Breaking the rules

The fact is, you can’t always be so frigid and rigid when you’re single and desperately seeking. Just be yourself

May 21, 2010 18:30
Throwing away the dating rule book

Ndating rules 311. (photo credit: NPepe Fainberg)


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Dating is, unfortunately, filled with games and rules: how to play hard to get; how to be a challenge for a man; etc. Two Jewish women, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, even made a list of strict rules that must be followed in order to get a husband. Back in 1995, they put them in a best-selling book titled The Rules.

But rules are made to be broken, and you can’t always be so frigid and rigid when you’re single and desperately seeking. That means if a guy doesn’t call within two days, you shouldn’t automatically write him off. Now I don’t believe there’s ever a good enough excuse for not calling, what with cell phones being glued to our heads nowadays, but sometimes a great guy deserves a pass.

This “pass” only works if you’re not sitting by the phone waiting, checking to make sure the ringer is on so you haven’t missed a call and keeping your cell in your hand and on vibrate during a movie, just in case. It only works if you’ve been so busy working, schmoozing and, yes, even dating, that you didn’t notice the extra few days that elapsed between when he asked for your phone number and when he dialed it.

Rule No. 5 – “Don’t Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls” – is not so cut and dried. The hope is that the guy was just as busy living his own life as you are living yours that he didn’t call until he had sufficient time to dedicate to speaking with you. It’s up to you to decide if you want to give him that pass, but don’t let him know that!

Be that easygoing gal every guy says he wants to meet, but never does. But do make a note of it in the back of your mind because if it happens again and again, then it’s a pattern – and a problem.

Another broken rule that can be given a pass is when a guy calls after Wednesday (or after Tuesday in Israel) to ask you out for the weekend – Rule No. 7 in the book.

On the one hand, a man may need to know that you require more advanced warning because you are a busy and popular gal; but if he’s calling you on a Thursday for Saturday and you have nothing to do, and on top of that you actually like the guy, then why not accept the date?

This pass is perfect (though please don’t actually tell him you’re giving him a pass) when you met the man less than a week ago, or when you know he’s just returning from a work trip. Another time to use the pass is when you just had your first date a few days prior, really enjoyed yourself and want to keep the momentum going.

A pass should not be given in extreme circumstances. Sometimes you need to set a bar for yourself regarding how you wish to be treated – and not let anyone manipulate those standards, no matter how charming he may be.

Like when you emailed a J*Date your phone number, and he ignored it completely and continued to email you. A pass should not be given when you feel disappointed or hurt because you don’t want to set the precedent that this type of behavior is okay.

Meeting a husband by following the rules is actually the exception to the rule in the game of life.

Ellen Fein got a divorce not long after the book was published – which just goes to show that even if you can get a guy using the rules, it doesn’t mean you can keep him!

And it means she didn’t follow Rule No. 26, which is “Even if You’re Engaged or Married You Still Need to Do the Rules.” Are you supposed to act like someone you’re not for the rest of your life in order to be married to a man who doesn’t love you for who and what you are?

Silly rules for dating have been created by people who used the tactics once – and coincidentally succeeded – and that is why these people think they are experts. They probably played other games with previous men, and since they didn’t work at the time, they didn’t get included in the book.

Rules are made to be broken for this reason – because following a list of rules instead of just being yourself is ridiculous.

If you want to give a guy a break for waiting three days to call you instead of two, then do so. Who knows, he may be “the one,” and had you not given him some leeway, you would never have known that.

Some of the rules in the book are just plain childish. Such as No. 19 “Don’t Open Up Too Fast” and No. 20 “Be Honest, But Mysterious.” Men should be given a bit of credit for knowing what kind of women they want to date, just as women should give themselves more credit for being able to think for ourselves.

Our predecessors fought long and hard for equal rights – and we continue to fight today for equal pay. By being proud of being a “Rules Girl,” you are implying that you need to be someone else in order to get a man, and that you need a man in order to get a life.

Do you want a man to fall in love with you, or with a robot? The theories behind most of these rules are well-founded (If a man likes you he will call you; don’t rush into sex, stay busy, accentuate the positive) but striving to obey all the rules is unrealistic, and not fair to men.

Be the best version of yourself that you can, and strive to become that person all the time. That should be the only rule to follow in the game of love, as well as in the game of life.

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