How to get your man

Lamott's Rules for Modern Lovers

Published November 18, 1996 8:54PM (EST)

A book called "The Rules" recently went to
number one on the New York Times paperback bestseller list. It is a book on dating; sort of dating do's and
don'ts for women who want to get even, who want to put men in their place. The rules are about getting the
right kind of guy to commit permanently to your tiny princess self by playing hard to get. By pretending not
to care when the guy finally calls. By not going out on weekend dates with him if he invites you after
Wednesday. By always being the first to hang up  always getting off the phone after 10 minutes so
he will realize how busy and happy you are; how perfect your life already is without needing some creepy
oppressive guy in it. Some creepy oppressive guy who you are trying to manipulate into committing to you.

Wait wait wait  I suspect that I am not doing a very good job of being objective. Perhaps my
description sounds bitter and contemptuous. I just want to point out that smart, cool women are not buying
this book. Smart, cool, strong women you want to be like when you grow up  or are turning out to
be  are not reading "The Rules." They are trying to find ways to be whole, to be real and well and
open and loving.

Take me, for instance. This totally cool guy currently rejoices in being close to me,
and you know how that happened? Because after we met, we tried to get to know each other. We began to
try and be partners in a common effort. One of the ways we did this was to talk a lot on the phone. I did not
ever try to be the first one off the phone so that he would feel more desperately needy. I did not mess with
his head so that he would feel I was an even bigger catch than I actually am  OK, maybe just a
little. But I tell you, if I was interested in a woman and I thought maybe she was interested in me, but
everytime I called, she got off the phone after 10 minutes, I'd say, "Hey, look; thanks for stopping by, but
bore me fucking later."

Women who feel some quiet sense of personal power don't worry about having
power over men. They spend their time working and playing and finding out about life and trying to become
more true and vital and giving and present. They're in it for the long haul. It's called "having a life." It's called
"living." It's called really working at being a better person. It's not about trying to get some guy to buy you a
car or a ring before you'll have sex with him.

Here's what it comes down to  if your life is
about trying to manipulate a man into making a commitment to you, your life ain't working. But then this guy
and I realized how much money the writers of "The Rules" were making, and it set our minds to thinking. So
we sat down and came up with our own set of rules. We believe that they are The Real Rules, and they are
working for everyone who has tried them.

So here they are.

1. Have sex right away. It clears the air. It's like sorbet in between
meals. It will allow him to better concentrate on what you're saying. Do whatever he wants the second he
asks for it, so he won't leave you.

2. Let him understand from day one that if he ever leaves you, you are going to hang yourself in front of his

3. Triangulate. Create an
emotional triangle with the memories of his last girlfriend, or better yet, an ex-wife or pubescent daughter.
Listen endlessly to bad stories about these females, and commiserate, cooing with indignation at the shoddy
way he was treated. But at the same time, let him know it is very painful for you , that it makes you feel
jealous, and unimportant. Cry very, very quietly. See if you can get him crying too. Then nurse him back to

4. Start trying to get him to
change immediately. It shows you care. Begin with his hair and clothes. Work your way up to severe dietary
restrictions that you believe will improve his overall health and appearance.

5. Insist on meeting some of his friends right away. Also, some
family. Make friends with his children. Drive them places. Triangulate with them.

6. Be his therapist. Offer advice and analysis at
every opportunity. Try to fix him. Help him manage his emotions. Get him to let go and really cry. Then
comfort him. Nurse him back to health.

7. Show up with groceries. Cook for him. When he wakes up the day after the first
sleep-over, he should smell bacon and eggs coming from the kitchen. Or finnan haddie  anything
with lots of bell peppers. Maybe a three-egg Denver omelette. Serve him breakfast in bed  the finnan
haddie is really your best bet  and berries in season. Maybe in the second week invite some of the
family or friends for breakfast in bed with him. Give everyone advice on hair styles and clothing.

8. Tell him something right away that you've
never told anyone else. Not nutty things, like the rather upsetting business with the alien abduction 
the painful rectal probes. Real stuff from your childhood, bad stuff; stuff you haven't even told your
therapist. And fantasies, tell him some of your fantasies. The really out-there ones  the ones
involving puppies, Brylcreem, anchovy paste. We think you know what we're talking about here.

9. Try to help him express his feelings for you.
Try to get him to tell you where he thinks the relationship is headed. Try to get him to compare you to all
other women he's been with before. If this line of questioning appears to be painful and confusing for him,
comfort him.

10. Never admit you have
to go to the bathroom. Just hold it. Hold it until he goes to sleep. There will be plenty of time later to pee as
much as you want. And never admit that anything hurts, that there is chafing, rash, rope burn. And most
important of all  forget these three words: "urinary tract infection."

11. Do not let him leave your house empty-handed. Insist that he
borrow something, even if it is your brand new CD boom-box. Even if the person who gave it to you is
someone you couldn't live without, who has since died. If he compliments you on something in your house,
make him take it home with him, no matter how large, fragile, expensive, or new; no matter how fiercely he
begs you not to make him take it with him. Get him to take it. You must.

OK? One last thing, though.
None of this works at all if it doesn't happen in the first week. If you dally on any of these rules, there is
almost no chance you will get your guy; and we cannot be responsible.

And by the way, my guy and I
are currently trying to find a hardback publisher for our material. We are available to go on all the talk shows
and talk to the women who made Rikki Lake and "The Horse Whisperer" such huge successes. We really
want to help people, and we also hope to make a million dollars and be even happier than we already are.
These rules worked for us. They'll work for you. So go get em, Tiger.

By Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of "Help, Thanks, Wow"; "Small Victories"; "Stitches"; "Some Assembly Required"; "Grace (Eventually)"; "Plan B"; "Traveling Mercies"; "Bird by Bird"; "Operating Instructions" and "Hallelujah Anyway," out April 4. She is also the author of several novels, including "Imperfect Birds" and "Rosie." A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.

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