Chapter 1 establishes The Rules as an heirloom passed down from generation to generation, a behavioral protocol that has men clamoring to win the hand of their beloved.
OK, I exaggerate a bit, tho not by too much. The authors claim that by following The Rules women will learn how to be popular with men and find a husband. That might be true in that The Rules will keep women from making asses of themselves, but actually helping women find a husband? Not so sure. In any case, we read on.
Chapter 2 assures the reader that she is awesome (“How many times have you heard someone say, “She”s nice, she’s pretty, she’s smart … why isn’t she married?”) and that she will benefit from learning The Rules as so far she’s been doing everything Wrong.
The Rules (deservedly) get a bad rap because of sentences such as “The purpose of The Rules is to make Mr. Right obsessed with having you as his by making yourself seem unattainable”. It promises that “he will not just marry you, but feel crazy about you, forever!”
Once we get passed that bit of embarrassment, there’s some good stuff. Behold the following principles:
Men are different from women. Real men love challenges. Men don’t care for women who make things too easy for them. The girls who hit on guys, ask them out, sleep with them too soon? They didn’t have to work to get them, so they don’t value them. Even if a relationship ends up in marriage it may not be a happy marriage. The onus is on the woman to keep the relationship together; she will never feel secure that he really loves and cares for her.
Pay attention to what he does and not what he says. An Unofficial Rule is, don’t tell men that you’ve read The Rules. This is less of a concern today since this book is no longer popular, but the point remains. It’s a bad idea for women to tell men that they’re interested in dating what the Rules are. The point is to just do them because men will respond to them and they will help women determine whether a man really cares about them or not.
Don’t “be yourself”. They point out that when you go on an interview, you act a certain way, present yourself a certain way. It should be the same with dating. Do you behave as Mrs Right or Ms Here-Are-All-My-Flaws-How-Do-You-Like-Me-Now? Are you an adult or an adolescent? Are you his dream girl or his “practice girl”? Women, have dignity and do not let it all hang out right away (if ever). Isn’t it rather narcissistic to think you can just act however you want and expect that it should be totally acceptable? Who you are is what you say and do. So be the kind of person who would be a great catch because that’s how you will attract a person who is a great catch himself.
Delay of gratification. The authors point out that women naturally do The Rules with men that they aren’t that interested in. Ignoring them, not treating them like they are anything special. So they chase even harder and sometimes these are the men that women end up marrying, tho that is probably a bad idea in the long run (why marry someone you’re not crazy about?). The difficult thing is to treat interesting men in the same way as the uninteresting men. Again, this can be read as playing games, or it can be understood in the sense of having dignity, living one’s life, and letting the man pursue. Make him work for it. It doesn’t mean being a bitch. It means not being any nicer than what basic politeness calls for, until he has proven himself worthy of your heart.