Between the Pages
The Rules Will Never Die
It’s been 12 years – where are they now?
When I was two years out of college and fresh on the New York dating scene, I read the hottest relationship book on the market: The Rules . This was circa 1996 – before the rise of Internet dating, before Sex and the City put dating back on the map and, frankly, before I’d found myself.
Back then, I scoffed at The Rules. I didn’t need them – I was a self-sufficient, empowered woman, ready to take Manhattan – and its elusive men – by storm. So I went about building my career, dating and becoming a New Yorker. Then in my late 20s, I met someone. I asked him out first (a Rules no-no) and we ended up together for nearly six years.
Then he left me for someone else.
That was three years ago.
Since then, my dating life has been less than fabulous, and I’ve found myself thinking about The Rules again. And so I became the proud owner of All The Rules, an expanded version of the original book. It includes the original Rules as well as The Rules II, written in response to reader questions, and it also provides tips on incorporating The Rules into marriage. The Rules II includes many situations that didn’t apply to me – such as long-distance dating, office dating and getting back an ex – so honestly, I skimmed them. However, I found the chapter on Internet dating particularly helpful, namely the rule advising women to post an ad and let the men come to them. (Trust me – it’s a lot more fun to have them interested in you first.) But I’ve also found one rule particularly difficult to follow: Show up Even if you Don’t Feel Like It. That means go it ALONE sometimes – to events, parties, whatever. I get the premise, but it’s just so hard to do.
Overall, many of The Rules are simple common sense – like don’t rush into sex, don’t expect a man to change and don’t date a married man (duh!). As for me, although I shunned the first book back in ’96, I realize I’ve taken to heart more than I intended: I’ve grown in my career; have developed new interests, started volunteering, and made new friends. Rule #1: Be a Creature Unlike Any Other. And as a result of forming new interests and friends, my social calendar is brimming. Rule#7: Don’t Accept a Saturday Night Date after Wednesday (I’m usually booked by Wednesday) and Rule #13: Don’t See Him More Than Once or Twice a Week (how could I possibly – I’m booked most days!).
But not to worry – The Rules hasn’t turned me into Charlotte York. Instead, the most important thing The Rules can teach a woman is self-esteem. When you spend time building your own life and interests – independent of a man – you begin to truly respect yourself. Only then will a man respect you and see you as an intriguing catch. If you take this perspective from The Rules, it’s not such a bad thing that they’re still going strong. In fact, they’ve aged pretty gracefully.