On paper, I am the target audience authors Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein cater to with their dating advice books The Rules and the updated version Not Your Mother’s Rules.
I am single and in my early 30s. Yet, I’m also part of a growing – and heavily documented - demographic of women who are pretty content with being alone. Scrambling to find a life partner and popping out dependants isn’t a priority for us, despite our rapidly ticking bio clocks. My approach to dating is laissez -faire: I do things the way I feel like doing them, without giving it too much thought. I text when I want, I wink when I feel like it, I’ll call a guy three times in a row. If it doesn’t work out, there will always be others. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt the scorn of an un-replied text, and thus, am open to The Rules pitch.
The Rules stresses the importance of acting demure and mysterious in the first three months of courtship, even or especially if that doesn’t come naturally. Not Your Mother’s Rules takes it even further, advising women on how to behave when wooing a gentleman in the age of advanced technology and social media – stressing to stay away from a guy’s Facebook profile and completely avoid Instant Messaging when you’re still getting to know each other. Sexting is completely out of the question – a hard rule to follow, as anyone who’s experienced a painfully slow shift at work can attest.
Patience is a foreign concept these days, when information is immediate and it’s all about living in the moment. Or as the expression goes, YOLO – you only live once, right?
Fein scoffs at this philosophy.
“It’s exactly the same thing as dieting…we’re very result oriented and you have to think things through in life,” she says. “If you really want a good life, you have to plan it out a little bit. We’re saying responding to a guy’s text in a nanosecond is not a good plan.”
“If he thinks like he can get you in a nanosecond, he will treat you like a woman he can get in a nanosecond.”
Some have criticized The Rules as being anti-feminist, saying it encourages women not to be true to themselves and cater entirely to a man in a way that’s outdated. Fein retorts by saying that holding back at the beginning of a relationship is similar to the face you put on in a job interview.
“You don’t say ‘I want four week’s vacation and I want to be the boss,’” she explains. “You’re not so honest, so why do you have to be so honest with someone you have a new relationship with?”
While Not Your Mother’s Rules might not appeal to women hellbent on celebrating her freedom in how she dates, there are nuggets of gold that our trusty gay bffs have been stressing to us for decades. Once you’ve met a guy, the main thing is keep yourself busy and focused on your own life – don’t check his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, to see what’s been keeping him busy instead of contacting you.
“Whether you’re staring at a wall all day or getting a master and a doctorate at the same time, it still has the same effect,” she says.
I’m willing to admit The Rules ladies have some decent, strong points. And while I have a rule not to follow any rules when it comes to dating, I have to admit that sometimes it’s best when the rules are broken.