Book 2 of 52: The Four Man Plan: A Romantic Science by Cindy Lu

Let’s get this straight: I did not start reading this book because I just got dumped. I was assigned a Q&A with the author before that sucky Friday night. Because of that sucky Friday night, I wasn’t really in the mood to read a book about dating, so I waited until the morning of the interview (today — though it’s been rescheduled to Monday) to hunker down with The Four Man Plan: A Romantic Science.

I’m not a big fan of dating books. I’ve read a few, both for articles and because friends pushed them down my throat, and a lot of them are variations of the same thing: common sense. Lu’s book is of the same ilk, though with a lot of funny diagrams and a science-y twist. Still, the cornerstones are the same — date a lot, and don’t shag on the first date.

Here’s my beef with dating books: No matter what they tell you, or what your family and/or friends give you in the way of advice, you’re going to do what you want to do. I read He’s Just Not That Into You, then promptly dove into what was the most hurtful, destructive and toxic relationship of my life. Even though I could see myself in the book, I soldiered forth because I thought I was different, and nothing and no one could change my mind. It took me a year and a half of “sorta” dating and then six months after extracting myself from that relationship (or after I got dumped — depends on who you ask) to get over him. No book or common sense could save me.

Even the dating book that I’ve recommended to others, Susan Shapiro’s Secrets of a Fix Up Fanatic, is a regurgitation of common sense. The difference was, at the time I read it (thanks to a friend who sent it my way), I wasn’t being spurred forward by any kind of lust or challenge of changing a bad boy. I was receptive, and her tips or philosophy or whatever you want to call it are in line with mine (plus, I think she’s a great writer, and great writing can carry me through just about any topic).

I’m the kind of person who can go to a party by myself and see it as a great way to meet new people. I’ll go to a concert solo and make friends with those around me. So Shapiro’s advice of talking to guys, and asking to be set up, already fit my personality, and the push of reading her book helped. It lead me to ask a guy in a crowded bar “Is that your mother?” when the person I pointed to was obviously not his mother. I have no idea why that came to mind, but it broke the ice, and we had a great date a few days later. I also took her advice of dating a few guys at once, and giving them more than one date to prove themselves. That seemed to work, too, though I stopped all that when the guy who just dumped me asked me if I’d date only him.

This is why I think Lu’s book has a lot of merit if you’re in the right frame of mind. I like that she laces humor throughout, and that the book is not so much about “you will find your soul mate if you do this” but “this might be an interesting way to approach dating.” I especially like her concept of ‘quarters.’ I’m not going to into her whole theory here, but she says that we should collect ‘quarter men’ like we do quarters in change. If you lose one, it’s no big deal — especially if you have a few quarters in your pocket already.

Best of all, it’s not one of those books that tells you that the only way to win a man is play coy, shy, and take on the submissive role because that’s what a guy wants. If a publisher sends me that kind of book, I don’t even bother to donate it to the library. It goes right in the recycling bin.

I’m also a sucker for anything with Einstein quotes, and Lu uses them throughout The Four Man Plan (if you’re really interested in Einstein, I highly recommend Jean-Claude Carriere’s Please Mr. Einstein. It gives a more realistic portrait of Einstein than that goofy poster of him sticking out his tongue, with a sci fi twist).

For two hours and one assignment, it was worth the read. I’m not ready to implement any plans beyond “get over him,” but that quarter thing is a nice thought to have in the back of my mind.


Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. 4ManPlanner on October 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Jen! I really look forward to talking to you on Monday. Thank you for actually reading the book! I really appreciate that in an interviewer and it will make for a very fun conversation between us girls. Have a great weekend and pick up a Quarter or two! xo,

Leave a Comment