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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When "The Rules" Ruled the World: A 2011 Update on a Relationship Classic

The Rules. Do you remember it? This slender tome with a diamond engagement ring as its cover illustration rocked the dating world, breaking open the myths of gender equality and exposing the soft, underbelly of the modern single woman. We, the Young and the Ring-less, snatched up the book as if it were pure gold. After all, its two authors - Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider - promised us a life of marital bliss with these, "time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right." So I caved. It was 1996 and I thought, "why not?"

In all, there were 35 Rules, beginning with Rule #1 - "Be a Creature Unlike Any Other." While this one sounded rather Sphinx-like, the others seemed like a throw-back to the 1950s, like Rule #2 - "Don't talk to a man first (and don't ask him to dance)," or this one, Rule #3 - "Don't stare at men or talk too much." The more I read, the more incredulous I was, but, I was also feeling another, unexpected emotion - wonder. Wondering if I did talk too much. Wondering if my flirty glances at men were indeed too much. In short, The Rules made me a self-doubting basket case. And just when I thought I'd had enough, then came Rule #33 - "Do The Rules and you'll live happily ever after." Awesome, just when I thought I was out, The Rules dragged me back again!#%*&!!!

Looking back at my dog-eared, and much thumbed-through copy of The Rules, I'm shocked that I was led down this path by two uncredentialed hacks, but a lot of us were so I figure I was in good company. There's a whole new generation of young ladies, though, dating footloose and fancy-free, flagrantly violating The Rules!! Technology is to blame for a lot of it. In this age of texting, Tweeting, and Facebooking, Rule #5 ("Don't call him and rarely return his calls") is unthinkable. And Rules #19 ("Don't open up too fast") and #20 ("Be honest but mysterious") are counter intuitive in our over-share culture where your Flickr gallery allows you to instantly upload a highlight reel of every hour of your day!

So let's write our own rules, The I'm Just Saying Relationship and Dating Rules 2011. Here goes:

  1. Don't post naked/scantily clad photos of yourself on your Facebook page because the boys who see your page might think you're a tramp.
  2. The "I'm so buzzed" pics that you snap on your camera phone make you look like a sweaty mess. If you're going out for a raucous evening with your posse, either leave the phone at home or keep it tucked safely in the pocket of your jeans.
  3. If you go to your friends' weddings, don't take too many trips to the bar. The man of your dreams might be a cute cousin of the groom, so you just might be singing your stunning, staggering version of Ke$ha's "Don't Stop" in front of people who could be your future in-laws!!
  4. Catching up on your reading doesn't mean paying a visit to Wikipedia. Being stupid is never attractive, not even if you're an over-paid television actor who wears hokey shirts and has a last name that rhymes with "clean."
  5. Maybe it's not a good idea to tell the guy on your first date about your gluten-free, vegan, organic diet. Instead, skip dinner and go listen to a band.
  6. If you spend your first date together sharing your iPhone apps, it does not mean that you should start shopping for engagement rings!
  7. Ugg boots are NOT suitable for every dating occasion and outfit, so leave the Chewbacca footwear to the ski slopes and bust out a nice ballet flat for date night.
  8. If he picks you up for your date in a Zip Car then he should go home ALONE in the Zip Car!!
  9. Pausing the date several times in order to upload your review on Yelp is obnoxious - your thoughts on the ragout of candied cherry tomatoes is just not that important, so get over yourself.
  10. If you're non-exclusively dating, then resist the urge to hit the "Like" button every time your part-time beau updates their status.
If you follow these new rules, well, I can't promise you anything. All I can do is hope that you'll use them as a rough guide to better dating behavior and then do what I should've done in 1996 - make your own Rules! I'm just saying:)

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