This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Want to get inside the minds of men and know how they think about relationships? How do men and women differ when it comes to thinking about love and intimacy?
In his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey aims to help women navigate relationships better by providing them insight into how men think. He covers everything from love, to sex, to meeting the family, to dealing with the ex.
Continue reading for the best Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man tips from Steve Harvey.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man Tips and Insights
Men and women have different views on life and love, and those differences can cause trouble in the dating world. Comedian Steve Harvey learned about these differences firsthand after women kept calling into this radio show asking for relationship advice. He decided to help women learn the ins and outs of the male mind and the games men play with women. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man is the compilation of research and interviews conducted with both men and women to help give women strategies needed to find the man they want and keep him.
Here are the best Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man tips for navigating relationships, both new and old.
What Men Think About Life and Love
Men are simple creatures and are motivated by three things in life: who they are, what they do, and how much they make. Everything men do is aimed at discovering these three things in their life, and until they have them figured out, they have no bandwidth for serious relationships. If you’re with a man who is still figuring out his life, no matter how he feels about you, he won’t be ready to settle down.
How Men Show Love
If you’re with a man who has his three priorities straight, he will be ready to get the rest of his life in order. But how do you know if he’s interested in making you part of his future? There are three ways a man shows his love, or the Three Ps of Love: professing, providing, and protecting. If your man does these three things for you, you can be sure he is factoring you into his future.
A man professes his love when he makes it clear to the people in his life that you’re someone special. If you meet his friends, family, or coworkers and are introduced as his lady, woman, girlfriend, boo, or any other term of endearment, he’s professing his love for you. He wants the world to know you are his and that he’s proud to spread the word. But if he introduces you as his friend or by name only, he’s not staking his claim to you. Chances are, he’s not truly invested in your relationship.
A man feels most like a man when he’s providing for the ones he loves. Providing is part of a man’s DNA. He has no choice but to take care of a woman he truly cares about. He may provide for you with money, emotional support, or solutions to your problems, but if you can tell he’s giving what he has to give to take care of you and make your life better, you know he really loves you. If your man doesn’t try to provide for you in some way, he’s not the right man for you.
A man also can’t help but protect the people he loves. He’s been raised to believe his role is one of protector, so it’s ingrained in his behavior. If your man truly loves you, he will walk your dog late at night so you don’t have to, place himself between you and danger, or make sure the people in your life know they’ll have to come through him to get to you. But if he doesn’t step in to protect you from possible harm, he isn’t in love with you, and you should move on.
Your man may not go shopping with you, feed you soup when you’re sick, or talk with you for hours about his feelings. But if he professes, provides, and protects, you know he loves you the best way he knows how.
How Men Feel Love From You
You likely want the man you love to shower you with affection, gifts, romantic gestures, and attention. But a man doesn’t need any of those things to feel loved. There are three things a man needs to feel loved in a relationship: support, loyalty, and sex.
A man needs you to support him at home and make him feel special. Every day he is out in the world competing to be the best and succeed in life. He wants to know that you support his life and what he does to be a good man for you. He might not be king anywhere else, but when he comes home, he wants to feel like a king there. You can help your man feel supported by showing your appreciation for what he does to provide for you and your family.
A man also needs to know that the woman he’s committed to will have his back no matter what. If he loses his job, argues with one of your friends, or gets sick, he needs to know you will still be there for him. Your loyalty is more important than anything else. If he can trust you to be faithful and stay with him through thick and thin, he will feel loved and show more love to you.
Finally, a man needs to be intimate with the woman he loves. You may appreciate emotional intimacy more than sex, but physical intimacy is important for a man. Your man wants to feel connected to you, and sex is the easiest way he knows how to connect. He also needs to feel desired to feel like a strong man. You may not always be in the mood, but you must realize that a man needs sex and won’t be content for very long if he doesn’t get it.
How Men Behave
One thing you can be sure of is that when a man approaches you, he wants something from you. He’s not wondering what you do for a living, how much you make, whether you have a good family, or how much he likes your dress. He’s seen something he likes from across the room, and he’s trying to figure out how to get it. Nine times out of 10, what he wants is sex.
When a man approaches looking for sex, you have the power to determine whether or not he’ll get it. He’ll be looking for signs or clues into how much it’s going to cost him to sleep with you. Will you want a relationship, phone calls every day, date nights, or real talk? He’s more open at this moment than any other time to hearing what he has to do to be with you, so use the time wisely. Set your price high so you both know what you expect from him if he is going to get what he wants from you.
The worst thing you can do is not set any price and expect more than you’ve demanded. You and this man might become intimate and spend time together. He may even take you to a family barbecue. But while you’re thinking you two are moving forward, he’s wondering how long the fun will last. You won’t be on the same page about your relationship, and the later you find that out, the more hurt you’ll be.
Avoid this situation by setting standards for how you want to be treated and your intentions for the kind of relationship you’re looking for right away. You will give him the information he needs to decide if he can afford the price or even wants to.
Sports Fish vs. Keepers
One way to think about this first interaction with a man is through the analogy of fishing. When a man catches a fish, he’ll either celebrate the catch and throw it back in the water or take it home for sustenance. How they handle catching women is similar.
When a man approaches you to figure out if he can get what he wants, he’ll assess right away whether you’re a sports fish or a keeper. A sports fish is a woman he sees as someone to have fun with but with whom he would never get serious. A keeper is a woman who has the potential to be “the One.” You may think the man decides what kind of catch you are because he’s holding the fishing pole, but you’re actually in control. You have the power to make him see which type of woman you are from the first moment you meet him. So what differentiates a sports fish from a keeper?
A sports fish is more concerned about flirting than deep conversations. She’s made it clear she’s not looking for a relationship and behaves in a way that suggests a lack of self-respect. A sports fish gives all of her contact information to any man who asks for it and wears revealing clothing. She doesn’t reject inappropriate touching and is always looking for the next best thing.
A keeper sets standards for herself and communicates those to any man she plans on dating. She respects herself and knows how to be sexy without revealing too much skin. A keeper is interested in getting to know a man before she gives out her number or invites him to her house, and her goal is to find a long-term relationship, not just have a night of passion. A keeper is happy to meet your family and knows how to act like a lady.
There is no shame in being either a sports fish or a keeper. Whatever role works best for your life is perfect for you. But if you’re looking for a partner who might one day be a husband, make him see you’re a keeper right away by setting your standards and demanding respect. If he’s looking for a serious relationship, he’ll try to get to know you better. If he runs the moment you set standards, he isn’t the right man for you.
Why Men Cheat
You likely know what it feels like to be cheated on. Either you or your friends have been with a man who cheats, and if you were in a long-term relationship, you have a hard time understanding why. You can put up with a lot of things from men, but infidelity is not one of them, nor should it be. But if you understand why men cheat, you can start to see the warning signs and do something about it before you or your relationship get hurt.
There are five reasons for why men cheat:
- They believe sex is just sex.
- They believe they can get away with it.
- They have different priorities in your relationship.
- They aren’t happy with your sex life.
- They can always find someone to cheat with.
Sex with the woman he loves is how men show love, but a man is fully capable of having sex that means nothing to him. Sex can simply be two people having fun, and men are able to separate the emotions from the act. Your man can be completely in love with you and feel justified in having carefree sex with someone else. It’s not right, but it’s how men think.
Men also believe they can keep you from finding out or convince you that nothing happened if they get caught. They believe this so much that they’re willing to risk the relationship for a night of fun. Again, sex with another woman is just sex, and if you never know, it doesn’t affect you or the relationship at all.
There’s always the possibility that your man doesn’t think about your relationship the same way you do. If he’s still figuring out his three things or isn’t fully committed to you, your feelings are likely not a priority. If your man is not truly serious about you as his woman, his needs are always going to come first.
But even if your man loves you, if you’re withholding sex or have lost the spark for it, he’s going to start looking for sex somewhere else. It’s natural for sex to become routine at a certain point, but the act of sex is not enough for a man. He needs to feel desired, and if you’re not making an effort to spice things up or keep the spark alive, he may believe you don’t desire him or appreciate him. His ego can’t survive that scenario, so he will find a woman who is more than willing to boost his ego.
And those women are everywhere. If the number of women willing to sleep with married or taken men was dramatically reduced, the rate of infidelity would decrease as well. But a man who is looking for sex for one of the above reasons has no problem finding a willing accomplice.
So what can you do? You can make it clear from the beginning that one of your standards is fidelity and what the consequences will be if he cheats on you. Your man already knows there will be consequences, but saying it plainly puts the pressure on him and his actions. He can’t complain when you leave if he cheats because you made yourself clear. And if you feel like he’s getting bored with your sex life at home, don’t just ignore it and assume everything will be fine. You now know that men need sex, so you also know what to expect if you don’t make an effort to give it to him and keep it fresh.
Six Strategies to Win the Dating Game
Use these strategies to beat men at their own game. You can gain the upper hand and make sure you attract the right men by following these rules.
Strategy 1: Have High Standards and Make Them Clear
You’ve heard already that setting standards helps men know what to expect and how to view the type of woman you are. But you also benefit from setting standards. Not only do you get the type of relationship you want, you weed out the men who aren’t willing to respect your requirements. But don’t start listing off a bunch of demands. Find casual and organic ways to relay your standards. Instead of saying, “Don’t ever be late,” say, “I value punctuality and respect people’s time.” He’ll know what you mean.
When you state your standards as what you value versus what you want, you allow a man to have agency in how he abides by them and makes you happy. You don’t want a man to be a robot, you want him to be creative in how he woos you. Give him the direction, and let him figure out the best way to follow it.
Strategy 2: Ask Him Five Questions Early On
Before you allow a man a place in your life, you have every right to know what kind of man he is. These five questions will give you the information you need to determine if he’s worth your time and heart. Ask the first three right away, either before or on the first date. Wait until you’ve had several dates to ask the last two. He’ll need time to get to know you to answer honestly.
- What are your goals for the near future?
- What are your goals for the distant future?
- What relationships are important to you?
- What do you think about me?
- How do you feel about me?
If you’ve set your standards and he’s still willing to pursue you, he should have no problem answering these questions. If he won’t answer them, he’s not the right man for you.
Remember, a man has three priorities to address before he can get serious. If he’s presenting himself as a serious option, he should have plans for his life both now and in the future. And if you’ve been dating for a while, he’s had time to think about what he likes about you and feels for you. Don’t settle for general answers, like “You’re cool.” Ask for specifics. If he can’t come up with any, he’s not really serious about the relationship.
Strategy 3: Implement the 90-Day Rule
You’re looking for a relationship, not a fling. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this summary. Therefore, it’s important you know that the man you’re spending time with and becoming attached to is worth your time. Corporations require new employees to prove themselves for three months before they offer health insurance. Why would you give your prized benefit away to a man who hasn’t done the same? So we’re clear, your benefit is sex.
When you let a man know you will not have sex until you’ve dated for 90 days, you’re going to find out very quickly whether he’s interested in you or just sex. Any man can be on his best behavior for a few weeks or a month, but only a man who truly cares about you and sees future potential with you will stick around for the other two months. Use this time to get to know each other and become friends. If he makes it to 90 days and has proven himself capable of respecting your standards and worthy of your love, you know you’re inviting the right man into your bed.
Strategy 4: Organize a Meet-and-Greet With Your Children Early
You likely believe that waiting until things with your man are serious before introducing him to your kids is the best way to go. But if you wait until then, it’s too late. Hopefully, you’ve told him you have kids. If you haven’t and wait until things are deep, he’ll feel duped and manipulated. If you have told him and still wait to introduce him, you’re risking more pain than is necessary if it turns out your man and your kids are not a good fit.
You need to see how he responds to your children and them to him to know if he is capable of being a good father and will benefit your lives. You’ll also give him a chance to see how good of a mother you are, which will let him know you will be a good mother to his children, current or future.
Strategy 5: Let Him Be a Man
You might be independent, financially stable, and capable of handling your life and any problems. But if you want to be in a relationship with a man for the long term, you can’t flaunt your independence. A man needs to provide to show love and feel like a man, and if you provide everything for yourself, where does he fit in?
You might be able to lift the dresser by yourself, but let your man do it. You can afford to pick up the check, but let him pay for dinner. As insulting as this advice might be, it’s what you have to do if you want your man to be happy and stay happy. Let him do what he needs to do to feel like he’s providing and protecting you, and show him how much you appreciate it. If you do, he’ll stay by your side.
Strategy 6: Make Marriage a Requirement
You likely want to get married someday, and your man knows this. All men know that women want to get married and maybe start a family, and they’re willing to comply if you make them. But men see marriage as the end of their freedom. That doesn’t mean your man is not committed to you or happy to be off the market. You wouldn’t be at a place where marriage was a possibility if he wasn’t. But psychologically, marriage is the final step to losing his sense of boyhood independence, and he will put it off for as long as he can.
Let your man know from the beginning that part of your expectations is for a long-term relationship to turn into a marriage. Give him a timeframe, and don’t worry about losing him. A man who is willing to respect your standards won’t be shocked to hear you want to get married in a couple of years. When the time comes, he’ll know he needs to come through or will lose you. If you wait for him to come to his senses and propose out of love, you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Making the Leap From Girlfriend to Wife
There’s a big difference between dating a man and building a life with a man. There are more aspects of life that need to be considered before you commit your life to a man. The following are some of the most important.
Make Good Impressions With His Family
How you relate to your man’s family will tell him a lot about who you are and set the stage for your future. His family may eventually become your family, so creating a positive relationship with them is important. Find out about them before you meet for the first time. Be relaxed and be yourself. Your man has chosen you for a reason, and you have no reason to think they won’t like you. Be respectful in both manner and attire, and make an effort to spend time with the people who are important to him. His mother is his first love and will always be important to him, so take her out to lunch so she can get to know you better. Her endorsement may mean more than you know.
Figure Out If Your Goals Align
You already know that a man needs to have his life in order before he can fully commit to a relationship. But his business and successes are not the only ones to consider. You also have dreams and a career that are important to you. So how can you determine whether you’re able to grow together? The following are a few things to consider when thinking about how love and careers work in your relationship and life.
- If you had to choose between your dream job and your relationship, which would you choose, and can you live with that choice forever without feeling resentful?
- Do you and your man have the kind of relationship that can withstand a long-distance relationship if one of you has to relocate? Do you trust each other to remain faithful?
- Are his goals viable, and is he actively pursuing them on his own? Does he expect you to drop everything to help him achieve success?
- Are you willing and able to give him the space and support he needs to continue building his life to become the man you both want him to be?
- Do you support his aspirations and work life? Do his work habits fit into your vision of the kind of marriage you want?
The career trajectories you and your man are on may work well when you’re dating, but a marriage is a bigger commitment. It’s important to understand how you both value work versus your relationship and whether those values coincide and can be supported for the long haul.
If your man finally proposes, your first instinct is to call your friends and dive into planning the wedding of your dreams. But before you get caught up in your dream wedding, take a moment to plan the marriage of your dreams to ensure you’re both on the same page and ready to take the plunge. The following are some questions to consider before saying, “I do.”
- Are your visions of the future compatible, and do you fit into his vision?
- Are you able to give up some independence and combine your life and world with his 24/7?
- Have you and your man made it through difficult times together, and are your communication styles understood and respected? Can you deal with adversity in a constructive way?
- How will money be handled once you join your lives? Who will pay for what, and do you support each other’s spending habits?
- Are children part of your future? Are you on a similar timeline for having children and agree on how many you’d like to have?
- If either one of you already has children, do you agree on the house rules and the role the other will play in their lives?
- Do you have reasonably good relationships with the important people in his life, like family and friends, and do you support his relationships with them?
- Are you able to abide by your vows? Can you truly be there for him if he becomes sick, makes a bad investment, or experiences other adverse circumstances? Will he stick by your side during the same?
Make sure you’re both on the same page with what you want a marriage to look like. Communication is key to any successful relationship. Make sure those lines of communication are open so you can plan the best life together that you can.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man summary:
- How to navigate the adult dating scene
- What men need, how they think, and how they behave when it comes to relationships
- How women can gain an advantage and find the right man to fulfill their desires