Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

August 4, 2007

Bibliography From Hell

Tonight Wine Guy and I are having a "work night." We both have long term projects we've been talking about tackling for months yet never seem to find the time to get started. So we came up with the idea (independently but freakishly at the same time - a good sign methinks) to spend an evening working on our projects, separately but together. So here we are, hanging out at his place, sipping wine while each sitting in separate rooms working. The plan is to work for an hour or two, then meet back up, talk about what we did, bounce ideas off one another, then go back to work. Hopefully it will make us feel slightly accountable to one another and, therefore, less likely to blow things off.

Is it working? I'm not quite sure. I can't tell if it's it a good or bad sign that during this, our first work session, I'm here writing a blog entry. True, the project I'm working on is related to this blog, but it's supposed to be something other than this blog. However, I will not concede that I'm cheating just yet. I originally got on the computer to begin my first assignment - researching what kind of dating books are out there.
One quick search of the word "dating" on Amazon and I was immediately reminded why I call this whole damn thing "warfare" and was inspired to share what I found with my fellow Troopers.

Yes, I have said here that in my warfare analogy, men are not necessarily the enemy, women are not the heroes. It is the situation that makes it warfare, at least for the average person. But after reading the list of books Amazon gave me, I think I might have to revise that original statement just a bit. See for yourself. Here's a selection of titles I found in my first 5 minutes of searching. I won't dignify them with links so if you really want to get more info, you can search them on your own:

  • The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
  • Seduce Me! What Women Really Want
  • The Layguide: How to Seduce Women More Beautiful Than You Ever Dreamed Possible No Matter What You Look Like or How Much You Make
  • Understanding Women: The Definitive Guide to Meeting, Dating and Dumping, if Necessary (written by a woman no less)
And the one that just about made me choke on my wine...
  • The Professional Bachelor Dating Guide - How to Exploit Her Inner Psycho
Actually, this one made me laugh at first (we all have inner psychos - men and women), but the fact that a man might actually be disgusting enough to seek out training to learn how to "exploit" that? Please tell me it has sold less than 10 copies!

All of these sound absolutely horrific. And, frankly, if I were a man I would be terribly offended that these authors think men can be reduced to nothing but creeps looking for a warm hole to stick their penises (peni?) in (sorry, but this is the image I get when I think of the men who by these books).

I'm sad to say that one of Wine Guy's good friends -- let's call him Kansas Cad -- has become somewhat of a devotee of "The Game" (the first book listed above). He's a good looking, smart, successful guy and I have no idea why he would even need help in the dating department. I can't tell if he really does have trouble getting women and is desperate enough to take any advice he can get, or that he is kind of misogynistic and finds it funny to think of women as "targets" just waiting to be plotted against and seized (this book refers to women as "targets" -really). I suspect the answer is somewhere in the middle - that he's basically immature and hasn't quite gotten past the "catch and kiss" style of elementary school dating. Perhaps he spent too many Kansas winters in his basement playing war games with his dorky friends and not enough time at the school dances learning how to actually talk to girls.

Before I got upset enough to storm into Wine Guy's office just so I could punch him for even being a man, I
decided to turn my search to dating books aimed at women. Unfortunately, what I found was even more repulsive - and certainly more offensive:
  • Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Catching a Man
  • Women Men Love, Women Men Leave: What Makes Men Want to Commit?
  • Love Smart: Find the One You Want--Fix the One You Got (yes, by Dr. Phil. Admit it. How many of you guys knew that already?)
  • Make Every Man Want You (or Make Yours Want You More): How To Be So Damn Irresistible You'll Barely Keep From Dating Yourself!
  • Dating, Inc.: Recruit, Select, and Retain the Right Man for the Relationship
So let me get this straight. Dating is basically boiled down to a woman's ability to attract and keep a man, who is - of course- a wild and free-roaming beast that just needs to be tamed enough so he can be captured and ultimately domesticated. All I need to do to accomplish this is learn how to play games, manipulate, always look attractive, and beat out all the other women who are also trying to do the same thing. In the meantime, the men will just continue their normal lives as oblivious, naive creatures who spend their days looking for food, a safe spot to sleep and crap, and (yes, you guessed it), a warm place to stick their penis every once in awhile.

A few more button clicks and I was able to find some books that should be scary to just about everyone, regardless of gender:

Books by Dr. Henry Cloud with titles like, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping and Boundaries in Dating Participant's Guide (described as "...a wise, biblical path to developing self-control, freedom, and intimacy in the dating process").

And, of course, anything authored by Dr. Neil (e-Harmony) Clark Warren such as Date or Soul Mate?: How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less and Finding the Love of Your Life: Ten Principles for Choosing the Right Marriage Partner.

Then there's this one that I'm not quite sure what to make of at all -
Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship. I have to admit, I have noticed that a lot of men tend to go for "bitches." But when I say "bitch" I mean it in the game playing, annoying, overly girly-girl, passive-aggressive way. It never occurred to me that "holding your own" in dating makes you a "bitch." Is that how men see it? No freakin' wonder I'm not married.

I did find a few titles that gave me a little hope - or at least a genuine smile.

  • The Shy Single: A Bold Guide to Dating for the Less-than-Bold Dater
  • I Can't Believe I'm Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating
  • Dating, Mating, and Manhandling: The Ornithological Guide to Men

And then there was this one that just plain summed up the entire dating experience:

  • Dead End Dating: A Novel of Vampire Love

Not that I'm buying any of them, I promise.

But if you have, I would love to hear your thoughts or, even better, your reviews. Even if you didn't really buy it, just accidentally "flipped through" it while browsing at the bookstore. (yeah, right).



Green Daze 44 said...

Since you are interested in books, here's one I'm reading that my mother, the therapist, sent to me, "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk" by John Van Epp, Ph.D.

It's really good.

Michele said...

I went through this whole phase after getting a divorce where I wanted to find the best books/advice on dating and more importantly getting out of bad relationships. I'd been in way too many for way too long and thought there should be an easy way to escape. As a result, I started a web site called Done With You but after several years of doing nothing with it, I pulled the site down and just posted a blog with the same name ( and as usual, I haven't had much time to do anything with it. But there should seriously be some better dating advice out there for women who are well ... dating.

Kelly said...

You left out Hooking Up or Holding Out: A Smart Girl's Guide to Driving Men Crazy and/or Finding True Love, by Jamie Cat Callan!

I loved this book and I don't care. I guess somewhere in there that means I do care. I know it will be dismissed as another 'game-playing' tactical manual, from the title alone. But she makes a good case that seduction is an art just as important and worthy of your time and attention as a great novel or short story. There is nothing wrong with mixing things up and keeping it fun & unpredictable. It's not about following a set of rules. It's a poorly-titled but much better-written book. The only dating book out there that's even remotely engaging.

I'll admit to having also read Men Are Like Fish & Make Every Man Want You. They're just as bad as you think they are.

I never would have thought I'd be reading ANY of these books, but I had to know where I went wrong with my last boyfriend. I could blame everything on him but I wanted to know exactly how I had contributed to the situation.

These books make a point that many of us just don't want to acknowledge. My main take-home lesson is that I will never again chase a guy or try to convince him. All my relationship problems have come from that irresistible urge to go after someone--without first letting them reveal whether they're interested & trustworthy. I'm not against calling people, but it's so much easier to let a guy show me how much he likes me than to keep after him assuming that he's feeling it just as much as I am, and be strung along for months to years, only to be heartbroken when he reveals that he wasn't ever ready for a relationship and he "tried."

For every guy who's ready for a relationship, there are a hundred who aren't. The mistake we make is trying to convince them to be ready. We should be willing to walk.

These books are popular for a reason: they mix truths together with bullshit. Unfortunately, they're the only books out there trying to tell us anything about relationships, so I will take what I can get.

That said, if you wrote a book about dating, I'm sure it would be the first b.s.-free book out there.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Great suggestions so far! Keep 'em coming guys. Kelly, terrific insights. If I do try to tackle a book, I'll keep it as b.s. free as is humanly possible.

Anonymous said...

My two favorite relationship books:
"The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman, which offer useful hints even for the unmarried (but probably do focus on long-term relationships), based on a rather more scientific method than most of the B.S. out there. Things like "if you are feeling contempt for each other, that's a really bad sign" and "negative interactions are weighted more strongly than positive ones in our minds, so try to make sure you have a lot of positive interactions" and "couples are more successful when they accept each other's attempts to mend a situation".

I also really like "The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts" - again, one I read long before I got married, that is based on interviews with 50 happily married couples (rather than a study of misery like most books) and talking about the common themes. Very, very intersting, and again, some rigor behind it.

Then back when I worked at B&N and was shelving books, there was "How to meet and marry a millionaire". All I remember from it was "smile at everyone, even the doorman, because if you're only nice to rich people, you won't come across as genuine." Wow. I still don't know what to do with that. I think there was also a chapter on personal hygiene and one on choosing a car...

Melissa said...

Oh my...and just as I have pushed the snooze button on your biological clock, you've made me thank GOD that I don't have to think about dating.

I wish there were books on people committing to people; people communicating with people; people respecting people; people getting to know people -- and leave all the "dating" out if it. I think it all boils down to being happy and secure with ourselves and learning to love and respect other people. But I never really entered the dating scene and have no idea what it's really like, so maybe I'm just naive.

The whole "manipulation" of dating theme in the books you mentioned is just really, really, really scary. I wish you all the best in your project! I hope you bring something intelligent to all the people out there who want to enjoy life with a partner.

escort said...

I really like "The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts" - again, one I read long before I got married, that is based on interviews with 50 happily married couples (rather than a study of misery like most books) and talking about the common themes. Very, very intersting, and again, some rigor behind it.