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Right (1995), by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider: Make him miss you! It is the wisdom of John Gray's stunningly successful Mars and Venus series: Man is the pursuer. Although perfunctory contempt for such books is taken for granted among America's intelligentsia, guilty fascination with them is equally evident. If the gimmicks range from bizarre to morbid, the contradictions among—and within—these books go from insidious to incapacitating.

Dating books are like traffic accidents: everybody says they're awful, and everybody sneaks a look at them. We suggest you try The Rules for six months before doing anything else. Never let a man know you're interested, says The Rules.

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To keep a man's interest, a woman must rise abruptly after sex and leave the room, the city, or even the country. As Mc Gill explains with a flourish, it's "just like taking a bone away from a dog." Such is the state of contemporary dating research in America.

If The Mating Game is a particularly unfortunate example of the proliferating genre of dating-advice books, it is not very different in substance from its companions. Dilate your pupils, says How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You (1996), by Leil Lowndes: the "copulatory gaze plays a big role in lovemaking." "Massage your neck with one hand," says Date Like a Man (2000), by Myreah Moore and Jodie Gould. which is erotic." Go to the bathroom in a restaurant, says Gray's Mars and Venus on a Date (1997): it gives men the chance to see you.

Its advice to women is that of the New York Times best seller The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. "Read the obituaries," says How to Meet the Rich: For Business, Friendship, or Romance (1999), by Ginie Sayles.

but could just as easily have been handed down by a particularly unfortunate Grandma.

It generally centers around "Sex, withholding of" but also contains dictates like "wear pink," "play games" and "don't reveal your true nature." This category sometimes gets contributions from patronizing men (see: Harvey, Steve) whose "real talk" advice is suspiciously like that of said grandma, without the excuse of being one.

Oh, and "acting like a French woman" is its own subset., refined by Tucker Max, espoused by their armies of acolytes, this brand of advice is generally for men, by men, and is designed to help them get laid.

Useful to women only in that it's a shortcut on whom to avoid. Faux Girl-Power Advice Huff Po singles out Tila Tequila and JWoww in their list of bad dating books, and they're a reason: both fall firmly into the camp that mistakes making out with another chick for a guy's benefit with some kind of vague empowerment.

Tila's advice ("Fuck like a porn star") and JWoww's ("cleavage") are striking in both their unhelpfulness and their conspicuous desire to attract a man who follows Douchebag Advice.

Lyndon Mc Gill wanted to know how people fell in love.

So he decided, he confides in The Mating Game (1992), "to take a field trip to a farm and observe the animals." He was soon witnessing the copulation of a cow and a bull.

"Coupling continued for a few minutes," he reports, "and then, without warning, the cow suddenly pulled away and ran to the opposite side of the corral ...

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