Thinking about his tweed-heart...

Thinking about his tweed-heart...

In a Rule-breaking discussion with me about The Rules, that dearest of dear creatures Seraphic suggested to me that since I was sceptical about them, perhaps I should blog about why.  I instead suggested that, ill-equipped though I may be for such a delicate task, I might try to come up with better courtship advice for men, and this she thought worth a try (or a laugh). 

In an attempt to forestall the perfectly understandable snorts of derision from my readers ( “What the bally-flip does BA know about courting women, eh?  B.A.!”) I offer the observation that past gaffes often bring with them the conciliatory wisdom of hindsight—and moreover, I have recently been rather luckier on the romantic front than any man has a right to hope for.  So there.  And anyway, a chap’s got to blog about something.  [Cry from the cheap-seats: “Oh no he doesn’t!”]

Given the utility of the virtue of modesty to love, life and letters, I propose to begin with but one McRule, but it’s a biggie:

1.  Be Yourself

Hardly original, I grant you, but that just underscores this rule’s importance.  Yes, really.

Being yourself means letting your genuine character be what the world (and the woman whose affections you’d win) sees.  Don’t assume a persona, or conceal essential parts of your own personality or life circumstances, in order better to appeal to woman.  Heaven knows, there are plenty things about the-man-who-is-Benedict-Ambrose which have always seemed unlikely to him to appeal to women, but trying to conceal them has always failed on multiple levels.  Core values, character traits and life-history are things that, after a certain (fairly early) stage in a chap’s life, he is unlikely to change, and dissembling about them carries with it all the usual problems about lies, and is quite literally self-defeating into the bargain.  Even if you manage to pull this shape-changing trick off, you will have won her only by deception and at the cost of your own integrity.  Impersonating someone else (which is effectively what this sort of gambit amounts to) for the sake of gaining the admiration or love of another is not just deceptive—it’s also got a short-to-medium-term chance of success at the very most.  Truly, who can carry that kind of long-term denial of themselves off, without some catastrophic failure at some level or other?  If you would be truly loved by a woman (and there are few more heart-gladdening fates than to be loved by a truly good woman), you must let yourself  be loved.  What availeth it a man if he gain a woman’s love but lose his own soul, eh?   

Only, and here’s the rub, be the very best version of yourself that you can possibly muster. That, I think, best celebrates and increases a proper self-respect and respect for the other person.  If there are aspects of your character or life-circumstances that you really ought to be working on anyway—perhaps you’re addicted to filthy literature (the poerty of Pam Ayres, say) or spend too much time on t’internet reading toshy blog-posts about “being yourself”—let the fact that it will make you more worthy of another’s love help you to change them.  And try to make good progress on that before getting too involved with a lovely gal.

Do not, however, use some poor woman to “save” you from yourself—instead, make yourself more deserving of her first.  If your life or character is such a mess that it needs urgently sorting out, try to sort it out without involving “her” in the mess first.  It’s hardly fair to ask someone to be your personal saviour by becoming your (prospective) wife.  Unfair burden altogether, old chap, innit.  If you fail to win her despite the effort of making yourself worthy of her, you have lost only what you could not have kept anyway, and you’ll be all the more ready to woo someone else now you’ve got yourself in Bristol-fashion.

Also, resist the temptation to fall a certain type of women because you know they will not challenge the aspects of yourself that you really know you ought to change.  Don’t date for convenience.  If you do, you not only show her a lack of respect, but let yourself down rather badly into the bargain.  You will also be “settling” for less than you know you need, and you are unlikely to keep a healthy respect for such a woman. 

“Only date women you can truly respect” will be a subsequent McRule, so keep tuned in now, chaps.