Earlier in this blog, I took on The Game – instruction manual extraordinaire when it comes to helping men get laid. With this in mind, it’s only fair that I now look into its closest ladies’ equivalent, The Rules.
There is, of course, a small difference in objectives – the pick-up scene spawned articles entitled ‘How to F*** a Stripper’ , while The Rules goes all out for wedding bells and a white picket fence – but in terms of their impact on the dating scene, the two are heads on the same hydra.
The Rules was first published in 1995 and is subtitled ‘Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr Right’. Its influence can not be overstated. It sold two million copies, topped the New York Times’ bestseller lists, and paved the way for the likes of He’s Just Not That Into You. Honestly, as a subtle and penetrating analysis of gender relations Wollstonecraft and de Beauvoir between them came nowhere close.
Although The Rules can be summed up in one brief statement – thou shalt play hard to get – brevity is the soul of wit, and these authors aren’t trying to be witty. No, they’re deadly serious, and as such they expand this rather banal commandment into a full-on dating Bible. Here are some of the things they prescribe:
- ‘Do everything you possibly can to put your best face forward. If you have a bad nose, get a nose job.’
- ‘Don’t stay on the phone for more than ten minutes. Buy a timer if you have to. When the bell rings, you have to go!’
- ‘Don’t accept a Saturday night date after Wednesday’
- ‘If you don’t get jewellery on your birthday, call it quits because he’s not in love with you’
- ‘On all non-business e-mails, responding once for every four of his e-mails is a good rule of thumb.
They are also adamant that their disciples should show as little personality as possible. Keep things light, keep things airy, don’t be a ‘hysterical knee-slapping funny girl’, and, when placing personal ads, use this template:
- ‘I am twenty-eight years old, five feet seven inches with long brown straight hair and green eyes. People tell me I look like (model/movie star). I’m a dental hygienist. I like tennis and swimming. Well, that’s me! [Giggle] Have a great day.’
I first read The Rules when I was twenty, in between The Female Eunuch and some particularly wanky Greenham Common era lit theory. As such, my copy is covered in angry post-adolescent annotations. See, for example, the cover page, on which I’ve scrawled (and underlined) ‘Anti-feminist tripe!!!’
Nowadays, I simply think that if you actually have to be told ‘don’t buy a man a book about astrology’ and ‘don’t talk about your time in AA on a first date’, you deserve what you can get. This will most likely be the sort of creepster who keeps on emailing you despite the fact you’ve ignored him four times, and who carves restraining orders on his bedposts in lieu of conquests.
Note to creepsters on OkCupid – if she’s ignored you five times and still no reply, it’s safe to assume she’s not doing The Rules on you.