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Boteach tackles the subject of dating by applying the basic wisdom and teachings of the Ten Commandments to the concept of romance and the sometimes torturous task of searching for one's soul mate. He bases his theories on his belief that the Ten Commandments are representative of God's love for Israel, and therefore the basic principles they teach are equally applicable to the love between a man and a woman. But this is not some biblical hellfire spoken with wrath from on high. Rather, Boteach extrapolates the essence from each commandment and then applies it to the world of dating in a practical manner, often accompanied by the wink of an eye and a jocular elbow in the ribs.
While Boteach does deal with a variety of dating issues in Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments, his lessons have a much broader appeal. The overall thrust of the book is geared toward teaching readers two things: 1) how to be better, happier, and more pleasant people, and 2) how to treat others with respect, kindness, and consideration. As Boteach himself explains, the book "will provide you with the most important ingredient of all for successful dating: a sense of dignity and self-worth." Indeed, the principles Boteach puts forth are as applicable to any personal relationship in life as they are to dating. For instance, the basic concept he draws from the first commandment is that of primacy -- making your date know that she or he comes first. Boteach then provides specific ways to do this, from the sublime (not interrupting your date) to the bizarre (not bringing your mother along on a date). But the underlying element of this principle -- treating others with respect and concern -- is one that can be practiced in many walks of life.
Despite the overall applicability of some of the ideas in Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments, Boteach rarely falls back on generalities. Instead he addresses specific situations and behaviors within the context of dating, driving home the concepts he wants to put forth and then demonstrating how they can be applied. While his approaches may occasionally be based in idealism, they are anchored in practicality. His distillation of each commandment is logical and sensible, and the result is the reinforcement of basic values and Golden Rule living.
Although his message is important and his teachings worthwhile, it's Boteach's style that sets him apart from others of his ilk. He leavens his words with plenty of laughs, frank honesty, and a zippy style that makes him feel like your best friend. His hip tone and biting humor, which sometimes borders on blasphemy, cleverly disguise the fact that the values he's putting forth are fairly conservative. Yes, Boteach is preaching, but his wit and irreverence make it feel more like a fun chat with your best bud over a brew. It's an effective method, for while you may not agree with everything Boteach advocates, it's so much fun listening to him you'll hear him out nonetheless. And if the doctrines he's putting forth don't make you feel better about yourself, his liberal use of anecdotes -- stories about the dating horrors of others as well as himself -- are bound to make you feel better about your own dating failures.
Boteach tackles the difficult and more delicate issues head-on, not hesitating to discuss such things as Viagra, sleazy men, and rubber blowup dolls. His frank discussion of sex, sexual drives, and the occasional vast differences between the sexes makes for a humorous but realistic take on life and ultimately leads to sensible, practical advice. Boteach obviously has a keen understanding of human nature, and he demonstrates his knowledge well. Although he sometimes falls back on sexual stereotypes that could make his advice seem clichéd, his conclusions and suggestions are sound. And despite the occasional oversimplification, self-deprecation, or sexual innuendo, he delivers his message with genuine warmth and sincerity. It's a message worth getting, for both dating and just plain living.