“The Rules” Redux?
I was really happy when “The Rules” disappeared. The book, which had espoused what seemed to amount to a plan of playing hard to get, was one of those things that grated: Could it be that simple and calculated, that it was all a game? How do you play a game without playing with your or other people’s emotions? How could there be a game if everyone is playing by different rules? Perhaps “The Rules” book was trying to codify those rules. But if only women read it, then all it achieves is feeding the stereotype that women are playing games.
But if it wasn’t a game to begin with, it is now. The dating book industry has made it just that.
In case the boxes of books I gave away or stored when I moved or the dating-related volumes I still receive in the mail (most recent title: “Saying No to Naked Women,” published by A Healthy Relationship Press and according to its PR, a “new anti-pornographic novel that raises critical issues for the Jewish community”) weren’t an indicator, I recently went to a buck-a-book store to make my bookshelves seem less lonely, and found a whole new bunch of titles that I hadn’t seen: Engaging Men, Date Like a Man, and The Idiot’s Guide to Interfaith Relationships. (I haven’t read any of them yet, and the total impact so far is that I am now $3 poorer.)
Here’s what I think. If you want a game plan, you can create one to follow. If you need rules to keep you focused, great. But be aware that not everyone is playing by the same rules, and even if they’re in what seems like the same game, they might be operating with an entirely different scoring system. While it might be difficult at times, or seem insensitive, maybe honesty is still the best policy and all the game-playing should be left to those who are getting paid to do it.