Be a smart dater in the digital era

Strange as it might sound, the economic concept of scarcity (less supply, more demand) holds relevance even in dating world. Or at least, relationship self-help books will have you thinking likewise. At the forefront was the 1995 published book, The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

The acclaimed guidebook to dating emphasised on how playing hard to get (paying scarce attention to your suitor, rarely returning their calls, etc,) could help you get your love interest to notice you, court you and eventually pop the question to you.

Now, the duo is back with their latest book — The New Rules: The Dating Dos and Don’ts for the Digital Generation, where they help you navigate the pitfalls of dating in the era of instant communication. The principles remain almost the same but the application gets challenging in an era of Whatsapp and instant messaging. Excerpts from an interview with the authors: 

What made you write the book, The New Rules?
Over the last five-plus years, women across the world were asking us about the rules for texting, Facebook, Skype and Twitter and for the younger generation. They said they didn’t know how to apply “playing-hard-to-get” to new technology and the hook-up culture. The New Rules teaches women to date with self-esteem and boundaries. Most women get seriously hurt when a relationship doesn’t work out, so it’s (a matter of) life and death to follow The New Rules to save time and heartache and actually get the right guy!

How are the principles similar to your earlier book, The Rules?
The New Rules is an updated version of The Rules to deal with new technology. In our first book, we told women not to call men and rarely return their calls. Everything is different in 2013. Women sleep with their phones. Everyone is texting and messaging on Facebook, Skyping and tweeting. Women are making new mistakes in every new technology so we wrote The New Rules to teach women how to stay mysterious in an era when hooking up, hanging out, and booty calls have become the norm. We tell women who have been texting guys back in nanoseconds to wait before responding. Women should be a challenge by rarely writing on a guy’s Facebook wall and occasionally posting status updates and by not over-sharing on Twitter and on dates. Women shouldn’t text and end chats and dates first, they should leave men wanting more because men love a challenge.

Is dating more of a challenge today than before?
Absolutely. New technology has made women more accessible and less mysterious. Men can easily go on a woman’s Facebook page and see what she is doing and thinking 24/7 or text her at 2 am and gets a text back or a whole chat-text fest. The New Rules tells women what and how much to share in wall posts, to retain an air of mystery that is the key to dating. By being busy and not texting back right away and not accepting last-minute dates (booty calls and hook-ups), Rules Girls get dates and boyfriends and marriage proposals.

What research went into writing this book?
We held private consultations by phone and e-mail, spoke at seminars and colleges, and kept in touch with clients and Rules fans via Facebook and Twitter, so we knew what questions single women had and the topics and issues that had to be addressed. We also e-mailed questionnaires to women about their queries, lack of clarity about dating and to men, about what turned them off.

Have you seen a difference in dating principles since The Rules to the time of The New Rules was released?
The principles are the same (be hard to get and easy to be with) but the technology has changed. Everything is more instantaneous today. Lightning speed communication is great for business but not so great for dating. For women, the best dating tip is slow and steady (weekly Saturday night dates, waiting to be intimate and waiting for him to befriend you first and include you in his world first by inviting you to a social event or introducing you to his family and friends, etc), never a whirlwind courtship; men get bored and lose interest if women are too available or aggressive.

Are these rules applicable across the world (including India)?
Absolutely. The Rules was published in 27 countries. Men are the same all over.

Some might argue that a few principles seem regressive (women waiting for men to make the first move). Your take?
Women have achieved a lot in the last 25 years. But romantically, men and women are different. Romantically, men love challenges and women love security. Women who make the first move while dating usually get rejected (either right away or soon enough) because not only do men like to chase and conquer but they also have a type, so it’s pointless to chase a man if you are not his look. You will get hurt and wonder why. We know why: you made the first move. The Rules are not regressive. We are not telling women to stay home and mop floors. We are telling them to accept that they cannot chase men successfully without getting hurt and to use their aggressiveness in business but not with men. The Rules is about self-esteem and boundaries, not giving your special-ness away.

Your Top 5 dating tips to MiD-DAY readers?
1. End everything first (texts, dates, G-chat, Skype sessions) to leave a guy wanting more.
2. Don’t text back in nanoseconds (use our Text-Back Time chart for how much time to wait depending on your age).
3. Don’t ask guys out by text, Facebook, G-chat or other ways.
4. Stay away from his Facebook profile.
5. Don’t answer texts or anything else after midnight. 

The New Rules: The dating Dos and Don’ts for the digital generation, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, Rs 299, Hachette. Available in leading bookstores.

Don’t talk to or text a guy first

The intention behind talking to or texting a guy first falls in three categories. The first and worst is to create a relationship. The second and more subtle is to remind him that you exist or even ask him out, if you don’t hear from him after a date. The third is to get closure because you haven’t heard from him in a while. All three are pretexts for making things happen or keeping a relationship going and totally against The Rules.

Don’t answer texts or anything else after midnight
Part of the Rules is about silently teaching guys to respect you and that means setting boundaries, especially when it comes to being reachable... If a guy wants to know what you are doing, he needs to date you. We have found that clients who respond to anything after midnight are asking for trouble: guys inevitably call at all hours, even 1 or 2 am, sometimes drunk. But you’re a Rules Girl. You have a life and are not available 24/7!

Dating a guy who cancels more than once
In the Rules world, canceling a date — unless there’s a real emergency — is not to be taken lightly. A guy should be able to make a date with you and keep it, regardless of work, the weather, or whatever else is going on in his life. A date with you should be sacred. It should be written in ink, not in pencil.  

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