2014 might be the year you have decided to find a partner. Physically find one, grab them and not let go. So to save you some time I have recently been immersing myself in the world of self-help and dating manuals, (let's say it was for "research") to decipher their key points, their plan of action. If you were considering buying one to help you in your search for Mr or Mrs Right let me help you out by examining some of the most popular.
Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus is probably one of the best known dating manuals there is, putting the, "sorry what?" Into "what are they thinking?" Comparing men to rubber bands and women to waves, from the beginning it's clear this dating guide could use its own guide. If The Rules made relationships into terracotta coloured unanimous spheres, Men are From Mars paints a plethora of rainbows of our relationships.
John Gray Ph.D. explains his realisation that men and women are actually different things (!!!) - in some very unrealistic prose - when he and his wife had a fight. (She called him a 'fair-weather friend' a term only used by those over 70 these days and means for divorce). This led to seven years of research. SEVEN YEARS. Seven years to come up with the concept that people are all different in a really weird analogy.
Before climbing into his little rocket, John Gray places a caveat;
'I make many generalisations about men and women in this book . . . I do not address why men and women are different . . . '
Because God made us so now let's all sing Cumbya and have some organic rice cakes.
'. . . Our children deserve a better world'
Somebody think of the children! Seriously, somebody think of the children Men are From Mars reads like one long sex metaphor while telling a story of Martians and Venetians coming to Earth and forgetting they were different species. One can assume moving to another planet on mass would evoke a kind of communal spirit, with everyone chipping in like during the Blitz, but apparently this is a bad thing. This is why the aliens all started falling out, they got selective amnesia. Since then the sexes or aliens or whatever they/we are have been at war!
Martians a.k.a. men, according to Gray, value;
Power, competency, efficiency and achievement. . . . Their dress is designed to reflect their skills, police officers, soldiers, scientists, cab drivers, chefs all wear uniforms to reflect their power. They don't read magazines. . . They are more concerned with outdoor activities like, hunting, fishing and racing cars.
- HOLD THE FREAKING PHONE. This book was apparently written in the 90s, around the same time as Backlash, no one tell Susan Faludi. If I was you I would stop reading it there, you have the choice, I don't. Believe me, you'll get angry. -
Venusians on the other hand,
May even change outfits several times a day as their mood changes.
Bloody, moody women. No one wants to hang round with Moaning Myrtle love. If we do live in this bizarre anachronistic vomit of a world I'm on the first rocket out thanks.
When Martian men are upset they go into caves according to Chapter 3 - a real cave, a metaphorical cave, I don't know. Women on the other won't bloody shut up whinging. Then the man-Martian has to put on his 'Mr Fix-It Hat', unless he's on an 'away-day'.
Probably the most notable point from the whole book, quoted by Bridget Jones to Margaret Thatcher (maybe), is the rubber band theory. When a maaaan loves a woman, as the song goes, he acts like a rubber band. Stretching away to assert his own independence and to check he actually wants you, before coming springing back like a massive bastard.
Men begin to feel their need for autonomy and independence after they have fulfilled their need for intimacy.
Translation: He will leave you crying in the night once he's got his. And us silly women go and misinterpret it as him being a wrong'un. Silly, silly, silly.
If your boyfriend/husband/whatever sods off then comes back a few weeks later ready for a "special cuddle" you need to act like a JCB and punch him in the face. There's a lot more to this chapter, but I find myself suddenly snapping elastic bands.
If men are rubber bands, women are like waves, presumably we're errosive and cover everything in salty tears. Silly women. Gray reckons we're fine most of the time then every few weeks we get pissed off and upset at being the only one who ever bleaches the sink. Without being too clever I think he's talking about periods. I defend my right to act like an incoherent killer whale once a month, if you don't like it you can wave goodbye. Apparently, if we learnt to deal with our 'wave cycles' we would feel our PMS symptoms go away, all we need to do is some 'Emotional Housecleaning'.
The most worrying aspect of this entire dating manual is John Gray's belief in and assumed in-depth knowledge of aliens. What does he know of their complex cultural differences? And how can their dating rituals compare to those of humans? Do Martians even have rubber bands? If there is life on Mars and Venus they are all reading Idiots are From Earth.