My interview with Dina Colada, below, was reprinted with permission from the EPIC LOVE website.
Dina Colada: Hi everyone, this is a special EPIC LOVE interview with Robyn Wahlgast of New Direction Dating, a relationship coaching service for women. Robyn uses “The Rules” in her practice, and today we’re going to find out what that’s all about....Robyn, why don’t you give us a quick bio.
Robyn Wahlgast: Well, I’m an east coast girl, now living in Kansas with my wonderful husband and 3 kids. I have been coaching women for over 10 years, and became Rules Certified in 2009.
Dina: So tell us about “The Rules.”
Robyn: The Rules is a relationship book for women written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider that was first published in 1995. Your folks might be more familiar with John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, another relationship classic that was published in 1992. Both books give very compatible advice, in terms of understanding male-female dynamics, male and female energy. The basic idea is that when a woman’s energy is in sync with a man’s the relationship moves forward smoothly, like a dance; but if you’re stepping all over each other’s toes, the relationship will fizzle out. Your energy style is expressed through your behavior, so a lot of what I’m doing is behavior modeling, teaching women exactly what to say or do to create healthy boundaries with men.
- I tell my clients that Men Are From Mars is like your kindly older brother. John Gray’s delivery is direct but gentle, he is addressing both men and women together, and his tone is welcoming and reassuring. It’s an easy book to like.
- The Rules, on the other hand, is presenting the kind of advice your little brother might share. Little brothers don’t spare your feelings; they tell you exactly what’s going on in the boys-only clubhouse. These are relationship tips women won’t typically hear from other women. So it can be a more difficult book to get into when you first pick it up.
Women need both types of advice. (Learn how to use The Rules to date with healthy boundaries in this article.)
Dina: So give us an example of a “Rule.”
Robyn: The very first rule is “Never call a man and rarely return his calls.” Well, most people only get that far. They think “That’s crazy!” and don’t read any further. That rule #1 is pretty much what gets picked up on by the media and what most people know about the book.
Dina: OK, well I have to stop you there because you know a lot of my clients are men. I have to stick up for my guys and say, it sounds like you are advising women to play games. We don’t like women who play games!
Robyn: Yes, of course. And using or manipulating men is not in the spirit of The Rules book. This is what I tell my clients: we don’t “do The Rules” on men; we do them on ourselves so our crazy girl-in-love behavior doesn’t scare away a great guy. Let me describe it this way:
We all know women who fall in love with men way too fast, get clingy, needy, and start asking “where is this relationship going.” And that’s after only 3 weeks! Or sometimes really great women fall into a relationship rut, where they can’t get past the 3-month mark with men; they have a whole string of boyfriends but it never seems to go anywhere. That’s a woman who needs to learn new ways of relating to men or she is never going to experience the lasting love she’s looking for.
The Rules tell us to guard our hearts and move slowly in relationships—which is often the opposite of what we instinctively feel like doing, especially when we’re so hot for a particular guy. But many women don’t have a very accurate “guy-dar” for male behavior; we put too much faith in words, and forget about actions. Many women get swept off their feet by men who say “Baby, I’ll never let you down,” and then make excuse after excuse for him when he proceeds to do just that.
Meanwhile, the good guys get left on the sidelines—maybe some of your folks have seen this—and they just shake their heads and mistakenly conclude that girls don’t like nice men and only fall for jerks.
I’ll go even further and say that the way I teach The Rules, nice “diamond in the rough” guys actually get promoted to the top of a woman’s list. If a man has a pattern of saying he’ll call on Tuesday, but he always “forgets” and you don’t hear from him until Sunday, The Rules thing to do is to stop seeing him and move on to a man who treats you with respect. If a man continually lets you down, it doesn’t matter how hot the sex is, or how much you’re obsessed with his George Clooney looks. You move on to a nice guy who actually delivers on his promises. Only love those who love you.
Dina: OK, cool. How did you get involved with the Rules?
Robyn: Back in the 1990s I was a single woman living in Manhattan. When The Rules book was published my reaction was, this is not for me. I believe strongly in always being polite and kind when possible—those are values that my husband and I both work hard to model for our children, today—and at the time it seemed rude to me that I would no longer be meeting men halfway and doing “my share” of the work in dating.
But I started attending The Rules book seminars at The Learning Annex in New York. Women would stand up and give a 1-minute synopsis of their current relationship. Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (the authors) would go around the room, giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on each situation, and in a few seconds they would tell the women exactly what to say or do next. They made Jim Cramer’s “Lightening Round” look like a waltz. I knew right away that I needed to re-read the book, and that there was a lot that I had missed the first time.
I mentioned the little brother/older brother analogy before. At the seminars, Ellen and Sherrie talked about how, as they were growing up, they closely watched their brothers interacting with women. Ellen Fein has said that in high school, girls would call her house all the time, chasing after her cute, popular brother. Ellen got the “behind the scenes” view and saw how her brother and his friends were kind of disrespectful toward the girls who chased them. The Rules is the wake-up call that Ellen and Sherrie probably wished they could have given those high school girls years ago!
Dina: Awesome, Robyn, well thanks for joining me today! Everyone, I know you have some thoughts on The Rules so add your comments below. Robyn, if people want to follow up with you what’s the easiest way.
Robyn: Sure, I’m at www.NewDirectionDating.com and my email address is NewDirectionDating@Gmail.com. Thanks so much, Dina, it was fun!
Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content.