Her reality check led to love and a self-help book for singles

Shonda Marie Brown plans to marry the love of her life in September.

Brown lives and works in Atlanta, but she's from Lexington and she'll be coming back here for the wedding.

It will be a happy ending to the bumpy road of dating that she has ­traveled in her 26 years, and she has written a book to help others get the same results.

Reality Check: There's a ­Reason You Are Still Single, which Brown recently self-published through iUniverse, details the ups and downs of trying to find a mate when singles actually should be trying to find themselves.

”The book is an in-depth look as to why a lot of times we get into dead-end relationships,“ said Brown, who writes as S. Marie Brown. ”If you have been in 10 failed relationships, you can't blame all 10 on the other men or women.“

Brown, the ­daughter of Vivian Brown of Lexington, grew up here and is a 2000 graduate of Bryan ­Station High School, where, she said, she received encouragement from her teachers.

”I know we (Bryan ­Station) had a bad reputation and there were holes in the ceiling and we were always on the news for fighting, but there were good teachers at Bryan Station,“ she said. ”Teachers who cared.“

Brown graduated from the University of Louisville in 2005 with a degree in ­business. She now works as a revenue analyst in Atlanta.

Despite advice from her mother, Brown sometimes found herself on the crying end of a relationship gone bad.

Brown realized she had to do a self-evaluation.

”A lot of the book is my own true testimony,“ she said. ”I went through it. If you haven't gone through it, you can't tell me how to handle that relationship.

”I had to evaluate my spirituality and really look at myself. I then brought that into my book.“

Brown shares stories in her book that some might be hesitant to reveal, and, she said, that's how men and women should be with themselves as they read the book: open and honest.

Some of the reality checks she recommends are ­seeking God first and ­waiting for God to show you an ­appropriate mate.

”It was obvious that it was not in God's plans for me to be with certain people, but sometimes we ignore God speaking just to make sure our plans are carried out,“ Brown wrote. ”I felt it was worth the risk to be patient for my ex, but when it was time to be patient with God for something, it was as if I doubted God's power and abilities. I tried to rush and force what I thought was in God's plans, only to later find out that I was rushing God instead of trusting God.“

It's now more acceptable for women to pursue men, but Brown said sometimes women are too anxious in their quest for a mate.

Brown said she talks about one of her boyfriends, who asked her to wait until he got his priorities straight and could concentrate on their relationship.

”He was asking me to put my life on hold“ for a relationship that might never blossom, she said.

She chose not to. Had she waited, she would have missed out on her fiancé, Eric White.

”One thing I've learned is you don't have to change, but you do have to ­compromise,“ she said. ”Eric accepts me for who I am, and I accept him.“

The man or woman you are dating isn't a piece of clay, she writes in the book, to be molded into what you want.

”When we meet someone but later realize that he may not be compatible with who we really are, we do one of two things: a) cater to how he is and become more like him, or b) try to change who he is so that he will become more like us.

”Instead of accepting the fact that we are just too ­different, we ignore the ­feelings in fear of never being able to meet someone as fine or fun.“

Sometimes you just need to move on, she said.

The paperback book, priced at $13.95, is available at bookstores online or at