Playing by “The Rules”

Dating is a lot like hiking; there are highs, lows, beauty and snakes to behold. The weather can change in an instant, you can get stuck in a downpour or get a sunburn. Basically, it’s unpredictable.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that if you put on a hat, sunscreen and brought a bottle of water, you would be prepared, and the experience would be positive? Oh, and you would walk down the mountain hand in hand with the person of your dreams?

My friend Amanda was glowing the last time we chatted. She told me she’d finally met “the one.”

I’ve lived through most of her dating drama, seen in action the cast of characters she has dated. Men have chased her from around the world and told her she was “the one,” only to disappoint.

After the last disastrous dating fiasco, she decided it was over. No, she wasn’t going to swear off men, but things had to change in a tremendous way. She’d done all the right things to find Mr. Right; she tried going to Jewish functions, the JDate website, setups and even missions to Israel.

When she tried, nothing worked; when she didn’t try, that didn’t work either. She told me men saw her easygoing nature as a weakness and played games. When she played hard to get, men chased her until she caught them in the palm of her hands; but that bored her because it was a game, nothing more.

So what changed? “I was so devastated after the last man I was dating played me, I decided it was time to take control,” she said.

That and she bought a copy of the book “The Rules.” Written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider in 1995, the book is a roadmap for successful dating and getting married. It created quite a buzz when it first came out.

Amanda treated the book like a college class. She studied it, underlined sections and went to the book’s website for more information. She got in touch with Schneider and set up a consultation. “It was a life-changing conversation,” Amanda told me. “It was different than talking to a friend or family [member]; it was tough love.”

Dating coaches Fein and Schneider want to see their clients happily married in loving relationships, not dating little boys who will waste a woman’s time. “Our philosophy is men love a challenge — they love to pursue,” Schneider told me via phone. “It’s so important to let the guy make the first move. Men get bored when it is too easy, they want the girl who is the prom queen. They want the girl they can’t get.”

She added, “Men like women who are mysterious, who have an aloofness to them. If you see a guy too often, you have to pull back if you want him to marry you. You can’t see him all the time. If you do, what incentive does he have to marry you?”

Critics contend that playing games is not a solid foundation for a relationship. Schneider claims that “The Rules” is not about playing games, it is about helping women not waste time with time-wasters. “We worked with a client who spent five days a week with her boyfriend and went on two-week trips with him all over the world. He kept telling her he would propose, but never did,” Schneider said. “We advised her to break up with him, and she did. He never called her again.”

Schneider teaches women a strategy on how to behave while being themselves. In Amanda’s consultation, she discussed everything from wardrobe choices to meeting a new guy, as well as patterns to break in order to be in a successful relationship with a future.

“Dating is not a game,” Schneider once again asserted. “It is about self-respect and boundaries. So many women are hurting and getting hurt by men. Men make plans with them [at the] last minute, women sleep with men too soon, and then men break up with women after being with them for two years. We are trying to prevent these occurrences.”

“The Rules” is about self-esteem and changing behavior to increase self-esteem. The two experts teach women how to date in a way that they don’t get hurt but do get the guy. Amanda couldn’t follow every single one, but she focused on the ones she could. “One of the key messages in the book,” Amanda explains, “was not about playing games, but putting myself first. Sherrie told me I needed to keep getting out there and going to a variety of events where there were single people at least three times a week. Going to events and parties can be fun, but after awhile, they seem to be a colossal disappointment when you keep meeting the same people over and over. But no matter, I was going to persevere.”

Amanda said that waiting for the guy to make the first move was hard and seemed old-fashioned. But she did get results. “When I met my boyfriend, I remember thinking he was really good-looking,” Amanda said. “He approached me, and we chatted for a few minutes, but I had to leave to meet other friends, so he asked for my card. I was traveling for work, so the next time we met was over a month later.”

Following Schneider’s advice, Amanda spent more time focusing on herself and her interests, which made her less available and more intriguing. “We took everything slowly and once we started dating, I didn’t see him more than two to three times a week as suggested in ‘The Rules.’ I kid you not, ‘The Rules’ said if he really liked me, he would complain and want to see me more. Bingo: They were right on target.”

After a few months of dating, he asked Amanda to move in with him.

Her response: “What for? I’m not looking for a roommate, I’m looking for a husband.”

Amanda and her boyfriend are very serious. Who knows? They might soon be going for a walk together; not up mountains, but down the aisle.

The new edition of “The Rules,” titled “Not Your Mother’s Rules: the New Secrets for Dating,” is scheduled to come out in February 2013. The new version will deal with the latest twists on dating, such as how to be mysterious in the age of Facebook, Twitter and email.

Masada Siegel lives in Scottsdale. Her new book, “Window Dressings,” is available at


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