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The New "Rules" of Dating

By Paul Vandervoort

I'll never forget what happened when I was first courting Debbie. She called me! Right out of the blue. Just to say hello. She liked me. It was wonderful to hear from her.

Today a hot new book argues that men should not be given this pleasure. According to this book, men should make all the phone calls, pick the woman up at her place, pick up the meal tab, and buy her lots of flowers & gifts. The woman doesn't have to buy anything, do anything, be responsible for anything, or take any psychological risks. Furthermore, the woman should always end the phone conversation first--after no more than ten minutes. This strategy of playing hard-to-get is supposed to make Mr. Right go mad with desire for you. If it doesn't, then the guy must be a loser.

The book is The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

In all the recent talk about the different planets we come from, it's easy to forget just how much men and women are the same. If I were writing a book advising women on how to capture the heart of Mr. Right, I would first suggest she consider those qualities which she finds attractive in men and try to emulate them herself as much as possible.

People of both genders generally prefer someone who is self-assured, physically fit and trim, financially stable, and free of drug/alcohol/gambling problems. Women and men prefer a mate who has a sense of humor, enjoys life, and is fun to be around. No one likes someone who is quick to anger or tends to complain a lot. These qualities have vastly more influence on whether Mr. Right's heart is won than the coy and selfish games advocated in "The Rules." What happens during the phone conversation is much more important than who makes the call and who terminates it.

But then it is much harder to face one's own shortcomings and improve one's self than to follow a simple set of rules for playing hard to get. That's why my book won't get published (or even written) and The Rules is selling like water. Fein & Schneider are following a time-tested secret for selling books: Tell people what they want to hear.

Rules Girls insist that The Rules really work. According to _Time_, Rules Girl Hedy Tan claims that she is "weeding out the losers real quick." How does she know these guys are losers? One assumption here is that any man who gives up easily was never really interested in the first place. I'm sure this is true in some cases.

But I can think of a number of other reasons why Mr. Right might stop calling a Rules Girl:

"Hmm... She doesn't return my calls. She's always in a hurry to get off the phone. Too bad. I really like her. But it isn't my style to stalk after someone who isn't interested in me. I think I'll just leave her alone and go on to the next gal."

It's also possible that the not-so-aggressive guy is himself playing hard-to-get. Any fellow can attest that women enjoy "the thrill of the chase" at least as much as men do. A woman who is only tentatively interested in a guy can easily be turned off if the guy shows too much interest.

Or maybe he's like me. I like to first be friends with a woman and see what develops. A Rules Girl would be a lousy friend.

This points to the thing that most disturbs me about "The Rules:" Many of them violate the most important rule of all--the golden rule. No woman wants her calls to go unreturned. If both are in a hurry to be the first to end a phone conversation, how long will the conversation last? I've often heard men criticized for playing "mind games." Why is it okay for women to do the same?

Debbie was honest, straightforward and sincere. She had no problem with "dutch treat." She befriended me and won my heart. We were married ten years and enjoyed many good times together before amicably separating. Three years later we are still close friends. I'm sure glad Debbie didn't play by "The Rules."

Paul Vandervoort is a professional musician and resident of Reno, Nevada, USA

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