breaking the rules


Ellen Fein, one of the authors of The Rules, is getting a divorce. This event occurs (not without irony) as her newest book, The Rules III: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work, hits the shelves.
If you’re not familiar with The Rules, look it up online. I’m not going to deign to link to their web site here, but look around and you’ll find it. It’s a book for women who want to learn how to play the game of dating and marriage, and be a success. The original rules include gems like “don’t sleep with a man till the fourth date”, “do not date a man for more than two years”, and “on all nonbusiness e-mails, responding once for every four of his e-mails is a good rule of thumb”.
My problem with this is simple, and it’s not just these rules in particular I’m rebelling against; all this makes the interaction between men and women into a game. A dishonest one at that.The Rules suggest that you don’t act needy; don’t call him, don’t ever initiate sex, be busy. Which of course does not mean that you aren’t in fact needy, just that you’re pretending not to be. In time, though, the truth will out, and then where will you be?
I hate games. I hate the idea that women shouldn’t act interested, when they are. I hate it when men don’t act interested, when they are. These piddling, useless, dodging games that men and women play are silly. They’re hugely dishonest, which is why so many partners seem to “change” after you’ve known them for a number of years. They haven’t, in fact, changed at all. They’ve just, at some point, given up on the charade.
My (to-be) ex-husband is an excellent case in point. Somewhere in the second year of our marriage I asked him why he was so different from the way he’d been in the first year or two together. Very little sex, no sweet surprises, he was (suddenly, I thought) unwilling to initiate anything more than laying about the apartment watching movies. Why?
His answer: “Because I don’t have to any more. We’re married, I don’t have to impress you any more.”
And yet it still took me another year to leave him. Go figure. Well, never again.
I get this from the other end as well – most of my girlfriends at some point or another have advised acting against my feelings or intuition, and basically suggest that I begin playing the game. They even suggest, at times, that it’s neccessary in order to find some kind of lasting and meaningful relationship.I hate games. I hate playing them (and refuse to do so, for the most part – well, at least I’m honest) and I hate people playing them with me. Honestly, if being romantic, sexually agressive – whatever – with the woman you’re dating isn’t your thing, just act that way from the get-go, OK? I may still decide I like you, and stay with you if for no other reason than your honesty. Either way, it will prevent me from feeling lied to and deceived months or years in the future.
And since I feel this way, I try very hard to not ever make someone else feel that way. I’d never want someone to walk away from me feeling deceived. I’d rather they think I was a bitch from the get-go. Which, of course, I can be at times. [shrugs] I’m not denying it.
And the news story on Fein’s divorce seems to bear out my reasoning: playing games does not work. Why not just be yourself and let the other person decide if they can deal with it?Nobody can keep up the charade for life. Eventually, you relax and let go of the rules, and then where do you find yourself? Starting over from scratch, and your partner has to decide if they like this whole new person.
My opinion only, of course. 🙂

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Vikki McKay
By Vikki McKay

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