Years ago, I worked in a bookstore in Manhattan. I happened to be on board the summer the mega-bestseller, The Rules, hit. I was still in college at the time, so dating to me meant hooking up with a friend after a party and then continuing to hook up until you both decided to call it a relationship. This was also 1996 – we didn’t have cell phones (unless you were a drug dealer and had a pager) and the internet still sounded pretty sci-fi. Plus, it was a small campus. Good luck avoiding the awkward fallout from any romantic games that one might have tried to play.
But then, I joined the real world. And I remembered back to that atrocious little book that all the young women on the Upper East Side bought in droves that summer. The Rules. How to be coy, how to be cunning, how to play the game right so you could score yourself a man: whereas I was merely confused by it as a coed, I became sickened by it as a yuppie. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that the girls who got the guys somehow knew something I didn’t, and I feared it was those stupid rules.
After five years of being single, I had gone from flipping the bird at game-playing, to awkwardly joining in, to giving up altogether, because what I found out, is that games aren’t the preludes to a relationship… ever. In fact, they are the biggest sign that a relationship ain’t gonna happen.
Three years ago, I found myself in a brief but passionate relationship with a man whose moniker was Jimmy Voltage, and I thought I would try my hand at these mysterious games. He would call, I would wait to respond. He would text and based on the length of his texts, I would write less. And yet somehow, my standoffishness just wasn’t authentic enough. He could tell I liked him, and he began to use it against me.
“You’ve read the book, right?” my friend Natalie asked after I complained to her that I was no good at these hard to get tricks.
“He’s Just Not That Into You – no, but I read the intro,” I tried.
“No, not that one. That one just tells you when you’ve lost. You have to read the one that tells you how to win.”
I braced myself for The Rules.
“It’s called Why Men Love Bitches,” Natalie offered. “I’ll bring it to you tomorrow. It’s how I got Reggie.”