Read an Excerpt
Not Your Mother's Rules The New Secrets for Dating
By Ellen Fein
Grand Central Publishing Copyright © 2013 Ellen Fein
All right reserved.
Why We Wrote This Book
HAS YOUR MOTHER or another relative, friend, or acquaintance ever said, “You’re so pretty, smart, and nice—why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Did you feel speechless because you couldn’t figure it out either and were not sure what you were doing wrong in the dating department?
Women today manage to graduate with honors, climb the corporate ladder, win Olympic gold medals, and even run for president of the United States, but getting a guy to ask them out or commit is next to impossible! Alas, we know the reason why most pretty, smart, and nice women don’t have a significant other: they either pursue guys or act too eager when guys make the first move!
Here’s how it all started: About twenty years ago we were having dinner with five friends at a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side in New York City, a scene sort of like one from Sex and the City, but before Sex and the City existed. Every woman brought her dating problem to the table. We noticed that the women who played hard to get, either on purpose or because they were truly busy, got the guys, while the women who asked guys out or showed too much interest got dumped. We put two and two together, watched it work in real life, and decided to write a dating book to share the secrets of this phenomenon to help every woman on earth—not just our friends—date successfully.
Simply put, The Rules are a way of acting around any guy who initiates conversation with you, whether in person or online, so he becomes obsessed with you and wants to commit. Yes, it’s about playing hard to get, because guys love a challenge and lose interest when anything is too easy—especially women.
The Rules became an instant best seller and was translated into twenty-seven languages—because guys are the same all over the world! We appeared on just about every TV and radio show, preaching the play-hard-to-get gospel. We started a worldwide phone and e-mail consultation business and a free Rules network; we have helped thousands of women date with boundaries to find self-esteem, love, and marriage.
Now we want to help you date successfully; we want to share our time-tested secrets with you, which are applicable whether you’re dealing with texting, Facebook, instant messages, or Skype. You can truly do The Rules on any guy, in any situation, and get the fabulous payoff: a guy who is crazy about you!
Are you tired of guys texting you or friending or messaging you on Facebook, but not asking you out?
Have you heard of The Rules, but are not sure how to apply these dating secrets to today’s technologies?
Have you had it with casual relationships and hookups and spending Saturday nights or Valentine’s Day alone?
Do you wonder why some women who are not even as pretty or smart or nice as you get the guys, and you don’t?
Do you suspect that you are doing something wrong, but are not sure what?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you are reading the right dating book! We wrote Not Your Mother’s Rules because how to get and keep a guy is not taught in high school, college, or even later in life. Women both young and old, including our clients, contacts, dating coaches, and those who are getting back into the dating game, begged us to write another book covering the latest shape dating has taken on. Even mothers wrote to us asking how they could help their daughters!
We wrote this updated version of The Rules to teach women how to capture the heart of Mr. Right in the new world of dating and romance. But the truth is, all the old Rules still apply! We strongly encourage you to read or at least browse through All the Rules in addition to this book; some of the content may seem a bit outdated, but the spirit of our message is still the same. In 2013 there are some nuances to the older Rules that weren’t even on their way to existing yet in 1995! We’ve included a few Rules here that have come up in our previous books, but with updates pertaining to today’s dating world. We even use some of the same terminology in this book, like buyer beware (Rule #22) and Next! (Rule #31). We also wrote a quick reference guide about the most important Rules to keep in mind from those books in Chapter VII, “20 Rules That Bear Repeating.” Your mother may have bought you a copy of this book, or maybe you bought it yourself to find answers. No matter how it got into your hands, we will teach you how to use The Rules in a world full of texting, tweeting, wall writing, booty calling, and more—all of which has changed the way everyone dates.
But before you can do The Rules, you have to understand that men and women are different. This fact may seem shocking because you were raised to think that men and women are equal and that women can do anything they want. Women can become doctors and lawyers and make the same salaries as men. They can run marathons and even run for political office! While all this is true, women cannot be the pursuer in a romantic relationship without the possibility of getting rejected, hurt, or perhaps even devastated. Men and women are not the same romantically. Men love a challenge, while women love security. 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. In fact, one of the guys we interviewed for this book said, “I could never be a girl—you talk about relationships too much!” LOL! It’s true: A woman gets a text or e-mail from a guy she likes and she forwards it to five girlfriends to analyze it. A guy gets a text, thinks about it for less than a second, and then turns back to the football game. Vive la différence!
The other thing you need to understand is that men are extremely visual and cannot be attracted to a girl just because she is nice, smart, or funny. They know who they like instantaneously. It may sound bad, but physical attraction is everything for a guy. He can’t possibly love your insides if he doesn’t love your outsides, so it’s a waste of time to initiate contact. You may not be his type or look and he will eventually dump you for the girl he is physically attracted to. Conversely, while women also have a type/look, they can grow to like a guy who is funny or successful. But a guy just can’t do it! Women are more emotional about love and can be swept away by a guy’s personality, while most guys can’t get past a woman’s looks. Yet another way men and women are wired differently!
Knowing these differences between the sexes will help you do The Rules—play hard to get—because being a challenge is the secret to getting a guy. Men are easily bored, so if you want a guy to pursue you, don’t act so interested. Treat him a little bit like a guy you don’t care for! As we wrote in our first book, don’t speak to a man first, don’t ask him out, don’t accept last-minute dates, don’t see him too often, and don’t date him forever. These are the keys to dating!
So why Not Your Mother’s Rules—and why now? Facebook, Gchat, texting, and other social technologies have made it almost impossible for women to be elusive and mysterious. Every woman is glued to her cell phone and guys can reach her morning, noon, and night. Not exactly hard to get! How exactly can a woman do The Rules under these new circumstances, you ask?
We were talking to a new client who was just out of college and she was complaining about how hard it is to follow The Rules with the new levels of accessibility. She said that, thanks to The Rules, she knew not to call men or ask them out. And thanks to The Rules for Online Dating, she got that she shouldn’t contact a guy after looking at his profile or respond to a wink. But texting, Facebook, Gchat, Twitter, and Skype were throwing her for a loop. She didn’t know if The Rules applied—and if they did, how exactly? She had so many questions! Was it okay to text a guy first? If you had to wait to text back, how long was Rules-y and how long was just rude? Were there new Rules for all this? With all due respect, she said, technology has changed so much since our previous books were published—everyone texts constantly now and thinks nothing of friending guys and tweeting all day long, so how was it going to all work out for a Rules Girl like her?
Another client called with similar questions, and then another client and another, and then our own daughters and their friends were asking us questions, so we knew we had to address these issues—we knew we had to write this book! Everything is different now, and more instantaneous, so how could The Rules possibly apply?
We remember back in 1995 when readers labeling themselves feminists scoffed at the idea of not calling men and rarely returning their calls. Now not calling men first is considered normal!
While this book is for a new generation, nothing has changed about what women want in a relationship: to be able to trust that a guy loves them for who they are, and to know that he will be there for them. The Rules still apply!
We finally decided to write this book when Heather, twenty-six, e-mailed us about what she thought was a life-altering dating experience. Heather had met a really cute guy at an upscale bar the night before. The next day he had texted her three times before 5 p.m. We were impressed. Three times? “Yeah, I lost my phone. By the time I found it after work the next day, there were three texts from him. The first message was ‘hey, it’s Cory from last night, great meeting you, text me back when you get a chance.’ The second was ‘are you doing anything tonight?’ And the third said, ‘are you free this weekend?’ I can’t believe I got asked out on a date this soon, I guess he really likes me!”
We told Heather to text him back that night, “Hey, nice meeting you too. This weekend is great.” She did not have to divulge that she lost her phone. This way Cory would think that she had other things going on besides him, so he could get used to having to pin her down. Once you text a new guy back immediately, he begins to expect it all the time and the thrill of the chase is gone.
Had she not lost her phone, Heather and Cory would probably have texted back and forth all day and he might have gotten bored and not have been so quick to ask her out. But not having instant access was a breath of fresh air and made him act fast. Heather got to know right away how this guy felt instead of wondering how he felt, and also wondering why all the marathon text chatting wasn’t leading to a date! What Not Your Mother’s Rules can do for you is similar to the effect of losing your phone for a few hours here and there. It will help you create an air of mystery and a rare longing from guys.
We also felt compelled to write this book because many of the women who used The Rules to get married almost twenty years ago want to see their friends, sisters, and nieces in healthy relationships, or at least not getting hurt unnecessarily by men. They want other women to experience the same happiness they themselves found by dating with self-esteem and boundaries. Older women who are divorced and now back in the dating game or women who have never been in a Rules relationship often call us to say how confused they are about e-mailing, texting, and other technology, so we wrote this book to help them as well.
Additionally, many mothers are understandably nervous about how to deal with their daughters dating and feel helpless or out of touch (“She never tells me anything!”). We have also written this book for them, including a special chapter teaching them to help their daughters do The Rules without forcing it on them. Our Rules for Mothers will help them encourage their daughters to confide in them and ask for advice instead of shutting them out of their lives. We hope all women, especially daughters and mothers, bond over this book!
Remember, The Rules are an ageless, timeless recipe for romantic relationships. Follow The Rules and you get a guy who is crazy about you. Break The Rules and you get heartache. Whether you are eighteen or twenty-eight or forty-eight years old, we believe all the answers to your dating dilemmas can be found in this book. Not sure how to act or how to dress on dates? See Rule #1 and Rule #2 about being and looking like a Creature Unlike Any Other. Not sure when and how to text a guy back? See Rule #6, with our tried-and-true reply timetable. Not sure about splitting the check or how long to Skype or what to write on a guy’s wall? See our chapters on not buying his love (Rule #19), long-distance relationships (Rule #15), and Facebook (Rule #10). We’ve covered it all! We’ve also included special commentary from our daughters, who grew up with The Rules and can help you apply them to a younger generation and the latest technology. Sometimes a twentysomething can best understand what another twentysomething is going through. We felt it was essential that our daughters weigh in with their unique perspective on the dating dilemmas facing their age group.
If you want to get the full benefit of this book, don’t just read it—read it over and over again. Study it like a textbook. You might even want to highlight sentences that help you remember each Rule. You might want to meet up with other Rules-minded girlfriends on a regular basis to discuss the book and go over your dating problems and our answers as a group—there is strength in numbers! You might want to tear out key pages to put in your bag so you can quickly glance at them in the bathroom on dates.
Without further ado, we present Not Your Mother’s Rules!
The Daughters Weigh In on The Rules
AS THE DAUGHTERS of the authors of The Rules, we wanted to add a little of our own observations and experience in applying The Rules to new times and advancing technology. After all, it only makes sense to include our opinions in a book meant, at least in part, to help people in our generation! Obviously, we are not the relationship experts, but we have learned what dating should be like by watching our moms give women everywhere these successful tools for dating. We’ve heard about every issue you can imagine and how our moms recommended handling them—by now, we pretty much have The Rules ingrained as part of our DNA! For us, The Rules is not a game you play to catch a guy, but a way of life.
Would we be Rules Girls if our mothers hadn’t written the book? Totally! Our moms have never pushed this way of dating on us, but we both have traditional values and believe in old-fashioned courtship, even today. Guys should always pursue girls first—because it works. The fact that our moms wrote The Rules makes us more knowledgeable about the subject, but that’s about it. We have seen for ourselves that girls in real life—and on TV or in movies—who chase guys don’t feel good about themselves and usually end up getting hurt or dumped.
We have grown up with texting, Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, Gchat, Twitter, and a whole bunch of other social networking sites. We know that all this instant communication has made dating harder and more confusing. However, we have watched girls make grave errors with guys by writing all over their Facebook walls, tweeting at them, texting them 24/7—we’ve even seen a few stage 5 clingers, which we promise never ends well.
We all know what it’s like to have a huge crush or fall hard for a guy, and not be able to get him off your mind. Obviously that’s why all anyone talks about is dating! Invest your time and get busy with school, work, friends, hobbies, sports, and clubs—not just with guys. Do something you can be proud of for yourself.
Sprinkled throughout the book, you’ll find our opinions on topics our moms just can’t really relate to as well as we can: tips for keeping yourself from texting a guy, how to deal with a study-abroad relationship, what the deal is with Foursquare, handling a Facebook birthday invite situation, and much more.
The sooner you start learning and doing The Rules, the better. We have seen far too many dating heartaches and wouldn’t want any of that happening to you!
Hug Your Daughter and Other Rules for Mothers
IF YOU’RE READING this chapter, you are probably wondering how you can help your daughter with dating, no matter how old she is. You are an important part of this book—you can influence her in a way no one else can! In fact, during consultations we always ask our clients, “What does your mother think of this relationship?” because we value her opinion and perspective. Perhaps you have tried to help by giving your daughter a copy of The Rules. Perhaps you have tried to lead by example, by being Rules-y in your own relationships. Mothers have written to us or scheduled consultations about their daughters. Many were frustrated watching them break Rules or act out or by the way their boyfriends were treating them. Sometimes they were concerned that their daughters had no boyfriends at all. But like with anything else, these mothers sometimes had to wait until their daughters were ready to listen. We tell them the same things we tell clients: in order for The Rules to help, their daughters have to want to use them, and they must trust their mothers to steer them on the right path.
The first and most important thing you can do to help your daughter is to be there for her. We have interviewed hundreds of young women and have come to the conclusion that those who became promiscuous or acted out sexually did so because they did not get enough attention, affection, or approval growing up. As part of our private consultations, we offer childhood and dating history sessions and have been shocked to find out how many of our clients who have trouble dating had disapproving or absentee mothers. Some mothers rarely hugged their daughters or gave loving or encouraging words, or were too busy and just not home that much. There were few bedtime stories, brownie-baking sessions, or back rubs. Some mothers were even resentful that they had to work full-time and raise a daughter, so they treated her like a burden or nuisance. Others were just having a difficult time of their own, whether divorce, a serious illness, or something else, and did the best they could. Obviously, we feel that daughters would grow up a lot better if their mothers showered them with praise and love.
Jillian, thirty-three, who recently found The Rules, told us that her mother was so emotionally uninterested in her that she never felt attractive or desirable. In college and in her twenties, she was flattered by the slightest interest from guys, like her married boss and guys who never asked her out. She had little or no interest in guys who did like her, because she was so obsessed with the ones who didn’t. We spent hours helping her recover from her mother’s indifference and teaching her our motto to “love only those who love you.” We suggested she join a Rules support group so she could meet other Rules Girls who cared about her situation and stop bad dating patterns. We sent her e-mail links to pretty clothes and gave her advice on how to act on dates. Years after having given up on dating, Jillian joined an online dating website and started to go to clubs and parties. She is now in a serious relationship with a guy who spoke to her first and texts her, “Good morning Gorgeous!” every day.
If you are a mother who has been too busy for your daughter for whatever reason and she seems to have gone astray or you are afraid she might, the solution is love, love, love! All you need is love! If she lives at home, start hugging her today and every day going forward. It is never too late to show affection. Rub her back, brush her hair, kiss her cheek—daughters need to be fussed over. Every day that you hug your daughter is insurance that she won’t be looking for love in all the wrong places. She’s getting affection from either you or some stranger. Let it be you! Physical contact is that important. We know you are busy, between work and cleaning and paying bills and checking e-mails on your cell phone, but it takes only a minute to text your daughter in the middle of the day. Have lunch with her, go see a chick flick together, or take her shopping! Everyone is busy, everyone has long to-do lists, and no one has any time, but if you don’t make time for your daughter now, she will have plenty of time for trouble. It’s never too late to be a good mom.
How can you spend time with her if she’s not around? If she’s in college, ask if there is a weekend or weekday when her workload is light and you can visit. Volunteer to take her friends out to dinner so you can get to know them, which will help you better understand her. If she’s working, do the same: see if there’s a day off or weekend that you could make a girls’ day for just you two. Don’t beg or burden her if she can’t make the time; just letting her know you want to will help her see that you care.
If you are a single mother, you may feel that your love alone is not enough. Don’t worry about that. A child can thrive with only one loving parent. One of our clients had a rageaholic father who never said a kind word to her, but her mother showered her with compliments and kisses. She married someone who tells her she is beautiful all the time! So don’t think your daughter is seriously disadvantaged because you’re her only loving parent. You alone can make a difference.
Further, if you want your daughter to date with self-esteem, you need to practice what you preach! In addition to following The Rules, that means not introducing her to every Tom, Dick, and Harry you meet. Wait until you are in a serious, committed, and exclusive relationship before having your daughter meet anyone. Keep the first meeting brief and lengthen them gradually.
Remember that young women can be sensitive and needy. You should try to give them attention so they don’t feel cast aside or on their own. Making your boyfriend overly important at their expense is a terrible mistake. It’s a balancing act, but you have to figure out a way to make your child feel loved.
At the same time, exercise some restraint. If your daughter is twenty-five or thirty years old and you don’t like the way she dresses or the guys she dates, be careful not to criticize her too much; she will be much more likely to come to you if she ever needs help. If she thinks you are judgmental or controlling, she will rebel or be secretive. There is only so much you can control once your daughter reaches a certain age, so tread softly.
We all know mothers who are overly involved in their daughters’ lives. They live vicariously through their daughters, wanting them to be beauty pageant queens or the most popular girl in high school. Or they friend their daughters’ girlfriends and guy friends and boyfriend on Facebook, even when their daughters specifically asked them not to. These examples of overinvolvement, intrusiveness, and excessive attention are not healthy either. Being an “agent” mom or “friend” mom is better than being an absentee mom, but it can still backfire. A teenager needs love more than she needs to be pushed to have perfect grades or long fake eyelashes or to be cheer captain. Is that what she wants? She can make her own decisions and has to make her own mistakes. The best thing for you to do is be there when she needs you—to advise her, to console her, and to celebrate with her. But it’s her life. If she grows up too fast, she will have a hole in her soul that she will want to fill with bad relationships.
Our Rules in this chapter apply to dads every bit as much as they apply to moms. Let’s be honest, every dad wants his daughter to be a Rules Girl! He wants her to date with self-respect and not to chase guys or go on booty calls. What father would want his daughter seeing a guy 24/7 or sleeping around? We have had clients in college tell us that their dads bought them The Rules or paid for a consultation with us. We know dads care about how their daughters date, and that’s why we wanted to include them in this chapter.
We’ve interviewed many dads and frankly feel they could have helped us write The Rules! One father told his twenty-year-old daughter, “Don’t call guys, don’t chase guys, and I have to meet the guy when he picks you up. He has to look me in the eye, and if he doesn’t, he’s hiding something.” Not all dads are this involved or vocal, nor do their daughters want them to be! But we think dads can help their daughters do The Rules by giving them this book and by treating women with love and respect. We even know happily married men who told their daughters, “Just copy your mom. I dated many women, but she got me to marry her!”
We don’t suggest scaring daughters into Rules-y behavior by saying that all guys just want one thing or by acting unapproachable and judgmental. Remember, dads, you want your daughters to be able to talk to you if they are not sure what to do or are in trouble. If you help her with dating now, you can breathe a sigh of relief when you proudly walk her down the aisle at her wedding!
Moms and dads, if you want to help your daughter have self-esteem and avoid dating problems down the road, here are our suggestions:
Give her a copy of Not Your Mother’s Rules if you haven’t already, as well as The Rules. Many of you contacted us saying that your mother gave you The Rules and you tried to pass down these words of wisdom to your daughters. But they read it and said, “What’s an answering machine? This is so 1950s. Dating is harder now.” So here’s our response to that argument. Just tell her that chasing guys doesn’t work and then let it go. Either she takes to it or she doesn’t—and even if she doesn’t now, she still may later on.
Speak frankly about sex. Tell her that sex between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing, that anything you do when you are in love is wonderful and special, but that random hookups are unfulfilling acts of desperation. You do not have to have a formal sex talk, but you should not pretend that sex doesn’t exist. Watch a chick flick together and ask her questions about characters in the movie to lessen the intensity of the subject. Sex and the City is always useful to discuss this topic. Ask her if Carrie should have waited so long for Mr. Big or what she thinks of Samantha’s casual relationships with men. Ask her which of the four main characters is her role model. Just get a conversation going—young women are reluctant to answer direct questions about their dating life, but they might open up if you talk about it this way.
Don’t react or overreact when your daughter tells you something you don’t like. Some mothers complain that their daughters never tell them anything, and we know why they don’t. Because their mothers scream, “You did what?!” and go crazy on them, the daughters clam up. If you want your daughter to talk to you, to tell you what she’s doing as well as her innermost thoughts, secrets, and fears, be calm in the face of the storm. Don’t be judgmental and scare her away. If she tells you, “I’m dating a guy who you may not like” or “I lost my virginity” or “I’m pregnant” or “I think I’m gay,” just say, “I’m so glad you told me. I love and support you no matter what. It’s your life, so how would you like to handle it?” Let her feel safe with you by not being critical. Say what you mean, but don’t be mean. Sometimes children act out to get a rise out of their parents—if you don’t react, they won’t have a reason to act out, and they will confide in you more often. This way of parenting also means not imposing your will on her by telling her who to date or to “marry a doctor” or whatever you think is best for her.
Do The Rules on your daughter. We know that sounds kind of funny, but it’s true! Don’t be pushy. Don’t bombard her with a million questions. Also, if your daughter asks you not to write on her Facebook wall, don’t do it. You need to respect her boundaries. If you are intrusive, she might start keeping secrets.
Spend time together. If you want your daughter to turn out great, don’t give her just material things. Give her yourself and your time. Go to the movies or shopping, get manicures and pedicures, cook or bake together, rent bicycles, or go jogging. Have favorite TV shows that the two of you watch together. Never be too busy for your daughter.
Teach your daughter about manners and makeup. We are surprised to find out in childhood consultations that some mothers didn’t teach their daughters anything about clothes, hair, and makeup, much less about etiquette and manners. They never played with their hair or painted their toenails or let them borrow their handbags and shoes. If you are letting TV shows and magazines raise your daughter, don’t be shocked if she dresses inappropriately or wears too much makeup. If you didn’t teach her these things when she was younger, start now. Over a school vacation or holiday from work, plan a makeover day. If she’s shy, do it for both of you so she doesn’t feel too much in the spotlight. If she likes being the center of attention, make it all about her: hair, makeup, clothes. You don’t have to spend lots of money, but make her see that she can look great and that you think she looks great. Show that you value her opinion by asking her for outfit advice. If she feels confident, she’ll look confident, and that is a key to doing The Rules!
Don’t resent her. Some mothers are a little (or very) jealous that their daughters seem to have it easier than they did. They feel competitive with them, sometimes even trying to dress like teenagers themselves. Or they simply resent raising a daughter instead of chasing their own dreams. If you feel this way, you may need to get help. Professional or not, you need to talk to someone so you don’t take out your anger on her. Shouldn’t your daughter have a better life than you? As her mother, your job is to give her what you didn’t have, not to be withholding. Don’t say, “My mother never said I was pretty” or “Be grateful. I never had ballet classes!” Instead, be thankful your daughter doesn’t have the emotional or financial hardships you had. Why should she suffer because you did? Give her the best life you can and don’t throw jabs at her. We’re not saying you must spoil her, but give her love and attention and whatever she needs. Rest assured, she will call you more often and visit you when you are older. This love will pay off in a healthy, happy life for her—and isn’t that what we want for our children?
Set limits. Parents who let their children do anything they want are not always doing them a favor. Young women especially need boundaries in a society that glamorizes rudeness, random hookups, spiked heels, and teen pregnancies. Limits equal love. Feel free to say, “Can you please wear a tank top under that see-through shirt?” or “You cannot get tattoos or a nose ring as long as you are living under my roof” or “If you want to smoke, you have to do it outside” or “You cannot have your boyfriend over if I’m not home” or “You can stay out until midnight on the weekends.” Be their parent, not their friend. Kids actually want some rules. Too much freedom is scary for them and can cause problems later on.
Do Whatever You Want Until You Are Ready to Do The Rules
Are you okay when a guy you hook up with never texts you again?
Do you think being asked out last minute is fun and spontaneous, as opposed to insulting?
Do you ask guys to hang out and just shrug when they say no?
Do you continue dating a guy who says he is “not looking for anything serious” and who sees other women?
When your mother or friends suggest The Rules, do you say, “I have an MBA. No one is going to tell me what to do”?
IF YOU ANSWERED yes to any of these questions, then keep doing what you are doing. This book may not be for you—or at least not yet. All we can say is, have fun breaking The Rules while it lasts. Stalk a guy, write on his wall every day, fly to his city, text him at 2 a.m., and tell him how much you like him. Have the time of your life. Be bold, outrageous, and sassy. Act crazy and carefree!
Let’s face it: Most college girls don’t want any rules, much less dating Rules. They want to do whatever they feel like. They are not thinking ring, wedding, marriage, and children, so why should they give up short-term fun for long-term anything? They may not even have any future plans yet. At this point in their lives, they just want to study and party and hopefully graduate! They want to experiment with sex and possibly with drinking and drugs. They are not looking for anything serious. They want to be silly and flirt with whoever catches their eye instead of waiting for the guy who notices them first and makes the first move. They are not looking for husband material. They want the option of going on booty calls when their hormones are raging. They want to run with their feelings instead of being discreet. Why follow a boring set of Rules when you are young and have the rest of your life to do that? Why not have fun now and figure things out later?
We totally get it! The Rules are simply not for women who just want to have fun. They are for women who get hurt and depressed when a relationship doesn’t work out. They are for women who call their best friends, therapists, psychics, or us when they don’t know how to get a guy to commit. They do not find random hookups fulfilling anymore. They want a loving, lasting relationship. If you don’t feel this way yet, then definitely burn the candle at both ends: text guys all night or hop on a plane to meet an online guy you just friended on Facebook or whose profile you just clicked on.
We frequently get e-mails and Facebook messages from women who feel their sister or friend could really use The Rules. They write, “She took back a guy who cheated on her. She really needs The Rules!” or “She’s thirty and been dating this guy for six years and he still hasn’t proposed. She needs to wrap it up already” or “My coworker is in love with a married man with kids and I don’t think he is leaving his wife anytime soon and I can’t get through to her. I wish she would do your Rules.” Or we get e-mails from worried mothers saying, “My daughter is always chasing guys and getting hurt. I’m worried about her getting a reputation. Can you help her?” We get e-mails from women reading gossip blogs or tabloid magazines who write, “I can’t believe so-and-so actress visited him on every movie set and moved in with him. No wonder he thought she was clingy and dumped her. She needs The Rules!” We even have Rules fans on Facebook who feel that the book should be handed out at birth or at puberty or at least taught in sex education in high school!
Of course, we understand how they feel. It’s frustrating to watch a friend or family member or a beloved actress screw up her love life when there is a better way to date. But we tell them what we are telling you here: The Rules are for women who want them, not for women who need them. Playing hard to get and dating with boundaries and self-esteem are not easy to do, and no one is going to do it until they have been burned badly and hit rock bottom.
When women buy our book or get in touch with us for consultations, it’s not because they arbitrarily woke up one day and decided, “I think I want to be a Rules Girl.” It’s not because they have nothing better to do! It’s because they just got hurt by yet another guy in yet another going-nowhere relationship, and desperately want to change their MO. They have endured years of pain and suffering and humiliation, and this last relationship is the final straw. The boyfriend cheated again or the guy they dated for five years never proposed or the married man didn’t leave his wife, and they just can’t take it anymore! They’re tired of waiting or stalking or having fantasy relationships. They’re tired of instant gratification with nothing to show for it. They’re tired of being dateless to their cousin’s wedding. They’re tired of being dumped.
In some cases, a woman will contact us because she just met Mr. Right and doesn’t want to blow it. After years of breaking Rules and settling for random hookups, she finally meets a cute guy and after one kiss she has an aha! moment. She realizes that she does want a healthy loving relationship, not just a lot of texting and sex. She doesn’t want to mess it up by coming on too strong (“What are you doing tonight? I have two tickets to a concert”) or being needy (“When will I see you again?”). She thinks, “Whoa, I don’t want to lose this guy. I need a plan!” When a woman is at this point, when she wants to stop her self-destructive dating habits, she is ready for The Rules.
Naturally, we understand that some younger girls reading this book might have a hard time following it. They are in an environment where their friends have frat guys on speed dial and everyone is getting drunk and going on booty calls—not ending dates first! They are still figuring things out and finding themselves. Try to tell your typical college sophomore to have “one drink” and to “wait until she is in a committed relationship to have sex” or “rarely write on a guy’s wall,” and see how far you get. We have spoken at colleges and at seminars where young women have complained that it’s hard to do The Rules when everyone they know is texting guys nonstop and hooking up. But the truth is that you can still be a Rules Girl regardless of your circumstances or environment. You may not want to get married at nineteen, but you might want to be in a loving relationship in which the guy is crazy about you. The Rules give you the upper hand. You have control. You don’t get hurt. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?
College girls are not the only rebellious ones. We hear from women in their twenties who are into self-discovery and following their hearts—not into thinking hard and abiding by a boring set of dating dos and don’ts. They feel that The Rules are not fun or that they are not ready to do them now—maybe in five years. We get it. We also have clients in their thirties, forties, and fifties who are just out of a long relationship or an unhappy marriage. They have not been on a date with a new guy in years. They call us to find out what The Rules answer is to their situation, but then they are not ready to follow through. They crave recklessness. They want to act like adolescents and have three-hour textfests and eight-hour first dates and even a few one-night stands.
We had one client who was determined to “sow her wild oats” after being married to a workaholic husband who never wanted sex. After e-mailing a cute guy she met online, she decided to instant message him at 2 a.m. and thought it would be “an adventure” to drive an hour away to meet him at his place that weekend. They slept together and she stayed with him for three days. She said she didn’t care if she never heard from him again because she just wanted to have fun and make up for lost time. She heard from him sporadically over a period of three months—only when he wanted her to drive to his place. There were no romantic dinners or loving e-mails. After he ended the relationship by text, she was crushed. She realized that even when you tell yourself, “It’s okay if it’s just sex,” it usually isn’t; women want more! So now she is doing The Rules and loving it!
We have some intellectual-type clients who argue that The Rules are disingenuous. They want to “write their own rules” and “let their spirit move them” to e-mail or text a guy or sleep with him. We tell them that this philosophy sounds good, but to call us after they get hurt and/or meet the guy they really want to settle down with. And they usually do! Sometimes they do The Rules by accident because they didn’t really think they liked the guy and call us triumphantly to say, “I didn’t do The Rules, and we’re engaged.” But we explain that just because it was by accident doesn’t mean it’s not The Rules. It’s kind of like losing ten pounds without really trying, because you had a stomach flu.
No matter what your age, whether you are a single college freshman or a divorced forty-five-year-old, The Rules are for you if you are tired of making mistakes with men and getting hurt or dumped. The Rules are for you if you want to be in a healthy, loving relationship with a boyfriend and/or future husband, as opposed to one-night stands and instant-message marathons. So when doing “whatever you want” stops working, you’ll think about doing The Rules! Until then, go wild!
Be a Creature Unlike Any Other
WHEN WOMEN CONTACT us for a consultation, they are usually not feeling great about themselves. The guy they’ve had a crush on hasn’t asked them out, their boyfriend of three years hasn’t proposed, or their college sweetheart just broke up with them by text. They feel hurt and inadequate and unlovable. Some want to swear off dating indefinitely or until they feel they can trust men again. They get a pet or eat ice cream, or miss school or work for days. But we help them get back into the game and reassure them that, regardless of their situation, they are a Creature Unlike Any Other—any man would be lucky to date them! We give them their confidence back.
Being a Creature Unlike Any Other is not about being the prettiest or most popular girl, but about confidence and self-esteem no matter what else is going on in your life. It’s about dating with dignity and not being desperate. A CUAO is not anxious or jealous or negative or cynical. She believes in love, even after a bad breakup. She would never say that there’s no one good at a singles event or that only losers are on dating websites or that she’ll never meet anyone. Instead, she walks into a club like she owns the place and tells herself as she circles the room, “I’m beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to talk to me? There is someone out there for me.” Of course, she may not really feel this way or totally believe it, but she acts as if she does! If any of us had waited until we felt like dating after a bad breakup, we might still be waiting. How long should you wait to date again? One day is more than enough—the best way to get over a guy is just to meet another one! You can cry over your ex while Googling speed-dating events. You have no time to waste!
Being a CUAO is also about doing the best with what you have, not wishing you were someone else. It doesn’t matter if you were not popular in high school, if your family is dysfunctional, or if you are unemployed; you are optimistic and don’t complain (at least not on dates!). You still show up with a hot outfit and a smile on your face. You hold your head up high without staring at any man; you walk around the room repeating the mantra that you are beautiful and any man would be lucky to meet you! Women are notorious for putting themselves down, so we tell them to pump themselves up. When you are thinking like a CUAO, you are less likely to talk to a man first, go out with him on a moment’s notice, or get drunk and then sleep with him.
Excerpted from Not Your Mother's Rules by Ellen Fein Copyright © 2013 by Ellen Fein. Excerpted by permission.
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