Tanya Sweeney

Her flaxen waves, mattress stuffed with cash and legs that go on for weeks, probably mean actress Blake Lively has needed little help with her dating life down the years. But then she came up against the player that is A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, and all that changed.

Just when it seemed that all was lost for the Hollywood twosome, their fledgling romance got a second wind. And Hollywood insiders are hinting that Blake scored her romantic coup with a little help from controversial self-help tome The Rules.

Anyone who has even cast a casual ear towards a Sex and the City episode will doubtless be familiar with the book's "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" mantra. Released in 1995, it caused a sensation in the gilded jungle of New York's cut-throat dating scene. And 16 years later, The Rules are set to make something of a comeback; a palate cleanser after the recent resurgence in traditional, Mad Men-style values.

Blake and Leo's relationship reportedly took a bad turn after he was spotted with a mystery blonde. Yet far from retreating to lick her wounds, Blake upped the ante, cooled off and played hard to get. Not calling him, making him jealous and acting "busy" are just some of the commandments in the bestselling book by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. It wasn't long before she had Leo on the reported run around.

However, The Rules aren't without their critics; many have dismissed them as outmoded bunkum. Returning his calls, paying on a date and opening up too fast emotionally are all considered disastrous for any woman wanting to get in the game. Rather, the authors suggest that making a guy jealous and keeping oneself busy is a sure-fire way of turning his head.

On the flipside, it's easy to see how The Rules might be a help rather than a hindrance when it comes to hooking the right man. Making a guy work for your affections affords him the thrill of the chase; a challenge that he invariably accepts. It's a way of standing out from the flotsam of other women vying for his attention, says the book.

Experts already note that the interaction between a man and woman in the first three weeks of a romance sets the tone for the rest of the relationship, often irrevocably. Naturally, there will be some game-playing: For instance, a woman calling a man for a first date might find him not accepting of her initiative. He may turn her down and then later call her for a date. He is setting a dynamic of him wanting to be the initiator in the pair. Often, relationship rules begin to be hammered out from the first interaction. One person does something and the other person responds either positively or negatively to that action.

That said, surely The Rules is a ploy that might backfire spectacularly? After all, there's a gossamer-fine line between acting uninterested and coming off as hostile? What happened to getting more from life with lemons than with vinegar?

The Rules may have worked a charm for Blake, but what of us mere civilians with our cash-free mattresses and bad-hair days? We asked Paula Hall, relationship advisor to, whether The Rules and its teachings (via might hold water in every day life.

>Rule 1 Make yourself interesting. Possess a sense of confidence and radiance that permeates your being.

Paula says: "TRUE. Whether you like it or not, you are 'unlike any other' because all of us are unique individuals. The real challenge is to ensure you value your uniqueness and appreciate how special you are."

>Rule 2 Go to parties and events even if you don't feel like it. This presents you in a flattering light as you will look popular and in-demand. Mr Right won't find you sitting at home.

Paula says: "FALSE. nowadays this is blatantly untrue as a recent report stated that one in five Internet users met their partner online."

>Rule 3 If he doesn't ask you out, he's not interested.

Paula says: "TRUE, well sort of. If someone is seriously interested in you then they'll probably find some way of communicating that interest.

Nowadays it might not be an invitation to date but a flirty text or email saying that they want to get to know you better."

>Rule 4 In an office romance, do not email him back unless it is business related.

Paula says "TRUE. Companies are increasingly clamping down on inappropriate use of office resources, and that includes the internet. If you want to reply, do it the old-fashioned way and walk down the corridor to his office."

>Rule 5 In a long-distance relationship, he must visit you three times before you visit him, just as you wouldn't sleep with him before the third date.

Paula says: "FALSE. In these days of equality a woman is just as likely as a man to be willing and able to do the travelling required to pursue a long-distance relationship.

What's more, in the early days, you may prefer to be at his where it's easier to make a speedy getaway if things aren't working out rather than having to politely entertain him at yours.

>Rule 6 When placing a personal ad online, wait for men to respond to you. Men should always pursue women first.

Paula says: "FALSE. There really is no right or wrong. The web has created an even playing field for men and women to communicate as equals without the outdated sexism of yesteryear.

My advice would be that if you like someone's profile, let them know."

>Rule 7 If he does not call, he is not interested

Paula says: "TRUE. If you've started seeing someone but he's not returning your call then he's either seriously ill, very rude, or not interested.

The first possibility is, of course, highly unlikely, especially if he hasn't got well enough to even send you a text after a few weeks have gone by, so that leaves either rudeness or lack of interest. Either way, you're better off without him (or her)."

>Rule 8 Don't date a man for more than two years. You've already spent more than a year waiting for him to propose; do you have another year to wait?

Paula says: "FALSE. The current economic climate has meant that many couples are waiting longer before they tie the knot. Lack of work security and the high costs of a wedding often mean that engagements can last for years. If you both still love each other and are committed to a future together, there's really no rush for the ring."

>Rule 9 Observe his behaviour so you don't end up with the wrong guy.

Paula says: "TRUE. It is as true today as it's ever been that actions speak louder than words. And this has been backed up recently by a Parship survey which found that Irish women rated qualities as a lover as more important than any of their European counterparts."

>Rule 10 Keep doing The Rules even when things are slow.

Paula Says: "TRUE. But re-write the rules that don't work for you and add some new ones too. Positive self-talk and looking after your body, mind and soul are essential for keeping us happy and healthy -- whatever our relationship status may be."