[So, I finished writing this just as Alison sent me her latest dating piece about..The Rules. Lolz ensued. Then I read Alison's and decided it was worth running both, as they highlighted our intrinsically different attitudes to dating. Neither of which seem to be getting us very far. Hmmm... ALSO, you just got a terrifying insight into the chaotic editorial process at xoJane UK - you're welcome! --Rebecca]
Ladies, put down that Ben & Jerry’s, stick Bridget Jones on pause and - PUT THAT ICE CREAM DOWN – listen up.
The Rules are dead. So bin your threadbare dating bible, and get ready for a whole new set of rules to miserably live your life by while you wait for Prince Charming to ride up in his Ford Focus and impregnate you.
The Rules have been, like, totally reinvented for the digital generation by authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider and erm… well they’re exactly the same as the last set of rules, except, instead of telling you not to call him, they’re telling you not to accept his friend request. Le Sigh.
Ok, so far, so superwank. We all KNOW that reading these so-called dating bibles is liable to send the average single lady having a bad day into a total pit of despair and self-loathing.
Par example, tips for modern-age dating without repulsing men with your clingy neediness include the following:
- Never send a friend request to a man you like, wait 24 to 48 hours before accepting his friend request.
- Never like, or comment on anything on his wall.
- Don’t constantly post status updates or Tweets [ok I may do this one, BUT MY LIFE IS SO FUN AND INTERESTING, I MUST SHARE IT]
- If you are dating, don't post 'in a relationship' or make your main photo one of the two of you before he does.
- Defriend/block exes on Facebook – especially if they ended the relationship
- Don’t answer your phone to him after midnight
- Wait at least four hours before replying to a text – there’s a sliding scale here associated with your age: A 30 year old should wait 12 hours before replying, and anyone over 40 should wait for over 24 hours before replying to a text.
- Never reply to a text between 6pm Friday and 6pm Sunday, this is a blackout period where you’re unreachable.
- Keep your texts brief. Make sure they’re always shorter than his.
- Never, ever write two texts to him before he’s responded once. Ever. Do that and you’ll be single forever. Jennifer Aniston, I’m totally talking to you. Phone down. And don’t you even think of picking up that ice cream again.
Ignore the condescending tone and some of this isn’t actually terrible advice. Changing your relationship status and profile picture to reflect the fact that you’ve been on two dates with a guy and given him a hand job round the back of Chicken Cottage is a bit creepy, and liable to put many a fine young Ford Focus owner off for life.
But the thing is, I am living, breathing, actual scientific proof that The Rules don’t work. Because I, dear reader, am a Rules girl. I’m also Proper Single.
I didn’t do it on purpose. I’ve never actually read The Rules. I’m just one-part shy, one-part reticent and one-part lazy when it comes to the opposite sex.
This, combined with an occasional and slightly schizophrenic superiority complex (‘well of course he wants to go out with me, why wouldn’t he? I’M A FREAKING CATCH!), means that beyond an initial and vague nod to the possibility that I might fancy a bloke, you’ll rarely find me doing any running*.
Which means if he's not actually, properly interested, we're never actually going to get it together enough to actually go for a drink, let alone have a relationship.
For example, I never add guys as friends on Facebook, because I never remember to add anyone on Facebook. I’m not playing hard to get, I’m just crap. I’ll happily leave it 24 hours before replying to a text because sometimes I don’t read my texts, or my battery dies before I remember to reply.
It’s not all poor life admin though. In the early stages of a relationship, when it’s too soon to ask how someone feels about you (well I suppose you could ask but… bleugh, no it’s making me want to rip my own skin off just thinking about it), how are you meant to gauge how the other person feels or how much they’re thinking about you if you’re doing all the running?
Also every single woman I know is, without exception, a 100% solid gold, bona fide catch. There’s no way they should be doing any running for anyone, even if he was nearly the sixth member of defunct ‘90s boy band 5ive.
After some shockingly bad boy decisions in my early '20s, I've got an almost pathological fear of wasting my time on someone who isn’t what I deem to be ‘interested enough’ in me.
I’d much rather let a potential relationship die a death early on because he’s not really responding to texts properly or suggesting any plans, than stoke it up myself for a few more dates only to get chucked by someone I wasn’t actually that interested in a couple of months down the line.
This is what single, independent women should do, right? It’s all about having self respect and a strong sense of self-worth, yes?
Well guess what? It doesn’t work.
Actually, it sort of works, I’ve definitely avoided a few dumpings, and I’ve probably spent more time being happily single than unhappily coupled up than I otherwise would have (which is the point, really).
But, I’m still single. I’ve yet to meet a man so impressed by my chutzpah that he’s dragged me off for a good impregnating in the back of his Ford Focus. And no, before you ask, I don't hate being single, I quite like it, actually. But the purpose of this class is How To Make Men Love Rebecca, so lets deal with one life lesson at a time, shall we?
And then there are those brave women who blithely ignore the rules. I’ve got friends who’ve made my face go hot when they’ve told me the things they’ve said and done to ensnare the man of their dreams.
The chasing, the cajoling, the befriending of his mum, the constant talk of marriage. That would be enough to scare any man off right? RIGHT? Well, no. These single-minded, hard-as-nails, focused women always seem to get their man – and more power to them, they’ve worked for it.
And do you think for a second they held off on adding him on Facebook? Or waited for him to suggest that elusive fifth date when they sensed that things were going a bit quiet? Hell no, these women knew what they wanted and got it.
So maybe that’s my problem. I’m only a Rules girl by virtue of the fact that I don’t really know what I want, and even if I did, I’d never have the stone cold nerve to just go for it. Or maybe I just haven’t met the right guy, and when I do I’ll be so bowled over I’ll go full on Taylor Swift** on his ass.
But there are two sides to this coin. These women, who I admire for their resolve and focus, for knowing what they want, FOR FINALLY WEARING HIM DOWN***, they still had to do the chasing didn’t they?
And what would have happened if they hadn’t worn their paramour down? There’s a thin line between focused and desperate and that line, my friends, is success.
And at the end of the day, I’m clearly a bit more old-fashioned than I thought. I still long for the day I meet a man, our eyes lock across a crowded room, and he sends me a friend request first.
Tell Rebecca that, statistically speaking, she probably won’t die alone @rebecca_hol.
*There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but I don't want to talk about them, because they make me want to rip my own arm off in shame.
** Her habit of unleashing her inner keano at the slightest provocation was my favourite celebrity trait of 2012
***It’s only a tiny bit of me that thinks this, and I’m not proud of it, but I’ve definitely had that thought