Relationship gurus like Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, authors of The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, have made a cottage industry of telling women how they can cajole and bewitch men into commitment. And it seems their rule-setting precedent continues to guide other novice relationship advisers. From the three-month rule to complicated call-returning policies to playing hard to get or emotionally unavailable, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the social experiments and ultimatums on the market today.

While a lot of single folks are taking relationship suggestions with a grain of salt, others are willing to try some very specifically outlined tricks for snagging a marriageable fella. This isn’t new, but given the low success rate, it’s interesting that the rules-setting and game-playing continues to persist. Even pop culture offers us cautionary tales that admonish against taking “the rules” too seriously. If you were a viewer of the now-defunct sitcom “Girlfriends,” you’ll remember how doggedly committed Joan was to the three-month rule. You’ll also recall it didn’t do much to curb her dating drama over the years.

Consider a few of the Top 10 Rules:

#4: In an office romance, for all non-business emails, responding once for every four of his emails is a good rule of thumb.

#5: If you are in a long-distance relationship, he must visit you three times before you visit him.

#8: Close the deal. Rules women don’t date men for more than two years.

Wow. Once every four emails, huh? Three visits before you go to him? Talk about specific! But do those rules really wind up working out well for women?

Lindy West at Jezebel is decidedly anti-rules, and I’m inclined to agree with her:

The writers of The Rules are charlatans attempting to con women into believing that it’s empowering to give up all their power. Dear everyone: You understand that if there was a book that taught people how to not be single there would be no more single people, right (involuntarily single people, anyway.)? People are not monolithic. You cannot trick people into loving you by treating them like math equations waiting to be solved. It’s dehumanizing. If you want to date a human being you have to treat other human beings like human beings. It’s not that complicated.

Are you a “Rules Woman?” Do you approach romantic relationships like games to be won? Do you have well-established rules you implement, no matter what? 

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