Monday, December 15, 2008

You Lost Him at Hello

It really wasn't intentional, but obviously somewhere along the line, Stefanie Says must have become a dating blog. I suppose it's good to have a niche, a theme, but still, I can't help but wonder what I'll write about when I finally do start dating someone for any length of time again. (I am going to start dating someone again at some point, right? Maybe? Hmm.)

Anyway, given the number of dating-related phrases I see in my search engine hits, I suppose it should be no surprise that I was contacted a while ago to be part of the virtual book tour for Jess McCann's You Lost Him at Hello. Today is the day the tour stops here, so it's my turn to tell you what I thought of the book.

While I was compiling my thoughts, I decided to swing by the previous stops on the tour to see what other bloggers thought of this book. A lot of them started with a similar sentiment: "When I was asked to review this book, I was hesitant." It seems we're all a little leery of the self help genre, at least where dating is concerned. I'm glad I wasn't alone in my leeriness and skepticism.

I was probably predisposed to dislike this book, but I tried to go into it with an open mind. As with probably most self-help books, I knew not all of it was going to resonate or apply. But it never hurts to put yourself in a place where you're forced to think about what you're doing or not doing, to examine your own behavior and reflexes and try to look at your history in a different light.

The central premise behind You Lost Him at Hello is that the same tactics that work in sales will work in dating as well. From prospecting, to pitching and promoting your product, to ultimately closing the deal, what you do as a single woman trying to land a boyfriend or husband shouldn't be all that different from what you'd do to land a lucrative new account. It's an idea that actually makes some amount of sense. To sell something, you need to be confident and assured. You need to believe in your product (or at least successfully convince people that you do). You need to know when to apply pressure and when to back off. You need to frame your pitch in such a way that the customer doesn't feel "pitched to" at all.

In dating, of course, the product is you, and the most successful daters naturally are the ones who've mastered the art of presenting themselves in a way that keeps prospective boyfriends continually wanting more. The question is how to harness that sort of self-assuredness to use when you need it most.

Throughout You Lost Him at Hello, McCann offers numerous tips culled from her sales experience for finding prospects and keeping them interested. As with many self help books, a lot of it is common sense, but I recognize that for many of us, common sense goes straight out the window when we meet someone we're interested in, so seemingly obvious whacks on the head like, "Don't drink and dial" and "Don't give up the goods too soon" can be helpful and valuable reminders at times. She does offer some useful tips, such as casual icebreakers to use as opening lines so that a guy who's receptive to you can consider it an opener while one who isn't will simply take it as an innocent, innocuous question. And I did mark a few passages I found myself nodding in agreement with solidly. Passages like these:

"What makes a person like you has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you make them feel."
"The constitution of marriage is like a mixing bowl. People make the mistake of thinking that if they can just get the bowl, they will automatically get a cake. They don't realize that what you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. If you have the right ingredients, you will come out with a cake. But if you have the wrong ones, all you will get is a bucket of mess. The bowl itself doesn't matter."

Ultimately, though, I'm not convinced I'm the target audience for this book. In addition to the insightful passages I marked while reading, I also littered the margins of my copy with terribly thoughtful and intelligent comments like, "Duh" and "Who DOES this??" McCann talks a lot about women who get invested in a relationship too soon--who go on one date and decide they've found the love of their life, and immediately thereafter smother him or scare him away. Maybe there really are many women who do this, but I don't know any of them, and I certainly can't think of any recent time I've been one myself. My problem the past few years hasn't been finding a man who wants to keep dating me. Much more often it's finding one who *I* want to spend more time with. I suppose this only confirms what I've said numerous times in certain circles: when it comes to dating, I'm the guy. Perhaps I should read a self-help book on dating aimed at men. Maybe that would be the key for me. Wait. Do they even publish those? If so, where do I get on that tour?


nancypearlwannabe said...

Sadly, I know a couple of girls who fit the bill when it comes to one date and they're picking out the wedding venue. Maybe I should offer this book to them?

lizgwiz said...

You know the people I MOST don't get? The people who say they only read nonfiction, and it turns out that most of the "nonfiction" is "self-help" (and/or "inspirational"). Maybe I'm just beyond help, but I've never read a self-help book that was life-changing. I mostly find them irritating.

Jess said...

I appreciate that this review was honest. It's funny because demographically speaking, you ARE the audience for this book--single, young, actively dating. The reason you AREN'T the audience for this book is because, as you say, you have self-confidence and common sense.

Courtney said...

I totally agree with Jess up there. And really, how can dating even be a topic for a self-help book? People are different and they like different qualities in others. It's not like there's a uniform set of rules to follow and poof -- you've found your dream guy.

Noelle said...

I think you solidified your dating blog status during NaBloPoMo... And yeah, I think there needs to be a book about uncovering gems in a field of coal, because that's the biggest dating problem I have as well.

Stefanie said...

NPW--If only I hadn't already promised my copy to a friend of mine, I'd send it off to you! (Of course, if McCann's publicist is reading this, I should probably encourage you to buy your own copy to give as a gift and a hint instead...) ;-)

Liz--I love cross-blog commenting... when a comment on one blog continues over to another blog. :-) Of course, I love it only when I know what you're talking about. Otherwise I just feel left out.

Jess--One of the other reviewers on the tour mentioned that perhaps this book is most appropriate for 20-something women, and I can actually see that being possibly a valid point. Thank you for calling me young, but maybe if I were younger and less experienced with this dating nonsense, I would have gotten more out of it.

Courtney--True, there's no uniform set of rules (despite books like The Rules implying that there is). I guess I think the point of self-help books (the very few times I've read them) is to encourage you to examine your own behavior and just consider whether you can and should change what you're doing. At least, I hope that's the point. I'm a little worried about anyone who would read and follow every single thing in a book exactly to the letter, just because a book told them to. That said, I don't want to imply there are NO good tips in this book. The basic premise is probably pretty sound; I just didn't have much use for a lot of the specifics.

Noelle--I think you're right. On both counts.

Erikka said...

maybe you should write your own dating advice, male/man-woman centered....hmmm? :)