Left her heart in S.F. No, but shes back, book in hand

Andrea Syrtash fell in love with the guy next door. But it’s not as clichéd as one might think.

Instead of the butterflies, the flirtatious behavior and the love at first sight often associated with fairytale romances, Syrtash had fear, uncertainty and disbelief.

Andrea Syrtash

“The day I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my longtime friend and neighbor, I was terrified,” Syrtash writes in the prologue of her new book, “He’s Just Not Your Type (and that’s a good thing): How to Find Love Where You Least Expect It.”

Syrtash, 35, worked at two Jewish agencies in San Francisco in the early part of this decade before she moved to New York and became an author, a relationship expert and a dating columnist.

In her latest book, she describes Michael (her neighbor in New York) as “boyfriend material for someone else” and “not the guy I envisioned bringing home to Dad.” He was far from perfect, let alone her perfect match. Or so she thought.

But she gave Michael a chance. And he did the same. Michael is now her husband and the inspiration behind “He’s Just Not Your Type.” The message of the book? That women should take control of their dating destiny and not just leave it in the hands of the men who show interest.

“This book is not about the opposite sex. It’s about the reader,” Srytash said by phone from New York City. “In that way, it’s not your typical dating book. It’s not about how to change yourself, but how to know yourself to meet the right guy.”

Syrtash, who launched her national book tour last weekend, is set to mingle with donors of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Young Adult Division at 7 p.m. Monday, May 17 at Mijita Mexican restaurant in San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

She also is scheduled to appear at Book Passage, also in the Ferry Building, on Tuesday, May 18 to share her counterintuitive approach to lasting love.

“He’s Just Not Your Type” combines Syrtash’s experience of accidentally falling in love her “non-type” (Michael) and interviews with clients who followed similar dating patterns.

Of non-types, Syrtash writes, “If you ever dreamed about someone but ignored those feelings because you did not think you should pursue a relationship with someone like him, think again.”

There’s also some light homework involved, such as daring readers who have profiles through online dating services to switch up their criteria for height, age, distance and other must-haves for one month. And then see what happens.

The last pages are filled with dating tips, from online dating dos and don’ts to getting past the first-date jitters. Syrtash closes with “10 steps to dating success.”

“A lot of women have written to thank me for not writing ‘fear-based’ advice,” Syrtash said. “That’s very common in the dating advice industry, and it sends a bad message. I hope women who read my book feel like they can approach dating with more clarity and confidence.”

A native of Toronto, Syrtash moved to the Bay Area about 11 years ago. When a proposed job with Sony fell through, she worked for the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education and the JCF’s Young Adult Division between 2000 and 2004.

After a book publisher in San Francisco hired her to work as a journalist, she left for New York in October 2004 and established herself as an advice columnist, writing articles for Oprah.com, Yahoo and the Huffington Post.

“I’m known locally as a Jewish communal worker,” Syrtash said. “I always knew I’d be in New York, but the Bay Area was such a wonderful detour.”

“He’s Just Not Your Type,” which was published in April, is Syrtash’s third book, following “How to Survive the Real World” and “How to Survive Your In-Laws.” She’s currently working on her fourth book, “How to Date Your Husband.”

“When you write in solitude, you don’t know where [the book] will land,” Syrtash said. “I wouldn’t have anticipated this much activity, but I’m confident in the book. When women read it, they’re telling their friends. That’s been really great.”

Andrea Syrtash will make two appearances at the Ferry Building in San Francisco: At Mijita restaurant, 7 p.m. Monday, May 17, $18 minimum donation to YAD; and at Book Passage Bookstore, 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, free. Information: www.andreasyrtash.com.

“He’s Just Not Your Type (and that’s a good thing): How to Find Love Where You Least Expect It” by Andrea Syrtash (224 pages, Rodale Books, $14.99)