Dating Books

How to Know If He Likes You

Yearning for the simplicity of the "check one box" days


My friend J is funny, smart and sassy, and gets a lot of attention from men. During a recent conversation, I was relating the latest in a string of men whose interest (with a small i) I had mistaken for Interest (the capitalized “Interest” to indicate not just liking someone, but like-liking someone – this is part of the complex language of dating). Then she reminded me of her foolproof way to know if a guy likes her “as more than a friend.”

“You know how to know if a guy likes you? He asks you out.”

This is very simple advice, perhaps brilliantly simple. But I’m not convinced it’s always true. Just like women can be shy around guys they like, couldn’t the same be true for guys? Aren’t there men who need the encouragement in advance, to bolster their confidence that, if they ask, they’re assured a ‘yes’? Or should we assume – a la “He’s Just Not That Into You” – that if he hasn’t asked you out by now, he’s not going to?

I turn this question over to you, the JDA audience, for discussion. Remember: be respectful in the discussion, and generally excellent to one another. Thank you…

JDATE, The Book (Sort of)


The recently published JDATE is written by David Wong, except not really. Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, an editor of The real name of the book? “John Dies @ the End” – abbreviated by the A/V Club (an offshoot of the Onion) as “JDATE.” This abbreviation fooled my Google Alert, and me, into thinking this book was about an online Jewish dating service.Here’s an excerpt from the A/V Club review:

Once upon a time, David was a boring video-store clerk without much of a social life. Then one day, his pal John got involved with that soy sauce that wasn’t really soy sauce, dragging David along for the ride. A number of suspicious deaths later, the two are fighting off monsters from another dimension and trying to come up with ways to explain an ever-increasing number of corpses to the authorities.

I don’t know what “soy sauce that wasn’t really soy sauce” is, but it does sound like Chinese food is involved. Throw in Christmas and a movie and it could be about Jews, I suppose…

If you’ve read this “JDATE,” please send us your reviews, and let us know if you’ve found it more or less compelling, hilarious or tragic than the group of online dating profiles you just read. Why? Because we care.

“The Rules” Redux?


I was really happy when “The Rules” disappeared. The book, which had espoused what seemed to amount to a plan of playing hard to get, was one of those things that grated: Could it be that simple and calculated, that it was all a game? How do you play a game without playing with your or other people’s emotions? How could there be a game if everyone is playing by different rules? Perhaps “The Rules” book was trying to codify those rules. But if only women read it, then all it achieves is feeding the stereotype that women are playing games.

But if it wasn’t a game to begin with, it is now. The dating book industry has made it just that.

In case the boxes of books I gave away or stored when I moved or the dating-related volumes I still receive in the mail (most recent title: “Saying No to Naked Women,” published by A Healthy Relationship Press and according to its PR, a “new anti-pornographic novel that raises critical issues for the Jewish community”) weren’t an indicator, I recently went to a buck-a-book store to make my bookshelves seem less lonely, and found a whole new bunch of titles that I hadn’t seen: Engaging Men, Date Like a Man, and The Idiot’s Guide to Interfaith Relationships. (I haven’t read any of them yet, and the total impact so far is that I am now $3 poorer.)

Here’s what I think. If you want a game plan, you can create one to follow. If you need rules to keep you focused, great. But be aware that not everyone is playing by the same rules, and even if they’re in what seems like the same game, they might be operating with an entirely different scoring system. While it might be difficult at times, or seem insensitive, maybe honesty is still the best policy and all the game-playing should be left to those who are getting paid to do it.

The Kid Who May Put Me Out of Business


There comes a time in every dating columnist’s life when she must acknowledge that her time is past and that a new generation has risen. You just always expect that the new generation wouldn’t be quite so new.

Perhaps, now that I’m going into a third year of working on a book proposal, and a nine-year-old has managed to take time out of his busy schedule to write a book on how to talk to girls, that time is now.

Barely-a-middle-schooler Alec Greven has penned a reference book for how to talk to girls, and includes sage advice like “beware of pretty girls” and to go for regular girls because “pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil.”

He advises, “The best choice for most boys is a regular girl. Remember, some pretty girls are coldhearted when it comes to boys. Don’t let them get to you.”

If the article is to be believed, the writer took the kid to a bar for Shirley Temples. Priceless.

Single Semite of the Month: Evan Marc Katz


If Evan Marc Katz‘s name doesn’t sound familiar to you, it should. I’ve certainly mentioned him before–I met him about three years ago, in the early days of my column, at a UJC Young Leadership conference in Washington, DC, where he spoke to a packed room of frustrated daters about what they’re doing wrong with their dating profiles. I’ll admit it now…at first, I thought his advice (particularly about banning adjectives from my online profile) was a lot of hooey. But as I thought about it, I learned that the author of “I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating” was right–my profile was much better after I took a red pen to it and eliminated some of those murky, non-helpful adjectives. (It didn’t help me get more online dates, but that’s another story.) That’s not the whole secret to fixing online dating profiles, but it’s one of the things Evan covers in the book and also for clients of his company,
Then Evan published his next book, “Why You’re Still Single: Things Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad,” a title which actually made me a little mad, but the book itself was a funny, relatable “he-said, she-said” of a read that made me feel a little better. Other people were going through this stuff too.

Over the years, Evan and I have become friends, and usually I get to see him when I’m in LA, and we talk about dating and relating and all that. He’s funny, and it’s “smart-funny,” not “stupid-funny.” (Plus, although he woulda been a contenduh even with his long curly hair, the new “clean-cut” style really brings out those eyes, that smile…)

Even so, somehow I never thought of Evan as a SSOTM until I read his latest article in’s Happen Magazine, chronicling what it’s like to be the “Last Single Guy Standing“:

Then I hit my mid-thirties. I started to take stock of my methods and was forced to wonder whether I was my own worst enemy. I suddenly felt something beyond longing for connection… I found myself with a real sense of urgency about settling down. A strange, deeply buried ticking clock of sorts. I actually found myself thinking things like, “If I fell in love tomorrow, got engaged in six months, got married in a year and had a child a year later, I’d still be in my late fifties by the time my kid graduated college.” I know. It’s nuts.

No more nuts than any of the rest of us who lived our lives imagining our own marriage timelines. Some of us planned to marry at 23, have a kid at 25, then again at 28 and 31, and be cool, hip moms well into our 50s. (Oh, not me; “a friend.”) But welcome to the world of the serious dater, maybe thinking ahead too much, too early, but needing to be serious in order to get serious. And unfortunately, Evan happens to be a dating coach, so there’s always going to be someone who says, “you’re still single, so what do you know?” (Believe me, singles columnists hear that too.)

So here he is, kids. The first in my resurrected series of “Single Semite of the Month.” And the reluctant poster child for Valentine’s Day. And a hell of a good guy.
(Have nominees for Single Semite of the Month? Send your suggestions to Jdatersanonymous at gmail dot com. And join our Facebook group to discuss suggestions and the decisions of the judges as SSOTMs are chosen…)

A Dating Book I Won’t Be Reviewing in the Jewish Week


Usually when I hear about a book like Eric Schaeffer’s “I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single,” I do an internet search for the publisher or PR agency, send them an email, and ask for a review copy so I can write about it in the Jewish Week. And if the author is cute and Jewish, I might nominate him for Single Semite of the Month. But in this case, I owe a debt of gratitude to a gossip website. Thank you Gawker, for providing excerpts (“I mean we’re men. We’re wired to see a woman, smash her on the head with a bone, drag her unconscious body back to our apartment by the hair, and fuck her”) and saving me the trouble. Somehow, I don’t think the Jewish Week’s quite ready for Schaeffer.
What’s interesting to me is how Schaeffer seems to have become a guilty pleasure of sorts over at the G–they began posting about him, then swore they wouldn’t post about him again, then swore that they’d just do one more post, then one more…if you trace the headers of the Schaeffer posts, you’ll see how reluctant blogging transitioned to full-on taggable addiction. They can’t stop. Partly because it’s their job to snark about guys like Schaeffer. But I think it’s also partly because they love it. Or love to hate it. Or hate that they’re loving it. Whatever. It’s a fine line.



So, last week, Esther writes about dating books, including Kristina Grish’s The Joy of Text.

This week, the NY Times writes about dating books, including Kristina Grish’s The Joy of Text.


Dating Self-Help Books


I’m often sent books about being single, dating, and the relationship between men and women. Most recently, I’m in possession of the new and expanded edition of “He’s Just Not Into You,” and Kristina Grish’s “The Joy of Text,” which is about “mating, dating, and techno-relating.” (Not that any of my readers would know anything about that…)

I’ve added them to a pile of books that I’m in the process of absorbing and processing for an article in PresenTense Magazine.

But what occurred to me is that I’m almost 100 percent sure that I have no male equal. And what I mean by that is, there’s no male singles columnist with a stack of books on his desk, poring over the copies hoping to understand why women do or don’t do something. The covers of such books are pink. Or bright green. Or some other color that screams “I’M READING A DATING BOOK!!” Or maybe has a pair of disembodied legs in stilettos on the cover. No wonder men want no part of that. Or as Greg Behrendt says in one of the new chapters in HJNTIY, “If we wrote a book called ‘She’s Just Not That Into You,’ it would sell eight copies. Men don’t process heartbreak that way….yes it [the concept] applies to men–and as soon as they start reading, we’ll start writing. ”

If you’re a woman (especially if you’re a single woman), which “dating books” have you read and found either helpful or damaging?

And if you’re a single man, have you ever read one of these books, just to find out what women are thinking? Do you have a favorite? Or do you think all these books are just bad news, because they encourage women in our natural propensity–to overthink and overinterpret?

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