Monday, February 25, 2013


Surviving Singlehood
Guest Post by Ruth Mancini

I read an article in a magazine this morning by a British journalist who, feeling sad and regretful that at 42 she had not yet found “the one”, was concerned that her chances of having children were also slipping away. I know this is a common fear among women in their thirties and early forties, though I remember feeling like that too in my late twenties!  And yet, I made a new friend on Twitter last week who, many years ago, turned down a marriage proposal to take her dream job as a holiday rep. She says she has never looked back.

Many years ago I did something similar. I had a fantastic job in publishing, with plenty of overseas travel. My long-term partner wasn’t keen on me travelling abroad and soon after I started taking overseas trips we ended the relationship by mutual agreement. He very quickly jumped into another relationship with one of our mutual friends. I, meanwhile, had no-one to fill the void he had left. It was hard - really hard. My dilemma: I wanted and needed the freedom to break out on my own and discover what it was that would make me truly happy in life. And yet, being alone made me extremely insecure. In many ways it was like leaving home for the first time and I could see how my partner had become a substitute for my family. I’d met him when I was young, just 21. He’d been there throughout my early twenties, he was older than me and he really was my “other half” in many senses, both emotional and practical. I realised that the fact that I had needed the relationship so badly was precisely the reason why I couldn’t be in one for a while.

Ironically, I left my job in publishing after a few years. I loved the travel but for various reasons the job wasn’t fulfilling for me. Gathering all the notebooks that I’d scribbled in on aeroplanes over the years, I took the plunge and moved to the Welsh seaside to the home of a family friend where I sat at my computer looking out at the sea in the distance and wrote the first draft of my novel Swimming Upstream. Swimming Upstream is fictional and is not an account of what actually happened to me, but I can’t deny that, like most authors, I have drawn on my own experiences in bringing the central character, Lizzie, to life. Lizzie, like me, recognised that that time of reflection and aloneness was crucial for the rebuilding of the self.

I spent seven years alone. Of course I had the odd relationship here and there. I went out, met new people. But, mostly, I focused on my career. It wasn’t easy. I had always felt stronger, more loveable, more attractive when part of a couple. But deep down I knew that that feeling of being loved was something I had to cultivate within myself. And I did. I was pleased when I met the man who is now my husband to find that he, too, had spent several years alone before meeting me. I knew that, unlike my previous partner, he was not emotionally reliant on another person for his happiness, which meant that we were both free to travel, to be ourselves, to explore our own inner and outer worlds without fear of abandonment. Like me, he had cooked his own cake - I was just the icing!

Author Bio:

Ruth Mancini was born in South London and educated at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology (now Anglia Ruskin University) and London Guildhall University where she gained a bachelors degree in French and Spanish and a post-graduate diploma in Law.  For several years she worked in the publishing industry before leaving her job and her home to travel, and also to write the first draft of Swimming Upstream.  Unfortunately, unlike Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love”) she did not find love, peace or inspiration and when her word processor stopped working and lost most of her manuscript she decided to move to Swansea and retrain as a lawyer.  After many years of spending her nights in police stations and her days in magistrates and county courts all over South Wales and the South of England, Ruth bought a new computer and started all over again… 

Ruth now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.   

Book Blurb: 

“I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened.” 

Lizzie has begun to achieve all the things she thought she had ever wanted… but realises instead that she is far from happy.  Then she steps out into the path of an oncoming car, and her life begins to unravel, setting off a life-changing chain of events.  Lizzie leaves her boyfriend and her home and moves to London to pursue her career.  There, she attempts to overcome the legacy of her past and find her true direction in life.  Little does she realise that her life is about to take another shocking twist… and that the consequences will be enormous. 

Swimming Upstream is a life-affirming and often humorous story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness.  Set in the early 1990s in Cambridge and London, it is also a story of friendship, love and divided loyalties – and the moral choices that Lizzie must ultimately face, when the chips are down.

Buy Swimming Upstream:

Amazon UK


Where You Can Find Ruth Mancini:



  1. Fabulous post with a great message I think a lot of people (myself included) can relate with. Thanks for being candid and sharing.

  2. What a great post! Looking forward to the read.

  3. Ruth, I loved your honesty and your message. Thank you for sharing what your journey was like. I love your cake and icing analogy! So perfect. XOXO

  4. Ruth, it's so lovely to hear from you ~ thank you for sharing your story. It brings to mind echoes of my own life. I spent five years in a stable relationship with my high-school sweetheart; the relationship had grown stale and suffocating, and I decided to break away and pursue a crazy goal. This was when I moved to England, and my then boyfriend broke up with me, predictably. I spent the years looking for 'the one' and dating my fair share of... strange men along the way, but I did eventually find my thuderbolt-and-lightning man and ended up married and with two kids by the age of 32, LOL. There were times when I wondered whether cutting loose and leaving the country had been the right thing to do ~ but it's plain that they were, and I adore the message you're sending. I must add Swimming Upstream to my TBR!! Rock on...

  5. Fabulous post! Thank you so much for sharing. SWIMMING UPSTREAM sounds great and I'm off to grab a copy! :)

  6. What an inspiring post and very good timing as I just recently broke up with my boyfriend of 1.5 years because we could not resolve our long-distance issues and I worry about finding someone else I care for as much who feels the same way. I'm still finding myself so hopefully the rest will come when it's supposed to.

  7. Thanks so much for the feedback. It's so great to know that others can relate to what I've written, though I think we've all been there at one time or another. Nicky, that's made me shiver. It's as if your ex led you inadvertently to your soul mate! Meredith, good luck! I know you'll be feeling like there is a huge chasm in your life right now, but the fact that you've done what's right for you personally shows how strong you are. You will survive! Cat, I feel bad for not having mentioned this but if you haven't yet grabbed a copy Swimming Upstream is free on Kindle on Wednesday this week. I will see if Tracy can add this to my guest post.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  8. Great post. I also spent a few years alone before meeting my husband. (Had to leave the country, actually, to find him! lol). So important to find yourself before finding The One. Thanks for the tip on the book being free Wed!

  9. Thanks Jackie. Looks like leaving the country before finding "the one" is a common theme here!!

    Can I just add that if anyone does want a free copy of Swimming Upstream on Wednesday but doesn't have a kindle, there is a kindle app for PC/laptop which you'll need to download first (you probably all know that but I didn't until a couple of weeks ago...I'm not very computer savvy!)

  10. The first quote of your blurb is fantastic. I had to laugh reading Ruth's last comment because I, too, was single for years before meeting my English husband in NYC. Seems like we're a group of Anglophiles as well as Women's fiction fans!

  11. Ha ha! Thanks Sheryn. Though I am British I am definitely a lover of all things American - I love American books and movies because I get to experience your amazing country. I'm looking forward to reading your novel.