.)

You don't have to surrender the idea of "having it all" in life. If you're determined to actualize it, you can "have it all"; but in order to achieve that, you may have to move the goalposts first. It's only when you redefine "having it all" can you first start to tackle it in a real way.