Rules For Dating And Middle Age Women

My second favorite dating book, after Mars and Venus on a Date, are the Rules for Dating series.  This series is written by a couple of now middle aged women, starting in the 90s, and updated every few years to account for new technology and interest in the concept.  The books are:

They got this advice from their mothers and passed it on to the world. As you can see from the reviews on, it is a highly popular yet controversial series.  I would say most of the people railing against it, that it is full of manipulation, have not REALLY read the books.  As suggested, I have read and re-read each book and the concepts, for the most part, align exactly with the loving ideas of Mars and Venus on a Date book.  The books just do not explain the concepts as well and focus more on WHAT to do to accomplish the 5 stages of dating, rather than WHY to do it.

The main beef I have against the book is the repeated calls to lose weight and even get plastic surgery.  While it is true that the first stage of attraction for men is physical, I don’t feel that losing weight or getting plastic surgery is a good idea.  Losing weight ultimately leads to regain 99% of the time, so why would you want to start your relationship with a lie about your appearance? And plastic surgery is dangerous and bad for your confidence as is dieting.

Other than that one disagreement, the Rules for Dating books are really quite useful for the middle aged female dater.  If you have not had to play coy in many years, like me, it is a great refresher course. Even the idea of letting a guy pay on a date and waiting for him to call was a vague distant memory for me.  Ideas about how to dress and act on a date, were very helpful.  I got my ears re-pierced, grew out my hair and bought some sexy clothes. That helped my confidence  a lot.

romantic candle

Do you remember the rules for dating?

The Rules for Dating books do focus a lot on scripts to use when setting up dates. The problem is that men do not always follow the scripts. For that reason, I feel it is important to have the concepts from Mars and Venus on a Date to fall back on to keep the man in charge of everything and to act as the pleasee rather than the pleaser on the fly.

Rules for Dating and Middle Age

The main useful concept for me was how to act when texting in the early stages of dating. I was not much of a texter to start with when I started dating. In fact I had to upgrade my cell phone plan to accommodate my early texting frenzy. I was confused about etiquette and when to respond and when not to; how to end a text session. Most of my texts before I started dating had been the “Bring home milk” variety, so I had no idea how to flirt by text.  The Rules set out VERY specific guidelines for texting, emailing, calling, etc in the early stages of dating so you don’t overwhelm a man.

While many people see this as manipulative and game playing, to me it is no more manipulative than handing out candy to a toddler after Halloween rather than letting the toddler eat the whole bag and get very sick.  It also allows the women to be passively receptive and the man to be actively receptive as Joel Grey points out is needed for love to blossom early on.

The book also has a lot of advice about online dating and what types of men there are online; how to screen out the men who are not serious about dating you. I found that VERY helpful since early on I had no idea what was going on.

This book really helped calm me down and gain confidence about my dating skills again.  While it was very hard for me to follow The Rules initially, each time I did not, I realized why The Rules were correct in creating a pleasee action in me that aligned with the recommendations from Mars and Venus on a Date.

I finally had to create a log of my actions and reward myself to get past some of the more challenging rules for me such as waiting for first contact, stopping contact with men that were clearly not suitable for me or interested in a relationship and not staying friends with men after they had rejected me.  I think a lot of the challenge was due to me being in the rebound stage of my divorce so it has gotten easier to do The Rules as I have gotten past that phase.

One caveat is that these books are written primarily for 20 something year olds who have loads of testosterone-laden, eligible young men milling around them.  The advice to “just post an online dating ad and catch another one right away” if things go sour with a guy does not really apply.  They said to wait “up to 9 months” to find a guy who was easy as cake to do the rules on. Well it took me “19 months” to find one that I could do them on!! I had to try and practice the rules on guys who were not into me and that mostly consisted of not talking to them which was not much fun.

They do mention that older women don’t need to play as hard to get but don’t go into detail much about specifics so you have to use your judgement. As men age, testosterone wanes while women’s testosterone gets unmasked as estrogen wanes.  I think it is kind of our turn to chase a little more but only if we are sure that the guy wants to be chased.

If you feel like you don’t know where to begin with dating after a middle aged divorce, I would recommend starting with The Rules series.




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