image: Sharon Pruitt. Pretty Pink & Green Love Heart
2014 might be the year you have decided to find a partner. Physically find one, grab them and not let go. So to save you some time I have recently been immersing myself in the world of self-help and dating manuals, let's call it "research". So if you were considering buying one to help you in your search for Mr or Mrs Right let me help you out by examining some of the most popular, starting with The Rules which should I believe, be quickly removed from the world and immediately from my local library.
The Rules, is a strange creature, you can't help but imagine it being read aloud in your head by Sally Fields crazy dance-mom in Donnie Darko.
'When a woman meets a man she likes, she sometimes, without realising, relaxes.'
The authors warn. Clever women can;
'feel their diplomas and salaries entitle them to do more in life than wait for the phone to ring.'
Presumably the same kind of women that invite men to lunch, which according to The Rules is 'a common ploy'. I expect Sally Fields to start screaming at this point that I'm not taking Sparkle Motion seriously.
Ahh sweeping generalisations. I love them as much as the next guy but The Rules REALLY love them. The behaviour of the two sexes can be reduced in Rules terms to black or white. Michael Jackson would not have been a fan. You know when everyone painted their houses terracotta? This book is the Dulux colour chart of relationships and every colour is terracotta. There's no room for gender difference or accounting for taste. No deviation. Terra-f*****g-cotta.
Thought Sex and the City's sexual politics was antiquated? The Rules seems to have been written in the fifties with advice suggesting when a relationship doesn't work out;
'go to a singles dance. You're an optimist. You brush away a tear so it doesn't smudge your make up and you move on.'
Within the first few pages there are so many more examples of this type of thinking and god awful dialectic I had bitten through my own fist. Right through. Honestly.
I've always freely taken the proverbial out of people who believe you really should get up earlier than your man to apply your make up so he never witnesses you at your most gut wrenchingly horrific but I didn't realise people could actually peddle this crap for cash. If you follow The Rules your sole purpose in life is to 'be a creature unlike any other' and that includes being eternally grateful your husband wants to shag you let alone let you wash his socks.
A sample of the myriad quotes I could provide to prove its lunacy: If you follow The Rules you're not allowed to talk to men but must wait for the right one;
'the one who talks to you first, calls and does all the work'.
Emily Davidson weeps.
If the actual content still sounds intriguing to you there are 55 rules in The Rules. If a relationship requires more instructions than an IKEA Billy bookcase you're probably doing it wrong. How do you have eons of time on your hands to apply them all? Your friends hate you and your bats**t rules.
But that doesn't matter because there's no room for friends in The Rules.
'Do the rules even when your friends and parents think it's nuts'.
Well if that's not a glowing endorsement I don't know what is. You don't need a sub-list of all the many, many things your parents and friends think are nuts that you really shouldn't do. Narcotics for example.
Not just for heterosexual relationships though the writers of The Rules have deigned to fart a faux rule for gay people. It's different if you're gay:
'You can show some interest, you can return some phone calls. It's different from a male-female relationship because if the man doesn't ask the woman out, that's it, it's over.'
This book is over.
And finally, as if you need another reason not to buy, borrow or steal The Rules, imagine if it fell out of your bag. More embarrassing than that time you called your teacher mum.