Let your hair grow long, don’t talk back, and most importantly, never gain weight.
That’s the advice given in the controversial 1990s dating guide The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing The Heart Of Mr Right, which became a global phenomenon when released in 1995.
Written by New York duo Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, before the release of Sex And The City, it advised women to play hard to get a cute look.
“We found that women who pursued men were abandoned, while those who tried their best to get a husband” said.
The Rules has sold four million copies and received endorsements from several high-profile celebrities, including Beyonce, who is married to rapper Jay-Z and said: “It works for me.”
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones reveals her mother taught her “not to give it all away” – advice that helped tame her future husband, Hollywood star Michael Douglas.
Meghan Markle is rumored to have used the Rule on Prince Harry, telling him she knew nothing about the Royal Family when they first met.
And Sherrie believes the Princess of Wales used similar tactics with Prince William.
“Kate doesn’t cling to him,” she said.
“When he didn’t commit, she put on a famous fashion show in that skimpy dress — and the rest is history.”
What about David and Victoria Beckham?
“They are absolutely Rules,” Sherrie said.
“He chose her before they even met and said she was ‘the one’. And they had a wonderful marriage for about 20 years.”
So what does it take to become a “compliant girl”?
Dating advice includes not talking too much, never calling a man and never splitting the bill.
“If he doesn’t pay, it means he doesn’t like you!” Sherrie exclaimed.
‘Men like challenges’
When it comes to texting, she says you should wait at least four hours to respond to his first text and at least 30 minutes after that.
Never accept a date on Saturday if the invitation arrives after Wednesday – even if it means spending the night alone.
“If he’s last-minute with you, he’ll be last-minute in other ways, too,” she emphasizes.
If Sherrie’s advice sounds outdated, worse is to come.
The book says: “[Men] don’t want to go out with an overweight girl. Call it sexist, unfair or shallow, but it’s the truth.”
Makeup is also mandatory.
The book advocates: “Wear lipstick even when you’re jogging.”
It also claims men like long hair, “something to play with and caress.”
And of course the skirt must be short. “Remember that you are dressing for men, not for other women. . . we don’t want to look like boys,” she wrote.
Surprisingly, Sherrie stuck to her decades-old advice, including “if you have a bad nose, get a nose job.”
“Any client we have ever recommended for a nose job has had a very bad nose,” she says. “I won’t apologize for that.
“Your nose is in the middle of your face, it’s not like an ear. If you have a bad nose – I’m just saying if it’s really unpleasant to look at – then get a nose job.”
So is Sherrie saying we need to look like Barbie to seduce a guy?
She bluntly said: “If you dress too masculine, you will not attract men.
It’s not surprising that The Rules has been criticized by feminists as “outdated”.
“We believe in feminism, but it has nothing to do with dating,” Sherrie argues.
“Men like challenges. That’s why they need to pursue you.”
A “rule-following girl” herself, Sherrie insists she practices what she preaches.
“When I wrote this book in 1994 [she was 35 at the time and is now 64] I met my husband at a party. He came up to me and asked me out,” she said.
“I never called him – I always ended the date first. At nine months, he proposed to me on my birthday. That’s the Classic Rule.
“The way I conducted myself from the beginning set the foundation for the rest of our relationship.”
Since the original Rules were introduced, there have been a number of sub-rules. The latest version is an updated version of all the Rules combined, called The Rules Manual: A Guide to Creating Loving and Lasting Relationships.
With 50% of marriages in the UK ending in divorce, Sherrie claims to know why they can break up.
“One of the reasons marriages fail is because women can be very difficult and demanding. It doesn’t work on men,” she said.
“If a husband says something unkind, many women will say something even worse. We say it’s better to stay quiet until you’re ready to calmly discuss it.”
She also encouraged women to put their husbands first, calling those who did not do so “selfish.”
“If you want a happy marriage, think about your husband’s needs,” she says. Too many women only care about themselves, thinking about Botox and designer handbags. Not about that issue.
“It’s about making your husband happy and in turn, he will treat you well.”
The Rules even state that you should prioritize your friend’s sexual desires, “even if sex is the last thing on your mind” — and always be seductive, because “no man want to go home with a woman wearing tight pants.”
When asked if she thought the Rule would still be in place in 2023, Sherrie said the only thing that had changed was technology.
For those using dating apps, she advises never liking a man’s profile first.
“Rules work,” Sherrie said. “Get busy, ignore him — and see what happens.”
‘They will be broken’
HOUSEHOLD and mother-of-two Karen Pasquali Jones, 52, of Eastbourne, East Sussex, has been married to chef Alexio Pasquali, 48, for 23 years.
“Forget everything Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein wrote. When it comes to romance, there’s one rule: do anything to get your man.
In fact, I broke all their “rules” when I met the man I immediately decided I wanted to marry.
It was 1997 and I was spending the night with friends at Charlie’s nightclub in London’s East End.
We had had a few shots of tequila when a man in a white shirt walked in – and everything froze.
He’s unlike any other man I’ve ever met. He is an Adonis. High. Handsome. Opaque.
“I’ll talk to him!” I blurted out.
Listening to him speak, I choked up. Alexio is Italian, with a sexy voice that matches his handsome face.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I ask. I didn’t give him the opportunity to “hunt” me. I was with him like the proverbial rash. At the end of the evening, I scribbled down my number.
“I’ll make you spaghetti,” he promised. I waited by the phone for the next 24 hours but no call came. “We have to go to his house,” I told my best friend. “He is the man I am going to marry.”
She couldn’t stop laughing, but I was dead serious. He told me where he was staying and I easily found it, pushing a piece of paper through his door, asking him to call me. Subtle, it’s not.
But it worked. Within an hour, he called to apologize. In my haste – and not helped by those shots of tequila – I misspelled a digit.
He came to make me spaghetti and I didn’t just stare at him – I gawked. And I saw him every night for the rest of that week – and the next.
Alexio moved in three months later and proposed the following year.
In 2000, we got married in his hometown of Rome and now have two beautiful children, 20 and 15 years old.
I was appalled to learn that a new edition of The Rules was being published with many more decrees added. Co-author Sherrie said the secret to catching Mr Right is “being mysterious and playing hard to get”. Garbage.
As my very happy marriage has proven, Rules are made 7 times and broken.
lThe Rulebook by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (DeVoss Publishing) is out on Thursday, priced £9.99.
Play by the rules
The co-author of controversial ’90s dating guide The Rules says her advice on how to trap a husband has remained relevant nearly 30 years on.
Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein gave advice that many today consider sexist.
With Sherrie’s updated guide due out later this week, we ask if it’s time to tear up the Rules.