I don’t normally write reviews that aren’t about bad dates or men and I appreciate that this is a little different to what I normally write, however it is relevant. I was recommended a book by a colleague one fateful day and she loved my blog but said I really should read this particular bestseller. Shout out to Ciara Carter for recommending it to me. Big love to you. The book is called ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ and was written by New York Times bestselling author Sherry Argov. Obviously I already loved the title as soon as I heard it. It’s not necessarily that I agree with it as fact but I’ve always been intrigued as to why men don’t like nice girls: I suppose in the exact same way that the old ‘nice guys finish last’ belief rings true also. For the first time in my writing career (yes, that’s exactly what I’m calling it; my writing career) I was about to do some research that didn’t involve me having to go on bad dates or encounter shit men and have my feelings hurt. I was evolving into a somewhat journalist. Alright fine, I might be getting carried away with it all but let me have this.
For the purpose of referencing correctly but also because this is not my University dissertation, I’m not going to sit and write the reference after every quote I use. I will quote a lot from the book and will write the page number after. For the sake of this blog post I will make it clear that I am using the 2009 edition of Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov published by Adams Media, MA USA.
I won’t lie to you because I never do, this book took me a while to read. I’ve always been a quick reader but I kind of struggled with this one. I couldn’t get into it quickly and it didn’t have me gripped and keen to continue reading. I do prefer fiction literature so my personal preference held me back a little on this one. When I started the book I was a little disappointed as I felt like Sherry Argov was basically telling me not to be myself at all or no one will ever love me. She mentioned things girls do that turn men off and I kept thinking to myself “oh my God, I do these things and that’s why I’ll stay single forever”. I felt disheartened for the first three chapters at least. Now that I’ve read the whole book I can honestly say please don’t let it put you off if you feel the same way I did. The more I read on, the more I realised that Argov is not saying don’t be yourself, she’s giving us tools and advice on how to just change up your strategies slightly when it comes to men. Argov describes in the Introduction what she means when using the term Bitch in the title. She’s not describing a literal bitch or nasty woman. She’s using the word to describe a woman who is ‘kind yet strong. She has a strength that is ever so subtle. She doesn’t give up her life, and she won’t chase a man. She won’t let a man think he has a 100 percent “hold” on her. And she’ll stand up for herself when he steps over the line.’ [page xiii] Now, let’s all be honest here and admit that we’ve all been in positions where we’ve maybe let a man have more control in a relationship. We’ve all been there where we’ve given up a date with friends or a fitness class to fit in seeing a guy we like because it fits in with his schedule. What the book is telling us is to not do that! Argov is telling us not to make our lives fit around his because he will never do the same for us. I’ll look at this more later on.
Argov uses this book to address ‘the very issues that men won’t. He won’t say, “Look, don’t be a doormat,” “Don’t always say yes,” “Don’t revolve your whole world around me.” [page xv]. Apparently men won’t tell us these things. We have to read minds and figure it out ourselves so we can then equip ourselves with the manipulation methods to get past the said issues. I knew dating and relationships were a minefield but I had no idea I had to now learn battle tactics. Throughout the entire book, Argov repeatedly reminds us that we have to find ways to subtly manipulate men to do what we want. Being honest is not the way forward apparently which frustrated me when reading because I’ve always tried to pride myself on being honest and open. I’m now being told this doesn’t work on men! They are not attracted to honesty about certain things and won’t listen to you if you are. One example I loved, however, and may actually end up using at some point was in Chapter 4 where Argov is explaining Attraction Principles and being ‘Dumb Like A Fox’. She uses an example of manipulation that is so golden, I even folded down the page!
‘The dumb fox doesn’t give up power, she simply creates the appearance that she does… A woman I know named Michelle told me about a man she’s seeing. On the second date, he asked her if she’d drive to his place… She ignored the request and very sweetly asked, “Would you prefer to get together another night? If tonight is inconvenient, I do understand”. Michelle averted the question completely. She didn’t act upset or tell him what to do.’ [page 91]
The reason I love this so much is because I’ve been in that situation countless times! I’ve been asked over and over to drive over or to drive further. Basically men ask me indirectly to make more effort than them and more times than I care to admit, I’ve done it. I’ve gone out of my way because it suited them. Why?? Because I’m an idiot and I thought it would make them like me more. Argov sets out in this book to prove that it has the opposite effect. If a guy likes you, he’ll make some effort. If we start in the beginning by making more effort than him, it’ll always be like that because it sets a precedent. He will respect us less and will get bored of us more quickly. As frustrating as this truth is to read about, I can’t help but look back over my own dating experiences and the one long term relationship I’ve had and feel….. it’s right! I can almost pin point where men had got bored of me and almost every time it’s because I’ve been stupid enough to make more effort than them.
Further on through Chapter 4, Argov hits us with some more truths we wished we didn’t read. We all want to believe that in the beginning guys are 100% honest with us about their intentions but, given that this blog even exists and so many people enjoy the honesty of it, we all know that they are never completely open with us; especially when it comes to their intentions. Argov writes ‘the nice girl believes everything she’s told because it sounds good, which puts her out there to get hurt. The fox knows that, in the beginning, a man is likely to “flower up” his intentions’ [page 97]. Argov even gives us a handy table which essentially deciphers the actual meaning of certain phrases many men use in the beginning of dating. You’ll see this decrypted Da Vinci code style translation below,
Argov continues by insisting that we must not let a man know that we see through his initial shimmer of a white knight. We have to pretend we believe him when he uses phrases from the table above because if he thinks we are fooled, he is more likely to let his true colours show even quicker than usual. Argov thinks of everything because she even gives examples of how a guy will gaslight you if you call him out on his shit too quickly. You might see through his dress up, nice guy act but you should never let him know that straight away. She rightly says ‘when you tell someone who may be manipulating you what you observe, he will immediately try to talk you out of it. He’ll say “you’re insecure” or “you’re prejudging me”. Are you prejudging him? You had better be. The only mistake is letting him know it.’ [page 98]
Reading further into the book I got more upset because Argov echoed so much that I had done in my past, without even realising I was doing it, or that it was the wrong way to go about things. Chapter 5 is titled ‘Jumping Through Hoops Like a Circus Poodle’ and is all about how women give themselves away to please a man. It delves into the mindset of women who choose to adjust their lives for a man hoping that he might do the same for her. We all want to believe that if someone cares about us enough they will make space in their lives for us. Newsflash… THEY WON’T. No man will change his life to fit you in. Not only that but no man will ever really understand just how much you’ve given up to be with him. He will never understand it because he will never make the same sacrifices for you. This is the rule. There will be people reading this who have good examples of exceptions but for everyone else we should remember the one main thing we learnt from watching the 2009 movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ (directed by Ken Kwapis and based on the 2004 book of the same name written by Greg Behnrendt and Liz Tuccillo). We learnt that we are not the exception. We are the rule and as the rule, men will not make the same sacrifices for us as we do for them. Reading this made me feel angry. I was annoyed that I agreed so much. I could feel myself wanting to start a riot inside about how women always adjust their lives so much to fit him in or make him happy. It’s so true! But then I took a moment. Why do women give up so much of themselves to keep a man around? He doesn’t really explicitly ask us to. He doesn’t make the same effort or sacrifices so why do we do it? We do it because we think it makes him like us more. Argov is telling us the complete opposite. What he actually wants is a bitch who stands up for herself and is confident enough to put her own life first. She doesn’t sacrifice anything in her life to fit a man into it. She acts like a man. A man will never cancel football with the boys for you. When you do the same and don’t cancel your yoga classes for him it’ll make him scratch his head and wonder why you would rather go to your class than see him. It will keep him interested. ‘When you will not drop everything to be with him… this will remind him of your worth, and invariably, he will begin to come your way’ [page 199]. So don’t sacrifice your life to prioritise him because he will not do the same for you. If he does, then keep him forever because he’s a unicorn!!
Let’s move swiftly into Chapter 6 titled ‘Nagging No More’. Argov uses this chapter to give examples and tips on how to avoid nagging because nagging at a man will get you nowhere. Nagging leads a man to have feelings of obligation and there’s nothing sexy or desirable about obligation in the early stages of a relationship. One of my favourite examples that Argov writes about is about a woman called Diana ‘who started nagging her husband to fix a latch in the laundry room. After the third time she asked, he became so irritated that no force on Earth could get him to fix that latch. One evening some friends came over… Diana asked her friend’s husband to fix the latch… in that sweet damsel in distress tone of voice… Before she could even turn around, her husband ran up the stairs… and fixed the latch in two minutes flat.’ [page 141]. When it comes to men, being nagged at constantly will cause them to push away. Then we get into a vicious cycle of worrying that they’re pushing away so we try our hardest to encourage them to come back to us. Unfortunately, as past experiences will tell me, that doesn’t always work to the desired effect. I will always be an advocate for honesty but I’ve come to realise that when it comes to men, sometimes you have to keep a little bit back. Don’t always tell him how you’re feeling, especially if it comes to telling him you hate that he doesn’t make time for you. This is where Argov gives you more good tips in the art of manipulation. She writes ‘if he has excuses for why he isn’t spending time with you, you need to make excuses for why you can’t spend time with him. Is it a game? No. If he’s too busy and you’ve already tried telling him how you feel, it’s time to show him with your actions that he will no longer be dictating the terms’ [page 137]. Men don’t like it when we play them at their own game. If they act a certain way and you don’t like it, do it back and give them a taste of their own medicine. Rather than nagging to him about how he’s making you feel bad with his actions, treat him exactly the same way and see how he likes it.
Recently I was texting a guy who clearly wasn’t bothered about whether we spoke or met up or not. He would only message or ask to meet up on his terms. I always had to drive to make the effort if we agreed to see each other and that was always his idea. He’d never offer to drive to me or say something like “let’s both get the train so we can have a drink together”. I always had to make the effort to travel to him or we wouldn’t see each other. Having read this book, I decided to try it out and stopped messaging him at all. Sure enough he started to initiate conversations again. If I engaged too much in messaging, he’d get distant again so I’d stop messaging. Yet again, like a predictable routine, he’d start messaging me again. I started to treat him how he treated me with messaging and he obviously didn’t like it because it caused him to send me a message. I hate playing games but evidently, men love playing them and will continue to play them. One of the games I absolutely hate, that I’ve always known men play even though they insist they don’t, is making us women feel insecure! As you know, I’m a woman who sometimes needs a little reassurance so being with a guy who wants to make me feel insecure is so damaging to my self esteem and many other women. It’s not on and they’d be furious if we did the same thing to them. Argov uses real interviews with men in Chapter 7 ‘The Other Team’s Secret Playbook’ and one guy reveals to her ‘“Sure, men play cool… I know some guys that check out a woman who isn’t even that beautiful, just to make his girlfriend a little insecure”’ [page 158]. REALLY GUYS?? This came from a man admitting that guys actually do things like that. Just putting it out there and saying that making us feel insecure about ourselves is technically emotional abuse. By doing this to us, you’re edging yourself into the category of an abuser in a relationship. This now applies to anyone in any relationship when I say, if you’ve ever done this to someone, you should be ashamed of yourself and you don’t deserve them. Emotionally abusing someone you’re supposed to love to make yourself feel better is disgusting behaviour.
Moving on. Chapter 10 ‘Gaining Control of Your Emotions’ has a section on men playing it hot and cold. I can hear the groans coming from you all because let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been seeing a guy who turns around and gives excuses about not getting into a relationship. The one who only wants to see you when it suits him and when he’s craving attention. The hot and cold man is a fuck boy. Please see my previous post about fuckboys for more information. Argov nails it when she says ‘He’s not “hot and cold” because he’s indecisive. He’s “hot and cold” because he is manipulating you.’ [page 224] This is the guy who only contacts you when it suits him. You might think “yes, he’s interested because he’s texting me back” and you give him the attention that he wants but really, he’s just manipulating you to get what he wants while he’s finding someone else to fill the gaps. A hot and cold relationship is a red flag and an immediate sign that you are wasting your time. Run.
Continuing on in Chapter 10, I actually found myself feeling a little upset at one section. I’d been beating myself up about all the things I’ve done wrong in my previous encounters with men. I was reading a book that was literally pointing its finger at me and telling me that I’m doing it wrong so no wonder I’m still single. Now, I will hold my hands up and admit that I have made stupid mistakes where I used sex as a way to try and find love. It wasn’t many times: I ain’t no hussy. But I have previously believed that if I slept with someone, it might make them like me. I blame daddy issues 100% and my need to look for love wherever I can find it. Going back to getting upset involves a long passage being quoted from Argov; one that I will etch into my memory forever to make sure I listen to it and I hope you will too,
‘Sex is not something you do to reward someone or to score a relationship. Sex is something you do with a man who already cares about you… This is often when the nice girl instinct kicks into overdrive. Here’s the succession of logic: “He was wonderful in the beginning… I must have screwed things up… I need to do more, work harder, jump higher…. and pick up a two-by-four and beat myself up with it by wearing myself out and telling myself I’m not worthy.” Life is hard enough; you don’t need anyone around darkening your doorstep to make it worse.’ [page 228]
She’s right. I always blame myself when things go wrong (I mean, except when a guy brings his mum on a date or punches me in the face). I always immediately think that I’ve done something to push him away or make him not like me. In reality, I need to have more self worth and act like a bitch does! The nice girl bit that we need to avoid is all about having more self worth. Argov quotes my favourite thing Eleanor Roosevelt said which is ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ [page 240]. Let’s stop giving men consent to make us feel like crap. Let’s stop giving them consent to keep us at arms length because we deserve better.
All in all, I hated this book when I first started it. I hated reading that it was my fault that everything had gone wrong. I hated feeling like I was being told I should never be myself because nobody will love me if I am myself. The book was telling me what I already felt, that I was doing it wrong which meant I was never good enough. Then as I read on and on I came to the realisation that Argov isn’t saying don’t be yourself or that you’re not good enough. She is telling us all that we should never let a man write the terms of a relationship. She is giving us tips to manipulate men to do things without us nagging so we don’t feel like we’re not listened to. If you don’t read the whole book and only read a bit, read Chapters 10 and 11 because they are the most empowering of the entire book. They give us the much needed kick up the arse to be a bitch, not to make a man happy in a relationship, but to make us happy in life and to show ourselves the respect we deserve. We are allowed to stand up for ourselves and if a man doesn’t like it and it pushes him away, was he really the man you wanted to begin with?