The Rules

The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right is a self-help book by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, originally published in 1995.
The book suggests rules that a woman should follow in order to attract and marry the man of her dreams; these rules include that a woman should be "easy to be with but hard to get". The underlying philosophy of The Rules is that women should not aggressively pursue men, but rather, should encourage the men to pursue them. A woman who follows The Rules is called a Rules Girl.


The book generated much discussion upon its release. Some audiences considered it useful and motivational, while others felt that it was outdated, anti men and antifeminist, or a how-to guide that teaches women to play games that toy with men. Psychology lecturer and therapist Meg-John Barker claims that the emergence of seduction communities happened "almost as a direct response to this hard-to-get femininity". Others noted that Fein was an accountant and Schneider a freelance journalist without professional qualification in the subject matter. Fein married and divorced and has recently remarried. Schneider has been married for over 21 years. The authors admitted they were not professionals in an appearance on NBC's The Today Show.
They have countered the criticism regarding their credentials by citing the results of actually following The Rules, though there is no body of evidence to support this.
Proponents of the methods offered in the book point to The Rules as having positive results for both men and women. They represent the point of view that men enjoy being the aggressor and are inspired to treat women better who choose behaviors which set up boundaries and slow down the courtship process. Advocates also state that a woman making herself easily available to men may increase her chances of being unconsciously or unscrupulously taken advantage of or abused. By applying a deliberate approach to relationships, Rules champions suggest, a woman has the time and space to discover and reflect upon the character and actions of a man she is dating. Feminist values, they point out, do not preclude reacting with temperance and emotional independence to an initial attraction. They also cite that discipline and consideration inform the actions which create egalitarian relationships.

Subsequent books

The book was followed by The Rules II, The Rules for Marriage, The Rules for Online Dating, and All the Rules. In The Rules II: More Rules to Live and Love By, published in 1997, Fein and Schneider proclaim, "If he doesn't call, he's not that interested. Period!". In 2001 the follow-up book The Rules for Marriage: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work was released in the midst of Fein's legal separation from her husband to whom she had been married for sixteen years. Fein commented on her divorce by saying that she had "married the right man" for her at that stage in her life. Her argument was that after having written a best seller and raising two children, she and her husband discovered they were two different people from the young couple that fell in love. Fein married for the second time in 2008; she had followed The Rules to attract her second husband, with the exception that they dated for three years rather than two before becoming engaged.
  1. Be a “Creature Unlike Any Other"
  2. Don't Talk to a Man First
  3. Don't Stare at Men or Talk Too Much
  4. Don't Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date
  5. Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls
  6. Always End Phone Calls First
  7. Don't Accept a Saturday Night Date after Wednesday
  8. Fill Up Your Time before the Date
  9. How to Act on Dates 1, 2, and 3
  10. How to Act on Dates 4 through Commitment Time
  11. Always End the Date First
  12. Stop Dating Him if He Doesn't Buy You a Romantic Gift for Your Birthday or Valentine's Day
  13. Don’t See Him More than Once or Twice a Week
  14. No More than Casual Kissing on the First Date
  15. Don't Rush into Sex and Other Rules for Intimacy
  16. Don't Tell Him What to Do
  17. Let Him Take the Lead
  18. Don't Expect a Man to Change or Try to Change Him
  19. Don’t Open Up Too Fast
  20. Be Honest but Mysterious
  21. Accentuate the Positive and Other Rules for Personal Ads
  22. Don’t Live with a Man
  23. Don't Date a Married Man
  24. Slowly Involve Him in Your Family and Other Rules for Women with Children
  25. Practice, Practice, Practice!
  26. Even if You're Engaged or Married, You Still Need The Rules
  27. Do The Rules, Even when Your Friends and Parents Think It's Nuts
  28. Be Smart and Other Rules for Dating in High School
  29. Take Care of Yourself and Other Rules for Dating in College
  30. Next! and Other Rules for Dealing with Rejection
  31. Don't Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist
  32. Don't Break The Rules
  33. Do The Rules and You’ll Live Happily Ever After!
  34. Love Only Those Who Love You
  35. Be Easy to Live With