For the record, I believe The Rules work…per their definition of ‘work.’
The Rules is designed to help women develop and further their relationships with a specific type of man: a man who’s respectful and gentlemanly, who’s able to plan dates and take the lead, who can hold a conversation, who’s secure in himself, who adores you enough to pursue you, and who’s intuitive or at least clued in.
While that’s one great type of man and covers a large population of marriageable men, not all good men fit that role. Their opinion–which annoys me–is that if The Rules don’t work, either he just wasn’t that into you or he’s not marriage material. I disagree.
If you prefer shyer men, if you don’t mind planning things, if he gets to take the lead in other ways, if he’s thinks that if you don’t take some initiative you must not be interested, if he doesn’t catch social cues intuitively, then The Rules may not be suited and could even drive him off. And he may have been just fine marriage material, thank you.
I hesitate to dismiss The Rules, but for pete’s sake, clue in to your specific situation and evaluate things. What type of man is he? What sort of woman are you? What sort of dynamic works best for the two of you? The Rules is a great reference and tool, especially at the beginning of a potential relationship, but it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to think and pray about matters.
There can be an element of manipulation in the rules. To a certain extent, one’s behavior always affects others, so if you follow The Rules and therefore he chases you, that’s not necessarily manipulation. But it can be, if you abuse that dynamic, and that’s not healthy.
On the other hand, some women use The Rules as an excuse to be a witch. I’ve read them. All of them. They don’t call for that.
And lastly, The Rules makes it very easy to never be vulnerable–while Fein and Schneider make it clear that you’re to be yourself, they also strongly suggest keeping things “light and breezy” and being “hard to get, easy to be with,” especially in the beginning. And, while that’s not incompatible with honesty and vulnerability and intimacy, women who have been hurt may take that advice as a way to build a shield. In the early days that may be fine, even healthy, but eventually you have to let him in. It hurts like a son of a gun if things go awry, but it’s worth the risk.
And…The Rules does not address a deeper question of compatibility or when things don’t work out. He may be marriageable, you may be marriageable, and you may like each other quite a bit. It may even be love, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to buy a set of wedding crowns and set a date with the priest. Sometimes, things just don’t work.
Maybe he’s dyed-in-the-wool nondenominational Protestant and you’re a PK with a degree in theology from an Orthodox seminary. Maybe he’s an outdoorsman who dreams of off-the-grid farming and you’re a computer programmer who’s allergic to the sun. Maybe your interests line up but your communication styles don’t. Maybe you like each other but want drastically different lives. Or he’s permanently moving to Alaska and you just got your dream job in Florida.
Stuff happens. It’s not your fault. It’s not his fault. Relationships fail. Even when you follow The Rules.