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Authors: Neil Strauss

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“I guess they failed because the women developed certain behaviors that made me doubt the success of a forever-type relationship with them.”

“And I suppose you didn't have anything to do with the development of these behaviors?”

I had walked him right to his moral high ground again. “Of course I did. It always takes two.”

“And now you've decided to be alone and miserable forever?”

“I just tried so hard to make these relationships work.”

“How exactly did you try?”

“I was honest. I was faithful. I cut off all the other women I was seeing. I
didn't tell lies or carry on secret flirtations or sneak around behind their backs.”

“And that's how you make a relationship succeed? By not having affairs with other women? That's like saying you learn to swim by getting in the water. It's a given.” The sun began to sink beneath the ocean outside his picture window. “Did you ever stop to consider that you never really tried?”

“What do you mean?” The houseboy set a ceramic bowl of cherries in front of him, then lit a stick of nag champa incense. I was walking right into some sort of trap of his.

“You worked really hard to learn the game. You read every book there was, traveled around the world, met all the experts, and spent years making countless approaches to perfect the craft.”

“I think I see what you're getting at.”

“And what do you think that is?”

“That maybe I need to learn how to have a relationship in the same way I learned the game.”

He slowly, triumphantly plucked a cherry off its stem. “Ultimately, you're going to have to make a choice at some point in your life. And that choice is to decide: Do you want to find a woman to spend your life with and make a family together? Or do you want to keep giving in to your impulses and continuing to have sexual adventures and relationships of varying lengths until you can't anymore?”

“Doesn't sound like much of a choice.”

He popped the cherry into his mouth and sat contentedly on the sofa. I used to think that his slow gestures and exaggeratedly calm demeanor were an affectation, a sign of faux spirituality. But I'd since come to envy his stillness of mind.

“So let's say I choose to be with someone forever,” I continued. “You're saying that I need to make that relationship a project and devote the energy I once used chasing women to getting better at it.”


“Yes and?” He was holding out on me.

“And the challenge is to find someone to love who not only loves you in return but is also willing to work with you on this life project.”

“That's easier said than done. How do you know when you've found the right person?”

“When you're with someone you grow closer to over time instead of apart from,” he said. “A lot of people make the mistake of trying to defend principles in relationships. My goal is long-term happiness. And I make choices that aren't going to undermine that goal. Even if it means giving up a freedom in exchange.”

“Man, that's scary.” I hated that he was winning. I hated that the answer had the word
in it. I hated the idea of making a decision that closed other doors of possibility and experience behind it.

“Or exciting. As with learning anything, it will be difficult and there will be obstacles, but eventually you'll master it. And you'll find a strength and confidence that no amount of one-night stands and threesomes can ever give you.”

“That all may be true, but there's still one problem we haven't solved.” He listened intently. Solving problems was his specialty. “So what happens a few years into the relationship if I feel the call of the wild and just want to go have sex with someone new? How do I control that, or not resent her for keeping me from those experiences?”

“Well,” he said patiently, “you think about how that would affect the project you've dedicated your life to. People who work in banks generally don't steal the cash. Although they want more money in the moment, they value their future more.”

In the intervening years, I had interrogated many men in long-term relationships. Most of them simply gave in to the call of the wild and slept with other women behind their partner's back. But that is a recipe for disaster. Even if she never finds out, the guilt, secrecy, lying, and sneaking around eventually destroy the love a couple once had. An honest alternative is an open relationship. However, the couples I met in open relationships not only still had drama, but were no longer in love. They were just codependent.

But there are other options. “I suppose if I still wanted to have my cake and eat it, I could explore swinging or polyamory or being with a bisexual girl.”

“If she's comfortable with that, I suppose it's something you could try.” He paused and stroked his chin. I saw a glint in his eyes. “But there's something you need to know first.”

“What's that?”

“When I was reading over that discussion of ours, I realized something.” He took a sip of water. I knew that it wasn't due to thirst, but a sense of confidence that his next words would reveal my complete idiocy. “That whole idea of not
having your cake and eating it—the expression is wrong. The saying should be: you can't eat your cake and have it.”

“I'm not sure I get the meaning.”

“It means you should be glad you were lucky enough to experience the luxury of a cake in the first place. So stop staring at it and worrying about what you'll lose by committing to it—and start enjoying it. Cakes were meant to be eaten, not collected.”

I hated him sometimes. For being right.


is the author of the
New York Times
The Game, Rules of the Game, and Emergency
. He is also the
coauthor of three other
New York Times
bestsellers—Jenna Jameson's
How to
Make Love Like a Porn Star
, Mötley Crüe's
The Dirt
, and Marilyn
The Long Hard Road Out of Hell
—as well as Dave Navarro's
Try This at Home, a Los Angeles Times
bestseller. A writer for
, Strauss lives in Los Angeles. His website,
, is updated weekly
with excerpts from upcoming books and new articles on The Game.

for exclusive information on your favorite
HarperCollins authors.




The Game

Everyone Loves You When You're Dead

The Long Hard Road out of Hell

The Dirt

How to Make Love like a Porn Star

Don't Try This at Home

How to Make Money like a Porn Star


Cover design by Jeremy DiPaolo/Meat and Potatoes, Inc.

Illustrations by Bernard Chang
Designed by Jamie Putorti


The information in this book has been carefully researched, and all efforts have been made to ensure accuracy. The authors and the publisher assume no responsibility for any injuries suffered or damages or losses incurred during or as a result of following this information. All information should be carefully studied and clearly understood before taking any action based on the information or advice in this book. You assume full responsibility for the consequences of your own actions. If you can't agree to these terms, do not turn the page. Note that some names and distinguishing details have been changed to protect the identities of the debauched.

A box set edition of
Rules of the Game
, containing “The Stylelife Challenge” and “The Style Diaries,” was published in 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.

(Omnibus Edition). Copyright © 2009 by Stately Plump Buck Mulligan, LLC.
Copyright © 2007 by Stately Plump Buck Mulligan, LLC.
Copyright ©2009 by Stately Plump Buck Mulligan, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

First It Books edition published 2009.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.

ISBN 978-0-06-191169-9

EPub Edition © MARCH 2012 ISBN 9780062130105

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BOOK: Rules of the Game
9.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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