Occasionally I get an email from a girl who says she is trying to be a good Rules girl and so tries to keep emailing and calling a guy first to a minimum.
Somewhere in this mass of bedding, tissue and cups of tea is my new copy of The Rules, and I am very sure The Rules says you are never allowed to contact a guy first. I don't think it mentions email or texts, as The Rules was written in the 1990s, but its principle is clear.
If you are the pursuer in a relationship with a man, you are NOT a Rules girl at all. And it is okay not to be a Rules girl. Some of my female readers, and probably 99% of my male readers, hate The Rules. I personally think many of the rules in The Rules perfectly sensible, especially as a way to keep women from flinging themselves at men who simply do not give a damn. But I am happy to discuss the book's flaws.
What does not make me happy is girls saying that they are Rules girls when they are obviously not Rules girls because saying so shows that they are not rooted in reality. And you can't stop chasing boys until you have admitted to yourself that you chase boys. I chased boys right up until 2008, even though from 2005 I tried really hard not to, and its a miracle I didn't chase B.A. There, I admit it.
Even though I am happily married, I certainly understand the appeal of chasing boys. Men are, after all, the caffeine in the cappuccino of life, and fun to have around. It is fun to hear their news and get their perspective and have them turn up at my dinner parties.
But sometimes men are not interested in being even just friends with women. And some of them are just lazy correspondents. Women are famously the busy little bee of relationships, keeping families together and sending their mother-in-law's birthday card and making the thoughtful phone call to find out if a missing fellow parishioner is dead or was just ill on Sunday morning. In general, men are not so good at this.
Through much trial and error, I have discovered that I write way more letters and emails to male relations and friends than they ever write back, and the only cure for this situation is to stop writing letters and emails.
Of course, this does not mean that the men friends do not appreciate the emails. Sometimes when I stop writing to male friends during their holidays, they return and reproachfully ask why.
"Because you didn't write back," I say and they look confused.
But I like writing letters regardless, so now I just write them with unconditional writerly love. I have learned to appreciate the few emails and letters I do get. Nagging, I feel, would spell the death of friendship.
But friends are just friends; nobody expects them to behave like like men-in-love. B.A. called every day when we were engaged, and also wrote me long emails, because that's how men-in-love behave. If they can get to phone, men-in-love call. That's just the way they are. There's no need to ask them; they just do it.
Husbands are not that frantic about it unless something is wrong. Husbands are a whole other category of men. They aren't male friends, exactly, although they are male and hopefully they are their wives' best male friends. They aren't men-in-love, exactly, although hopefully they are deeply attached to their wives. They're husbands. They're different.
And now I will fall back, exhausted, against the pillows because I'm still really sick. Poor me.