Reviews of dating books

These books helped me learn the dating ropes. Click on the title to order.

act-like-a-ladyAct Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment by Steve Harvey

Generally, I like relationship books written by men for women explaining how men think and operate. Too many of us have difficulty fathoming how differently men function than women.

The book is divided into 3 sections:

  • The mind-set of a man
  • Why men do what they do
  • The playbook: How to win the game

In the first section he discusses what drives men. He boils it down to 3 things: profess, provide and protect.

  • Profess means he tells you and the world that you are his woman, his one-and-only, his lady — whatever term feels right to him. It’s key that he not only tell you, but he tells others. My experience is it’s easy for a man to tell you what you want to hear (e.g., “You’re perfect for me,” “You’re the one for me,”) but never say a word to anyone else about you. Steve says that if you’ve been going out for a while and your guy introduces you as “my friend” or by only your name, no descriptor, he’s not thinking of you as a keeper.
  • Provide means not only financially, but providing for you in whatever ways you need to be taken care of. He’ll make sure you have food, shelter and transportation at the least. Steve says a man will forgo buying things for himself if his family needs something.
  • Protect not only means to ensure your safety, but he’ll protect your reputation and dignity from others who try to malign you.

When I thought about the most prominent men in my past, nearly none of them professed, provided nor protected me. Some did one or two, but I’ve had no experience with one who did all three, at least not beyond perfunctorily. Does this mean I happened to have men in my life — both chosen and by blood — who were missing these important 3-p genes? Or they were just clueless of these things? I think instead that Steve is describing emotionally mature, grounded men who want to have a stable relationship and family life and understand the importance of doing their part to bring this about. I have yet to be blessed with a man like that.

Steve says that one of the biggest reasons women don’t get men to behave the way they want if because women don’t 1) have clear standards, and 2) let their standards be known. We can’t be nagging or demanding about what we want that he’s not providing or that will drive a man away. But we have to be adamant about how we want to be treated and what we expect.

Here’s a simple example: you want your man to open your car door for you and he just walks to his side. You should stand there until he comes around and opens it for you. You can’t berate him with, “Fool, where were you born? In a barn? Didn’t your mother teach you how to treat a lady?” Instead you simply smile when he sees his indiscretion and thank him as he runs around to your side and opens your door and you slide into the seat.

Steve says we learn to settle for less than we want because we think he should know or we don’t want to nag. He says men are simple creatures and a man wants to please his woman, but either doesn’t know what she wants or forgets quickly if not reminded. So he gets away with doing less and less of what makes her happy and she gets more and more resentful and frustrated.

When dating, waiting at least ninety days before having sex is a big part of Steve’s philosophy. He equates it to a job’s probation period, an analogy I’ve heard others use. On the job you have to show you have earned the right to keep your job and get benefits. You have to show up on time, work diligently, produce results, show you can get along with others, and often take initiative. He says it’s the same in a relationship — a man needs to show he is worthy of a woman’s intimacy before he gets the benefits. He says it also weeds out the men who are just looking for a romp in the hay and those who are serious about exploring a relationship. I think he’s right.

There are other sections on 5 questions a woman must ask any man she’s dating, the 3 things men need, why men cheat, and what strong, independent women need to do to be more appealing to men.

One of the parts I really like is that he encourages us to really take a stand for our dignity, self-esteem and goals and stop putting up with men’s disrespectful, immature and bad behavior. It’s a tough love tome. It’s true that many of us (all of us?), even strong women, have put up with bad behaviors far too many times.

This is a quick read, often funny, often insightful, sometimes reminding the reader of common sense that is not always common practice.

All Men Are Jerks — Until Proven Otherwise: A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men by Daylle Deanna Schwartz

I was put off by the title of this book, just as I had been with Why Men Love Bitches. It turns out both books are full of sound advice, but their publishers must have decided inflammatory titles would get more buzz.

I abhor the title as I don’t think all men are jerks, and hate the idea of encouraging women in perpetuating this man-bashing concept. The author explains that both genders can be jerks, but I’m sure “Everyone Is a Jerk” would not have sold many copies.

Schwartz’s premise is that we should assume all men are jerks until they prove themselves otherwise. She quotes men in her classes who lie to women to get what they want, saying they are single when they are not, or disease free, or looking for a long-term relationship. Or offering excuses like working late when really they are seeing another woman. The men say women are easy to fool and their forgiveness is easy to buy.

The author says most women will forgive her man for nearly anything if he brings her flowers, says he’s sorry, tells her he loves her, or buys her something. She says we create the jerks we complain about by putting up with disrespect and dishonesty. So we are jerks as well.

While most of the advice is common sense, I admit I’ve fallen for some of the jerk-like behavior. I’ve given grace for disrespectful behavior. I’ve forgiven acts from a man I liked that I should have dumped him for. So while one would think “I’d never fall for that,” if you haven’t been smitten by someone who knew how to get what he wanted, you don’t really understand how easy it is to tolerate jerky behaviors. She encourages readers to not be gullible and not allow inexcusable behavior. Good advice.

The book has several extraneous chapters which I’m finding is common with books that would really be long articles without the padding. A strong theme is to love yourself, not put up with a man’s BS, and create a great life so you don’t succumb to a jerk’s wiles. This is sound advice no matter what the book is titled.

Attract Love and MoneyAttract Love Build Wealth e-book package by Mari Smith.

If you long to be in a deeply fulfilling relationship with your soul mate and you desire an abundance of money, check out the most comprehensive, step-by-step system available for single men and women today! No more lonely single nights for you and no more struggling with your money. Find out exactly how to attract love and create wealth.

Boomer's Guide

Boomer’s Guide to Dating (Again) Laurie A. Helgoe

This is one of the most realistic dating books on the market today. Helgoe discusses dating fears, finding dates, being positive, sex, and what can backfire. It’s an easy, entertaining read.

Date Like a Man

Date like a Man: What Men Know about Dating and Are Afraid You’ll Find Out by Myreah Moore, Jodie Gould

This book has the voice of a woman-to-woman chat. The authors talk about having “a pair and a spare” — always dating 3 men at once. Generally, I found the tone fun and the advice sound.

Dating Dynamics for Finding Mr. RightDating Dynamics for Finding Mr. Right by Marsha Petrie Sue

This audio CD of Marsha Petrie Sue’s dating techniques and strategies are based on her process for finding her second husband 18 years ago. She also includes stories from other singles on how they went about the husband hunt and has updated it a bit to include Internet dating.

The CD covers how to:

* create a personality that attracts without being phony
* overcome first date fear and reduce the butterflies
* leave the baggage at home and why it’s important
* refine the fine art of small talk — anywhere, anytime
* stay interested and interesting in any circumstance
* stay positive and not take situations personally

Listening to this I thought the perfect audience is for women who have not dated in 20 or 30 years. She covers things like how to make conversation and show the man you’re interested. Unless you’ve been a shut in for decades, most women know these basic techniques (make eye contact, smile, ask questions about him). But if you’ve only gone out on a few dates and need some encouragement and some reminders of what to do (use mouthwash) and not do (don’t monopolize the conversation), this CD could be helpful to you. It might also be useful for those who are shy and unsure of how to converse with a stranger.

dating from the insideoutDating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart
by Paulette Kouffman Sherman

Dr. Sherman’s book parallels my own philosophy about looking at dating as a personal growth exercise. Her chapters include looking at your past relationship patterns, examining your own baggage, defining your dating style, dealing with rejection, noticing who you attract, falling in love with yourself first, and creating a great life on your own before attracting your ideal mate. There’s a whole section on dating consciously.

One of the best parts of the book is the exercises she sprinkles throughout. Although after taking the “What’s Your Dating Style” quiz I couldn’t identify with any of the types listed.

I can’t say there was anything new for me, but that’s because we have similar perspectives on life. For someone new to the concepts, it could be eye opening. It’s a quick read and well written, so if you’re not very familiar with law-of-attraction principles, this will be a good read for you.

Dating Without Drama

Dating Without Drama eBook by Paige Parker

She covers typical dating book topics like how to meet men, getting a guy to ask you out, first dating tips, post-date drama, The Calling Game decoded, deciding if he is “boyfriend material,” showing him you’re “girlfriend material,” getting intimate, meeting the friends/family and getting serious.Wow! I’m worn out! She covers quite a lot in the 115 pages.

She has a conversational style as if you are getting the scoop over a cuppa Joe. She says she interviewed lots of guys to understand what’s in their head. She even has a bonus 8-page guide that comes with the purchase called, “The Man-to-English Dictionary.” Yep, I agree with those definitions.

She publishes a free weekly “Dating Dish” which she describes as a dating secrets e-course. You have to register on her site — and therefore get the weekly email — before you can get more info or buy the book. I find the weekly email usually interesting, sometimes helpful, easy to read, and of course, laden with “suggestions” that you buy her book. :-) But hey, that’s why most of us give free content!So if you want to explore Paige’s advice, sign up in the box. If you think her book would be useful, buy it. You can always unsubscribe to her weekly email if you don’t want to get it anymore.

The Four Man PlanThe Four Man Plan: A Romantic Science

Cindy Lu has written a funny — albeit gutter-language-laden — book about systematically classifying the men you date. So if you don’t like to read language you’d hear in most comedy clubs, you’d best pass on this one. She is an actress and stand-up comedian, which is where this book got its start.

She lays out a plan to always have at least four men in the dating hopper. However, her mathematical formula for how to count each man (some are 1/4 men, others 1/2 men) is convoluted. I never caught on, and I won awards in math in school! (Nearly all knowledge of math is now forgotten due to under use.)

What I like about her philosophy is that she encourages you to juggle more than one man so you won’t be in the position to stick with a guy just because he’s the only one around. When you have more than one to choose from you don’t do those silly things we do when we’re desperate — like sleep with a guy we barely know just because we want some attention or affection.

She also has a rule about sleeping with more than one man at a time — don’t! In fact, if you sleep with a guy, then you sleep with another guy, you can never sleep with the first guy again. He is now off the table (so to speak). This is a good rule to live by, but sometimes if you are being seduced by two men it is hard for some women to have the discipline to say no. Especially if too much alcohol is involved.

I also liked her story of how she dated losers and abusers and finally — thanks to therapy — saw she was trying to recreate her dysfunctional relationship with her father. After she healed that she was able to be with more stable men, and eventually fell for her husband. I think the message of being willing to examine your patterns in dating is a good one.

However, I don’t agree with her advising readers to encourage men who you aren’t really interested in just to be able to tell other men that you’re being pursued by several. I think leading someone on is a cruel act, even though in retrospect I can see that I have continued seeing someone when I knew I didn’t have a long-term interest in him.

She says by the middle of the third date you have to tell the man you’re with that you’re seeing others. That way you know he has some interest in you, but if you wait until the end of the date it will sound like you are using an excuse to ditch him. She says men love competition and that by telling him there are others he’ll step up his game. Sounds manipulative to me, although I do like a time line for telling him you’re seeing others. It is a hard thing to bring up. She says to do so lightly, with something like, “You are so much more fun than the other guys I’ve been seeing.”

She presents you with a grid, into which you draw icons of each man — up to 16 — with whom you are toying. She gives you 14 pages of blank grids to track your dating life.While I applaud Cindy’s attempt to lighten up the dating process with humor, and get women to understand they don’t have to only see one man at a time, I can’t say I can recommend her plan. That said, it’s a fun read, if you aren’t offended by the language, but read it more for entertainment than education.

getting-nakedGetting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You’ve Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted by Judith Sills, Ph.D.

Dr. Sills wrote Getting Naked Again for women over 45, although at times she includes men, too. She approaches the subject with a mix of academic research and anecdotal illustrations. She says she interviewed 100 men and women for this book.

Generally, her philosophy and mine meld. She discusses how to look at dating positively and to see this process as a way of learning about yourself. Her book is an easy read, not getting bogged down with anything too heady.

Dr. Sills’ use of “naked” is both literal and figurative. She talks about being vulnerable, honest and clear as part of being naked. And then she talks about literally getting naked as in sex. Chapters include: Reentry or Would I Sleep with Eisenhower?, You Bleed or You Thaw, Turning Single, Getting Your Head in the Game, Act 1: They Meet, and several others.

While she illustrates her points with stories from her interviews, I find books written by people who haven’t dated in years (decades?) missing some connection. There’s no true understanding of what it feels like to go on even a coffee date and have the guy either 1) not show up, 2) ditch you after 10 minutes, 3) put no effort into putting his best foot forward, or 4) be someone in which you have no interest. Or, you get that adolescent joy of being infatuated with someone and the world is perfect — until one of you ends it.

The advice is sound, the writing is generally good and easy to read. For someone who hasn’t dated in a long time, she’s done the best she can by bringing in stories of those going through the process. And she does have sound advice — since it so closely matches much of mine! :-)

The only other bone to pick is she uses the f-word periodically. Now I’m no prude, but as someone who makes my living through my words, as does she, I think this is a lazy person’s crutch. If you can’t find a more elegant way to express the same concept, you — or your editors — are just lazy. There is really no reason for an educated person to stoop to using base words, with only a few rare exceptions. I think it declasses Dr. Sills and her readers.

That said, all in all I give this book a thumbs up.

He's just not that into you

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Berhandt and Liz Tuccillo

Yes, this book has received way too much air time, but it is a must read for all women. We make excuses for guys and keep our emotions tied up with men who have little, if any, interest in us. It helps you let go of men who you shouldn’t be wasting time on.

How to Not Stay Single

How Not to Stay Single After 40: The Secret to Finding Passion, Love and Fulfillment — At Last! by Nita Tucker

Tucker tells it like it is — sort of a dating tough love — in chapters like “Clean Up Your Act,” “Tell the Truth,” and “Save Sex: The Eight-Date Rule.” Although I laughed when I read the last title and chapter — is she kidding? Eight dates? I guess that’s realistic for some, just not for any of the guys I’ve been drawn to.

How to Behave

How to Behave: Dating and Sex: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged by Caroline Tiger

This gift-size 222-page book is full of lists. For every topic (”Turning Down an Unwanted Suitor,” “Disarming the Over-Toucher,” “Avoiding Your Date’s Bad Breath”), she lists a handful of tips. Some are common sense (never hit on a married person, turn off your cell phone, ignore emails from obvious spammers). Some are useful. And some are bizarre (how to deal with a gas attack, how to dissuade would-be dance partners who attack from behind, what to do about nose hair).

This is wittily written and a quick read. I read most of it during an hour-long flight. While you’ll find some topics common to dating books, you’ll also find some that are covered by few (Body Hair Grooming Tips, When Your Date Smells, If Your Date is a Noisy Popcorn Eater, If Your Date is a Blogger, and Condom Etiquette). If the vignette chapter topics appeal to you, you’ll find information other authors shy away from.

If the Buddha DatedIf the Buddha Dated: Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Sophia Kasl

This book was recommended by several people, as they said the philosophies were similar to what I expose in this blog. They were right! Of course, I enjoyed reading it as Ms. Kasl and I have a similar view of the world. She’s come to her perspective from various doctrines.The section headings are:

  • Preparation for Love
  • Awaken Your Desire
  • Enter the Sacred Fire
  • Keep Loyal to Your Journey
  • Going Deeper
  • Living in the Heart of the Beloved

Her topics range from the practical (“Using Ads, Dating Services and Singles Clubs,” “Children and Dating”) to the philosophical (“Notice the Flow of Giving and Receiving,” “Be a Spiritual Warrior,” “Finding Love Beneath Illusions”). All in all, I found it a good read. If you lean toward New Thought, Buddhism, mindfulness or the metaphysical, you’ll enjoy this book. If you don’t, then don’t waste your money.

if-im-so-wonderful.jpgIf I’m So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?: Ten Strategies That Will Change Your Love Life Forever by Susan Page

Susan covers those lingering questions singles have. Your friends think you’re grand, but romantic partners aren’t coming out of the woodwork. She has good exercises for you to complete.

In Sync with the Opposite SexIn Sync with the Opposite Sex™, 4-CD seminar, with Alison Armstrong.

This CD was recorded live, so you hear Alison’s fun presentation style and her wittily interacting with the participants.

I was especially interested in this CD set because it focused on dating. While I’ve learned a lot in my 3 years and 81 men, there is still a lot I don’t know. Alison shared a lot of information, much of it made sense, some new info and some common sense.

One of her points stood out for me. She encouraged daters to be clear on what you want and what you have to offer. And to state that even before you go on a date with a potential suitor.

Most of us are a bit reticent to state exactly what we want as we think we may come across negatively. For example, one of the audience members said, “I want to have a mutually adoring relationship with a man who wants children within the next two years and will financially support us. I will raise our children, keep house, cook, support his endeavors and have regular sex with him.” Some of us think that sounds unprogressive nowadays.

She even suggested that if you’re looking for a casual sex partner, say that up front. “I am looking for someone to have wild, casual sex with, but without long-term attachment. I offer no-strings-attached, safe sex on an hour’s notice, and will promise to always call the next day.”

Most of us would not have the courage to spell out our desires quite so bluntly. Alison’s point is that if you don’t say what you want, you’ll spend a lot of time meeting with, and perhaps dating people who aren’t interested in what you’re interested in. Yes, it will turn away lots of people, but that’s the plan. Rather than be in scarcity mode where you have to entice the opposite sex to give you what you want, why not be clear on what you want from the start?

I’m not sure. On one hand, her logic makes sense. That is if your belief and experience is you have an unlimited stream of potential partners regularly filling your email box and life. If, however, you’re like half the men online and 25% of women, you never get one contact, you can get in the mindset of not wanting to turn away anyone.

Alison’s point is that you need to weed out those who aren’t ever going to be a fit rather than trying to ensnare someone until he’s so taken with you that he’ll give you what you want to keep you. The latter, I’m afraid, just postpones the probability that one day he’ll wake up and say “This is not what I wanted.” And he’s either gone physically or emotionally or both.

For example, when my ex and I first got together, he said “I’m not looking for a relationship.” I did most of the pursuing and after 8 months of dating, when he got a job closer to me (we were a 2-hour drive apart) one of us (probably me) suggested moving in together. Throughout much of the relationship it felt like I was more committed to the relationship than he was. I should have listened — and believed — what he said. He told me up front what he was looking for by telling me what he wasn’t looking for. Had I told him I had marriage and family on my mind, he probably would have broken up with me. And would that have been bad? In retrospect, probably not. But who knows.

I think some of us believe we can change the other’s mind (see “Do you think you’ll change his mind?“) or that he’s just not clear on what he wants. Thinking this way is asking for trouble.

Some men tell me it’s off putting to hear a woman say, “I’m looking for a man who’s interested in marriage within the next 24 months and a family soon afterward.” They say it feels pressured, rather than letting a relationship evolve and see if they like each other, rather than feeling, “If I don’t propose soon, I’m dog meat.”

Keys to the KingdomKeys to the Kingdom by Alison Armstrong

Ms. Armstrong began her study of what makes men tick in 1991 and her staff gives “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women®” workshops around the country. Her focus is on creating peace and partnership between men and women.

She shares some of her findings in her novel, Keys to the Kingdom. The novel format makes the information easy to digest. In fact, you don’t really mind that she repeats the same information in different words because one character is telling someone new. It’s a non-annoying way to review the concepts.

What are those concepts? She focuses on the stages of men’s development from birth to old age, how to tell what stage they are in, and how to deal with them effectively at each stage. When a woman doesn’t understand what’s going on with the men in her life, it is easy to be frustrated, hurt and angry. And to make matters worse, most men don’t understand what is happening for them, so they can’t explain it to the women they love.

The stages’ names are based on medieval terms:

  • Page: Birth to puberty. “Wannabe Knights”; they want adventure on their (a child’s) scale.
  • Knight: Puberty until late twenties/early thirties. Characterized by a drive for adventure, fun, challenge, passion.
  • Prince: Late twenties/early thirties through 40-45ish. Focus is on who he wants to be in his life, what he wants to accomplish, and goes about bringing that to bear, even at the neglect of his wife and family, even though he says (and truly believes) he is working this hard for their benefit.
  • King: 40+. Kings are confident of who they are. They may not have acquired a lot of material wealth, but they are generous, whether with gifts, time, attention or affection.
  • Elder: Later years, near the end of his life. Not all men become Elders. A man’s life is complete. There is nothing to do but enjoy life, explore what he’s curious about, appreciate his blessings and serve humanity.

There’s also a “state” — not really a stage — called “The Tunnel” which most of us would label midlife crisis. This occurs during the transition between Prince and King. A man questions what he’s achieved and become, and can be dissatisfied at this point. He can then become withdrawn, difficult, uncommunicative, and a challenge to be around.

I am not doing these explanations justice, but wanted to give you a flavor of the concepts. She describes each one much better and in more depth, and what women can do to effectively communicate with men who are in the various stages.

Alison’s belief, as explained through her characters, is that incorporating this information into your behavior with the men around you, transforms your relationship to all men for the better.

Based on the age of most of my potential suitors, they should be in the “King” stage, but I’ve found many of them to behave like they are in the “Knight” stage — wanting adventure and fun, with no maturity about — or perhaps just not the desire to do — what it takes to be in a relationship. So I don’t think we should hold the age ranges as gospel. I’m wondering if maybe men can revert to a previous stage, based on their life circumstances. So, for example, after a divorce, with their newfound freedom, they are feeling more Knight-like, at least when it comes to relationships. She didn’t address this in the book.

I found this an interesting read and worth the time. (You can buy the eBook for $9.95, or the hard copy online for $15.95, plus shipping. In-stores price: $19.95.)

laws of the jungleLaws of the Jungle: Dating for Women Over 40 by Gloria MacDonald and Thelma Beam

I found this to be one of the most interesting books on midlife dating I’ve read in a long while. It is co-written by a matchmaker specializing in people over 40 (Gloria MacDonald), and a couples therapist (Thelma Beam). They blend data with examples from their practices to make an interesting book with many points I’d not read before.

The book is not filled with silly games or “rules.” instead it is filled with facts based on the population of Canada and the US, as well as science. “What could be so interesting about facts in a dating book?” you ask. Good question. The facts help the reader have a more grounded idea of what to expect in midlife dating, rather than a fantasy. And since many of us haven’t dated for decades, it helps shower us in the icy water of reality.

“How could that possibly be helpful?” you may wonder. “Icy water is cold and bracing.” You’d be right. But without the sobering facts, many women have pie-in-the-sky expectations. For example, the authors look at the data of how many single men and women there are in the US and Canada, minus a “kook” factor. They figured at age 45 there were 12 single women for every 10 single men. At age 55, there are 15 single women for every 10 men in this age group, and by 65 there are 10 men for 25 women. Of course, not every single person is looking for love, and some single people are in a committed relationship. But the numbers are awakening.

Midlife women often say, “I’m not making the first move,” or “He has to work hard to win me,” or “I’m not returning his call. I don’t call men.” While this mind set may have worked when they were in their 20’s when there were more men than women, and the woman was in her prime, now in her 40’s, 50’s or 60’s few men will work as hard as they did then. They just don’t have to, as there are more women to choose from. Not that a woman should be easy, but she shouldn’t insist he jump through so many hoops he’ll be pooped.

Midlife women also seem to be picky, their requirements often based on their ex or departed husband, without really a sense that they aren’t in their 20’s anymore. The majority of women say they want someone over 6-feet tall. Did you know that only 14% of men are 6-feet tall? Only 9% are 6’1″? Women of all heights say they want — in fact many say they require — a man who is at least 6-feet tall, even if she is under 5’10″.

And many midlife women also insist that a man have all his hair. But 45% of men aged 40-49 have some hair loss; 55% of men 50-49; and 65% of men 60-69. Asking for all his hair is like a man insisting that a women has no gray in her hair, or doesn’t dye her hair. It cuts down the options dramatically.We know that both genders commonly list “slim, slender, fit” as their preferences for a partner. However, the data shows that 75% of people aged 45-74 are overweight. So if you insist on this, you’re eliminating three-quarters of the population.

And lastly, women often say they want a successful man, stating they want someone who makes over $100,000/year. Even if their ex or late husband didn’t, or if she makes one-third of that. In the 45-64 age group, only 9-10% of men make six figures.

You may be saying, “But men are picky, too!” And you’d be right again. However, the data and our experience show that men date and marry women 5-30 years younger, so they have a much bigger pool to choose from. Of course, women are dating younger as well, but it is still most common for a woman to date someone nearer her own age or older. Which means the more insistent you are on certain external characteristics, the smaller the pool to choose from. Does this mean you should settle? No, it means you should be clear on the character of the man you want and how he will treat you, and less hung up on characteristics, like hair, that are bound to change in a few years.

The book covers some “how to’s” as well as the data, but that is not as interesting (at least to me).

Table of Contents
The Laws Of The Jungle
Relationship Data
The Picky List
Six Categories Of Women
What Men Want
Sabotage Of Love
Where To Find Men
The Big Date And Beyond
How Men Hunt Today
The Big Question – Sex
How Do You Know if You’ve Found Mr. Right?

2982163.gifLooking for Love in Later Life: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Joy and Romantic Fulfillment by Monica Morris

The best chapter in this book is “To Bed or Not to Bed, That is the Question.” The rest offers pretty traditional advice. Not that it is bad, just not a lot new.

love smartLove Smart: Find the One You Want — Fix the One You Got by Phil McGraw

In Dr. Phil’s usual down-to-earth manner, he tries to get us to better define who we are looking for, then to craft a plan to get him. Frankly, not a lot new here, but worth looking at if you’re new to the dating scene.

Making Sense of MenMaking Sense of Men: A Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Love, Care and Attention from All Men by Alison Armstrong

Alison discusses common misconceptions women have about men’s intentions and how to know if a man is just interested in sex or to have a more meaningful relationship. She calls the latter “charmed and enchanted” and even men not seeking a romantic relationship can be charmed and enchanted with you.

This book is essentially the script for the introductory free evening workshop her staff delivers to acquaint you to her concepts and entice you to register for the first of several weekend workshops they offer. I attended one of these some months ago and got a lot out of it and will take the weekend workshop soon.

The promo promises:

  • Why men pursue some women for sex and others for heart-felt relationships
  • How to tell when a man is emotionally involved
  • How to inspire generosity and attentiveness in all men
  • How you can be strong and successful—without discouraging men

I find Alison’s work puts men’s behavior in a context that makes sense. Women tend to expect men to behave like women and get frustrated when they don’t. One of her chapters is “Men Are Not Hairy Women.”

And she’s not into male bashing — in fact, the first workshop you enroll in is called “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women.”

The most insightful and useful chapters are “Getting Men’s Attention, “The Real Goodies,” “A Valuable Lesson in Men-glish,” and “The Goods that Attract the Goodies.” In the first of these she describes what attracts men to a woman. There are four things, three of which you’ll guess. The fourth is surprising until she explains it. If a woman has all four things a man wants to have sex with her.

In “The Real Goodies,” she describes how men react to a woman they are charmed and enchanted by. We love men who treat us this way. In “A Valuable Lesson in Men-glish” she decodes what men say that expresses they are charmed and enchanted. Sometimes we miss these signals or misinterpret them and lash out at guys who are really just trying to tell us they like us.

“The Goods that Attract the Goodies” details the four things that cause men to become charmed and enchanted. Guess what? None of these are hard to do! Most of us naturally do some if not many of them. And with consciousness you can consistently project all of them. They are nothing that is false. No faking it required, just perhaps a shift of perspective.

There’s only one bone to pick with this product. While I think the content is solid, I was disappointed at the 67-page length and 14-point type. In my mind, this is a classic case of pumping up the margins and type size to make a book out of something that doesn’t really merit to be called a book. The length of the content would be better as a white paper or special report, or even a long article, but not a book. It is self-published soft-cover book, and if a trade publisher had printed it the 12-point finished product would have been more like 40-50 pages in 8.5 x 5.5″ format. Alison has so much content, I don’t know why she didn’t expand some of her chapters to make a deeper and richer product and justify creating a book.

Mama Gena's Owner's and Operator's Guide to Men

Mama Gena’s Owner’s and Operator’s Guide to Men by Regina Thomashauer

Regina’s advice is not for the faint of heart. She talks about how to get men to do what you want and how to sleep around. It is a fun read, but if you don’t believe men are your puppets you might pass on this one.

Manslations Manslations: Decoding the Secret Language of Men by Jeff Mac

Full disclosure, Mac is a pal of mine, having formed a pal-ship through our blogs. We have a bit of a mutual admiration society, so perhaps my review of his book is a tad tainted. But I will try to be objective.

Mac is a stand-up comedian turned blog writer turned author. His blog is comprised of questions women submit asking for his interpretation of men’s behavior in matters of the heart and seeking his advice. He (well, probably his editors) have brilliantly taken the nub of his readers’ questions and made the themes topics in his book.

The premise is he translates men’s behavior — thus “manslations.” If you liked He’s Just Not That Into You you’ll love Manslations. Mac brings the same down-to-earth style, but is much funnier. He’s like a brother or best guy pal giving you the secrets to men’s motivations and actions. He debunks myths and shows us how women misinterpret men’s behavior, make excuses for them, and generally talk ourselves into thinking a man is into us when he’s not. A theme throughout reinforces the concept, “Pay attention to what a man does, not what he says.”

He describes how to tell if a man is interested in you (like he asks you out or finds a way to spend time with you) so all your guessing if someone is into you or not is a waste of time.

Men’s behaviors, Mac tells us, can be boiled down to two questions:

  1. Might he think that this behavior will get him laid?
  2. Might he think that this behavior will maximize his time with you?

Mac’s writing style is engaging, informative, and funny. And even though he’s a bit ADHD, his asides are funny. I’m glad the editors left them in.

A big thumbs up for this book.

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Mars and Venus in the Bedroom by John Gray

I considered earmarking certain pages and having a (then) boyfriend read them! So even if you think you are experienced, there were still some nuances that were worth reading.

mv-starting-over.gifMars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One by John Gray

Help on moving on and starting again. Sound advice on grieving and then moving on.

mv-on-a-date.gifMars and Venus on a Date: A Guide for Navigating the 5 Stages of Dating to Create a Loving and Lasting Relationship by John Gray

Who knew that unlocking the car door could be backfire! If you are new to dating, this helped shed some light on many things, including why women shouldn’t initiate too much, especially at the beginning.

The Psychology of Romantic Love: Romantic Love in an Anti-Romantic Age by Nathaniel Branden

A friend recommended I read The Psychology of Romantic Love to help refine my perspective on relationship dynamics. The beginning section on the history of marriage is interesting, if only to understand that it’s a recent concept in human history that we marry someone with whom we are in love. Additionally, two parts stood out for me.

Branden articulated that what we want in our closest relationships is what he calls “visibility.” In other words, we want to be seen — fully seen — by those closest to us. That is our longing, to have someone know us fully and still love us. This was part of my unhappiness in my marriage — I didn’t feel my ex really knew me. And perhaps I didn’t really know him, either.

The second part that stood out was an exercise I encourage you to do (on page 99 if have the book). Branden asks you to list at least three important relationships, including each of your parents and at least one significant romantic relationship. Put each person’s name at the top of a separate page.

For each person:

  • Describe or characterize the person (six or eight responses)
  • Describe how you perceived his/her ability to give and receive love
  • Describe how you felt frustrated by him/her by (six or eight responses)

I don’t think this is a spoiler, but you will probably quickly see that the responses for your parents have some overlap with your romantic partner(s). Duh! But sometimes it’s a shock to see how much they are/were alike. Branden reported one male participant in a seminar blurted out, “I married my mother!”

The point of the exercise is awareness. If you are conscious that you have in the past chosen romantic partners who had similar negative or dysfunctional characteristics to your parents, you can be more mindful that it’s your tendency to choose someone with parallel issues. When you notice these behaviors in someone you’re dating, you can choose to disengage rather than go down the path to heartbreak you know well. By identifying the similarities in past important relationships, you are more alert to these characteristics being problematic.

Rescue Me

Rescue Me, He’s Wearing a Moose Hat: And 40 Other Dates after 50 by Sherry Halperin

This work has been optioned for a movie, but I’m not sure if it’s because of the work, or because Ms. Halperin works in the film/entertainment business in So. California so has the right connections.

The book is essentially a memoir of her dates after her husband of 26 years died. She was 52 when she began her quest for “Mr. Right Again.” Her encounters lasted from 11 minutes to 18 months. Each mini-chapter tells of the different men she met. However, while the subtitle is “40 Other Dates after 50,” several chapters are about repeat assignations with the same men. And she saw some men for multiple dates, so I’m not sure if “40 other dates” refers to the men or the outings, as 40 would not be an accurate count for either.

While she has some humor, and a one-sentence insight at the end of each story, it is mostly a retelling of her experiences. They are mildly entertaining as reading about someone else’s bad dates can be. I’m not fond of that focus, as you know if you’ve read this blog for long.So if you’re looking for a quick, somewhat entertaining read for a plane trip or the beach, pick it up. If you’re looking for insightful how to’s, then pass.

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Sex: A Man’s Guide

A great resource for both men and women. Learn what guys know — or should know. A good book to read together — but be prepared for frequent interruptions as you have to discuss and experiment with various sections.

Intelligent Woman's GuideThe Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Online Dating by Dale Koppel, PhD.

Dr. Koppel has combined two short books in one. In fact, she’s printed her book so you read it one way to get her story, then you turn the book upside down and you get her advice. But she repeats large parts in both sections, so really it’s more like 1.5 books.

Despite dating over 100 men in three years before finding her Mr. Right, her advice is really pretty light on how to navigate the online dating game. In fact, she recommends lying in your profile. Her logic makes sense and she says she discloses her lies quickly in email, phone or the first meeting. She was nearly 60 when she began her quest, but she put her age at 57 to make herself searchable to men in her target age group. This is a common online dating strategy, but I think it makes the man wonder, “What else is she lying about?” Some even asked her that outright.

She also lied about where she lived and her drinking preferences. Again, she had logical reasons why she chose to lie. The logic makes sense, but I don’t support lying in profiles. But then I’ve not had to deal with the reasons she chose to lie, so I can’t say what I’d do in similar circumstances.

I’m unclear why this is “the intelligent woman’s guide” since some of her advice does not sound like an intelligent woman’s decision making. For example, she shares her cavalier attitude about asking her lovers about STDs, getting blood tests and using condoms. While each person has to make their own decisions about these issues, I think it’s irresponsible for an author — who is then considered an “expert” by the media — to say, “I let the man decide if he wants to use a condom or not.” That is essentially endorsing unsafe sex and letting someone else decide if you will contract a deadly disease. Spencer Lieb, senior epidemiologist at the Bureau of HIV/AIDS at the Florida Department of Health, states “the number of HIV and AIDS patients in the over-50 crowd nationwide had grown in recent years.” I think we who have a platform need to encourage only safe sex practices, no matter what we chose to do in our own relationships. Disclosing that you’ve only used a condom once with a series of lovers is irresponsible to readers, even if it’s true.

The thing we agree on is to look at each interaction as a learning experience and to use them to grow.

For people who like reading other people’s dating stories, I suppose this can be an interesting read. But for those wanting more solid, extensive advice on how to navigate online dating sites, I’m afraid there are other more useful resources.

The Spiritual Rules of Engagement by Yehuda Berg

Many of us gagged upon reading the manipulative games touted in The Rules. We yearned to be authentic with the men we dated, but found that by sharing our feelings toward a man too early, he went poof. We never knew if it was out of fear or boredom that the chase was over.

Enter the book The Spiritual Rules of Engagement by Yehuda Berg, a kabbalah*-teaching man who uses these ancient teachings to tell women how to behave in matters of the heart.

Generally, I like his approach, coming from a spiritual perspective. He corroborates what I’ve read from Alison Armstrong and others: A woman’s job is to receive and a man’s job is to give. His goal is to make her happy and her job is to let him. He is happy when he has given her something that pleases her.

Now before you think this book is really just teaching women to be divas (not goddesses!), he says that women are the relationship managers. If we expect and allow men to do this, no one will be happy. He uses the metaphor that the woman is the relationship CEO and the man is the applicant for the job (when dating) or the employee (when in relationship). Just like in a job, you don’t let the applicant control the meeting place, time or flow. When he offers when and where to meet, you suggest an alternative time, date or place just to show him you aren’t passive. You ask him the majority of the questions, answering briefly any he asks you before asking him another.

If his behavior doesn’t pass muster when dating, you don’t try to change him, you just decide he doesn’t have the right skills and/or attitude for the job. Berg doesn’t say if, as with a probational employee, you tell him what he’s doing well and what he needs to do differently to perform to your standards.

He does, however, say women shouldn’t order men around, but instead should ask them to do things, adding “for me” at the end of the sentence. So don’t say, “Honey, please take out the trash,” it’s “Honey, please take out the trash for me,” as then he’ll be happy to do this since he knows it will please you.

A core message is a woman will never be happy if she depends on a man to make her so. The happier a woman is with her life before and during a relationship, the more the right man will want to be with her. I agree with that.

After reading this book, I see I’ve been too nice in budding relationships, too flexible, too accommodating. I thought I was being in receiving mode, but it could be seen as too placating. I’ll try being more assertive next time and see what happens.

* The ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible, first transmitted orally and using esoteric methods (including ciphers).

what-men-want.gifWhat Men Want: Three Professional Men Reveal What It Takes to Make a Man Yours

These guys did spill all. They even said that you should never sleep with a man on the first date, although he won’t say no to you. He will never consider you long term relationship material if you will.

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What Men Won’t Tell You but Women Need to Know by Bob Berkowitz and Roger Gittines

Berkowitz does let us in on some little known info. He’s straightforward and talks to the reader as if she’s a good pal who doesn’t understand the ways of men — which most of us don’t! A good read.

Why Hasn’t He Called? by Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal

Having caught myself checking my cell phone a bit too obsessively looking to see if a guy has called or texted, I thought Why Hasn’t He Called would help me gain some perspective.

The married-couple coauthors, Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal, share the men’s and women’s view, respectively. Matt gives an inside look at what some (many?) men are thinking before, during and after a date. The sad part was how women can totally spin the things a man does into signs he is into her. I am guilty of this. We interpret his chivalry, niceness, laughter and conversational skills as he’s into us. When in reality, according to the co-authors, he’s really just trying to get us into bed.

It reminded me of something a dog trainer friend once told me. She said dogs do what they do to get what they want/need. Humans put meaning on the behaviors. If a dog curls up next to you, wags its tail, goes crazy when you come home from work, humans interpret this as the dog loves us. The bottom line, my friend says, is the dog wants food, petting, and/or warmth. It seems the same with women’s interpreting men’s behaviors as showing caring, affection, and long-term interest, when they really only want sex and perhaps companionship. And maybe food.

The bottom line on why he hasn’t called:

  1. you’re not a priority to him; he’s not thinking about you or needing to connect with you,
  2. he’s moved on.

The book points out some ways women sabotage future calls from a guy, some of which I’ve done. For example, they say after a first date the woman should never, ever, make the next contact. This seems a bit The Rules to me. I typically will email a guy after a date thanking him, or if we really hit it off, then a quick “I had a great time” call a few days afterward. The authors say this sounds desperate and needy.

They also say when he calls you shouldn’t tell him it’s nice to hear his voice. I say that a lot! Who knew that sounds needy?

The authors say to go out on a date with another guy as quickly as possible so you’re not sitting around obsessing about guy #1. I think this is sound advice as I’ve too quickly put all my eggs in one basket when I’ve hit it off with someone then had it fizzle.

They cover some things I think are sort of strange for this kind of book. A whole chapter on how to prepare your home for a gentleman visitor. And a whole chapter on how to dress, eat and work out. I can see how tangentially this has to do with a man not calling, but it seems to be filler for a book that should have really been an article.

Should you buy this book? The part where Matt explains what’s going on in a guy’s head before, during and after a date is worth it. But most of the rest could be skimmed. So buy it used or check it out from the library.

Why Men Love BitchesWhy Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl — A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov

First, let me allow the author to explain the title, as it is somewhat off putting to those of us who don’t relish being referred to as bitches. Argov writes “I’m not recommending that a woman have an abrasive disposition. The woman I’m describing is kind yet strong. She doesn’t give up her life, and she won’t chase a man.” Of course, Why Men Love Confident Women wouldn’t have garnered the same kind of press, so she went with a more sensational title.

I agree with some of what she says. I saw myself both as a strong woman standing up for myself, as well as a “nice” woman who has allowed myself in the past to get taken for granted.Other advice was the opposite of my values. For example, she advocates being “dumb like a fox.” I read this chapter as how to play games. You don’t tell the man directly what you want or are upset about, you show it by your actions. For example, the man you’re dating calls you at 10 p.m. to say he misses you and wants you to come over and cuddle. You are irritated that he wants you to drive to his place for a booty call. But do you say that? No. That would be too direct. Instead, you tell him you’re slipping into something sexy and will be over in 5 minutes. Could he wait you outside with an umbrella since it’s raining? (I don’t know why he wouldn’t suggest you bring your own umbrella, but hey, this is Argov’s book.) He waits, and waits, and waits and you don’t arrive. After an hour, it dawns on him you’re not coming and he was being a lout!

Or to show your live-in beau he can’t control you, you stay out 2 hours after you told him you’d be home, without calling. That is downright rude to me, and I’d be worried sick if someone I cared about was two hours late and didn’t let me know they were okay.

Her point is that men don’t hear words, they only see actions. They won’t hear that you’re upset with them. They tune it out as if you’re nagging. Isn’t this a tad condescending? It implies all men are uncommunicative and unable to talk about issues openly, honestly and maturely.

The book was confusing because she says bitches are nice, but nice gals get treated like doormats. But the examples she gave showing when strong women were nice, revealed they were duplicitous and passive aggressive, not saying what they were feeling or wanted.

I like the general message that you need to be clear on what you want and not change who you are to fit what you think your guy wants. This means don’t give up your gym time, gal pals and other self-care priorities. She says you need to look out for yourself all the time, and the more you do the more appealing you will be to men. The more you acquiesce and change your life to constantly accommodate his preferences, he loses respect for you. Which means he’ll go poof in an instant.

In “Do men want feisty women?” we discussed that many men like spirited, strong women. When I bounced off the book’s premise to a guy pal I adore, he said, “I don’t think most guys are attracted to strong women. I think they scare the pants off the guys.” I can see it would with some men, but I also know some won’t put up with a dependent woman. The key is to figure out who you are and what you want, then find a way to attract what is a good fit for you.

(I have affiliate relationships with some of the purchasing sites linked above.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth September 23, 2006 at 1:07 pm

Hi…
This is really fun to read…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us…and letting us divorced (or so to be) single women know that we are not alone. There’s a lot here that I identify with, although I’m not as brave as you are about dating lots of guys. So far.
Thanks also for the review of dating books. I’ve been looking for someone to giveme so feedback on books. I haven’t bought any yet, but I might…
I’d love to know what you think of my blog. I riff on dating, but also on religion and politics.
Best wishes, Elizabeth in PA

Kristen May 28, 2007 at 8:42 am

Hi Dating Goddess,
Thanks for supplying such a comprehensive list of dating books.

Kristen

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