Sunday, August 18, 2013

These Dating Rules Are So-So...Or Really Not So

Dating books are always marketable because there are always single and vulnerable people.  Much like cosmetics and alcohol during a depression, dating books will always sell.  Fads in dating come and go much like those in crash dieting.  Try this cleanse! Take these pills! You’ll lose ten pounds in ten minutes! Oh boy!

Do this, do that, and you’ll magically find yourself in a meaningful relationship.  So much like I have said with crash and fad diets, I call bullshit.  I call so much bullshit.

This book that I’ve recently come across is called Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.  And it made my inner feminist roar with so much anger.  Fiery passionate burning rage.

The book’s premise is teach women “how to capture Mr. Right in the new world of dating and romance” (pg. 3).  While I believe dating life changes as society changes, the approach in this book is one of submissive adherence to men’s desires.  So like I called earlier, bullshit.  And this isn’t the only book.  There is more of this madness floating around out there.  

“Simply put, The Rules are a way of acting around any guy who initiates conversation with you, whether in person or online, so he becomes obsessed with you and wants to commit.  Yes, it’s about playing hard to get, because guys love a challenge and lose interest when anything is too easy--especially women” (pg. 2).

So right from the get-go, the book is about playing hard to get.  And while playing coy works for a bit, the book emphasizes the role of the female being completely passive to the male in the relationship.  “Women cannot be the pursuer in a romantic relationship without the possibility of getting rejected, hurt, or perhaps even devastated” (pg. 4).  Isn’t that the point of life?  You can’t go through life, especially romantic attachments, without being hurt.  If you don’t experience some hurt in romance, how do you believe the feelings you have are real?

“Men are easily bored, so if you want a guy to pursue you, don’t act so interested.  Treat him a little bit like a guy you don’t care for!” (pg. 4)  Yes, that sentence actually has an exclamation point.  Now, I don’t know about other people, but I’ve acted uninterested in guys before, you know what happened? Nothing.  Because why would a guy put that much effort into someone who may or may not be interested? “They will want the girl who is invariably too busy to ask them out or barely seems to notice them” (pg. 53).  I’m going to take a poll of guys I know and ask them if they would get bored with a girl who acts uninterested versus a girl confident enough to make a move.

In regards to texting and any form of communication, men are always supposed to reach out first.  Rule #3: Don’t talk to or text a guy first.  Not even to say hello.  “Talking to or texting a guy first may make you feel cool, but essentially you’re just getting in the back door, creating a relationship that may never have happened otherwise” (pg. 41).  This point unnerves me, because guys are not always confident enough to make the first move.  And if you’re interested but they aren’t biting and you do nothing and “play by the Rules,” you never know what you might have missed out on in not talking to him.  What if that guy was actually your soulmate, and he would have appreciated a women confident enough to reach out to him, and that is what started him falling for you?  But now you’ll never know.  Better to spare yourself from the possible pain than possibly finding something happy.  In this section they use celebrity Bethenney Frankel as an example of someone who waited for her future husband Jason Hoppy to make the first move.  I would like to add that they are now divorced, or at least in the process of a long and nasty custody battle.

Rule #6: Wait at least 4 hours to answer the first text and 30 minutes minimum for every subsequent text.  And this is for every conversation.  Your age dictates how long you have to wait in response to the initial text of the conversation, and the older you are the longer you wait.  You can’t text them over the weekend.  You must use fewer words than he does.  Change up your amount of time you respond so that he can’t tell you’re being formulaic in your responses.  End all conversations first.  If I waited that long to text my boyfriend back, he would think I was mad or dead somewhere.

“Remember, the point of texting a guy back is to get a date or to be in a relationship--not to talk all day” (pg. 72).  They also add that you shouldn’t talk too much in the first few weeks.  So here’s my question: how are you supposed to get to know them?  Isn’t the point of trying to date someone is to get to know them enough to decide if you want a relationship with them?  How are you supposed to do that if you aren’t allowed to talk a lot?  You also aren’t allowed to just hang out, you have to go out.  For introverts like myself, I much prefer spending time at home as opposed to going out.  But I’m not allowed to do that either.

Now, online dating is up next.  They actually encourage online dating!  As well they should.  Online dating is responsible for a good percentage of relationships these days, mine included.  The authors suggest this is a good way of putting yourself out there, though they encourage bragging a bit about yourself, with which I disagree.  For conversations online, the same rules apply.  “If a guy has not asked you out within 4 emails, it’s a fantasy cyberspace relationship, so move on” (pg. 149).  So no need to try and get to know someone first, just jump straight to trying to get a date.  Which of course the authors later lecture about being careful and the fact that you can’t trust who you meet online sometimes. So how am I to know if he’s a creeper or not if I only have 4 emails to do so?  Also, if online conversations are limited to 4 emails only before a date, I technically shouldn’t be the meaningful and wonderful relationship I’m currently in.  Sorry, honey.

The next part is the part that really made my blood boil and my inner feminist start roaring. “Men are extremely visual and cannot be attracted to a girl just because she is nice, smart, or funny [...] he can’t possibly love your insides if he doesn’t love your outsides” (pg. 4). WHAT THE FUCK?! I will admit that initial physical attraction is important.  You are more likely to talk to someone that you are attracted to, but that does not mean that that a guy won’t be attracted to her once the makeup is off and he sees her real personality.  This quote is basically saying that all men are shallow and all women need to keep up appearances or pretenses about themselves superficially.  In a single paragraph, one sex has been completely generalized and the other given all the responsibility to maintain the generalization.  SCREW THAT.  I stopped wearing makeup around my boyfriend after two weeks.  He still says I’m beautiful.  And now that he knows my personality, he understands why I don’t feel the need to always “put on a face” around him.  Because I feel completely comfortable and can completely be myself around him.  Perhaps my boyfriend is just really awesome in comparison to other men (I believe it).  But I highly doubt all men would insist on their girlfriends wearing makeup all the time.

In continuance with the idea of physical superficiality, they recommend a few things.  Girls should have long hair and avoid short hair that will look boyish.  Don’t wear ponytails.  Color your hair.  Always wear makeup.  Have long nails, get them done if you can’t keep from biting them.  Whiten your teeth.  Wear sexy (but not slutty) and trendy clothing, including a push up bra, heels, and up to date accessories.  “for guys, you have to look hot, hot, hot!” (pg. 38).  “Men want to feel like they are dating a model or celebrity, so look like one!” (pg. 40).  So again, generalizing men into shallow people and putting the responsibility on women to maintain that generalization.  Also, make sure you don’t have unflattering pictures of yourself on the internet. Which let’s face it: EVERYONE has at least one unflattering picture in the ether.

Here are some other general trait points they made...Sarcasm is not a good idea (well I’m fucked).  Don’t pay for anything until you’ve been together and exclusive for a long time and it’s only ok to buy him little things, like a pop at the movies or dessert when you’re at dinner. Um, don’t they realize the economy affects everyone? In relationships, girls cannot relocate for a guy.  The guy must relocate for the girl.  Snooping in your boyfriend’s phone or email is up to you, but it is a quick way to get answers (pg. 167).  Yeah, it’s also shady and underhanded and dishonest.  Break up with any guy that cancels more than once.  I really don’t like when plans are canceled, but you have to admit that things come up.  If there is a valid reason for the cancellation, can you really fault them?  Also, what if they attempt to reschedule?  Don’t be overweight or put on weight, you must work out.  Ok, I’m all for living a healthier lifestyle, but seriously?  If you’re going by BMI, I’m overweight.  My legs are all muscle.  That is why the BMI index is terrible.  It doesn’t account for the weight differences in having fat versus muscle.  And, as you age, your metabolism changes, especially if you’re a female and you have kids. Notice of course this says nothing about the guy putting on weight, because it is all the woman’s responsibility. Yeah....  It also says you should start dating immediately after a break-up, no matter the length of the relationship.  Never mind having a healing period of being single.  When travelling long distance for a relationship, don’t meet halfway.  He must always travel to you.  Lastly, don’t live together until a wedding date is set.

They also polled guys about what their dislikes about girls were.  It doesn’t say who they interviewed or how these guys were selected, but you can tell by the list that this is all matter of preference.

Turn Off List
Trying too hard
Multiple tattoos and piercings
Deliberately running into them while out
Texting or checking Facebook on a date
Writing on his wall in positive way or being lovey dovey
Criticizing him in front of friends
Hooking up too soon
Overeating or conversely, calorie counting
Attempting to stay friends with ex
Not caring about her appearance
Flunking or being fired
Complaining about something that can be changed
Wearing too much makeup or cut too much hair
Making friends with the guy’s friends
Too much materialism
Double texting (i.e. sending the same message immediately after if he hasn’t responded)
Being argumentative, sarcastic, critical, or negative
Too drunk when out
Relationship comparison with past relationships

Admittedly, some of these are wise.  But mostly the list is just being critical of human behavior and trying to make women into silent arm candy.  Also a few of these turn offs from guys, immediately contradict advice given in the Rules.

I mentioned some good points right?  Ok, let’s get to those before I start getting nauseated.

Have confidence in who you are, and don’t try to be something you’re not.  Don’t check your phone repeatedly when you are with him.  Don’t lose your friends because of a guy.  Don’t ditch your girls for guy time and don’t force your friends to constantly put up with him being around.  Don’t drink too much while out.  Don’t date married or unavailable guys.  Especially if someone cheated on you.  Don’t be the person who does that to someone else.  Don’t sext him anything you aren’t comfortable with him having if/when you break-up.  They frown on sexting in general.  But I’m of the belief that if you can’t identify me in the picture, meh.  How else are you supposed to keep the heat if you can’t get a little naughty every once in awhile?  Don’t accept booty calls or meaningless hook-ups.  Wait to have something meaningful in your relationship before having sex.  Most of the bad examples of when women went wrong in the book include having sex the first night of meeting someone.  And honestly, if you are being fully honest and safe, that’s a choice you can make for yourself.  You’re an adult.  So while it’s not my practice to do so, it’s totally your life and I have no place to judge you for that.  

While pearls of wisdom can be found in this book, you have to dig through a lot of shit to get them.  The good points that are there, to me are a lot of common sense.  And you have to dig through a massive amount of bullshit to get there.

There’s a section about how to raise your daughters to follow the Rules.  And part of it is good.  It emphasizes spending time with your daughter, but it also emphasizes showing them the importance of looking good.  To me, I think that’s a great way to breed shallow women.  I would say that you should look how you want to and screw people who don’t like it.  Guys may not like you that way, and that is their problem.  One day, a guy will come along that will like you and even love you for all that you are.  And those guys are worth waiting for, instead of casual dating, in my opinion.

In conclusion, it’s not all terrible.  There are points here that make sense.  Common sense.  But it gets swallowed by the shallow importance of looks and letting guys always make the moves.  Being passive to their whims instead of seizing what you want to seize.  Like I said before, if you decide to ask a guy out, he could appreciate your confidence and like that about you.  Some guys don’t like confident women like that, and they are stupid.  The book doesn’t want women to get hurt, and I know how relationships or lack thereof can be painful.  They even tell you go ahead and not follow the rules, you can learn a lesson from being burned badly and hitting rock bottom (pg. 24).  But that’s life.  You can’t go through life without downs or being hurt.  It’s impossible.  

So in conclusion and my humble opinion, this book is terrible and telling women to be submissive to men. If you want to read it, go for it.  But I can tell you right now, all the quotes I used are direct from the book.  That is what this book is about. Books are also available for more information about dating and marriage.  The last two chapters in the marriage book are Divorce and Second Marriages.  Yeah.

I’m going to write a dating book. Are you ready.  It’s gonna be short and sweet.

“Be yourself.  And fuck anyone who doesn’t like that.”

I think I could be a best seller.

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