This story is written by Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, confessing her secret envy of Rules girls who somehow manage to “be a creature unlike any other” and seem to effortlessly get guys to commit to marriage.
I have always wanted to be a Rules Girl. Before anyone had written a series of books and been on Oprah and charged 800 dollars for workshops, I knew that something like the Rules Girl existed, and that I wasn’t it. These were the girls who guys chased, who they fell hard for, who they couldn’t let go of long after the relationship was over. These were the girls who got loved.
I knew because I was the girl who didn’t get loved. I spent my life thinking about boys. I watched for them wherever I went. I dressed for them. I gave up everything for them, and would have given up even more. Yet, I knew this was why I wasn’t loved. Boys didn’t love me because I liked them too much. I needed them too much. I knew this because I had seen the movies and TV shows that reminded me regularly that this was true. The girl who didn’t like the boy, the one who couldn’t be bothered – she was the one the leading man always wanted the most.
A perfect example of this can be found on the reality show The Hills. Kristin Cavallari gets whatever guy she wants. She’s beautiful and skinny, sure. But so is Audrina, yet Justin Bobby keeps her at arms length for years, but when Kristin enters his life, he’s ready to commit. And so was Lauren Conrad, who, back when The Hills was Laguna Beach, was in love with Stephen, who only seemed to have eyes for Kristin, even though everyone could see Kristin would break his heart while Lauren wouldn’t. What did Kristin have that Audrina and Lauren didn’t? She had the power that comes to a girl who doesn’t give a flying you-know-what about whether they lived or died. That’s what she had.
The Rules Girl is held up in our culture as the girl you want. In the books Why Men Love Bitches and Why Men Marry Bitches, author Sherry Argov notes that men don’t want the nice girl. They want the one who doesn’t really have time for them. In Make Every Man Want You and the hundreds of titles along the same lines, the answer is all the same: they want the girl who is so caught up in her own life she could take or leave a guy. Recently, on The Jersey Shore, Vinny fell hard for a girl because she stood him up. In Hollywood, the girl who isn’t impressed by the leading male, the one who can’t be bothered by him, is the one who wins him in the end.
I knew this long ago. I learned early what boys like because I liked them so much, and I wanted them to like me, which, if you catch what I’m on to here, is the irony for those who buy all the books and study how to be Rules Girls. Like millions before me, I tried to be, as the Rules Girls say, “a creature like no other.” But every time I tried, I eventually failed. At some point, I screwed up and called a guy back, or spoke to him first, or smiled at him for too long, because, well, I did like this guy. Because I was not a creature like no other. I was me. Even as I gained confidence and believed I was worth something, being a Rules Girl meant game playing, and I didn’t want to play. I wanted to have a grown up relationship where we approached one another from an honest stance, where there weren’t any rules about who I had to be to be lovable.
I’ve had nine years of therapy in all. I wrote my memoir about how needing male attention plagued my life. I lived through experiences that taught me how I prevent intimacy in my life. In the end, spending those 800 dollars to go to Rules Girl school would not have helped me get what I want after all. What I had to learn to do instead was to come to accept who I was, with my limitations and flaws, so that others would accept me too. Not an easy task in this society that heralds the ice queen as its most desirable woman. The Rules Girls say you must love yourself first. True. But I take a different tack when it comes to self-love. I don’t think you get there by getting pedicures or bubble baths. Loving oneself means accepting who you are entirely, knowing that whoever you are – yes, even when you like boys! – you are actually worthy of getting loved as well.
Not surprisingly, once I acknowledged this, someone who likes me for who I am (someone way more available and kind than the likes of Justin Bobby or Vinny), and who finds my moments of neediness sort of adorable, did love me. Yes, those moments still do still slip in here and there. I haven’t stopped being me because, well, you can’t.