Review of “The Spiritual Rules of Engagement”

by Dating Goddess on May 20, 2008

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 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).

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

bookyone May 20, 2008 at 9:32 am

Hi DG,

Thanks for the book recommendation; it sounds like this guy is on the right track when it comes to building relationships. “The Rules” and other such game playing/manipulative behaviors, as you said, are for the birds, but being your authentic self while engaging in relationship foreplay, as it were, makes good sense to me. I’ll have to check it out. :)

Hugs from bookyone :)

PreviouslyQueenofE May 20, 2008 at 5:36 pm

DG, at first read I gagged a bit (I’m SO not into game playing or manipulation) but upon reflection and remembering how my recent relationships have played out (including the happy one I’m in right now), there are valid points here. We will only be treated as well as we truly believe we deserve. Like you, I’ve been flexible and accommodating and called it all kinds of things (experiencing new relationship behaviors/tolerance/etc etc) and those never worked. In this relationship, I find my beloved is more attentive, more attuned, when I am more absorbed in whatever I’m into – I’m an active racing sailor, for instance, and he finds me most attractive when I’m focused on my sailing – and not on him!!! That makes it sound like he’s a demanding two year old, but he’s not demanding my attention – he is admiring from a distance until I slow down enough for him to catch me with a hug and kiss. Maybe it’s the thrill of the chase, but it works. The happier we as women are, doing what we like to do, the more attractive we are to the right kind of men, the healthy ones we want in our lives. And asking for what we want, sometimes asking for help we DON’T need, makes them feel good and needed. I’m sure it works both ways, in fact I know it does.

It sounds like you’re using your most recent escapade to learn and grow, happy discovery to you! I referred to my less-than-satisfactory boyfriends as ‘growth opportunities’. Have you read “Eat, Pray, Love?” It’s a great book, I think. cheers and hugs,
pqoe

Dating Goddess May 20, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Bookyone: I like how you put it, “being your authentic self while engaging in relationship foreplay.”

PreviouslyQueen:I pretty much use *every* episode to learn and grow! That’s what life’s about, isn’t it?

Yes, I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, and frankly was a bit underwhelmed by it. I reviewed it here some months ago.

Ellen May 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

It stsill seems manipulative to me. I know it’s hard to switch from being a powerful do-it-yourself woman to being with a guy and letting him be “the man,” but this all still sounds like I am acting. How about we just treat the guys like we would a good friend that we’re getting to know, not going overboard in doing things for them but respecting a new friendship. I know guys like to be appreciated and enjoy doing things for us, but being totally the receiver and never the giver just doesn’t seem right to me. I vote for getting to know each other slowly, revealing who I am slowly, allowing them space and time to show us who they are, letting them know we are enjoying their company, and still keeping our own lives going as we like. Maybe it’s all just the Golden Rule, to treat someone as I would want to be treated, with respect and care and love. I know guys love the chase and being a little hard to get might be enticing, but let’s not go so far as not to be ourselves with them.

xo Ellen
http://www.wonderfulonlinewomenLA.com

PreviouslyQueenofE May 21, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Ellen, I’m totally in agreement with what you say. AND I have found that sometimes I can solicit help if it makes someone else feel good about themselves, even though I don’t need it. One of my best friends has this talent of making everyone else feel good about themselves, without sacrificing her self or being a victim or anything, and it’s wonderful being with her.

DG – I have an equal number of friends on both sides of whelmed by the Eat Pray Love book, and I guess it spoke to my condition at the time. Who knows how I’ll feel when I read it again? ANd of course you are correct, we learn from everything, else what’s the point? thanks so much for posting this blog. My sister is just re-entering the dating world at 40+ and I’ve tried to send her to this blog, as she is pretty much re-enacting every thing I’ve gone through in the past five or so years. I have found your posts insightful and reassuring, I wasn’t doing this in a vacuum and other women have felt the same, so THANK YOU! Cheers and hugs as always!

Angela May 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm

My favorite book at this time is called, ALL MEN ARE JERKS, TILL PROVEN OTHERWISE. I may have even got the recommendation for that book on this site. Anyway, it has really helped me to remember that a man needs to prove himself worthy of me and more than in just the “honeymoon” stage. It is also very supportive in telling women to “get a life”. Men are more interested in women who have other things to do besides their man.
My favorite saying also is, “Don’t make someone a priority, who considers you an option.” One date with a man and most women already have their whole life planned out. The man is only thinking of the next 10 minutes or how he is going to get laid that night by you. Just relax and have some fun. And when a man moves on, move on too. Believe me, he’s not thinking back about how you were the best thing he ever had and just didn’t realize it. They have moved on!

ManFromGermany May 24, 2008 at 6:01 am

A comment from the male perspective: Being cautious and going slowly with a man probably is very good advice for a woman. After all, you don’t know this other person. From my experience, you only get to know someone after a couple of years. There are dumb guys and girls, nasty people, habitual liars, and a lot more. Then there are people you can depend on. You can’t really know until you know this person for a couple of years.
People in the past weren’t as stupid and strange as some depict them today. Woman were often very careful when deciding about marriage. Nowadays some woman just jump into bed with every moderately clever guy. That is clearly stupid. If a man does not court you for an extended period of time, he is not in it for the long run.
Whether it is your prospective husband or business partner, check that person for a couple of years until you entrust that person something significant.
Also, having a qualification and an own life clearly is the right thing. Maybe you will need it if your husband decides to dump you.
And, I also know of a woman (my sister, PHD in biology) who earns the money for the family, because the husband basically is a bit lazy and inflexible. Maybe feminism means that the wife earns the money ?

Sharpchick May 24, 2008 at 10:45 am

Perhaps I have misinterpreted what I’ve read in the review of the book. And I think I may be a bit of an anamoly here. Any man I am willing to spend time with is someone I consider to be my friend. I don’t expect my friends to cater to me, and it sounds as if that’s an underlying theme in this book. I’ve not read the book, but from what I’ve seen posted here, I’m not sure I’d enjoy it.

Friendships are for me living and ever-changing – and the best ones are mutually beneficial. . . a balance of give AND take, because each of us cares for the other. I don’t think I could be friends for long with someone whose interest in the relationship was what I could do “for them.”
Respect is a two way street and I believe that both partners in any relationship are wise to remember that.

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