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29-Mar-2019 15:51

When I was 26, in the late 1990s, I met a very handsome man as he was unloading Danish credenzas from his pickup into a vintage-furniture shop he owned in Brooklyn.

I'm from West Virginia: show me a sweaty man with a dangerously overloaded truck, and I'm immediately smitten.

But in a patriarchy, it's rational to divine the needs of the powerful, to meet them, and to be chosen to share their position in the world.

Historically, women haven't had a lot of agency in selecting a mate, and that history, however muted now, still influences contemporary courtship.

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" he shouted, as he followed me out of the lobby and onto the sidewalk to the waiting car.The book prompted a screaming match on Oprah's show; she devoted a whole episode to the topic of "do The Rules work or don't they? But the overall theme, presented to you as lovingly as your captor might tuck you in at night, is: adjust to men's needs. I was certain, at the age of 26, that my failure to secure a boyfriend meant I was doing something wrong." The authors, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, built a business offering phone consultations and in-person seminars, spreading the gospel of steely passivity to lovelorn women. I recently told a friend that it was the 20th anniversary of The Rules, and she whispered, "The crazy thing is, most of that book was right." The Rules is a rather incoherent mashup of good, practical advice (don't waste your energy on someone who's not interested), retro gender essentialisms (men don't like funny women), and bizarre anecdotes (Bruce and Jill went bed shopping together for her apartment, and to prove she wasn't angling for marriage, Jill bought a single bed instead of the queen-size bed, which worked, because then they got married, and then they had to buy a queen-size bed, hah-hah-hah. I was an only child, raised by an eccentric single mother who longed for a more conventional family. " he screamed, as the comic lifted his eyebrows and I shrank in my seat. "Refrigerator it is," said the comic, and the show started. The next week, I again waited for him to call (Rule No. 9: "Be Sweet and Light." "I got to AA every day," he said.The paperback version hit the New York Times best-seller list the following year.

Rules support groups for women sprang up around the country. To wit: In bed, "don't be a drill sergeant, demanding that he do this or that. Remember, those are your needs you're concerned about filling, and The Rules are a selfless way of living and handling a relationship." The reader is left wondering when she could finally let her — long! — hair down and be her pushy, needy, authentic self. A subsequent book was The Rules for Marriage.) But what The Rules offered, more than anything, was a strategy.

(It dimly occurred to me that I had deliberately deprived myself of a potentially fun evening in favor of solitary moping, but I pushed that thought aside.) The Rules, if followed correctly, sometimes meant you spent a Saturday night alone, losing the battle to win the war, so to speak. "I need a word from the audience," said one of the comics. I debated going out to talk to him, but decided against it. 3: "Most men find chatty women annoying.") After an hour, I pulled down the tiny arm of my first cellphone and called my mother. 6, "Always End Phone Calls First") and listened to my beau weep in the backyard. (Evan Kafka/Getty Images) Just as we walked in the door, he said, "I don't do latex." We stood in silence for a moment.



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