Death By Dating Advice

By Pickup Culture

This is an article I wrote last year.  It’s a good teaser of what this blog, and my forthcoming book, is about.


Sexy and Savvy dating blogger?

A few weeks ago Perth Now ran a story about Bachelorette Sami Craven, an administration manager from Perth, who chronicled her (mostly disappointing) experiences dating men on her blog Craven in the City. Rather than discussing the failures of modern dating rituals, the article echoes Craven’s view that there is a ‘shortage of decent single men in the city’.

Part of the problem is that – and this is an issue so seldom discussed in the mainstream – women can be much less systematic in their thinking than men, and are simply unaware as to how similar they are to other women. Studies show that this maybe a biological tendency, but this way of thinking is made worse when we consider just how poor dating advice for women really is these days.

Of all the books, programs, magazine articles and blogs (including Craven’s), many so-called ‘relationship experts’ suggests that girls have all the power in relationships, even if they expect the guys to do all the work. This is just part of a broader media double standard that says it’s quite OK for us to complain about men, but heaven forbid we ever criticize a woman!

Men: Take it or leave it

A lot of what counts as dating advice is actually just a means of boosting women’s self-esteem, with little research into the actual dating process itself. There are countless scientific studies, rich pools of data from online dating websites and social science studies, but these websites, books and forums use none of it. And what woman wouldn’t a woman love a more touchy-feely approach, after watching an ego-boosting episode of Glee or Ellen, then submitting a post to Craven’s forum about their lousy boyfriend? It’s in this world of ‘female empowerment’, where the ‘Sex in the City’ attitude to dating reigns supreme.   This is where glamour-driven, socially conscientious women take centre stage and superficiality is queen.

The lady blogger herself

Craven is not the first author to exploit the success of the Sex and the City franchise, particularly when it comes to complaining about men. The hugely successful He’s Just Not That Into You, which is the inspiration for the Hollywood movie of the same name, is actually authored by the writers of the successful TV show – as if that’s any qualification for being a relationship expert! The whole book is premised on one single idea – if the guy doesn’t call, text or email when you expect him to (being the special, sexy and deserving woman that you are), then he’s just not that into you. There is no discussion of what men might actually find attractive in a woman, because …well… why bother to ask them?

Like most dating advice books, the authors are very inflexible and even hostile towards men in their advice. ‘I’m about to make a wild, extreme, and severe relationship rule’, says co-author Greg Behrendt, ‘the word “busy” is a load of crap and is most often used by assholes’. Clearly guys who are working, and even working on something you yourself may admire, are not worth your time. It’s little wonder that there are so many single women out there blogging about their dating woes, waiting for Mr Right-but-not-so-busy to lavish lots of attention on me.


This sense of entitlement flows thick and fast in other dating books, often explicitly encouraging women to manipulate their way to love and marriage. By far the most popular is The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. Whether girls know it or not, most of their poor ideas about dating come from this book, so popular it was with Oprah back in the day.

The bible of male manipulation, The Rules suggests many elaborate and ridiculous ways to manufacture a sense of feminine mystique when dating. Keeping up this façade might work well in the short term, but imagine the strain of maintaining it with a real man, say when you actually marry him. They even suggest keeping a timer beside the phone, so that you don’t exceed your quota of 5 minutes when he calls. Just in case you thought relationships could ever give you any insight into your own spiritual well-being, this book also includes a lengthy section advising girls not to discuss The Rules with their therapists. I wonder why!

Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider’s The Rules, quite possibly the worst dating book ever written

As with most other popular dating books, including Internet Dating: Men to Avoid, Men to Enjoy, the central takeaway for women is this: let the man pursue the woman; men are ‘the hunters’. None of these books define what they mean by ‘pursue’, but in the case of online dating it’s often taken to mean waiting for the man to set the date. Women who heed this advice from Internet Dating will have to wait a long time for that moment, given that the first 5 chapters are all about internet etiquette and screening for the right guy, all before any actual phone numbers have been exchanged. Fussiness reigns supreme, and it’s exactly these kinds of questions that bloggers like Craven love so much.

If all this seems like hard work to just meet a woman in real life, you’d be right. I recently chatted with a woman who claimed to be in Brisbane, but it turned out she had actually been working as a sales consultant for Hewlett Packard in Taipei for the past 3 months. I wouldn’t have minded meeting her, but it would have taken a while for her to arrive at the Coffee Club in West End, not the milk tea shop in downtown Da’an.

Of course, this is misleading (and against the terms of agreement) but the online dating world is big business and relies heavily upon men willing tolerate this kind of dishonesty. And it often makes us look weak when we do complain. I requested a refund, but this was the response: ‘RSVP cannot guarantee a positive outcome for every contact or that communication will be taken off the site, this is simply the nature of online dating’. RSVP has its own regular blog and, like Craven’s, it’s mostly full of women complaining about what they want in a guy, and how they can’t get it.

Complaining, nagging or shit tests

Craven’s blog shows us how much women love to complain about men. Men complain about women too, but rarely are our opinions featured in mainstream newspapers or in television lifestyle segments. And that completely makes sense, as its women who are consuming all of this relationship advice media.

But what is the point of all this complaining, and what do women want anyway?

The much maligned male seduction community have pondered these questions for a few decades now, and their success with the ladies demonstrates that taking a woman’s complaints at face value can cost a man dearly. They see women complaining about them for what it is – a test. Dating advice expert Olyvia Apple explores this much neglected aspect of feminine psychology in her book Survival of the Shittest. She suggests that women often test potential and actual partners as a way of confirming a man’s dominance. That is, passing their shit test is an important way into a woman’s heart (or, more likely, her panties when she’s really upset).

A book capitalizing on the fine body of research in the manosphere

Scientific studies conclusively show that women are attracted to men who embody markers of status or power; so shit tests are an efficient way to quickly gauge a man’s sense of confidence, or self-worth. Acting irrationally or just dismissively – by insulting a guy’s physical prowess or even asking him to hold her handbag whilst she goes to the toilet – are more everyday examples of the shit test. More elaborate shit tests involve writing blogs, for example, and telling men how shit they are.

Unpredictability, experimentation and true love… maybe

As Craven in the City’s entry Call Me Maybe? clearly demonstrates, women can never decide whether they like the guy who texts too much or never enough. When is the right time to call? When should we move from email to text? So many questions and, from a man’s perspective, they’re all completely pointless. Dating books and television dating gurus extol the importance of rules, but who’s rules are they?

The truth is that these rules don’t actually exist. Why? They are all the fabrication of womankind’s own very creative making; to give women something to talk about when last season of The Bachelor comes to an end, so that we – as men – can break them. Mediated personal communication adds another layer of complexity to the dating process, yet the fundamentals of attraction never change. Women will always complain about men, and the complaints in Sunday newspapers are just another hurdle for us to surmount – if we really want to, that is.

When these tests come, either in the form of dating advice from a woman or day time television hosts, take them with a large mountain-sized grain of salt. This advice may make women feel good in the short term, but they won’t help you find a woman interested in finding out what you – as the man – really wants. And why would they in this male-bashing media culture, as women have never really bothered to ask themselves this fundamental question for themselves.

Post script

After sending RSVP a copy of this article, I did receive a refund.

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