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
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
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