Note to the Orthodudes: The Orthogals do not necessarily approve of or use The Rules, but they are worth mentioning. This is just a summary–we promise, there is a critique to follow.
It is, they say, old wisdom passed down from Grandma, who had “more proposals than shoes.”
I don’t know about your grandmother, but mine was an abrasive Irish-American from south Chicago whose hobby was making politicians cry. She didn’t play by any rules, much less The Rules. Then again, none of the politicians ever proposed.
We’re not talking about general rules of life. That’s far beyond my pay grade. No, The Rules is a dating advice book published by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider in 1995. It made a big splash in its day–changed the conversation, really–and it’s likely a book that we’ll be referring to from time to time. Not so much because it’s the awesomest thing ever, but because it’s…on to something.
If you think The Rules are crazy, don’t worry, so did we. But after much heartache we came to believe that TR aren’t immoral or outlandish, just a simple working set of behaviors & reactions that, when followed, invariably serve to make most women irresistible to desirable men.
What a beginning. So needless to say I was…let’s say ‘wary.’
The Rules, Reader’s Digest version: Value yourself, keep high standards, be hard to get but easy to be with, maintain some mystery, know that you’re worth pursuing, and be willing to let a man go if he’s not stepping up to the plate.
The basic idea is that being hard to get signals that you are precious and worth the chase. It protects against being taken for granted.
But that’s dependent on believing that you are precious and worth the chase, and on holding high standards. In my view, it also requires trusting God to take care of things.
The book says, “Rules Girls simply feel good about themselves–they can take or leave men–which makes men have to have them.” They recommend a fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude about that…for better or worse.
The first key idea is to be the best version of yourself so that you feel good, so you have confidence. Confidence is pretty irresistible, I’ll admit.
Eat food that works for your body, exercise, be clean, wear clothes and makeup that make you feel beautiful. I’m on board with all of that, and I was impressed that their advice focused on what makes you feel good, not what pleases others.
They also say to be mysterious, ladylike, and happy in your own life. They mentioned radiance and inner beauty, and being cool and relaxed, which had me picturing a 1940′s movie star.
They call that ideal woman–ie you–a Creature Unlike Any Other, or CUAO.* And being a CUAO is the foundation of The Rules. You have to value yourself. You have to trust you’re worth it.
Their premise is based on the idea that confidence and mystery are very attractive. And the reverse–neurotic, sloppy, over-sharing–often isn’t.
The second key idea is that you must work towards your longterm gratification, not instant. In other words, don’t spend all your time and energy kissing frogs–even cute, perfectly nice frogs–if you really want a prince.
The third key is to let him approach and chase. They go into a lot of detail here, most of which I’ll gloss over. The gist of it is that either he’ll pursue you, or he’s just not that into you. And since you deserve a man who adores you and he deserves a woman he adores…Next!
They suggest waiting for him to approach you because it implies that you’re worth approaching and that you don’t need to chase men. And they want you to let him carry the conversation, let him do the work, let him pay–especially for the first 3 dates. His chasing you is a sign of respect. (On the other hand, if he’s broke, eat cheaply. Be respectful, but let him pay.) They go into a lot more detail on the how and why of that.
On your end you have to be approachable. Smile, be warm, be hard to get but easy to be around.
Be appreciative. No complaints, be a good sport. If he’s not pleasant to be around, don’t get snippy with him–just don’t go on another date.
This one’s hard. They want you to keep things light and breezy at first, which could be used as an excuse for masking your true self. I don’t think that’s their intent, and it’s admittedly hard to imagine cool, feminine Lauren Bacall pursuing a man or getting super-intense on a first date.
And, The Rules say to remember that you have a full life–see the bit about being a CUAO. If he invites you out last-minute, say “Thanks, but I already have plans.” Keep dates short and sweet for a while, and wait about a day before you return his messages. Don’t cook for him or go out of your way for him. Ignore idle chitchat–no texting him all day long. (They have very specific guidelines on this, some of which can be taken rather far.)
The key thing about The Rules is that they’re designed to be phased out.
As time goes on, things mustn’t remain light and breezy–you can’t sustain a relationship based on superficial topics of conversation. You have to be able to open up. You ought to be able to call him, spend time with him, pay for dates, and go out of your way for him without the relationship turning into you chasing him or him taking you for granted.
But do keep treating yourself as a creature unlike any other. Because you are.
In another post, I’ll get into some of the things I dislike about The Rules and how they can be abused. But that’s the rundown.
What are your thoughts?
* I despise the acronym CUAO. The whole name is ridiculous, but the concept’s worth noting.