Back in the mid-90s, The Rules was first published. I was intrigued by this book of dating and relationship advice and I can’t remember when exactly I read it, but I remember loving it (and I still do today). Sure I might not agree with everything the authors say, but they have a lot of good common sense to share.
For single girls they advised not to chase after a guy, keep busy living your life, let him call you etc. And then, once you were married, be easy going, nice to be around, don’t boss him around or control him. I’ve decluttered and rebought this book over the years, and I currently have The Complete Book of Rules. I heard that Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was a Rules girl which really made me like the book more, impressionable person that I am.
I recently ordered The Rules for Marriage (second hand, as it’s out of print) which I’m looking forward to receiving. One reviewer said this book is ‘a wonderful example of how to live with compassion and care for the man you married’ and I agree wholeheartedly.
I know The Rules gets a lot of bad press because it tells women to 'be manipulative and play games', but I think it’s exactly the opposite. The basic premise is for women to have a full and busy life, not chase after a man, have mystique and not try to control a man.
I actually don’t know why it’s such a controversial book because I think all those things are a smart way for a woman to be, and when I think about it, a lot of the advice is quite old-fashioned (in a good way). And, quite French!
What I particularly love re-reading every so often for a boost is the first rule, Be a creature unlike any other. Allow me to share a few portions from the book:
Rule 1. Be a creature unlike any other
Being a creature unlike any other is a state of mind. You don’t have to be rich, beautiful or exceptionally smart to feel this way about yourself. And you don’t have to be born with this feeling either. It can be learned, practiced and mastered.
Being a creature unlike any other is really an attitude, a sense of confidence and radiance that permeates your being from head to toe. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a beauty queen, that you never finished college or that you don’t keep up with current events. You will think you’re enough! You have more confidence than women with MBAs or money in the bank. You don’t grovel. You’re not desperate or anxious. You don’t date men who don’t want you. You trust in the abundance and goodness of the universe: if not him, someone better, you say. You don’t settle. You don’t chase anyone. You don’t use sex to make men love you. You believe in love and marriage. You’re not cynical.
If you think you aren’t pretty, if you think other girls are better dressed or thinner or cooler, you keep it to yourself. You tell yourself, ‘Any man would be lucky to have me’, until it sinks in and you start to believe it. If a man approaches you, you smile and answer his questions very nicely without saying too much. You’re demure, a bit mysterious. You leave him hungry for more, as opposed to bored.
How much does that sound like the idealistic French girl?
And the same rule from the Rules for Marriage book:
When you were single, being a “creature unlike any other” was all about attitude—having the self-confidence to weather a bad date and holding on to the conviction that you would one day find the right man, the man who would love you for the unique person you are. We asked you to pump yourself up before dates, and believe in yourself.
When you’re married, you must continue to believe that you are a creature unlike any other, but now it means having confidence that your husband loves and appreciates you, and that you can have a successful and fulfilling marriage. In other words, apply the self-confidence you had while dating to being a happily married woman. Exactly what do we mean? Here are some examples:
Maintain a positive attitude. It helps to be optimistic, not cynical—and to look at the glass as half full. You still believe in love and marriage, even if some of your friends are divorced or this is your second marriage. You smile a lot. You’re easy to be with.
You’re not a grievance collector. You don’t hold grudges because you know that grudges hurt you more than the other person and add wrinkles and years to your life, so you don’t tolerate them for more than five minutes. You believe that good things happen to good people most of the time, so you try to be good. You don’t care if people think you are naive or a Pollyanna. It makes you happy to think this way, and that’s what counts.
I love this chapter so much, and when I rediscovered The Rules after reading them a long time ago, I realised this is pretty much how I live my life. I don’t play games, I don’t try to control my man, I endeavour to be easy going and cheery, and take things in my stride. And guess what? It’s returned to me by a happy husband.
I heard a saying that the woman is the thermostat for the home rather than the thermometer, and I truly believe that. Whether we have children or not, women set the tone for how things are in the home and the relationship.
Are you a Rules fan? Can’t stand it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and in the meantime, I’m going to continue on reading The Rules.
Be chic everyone, see you tomorrow!