The most interesting piece I've looked at so far is The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right. It's actually an entire book, but Hannah's professor just xeroxed off a few chapters for the class. If I ever find it at a thrift store or garage sale, I think I may have to get it, just out of curiosity. It's very interesting in a sad, twisted sort of way. It's essentially a manual for playing the old-fashioned game of "hard-to-get". There's about an ounce of truth to the concepts presented, and several hundred pounds of hogwash.
I have to applaud the authors, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, for starting off on the right foot. They make no bones about the fact that women follow The Rules to find a lasting romance and a life-long marriage, of which most women dream, even if they hesitate to admit it (emphasis mine):
Modern women aren't to talk loudly about wanting to get married. We had grown up dreaming about being the president of the company, not the wife of the president. So, we quietly passed The Rules on from friend to friend, somewhat embarassed because they seemed so, well, '50s. Still, we had to face it: as much as we loved being powerful in business, for most of us, that just wasn't enough. Like our mothers and grandmothers before us, we also wanted husbands who would be our best friends. Deep inside, if the truth be told, we really wanted to get married - the romance, the gown, the flowers, the presents, the honeymoon - the whole package.
Perhaps I should begin by summarizing The Rules. The basic idea behind the book is that men like a challenge and will only appreciate something for which they have to work hard. We single women should be the elusive, lofty desirables who make men want to come after us. In the words of the authors (emphasis mine):
They [The Rules] are a simple way of acting around men that can help any woman win the heart of the man of her dreams. . . The purpose of the rules is to make Mr. Right obsessed with having you as his by making yourself seem unattainable.
My problem is the mentality that is behind The Rules. The authors seem to ignore the fact that the end does not justify the mean, nor does good ambition always result in success in the long-run. I think The Rules, at least the little I am acquainted with them, seem based on manipulation and snobbery almost - an attempt at superficiality that is a dangerous way to enter any relationship. Follow Rules X, Y, and Z to snag Mr. Right and live happily ever after!!??
The portions of the book that I read are riddled with anecdotal evidence. So-and-so didn't follow The Rules and ended up with Bozo; so-and-so did follow the rules and is married to Mr. Perfect who adores her. Wow, those few examples really convince me. I love all sweeping generalizations. *rolls eyes* The authors make some wonderful promises to those who commit to follow The Rules. Just a sampling:
If you follow The Rules, you can rest assured that your husband will treat you like a queen - even when he's angry with you. Why? Because he spent so much time trying to get you. You have become so precious to him that he doesn't take you for granted.
and. . .
When you do The Rules, you don't have to worry about being abandoned, neglected, or ignored!
and. . .
Read The Rules. Follow them completely (not a la carte) and you will be happy you did. How many of us know women who never quite trust their husbands and always feel slightly insecure? They may even see therapists to talk about why their husbands don't pay attention to them. The Rules will save you about $125 an hour in therapy bills.
Ironic that the authors offer $200 e-mail consultations or 1-hour phone consultations for $250 - and I'm not making this up!
The authors admit that playing hard-to-get isn't easy work, and they consistently acknowledge that:
It's easy to do The Rules with men you're not that interested in. Naturally, you don't call them, instantly return their calls, or send them love letters. Sometimes your indifference makes them so crazy about you that you end up marrying one of them. That's because you did The Rules (without even thinking about it) and he proposed! But settling for less is not what this book is about. The idea is to do The Rules with the man you're really crazy about. This will require effort, patience, and self-restraint. . . Keep thinking, "How would I behave if I weren't that interested in him?" And then behave that way. Would you offer endless encouragement to someone you didn't really like? Would you stay on the phone with him for hours? Of course not!
So, we women are therefore instructed to turn a cold-shoulder to the men we like, because that will drive them crazy and make them love us even more. Isn't that nice?
The authors first discovered The Rules from their friend Melanie, a girl who seemed to just attract men like bees to honey. Finally the authors asked Melanie what her secret was, and she told them:
One day, after years of watching girls like Melanie snag the men of our dreams, we asked Melanie how she got such a great catch. She took pity on us and told us about The Rules. She said that we were nice but we talked too much and were overly eager, and that we mistakenly tried to be "friends" with men rather than elusive butterflies, or, as she put it, "creatures unlike any other." Needless to say, we were offended by what seemed to us to be downright trickery and manipulation.
Hmm, I'm rather offended as well. Creatures unlike any other could be good (depending), but elusive butterflies? It's interesting to note that Melanie's grandmother (who passed The Rules down to her) was considered a romantic success because of all the proposals she received in her youth. Granted, I'm not trying to blame every refused proposal on the young lady in question, who may well be innocent in the matter (hehe, thinking of a certain scene with Lizzy and Mr. Collins. . . ), but a general pattern of frequent proposals and subsequent refusals does give one reason to question the motives and behaviors of the said young lady. . .
We're not allowed to be friendly to men, says Melanie? That rubs me the wrong way. . . I really don't like this notion of turning a cold-shoulder to men in whom you are interested, coupled with the picture of an "elusive butterfly." My dislike is founded on a number of reasons, most notably the following two: I like to be nice to people, and I don't like to communicate false feelings to people. This post is already rather long, so I'll expand my thoughts on that in my next post, to be completed very shortly, Lord willing.
It is interesting to note that The Rules hinge on the "believing in yourself" mentality that just makes me nauseated. Anything with that sort of mindset is not for me. I gag over commercials that urge people to buy something because "you're worth it." *shudder* Definitely not my cup of tea. Evidently it is the cup of tea from which a bonafide Rules Girl is supposed to drink: You tell yourself, "Any man would be lucky to have me," until it sinks in and you start to believe it.
There also seems to be an over-obsession with outward appearance. I will give the authors this: they recognize the value of neatness and orderliness and encourage good eating and exercise to keep your body health. They also encourage feminine dress, which I fully support! Of course their idea of feminine clothes is a little different from mine. . . but I'll spare you the details. After the positives I mentioned, though, their attention to outward appearance seems to go downhill:
Don't leave the house without wearing makeup. Put lipstick on even when you go jogging! Do everything you possibly can to put your best face forward. If you have a bad nose, get a nose job; color gray hair; grow your hair long. . . Manicures, pedicures, periodic facials, and massages should become part of your routine. And don't forget to spray on an intoxicating perfume when you go out.
I'm not claiming that any of the above is wrong nor that I don't do some of the above myself (see recent post on long hair. . . ), but it is more the way the authors insist that all these things are needed to attract men. Lipstick while jogging? Give me a break!
A final point of irritation is the absolute trust the authors have in their method. The reader is entreated, trust this process. It seems The Rules are viewed as a magical formula to find a perfect guy, and neither the formula nor the perfect guy exists on this earth! Call me strange, but I think that God is the author of romance. If I thought it was a matter of chance and game, I'd have reason to fret and worry with discontent at my current single status. As it is, though, I am commanded to rest in God's sovereignty, trusting in His perfect plan. Paints a different picture, does it not?
So, all in all I don't think I'll become a Rules Girl. I think I'll just be a girl of the Golden Rule, which certainly doesn't command me to lead men in an intricate game of guessing and flirtation. More importantly, I'm striving to be a Praying Girl, realizing that ultimately my romantic future is in the hands of He who created the love between man and woman. My method may not sell zillions of copies or be translated into 27 languages. It also won't garner me oodles of proposals like Melody or her grandmother, but then, as Amy from Little Women would say, "You only need one, if he's the right one."