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Laughing Through the Dating Game: Interview with authors Emily Axford and Bryan Murphy

All too often, dating and relationships start to feel like drudgery—something we have to do if we want to find a partner. Every once in a while, it’s good to laugh about the process. In their hilarious dating advice book, Hey, U Up: (For a Serious Relationship) CollegeHumor, Adam Ruins Everything, and Hot Date alums Emily Axford and Brian Murphy invite you to do just that.

We caught up with them to talk about the trials and tribulations of dating, and the inspiration for their book.

Tell me a bit about your book?

MURPH:
It’s a satirical relationship advice book that goes through all the steps of dating, from hook-ups to marriage. It’s a parody of self-help books that’s comprised mostly of comedic essays, but also features sex tips and illustrations that you might find in a magazine like Cosmo. We’ve got an essay titled, “Establish Your Family as the Christmas Family by Turning Your Significant Other Against Their Own Parents,” and it’s obviously satire, but it draws from a real dilemma that many couples face — splitting time between families over the holidays. It’s a joke but it comes from a real place.

EMILY:
We basically thought of everything we and all our friends did wrong, then found funny ways to bring those up. So when we have an essay like “Building a Healthy Foundation of Trust! Unless They Are In The Shower And Left Their Phone Unlocked” the message is pro-trust and anti-snooping. We do a lot of writing from the perspective of your worst instincts to remind you how ridiculous they are.

Your book is funny, but interspersed with poignancy, what is important to you about laughing through the (sometimes painful) process of dating and meeting people?

MURPH:
Dating is funny because our brains are all scrambled with passion, infatuation, and insecurity. All the posturing, the agonizing over texts, the awkward dates, the awkward dates that somehow turn into awkward relationships, the subsequent break-ups and reunions, crying over someone who, in retrospect, you probably didn’t even like that much — it’s all so ridiculous. I think it’s important to laugh at ourselves, both as a coping mechanism and to properly frame our behavior as funny and overdramatic.

EMILY:
Even once you’re in a great relationship, there’s still gonna be moments that you want to vent about. There are a lot of hiccups on the road from “holy crap, this person is great is bed” to “holy crap, this person would make a great parent to my children.” Sharing a life is awesome, but it also requires a certain degree of negotiation and sacrifice. Sure, you’ve got someone you can eat every meal with now… but what if they want Thai and you want Indian? And yeah, you’ve got a partner in crime and a plus one for every occasion, but you also get 50% less bed sheets at night. The idea of this book is that if you joke about the hard parts together, then you’ll be stronger for it.

What advice would you give to those who are looking for love, but weary of the process?

MURPH:
It’s easy to feel insecure and that you’re not cool or interesting enough to date, but the truth is, NO ONE is cool or interesting. The first three months of every relationship are just a front where we all pretend to be cultured and super into jazz clubs, but eventually, the facade chips away and we all end up in sweatpants watching true crime documentaries. So take comfort in the fact that, deep down, everyone is deeply uncool.

EMILY:
If it doesn’t work out with someone, it isn’t a reflection on you. It’s because your needs and their needs didn’t link up. Unless you were super clingy and didn’t shower enough. In that case, you might wanna do a little soul searching. We definitely take a deep dive into all the self-destructive tendencies people engage in in our book. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Valuing passion over real love. Dating someone who has a Macklemore haircut.

What’s the thing you would tell your single selves if you could?

MURPH:
Stop wearing cargo shorts. Cut your hair. Buy clothes that fit.

EMILY:
It’s okay to date people that you don’t want to be with in the long run. You still learn a lot about yourself and can have a lot of fun. But… don’t move in with that person.

What are you hoping your readers will take away from this book?

MURPH:
I’d like for our readers to be able to laugh at themselves and find it cathartic. I think people actually enjoy being called out, if it’s coming from the right place. We’ve all had a friend (or been that friend) who dates losers or who gets too invested too early or who won’t shut up about their new relationship or who can’t commit. Most people know what they’re doing wrong, but it takes a long time to change, so in the mean time, their friends can tease them and maybe occasionally offer a little wisdom. And I think that’s the dynamic we’d like to have with our reader. We’re like the sassy best friend in a romantic comedy who says mean, but kinda true stuff, and all from a place of love.

EMILY:
When we worked at Collegehumor, we made a video that was all about how annoying wedding planning is. The wedding industry is so full of “special day” propaganda, that speaking honestly about it is felt like a risk. But when we shared our video, people loved it! Lots of people jumped on board to share their own nightmare wedding planning experiences. It’s great to be able to cut through the bs that society is telling us to feel and say how we really feel. There’s a lot of pressure to have a “perfect relationship.” But once you get over trying to be perfect and embrace everyone’s flaws, your relationship gets a lot more honest, healthy, and fun.

Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.