Book Review: The New Rules For Love, Sex, & Dating


Raise your hand if you've ever made a terriblehorribleno goodvery bad uhhhh - ill-advised dating decision. I see those hands.  You are not alone.

Now, if you had to explain WHY you made such bad decisions or good decisions (if that's you) could you do so in a couple of hundred pages?

Could you put words around how you broke the cycle of being with people who mistreated  you? Are you able to explain how to avoid keeping score in a relationship? And do you know what to say when it's time to talk about sex? Can you handle these conversations articulately and with meaningful language?

If you're single, are you happy with your dating life? Do you feel like your approach to finding love is working? If you're married, do your single friends ask you for advice on how your marriage is going well?

In short, do you know how to articulately explain the best ways to handle love, sex, and dating? Me neither.

Fortunately, Andy Stanley has handled the dirty work for us in his book The New Rules For Love Sex & Dating. (This book is an adaptation of his series of talks on the same subject - click here)

Andy cuts right to the core of today's dating issues.  He admits he isn't dispensing this advice because he's "qualified" but because he's "concerned." And he does not pull any punches.

In fact, this book is marked by some pretty significant asides where Andy acknowledges what the reader must be feeling: anger, guilt, confusion, and ridicule.  Andy doesn't seem to care if his reader feels uncomfortable.  In fact, the tone of the book is taunts you into arguing with his conclusions.

When you think he's being Old Fashioned, he'll say his ideas are Ancient. At first, this sounds flip, but then he brings in some historical context and you realize he's being literal.  When you think his approach to sex hinders sexual life, he makes an argument for what enhances your sexual relationships.

On and on Andy drops bombs in the dialog and then explains why the conversation needs to be turned upside down.  The effect leaves you feeling both exposed (Oh!  That's why my love life was/is jacked up!) and hopeful (love, sex, and dating can be done well!!).

He gives you sticky thoughts and memorable phrases to anchor a new mindset around dating.

If you've read my book reviews before, you know I like to throw out quotes so you can get a sense of what to expect.  I'll do the same today, but you should know these all read better in the context of the book.

The bottom line is about preparing for your relationship:

"Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?"

On why you have to prepare:

"Coaches know that you don't promise to win game; you prepare to win.  It's one thing to sign up for a race; it's another thing to prepare for it.  If you're not prepared, it's a waste of time to promise a good finish time."

On why you need to face your own issues:

"...I've never talked to a married couple that actually has a marriage problem.  What I've discovered is that people with problems get married and their problems collide."

On growing up:

"If you carry childhood notions of love into adulthood, you most certainly won't live happily ever after."

Putting sex in context:

"Our sexual compatibility outstrips our relational compatibility. "My hunch is the root of your previous relational challenges was...relational, not sexual."

On how sex distorts our perspective:

"...(sex) inhibits and distracts from relational development.  Why? Because sex has the capacity to camouflage an endless list of relational deficiencies and dysfunctions. Romance overpowers objectivity..."

I'm barely touching my notes from the book.  His chapter "Love Is" is simply brilliant and applies to any loving relationship. ("Make love a verb.") I read it with my kids in mind and I felt plenty convicted!

His final chapter titled, "If I Were You" is probably the most practical dating advice I've read AND seen in action.  I can't do it justice in this space, so just buy the book already...

However, the part of the book I love, loved, LOVED were Chapters 6 & 7 where he talks specifically to the guys.

Oh my.

I felt like I was eavesdropping on a locker room conversation where the coach is getting his team ready for the big game.  It is intense and calls men to task for the decisions they make about how they treat women, their language, and their porn use.  If you're a woman reading these chapters, you can't help but cheer.

Do yourself and your relationships a favor; read and apply this book.