I’d been urged by a wise CatholicMatch woman (a Pinkie) to read Steve Harvey’s “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” when I was seeking advice. Initially I had no intention of reading it, but I was so glad I did! This was one of the most informative relationship books I’d ever read. The advice is so simple, honest and believable that I put my trust in Harvey.
I want to clarify something first: He makes sweeping generalizations. You may not agree with his assessments, arguing that not all men are like what he describes. I feel the same; certainly my boyfriend does not fit Harvey’s archetype. But his insights are valuable.
He starts by saying that men are simple creatures, unlike women. For instance, women talk for the sake of venting; they just want a sympathetic ear. Men, on the other hand, want to find a solution for every problem. If a woman vents to a man, he may misconstrue this as asking for advice. He will offer solutions, which brings more problems. Harvey cites the different communication styles men and women have.
His explanation for this difference in communication: Men and women show love differently. He points to three ways that men show their love: profess, protect and provide. Once a man professes you as his girlfriend, according to Harvey, you know his intentions are long-term and that he is showing you love.
The other ways a man shows love — by protecting and providing — are self-explanatory. But he advises not judging these three ways on women’s terms. If you think protection means coming to your defense in a barroom brawl, you need to see how widely men view protection: holding an umbrella over you or helping you out of a car, for instance. About providing, he makes it very clear: women, let the man pay. Accept his gifts graciously, even if it’s not your taste. He is showing love.
What men crave
What does Harvey say men want in return?
Very simple: support, loyalty and The Cookie. I find his euphemism for sex, The Cookie, inexplicable. I doubt any man would equate sex with baked goods.
Men want sex, of course, but they also want loyalty and support. Here’s where Harvey gave great insight: men want support about the things they value, not about the things women support each other with. He outlines the three most important things to men: who they are, what they do, and how much they make. He points out, too, that men’s identities are largely derived from the other two things. Limiting and possibly out-dated, but still true. The upshot is that men want your support in how they identify themselves.
Regarding sex, keep in mind that he isn’t Catholic and does not oppose premarital sex, but like Patti Stanger, he does feel that women should wait three months before “giving up The Cookie.” He says women who have sex before three months guarantee that a man will not take her seriously. It also tells the man that her loyalty is precarious; if she’ll sleep with anyone right away, how could she be faithful? Loyalty is the third area men consider when selecting the right woman.
Putting it out there
As for selecting the right person, Harvey feels it’s easy to differentiate those who aren’t serious from the ones who are thinking long-term. He advocates having standards. Present them early on but not in a confrontational way. Fortunately, CatholicMatch’s “Seeking” section is the perfect place for this.
Another way women can make their standards known is in asking five crucial questions early on. A woman should ask a man what his short- and long-term goals are. She should find out how he views relationships within the scope of his entire life. She should also ask what this man thinks and feels about her. He suggests listening between the lines and asking further questions. Most women know when someone is telling her what she wants to hear, instead of the truth. That in itself is an indication that she is not taken seriously.
Overall, he says men respect and value a woman who will not compromise on her standards. I found this particularly helpful, because all too often in my past I was willing to compromise just so that I wouldn’t be alone.
Harvey gives another reason why women need to adhere to their standards: Men who are unfaithful do so because they can get away with it. He hardly gives men credit for wanting to be loyal for its own sake, but he does emphasize that the woman sets the tone for monogamy with her standards.
He warns against having too many non-negotiables and setting standards too high, however.
He finds that the most lonely women aren’t alone because they’re unattractive or unappealing. It’s because they refuse to compromise on things that don’t matter. This echoed what Janice Leiberman described as being picky. Picky women end up alone; but choosy women, women with reasonable standards, choose well.
While he goes on to give additional advice, it was standard: don’t wait for him to call, don’t chase him, etc. I found the most astute and helpful advice early on in the book, where he discusses men’s identity formation and their needs in relationship. That part of the book alone was worth the cost. So, if you’ve ever wondered what makes men tick, this is your book.
Cat’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars