The original dating bible The Rules was published in 1995, and gained national popularity for its core message: be mysterious. More than a decade later, authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider published Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating, a revamped version of their classic, updated with advice for women dating in today’s texting, Facebooking, instant messaging culture.
It’s easy, and frankly quite fun, to critique these books as blatantly anti-feminist.
Fein and Schneider preach that it’s not OK to stand next to a guy, let alone talk to him first, since men should always be the pursuers. If this kind of baseless advice isn’t enough to get you riled up, just wait til you read that men prefer ladies with straight, long hair (“curly do’s can look messy, while long stick-straight hair looks more like one of those luscious shampoo ads”), and that girls looking for love should invest in fake eyelashes and hair extensions.
If this sort of backwards thinking makes you want to throw the book across the room, I don’t blame you. However, Fein and Schneider do come up with some worthwhile nuggets of advice, particularly when it comes to interacting with men online and through texting. I’ve compiled a few of the messages I think are worth considering—as long as you keep your beautiful head of bouncy curls.
1. Wait at least four hours before responding to the first message text message. When he sends you that “Hey, was great meeting you last night” text, your first reaction may be to write a lengthy message. But waiting a few hours to respond won’t kill him and will build his anticipation. And if you wait, you give the impression that you are a busy chick—working, running errands, going to the gym, or doing whatever it is that you do. After that first exchange, the authors suggest taking at least a half hour to respond to each message. That may be a bit long, but it makes you think twice about responding right away. The authors have a more exact timetable for messaging that correlates with your age range (ugggh), which seems too formulaic.
2. End the conversation first. Many times when you meet a potential new guy, texts fests ensue, and soon you find you’ve been texting for hours. While that satisfies your need for instant gratification, I agree with the authors that it makes sense to save conversation for an in-person encounter. By resisting the urge to text him for hours, you give him something to look forward to and don’t reveal too much, too soon. The authors suggest that after having a convo of about ten messages, you should end the session. Tell him you’re going to yoga, grabbing coffee with a friend, or hopping in the shower. By ending the conversation first, you’re giving him in the impression that you a life and have something better to do (even if it’s watching “Homeland” in your PJs).
3. Stay quiet on the weekend. The authors suggest that you refrain from texting and talking via social media on the weekends, to create the illusion that you are out having fun (possibly dating other guys) and are too cool to be at your computer or sending him a text. (Keep in mind you’re not supposed to text him first anyway.) While I don’t think a weekend blackout is completely necessary, it’s cool to be nonchalant. The authors also recommend that women never respond to a text after midnight. This is really solid advice that should probably be taught in college. Nothing good happens late at night.
4. Don’t sext. It’s not uncommon for a modern lady to send risque messages or provocative pictures to a guy she is dating and trusts. But remember how easy it is to forward messages to a group of people, or to post them on Facebook. Don’t send him anything you wouldn’t want your friends and family to see, because you never know—one day they could, particularly after a nasty breakup.
5. Don’t friend him on Facebook. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think it’s nice for your crush to friend you first. I’ve friended way too many guys late at night immediately after a “meet cute,” and in hindsight I realize it kind of screams “I WANT TO SEE YOU NAKED.”
6. Don’t talk about his Facebook profile. Of course you’re going to look—in fact, you’ll probably study it so you can pepper your conversation with some common interests—but if you make a direct reference to it, you’ll look like a creeper.
7. Don’t write all over his wall. It’s cool to post on his page for his birthday or to congratulate him on a recent promotion. But the authors warn that too much posting or too many mushy messages make it appear that you are trying to “claim” this guy and show the world he is your property. If he really is yours, everyone in the real world will already know it.
8. Don’t post that stupid status. The authors rightly suggest that you think twice before posting lyrics to a lonesome song or something cliched and negative (“Karma’s a bitch”). Being sad or mad on Facebook is not attractive and makes it seem like you’re seeking attention. Avoid negative messages like “Ughh, worst day ever at work.” Post content that reflects the witty, creative person you are.
I certainly don’t think this book is the be-all and end-all of dating advice, but it’s an interesting read for women looking for another perspective on dating in today’s completely wired world. Everybody knows that rules are meant to be broken, which why it’s a good idea to use the rules that work for you, and toss the ones that seem too archaic.
Do you follow any of these rules, or do they seem hopelessly anti-feminist?