The Cosmo / Maxim Treaty


By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
February 27, 2002

If you’ve always wondered why men ask for your phone number then never call, check out Cosmopolitan and Maxim magazines, which have negotiated a cease-fire in this battle of the sexes.

In a tongue-in-cheek effort to unite us, the sexy magazines have hammered out a treaty that outlines all the little things we should know about one another.

When is it OK to use PMS as an excuse? How many days may a man go without changing his clothes? Do orgasms have to be treated tit for tat? All this and more may be found in the March issues of both  magazines–which hit stores today.

Here, we’ve done our part for the struggle by gathering six Chicagoans and asking them what they thought. Some thought the guidelines funny; others thought they were strange. But everyone agreed that common sense prevails over a set of written rules every time.

Meet our subjects: Jessica Henn, 27, interior designer, Streeterville, has a long-term boyfriend; Sarah Swanson, 28, teller manager, Andersonville, dating; Amanda K. Bonnell, 26, special events planner, Gold Coast, married; Art Sims, 35, public relations specialist, Hyde Park, single; Cosette Thomas, 35, flight attendant, South Side, single; Karl Jones, 33, works in airport management, South Side, single.


Men agree to put more thought into buying presents as long as women provide a clearly written wish list with store locations and prices. If no list is provided, men are free to proceed on their own. Swanson: This is a good one. It shows effort. But I like surprises. It’s about the thought, not the gift. Bonnell: You should drop hints–maybe repetitively. They need guidance yet they want it to seem a surprise at the same time. If you were to write it down, it won’t mean as much to him or you. Sims: Most men are clear on where to go to buy things for women: Tiffany’s, Victoria’s Secret. …Knowing what your mate wants is part of being in a relationship. I don’t think a list needs to be done unless you’re dating someone really tacky.

Men agree to remember annual anniversaries, but on the condition that they will not be responsible for remembering less important dates, such as the first date or first kiss anniversary. Swanson: My whole thing with this is you should be assertive. If it’s an anniversary you remember and he doesn’t, you plan something and quit waiting for him to make the first move. I don’t like playing the victim. Bonnell: I agree. But if he was asked in front of others if he remembers our first kiss anniversary, I’d want him to say he did even if he didn’t. Sims: It’s important for a man to remember special dates. When a guy does this, he’s a keeper. I remember because I’m the type of person who remembers things. You need it for my job. But a lot of my friends don’t.

When watching TV as a couple, if the woman receives a phone call she is now required to leave the room for the duration of the call. In turn, the men will exit the room during “Sex and the City.” Thomas: If you’re a couple, why do you have to leave to talk on the telephone? Keep it short, or don’t take the call. Jones: If you leave the room, that may place unnecessary guilt on the situation. You should answer the call and tell the person you’ll call back later. This way it doesn’t interfere with the quality time of your date.

Men are allowed to wear the same clothes for the duration of the weekend and not shave. In exchange, men agree to obtain outfit approval before important events. Additionally, the women agree to never throw away any of the men’s clothing without permission. Swanson: My mother has done that to my dad in the past. He couldn’t believe she sold his fighter jacket in a garage sale. It’s another issue of common sense and respect. Bonnell: No! He has to change, but he doesn’t have to shave. However, he can’t kiss me if he doesn’t shave because his beard will scratch my face. Jones: Even though it might be permissible, it won’t appear to your mate that you’re exercising great hygiene. Therefore, you should not make this a practice.

Women are allowed to explain themselves with, “I have PMS, OK!” 12 times per year. Men are allowed to get off the hook with the phrase “Just because” six times a year. Henn: Men are never allowed to ask that question. That’s a line they can’t cross. They should just know, or wonder. And sure, they can get off the hook with “just because.” We don’t let them off the hook that easily so why not? Bonnell: I don’t agree with this one. I never use PMS as an excuse. My husband says, “Because I said so,” and then gets annoyed if I keep asking. Sims: Excuses, excuses, excuses! I don’t buy them. Communication is the key to any relationship and if we keep using excuses, how are we going to better understand each other? Once you know a person, you should be sympathetic to times when they’re not feeling well.

Men may not take a woman’s phone number if he has no intention of calling her. Women must agree to stop giving out fake numbers. Swanson: If you don’t want to give a man your number, take his instead or say no. Sims: I tend to give out my number and I’m not necessarily prepared to receive those kinds of calls, and I get hounded sometimes. I’m thinking about giving out a fake number.

Women agree to keep discussions about problems they’re having with their girlfriends to five minutes a day if men promise to keep track of the friends’ names and identifying details. Swanson: If you’re really struggling with an issue and need to discuss it, who better than the person who is supposed to know you best? If I’m in a relationship with someone and have special people in my life, they’ll remember their names or I probably wouldn’t be involved with them. Jones: Focus on your own relationships and let your friends live their lives. This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your friends–just that it’s not your mate’s problem.


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