The pseudonymous duo Lipstick (Gina Daggett) and Dipstick (Kathy Belge) have been providing advice for readers of Curve magazine's #1 column for several years now. Both are accomplished writers, and with a combined 35 years of lesbian relationships, they certainly know a thing or two about that, as well. Now they have taken their experience both as lesbians in long-term relationships, and also as a professional counselor (Belge), and condensed it down to a 225 page advice book.
The book is laid out in four sections that reflect key stages of romantic relationships: The Honeymoon, Cohabitating, Intimacy and Sex, and Taking It to the Next Level. The authors take turns writing about aspects of each stage, citing examples and frequently interjecting responses to each other. The conversational give and take of the prose, and the two different perspectives (not just butch/femme, but also traditional/non-traditional), are a part of what makes the advice they give seem less preachy than what one usually reads. Particularly since they do not always agree on what is the best course of action in a given situation.
Scattered throughout the book are short quizzes with answers that point in obvious directions. One does not need to tally one's score to figure out what category one will be in. Other short sections are set apart from the text, and they include things like "Lipstick's Fashion Tips for Couples" and "Dipstick's Moving Tips." The authors use these insets to bring additional levity to the advice, and to emphasize certain points without browbeating the reader.
Lipstick & Dipstick's Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationships may seem to be targeted at a limited audience, and for the most part, the examples given would mainly be applicable to lesbian relationships only; however, the core of their advice — from dating to long-term commitment decisions — rings true for any romantic relationship, regardless of the gender of those involved.
It's an easy read, and there is enough content to make it a brief reference book for those who seem to find themselves stuck at a particular point in their relationship status. I can see myself going back to re-read sections as needed. Daggett & Belge often disagree, providing the reader with two different perspectives which they can apply to their own situation, depending on the personalities involved. The core of their advice is that all couples need to communicate, so in the end, it doesn't really matter if you decide to share a bank account or live in separate houses as long as it's a mutual decision, which generally involves plenty of communication.
I am not a big fan of advice books — most of the time the advice they give is basic common sense. I know that not everyone is born with that common sense, and sometimes I wonder if I have lost mine, but there is nothing that irks me more than getting advice I did not ask for. Lipstick & Dipstick's Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationships may be full of common sense advice, but Daggett and Belge have presented it in such a way that I do not mind being told what I already should know.