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.”
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:
“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.”
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!”
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.