It's a book I'd never read though I knew all about it. The Estate Agent had it as her reading material of choice when we went to Croatia a couple of years ago. While sunbathing off our hangovers, she'd often, disbelievingly, read out snippets to us that we'd then laugh over as ridiculous. For those that are more successful in the dating arena and don't need to read them, 'The Rules' teaches women how to 'play hard to get' and snare their Mr Right. It's the opposite to 'The Game' which tells men how to get a woman into bed just by looking at them. Chapters in 'The Rules' include 'Don't Sit or Stand Next to a Guy First or Flirt with him First' and 'Don't Talk Too Much in the First Few Weeks'. Essentially, it says you need to be a woman of mystery. There are a whole host of things you shouldn't do (accept a weekend date after Wednesdays, don't ever offer to go Dutch) and a lot of affirmations you should tell yourself whenever you enter a social situation (I'm unique and interesting, men must come to me first).
Realising the next morning that my approach to dating needs something of a drastic overhaul, I went out to invest a little bit of money in what I hope will be a little more lasting than a pack of Marlboro lights. I couldn't find it in the 'Self-help' section so did what I had wanted to avoid and asked the lady at the cashtill where to find it. I was a little perturbed when she asked if I wanted 'the one for women' (er, well, obviously) but apparently there are a lot of people in Clapham Junction who want this book too as the original one wasn't in stock. Good news for me though because that meant I got buy the new & improved Rules - all the old ones plus a heap of new rules about what not to do on Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and Skype and online dating sites and email and text message.
Having spent the past day reading it, and once I'd overcome the excessive use of exclamation marks, the trouble I'm finding so far is that everything the book is saying goes against what I've been taught. As a girl of the Sex & the City generation where it's acceptable for women to have the same attitude to men over sex and love, and having been brought up with cries of 'girl power' ringing in my ears, to be told I'm going wrong because I'm not equal to men when it comes to love & relationships & that in order to find that special someone, I need to be demure & quiet, means it's not just my attitude to dating that needs to change, but the way I am on so many levels. To me, there's something quite archaic about this self-proclaimed dating bible. I'm guilty of breaking pretty much every rule. I've put myself out there, I've chased guys, I talk too much, I always offer to pay half or get drinks (I think it's rude not too), I think nothing of speaking to a guy first, to name but a few broken commandments. I've ended up being upset by some guys but not the majority. I take the attitude that if they don't like me as I am, they aren't worth it and I chuck them into my, increasingly full, man bin. I've done this because I never thought there was anything wrong with being that person. Like a magpie, I would just think, 'I want that nice shiny object so why not try and get it'.
There are always exceptions to 'The Rules' though. The Journo and her lovely husband are the best example of this. They got together at a Halloween party several years ago. The next morning, she didn't know his name. Eight years later, happily married and with a baby, they give me hope that you can make mistakes, not be the perfect perception of how a woman should be and the right person will accept you for it anyway.
In the meantime, though, as my own personal set of rules hasn't been overwhelmingly successful, I'm going to have to put my trust in Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. I'll just be adding one rule to their set, one that I've come to realise is a definite no above all others - don't mention Professor Puffin on a date. Talking about my cat is a sure fire way to never see a guy again.