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“For a girl, a text from a cute guy is really special, like winning the lottery.” So says the new book, “Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating.”
TODAY contributor
updated 1/22/2013 2:36:09 PM ET 2013-01-22T19:36:09

Here we go again. Every few years there’s a new “Rule” or “Game” or “Plan” that guarantees success with dating. This time it’s “Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating,” a new book by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

These are the same authors of 1995’s mega-seller “The Rules,” and now they’re back with a do-this-and-don’t-do-that manual for dating in the age of Facebook, texting and Twitter.

I was tasked with reading the book and giving my take.

In sub-140-character-speak, The Rules say (actual quote): “Treat him a little bit like the guy you don’t care for!”

Do rules like this work?

Yes ... if you believe in a black and white, stereotype-filled world where, “For guys, texting can be fun, like a sport or a video game. But for a girl, a text from a cute guy is really special, like winning the lottery.” 

You’ll love The Rules if you appreciate this subtle nuance of gender behavior: “Men love to buy and sell companies as well as extreme sports like mountain climbing and bungee jumping, while women love to talk about their dates and watch romantic comedies.”

Related story: Dating 'Rules' get social media reboot with tips for texting, tweets

Most guys I know feel the same as Alan Goldsher, who has written about relationships for MSN and Good Men Project: “I'm a pragmatic guy, and I've always thought most dating rules are absurd, so my general vibe about ‘The Rules’ is along the lines of, “Are you f***ing kidding me?”

Granted, some of them have merit:

Image: Book cover for "Not Your Mother's Rules"
Grand Central Publishing

“Rule #8: Don’t answer texts or anything else after midnight.”

Fair enough. A midnight text is likely booty-call bait. “Actually, this rule makes sense. Have some basic etiquette,” said Marty Beckerman, an editor of MTV’s Guy Code Blog  and the author of manly-man book “The Heming Way.” “If I've gotta work in the morning, I don't want a damn smiley-face text to wake me up at 2 a.m. You shouldn't be texting smiley faces anyway, you're an adult with dignity.”

Elaborating on texting etiquette, Fein and Schneider say, “We support using abbreviations like TTYL or LOL, as these make you seem too busy to write full words and long sentences.”

Rule #4: Don’t ask guys out by text, Facebook, Gchat, or any other way.”

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From the book: “Asking them out destroys the chase and rarely works out ... As unfair and unfeminist as it sounds, a woman can do absolutely nothing to start a relationship.”

True or false? “For insecure girls — yes. For secure girls — no,” says David, a media manager in Los Angeles who preferred we didn’t use his full name. He suggested that if a woman has enough self-confidence, she should feel comfortable initiating the contact. Not so, say the authors, who go a step further and command:

“Rule #5: Don’t sit or stand next to a guy first or flirt with him first.”

But not all guys are pick-up artists. What if he’s shy? The book reassures: “A shy guy will pretend he likes the pretzels that she is standing next to at a party. He will figure out a way to meet her, even if he has to trip her to get her attention!”

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In my experience, the world is not full of sneaky leg-trippers. “Any guy who says he doesn't want the lady to make the first move is lying. Guys are the laziest creatures on earth, and prefer expending the least amount of effort humanly possible, including in the bedroom or preferably on the couch, which is less of a walk,” Beckerman said.

Goldsher added, “Most of us are horrible flirters, so if you're planning to wait for a quality first move, well, good luck with that.”

Rule #6: Wait at least four hours to answer a guy’s first text and a minimum of 30 minutes thereafter.”

“The older you are, the longer you should try to wait. For example, a thirty-year-old should wait more like twelve hours, and a forty-plus-year-old should wait a day to reply,” explain the authors. The book even offers a helpful grid that shows Age vs. Text Response Time.

“This rule is crazy,” Beckerman said. “If you wait four hours to answer a guy's text, he'll assume you're either uninterested or a flake or too busy texting a bunch of other dudes.” David elaborates: “I always find the ‘playing hard to get’ routine to be really annoying.”

Plenty of their rules make sense, but these should be obvious: “Rule #21: Don’t get wasted on dates or at parties.” “Rule #9: Rarely write on his Wall.” “Sub-clause of Rule #9: Be cautious regarding your relationship status.”

I should close with a key disclaimer: I’m co-writing (with Andrea Syrtash) a book that debunks dating rules, out this June. Our take: the rules over-simplify human behavior, they insult your intelligence, and they often don’t work.

Follow with discretion.

Jeff Wilser is the author of “The Maxims of Manhood.” His work has appeared in print or online in Glamour, GQ, Esquire, mental_floss, and VH1. You can follow him at @jeffwilser.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: 5 ways to rekindle your romance in 2013

  1. Closed captioning of: 5 ways to rekindle your romance in 2013

    >> let's send it over to natalie.

    >> thank you, guys. this morning on "today's" relationships, rekindling the romance. new year's resolutions aren't just about trying to lose weight or kicking a bad habit. they're also a great way to re-energize your sex life . laura berman is host of "in the bedroom with dr. laura berman ." good to see you.

    >> nice to be here.

    >> a lot of people make new year's resolutions. you say we should be practicing this year round and really encouraging us to take a good look at our relationships?

    >> absolutely. you always have to kind of revisit the natural course of every relationship with our busy lives. they tend to veer off course. it's important to re-energize things, especially if you want a long-term, monogamous relationship .

    >> what are problems that couples are having?

    >> it's really about -- we get lazy, that can go on the back burner. there are simple things you can do right now to jump-start things, to recommit that don't take a lot of work, but do take commitment.

    >> five resolutions starting with set a weekly date night.

    >> you've heard this before. i don't mean a date night where you go to the movies or out with other couples. you have to talk about things other than diapers and bills and you have to find things to discuss. a lot of couples in long-term relationships think what would we talk about? talk about where you see yourself in ten years or how your partner doesn't make you feel loved.

    >> you say make it a priority.

    >> if you take a vacation alone together, research has shown even if you just go away for a few days once or twice ayear alone, that does more for your intimacy and connection.

    >> share your fantasies with your partner?

    >> yes.

    >> what are we talking about?

    >> we get scared of that. rules of the road . share the ones you would like to act out together, maybe even agree to write them down and put them in a little box and once a month pull one out and try them out. it's a way to keep things energized and interesting.

    >> start kissing again, really quickly?

    >> this is a big one for women. kissing goes by the wayside in a long-term relationship. if you do what i call a nondemand kissing where you could just kiss for a while with no expectation of it going anywhere else, you will see a spike, especially in the woman's libido. if you give each other a ten-second kiss twice a day rather than that quick peck when you're walking in and out of the door, that does a tremendous amount for your connection and sort of keeps those fires that -- women have especially to slow burn . they can't go from zero to 60.

    >> dr. laura berman , great advice as always and more resolutions for couples on our website

Explainer: Crazy love: 9 extreme things people have done for romance

  • Image: Matchmaking mom Geri Brin with son Colby Brin

    Love is a many-splendored thing — and some people will do almost anything to find it. On a quest to connect with that special someone, men and women have rented billboard space, posted handwritten personal ads all over the place, sobbed on YouTube and allowed meddling family members to conduct exhaustive searches for them. One matchmaking mom started the site “Date My Single Kid” for her 31-year-old son; another family advertised their Jewish grandmother on eBay to help her find a husband.

    Just how crazy can it get? To find out, click on the word "next" at left, or click on "Show more items" and keep scrolling down.

  • Love can make you cry. And cry.

    Image: Kelly Summers crying on YouTube

    Oh, Internet. Somehow you keep getting us to give up more and more personal information about ourselves. To name just one of about 80 gazillion cases in point: The emotional saga of Kelly Summers.

    In April 2010, the Englishwoman learned that the man she loved had been keeping a gargantuan secret from her: He already had a longterm girlfriend.

    Summers was devastated. Sobbing, she turned to YouTube and began posting video diaries — 62 of them! — about her heartbreak and her efforts to recover. She gained a loyal following of 11,000 viewers — including her ex, who decided he wanted her back. “I watched each video and I couldn’t believe the devastation I left behind,” Keith Tallis, the ex, said after the fact. “I’d never seen such raw emotion, and it made me realize how much I loved her.” Ummm ... hooray?

    Related story: She bared heartache on YouTube (and got guy back)

    Related video: Woman takes tears to YouTube after breakup

  • Hey! Let's sell Mom!

    Image: Sandy Firth for sale on eBay

    James Doyan was worried about his mom, Sandi Firth. After going through a divorce in 2003, the 63-year-old grandmother of four just couldn’t meet the right man. She was lonely.

    So, the dutiful son decided to take charge of the situation by selling her (kind of) on eBay. Doyan posted a flattering photo of his mother alongside these words: “My Yiddishe Momma for Sale: Beautiful, Great Cook, Educated, Articulate, Family Focused, Caring, Priceless.” The starting price? One British pound. (Doyan and his mom live in England.) The ad went on to describe Firth as being in “used condition” but in “pretty good working order [with] no real defects or signs of wear and tear.” “She is stylish and loves to wear the latest fashions (sometimes forgetting her age),” Doyan added.

    At first Firth was stunned to be on eBay, but then she warmed to the idea. “My son is very innovative,” she told British newspaper the Daily Mail. “I have had some rotten times, and he has been through them with me.”

    Shortly after the ad went up in June 2010, eBay pulled it because it violated the auction site’s “human remains and body parts policy.” Sorry, Sandi!

  • Pedal to the meddle

    Image: Matchmaking mom Geri Brin with son Colby Brin

    Devoted mother Geri Brin adores her son Colby, who lives in New York and is in his early 30s. In an effort to help him meet his perfect match, she launched a new online effort in July 2010 with the cringe-worthy title “Date My Single Kid.” But Brin didn’t do this just for her own boy — she opened the site up so parents everywhere could extol the virtues of their single sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, nieces and nephews.

    Brin and her son humorously defended “Date My Single Kid” on TODAY. “I don’t think it’s meddling at all; I think it’s casting a wider net,” Brin said on the show. And son Colby said he appreciated his mom’s support: “I don’t think I need my mom; I’m also out there in the field doing my own work. But if my mom comes across someone she thinks would be good for me, there’s nothing to lose.”

    Since fame visited the mom-and-son pair, Colby has been directing the Date My Single Kid site and blogging there. One particularly hilarious blog post highlighted 12 celebrities who really could use love advice from their moms. “As Director of Date My Single Kid, I like to say that you may know what you want, but your mother knows what you need,” he wrote. “Of course, I would never say it in front of my own mother because she’d be way too satisfied.”

    Related story: Cyber-matchmaking mom fields dates for son on TODAY

    Related video: Matchmaker mom: I'm not meddling

  • A shared moment on a No. 5 train

    Image: Sketch on Patrick Moberg's website nygirlofmydreams.com

    Nora Ephron, are you reading this? If ever there was a potential plot for a romantic comedy on the big screen, here it is:

    Patrick Moberg was 21 years old when he saw the “girl of his dreams” on a New York subway train in November 2007. She was wearing blue gym shorts over blue tights, and she had rosy cheeks and a red flower in her hair. Moberg said the pair “shared a moment.” “There’s been a ton of pretty girls I’ve seen on the train, but I just couldn’t shake this one,” he told the New York Post.

    So, he dashed home and built an Internet page — nygirlofmydreams.com — and set about trying to find her. He drew and posted a sketch of the two of them, describing in detail what each of them was wearing when they locked eyes. (He took the added step of writing, “Not insane” on the sketch and pointing to his head with a little arrow.)

    And ... guess what? He found her! He provided this update on the website: “Seriously! A friend of hers came across the site, recognized the description, and sent me an e-mail. We’ve been put in touch with one another and we’ll see what happens. ... In our best interest, there will be no more updates to this website. Unlike all the romantic comedies and bad pop songs, you’ll have to make up your own ending for this.”

  • Kingship schmingship

    Image: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
    Getty Images

    Was it reckless? Romantic? Both? Even though 75 long years have passed, the world continues to be fascinated by the love story of Britain’s King Edward VIII and American socialite Wallis Simpson. The King sparked a constitutional crisis when he fell madly in love with Simpson, a two-time divorcée, and wanted to marry her.

    The prime ministers of the United Kingdom, church leaders and others roundly opposed the move. Edward ultimately abdicated the throne so he could marry Simpson. In a broadcast to the nation in December 1936, after spending just 325 days as monarch, he said, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

    The pair married in May 1937 and became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They remained together until Edward’s death in 1972; Simpson died in 1986. Their story is being turned into a movie, “W.E.,” directed by Madonna.

    Related story: Duchess of Windsor’s jewels sell for $12.5 million

  • This crazy love thing isn't new

    Image: King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn
    Getty Images

    There’s so much to say about England’s King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. For the purposes of this feature, let’s focus on this: The pair’s relationship represents one of the most extreme love stories in history.

    King Henry first became enamored of Anne in the 1520s, and he pursued her for years. He desperately wanted to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon and be with Anne instead. The Pope refused to let that happen — and then, hoo-boy. Henry assumed the role of Supreme Head of the Church of England, married Anne, had his marriage to Catherine annulled and got excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Happens all the time, right?

    Henry and Anne got married in January 1533, and Anne gave birth to Elizabeth, the future queen of England, that September. Henry was disappointed that Elizabeth wasn’t a boy, but he remained hopeful that Anne would give him a male heir to the throne. Instead, Anne experienced devastating miscarriages and stillbirths. One stillborn baby was a boy; when that detail came to light, King Henry reportedly cried out, “I see God will not give me male children!” He began showing interest in Jane Seymour, Anne’s maid of honor.

    Then, as further evidence that love (in this case, love of Jane!) can make a man do crazy things, Henry easily believed trumped-up charges of adultery, incest and treason against Anne to be true. He had her beheaded in 1536.


  • Handwritten personal ads: Quaint, or ...?

    Image: One of Malik Turner's handwritten personal ads

    Really, is it necessary to spend good money on personal ads? Malik Turner will tell you no. Last October, the Harlem man posted elaborately specific — and handwritten — personal ads at payphones around Manhattan.

    Turner — who was 40 and living with his mom at the time — described himself with great precision in the ads: single, a “sorter/bagger” for a package delivery company, a Rangers and Jets fan, and a person who loves movies, nightclubs, Coney Island, Atlantic City and the color red.

    He was equally precise about what he was seeking: a blonde, long-haired, "big-chested, curvy, leggy, voluptuous (NOT FAT)" woman — or women — between the ages of 21 and 45 who would be "willing to take turns paying on dates (NO GOLDDIGGERS!!!!!)."

    "I just want casual and promiscuous because I don't want anything serious," Turner told The New York Post.

  • Looking for love on a large scale

    Image: John D. Smith's billboard in Orlando

    A feature like this simply wouldn’t be complete without at least one searching-for-romance-via-billboard story. Here’s a gem, selected because of the love-seeker’s gutsy move to let the markets decide:

    In 2009, John D. Smith — a self-described entrepreneur and inventor from Orlando, Fla. — invested in some prominent billboard space right off Interstate 4. Along with a photo of Smith and an image of an elegant red rose, the billboard carried this incredibly direct message: “There Are $1,000 Reasons To ... helpjohnfindlove.com” (Sadly, the website is defunct now, so don’t bother.)

    That reference to $1,000 was sure to be an eye-catcher, right? What might it mean? Well, Smith’s idea was to solicit dates over a period of several months, then zero in on “serious” prospects who seemed worthy of being dated exclusively for seven weeks. He would post photos and bios of the top female contenders on his website and allow visitors to vote on them.

    And then, as WKMG-TV’s website ClickOrlando.com reported, “The person who referred the winning woman [would] get $1,000 in singles, ‘to commemorate John’s former single status.’ ”

  • A parting gift

    Image: YaVaughnie Wilkins and Charles E. Phillips on billboard

    OK, OK, here’s one more billboard story for you:

    Early last year, enormous signs with romantic images of a canoodling couple began popping up in San Francisco, Atlanta and Times Square in New York City. These billboards bore the words, “You are my soulmate forever! —cep” and included a link to the website charlesphillipsandyavaughniewilkins.com.

    Alas, like helpjohnfindlove.com, that website is no longer functioning, but multiple media outlets reported on its contents when it launched: The site featured more of the couple’s romantic photos and love notes dating back to 2001.

    Turns out, though, that the “cep” on the billboards stood for Charles E. Phillips, who at the time was president of software company Oracle and a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. And he was married. To a woman named Karen — not to YaVaughnie Wilkins, the woman with him on the billboards.

    Phillips later acknowledged having an eight-and-a-half year relationship with Wilkins, who clearly lost it when Phillips decided to reconcile with his wife. Indeed, Wilkins was so upset that she masterminded this heaping dish of ice-cold revenge for Phillips.

    He has since stepped down from Oracle and from Morgan Stanley’s board of directors. He’s doing just fine, though: Shortly after leaving Oracle, he landed a job as chief executive officer of business software maker Infor in Atlanta.


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