If you took a glance at the book titles currently sitting in my Amazon recommendations you’d think I was quite the sad, single cat lady. It’s filled with self-help manuals like Think Like a Lady, Act Like a Man and Never Chase Men Again. What’s going on, you might wonder. Well, I recently embarked on a little experiment – I read three bestselling dating books and I applied everything I learnt to my own love life. And here’s what happened…
THE NEW RULES
The 411: Legendary dating book The Rules was originally published in 1995 by New Yorkers Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. And in 2013 they published The New Rules, directed at the digital generation. As the name would suggest, this book is very much about what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to dating. And whilst I thought it was an entertaining read (in a Real Housewives of New York kind of way) much of their advice seemed a little bit over-the-top. For example: “Don’t sit or stand next to a guy first.”
Overriding Message: According to Ellen and Sherrie “the natural order of dating” involves “the guy pursuing the girl.” And, as the title would suggest, The New Rules provides a long list of dating dos and don’ts. In short, their message is don’t act too keen, live your own life and play hard-to-get.
In theory this is fine – you shouldn’t turn your world upside down to make a potential relationship work, especially if the guy is making zero effort – but in some chapters their advice felt a little dated. However, if you do have a habit of getting carried away in the early stages of dating their rules could definitely help you create some boundaries.
Tried and Tested: Ellen and Sherrie believe hoop earrings are a woman’s best accessory and diamond studs are “too dainty and suburban-looking for when you’re first dating”. I put this theory to the test but actually found the opposite to be true. Hoops lead to no romantic success whatsoever, yet Kenneth Jay Lane diamond studs resulted in a compliment directed at the earrings and a first kiss. So maybe “suburban-looking” studs aren’t so bad after all?
GET THE GUY
The 411: I was first introduced to “the world’s leading relationship coach”, Matthew Hussey, in an episode of The Lively Show podcast, and I’ve dipped in and out of his Get the Guy franchise ever since. Along with his New York Times bestselling book, Matthew also has a dating channel on YouTube, writes for Cosmopolitan and regularly appears on The Today Show.
Matthew started his career as a relationship coach for men, and now helps women across the world find love. His USP is the simple fact that he knows what men are thinking, and in Get the Guy he teaches various techniques to find, get and keep the guy.
Overriding Message: Whilst The New Rules strongly advises against making the first move, Get the Guy is all about taking control of your love life. Matthew introduces “the white handkerchief technique” which essentially allows women to approach men in a subtle way so the man can initiate conversation without the fear of rejection. It can be as simple as asking the hot guy sitting in your local coffee shop for the WiFi password.
Tried and Tested: On his website Matthew Hussey provides further tips, with downloads and video tutorials. So, as an experiment, I used one of his “ultimate” and “irresistible” text message scripts on a guy I’d been chatting to. The result? I never heard from him again. But that’s not to say I discredit all of the Get the Guy techniques; I actually think this book could provide a real confidence boost for anyone who is newly single or feels shy in social situations.
The 411: Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari joined forces with Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University, to try and make sense of the current dating landscape, which is fuelled by dick picks and mostly plays out via text message. So Modern Romance is less of a dating how-to and more an exploration into society (it also happens to be the only book on this list I wouldn’t be embarrassed to read in public.)
Overriding Message: Aziz introduces the concept of the modern “soul mate marriage” and notes that until the push for women’s equality in the ’60s and ’70s most people settled for “good enough marriages”. In fact, the studies Aziz and Eric uncovered show that a third of Philadelphia couples who married in 1932 had lived within a five-block radius of each other. Some even grew up in the same building.
But no one marries their neighbours any more, and the criteria we search for in a potential partner is dramatically different to what women looked for 100 years ago. We now have the freedom to find a “soul mate”, and it’s this search that has opened up a host of complex dating issues.
Tried and Tested: Modern Romance doesn’t try to throw out solutions for common dating dilemmas, so there’s nothing to put into practise. However, I do think the world would be a much better place if all single men were required to read this book. Aziz is a self-confessed feminist, and kindly shines a light on all the crap women have to deal with when dating. He writes, “One firm takeaway from all our interviews with women is that most dudes out there are straight-up bozos.”
And that quote is solid conclusion to this post… Men need to step up their dating game, so they should really be the ones reaching for the self-help aisle!
What are your personal experiences with dating books? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations, so please leave a comment below if you’d like to share.