The debate continues: Should a gal chase a guy or let him chase her? I’m of the latter school, so I’ve been plugging the book He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Guide to Understanding Guys by “Sex in the City” veteran writers/consultants Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. (See “Rules” Guys, Aug. 30). The Behrendt theory of men: If he doesn’t call you, he’s just not that into you–so don’t waste your time calling him. Hold out for the guy who’s into you–he’ll call, and if he’s really into you, he’ll marry you.

Inky reader “Alec” disagrees, e-mailing to say that guys who call the gal first, shower them with compliments, say “I love you” a lot, and so forth are wimps, and there’s nothing a woman hates more. Alec’s advice: Shut up, guys, and be a “challenge”–so aloof that you’ll have your dream girl drooling. (See Mailbag, Aug. 31.)

Who’s right, me (and Greg Behrendt) or Alec? Reader “Nina” sides with me:

“I like a guy to say I love you, open my doors, and pay me compliments.  I want a man to worship me. Best stragegy for getting guys to do this? I have no strategy. I just acted myself. Being hot-looking helps, but not all of us are blessed this way. Having a fun, positive, happy attitude helps. Some gals I know are incredibly beautiful, but have really dark attitudes, causing the guy to dump them after a time. Some gals are average-looking with great attitudes and land the man of their dreams.

“But I agree with you.  If he doesn’t call, he’s just not that into you. Don’t make up excuses about his shortcomings. Move on with your life.”

And Alec e-mails again with a riposte–and a correction. I had thought that Alec’s definition of a “challenge” meant a guy should let his date open her own doors, but Alec tells me I’m wrong. Here goes:

“I think I misled you into thinking that my position is that men shouldn’t be gentlemanly during a date. I want a man to be a gentleman, I want you to open doors for women, and to give them compliments (one per date I’d say); but the mainstream position of men chasing women, showing them their feelings (10 ‘I love you’s a day) and pandering to women will get men nowhere, and just make women unhappy.

“It’s okay to tell a woman that you love her (only after she has told you), but the point is to mete out compliments in rations and show restraint.

“Women want a challenge, a man that they can look up to. A real man doesn’t chase women around and act more as a helpmeet than a suitor. I won’t be surprised if you or the women who write IWF disagree with me–women have, by and large, been incapable of saying what they’ll respond to emotionally, which is why no one should ever listen to a woman’s advice in dating–unless she mirrors the views I have expressed.”

Whoa, Alec–women incapable of saying what they want? And one compliment per date sounds a bit Spartan to me (oops, I just told her how nice her hair looks, so I can’t tell her how smart I think she is). It must be my training as a medievalist, reading all those stories about big strong knights who were by no means wimps devoting themseves to their lady-loves. Or maybe it’s that filmstrip about Ronald Reagan that made my eyes mist over during last night’s TV coverage of the Republican convention. Ronnie probably said “I love you” at least 10 times a day to his Nancy, and there’s no sign that he made her “unhappy.”

At the end of his e-mail, Alec says that he’s an aficionado of Doc Love, a Southern California romance guru who asks:

“How many times have you blown well over $100 on a woman and don’t even remember her name? Doc Love’s programs will make this a thing of the past. This investment in your happiness will pay for itself!”

The “investment” the good doctor is selling consists of about $300 worth of books, tapes, and CDs guaranteed to turn a guy into a “System Master” of carefully rationed compliments. Here’s a photo of Doc Love himself with PT Cruiser and canine amour Waldo. And here’s a testimonial from satisfied customer “Jim” (scroll down):

“I have been getting messages ‘begging’ me to call. She asked if I would take a long weekend with her in San Francisco (we’re in Colorado) and that she would pick up the tickets and hotel. She is trying everything including dinner and a sexual fantasy…’Please call, I miss you’ messages 2 or 3 times a day. It is incredible…this woman who was losing interest is now obsessed. After over three years with her it is like having a new woman. I am having the time of my life.”

And you know–Doc Love’s method probably works! It’s a matter of what you want, gals. Do you want to beg guys for dates, or do you want to get married? You decide.