The Rules vs The Game

article-new_ehow_images_a06_0s_0v_standard-game-checkers-rules-1.1-800x800The Rules and The Game are manuals created to teach men and women how to attract the opposite sex. What do they tell us about the war between the sexes in this new millennium? For in these manuals, it is war.

The Game

The Game was written in 2005 by Neil Strauss after his book editor asked him to investigate the community of pickup artists. After a few workshops this self-described “chick repellant” found that the techniques worked surprisingly well for a “pick up” — but not for relationships. And, as it turns out, the game works best for misogynistic men, but only works to attract women who are misogynistic, themselves.

Here are some rules of The Game:

  • Approach a woman within three seconds of seeing her so you won’t lose your nerve
  • Ask something benign like “What’s your sign?” or “What’s your type?”
  • Act somewhat disinterested
  • Briefly disqualify yourself from being a potential suitor
  • Ignore the girl you want and flirt with one of her friends instead
  • Ogle other women
  • Subtly insult her to lower her self-worth
  • Isolate “the target” from her friends

Clearly, these rules are all about bedding women by means of controlling them and weakening their self-esteem, while inflating the confidence of men.

The Rules

The Rules were written to aid women in getting a man to commit. Published in 1995, they were updated in 2002 to reflect single life in a high-tech culture.

Here are a few rules:

  • Let him take the lead
  • Don’t talk to a man first and don’t ask him to dance
  • Don’t call him and rarely return his calls
  • Always end a date first
  • Don’t see him more than once or twice a week
  • Don’t talk very much on the first date
  • Break up with him if he doesn’t buy you a romantic gift for your birthday or Valentine’s Day
  • Don’t open up too fast
  • Be sexy

In sum, The Rules urge women to manipulate men by playing hard to get. In an ironic twist women are advised to make men the leader even while creating a sense of female independence. (Even keeping her mouth shut works to create a sense of “man as leader” as some research finds that when women talk more than one third of the time they are seen as honing in on men’s space.)

On the bright side, women are urged to get on with their lives instead of waiting around for “him.”

What The Rules/The Game have in common

Both manuals advise game-playing, so we have not evolved much — or many of us have not.

Both amass power to “their side” by means of disinterest – which may work since whomever cares least has more power.

The Rules advises a traditional source of power for those who lack it: manipulation, controlling men without their knowing. Interestingly, The Game urges this same feminine technique for men, who do not have direct control over women’s minds and bodies.

And we find sexism surviving in both books.

War of the sexes 

Not surprisingly, the books also differ in a way that reflects traditional gender norms. The goal of The Game is to bed women while the goal of The Rules is to snag men. The stereotypes live on.

My students are surprised that The Rules weren’t written in the middle of the last century. But The Game’s even more recent publication comes as no shock. I guess we are more puzzled by women who agree to sexism, whereas no one is surprised that some men continue to support it.

Related Posts 
Using Insults to Pick Up Women
Are Men More Likely to Separate Love & Sex?
Sources of Power in Relationships

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 8, 2020, in relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Hi there! It’s been a long time. I hope you are well.

    This is quite interesting. While I am aware of these two books, I have not read either book.

    I prefer to use the direct approach. I simply approach a woman and say something along the lines, “I find you very attractive. I would like to get to know you romantically. I have no interest in any kind of platonic friendship…” If she is interested, she will let me know. If not, she will also let me know. This takes “The Game” out of it. I want to be rejected right away.

    I think this is best because it will bypass all the nonsense. Also, I don’t have to waste time on wining and dining etc. It gets rid of all the time wasters. I am stating upfront, straightforwardly, and honestly my desires and intentions. “Best practices” in my opinion.

    Your thoughts?

    Getting ready for the Biden-Trump debate tonight.


    • Good to hear from you Huggy! I was wondering if you would ever show up again.

      If your strategy works for you it seems like a good idea. No games. Like if you were doing a dating site obviously everyone is more likely to be interested in the same goal and being direct helps to not waste time or play games. Another possible strategy would be to get to know someone as a friend (join a group where you are likely to find someone whose interested in your interests — hiking, politics, etc)
      and when you think you have enough in common and that your personalities are a good match move on from there. Just because some women want to get to know someone before they jump in.

      What did you think about the debate — or whatever that was? Are you still a fan of Trump?

      I would have liked to have heard an actual debate where you can get a sense of both sides. Of course I’m voting for Biden but the undecideds could have used some clarity. My theory is that Trump doesn’t think he has answers that will be helpful so he’s just trying to talk and not have to give his thoughts on anything while at the same time trying to intimidate Biden. Under the circumstances I thought Biden came out pretty well. And I’m hoping I won’t have to ever sit through anything like that again. One of my friends turned off the sound and put on closed captioning. Maybe that’s an option if the networks can’t find a way to create an actual debate.

      Your thoughts?

  2. I’ve been seeing this sort of literature since well back into the last century, and it must have always existed in some form or another. Since Ovid, at least.

    Very likely, it says more about the authors than about their subjects. Pickup artists and the “Rules” authors are both cashing in on people’s feelings of failure and inadequacy, while congratulating themselves on their own success and following old competitive habits.

    The pickup artists encourage other men to act like jerks, while using their own techniques for approaching women that they would never tell to the competition.

    The “Rules” authors are practicing old-fashioned slut-shaming: telling women not to “give it up” too easily or act too interested because that would ruin the game for the authors, along with other women.

    It’s the same old competition for mates under the guise of giving advice. Even if they’ve “won” the game, they can’t stop playing it.

  3. I suspect that some women have poor social skills so they rely on their bodies. But that doesn’t tend to lead to healthy relationships. Some men have poor social skills too.

    Yep: “The charm, humor, is not genuine, it’s manufactored and tailored to attract women.” I think men don’t have to make the conversation fun so much as real. Depending on what the guy wants. If he wants a strong relationship real is better. Just getting to know who both of you are.”

    Well I think the poor social skills from women sticks around longer because women don’t feel the effects as much to change like men. A pretty girl with social skills will still get dates right? Still get attention, and probably not told “you’re not doing this right, and all this stuff”. If a guy has poor social skills, he’s not getting laid or having a very hard time getting laid. So the onus is much more put on guy’s to fix that issue or get better, which unfortunately is why some turn to PUAS instead of just talking to friends who have strong social skills and just gain confidence and such. Yeah it’s good to be real, but you can be charming and real. Man thank god I got both 😉 lol. You said depending on what guy’s want.

    The problem is since a lot of guys want sex, who doesn’t want sex if you got a strong libido. They feel the pressure to be entertaining at like a bar, party or club or else the girl will lose interest. But the problem with that is guy’s feel so much pressure that they just don’t approach, and then it will never work vs just trying and seeing how it goes. I shouldn’t have over though it was my best friend the former womanizer, said you don’t have to do that but just say hi my name is “, and ask their name and ask questions. I can small talk, I just don’t like it because it feels boring to me, but I’ve realized I assume things sometimes too much. He said you don’t want to try to be too charming because girls will be wary if a guy tries to be too smooth and that makes sense to me, because that can def send of alarms of a guy sounding like a player. And The ultimate thing I think women if its bars, party, coffee shop, idc is a guy that genuinely is trying to get to know them and listen and then the funny, witty stuff can go.

    But it’s easy for me to get ahead of myself. It;s weird this year has been shit, I was already making strides, but the ironic thing is this year with covid and how mentally exhausting it’s been. It like made me compare things that I’d care to it and then not care anymore or be bothered. So it’s convoluted but less anxiety of me taking chances, I guess because as bad as I might feel from taking the chance. It doesn’t compare to the shit show this year has been. So it helps me rationalize the fear I had to where it’s not a big deal in comparison. Oh, I tried to talk to a girl and she was mean…that sucks, but that doesn’t compare to how I feel about this year, so meh, no big deal. I might not be coming from the most positive place but it’s helped me. I frankly don’t give a fuck anymore ( in the good way). I embarrass myself. whatever. I do have some care, but I’m just over caring about that. Covid has made me mentally exhausted to where my pride used to get in the way of taking chances, but such things are less likely to ruin my day now. Now if things got back to normal I could take advantage of this evolved confidence.

    • Some people are taking this time to just get a break. I have a couple of friends who wanted to have relationships but now they don’t have to feel bad about not making any effort. For people who are anxious to get back in the game I guess we’ll have to wait about another year before it’s safe. Maybe you can find a way to make the most of it? This rest?

      But it is OK to be aware of your feelings and not try to rid your self of authentic feelings. It’s important to feel what you feel.

      I think that you are right that men have more pressure to be entertaining since our society has decided that they are the ones who are expected to take the initiative. Obviously, if we had gender equality that wouldn’t be the case and the burden would be equally shared.

      • Well I don’t want to revert back to old feelings, because that what got me in the rut in the first place. I cared too much about things and it stopped me from trying and dealing with rejection. I never knew why it was hard for me. It’s not even rejection, but I think the possibility of people being rude, mean or assholes to me even if not doing anything wrong. It wasn’t consciously on my mind so I didn’t even realize it, but now that I do and feel differently about things. I shouldn’t have let that bother me though and just whatever. I guess this stuff carried over where I was irritated so I like things not upsetting me so I can cope with things as I stew a lot about my past, which I shouldn’t but have. But I’m over it. That’s why my buddy didn’t have problem getting dates. He just didn’t care (in the good way). A girl is a complete snob to him, he’d just shrug his shoulder and eh that’s her loss. Some may say that’s rejection, but it is and isn’t. Plenty of rejections can just be disinterest in talking whereas some people can just be rude or give you the stink eye, like how dare you even bother to say hi. But like I said making a fool of himself, someone being rude, none of that stuff fazed him.

        I’ve taken a break from dating or not really tried because I don’t want to be a jerk and feel it’s just an iffy time. For connection, you want to be able to feel natural being close to someone. It can be quite the mood breaker, being conscious of being distant when on a date and just feels like a hassle to me. I hate it, but I rather wait it out until things are more back to normal. I’m hoping it’s not a year, I’m not getting any younger and would like to get things going to set myself up or so I can transition to a relationship. My buddy tells me to leave the past behind and stop the regrets, so I’m trying to and do something this year. But thats the problem, I didn’t get to do that because of covid. Once effective treatments come hopefully more things can open up as I wanted to try somethings which could be fun. My struggle has been some of my friends have kids but I still want to do things, so I need to have a social circle built up again. I was trying to do a co ed sports league. They say find hobbies you like, and I’ve always been into sports, but my work schedule got in the way last year but this year it’s more free. But while thee is a league they have restrictions. But I’m trying to do one just to play something and maybe more like going out with teammates and socializing stuff can happen next year. But I’m trying to join so to be a familiar face as people are probably regulars so it can be hard getting picked up if you’re new and others pick up people they already know. Yeah guy’s have to entertain, but I hope I don’t have to like my friend said because talking to a girl I don’t know at the bar is stressful if I feel I have to same something witty on the spot.

      • sorry about all this writing, I just have a lot to say about this. It’s ironic too, since I’m actually very funny and witty. I’m just very genuine meaning I can’t fake stuff. The witty stuff isn’t manufactored, it comes from my convo with someone and my mind catching something to where I think of a witty response to what someone said and it’s funny. I have no problem doing a lot of that when talking. But I don’t have to even know or be comfortable with the person. I hear that used for people who are introverts or something. But I can be around people I don’t know and talk to them find and be more talkative than others. I think it’s like the environment where there’s just natural stuff to talk about because you’re in a mutual thing together. Like a classroom or work, or sports, etc. It’s not hard for me to be quite talkative to girls I don’t know and break the ice and just having everyone around me laughing and just working the room. I

        ‘m like that at work. Bars are hard for me to just walk up to a group of girls I don’t know and it’s funny because people from work would probably never guess have some social anxiety because I seem so extroverted, and it’s becasue I do have a very outgoing, personable personality. I have a playful, fun, personality so I light up the room. I like bring the energy socially because of my funny quips. I don’t try to be funny, as insecure people can try to do so for attention. It just comes naturally from being a playful, smartass goofball. I don’t know how I’m going to make the most of it, but I hope things get better early next year. I don’t trust a fast vaccine but I do believe treatments or some are promising and will probably be done with trials by end of this year and then even if vaccine doesn’t come at end of year, Monoclonal antibodies are going well and could be close either end of this year or january or something like that. Those would be game changers before the vaccine or a great bridge and help restrictions lifted and even if not perfectly normal, much more normal with people able to do stuff and feel comfortable dating again and just living life damn it,

        Then maybe more normalcy with the vaccine, and would be a good variation of treatments for people. Not everybody will want a vaccine so treatments are important, Not everybody wants a treatment so vaccines are important. And antibodies for others. This shit is really tough tho, it’s one thing for a person to choose sexual abstinence, it’s very annoying when the world has basically put a government mandated sexual abstinence because of a pandemic, which I still believe was preventable if our ahole president didn’t believe it was a hoax and china wasn’t covering up the real big numbers they had that they lied about. I do believe other countries would have shut down flights sooner and maybe not had cased if they knew china had millions of cases vs 80,000 which that number seemed to peak at same number for months. That seems odd to me. I feel china new they had much much much more than they reported.

      • Well they will probably have a vaccine early next year and since you are an essential worker you will probably be one of the first to get one, if you were OK with vaccinations.

        I know people tend to take it personally when someone is rude to them but when people are rude it’s about them and not you. I know that’s hard to remember. But like your buddy who hits on women all the time and doesn’t mind rejection, well, that’s the main factor that determines how often men get laid.

        If you do activities you are interested in that have a mix of men and women it’s a good way to meet people in a natural way. Particularly helpful if you want more than just to get laid.

  4. Oh dear, I was hoping that things might have changed.

  5. Sorry to see that this drivel was actually written in the 21st century. You can only imagine some of the awkward scenes that would have come from people reading this and taking it seriously.

  6. “Don’t talk very much on the first date”
    “Don’t open up too fast”
    “Don’t call him and rarely return his calls”

    Seems like following those rules would make it very difficult to identify compatibility.

    • You would think! Doesn’t sound like a very good method for a healthy relationship.

      • yeah but you’d be surprised how many women can be like that. It’s kind of weird, because women don’t like being valued just for their looks and body right? But then with dating, a lot of girls often aren’t even showing their personalities. So girls want guys to like them more for their bodies and more for their personalities, but then when a guy goes on a date or like uses bumble and tries to have a conversation. She may talk about herself, but doesn’t joke, doesn’t show humor and is really basic. But then requires the guy to do the talking, jokes, charm and be interesting and make the convo fun or else it’s boring and she loses interest.

        Yes girls will be that if they aren’t interested in guys. But you’d be surprised how many respond back and ask questions and are interested, but still really don’t do much in making the convo fun or interesting and put the whole burden on the guy. So it feels like a contradiction. I believe women are obviously more than their looks and such and I like a good personality. But it feels like “ok I’m trying to get to know you and well I’m sure yuou want to be valued more than your personality…sooooo like show some please” I hated that with dating apps particularly but I’ve seen many guys complain whether dates or texting girls and the girls just go very basic in their convos. I thought if you wanted men to value your personality, you’d show it and how attractive it is, right?

        And I read an article about Neil Strauss. I showed the light on pick up artists and misogyny. And while the efforts of the puas might not be that way, it feeds a culture or sub culture of men who are attracted to this, like a cult. Who have misogynistic thoughts, the incels, mra, mgtow, etc. And I read how Neill Strauss and Mystery, known puas. Were miserable and depressed during their pick up times. Neil Strauss I guess got out of it, is married and has kids and removed himself from his ways. It’s true these guys can’t keep relationships and it’s because it’s a facade. It’s manipulation and not good as even though it may get a guy sex. These women don’t like the guys and why relationships don’t work. And probably because these guys don’t really have anything to provide and the women eventually see through it. The charm, humor, is not genuine, it’s manufactored and tailored to attract women. PUAs are not true to themselves and as a result, they don’t provide the worth to women to want to invest their time and love to such guys and I can’t blame these women.

      • I suspect that some women have poor social skills so they rely on their bodies. But that doesn’t tend to lead to healthy relationships. Some men have poor social skills too.

        Yep: “The charm, humor, is not genuine, it’s manufactored and tailored to attract women.” I think men don’t have to make the conversation fun so much as real. Depending on what the guy wants. If he wants a strong relationship real is better. Just getting to know who both of you are.

  7. Being open, honest and behaving naturally worked alright for me.

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