I have a close girlfriend who is a big believer in the book The Rules. I’ve never bought into them, but there’s a new guy in my life right now and I really like him; so far, it seems like he feels the same. My friend thinks it’s time I practiced a few of The Rules on him, just to see what happens. Specifically, she thinks I should try the “wait three days before calling him back” rule. Normally, I don’t just blindly follow my friends’ advice, but I’m considering it this time because I’m very intrigued by all the women out there who swear that The Rules work. Should I try not calling him back for three days, or is that just silly?
—KS, Syracuse, New York
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
Really, all I want to say is, “Yes, that’s silly.” But this is a column, so I’m obligated to tell you why, instead of just giving you the snippy one-liner response I think you deserve for asking such a ridiculous, 1954-esque question. I also think you should grow a pair, KS.
If you’ve found someone you like, why do you want to wait three days to call him back? It’s quite simple, really: if you hear the phone ring when he calls, answer it. You don’t need to call him back all breathless with excitement within ten seconds of seeing a missed call or listening to his voice mail—keep your cool a tiny bit—but three days is too long, it’s rude, and in today’s world of there’s-always-something-better-around-the-Match.com-corner, it’s just plain stupid. We don’t like it when men give us the three-day treatment, so why should we give it to them? Finding someone you like who likes you back is fun. Enjoy it while it lasts; communicating by talking on the phone and making plans will help it last longer. If somebody doesn’t like you because you called him back too soon for his liking, then he’s not the guy for you. Instead of playing by The Rules, try making your own damn rules, starting with this one: don’t play games.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Really? People still buy into that theory? Why anyone ever thinks it’s a good idea to strictly follow any one rule of dating is ridiculous, in my humble opinion.
Look, if you, or anyone else out there, wants to call a guy back immediately, pick up the phone when he calls you, or—and here’s a bold idea—make the first move and call him. DO IT. People who think The Rules dictates how they should live have probably gotten many people into the dating messes they’re in today. Let’s play a game. Say the guy calls you, you’re excited, and you want to call him, but you take your friend’s advice and choose to wait. You call on day three. The only problem is, he went out on day two and met some other hottie because he thought you were losing interest. Don’t smother the guy, but don’t play by any rules when it comes to dating. Besides, in your particular case, you’ve already started establishing habits of callbacks with this guy, so don’t go changing those habits now. It will only confuse him and/or cause suspicions that you don’t need.
I’m sure we’re going to hear from women reading this who swear that they live and die by The Rules, but guess what? The cat’s been out of the bag for a while on this, and guys know when you’re playing games and think it’s immature. It’s much more attractive to just be an individual and create your own rules.
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
So, if I understand your situation, you’re willing to let what your friends say and your curiosity about a book you haven’t even read dictate how you move forward in this new relationship? Yeah, I have to tell you, KS—it does sound pretty silly. Why don’t you read the book and see if the philosophy makes sense to you? I haven’t read it, so I can’t offer too much of a comment, but it seems to help folks who lack clear boundaries learn to set them. Your gut seems to be telling you already not to blindly follow your friends’ advice. Since things are going well with this guy, why would you want to try something out that you a) don’t really know about and b) don’t believe in?
Following another’s rules without understanding them seems like a great way to muddle a perfectly good new relationship. Besides, this guy wants to know who you are, not what some rule book says you are. After you read the book, remember this time-tested piece of wisdom: if you don’t like the rules, go out and make some of your own. It’s not always easy, but it certainly is authentically you.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
I haven’t read the book and am only vaguely familiar with its content. It sounds like it’s full of half-baked contrivances regarding how women must behave with men to get men to do as they wish.
Following these “rules” may have worked for some and may have been disastrous for others. I would be suspicious of all the women who swear by them. Are they really doing that amazingly well? Are their men really loving them and treating them like queens? More important, what are they getting that you’re not? You’ve already met and are dating a guy you like—good for you. I like this other time-honored rule: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What does The Rules say about playing games? I hate playing games, which is what a lot of this sounds like to me. Now that you’re establishing your relationship, it would be superficial and conniving to start inserting some strange timeline for when you’ll be calling this guy back. That’s both silly and dangerous.
Again, use your instincts here; if everything feels good, don’t make the mistake of overthinking and overanalyzing it. Break The Rules. You’re doing just fine without them.