Steve Harvey might deserve an apology. Okay, maybe not all that, but we can back up off of him for a while and turn our attention to Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. The ladies are the authors of The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, and they are getting ready to tap into women’s insecurities once again with a revamped version of the 1995 self-help book titled, Not Your Mother’s Rules. Here’s just a snippet of some of the things they advised women to do the first time around:
- Be a “Creature Unlike Any Other”
- Don’t Talk to a Man First (and Don’t Ask Him to Dance)
- Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much
- Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date
- Don’t Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls
- Always End Phone Calls First
- Don’t Accept a Saturday Night Date after Wednesday
I don’t really know what be a “creature” unlike any other means, but it sounds a little scary. After these sticklers, the ladies give a bit more practical advice like, don’t date a man, don’t open up to fast, don’t sleep with him too soon, etc., but without even reading the first edition of the book, the idea of having 35 revamped ideas on how to go about getting or keeping a man slightly makes my head spin. It reminds me of a conversation I was having with my best friend once. We were going on, and on, and on, and on about what ifs, should wes, I don’t knows, and a bunch of other extra-ness about some fools who weren’t even worth the time, and eventually I just stopped and said, “it’s not supposed to be this complicated.” In my mind, that’s about the only rule there is when it comes to dating, love, and getting married. When things start to get too complicated in a relationship, particularly too soon, and you wrestle with every decision related to the other person, that’s usually a sign you need to exit stage left.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be complicated situations but when you’re dealing with people, there honestly is no guidebook. Yes, men tend to be simplistic and there are a few basic things they all pretty much desire; however they are not all the same—or monoliths, since that’s the term everyone likes to use these days. You will literally drive yourself crazy and miss out on some opportunities trying to always end a conversation first and not returning someone’s phone call. Men like to chase, but it also doesn’t take them long to see someone isn’t interested (some of them anyway). While you’re playing around, tallying up how many missed calls you have, he’s probably somewhere meeting someone new. Plus, love, romance, and dating are supposed to be rooted in something beneficial being added to your life, not a problem you have to solve or a game you have to play. Nothing about following these rules sounds fun, inviting, or like a situation I’d want to sign up for. I have enough things I’m required to do as a simple American citizen. I don’t need any more.
When I think about this book, I get visions of “Two Can Play That Game in My Head,” you just can’t operate in a play-by-play fashion when it comes to different men and what works for different women. If you want to set some rules, come up with your own—that are realistic and less staunch. I think we call those standards. This right here is just a bit too much. I’d also like to point out the irony that like Steve, Ellen Fein has been married more than once. Wonder how she explained that away? She claimed that after having written a best seller and raising two children, she and her husband discovered they were two different people from the ones who fell in love. Eight years after her divorce in 2000, she remarried and said she followed The Rules to attract her second husband. I bet she did.
It usually doesn’t hurt to read tips or suggestions when we’re dealing with someone new. Sometimes we are genuinely clueless about a romantic encounter or situation and an outsider may have some wisdom to impart to us, but entrusting your entire love life to two women you never met and 35 rules with no room for bending? Nah. The only way I’d follow these rules is if it was some sort of experiment. Life throws all kinds of stuff at you, and you have to be flexible and respond according to individual circumstances—love is no different.
Have you ever checked out the rules? Do you think books like this are necessary?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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