How to Date Men When You Hate Men

How to Date Men When You Hate Men

by Blythe Roberson


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From New Yorker and Onion writer and comedian Blythe Roberson, How to Date Men When You Hate Men is a comedy philosophy book aimed at interrogating what it means to date men within the trappings of modern society. Blythe Roberson’s sharp observational humor is met by her open-hearted willingness to revel in the ugliest warts and shimmering highs of choosing to live our lives amongst other humans. She collects her crushes like ill cared-for pets, skewers her own suspect decisions, and assures readers that any date you can mess up, she can top tenfold. And really, was that date even a date in the first place?

With sections like Real Interviews With Men About Whether Or Not It Was A Date; Good Flirts That Work; Bad Flirts That Do Not Work; and Definitive Proof That Tom Hanks Is The Villain Of You’ve Got Mail, How to Date Men When You Hate Men is a one stop shop for dating advice when you love men but don't like them.

"With biting wit, Roberson explores the dynamics of heterosexual dating in the age of #MeToo"
The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250193421
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 100,982
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Blythe Roberson is a writer and comedian whose work has been published by the New Yorker, The Onion, ClickHole, VICE Magazine, and others, and has been mentioned by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and New York Mag. She works as a researcher at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Blythe is the author of How to Date Men When You Hate Men.

Read an Excerpt




It seems to me that the meaning of life is to treat everyone with kindness and to be as joyful as possible. I mean, it's either that or to buy a ton of yachts.

Certainly the only worthwhile or even bearable way to experience love and romance and [spits on the ground for fifteen minutes] DATING is joyfully. But due to the insane amount of cultural narratives and patriarchal power imbalance and beauty-myth bullshit that surround love, it can be VERY DIFFICULT to operate in this way. It's like trying to kiss your sweet crush while a cement mixer operated by Woody Allen is dumping raccoons on you. If you can manage to exist in the moment, this beautiful thing is happening (kissing), but it's insane to expect anyone could focus on that while society is telling us all these crazy stories about how love happens and giving one partner tons of structural power over the other, all while telling the partner with less power that they NEED to secure the affections of the one with more power. (In my analogy, this is all translates to raccoons methodically tangling your hair with the intelligence they use to open Pringles cans and unzip tents.) And in addition to all that, Woody Allen exists. (Your sweet crush is definitely NOT IN SUPPORT of Woody Allen, but he can't help mentioning how formative Annie Hall was for him.)

But what is life but fifteen to one hundred years of becoming cocooned in societal bullshit, followed by zero to eighty-five years of sloughing off that bullshit through reading, therapy, and sitting on the edge of a lake thinking about your life and choices? And when we've sat at that lake long enough and fully sloughed, we will be as we were when we were pure children, when we had never heard about thigh gaps and we could talk to animals and breathe underwater. So how exactly does that sloughing happen, that ridding ourselves of all the crusty scum that's covering up our ability to find joy?

For a while I thought this joy could be achieved by getting rid of all of my negativity about love. Maybe I'd use transcendental meditation techniques to recognize and dismiss any thoughts about whether it would make sense to put my Emmys next to my husband's Pulitzer before I had even kissed this aspiring novelist yet. (Also, I would be the one winning a Pulitzer — for playwriting — as well as two Nobels, for literature and peace.) Admittedly, I have never studied transcendental meditation, but I've researched enough celebrities who have vaguely described it in interviews that I feel like I get the general idea. I'd use this same technique when I started worrying if I'm too ugly to deserve love or when I acted obsessively. Or maybe I would stop all this not through meditation but just by being too beaten down by current events to think about anything else. I discovered that I don't have time to feel bad about myself when I'm so busy frantically texting friends about John Bolton and GETTING NO RESPONSES.

But just getting rid of negative thoughts isn't the same as being joyful. Being devoid of negativity is more like successfully "being chill," a relationship stage that inspires not spontaneous dancing and smiles but a lot of lying completely still on the couch next to but not looking at your phone. Certainly it is important to slough off all that fucked-up societal shit — it definitely stands in the way of joy — but creating a bullshit deficit does not necessarily mean that joy will rush in. There aren't many models of joyful, nonneurotic romance in pop culture that I can think of, I guess because it wouldn't be interesting enough to sustain a whole book or TV show or movie (maybe there's some indie British movie, but I don't have a streaming service powerful enough to find it). Without stories and examples to draw on, that mind-set isn't going to just magically percolate into our brains. So how do we go about finding the fantastic and lovely and fun side of romance that, theoretically, got us so obsessed with it in the first place?

Candidly — I don't know. I think probably it's down to some very Zen shit like living in each discrete moment as if your heart and brain spread out across the entire Earth and simultaneously were the smallest, densest atom in existence and every quark in that atom were LOVING this exact cup of coffee. Again, from what I've learned from reading all those celebrity interviews, this is probably mindfulness. I know that advice is so trite that it's maddening, like when the Women's Health magazine that showed up to my house every month even though I hadn't subscribed said that menstrual cramps could be solved by exercise. I GUESS that's scientifically true and obvious, but have you considered: I'd rather take an enormous knife and cut out my uterus than put on workout pants? But it seems that, unfortunately, the best way to find joy in romance is to always be alert to, to experience, and to expect joy in every aspect of your life. If you don't have a happy, healthy relationship template to follow, you have to stay present in the moment and essentially make it up for yourself as you go along. Extremely difficult, I know! The whole point of narratives is so we don't have to invent human behavior anew every generation. But remember: the Neanderthals did it, and they were a lot dumber than you!

The other reason that dating feels obligatory to me is that I want to make art about romance. I was raised by a mom who owned, like, four total VHS tapes, three of which were When Harry Met Sally ..., Sense and Sensibility, and You've Got Mail. (The fourth was ... Fly Away Home?) It is not exaggerating to say I have seen those movies a combined total of one hundred times, less than 10 percent of which was making guys watch them with me, as a flirt. Those movies are a part of who I am. They are the kind of art I like and the kind of art I want to make: art about people falling in love, and more specifically, art about Meg Ryan falling in love with men who don't deserve her.

But it's essential to not view romance as this obligatory, chore-like thing you have to "solve" to advance to the next level. Which is hard! There is definitely less societal pressure to get married now, since I no longer need a man to get a credit card and spend all my money on shoes that I saw Harry Styles wear. But there's still a lot of pressure to be partnered — not just to be married but even just to have some sort of partner to gossip to your coworkers about or take as a plus one to all manner of friends', family's, and rich acquaintances' weddings. I personally feel like a socially inept goblin for never having had a boyfriend. I feel like it screams out SHE IS BROKEN AND BAD. Which I know is not true. I am a goblin, sure, but only because I am small, mischievous, and greedy for gold and jewelry. But that pressure can build up until it becomes a frantic need to acquire a partner, any partner, and while some people would say that look is unattractive, I say: Who cares whether it's attractive. It's just not fun!

To feel joyful about love, you have to feel that you've opted into it, not that you've been forced to participate in it through your decision to be born. Alexandra Molotkow has written of Carly Rae Jepsen: "Jepsen is old enough to be cynical, but she isn't; she's not some cloying naif, either, but a person who has opted into romance because it is a joy." Opting into romance! Because it is a joy! I don't want to opt out, so instead I'm trying to opt in with as much weird intensity as I want and to not feel bad about it.


I have many crushes, a collection which I love and nurture. I like to think of all my crushes as a bunch of gemstones I've acquired primarily because they're pretty and then also because they have rumored magical properties. They give me joy in their sheer multitude and they look great when featured on my Instagram.

Patriarchy places way too much (and mostly negative) import on women's crushes. They're frivolous, distracting women from serious matters like, I guess, soil composition? There's a perception that a woman who has a lot of crushes must be some kind of demented perv (as if this were a bad thing). And due to economy of characters or ease of tracking a woman's desires or just the incorrect assumption that women are naturally monogamous, society assumes that if a woman has a crush, OH BOY she is COMING FOR THAT CRUSH and for EVOLUTIONARY REASONS she is trying to get that man's sperm and trick him into raising a child with her for THE REST OF HIS NATURAL LIFE.

Which is all just so wrong. My two main Feelings regarding crushes are (1) fun and (2) who cares. The only accurate representation of this that I have ever seen in any, ANY studio film is in Ghostbusters, when Kristen Wiig correctly perceives that Chris Hemsworth is Very Good Looking. It's silly and a running joke and about the fortieth-most-important thing about her character. Her crush doesn't mean that she's desperate and it doesn't undermine her in any way. And, I think, after five thousand–plus years of men writing about their muses, women are owed a couple hundred years at least to talk openly about Oscar Isaac's thicc legs.

I mean, yes, there are unhealthy ways to crush. There are ways for your crush to fill you with net bad energy, like you're coming down with a fever, and not the net good Pure Crush energy that feels like singing "Teenage Dirtbag" at karaoke and announcing to everyone that you have only ever heard the One Direction version of this song. I had this kind of net bad crush in high school.

I was a teen and everything was already heightened, which people think is because of hormones but for me was also because of my maniacal addiction to Fun Dip. It was the only candy I cared about, and I never experienced a sugar crash because my fourteen-year-old body was too powerful and also probably because I never went long enough without eating Fun Dip for my blood sugar levels to drop. In the way that surfers and Nancy Meyers characters who live on the beach are always finding sand in their shoes, I would find Fun Dip in the pockets of all my clothes. Put on an old jacket I hadn't worn since the previous winter, absolutely no chance I'd find five dollars, but almost 100 percent chance there would be Fun Dip in there. I was hyper for the entirety of the 2000s.

On top of all of that ready-made energy, I was under the impression that it was proper to have only one crush at a time. So after much consideration I got serious and chose to love just one boy who would never love me. For the next four years, for this boy, I pretended I cared about the Manning family of football fame. I read the books he said were his favorite books. I posted Facebook statuses of the most absolutely dramatic as possible Taking Back Sunday lyrics, with no attribution. This boy and I giggled through AP Bio and got separated and seated on opposite sides of the class for talking too much, and then we got in more trouble for creepily staring and smiling at one another from across the room. I spent a lot of time justifying to my friends why he wasn't really a jerk and why he had to keep dating his conventionally hot, popular, Christian girlfriend. I did this for the entirety of high school, and it did not nourish me in any way. It didn't even lead to any good art, because back then I thought I was going to grow up to be president. (This was before we knew that women are not allowed to be president.)

AND THEN, a couple years after college, I drove down three hours from a vacation in Seattle to get a drink with this high school crush in Portland. We started talking about feminism, and it turned out he had never heard of "privilege," and when I explained it he was just NOT having any of it: he, a white man, hadn't gotten everything he'd wanted in life, and he'd lived through some personal tragedy, so how could he have any structural advantages that women and people of color and poor people didn't? And I was like, "UHHHH BUT" and "WELL HELLO" and "RACISM IS A SYSTEM" and ultimately he told me, and I am quoting: "You've changed a lot since high school. You've gotten angry. I don't like the person you've become."

Coming from the person who I had spent 45 percent of the years 2004–2009 thinking about, this was so devastating that it was almost hilarious. I did not know that people told other people they didn't like the person they'd become, outside of superhero movies when the superhero comes too close to using their power for evil. I rushed out of Portland, pulling over as soon as I got out of the city to pee and to text everyone who had ever met both me and my crush but who definitely liked me more.

All of which is to say, you know ... maybe it's healthier to have a lot of crushes who diffuse your crush energy than just one. That laser focus can be caustic, causing you to overly invest in that person and in the narratives about them you've created. But spread out over fifty men yelling "I am crush!" like at the end of Spartacus, it's a fun, flirty, and fine amount of energy and everyone walks away happy. That's how Spartacus ends, right?

I LOVE to think about my many millions of crushes. I love to think of them as a small work group assembled to do my bidding. I love to think about whole countries populated by my crushes: somewhere remote, like the Faroe Islands, my crushes in cable-knit sweaters drinking coffee from ceramic mugs, all on their best behavior and somehow never figuring out that they all know me.

I love when too many of my crushes show up at a party! Oh no! My many crushes! Interacting! It's like later seasons of Game of Thrones when your fan favorites meet up for the first time, but I'm the only fan and I might really kiss all of them, and right now I need all but one of them to go home.

I once had a party with too many crushes and one of my crushes called an Uber Pool to leave and when it pulled up, a man leaned out the window and yelled "Blythe??! Roberson?" Another one of my crushes.

I highly recommend having enough crushes for them to meet in the wild and go off on their own adventures.

"But I don't know millions of crushes," says you, with your eyes closed, walking repeatedly into a wall. Listen: taking the most openhearted and generous view of the universe, everyone is attractive and we're all just dogs doing our best. Everybody has a whole universe inside of them if you can get them talking about the things they like (everyone except ... Jason Segel). If you pay attention, a lot of people are interesting in a "perhaps we should be licking each other's tongues???" sort of way.

It's Not About You

The lovely thing about crushes is that they're not really about the person who is being crushed on at all! Sorry, my crushes: as is true of everything, this is all about Blythe Roberson! (Me, not the teen named Blythe Roberson who follows me on Instagram and is much hotter and much richer than I am.)

Crushes are basically love energy within yourself that you use the idea of another person to access. They're potential love energy, as opposed to the kinetic love energy of a relationship that's actually happening. The platonic ideal of this completely-about-the-crusher crush are crushes you have as a child — what are you going to do with a fifth grader, even if he has a crush on you back? — or crushes on celebrities, who you know you will never meet, and in fact do not want to meet because it would shatter the illusion and ruin everything. (Once I was walking on the sidewalk just as Tom Hiddleston came out a door three feet away from me, and in order to avoid meeting him I instinctively turned and walked straight into traffic.) But potential energy crushes are just as valid when they're an adult woman having a crush on a man in her actual life. This potential energy is accessed through imagining and projecting.

Imagining: Let's say I'm about to fall asleep, or I'm on a train and I'm tired of reading my depressing book about the apocalypse, or I'm seeing a play where it's all out-of-context quotes from Star Trek, which sounded great in theory but in actuality makes me regret being born. I use those (and many other!) moments to think about my current crush and imagine every stage of our relationship, from first kiss to informing our friends that we're dating to me winning an Emmy to him deciding he wants to retire super early (oh no!) to us convincing five quality friends to move to Montana with us to all seven of us falling into a gorge together and dying.

"WHY??! WOULD YOU ... IMAGINE THESE DETAILED THINGS about someone you BARELY KNOW ... YOU ... CREEP?"— you. Well, I think part of it is that sports psychology thing where you visualize yourself doing your tennis serve two hundred times, and then when you do it you REALLY DO perform better. That's a true thing! And I'd add to that: I imagine the full course of relationships with hot men because it is #fun as hell to imagine a love with someone before I get to know that someone and he fucks it all up with his actual-person-existing-everyday-ness. In my mind he is very polite and doesn't have even a tiny amount of subconscious learned hatred of women. He texts back promptly, and our relationship progresses in a steady and linear way. It's very entertaining!


Excerpted from "How to Date Men When You Hate Men"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Blythe Roberson.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 000
1. Crushes 000
It's Not About You
Boy Crazy
One-Track Mind
Interesting Topics to Think and Talk About That Are Not Some Dude You Hung Out with Two and a Half Times but Never Kissed
Blurry-Faced Crushes
Sure, Okay
Man Management
Categories for My Crush-Tracking App

2. Flirting 000
Text Interpretation
Using My Four-Year College English Degree to Close-Read Texts from Men
I Know It When I See It
Men I Thought Were Flirting with Me, and Why
Digital Flirting
Good Flirts That Work
Bad Flirts That Do Not Work
Missed Connections

3. Dating 000
Defining The Date
Ways to Make It Clear It’s a Date
Good Analog Places to Meet Men
Date the Person You Want to Be in the World
Performative Chillness
Ways to Kill Time While You’re Waiting to Answer a Text
Being Chill
The Rules Versus My Rules If I Wrote a Dating How-To Book
Talking To
Schrödinger’s Relationship
This ISN'T a Date!

4. Psychic Wounds 000
Men Weaponizing the Bechdel Test
Scale of One to Ten
A Better Ranking Scale, for Men I Am Into
Acceptable and Nonacceptable PDA Locations
Will They or Won’t They
The Best Rom-Coms of All Time and How They Ruined Me
Being Mean
Hello, Its Mr. Nasty: Definitive Proof That Tom Hanks Is The Villain Of You've Got Mail
Romantic Friendship
Blah Blah Blah "My Girlfriend"
Professionally Insecure Woke Boys
Types of Men Who Are Bad
Types of Men Who Are Great

5. Getting Serious 000
"Defining" the "Relationship"
Living Together
Marriage Is Bad and I Am for Sure Going to End Up Married to the First Person Who Asks Me

6. Breaking Up 000
Love Is Fake
Rejection Is Good
Ways to Break Up with Someone You Aren’t Dating
Breakup Clichés
Lines I Would Prefer Men Use When Rejecting Me
Internet Stalking
What I Am Hoping Comes Up When I Internet Stalk People
Pop Culture Anniversaries
Getting Back Together
Love Amnesia
Oh, Haha, We Used to Kiss
How to Get the Perfect Revenge Body

7. Being Single 000
Full Tree
Prose Before Bros
When You Least Expect It

8. Making Art 000
Making Art About Your Relationships
Subtweets, Arranged by Who They Are About
People Making Art About You
The Pay Is Certain

Conclusion 000
Acknowledgments 000

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