In her novel, “What to Do When Jane Knows DICK About Dating,” Laura J. Wellington takes readers back to the basics of romance by dishing out indispensable dating advice that you will wish you knew a decade ago.
Wellington wrote that her inspiration to write the novel came to her after visiting Amsterdam, where she overheard a conversation between two women about a recently failed dating experience.
Wellington listened quietly for a while, “and couldn’t help but chuckle to [herself] as she marveled at how ridiculously complicated and muddled dating had become for these women, and frankly, for all single women.”
Eventually, Wellington started a conversation with the two women that lasted over an hour, and it ended with the women declaring that Wellington needed to write the ultimate guidebook dictating her sleek, streamlined and savvy approach to dating.
Wellington did just that and produced one of the most concise and comprehensive dating guides that I’ve read in a while.
The book focuses on navigating the beginning stages of dating — specifically, the first three months — and discusses the importance of patience, communication and most importantly, self-respect.
“It’s disheartening to see how many [women] trade away their own specialness for snippets of attention for men who barely know they are alive,” writes Wellington, “Watching moments like this unfold is as painful to me as nails on a chalkboard.”
Throughout the novel, she refers to women as “Janes” and the men as “Dicks,” based on a series of 1930s-1970s children’s novels which gave the novel its own personal touch and added a good bit of comedic flair.
She also used metaphors relating to “Dick and Jane” which, at times, were slightly awkward to read, but still lent itself to the novel in a creative way, and helped the reader visualize Wellington’s advice and anecdotes.
Much of the novel seems to connect back to one, core idea, based on a piece of advice Wellington’s father gave her: “If you want to find out if a guy truly wants you, do nothing and watch what he does. Men who want you will make it obvious. Men who don’t will make that obvious too.”
She writes that men are “literal creatures,” and that you will know within the first three months — maybe even sooner — if a guy is worth your time. Wellington also laments that too many “Janes” change themselves for “Dicks,” and that dating can only become easy when a woman realizes her self-worth and the value she brings to a relationship.
Although the bulk of Wellington’s advice is applicable to all women navigating the minefield that is dating men, I did wish there was more discussion about some of the new nuances of dating. Specifically, how traditional dating has been eclipsed by “talking” and “hanging out.”
I also think that many formalities she talks about, such as men picking up the bill most of the time, are less commonplace. Wellington addresses the fact that if you are the person who asks the other to dinner, you should pick up the tab.
However, despite these very, very small qualms, I truly do think that “What to Do When Jane Knows DICK About Dating,” was filled to the brim with fabulous advice that had me tabbing and highlighting almost every page.
The chapters are short and to the point, but never lack in content, metaphors or anecdotes. I never felt my attention wane and finished the entire book in an afternoon.
The message overall is a good one that encourages “Janes” to focus on themselves, and when it comes to the “Dicks,” to just watch, listen and wait. You’ll know if you have a good one.