Screwing the Rules

The No-Games Guide to Love


By Laurel House

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Change your dating game to a winning strategy to find the partner you need with no games, no gambits, and no hiding of who you really are, and what you really want from a mate. Laurel House believes that “The Rules” of yester-decades don’t apply to today’s evolved, headstrong, multifaceted women, who are taking longer to wed, often putting careers first and focusing on love and kids later. Screwing the Rules will challenge women to examine their expectations, hopes and dreams, dating strategy, relationship goals-and themselves-in a revised way. Screwing the Rules is about being honest about who you are and what makes you happy, then making smart decisions about potential compatibility.

Laurel speaks not only from the perspective of a professional relationship coach who has helped countless people, but from firsthand experience. She’s admittedly made a lot of mistakes in her past relationships and discusses them candidly. In Screwing the Rules Laurel shares the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Through seven distinct sections, the book takes the reader full circle. First working on yourself and figuring out what you want in a guy, how to find him, get him, and keep him. It advises when/if/how to let him go, heal, and get out there again. Screwing the Rules is all about helping women bring out their best, most confident, empowered self, and from that point of strength, provide the insight, tools, and direction needed to find their ideal match.



Addressing Your Issues

I was a bad wife when I was first married. Sure, I was way too young, completely inexperienced, had no idea who I was or what I stood for (despite being extremely driven and strident), and was in no way ready to be married. It’s not that I cheated, indulged in addictions, or partied hard. I was just . . . A miserable bitch. I was controlling and demanding, demeaning, never satisfied, selfish, nagging, and cold. I refused to let my guard down, be vulnerable and soft, or put in any effort. Outsiders didn’t see it, though. I worked hard at painting a picture of wedded perfection, replete with a tall, dark, and seriously handsome husband, white picket fence around our adorable red-doored house, and a 130-pound dog named Ruby.

Here’s the thing though—I loved being a wife. I loved working side by side as we tended to our garden, using our hand-nurtured produce to toss together healthy and delicious meals each night, and sitting on the sofa watching the news at the end of each evening before getting into bed drifting off to sleep.

But although I loved the role, I wasn’t being real. I really wanted to fit squarely into the “good wife” mold. We lived the quintessential life and had a perfectly cookie-cut home on the type of street that might appear in a surreal Jim Carrey movie where each home has a manicured lawn and the neighbors smile and wave with that beauty queen pose and give you an “everything’s just peachy” grin as you pass by. Mature oak trees and purple flowering jacarandas dotted the sidewalks. It screamed potluck dinners and oozed family. That’s why we picked it. But that wasn’t me. Not back then at least. I still had a lot of growing to do.


        Would you date you if you were him?

        Would you date someone who has your issues?

Think about your insecurities, your manic behaviors, your internal monologue that tells you how fat and stupid and ugly you are, your criticism of yourself and others, your lies, your dirty laundry, your unfinished business, your self-sabotaging behaviors, your secrets, your MO, your superficiality, your depthless conversations, your workaholic obsession, your inflated or deflated ego, your addictions, your lack of friends, your dysfunctional relationship with your family, your attitude and actions. Would you date someone like that? Would you date you?

If you just read the above and thought, “I’m not so bad, actually. Yes, I would totally date me. In fact, I think I’m a pretty great catch!” then you’re either delusional, lying to yourself (and what’s the point of that—really?), or you’re totally right—you’re awesome! Regardless, there are likely areas that can use some improvement (or a total overhaul). So keep reading and get ready to become your best self so that you can attract an incredible guy who complements what you put out and is ready to dive in.


Are you happy? This has nothing to do with anyone else but you. It’s not about whether you’re in a happy relationship or whether you’re having a good or a bad day. Are you happy with yourself? Do you like you? Do you enjoy spending time with you? Or are you easily bored when you’re alone? Do you feel like you need the company of other people to enjoy yourself? Or maybe you like to torture yourself by sitting alone and steeping in misery.

For you to be in a happy, healthy, and loving relationship, you need to first be happy, healthy, and in love with yourself.

It’s said that people who get bored easily are boring. Same goes for love. If you don’t love you, why would he? In the next chapter I’m going to ask you to do some work—writing down your core values, framing your stories, creating an intention board, and determining your purpose. These exercises are all intended to help you get to know yourself a bit better and realize just how amazing, confident, and interesting you really are. But truly, at the very core of all of this, at the core of dating and attracting a great guy and having a happy, healthy, and fulfilled relationship with an amazing partner who supports, complements, and loves you, is a love of yourself. You need to know that you deserve the most incredible guy, who treats you well, respects who you are, and encourages you to continue to grow and be your best self. But you will only attract that person if you truly do believe that you deserve it. If you don’t feel that you are worthy, good enough, or deserving of such greatness because you yourself question whether you truly are great, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone else who does. Why? Because you won’t let yourself. You will only allow yourself to be loved as much as you love yourself.

If you continue to attract guys who treat you like shit; are demeaning, dismissive, abusive; who don’t show up, don’t follow through, or don’t support you, stop wondering what’s wrong with all of these assholes and instead see them as a reflection of something within you.

What does your inner voice tell you? How does it speak to you? Does it shut you down or build you up? Would you say the nasty things that you say to yourself to your best friend? Or your worst enemy? Stop being your worst enemy. Change the voice in your head. When you start to hear horrible things being said, literally say, “Enough, that’s not true.” Why continue to lie to yourself? Are you truly stupid? Really? You’re stupid? You’re uneducated? Are you honestly hideously ugly? Is your body repulsive? Really? Or is that just a lie too? Would it stand up in court? If someone said that to your best friend, would you defend your friend or let that person continue to trash-talk her? Stop lying to yourself. Stop being your worst enemy. Your words become your reality. The more you bash yourself, your worth, your life, the worse it will be and the more miserable you will become. Let me tell you right now—THAT is not attractive to anyone, and it’s certainly not a way to get a great guy.

It’s time to start doing things that make you happy. Pamper yourself. Take time for yourself. Explore secret passions. Go on a solo retreat that forces you to refocus on yourself and strengthen the bond that you have with you. If you want a guy to treat you like a treasure, you have to set the standard and treat yourself that way first. Date yourself! Whatever you want a man to do for you, do for yourself. Why? (1) So you can get used to how it feels to be treated that way! (2) To set the precedent. If he sees how well you treat yourself, he will elevate his expectation of himself, knowing that he has to raise the stakes. Why would you be with him if he can’t make your life better in some way? What does he have to offer to you that you can’t provide for yourself? That doesn’t mean that he has to have and spend a lot of money on pampering you. He can cook you dinner, bring you one flower, give you a long massage, take you on an architecture tour of your city. Whatever it is, he is rising to the occasion to prove his worth to you. As he should!


Do one thing every single day that is totally selfish and makes you completely happy. Need a few ideas? Take a bubble bath, sign up for a cooking class, go on a hike, get lost in your favorite erotica audio book, buy yourself a bouquet of your favorite scented flowers, pick up a travel guide for your city and start going on field trips as if you were a tourist, or give yourself some loving . . . yeah, that kind. You want to go into your next relationship as a happy, emotionally healthy, and whole person—not a half person looking for happiness from someone else. “You complete me” is sweet, but it’s horseshit. You balance me—now that’s what the goal is! You complete you. He completes him. You are each individually amazing. But you are even more awesome together! Love you . . . first. And soon you will attract someone else to love you, too.


Every morning, before you get out of bed or even open your eyes, I want you to think of five things that you love about yourself. Two of those things must be physical. When you get out of bed, immediately write them in a journal. This will be your “I Love Me: Five Ways a Day” journal.

Not into journaling? Not a problem. Write love notes to yourself on Post-its and place them around your house, in your car, or on your computer. Take a dry-erase pen and write your five ways that you love you on your bathroom mirror. Write them on a notecard and stick it in your purse. The point is to think it, say it, and write it…and soon you will truly come to believe it.


Why can’t you find the perfect man? Because the perfect man doesn’t exist. And by the way, you’re not perfect either. But you know that. So stop being so hard on yourself.

It’s time to shift the way you view your baggage. So maybe you’re divorced, struggled with addictions, came from a broken home, went through a tough or toxic period, dated a little too prolifically, experienced abuse, were imprisoned, hurt yourself or others, acted carelessly, etc., etc. So what? The point isn’t the act; it is how you have acted since then. What have you learned? How have you grown? Are you better, stronger, wiser, more evolved, introspective, aware, tender, empathetic, or resilient because of it?

Don’t let your baggage weigh you down. Use it to bolster yourself. Stop hating, pitying, or hiding yourself—that’s your own form of emotional abuse. Sure, you may have fucked up—maybe big time. But you are who you are today because of your experiences in the past. By saturating in, running from, or covering up those past hardships, you are keeping yourself tethered to them. You are defining yourself by them. You are punishing yourself for them. You aren’t allowing yourself to be wholly present or to move forward into a healthy and happy future. Forgive yourself. What you did or what was done to you isn’t who you are. We all make mistakes and have shitty experiences. Once you allow yourself to extract the positives from the pain in the form of lessons, then learn from them and change because of them, you can move on and up.

And here’s the interesting thing: the harder, more judgmental, and less forgiving you are on yourself, the harder, more judgmental, and less forgiving you are on others. By embracing your baggage and forgiving yourself for your past, you admit that you aren’t perfect. No one is. And that “ideal” guy for you? He’s imperfect too.


I am about to get very vulnerable with you. This is hard for me. I am doing it because I want you to see the real me. Not the “me” that is out there for public consumption. I want you to see my struggles and know that you are not alone in yours. I hope that in my sharing this with you, you will feel comfortable to open yourself up, too.

I am going to do what I call a U Dig Strategy (which you will learn about after my story). This “U” is intended to excavate and move away from limiting beliefs that keep you stuck in patterns and habits that don’t allow you to have the type of healthy and loving relationship that you deserve.

This is the headspace that I was in not too long ago.


Write down what your life would look like if you let go of this limiting belief.

If I was able to let go of this limiting belief of feeling like I’m not good enough, I would be able to be in a real and deep relationship with a man who loves me for me and who I love for him.

If I was able to let go of this limiting belief, I would be able to get married—for good this time—and start the family that I so desperately want to have.

If I was able to let go of this limiting belief, I would stop hurting other people in an attempt to protect myself and I would be able to forgive myself for hurting people in the past.

Write down where this belief came from and the events in your life that reinforced the belief, cementing it into your mind as “truth.”

This belief started unknowingly when I was a very little girl. My parents were young, just starting in their careers, and both worked full-time. So they did the absolute best they could afford to do at the time, which was leave me during the day with a woman whose job it was to make sure I didn’t die. But she didn’t hold me or love me. That wasn’t her job. Realizing that I needed to be cared for by someone who cared, my parents found a nanny for me, who turned out to also have a side job as a hooker. Of course, they had no idea about that side job until she was arrested. Then they found an amazing woman who moved in with my family and took incredible care of us—me and my younger siblings when they were born. But the seed was already planted. I wasn’t good enough for love.

This limiting belief of not being good enough was reinforced when I was in middle school. A very late bloomer, I was unattractive and awkward. One day some of the popular girls turned on me and started spreading rumors about me. The next day I had literally no friends. I would walk through the halls holding my shorts so that the girls wouldn’t “pants” me. I was thrown in the dumpster, my locker was regularly vandalized, and I would hide in the teacher’s room during lunch hour. This went on for a year. Of course, I didn’t reveal this to my parents because I was ashamed and simultaneously scared that they would try to help and the people who bullied me would get in trouble, which would make things worse for me. I learned to hide my fears, and I learned to protect the people who hurt me. I wasn’t good enough for girlfriends.

This limiting belief was reinforced when I found a group of tough guys to protect me—a “gang,” also called a “crew,” where I lived in Los Angeles. They took care of me, picking me up from school and teaching me how to dress like a tough girl. I didn’t do anything bad; I just hung out with them, like a pet. I started dating one of the main guys. He really wanted to have sex. He told me that he loved me. I told him I wasn’t ready and wanted to wait until I was at least sixteen. A few weeks before my birthday he decided it was time. He wasn’t violent with me, but he didn’t listen to me. The next day he disappeared. He had another girlfriend. He didn’t love me. I learned that my voice didn’t matter and that “I love you” wasn’t worth much. I wasn’t good enough for love.

After college I was married to a really nice guy, but it wasn’t right. We quickly divorced, and I fell for a man who needed me, and I equally craved him. When I found out that he was cheating on me and he told me that I was horrible in bed, I made it my mission to be amazing in bed. I went to the bookstore and bought every book on sex and oral sex that I could devour. I put myself out to be the “perfect girl” and started following “the rules” of superficial dating. Shortly thereafter, I met a really great guy who asked me to marry him within three months, and I felt so lucky to be good enough to be loved again. But we didn’t know each other, and soon it was very obvious that we were very different people and that our expectations were not aligned. To dodge dealing with it, I threw myself into my work. At the age of twenty-five I sold my second book and was writing for almost a dozen magazines. But my avoidance didn’t fix the marriage, and so we ended it.

The thought that I was not good enough was reinforced by a boyfriend I started dating immediately after my divorce. Yes, my second divorce. An emotional mess and ashamed of the fact that I failed yet another marriage, I wasn’t ready to be with this man, but he fascinated me and quickly I fell obsessively in love with him. He was a drug to me. I was addicted to him. But as addiction-based relationships go, it was fireworks followed by fighting. To say it was tumultuous would be an understatement. He told me that he was going to break me down so that he could build me up as a “better person.” Then he rejected me in a way that I am uncomfortable writing about. But I am very aware of the damage it did. We broke up and I shut down completely. I wasn’t good enough.

Just a few months later I met a guy who seemed to be my knight in shining armor (I write about him in a later chapter). He was extremely wealthy, and he made me feel like I was a princess as he lavished me with beautiful things . . . because he wanted to make me over into “someone better.” I guess I still wasn’t good enough despite the last guy’s makeover. I was already emotionally weak and had little fight left in me, so I let him. He had lots of changes that he wanted to make. It started off with little biting comments—“Your laugh is so obnoxious.” “You’re such a bad kisser.” “Are you sure you want to eat that?” “Those exercise pants make you look fat.” “Don’t you ever have anything interesting to talk about? Maybe you should start reading the newspaper every day so you can have a substantive conversation.” Then he started pointing out my cellulite in the mirror, informed me that my job as a writer was just a cocktail conversation career and “encouraged” me to quit, told me that I made people feel uncomfortable when I was out at social events and that I should edit myself, pointed out that I had no style and literally threw away all but ten items of my clothing—which I bargained to keep. He told me to be presentable with my hair and makeup done at all times (except when working out), to read the newspaper before he came home and pull out five talking points for dinner conversation, and to lounge around in lingerie after dinner. The more I did what he said, the less we fought! When I was dressed—hair and makeup put together when he came home from work—he was happy with me. But I felt like a wild horse being broken into a circus act, ready to put on a show! And I horrifyingly sat back and watched as I lost myself, turning into that “yes girl” that I never thought I had the capacity to be, accommodating him in every way I could. I wanted to create a bubble around him so that he was always happy—like a bouncy house, nice and safe. It was my job (literally in some ways) to shield him from the real world, and I was responsible for making his life more enjoyable, sometimes to the detriment of my own enjoyment, as I was too concerned about his happiness to experience happiness myself. I learned to not voice my opinion and to put the needs of others first in order to avoid arguments or uncomfortable conversations. I know it seems like I’m painting an awful picture of him, and there truly were wonderful elements of our relationship, but it’s often the stabs and jabs that stick. When the relationship finally ended several years later, I was a shell of a person, a house of cards. I was completely shut down. Since I wasn’t good enough, I hid myself away in a cell deep within me, where no one could touch or hurt me again.

It was time to reinvent myself! After months of being too weak to leave my house, I further perpetuated the belief that I wasn’t good enough by embodying Super Laurel. My heart was sealed, and no one could see through the façade that I put up. I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt me again. Super Laurel had a big personality! She was witty, fun, spontaneous, sexy, and always interesting, with lots of stories to tell. But more than anything else, Super Laurel was beautiful and always “perfect.” The first time I went out as Super Laurel, I was able to pull in the hottest, most eligible guy in the room. It was that night that I realized I had harnessed the power to get guys to want me. I became a player—like that hot guy who loves them and leaves them. It’s not that I was trying to hurt these guys. They were really amazing people, and, when they showed interest in me, when they thought that “I” was good enough, I ate it up! I just wanted to be wanted, because more than anything else I wanted to be loved. The problem was that, just beneath the Super Laurel surface, I was numb. While these amazing men were sending love to me, my force field blocked those emotions so that I couldn’t feel them. It also made it so that I couldn’t love back. One guy after the next fell for me and wanted to see me a lot—all the time! Despite being in complete control, I was also a pleaser, and I would let them have as much of me as they wanted. But I didn’t have very much to give and I quickly felt depleted and empty. And then, after a few weeks or maybe a couple of months of me giving all of me to them, I ended it. I had nothing left.

Years later that limiting belief was reinforced when I got back with the man who I had been obsessed with—the only man who had really ever tapped into my heart. He was my Achilles’ heel. Again we were tumultuous—on and off and on and off. I kept leaving him because I wasn’t getting what I needed from him: love and vulnerability. Each time I left, he walled himself up even more, became increasingly angry and resentful, and he trusted me with his heart even less. But we were both obsessed with each other. Despite getting back together, he told me that I didn’t deserve his love, that I was a horrible and selfish human being, and that I had to prove myself worthy of his love for him to really open up to me again. We were spiraling in a seriously sick and toxic cycle, but for some reason neither of us wanted off the ride. Regardless of how “horrible a human being” I was, he wanted my body and my company, and he kept me around at an emotional distance, only occasionally letting his fortified guard down and being with me—laughing like we used to, which was what I so desperately craved. I felt like I was starving to death. He was right there in front of me, he was holding my hand, taking me out to dinner . . . but I couldn’t access him. It was like dating a freezer or a brick wall. When I finally left—for good this time—I actually thought I was going to die. I felt that my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I immediately had a temperature of 103.5 and refused to leave my house, preferring to soak in the bath until the water was cold, then lay on the floor cuddling my dog for warmth.

After that, I was done with this love bullshit. I wasn’t going to be hurt again—despite the fact that I desperately wanted love. I am a pathetic romantic and still believe in the fantasy of a fairytale love. But I had nothing left in me. So I pulled out my Super Laurel again. She is amazing! Men love her! She is always in control . . . As long as she stays perfect—perfectly put together, perfect in bed, and always very interesting and enticing. She is the ultimate seductress. Plus, she doesn’t feel pain. She also doesn’t feel love.

I was too afraid to let anyone see me, the real me, because my limiting belief of not good enough had so deeply rooted itself. But I was lonely and sad and missing love. In moments of extreme lows, I would want to go back to my Achilles’ heel, because at least I knew that with him I was able to feel. My heart never closed to him, just to everyone else. I wanted to love someone else. I wanted to love someone else who loved me. The real me. Not the “me” who I put out when I was “on.”

Why are those limiting beliefs serving you?

Those limiting beliefs are serving me because no one can hurt me again, because I don’t let anyone see the real me.

Those limiting beliefs are serving me because I am in complete control of my feelings and therefore my life.

Why are you angry at those limiting beliefs?

I’m angry at those limiting beliefs because they are keeping my heart shut off and keeping me from truly experiencing love. Because I can’t feel. I am numb. And I hate it.

Why are those limiting beliefs making you sad?

I’m sad because I feel alone. I’m sad because I feel like no one really knows me.

Why are your limiting beliefs making you scared?

I’m scared that I am losing myself—my real self—because of my limiting beliefs. I am scared that if I continue to be a force field against love, I will never allow myself to be in a real and loving relationship again. I’m afraid that I will never again feel true and deep love.

Why do you regret your limiting beliefs?

I regret feeling not good enough because I believed it. And, because I believed it, I acted like I wasn’t good enough. I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything. I was weak, but I pretended to be so strong. Believing that I wasn’t good enough resulted in my shutting myself down. In shutting down I have shut out so many amazing people—both relationships and friendships. I regret creating a façade because in many ways even I started to believe that façade and I started to become Super Laurel. But people who truly know me—friends from my past—they can see through it, and they are disgusted by it. They want to see me. But I sometimes forget how to let her out of her cell. I regret that I didn’t hold on to myself more fiercely. I regret that I didn’t create a bottom line, that I didn’t speak up for myself, and that I allowed myself to slip away. I believe that, had I actually been me—the real me—I wouldn’t be alone. I think that, had I just been me and not the “me” that I put on, had I allowed myself to be the vulnerable and real me, I would have shown more integrity, and I wouldn’t have contributed to the destruction of my relationship with my Achilles’ heel. I regret believing in the make-believe that I created.

Why do you forgive yourself for your limiting beliefs?


On Sale
Dec 23, 2014
Page Count
224 pages
Running Press

Laurel House

About the Author

Laurel House has been writing about dating and sex for fourteen years as an expert and insider. As a professional dating coach, Laurel has been deemed the “Man Whisperer,” and has written for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, and FHM. Laurel is a featured lifestyle expert on E! News, a dating/confidence coach on MTV’S Made, and a relationship expert for websites including,, and Her advice has been featured in US Weekly, Shape, Seventeen, Redbook, and many more publications in print and online. Laurel lives in Los Angeles.

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