Don't Play Dating Games With Men

Dear Karen,

I’m confused with how to date. I’ve heard so many different things through media, and through girlfriends. Because she didn’t approve of the way I was dating, my mother gave me the book, “The Rules”.  I buried myself in this book at the age of 22.

I’m now 27, and I hesitated at first in my current dating situation which is only one month new. Part of me still wonders if I am goofing things up by (for instance) accepting a date the day before instead of only accepting if the date is planned 3 days prior. Or, talking longer on the phone than 15 minutes (I may only talk once or maybe twice a week but usually 2 hours).

I am wondering what your take is on all this. I wonder if there IS in fact a ‘template’ that exists for dating. I am totally confused. I just want things to work out.

I notice when I have done them [“Rules”] in the past, it makes me edgy and hyper-critical of everything, and less loving. – Jan, MA

Dear Jan,

I am not a big fan of “The Rules” – even if, buried in there, you might find some bits of truth about how men respond in certain situations instinctually, the advice about how to conduct yourself with men is a) manipulative, and b) short-term focused.

You may “catch” that man you’ve been successful at getting to chase you, but then what?

Who have you ended up with?  Do you really know, beyond the fact that you had chemistry with him?

Who are you going to be now?  Are you clear about your authentic self (the self that will be in this relationship for the length of it!)?

Once the “game” is over, what’s next?

The authors of “The Rules” (and other books like that) are all about winning.

Well, guess what?  If it’s about “winning”, there has to be a “loser”.  I don’t support that way of operating in relationships with men (or anywhere else besides sports, frankly).


Dating is about knowing who you are, knowing who the best fit is for you and what you want in your relationship and in your life, and knowing how to screen men so you spend time with men who have potential as your lifetime mate (and you don’t spend time with men who are not a fit!).

It’s not about ending up with the most men wanting you, chasing you, and asking you out (which is hugely time-consuming, and I don’t know about you, but the majority of my clients do not have that kind of time).

It’s way better – all around – to spend time relating to fewer men who are a closer match to what you want.

Note: this advice, like all advice I give, is not aimed at women who are just out for fun and nothing more at this stage of their lives.  I’m always talking to women who want to end up in scrumptious, lifetime marriages, and are ready (or want to be ready).


If you allow yourself to be authentically you, then what ends up happening is that the man/men who are a fit for you are going to be drawn to you.

Pretty handy system, huh?

And, it should go without saying, the ones who are not a fit for you will either not show up at all, or will go away fairly quickly.  (Yes, it is great news when a man goes away, because that tells you that he’s the wrong one for you!)

So if you’re interested in a man who is a good candidate, and he calls you to invite you out that night, or the next day, don’t play games with him. If you’re available, accept enthusiastically.  If you’re not, decline but let him hear how disappointed you are, and how much you would have liked to see him.

You’re not saying “I have no life”; you’re saying “I like you!”

That’s not going to be a problem for most men, I can guarantee you that.

You said something so powerful when you admitted that following the “Rules”:

“…makes me edgy and hyper-critical of everything, and less loving…”

No man you’d want is going to be interested in a woman who’s feeling less loving, right?

Trust your heart, Jan, and leave the games to those who think it’s all about “winning”.  You just keep it all about loving and being yourself, and you’ll be fine.