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 Some audiences considered it useful and motivational, while others felt that it was outdated, anti men and antifeminist, or a how-to guide that teaches women to play games that toy with men.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.
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.