Sam Pease is a lady with attitude. Against a dusky pink background she smiles confidently from the cover of her latest handbook for all women: Date Like A Dude. Dressed in white blazer cheekily concealing sexy lingerie and a bold black bowtie she might be a tad scary to some – but all this woman is concerned with is telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unadulterated facts of interacting with the men (and women) in your life.
This relationship guide is different. So be prepared, there isn’t anything sweet or sugary about these morsels of advice. In many ways this particular handbook is quite refreshing from the slew of other relationship advice tomes on the market.
One of the main benefits is that it’s New Zealand centric. This is excellent because we don’t really need more Americana and Australian advice columns (unless of course we’re heading across the ditch and beyond) but what we’re interested in is what the lay of the land right here in Aotearoa. How many kiwis really use online dating – is it working? Has Tinder really set the dating scene on fire? Or are you just going to end up getting burnt? But bad puns aside the other advantage is that Pease sets some Kiwi facts straight and she begins by vanquishing the man drought myth.
Guess what? It doesn’t exist. Poof! Begin by erasing that statement from your vocabulary ladies, there are good men everywhere, and in all honesty, the thinking isn’t that revolutionary, it’s often just easier to believe that good men are non-existent and blame the stats. But it also just happens to be a FACT. This is reassuring when your left brain kicks in with its inevitable cynicism.
The book argues that it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a relationship, just out of one, or looking for love again – Lady Pease has you covered. And don’t just take my word for it – I had more than a few women I know thumbing through this little paper bundle, scribbling notes and stacking up post-its with a series of quotable reminders to the self.
I don’t normally lend out my books. Even my reviewer copies. I’m one of those gals who hates the idea of the spine of a book getting wrinkles, woe betide anyone who forgets to use a bookmark and highlights and underlining are out of the question – but I had to make an allowance for this one. This was for the community. Women of all ages (and a couple of men too I noticed trying to get a sneaky peek) couldn’t put it down, even those who were sceptical ended up talking about the key issues that face Kiwi women who date in our mythologically small pond.
Let’s be honest, it’s not about ‘dating like a dude’ as though a gender revolution is the solution but more about understanding the power and privileges that are associated and exercised (not always, but often) by men in relationships with women. If anything, the title is the one line that does put me off slightly. But it definitely catches your attention and is a great conversation starter in the lunchroom. For example, there is often a stigma (perceived or real) that solo mums are at a disadvantage when it comes to the dating scene – a quick reality check from the boss lady ask you to remind yourself when was the last time you ever heard a solo dad using his single status as a reason not to continue to be actively looking for a relationship? Also some men might feel it’s okay to say to their recently separated female colleagues ‘ya lonely’ (this has been told to me by a verifiable source) and expect a solo mother to jump at any chance to ‘find a father’ but the reality is there is no expectation that that conversation would ever float with a separated/solo dad. So why do we allow that reality to exist for women?
There are a few nuggets of truth that I particularly resonated with – because it wasn’t always just about the boys. It was also around the girls and the other factors that blend into one’s personal life. For example drama just doesn’t appear out of thin air Pease argues, ‘you either invite it, create it or hang out with it’. Similarly, when tempted to exercise the Spanish inquisition (maybe something for the mums with daughters) she gently reminds her readers, ‘he’s not a piece of meat on the barbeque. Don’t grill him.’ One of my favourites, perhaps for its shopping analogy, is how to pick the right guy: ‘Hooking up is like car shopping. Look for low-maintenance cars with high performance spec. Pick one, get behind the wheel and drive it. Like you stole it.’
Needless to say after a couple of days of trying to read the book it eventually returned to me looking like a copy of some teenage episode from Sweet Valley High. But everyone who had read, debated or meticulously recorded what they needed were satisfied with what they got out of it. Between the pages and thankfully you don’t have to read between the lines are some very useful tit-bits of advice, easily digestible and almost in a take-away fashion, you don’t necessarily need to chew slowly this is already deconstructed for you.
The chapters are short, often no more than a few pages long, plenty of lists and some solid advice in simple sentences. Obviously it’s not exhaustive and there are lots of other guides and texts that give excellent advice but sometimes, we don’t choose the books – the book chooses us and for whatever reason, at this point in my life, I’m glad this one chose me.
Happy summer reading (and dating)!