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The definitive guide for playing coy

The Rules

The Rules

By Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

Paperback, $5.99. 174 pages.

By David V. Rodriguez
Arts Editor

The Rules went to the head of The New York Times best-selling list for advice books the first week it was released. The two women authors, both married, describe the book as "a working set of behaviors and reactions that, when followed, invariable serve to make most women irresistible to desirable men." We're told the rules go back to over a century ago. And they feel every day their age.

The take-home message is that women should play hard to get. "Keep thinking How would I behave if I weren't that interested him?' and then behave that way." According to the authors, this will drive the man crazy to the point of proposing.

With cute, flowery language peppered with gratuitous exclamation points ("Never let him think, even if it's true, that you are home thinking about him and making the wedding guest list. Men love the seemingly unattainable girl!"), they lay out the rules. Always end the date first, don't return his calls, don't be too open, and always have him lead the conversation. Basically, make him work for it.

The rules aren't meant to get to get a woman more dates but to get a husband. "Don't win the battle but lose the war." Mr. Right will tolerate the Rules treatment (or even enjoy it, as we're told) while Mr. Wrongs will be driven away. Several times throughout the book, the authors tell stories of women who broke the rules to catch men they thought were Mr. Rights but soon realized they weren't.

We're told these rules will work for every woman. Armed with The Rules, women who normally find themselves in low demand will outperform beauty queens. (The authors claimed the rules worked for them, but nowhere in the book are their pictures.) "A rules girl typically comes home to find many messages on her answering machine from men wanting to fill up her weekends."