By: Sally Dune
The book “The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right“ is a self-help book by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, originally published in 1995.
The book suggests rules that a woman should follow in order to attract the man of her dreams; these rules include that a woman should be “easy to be with but hard to get”.
The underlying philosophy of The Rules is that women should not aggressively pursue men, but rather, should encourage the men to pursue them. A woman who follows The Rules is called a Rules Girl.
Several books followed, like “Not Your Mother’s Rules”, and “The Rules of Online Dating”.
In this article I am going to tell you how these books helped me change old relationship patterns and templates that caused me so much heartbreak and pain since my adolescence.
Yes I did have (huge) daddy issues, having had an absent father, emotionally unavailable and closed off when I was a child and into my adulthood.
My time with my dad consisted of temporary spots of attention and affection here and there that I would devour because I knew they were so scarce. After all, he was a busy man with an important job, so I thought.
Somehow all that made me feel those temporary and scarce times with him were all I deserved.
I always wanted more time, more affection, more attention and validation from my dad, but that never came. And when he died in my 20’s, it was over. I knew I would never get it from him.
So those experiences truly shaped all my relationships: romantic, friendships, work, etc.
I became a chaser. Anyone who would give me some more attention I would cling into them, wanting to please them so they could give me the attention and validation I so desperately needed.
That of course attracted all sorts of abusive people: emotionally unavailable ones, narcissists, selfish people who just want to take advantage, and also needy people of all kinds.
Yes I was codependent and didn’t know it.
This was even more serious in romantic relationships, because I ended up marrying someone that was emotionally unavailable and distant.
It was when I become pregnant with my daughter that I had my very own spiritual awakening and started to wake up to truly understand me and that I am not at mercy of what life throws at me and that I have the power to create the life I want and be happy.
I started a journey of self-discovery and inner growth. Started my own business, got divorced and found out about all my codependent patterns, where they come from, and wanting to evolve past them and into a healthy way of relating.
Which was hard, because I didn’t have any examples or role models of what a healthy relationship was.
My mother was also emotionally codependent and her relationship with my dad was a destrutive one until they got divorced when I was 19.
So, although I broke many unhealthy patterns and started to love myself and give to myself all the attention, love and validation I was seeking in others, I still couldn’t help myself feeling attracted to emotionally unavailable men.
The sexual attraction to them was out of this world, and often I would get involved with them knowing very well how they are (because now I was conscious of the patterns), but still would tell myself “maybe this time will be different”. And also “maybe this time they will know me and fall in love and I’ll have my fairy tale”.
This of course was the pattern and attempts of trying to solve the relationship with my father and get to change the story, which of course never happened.
Things would always have the same end: I would spend a great time with them, feel great and then they would tell me they are not looking for anything serious, or continue to want to see me but on their own way and time when they decide so.
And that feeling of feeling unworthy and empty would continue.
Sometimes I would meet a nice guy that wanted something serious and was consistent, but it would also be the other extreme: love bombing, too much too soon, constant communication and sucking my energy.
I would think initially I finally found my true love, just to find out they were just the other face of the same emotionally unavailable and abusive coin.
I used to spend hours on online dating apps, wanting to find a meaningful connection and have guys to talk to.
So I took some time off online dating relationships to focus on only myself, and I found out about my anxious-avoidant attachment style.
I was on a Facebook group about it and on one post about dating someone advised me to read the book “The Rules” by Ellen Fein.
Initially I had a lot of resistance about it, because I hate rules. I have my own business, bought my own house, got divorced, I ain’t gonna follow anyone’s rules!
But the truth is, my dating history wasn’t exactly great, so I decided to give it a try.
Again, initially a lot of the rules made no sense to me.
Taking 24h to respond to a guy’s text message? Especially when I was craving for connection?
Not respond to anything personal online or go into much depth? How am I going to know them?
If they don’t ask you out after a few messages, stop responding? What if they need to know me first online to decide they want to meet me?
So I had a lot of doubts about it. But at the same time those rules and approach was SO different from what I have been doing all my life that I decided to give it a shot.
The one immediate thing I noticed was that men and dating went down on my list of priorities for the first time in my life.
Because I was taking many hours to respond to messages (sometimes even days), I opened space for myself.
I started to focus on me, in my work, my life, on doing things I enjoy. It was like before dating and men were big and my life was small, and the tables have now turned. Now my life is BIG and dating and men are small.
I found a happiness in me and my life I never found before.
And also I found that my energy was also different when I was responding to guy’s messages, I wasn’t anxious or desperate anymore, but was peaceful and in my feminine energy.
I was able to feel their energy and read their messages and check with myself easily if I want to continue communicating or not. And if I wanted to meet them or not.
I continued reading the books and although initially I was excited about it, quickly I become bored.
I was taking so long to respond and that was helping weed out the wrong men (the ones who just want casual stuff fast or a penpal), but I wasn’t having any dates or having any exciting conversations.
So I matched in a dating app with a guy that was physically my type. Tall, dark and handsome, with tattoos, beard and a lot of sexual appeal.
I started chatting with him and was so excited about him that I told myself maybe I can bend the rules just a little bit. So I responded quickly to his messages and showed interest.
He invited me for a first coffee date (which “The Rules” book calls date zero).
I liked him even more in person, was VERY attracted to him and ignore the fact he was separated and not divorced, barely sees his kids, and lives with his parents. All red flags to me, as I wanted a man who is single or has his divorce finalized, has his own place, sees his kids and loves to spend time with them, etc. But I ignored all that.
And why? Because I was sexually attracted to him. And why was I sexually attracted to him?
Because he was the emotionally unavailable type and I felt I could have fun with him because I was bored. And maybe, just maybe, things could magically work between us.
What followed that first date was more red flags. According to the rules, he was supposed to invite me to dinner next. He didn’t. He invited me again to another coffee date. Which basically is cheap and low effort.
Our third date was again, a coffee date. So although this guy was initiating all dates and contacting me (like the rules say), he wasn’t putting much effort into our dates or getting to know me by asking me real questions. Our conversation was all surface level and a bit boring to be honest.
At the end of our third date we kissed and was wonderful of course, because our sexual chemistry was off the charts.
So after that date he started to send sexual messages saying he wants to do this and that to me. That to me should have been the mother of all red flags, but I was playing along because that was more fun than taking ages to respond to guys messages.
So I told myself I can have sex with this guy and have fun, and if nothing comes out of it, fine. But deep down I was hoping it would be more than just that.
So we met again (for drinks after dinner, because he didn’t even invited me for dinner), and we ended up at his parents place having sex (he said his parents were away on holidays). Sex was just average, because he was more concerned with enjoying himself than he was with me.
And my shock and what woke me up completely from my destructive pattern was when after the deed was done, he tells me to get up, get dressed and leave before his wife arrives because they were trying to solve things between them!
I felt like the dumbest person on this planet. I knew he wasn’t putting any effort (like the rules say guys need to do), I knew he wasn’t looking for anything serious, so I allowed this to happen.
At the same time I also noticed that this time I felt detached from the situation. Like the way this guy treated me does not define my worth or my value, but is only about how he is. Not about how I am. And THAT was a massive silver lining to me.
Despite the situation I felt empowered, and not anymore that frightened and powerless little girl that had a man not validating her, like before.
Before it was like if he treated me like crap, I must be crap. But now was more: if he treated me like crap, HE was crap! And I just need to stop choosing crap.
It was funny because next day I picked up the rules book I was reading and the chapter was precisely about how you CANNOT bend the rules not even a bit, because it will have consequences.
How many women get bored, decide to bend the rules and then sh** happens, because suddenly they are allowing and opening space to men that do not deserve it.
I told this story on a Facebook the rules support group, and having other women supporting and advising me was a massive help too, because I never had that kind of support before, all my real life girlfriends were also either emotionally unavailable or in crappy relationships and their advice was not the best.
So I decided to not bend the rules anymore and fully commit to it.
I read a sentence the other day saying that “if you haven’t yet find the right man and relationship is because you don’t want it enough”. And that rings a bell.
I truly believe in the law of attraction, so my heart, mind and actions need to be fully aligned in order to manifest what I desire.
I cannot desire an emotionally available partner, who is present, caring, etc, and then fool around with emotionally unavailable married men. These energies are not compatible.
So I decided to fully commit to the rules, to find my true life partner, but above all, commit to myself and live my best life, not accepting anyone or any situation that takes me out of the wonderful energy I have created for myself.
I haven’t yet found my partner, but I feel that by doing the rules, I am becoming the partner that the right man would love to have, and the best version of myself.
And I am also starting to attract and give attention to men who have a nice energy, treat me with respect, show consistency and effort, which is a good thing.
The rules are all about having boundaries. But before I have boundaries with other people, I need to have boundaries with myself.
I know now that I need to take aligned action that matches my desires, there are no shortcuts in life.
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