Women have flourished in the job market, in part because of our strong communication skills. If the rules taught us to ignore calls and mysteriously fend off suitors, the internet has taught us befriending everyone and ‘liking’ everything is more productive.
As breadwinners, we also can’t have the same expectations from men. If taking a woman on a cheap date is a sign of a selfish partner, today it’s just practical.
Also practical: having sex when you want to. The Rules‘ biggest rule relies on the “why buy the cow” principle. Men lose interest when you sleep with them, according to the co-authors and the billions of parents raising girls in generations past.
While that may not be entirely untrue, shedding a disinterested guy is not the worst thing for grown women anymore.
“Single young women in their sexual prime-that is, their 20s and early 30s…are for the first time in history more success¬ful, on average, than the single young men around them,” writes The End of Men author Hannah Roisin. “What makes this remarkable development possible is … but the whole new landscape of sexual freedom-the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career.”
According Rosin, young women see marriage as an obstacle not an end goal. And that’s not altogether a bad thing, considering the way so many of them fail. Fein herself is on her second marriage, after an ugly divorce that also, strangely, involved a lawsuit with her dentist.
Perhaps The Rules did work — at least in terms of getting married, if not staying married–back when men and women needed different things from each other. But today they can shake the foundation of a perfectly running relationship.
“Women are now more economically independent and thus able to set the terms of marriage-and usually they set them too high for the men to reach,” Rosin writes in The End of Men.
And where do you think we got those high expectations from? Fein, Schneider, and in some cases, mom.
According to that collective, men should chase women to extreme lengths, they should express their loyalty through money, and they should never, ever (this is very important) wait more than two years to propose. If we’ve learned anything from past generations and Donald Trump, it’s that none of those things are indicators of lasting relationship. But if you came of age during The Rules’ heyday, you may still have a chestnut-sized cloud of doubt in your brain whenever a guy splits a check, asks you to spend the night, or lets you talk freely without judgement.
It’s hard to break the rules sometimes, and harder still to accept that mom didn’t always know best. But in this case, she didn’t.
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