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Chester County Press

Local author pens book for men about how to improve their online dating skills

05/18/2021 04:53PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

About 15 years ago, Noelle Benson of Kennett Square dipped her toes into the big blue ocean of online dating, and with each passing date, it became increasingly apparent that the waters were mostly murky and inhabited by a shady and comical assortment of creatures that passed themselves off as qualified dating candidates.

Throughout the years and far too many times, Benson has sat at a restaurant table across from a date who represented a vastly clueless cross-section of humanity seriously in need of a makeover from the inside out. After years of bad dates and extra time on her hands during the pandemic, she decided to write a book to advocate for men who are trying their hand at online dating post-pandemic.

Some of her experiences in the world of online dating, the men she’s met and the advice she offers comprise What Men Don’t Know About Dating is A Lot: Just Because You’re Single Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready to Date, her recently-published 65-page, 22-chapter dating preparedness reference book for men that delivers frank, on-point messages -- and not a moment too soon.

“I have been dating since 2005 and since then, I can count on one hand how many times a man has shown up on a date who is ready inside and out,” said Benson, a native of the Lehigh Valley who moved to Kennett Square three years ago to care for her mother. “I don’t go out on dates with men who tell me that they are ‘separated,’ because ‘separated’ means ‘married,’ and that is not someone who is ready to date. When a man tells me he is separated, I want to ask him, “Does your wife know?’

“I don’t like going out on dates with men whose topic of conversation is about how horrible their marriage was. If a man is still talking about his bad marriage, he’s not ready to date. Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you are ready to date. Someone who is ready to date is someone who is single and has put in the work so they are good on the inside and out.”

Four days after she graduated from Millersville University in the 1980s, Benson headed to the West Coast to pursue a career in journalism, where she lived in a Manhattan Beach condo with three flight attendants just a block from the surf. She described the dating scene at the time as “organic,” a period when the strength of a relationships gained its footing almost exclusively with person-to-person contact.

When her marriage ended and Benson re-entered the world of dating, she found the easy-going ways of finding a partner she experienced in her younger days had been replaced by a digital orchestra of swipe right and swipe left, galleries of selfie photos that could be current or far outdated, and bios that were top-heavy with typos and questionable truths.

The online dating culture devolved as time went on, she explained, and turned cringeworthy: ripped shirts, dirty footwear, disgusting table manners, limited interests and conversational skills and a lack of authenticity that paralleled the pandemic’s largest chemical explosion.

“Authenticity vaporized into a mushroom cloud like the 2020 Beirut ammonium-nitrate explosion,” Benson writes in her book.

Preparedness, Care and Effort

As these similar, repetitive experiences continued, Benson began to rely on her powers of observation to get at the core of the problem. The answer, she found, was easy to track but a near impossibility to address: the great distance that separates these men from their exterior and interior selves.

The hard work of addressing both, she writes, involves a deep dive of change that begins by adapting what Benson calls “PCE” -- Preparedness, Care and Effort. She describes in her book one recent date she was on, when the man who sat across from her looked absolutely nothing like the individual she saw in his profile photographs.

“I was shocked, deflated, sad and angry,” Benson writes. “I mentioned that he didn’t look like his profile picture and said that he had made minimal effort to impress me on our first date. He replied, ‘I don’t date that much and we’re coming off of lockdown.’ It was then that I knew that he wasn’t ready to date and what he didn’t know about dating was a lot.

“It wasn’t that he was trying to offend me. He was simply oblivious to PCE – and PCE starts with self-care.”

Bad teeth and troll hair?

Of the many recommendations listed in Benson’s book, those included in Chapter 8 are in the form of a to-do checklist that is the low-lying fruit of self-improvement. They include, ‘Are your teeth white? If not, buy white strips and use them as directed;’ and ‘Do you have troll hair from COVID-19? Go to a hair stylist, not a barber, and get a trendy cut.’

“I also urge men, in the book, to use the expertise a female friend or relative who practices self-care to help them write their profiles and with clothes shopping,” Benson said. “This book provides an opportunity for men to reboot in the New Normal and implores them to ask themselves ‘What does my reboot look like?’”

If there is a missing component that seems to run consistently throughout her dating experiences with men in her age group, Benson said it can be found in the lack of  “shadow work” that men have failed to do for their interior selves. Simply defined, “shadow work” is a period of self exploration that acknowledges the individual’s vulnerabilities, links the emotions in a continuum of personal growth, and leads to the formation of new directions for a more enriching life.

Ultimately, Benson said her book addresses how men can decide to be sincere in their dating objectives and live their best, authentic lives.

“Many men really don’t understand the online dating landscape or how to navigate it,” she said. “They get caught up in the digital aspect of it and go down a hole that’s not real. I would love it if men put in PCE so they could show up for dates well dressed, well spoken, well coiffed, driving a clean car and be solid on the inside too. Maybe my book can help with this.”

Noelle Benson’s book What Men Don’t Know About Dating is A Lot: Just Because You’re Single Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready to Date is now available for purchase from for $11.99, and from Kindle Unlimited for $7.99. To learn more about the author, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].