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Are Self-Help Dating Books Really Helpful?

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After perusing the dating-books section, I want to throw most of them across the room.

Woman reading book

Blythe Newsome: At 39, I'm back in the dating world. When I was of a younger dating age, my girlfriends and I would go to clubs and socials with great expectations that we would each meet our partner for life -- the Prince Charming we read about in the story books; our very own Richard Gere who would come to our work and sweep us off our feet like he did Debra Winger at the end of "An Officer and a Gentleman." We didn't focus on the reality that 50 percent of us would go through a divorce. Now I am one of those statistics. So here I am back in the dating world.

The dating scene has changed tremendously in 15 years, and I have gotten older and a bit rusty at it. I actually had one guy ask me out and then, when I accepted, send me a text that said, "With the gf tonight let's talk tomorrow." I may be learning the text lingo, but doesn't "gf" mean "girlfriend"? Where do I begin to learn the art of dating in the 21st century? So far, I've had a few good experiences and a few not-so-good ones. I decided it was time to get back to the basics and check out the self-help section at the bookstore. After glancing at a few titles, I've decided that maybe being single isn't so bad.

"Dating Up: Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man"
According to this book, there are quality men out there -- and since someone is going to marry them, why shouldn't it be you? How about "because my 'quality man' locator seems to be broken"? On my most recent date, the guy asked me, "Do you really have six kids? Because I have a rule that I can't date a woman with more than three." I have a radio show about my life with six kids, I've been on a reality show about my life with six kids, I write about my six kids. It's not like I'm trying to hide them! I am so exhausted just flipping through the pages of this book. It recommends that I do a very pricey "mud mask" in an effort to glow, so I can attract that quality man. I feel like every day I wear a mask of yogurt, pudding, dirt and marker-smudges on my face -- and in my hair, and on my clothes. I have yet to see quality men swarm around me!

"Better Single Than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling"
I grabbed this book with great anticipation, thinking that maybe this was what I needed: to focus on loving myself and to find contentment with just being with me. Then I saw that it had been written by none other than Jen Schefft, the former "Bachelor" winner who became the 2004 "Bachelorette." Quick refresher: She got dumped both times! That makes me feel real good: Here is a woman who, after going on national TV to find true love -- not once, but twice -- has given up, and now just writes about loving herself and being okay with being alone.

And finally I find the winner -- the perfect book for advice on finding true love again:

Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair

Now this is my kind of book. I don't drink much and I don't have (or really even like) cats, but I have the divorced part covered. This book really doesn't offer dating advice, but it did help me to remember what a comical journey it has been going from marriage to divorce and back into the dating world.

After three hours of searching for the perfect self-help book about dating, I think I'll just sit by myself on the couch and read awhile. Forget self-help: I'm going to read a trashy romance  novel that says you're never too old to believe in Prince Charming and the happily-ever-after.

next: My Tween Likes a Boy with Green Hair
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lynn February 17, 2010, 6:55 AM

My personal favorite was “He’s Just Not That In To You”. The book was far more hilarious than the movie. I have been divorced for 10 years (I have two children) and I am fairly sure that I have encountered a situation to match every single guy mentioned in that book.

For me, the hard part was being comfortable with being single. Once I accepted that it was OK to actually enjoy being either IN or OUT of a relationship, I felt that I was in control of who I dated and when. I could stop accepting dates from guys who weren’t worth my time.

And now I spend my time more productively with my children or even discovering things about myself… like I can go to a movie alone and enjoy it because no one is talking (or snoring) through it :)

Farrah J Phoenix February 17, 2010, 12:02 PM

If you enjoyed Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair (which..yikes…I need to take a look at)…you’ll likely love STILL HOT: The Uncensored Guide to Divorce, Dating, Sex, Spite, and Happily Ever After By Sue Mittenthal & Linda Reing.

I read this book after my separation (and subsequent divorce)…but only after books like “Just Friends” and some of the other garbage out there. STILL HOT made me laugh so hard!! It was great!

The authors describe it as A hilarious and saucy survival guide for women who are going through separation, divorce, and dating.

Lynn is right too. “He’s Just Not That In To You” was a great read while I was dating. It actually made me stop dating…well..stop looking anyway. Now I’m with a great guy enjoying what we’ve got :)

Anyway, thanks for the post! I enjoyed it a lot.

All the best,


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