Reading books like, How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, can help you navigate the murky waters of relationships by getting an outside perspective that’s not your mom or bestie (No offense mom and bestie! We love you!).
Between Netflix & chilling, ghosting, cuffing season and dealing with the drama from previous relationships, modern dating can be exhausting. So, every little bit helps when it comes to figuring out your love life, especially when you’re coming off a hard breakup.
(By the way, I’m recommending the book below because it’s been a powerful influence in my life and was recommended by some great counsellors. I get a very small commission from Amazon for recommending it to you if you decide to buy it through the links here in the post. What’s most important to you, is that it won’t cost you anything extra)
I decided to share How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk with you in this post because it was recommended to me by my counselor after a breakup, and while it’s not a quick read that you’ll rip through in a day, it’s practical and straightforward, teaches great relationships skills and has exercises that will take you from the early stages of a relationship all the way through to when things start to get more serious.
Best of all, the book’s objective is very clear: to give you a foolproof way to follow to avoid marrying a jerk or jerkette.
Who this book isn’t for?
If you want to be swept off of your feet, with no thought of if it’s real, if it’s going to last or if the person you fall in love with now is going to be anything like that five years from now, then this book probably isn’t for you.
If you’re just looking for a feel-good book to make you feel happy after your break up, it’s not that either.
It is a thoughtful book that will make you pause and want to apply the principles to your relationships. There’s even a workbook you can get as well to help you go through the many exercises that are provided in the book.
Who this book is for
If you’re ready to look at dating in a new way and have you views about love challenged, this book may be for you.
Some of Van Epp’s ideas break against societal norms. For example, in Chapter 5, he challenges the three-date rule with the three-month rule, and it goes against everything you may know about normal dating.
This book is for someone looking to get into a serious relationship that will eventually lead to marriage.
It’s about helping you fall in love, with your eyes wide open, so you can make choices you can live with.
And in some ways, you have to be ready to have your view about love and the best way to find it challenged.
So, to start off, what do we know about the author, John Van Epp?
Who is Author John Van Epp Ph.D.?
Author John Van Epp Ph.D. is like your nerdy uncle who knows lots of stats and facts and tries to entertain you with occasional mentions of 1990s and 2000s movies just to let you know he’s down.
(You can visit his website at www.johnvanepp.com to learn more about him)
In parts of the book, he uses couples from movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and How Harry Met Sally as examples for some of the principles he’s explaining. While reading, you remember the movies and smile, and realize the man knows a thing or two, but you might not want to go to the movies with him because his overanalytical brain might ruin it for you.
What really makes Van Epp the real deal is that he spent nearly 10 years developing the foundation of the book, which is called the PICK program. Scientifically researched by the Ohio State University, the PICK Program has been presented in seven countries throughout the world and in forty-eight states around America. So, you know what he’s dishing out has been tried and tested time and time again.
On top of that, Van Epp has led seminars and workshops worldwide on marriage and relationship development. Now, the PICK program is taught by certified instructors internationally, can be watched as a popular video program and is run throughout the military, where it is well received by military chaplains and soldiers alike and thousands of church singles have gone through the program as well.
In Part I of the book, after learning about Van Epp and getting a handle on his street cred, we find a chapter that really starts to dive deep into what’s at the heart of this book – the R.A.M. or the Relationship Attachment Model.
What is the Relationship Attachment Model?
By now, you’re realising Van Epp loves acronyms.
Think of it like this. Dr John Van Epp developed the PICK program and the R.A.M. is a tool he developed and uses to help apply the principles from the program.
The R.A.M., which stands for the Relationship Attachment Model, is John Van Epp’s original idea that combines research on relationship bonding, attachment, love and intimacy.
Let’s be honest here; the R.A.M. looks a lot like a sound mixing board.
This mixing board looking thing explains why people feel love and attachment in relationships, and it makes so much sense that you’ll say to yourself, why didn’t I think of that. (but you didn’t so suck it up buttercup).
This model is pretty key to engaging with the rest of the book. In fact, I’ve had to turn back to the R.A.M. a few times while reading just to reference it.
This is an area you’ll want to focus on while reading.
SIDE NOTE: Don’t get so caught up in understanding this that it makes you feel stuck. Just remember you can always come back and take a look at it later. The more times you read about it and live it, the more sense it will make.
And here is where Van Epp takes the book to a seemingly strange place for a dating book – the arranged marriage.
Arranged Marriages, Forced Marriages and Romantic Marriages
Back in the day, arranged marriages (and sometimes forced marriages) were about finding benefits for the family.
Arranged marriages matched people from the same status in life or helped people raise their status through exchanging property, land, titles and prestige. Marriages were about family security and benefits and few people cared what the bride or groom thought.
This type of marriage was all about logic – using the head.
According to Van Epp, in the 1900s the concept of marriage began to shift towards unions of romance and choice, and then ideas of falling in love trumped everything. People wanted to feel something, be swept off their feet and throw caution to the wind.
This type of marriage was all about love – follow your heart.
This book is about stopping broken dating patterns by bringing the head and the heart together.
What’s a Jerk?
Have you ever dated a jerk or jerkette? (hand up emoji)
Wait! Wait! Wait! Who’s a jerk??
Just because someone’s done something bad one or two times, does that make them a jerk? We all do some jerk-like stuff at times so does that mean you’re a jerk and I’m a jerk? How do we figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are?
In fact, you might be wondering, what makes someone a jerk (or jerkette)?
Van Epp defines someone as a jerk who isn’t just a jerk once in a while but someone whose character is consistently something you wouldn’t want to spend a lifetime with.
They don’t respect your boundaries; they never go out of their way to see things from your perspective and they don’t have control of their emotions – either going too high or too low.
That’s a jerk.
How is the Book Organized
The book is divided into three parts with thirteen chapters in those parts
- Part I – Your Heart Matters, but So
Does Your Head
- Chapter 1 – Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind
- Chapter 2 – The RAM Plan
- Chapter 3 – Healthy People Make Healthy Choices
- Part II – Use Your Head…
- Chapter 4 – Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?
- Chapter 5 – Find Your Soul Mate
- Chapter 6 – Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
- Chapter 7 – “And My Third Wife Was a …”
- Chapter 8 – You Can’t Marry Jethro Without Getting’ the Clampetts
- Chapter 9 – Find Your Mate’s Soul
- Part III – …While Following Your
- Chapter 10 – Sketching the Date-Mate Profile
- Chapter 11 – If I Scratch Your Back, Will You Scratch Mine?
- Chapter 12 – My Word Is My Bond – Maybe
- Chapter 13 – How to Have Great Sex
While I found Part I takes a little while to get off the ground, later in the book, you’ll see that it naturally sets the foundation for the rest of the book and introduces some key concepts.
As you know from earlier in this review, this is the holy grail of How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk and it’s great at “exposing jerks and protecting you from a blinding love”.
How Readable is the Book?
There’s a funny line in the book where Dr John Van Epp says, “I know what you ae thinking; you want to take this book with you on your first date.” And the book often reads that way.
Even though it deals with a heavy topic, it’s written in a way that will make you feel like you want to take it around with you and read it.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll read it with a ruler and pen and do lots of underlining and writing in the margins.
Given the length of the book, at 312 pages, the book isn’t a quick read that you’ll breeze through in one day. However, there are lots of diagrams, exercises and questions for you to read through and to ask your significant other. So, as you’re taking in the information, you won’t want to breeze through it in one day because it’s like having a few sessions of counseling. You need to heal between each session to really get the benefit from it.
The publisher, McGrawHill Education has done a good job in making sure the content is research-based enough while still being an easy-read that normal people, like you and me would enjoy reading.
Harville Hendrix PhD author of Getting the Love You Want and Keeping the Love You Find describes the book as, “An insightful and creative contribution to managing the complexity of choosing a life partner. I heartily recommend it.”
Best Dating Book for Ladies
I’m probably a little biased because my counsellor recommended this book to me after a hard breakup and I scoured it looking at how I had ended up with a jerk. So my view that this is one of the best relationship books for single women could be a little skewed.
Even still, I believe among the relationship books for singles this is one of the best dating books because it helps you avoid the jerks and understand how to have a healthy relationship. So often, we can be driven by emotion and blinded by physical attraction. This book can help you pace the relationship, truly understand what you want and not compromise in getting it.
So, if you’re tired of attracting losers – you’re not sure why it keeps happening – and you’re ready to settle down with the one, then, you’ll find this book is smart and serious, without taking itself too seriously on giving you principles on how to follow your heart without losing your mind.