On Steve Harvey’s ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’


I’d been urged by a wise CatholicMatch woman (a Pinkie) to read Steve Harvey’s “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” when I was seeking advice. Initially I had no intention of reading it, but I was so glad I did! This was one of the most informative relationship books I’d ever read. The advice is so simple, honest and believable that I put my trust in Harvey.

I want to clarify something first: He makes sweeping generalizations. You may not agree with his assessments, arguing that not all men are like what he describes. I feel the same; certainly my boyfriend does not fit Harvey’s archetype. But his insights are valuable. 

He starts by saying that men are simple creatures, unlike women. For instance, women talk for the sake of venting; they just want a sympathetic ear. Men, on the other hand, want to find a solution for every problem. If a woman vents to a man, he may misconstrue this as asking for advice. He will offer solutions, which brings more problems. Harvey cites the different communication styles men and women have.

His explanation for this difference in communication: Men and women show love differently. He points to three ways that men show their love: profess, protect and provide. Once a man professes you as his girlfriend, according to Harvey, you know his intentions are long-term and that he is showing you love.

The other ways a man shows love — by protecting and providing — are self-explanatory. But he advises not judging these three ways on women’s terms. If you think protection means coming to your defense in a barroom brawl, you need to see how widely men view protection: holding an umbrella over you or helping you out of a car, for instance. About providing, he makes it very clear: women, let the man pay. Accept his gifts graciously, even if it’s not your taste. He is showing love. 


What men crave

What does Harvey say men want in return?

Very simple: support, loyalty and The Cookie. I find his euphemism for sex, The Cookie, inexplicable. I doubt any man would equate sex with baked goods.  

Men want sex, of course, but they also want loyalty and support. Here’s where Harvey gave great insight: men want support about the things they value, not about the things women support each other with. He outlines the three most important things to men: who they are, what they do, and how much they make. He points out, too, that men’s identities are largely derived from the other two things. Limiting and possibly out-dated, but still true. The upshot is that men want your support in how they identify themselves. 

Regarding sex, keep in mind that he isn’t Catholic and does not oppose premarital sex, but like Patti Stanger, he does feel that women should wait three months before “giving up The Cookie.” He says women who have sex before three months guarantee that a man will not take her seriously. It also tells the man that her loyalty is precarious; if she’ll sleep with anyone right away, how could she be faithful? Loyalty is the third area men consider when selecting the right woman. 


Putting it out there

As for selecting the right person, Harvey feels it’s easy to differentiate those who aren’t serious from the ones who are thinking long-term. He advocates having standards. Present them early on but not in a confrontational way. Fortunately, CatholicMatch’s “Seeking” section is the perfect place for this.

Another way women can make their standards known is in asking five crucial questions early on. A woman should ask a man what his short- and long-term goals are. She should find out how he views relationships within the scope of his entire life. She should also ask what this man thinks and feels about her. He suggests listening between the lines and asking further questions. Most women know when someone is telling her what she wants to hear, instead of the truth. That in itself is an indication that she is not taken seriously. 

Overall, he says men respect and value a woman who will not compromise on her standards. I found this particularly helpful, because all too often in my past I was willing to compromise just so that I wouldn’t be alone.

Harvey gives another reason why women need to adhere to their standards: Men who are unfaithful do so because they can get away with it. He hardly gives men credit for wanting to be loyal for its own sake, but he does emphasize that the woman sets the tone for monogamy with her standards. 

He warns against having too many non-negotiables and setting standards too high, however.

[The Recurring Dating Debate: ‘Are We All Just Too Picky?’]

He finds that the most lonely women aren’t alone because they’re unattractive or unappealing. It’s because they refuse to compromise on things that don’t matter. This echoed what Janice Leiberman described as being picky. Picky women end up alone; but choosy women, women with reasonable standards, choose well.

While he goes on to give additional advice, it was standard: don’t wait for him to call, don’t chase him, etc. I found the most astute and helpful advice early on in the book, where he discusses men’s identity formation and their needs in relationship. That part of the book alone was worth the cost. So, if you’ve ever wondered what makes men tick, this is your book.

Happy reading!


Cat’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars



  1. Liz W. October 19, 2015 Reply

    In the sex part of having to have the cookie…you must make sure my cookie gets its release also. one sided sex is yawn…boring…we both need that release. make it worth her time dont just take from your woman…

  2. Esther-532964 April 27, 2013 Reply

    I read the artice, and it was a good one. I liked what Bryan Mercier wrote. I like when men are gentlemen, and treat the women with love and respect.

  3. Maria-846262 October 18, 2012 Reply

    I have not read the book, but would like to. Based on my own experience, the title itself rings somewhat true. Having hovered all of my career in the corporate world, (male-dominated) I had to learn how to “think like a man” on a daily basis, in order to be “accepted”, but have always been true to my own self and have been “a lady” all my life. All the men I worked around all those years made my life very difficult at times, but I learned a lot from the, as they did from me. I think both sexes bring a lot to the “equation” and both contribute a lot to the balance we must have in life. I also think women have the harder job at adapting to being in a “man’s world” and compromising is not always fun, but we’re all winners in the end.

  4. Dawn-58330 September 8, 2012 Reply

    I read this book a long while ago on the recommendation from a Pinkie (a female CM friend). Like Cate, I found it useful– to a degree. The important thing I took from it is the title. Act like a lady always, but remember that a man thinks differently. So many times we women mess things up because we expect men to think like a woman. And then we go and try to act like a man. Nope. Not a formula for success.

    Good review, Cate.

  5. Christella-872619 September 5, 2012 Reply

    Wow, great book review & comments! I have not read the book; however did enjoy the movie. I could relate to some of the situations in the movie, in addition to things that made me look back & see things more clearly. Most of all, the movie made me laugh while thinking more about future relationships. Cookie, nookie…our bodies are to be respected: by ourselves & others. We, women, hold the key. No means NO!!!! Just saying!

  6. Stephen-725391 September 5, 2012 Reply

    Catholics need a lot of protestant thinking skills!

  7. Tara-539245 September 4, 2012 Reply

    I just requested it from the library. 🙂

  8. Rosencita-892834 September 4, 2012 Reply

    wow…i hope guys will really read this…

  9. Nancy-632072 September 4, 2012 Reply

    I have read this book a few years ago and will have to go back and re-read it …

  10. Robert-576792 September 4, 2012 Reply

    BTW, What is a Pinky?

  11. David-364112 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Cookie, nookie . . . some treat. Gah! I’d rather have some licorice and watch a movie. I’m DONE with women, thank you very much.

  12. David-364112 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Cookie is a silly code word to use. Maybe it’s because cookie rhymes with nookie. Maybe it’s because a cookie is a treat a woman prepares for a man.

  13. Kate-756604 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Catherine for the review. Like Robert, it made me look back on my past relationship. Setting standards is so important just like supporting the man.

  14. Robert-576792 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Well, I have read the book (twice) and it has made me look at my relationships with women, especially past ones. As the author of this book review stated he (Steve Harvey) does makes some generalizations. However, what relationship book doesn’t. But it is a good easy read and some of his insights are dead on point for most of us, single males out here. Aside from reading the book, I would encourage everyone to rent or buy the DVD (Think Like A Man) which showcases some of the same points in the book with some great comedic relief. Looking for a mate shouldn’t be stressful…smile

  15. Helen-869828 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Sounds interesting especially the difference between the words: picky and choosy.

  16. Jacqueline-198 September 4, 2012 Reply

    Great article, I might just have to buy this book, been hearing great things about it of late!

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