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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for self analysis and relationship analysis
[Update: As another reviewer has noted, "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk" and "How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk" are the same books with different titles.]

Given that a choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important influences on a person's quality of life, you would think that people would want to know all there is to know about making that...
Published on October 25, 2006 by A Reader from Chicago

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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great advice for singles--and married people, too
This is one of those books people wish they would have read, but didn't. In my case, I probably could have saved my ex-wife a lot of grief if I'd had this book to give her so many years ago....

Many books provide a list of "10 foolproof steps" at the one extreme (simplistic) or an exhausting checklist at the other. Van Epp takes a different approach. He...
Published on December 10, 2006 by M. L Lamendola


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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for self analysis and relationship analysis, October 25, 2006
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[Update: As another reviewer has noted, "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk" and "How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk" are the same books with different titles.]

Given that a choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important influences on a person's quality of life, you would think that people would want to know all there is to know about making that choice. So, what's wrong with just falling in love and getting married?

According to Van Epp, people are at their best before they get married--and how happy you are when you are dating is the ceiling for how happy you can be in marriage. Don't expect it to get better.

The relationships between each individual and their parents strongly influence a couple's relationship after the wedding. This new way of relating within the relationship kicks in after the marriage begins--when the role is no longer lovers and best friends, but husband and wife. So, you are marrying the person who relates to their parents in a certain way, and that way strongly influences the way that person will relate to you. Van Epp shows how one can explore this before marriage and possibly change the dynamic.

Although the book is titled so that you would think that it is about not marrying a jerk, it is and it isn't. There is a part that says people have a code of what is right and wrong and an enforcer of that code within them. Some people may have an enforcer that is inactive or hardly involved. Some people may have a code that is unacceptable. Some people may have a great code of ethics and standard of behavior, but never make themselves follow it. I suspect that those who have a bad code of acceptable behavior or a bad enforcer of a good code would be considered jerks.

This book great for substantive analysis of yourself and your relationship and addressing important things before marriage and going into marriage with reasonable expectations. Being in love doesn't change the fact that the families you and your partner are different and have different world views. The family of origin strongly affects us and our partner, and the expression of that comes out more clearly after you say "I do". If you come from a family that is frugal and I come from a family that spends money freely, our coming together may give each of us a different view of the other; you may think I am wasteful and I think you are stingy. Add some more family attitude differences that each of us has absorbed, and in marriage what happens if it is not addressed satisfactorily? What if in my family we were open and affectionate and in my partner's family people were closed and withdrawing? During courtship we will naturally both behave as we think healthy people should behave to continue to attract each other. Van Epp wants us to explore our own and our partner's family history because, as Van Epp suggests, your partner is the second edition of their parents. So that would make us the second edition of our parents as well.

So this book is not just about "jerks"; it is also about issues that should be understood and addressed before contemplating marriage with someone.

Don't get engaged before three months because it takes three months for important patterns to emerge. Until you see patterns you are just guessing--and patterns take time.

Van Epp believes that we should do things in this order: Know Trust, Rely, Commit, and Touch. He wants us to never trust a person more than we know them, never rely on them more than we trust them, never be more committed to them than we are able to rely on them and never advance physical intimacy further than our level of commitment makes appropriate.

There is a lot of intelligence in this book and great conceptual tools for analyzing yourself and your relationship. I own scores of books on relationships and I think this is the best book of its type for both the depth and breadth it covers.
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great advice for singles--and married people, too, December 10, 2006
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This is one of those books people wish they would have read, but didn't. In my case, I probably could have saved my ex-wife a lot of grief if I'd had this book to give her so many years ago....

Many books provide a list of "10 foolproof steps" at the one extreme (simplistic) or an exhausting checklist at the other. Van Epp takes a different approach. He identifies six general techniques you can use to identify a jerk before you make the mistake of marrying this person. He also provides a tool, called the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM), which has proven itself over many years of application. In fact, the RAM forms the central concept behind applying the six techniques.

One of the problems with self-help books for singles seeking a mate is you have to remain objective to be able to apply the tools, tips, and techniques suggested in the book. Once a relationship is underway, doing that is difficult or impossible. We either filter out negative information and later think, "I shoulda seen that coming" or we ruin the relationship by constantly judging and appraising the other person.

Epps takes these issues head on. First, the RAM allows you to pace the progression of a relationship. Without going into much detail, I'll just say Epps makes a compelling case for the sequence of know, trust, rely, commit, touch that the RAM is based on. And rather than leave us with a simplistic model, he explores its application for all stages of a dating relationship.

Second, Epps provides several case histories on the rose-colored glasses problem that occurs when we proceed too rapidly with our feelings. He identifies why this happens, and provides specific guidelines on how to handle it. I like this much better than the standard approach, which assumes this won't happen if only you will keep your wits about you and stay objective. Most of the self-help dating books fall short of being useful, simply because they don't address reality--in particular, this problem.

Third, Epps addresses the other extreme. I've been a victim of negative assumption, myself. I've said something from which the woman has mistakenly assumed something negative that just isn't true. Epps gives a very good example in a case history that perfectly illustrates how this can happen and how off base the conclusions can be. Epps doesn't say whether men or women are more prone to this kind of assuming.

Will this book assure you of finding the perfect mate? No, and the author doesn't say it will. Will it help you avoid wasting time in a relationship you shouldn't be in? Yes. And it will also help you avoid carrying that relationship to a level it should not go to.

Here's another thought on this book. It isn't something the author decided to do on a whim, and then cranked out so he could sell books at his seminars. It took form over many years. In fact, if not for his wife's prodding (in a non-jerk manner, of course), he might still be working on it.

If you're single, this book can help you prevent grief and heartache. If you're married and having problems, it can help you get back on track.

A final note. Form is important, as it dictates readability. Unfortunately, this book has plenty of grammar gaffes, misused words, and composition errors. So sometimes, the reader has to work at understanding what the author means. In some cases, the author's actual words state something entirely different from what the context would indicate. Still, this book is worth the occasional struggle through such gaffes. I hope a properly edited future edition is in the works. The wisdom, insight, and practical advice in this book are too important to be lost due to these problems.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the risk out of your marital choice!, September 11, 2006
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This is the first review I've ever written for a book even though I've been purchasing Amazon books for years.

I'm only half way through this book and I feel compelled to give a positive review for this book. Perhaps I will post another review upon completing it.

You can never be too careful in your premarital preprations. Van Epp gives you the roadmap of what you should look for and how you should proceed down that path.

I recommend this book to every single person who hopes to establish a life-long relationship. It will only serve to help you make a very wise choice.

I plan on recommending this book to all my single friends!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Avoid Marrying a Jerk, January 8, 2007
An excellent book for those dating or thinking about dating. Good practical information on what is important to know about a person you are dating or considering dating and how to conduct yourself so that your relationships can be as satisfying and safe as possible. I found the information to be so important that I purchased copies for my high school and college-aged grandchildren.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read on relationships, October 10, 2008
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This review is from: How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk (Paperback)
I read "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk" by the same author. When I was flipping through "How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk", it looked like the exact same book with just a different title. If it's not, then I apologize for this review.

The author introduces a RAM model which shows the sequence of steps you take which will lead to commitment. You have to do A before you do B. For example, you have to know someone before you trust someone. You have to trust someone before you get physical with someone, etc... When people are anxious for intimacy, they tend to skip over this and create a pseudo-intimacy which leads to a broken heart.

My favorite chapter is the one that deals with a person's conscience. The author warns that you cannot be someone else's conscience for them. You cannot be the angel on their shoulder that whispers to them to do the right thing. It's much better to pick someone with a healthy and consistent conscience in the first place so you don't have to worry about them mistreating you when they're out of your sight. My mom did this with my dad, always trying to keep him in line like he was her son. It didn't work. It lead to mutual disrespect and eventual divorce.

This is best book I've read on relationships and one of my favorite go-to books when I'm trying to decide if I'm moving the relationship too fast. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those that have had a bad relationship or just looking for a relationship, December 24, 2006
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Kathy Schleier "PNP" (Dalton, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book has been so helpful to me and to many of my friends. I have given this book to several people as gifts and all have found pieces of gold that they have incorporated in their lives. Most have been able to evaluate the relationships that they are in and determine whether it is a good or bad situation for them. I also recommend it to the parents of my pediatric patients. I believe his theory about the relationship attachment is so appropriate. It is a theory that many of us were taught by our parents but did not realize they were teaching us. I would highly recommend this book to anyone in a relationship or wanting to have a relationship.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on dating the right person, March 30, 2007
This is definitely one of the best books that I have read on dating the right person, and eliminating the wrong ones. Epp gives practical advice, don't get too heavily involved too soon, look at their relationship with their family, wait for patterns to emerge, and know what their values, norms, and standards; are just a few of the ideas from this book. While the title may suggest that sometimes we all make mistakes, this book is a much more serious look on how we behave in relationships, and the power we have to stay or walk away from any given relationship.

Epp suggests that we don't get too involved too soon. He does this on a couple of different levels. Suggesting that 3 months is far too soon to make any serious kind of decision when it comes to where to go in a relationship meaning marriage, moving in together, or any other life changing decision. Within three months both parties are still on good behavior and not showing their true self. Within a year you will see patterns emerge, and by the end of two years the tone has been set for the relationship, and you will know how you two work together.

Another aspect of the relationship and moving too fast was his breakdown of trust, intimacy, and commitment. He clearly states not too move to far into one of these three areas, and leave the other two behind. This creates a warped relationship, and this will leave to many problems. If relationships become too intimate too quickly this may leave one partner thinking they have a serious commitment of the other person, and they do not have a serious commitment at all.

Another one of my favorite chapters of the book has to deal with how someone treats others; this could mean the waitress, their mother, their best friend. When you read advice sites everyone says this, but no one explains why this works. People tend to behave in certain patterns. Arguments, happy moments, we all tend to behave in certain ways. For example perhaps someone needs to sulk a bit before they will engage in an argument, or perhaps name calling is the norm for them. The person involved will have tough moments with you, and he will behave at his best and his worst with you. You need to be able to handle this person's worst moments.

This information is in just a few of the book's chapters. As you can see the book is packed with advice that is practical. Many dating advice books are often a couple of trite sayings here and there, and thrown together in a book. John Van Epp far exceeds dating book expectations and gives a book that you can pick up and read many times, gaining a new perspective.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Built On Research, January 11, 2009
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This review is from: How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk (Paperback)
I got about halfway through Dr. Epp's book and ordered six more for friends and relatives. They were such a hit I ordered two more for a total of nine books purchased. And, if I see a need I will order more! What I realized as I read it, was I had forgotten what I knew in my youth about taking time to get know and trust someone before falling in love and getting physical with him. Relationships are not meant to move at the speed of light and that is a good thing. Taking time to get to know someone can weed out unsuitable people saving much heartache in the long run. This truth seems to have been forgotten in our computer age of instant everything. His points are easy to grasp through stories, and are backed up by his years of practice, psychological, biological, and sociological research. His book is aimed at twenty-somethings looking for a marriage partner but is relevant for those desiring a healthy loving relationship at any age. Nor is this book written just for women. Women can be jerks too, so the advice is just as relevant for men. In fact, a male friend bought the book on my recommedation and after reading a few chapters is planning to get copies for his daughters as well. Read it, relax, and realize your best relationhip ever.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let the Title Mislead You, May 28, 2009
By 
Mary (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
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Mostly 'Jerk' is associated with a man, but the book is for both sexes. There's a ton of relationship self-help books out there. I first picked up this book at my local library in the new books section. The title intrigued me, so I checked it out. After reading it, I bugged a bunch of my girlfriends, who are in dysfunctional relationships, to just read the book. Then, I ordered myself a reference copy because I wanted it for my young teenage daughters when they begin dating and I didn't want to have to chase it down because it became out of print. The crux of the book revolves around the idea termed 'Relationship Attachment Model' or RAM. The idea is that in a relationship we want to Know, Trust, Rely, Commit and last Touch our prospective partner in that order and we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. What that means is don't start to Trust, Rely, Commit or Touch (have sex with) a person before you Know them. The examples and explanations in the book are eye-opening. How many of us have jumped ahead without knowing much about a person and then felt misled when truths come out? The questions the author would have us ask can make you cringe a little because you know you should ask and you would like to know the answer, but you're also pretty sure that asking will/might kill the relationship. But that's How Not to Marry a Jerk, ask the hard questions and if he/she won't answer, then move on or at least don't get married.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a wonderful and enlightening book, April 8, 2007
By 
This book is the perfect gift for anyone who's interested in having a relationship.

I've read about a dozen relationship books, including books by Terry Read and Susan Page, and this book does stand out as one of those with the most practical advice. I can sense that this book really took ten years to work on, as the advice in it is not just a list of to-do but showed that a great mind, lots of research and practical understanding has produced the knowledge that is being shared here.

I got the book and I know that the knowledge I got from it is something which I could not have discovered on my own.
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How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk
How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by John Van Epp (Paperback - March 19, 2008)
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