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I bagged my hubby by ripping up the dating rulebook – from offering nightly sex to whisking him away on holiday

WHEN it comes to dating, women are told to play hard to get . . . but that did not appeal to Tabitha Webb.

The fashion designer and mum of two is used to going against the grain, giving up a high-flying career in advertising to start a handbag business.

She now designs clothes worn by the likes of Kate Middleton, telly presenter Holly Willoughby and actress Saoirse Ronan.

Tabitha, 45, who has also presented a podcast and written the summer’s hottest novel, No Regrets, didn’t want to play by the rules when it came to love either.

Here, Tabitha writes exclusively on how she convinced husband Gavin, 50, to date and eventually marry her.

“PEOPLE always say you shouldn’t chase a man. This is not a rule I agree with. If you like someone, why the hell shouldn’t you chase him?

If you have picked your target well, the odds are he will come running — or at the very least, give in. A better rule to live by?

Take considered risks. If you take the chance, you have the chance of a reward. If you don’t take the risk, you will never know.

That is how I got Gav, who I persuaded to marry me after meeting at my sister’s wedding in 2005.

He was brought to my attention by my mother, who wasn’t keen on my boyfriend at the time. She wanted an upgrade.

So she pointed me in the direction of “that handsome man over there”. I spent much of the evening watching him (as did my mother).

By midnight, I had decided I would marry him — something I didn’t mention to the man I had come to the wedding with.

Gav told me he was a geologist. He did not tell me he was also in a relationship.

In my mind he instantly transformed into my diamond-dealer husband. I flirted outrageously with him. (I don’t do subtle.) He was nice. But oblivious.

After the wedding, determined I would not give up, I demanded my sister give me his details. But she steadfastly refused.

She was not, she said, in the business of busting up other people’s relationships. She was not going to help me get my man.

A year went by and then we met again at the same sister’s baby shower.

This time we were both single and I had no intention of letting him go again.

We flirted for four hours and drank everything in my heavily pregnant sister’s house before he finally accepted my phone numbers.

Two weeks later (two weeks!) he actually rang me. We went for dinner, kissed, went home, and I thought we were meant to be.

For three months, I was lost in a dizzy haze of love — though I was well aware it was me who was always ringing him, and me who was turning up at his flat each night with supper or a bottle of wine, offering nightly sex to keep him interested.

I was doing the chasing but I reckoned, with effort, I could turn things my way.

Most of my friends didn’t get it. They felt I should just let it go.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get it either. He told me he was sorry but that when he wasn’t with me he didn’t miss me. It was over.

I was heartbroken. I rang my mother in tears, sure I had lost The One. That night I partied until dawn and my friends took my phone so I couldn’t contact him.

Then, a week later, he started to call. For four days I ignored him — for the first time. I wanted him to miss me. He did. It was working!

I grabbed the moment and arranged a holiday for us to go kayaking in Canada with the orcas, which included camping — something on his bucket list. I, however, do not camp.

When we were halfway across the Johnstone Strait, I stopped rowing (to be honest I wasn’t really rowing anyway) and asked him if he loved me. He said nothing. I kept chasing. Kept loving.

A year later, in his home town of Johannesburg, he finally declared his love to me on a note that was blown away by the wind almost the second I read it. I had won.

He did eventually propose and we married in the Pyrenees in France in 2010. We have two daughters — Primrose, who is two, and eight-year-old Betsey.

So my advice is this: If you see something you like, go for it.

The only thing stopping you is the risk it might not work. But isn’t the risk actually that it might have worked, but instead you just let it go? I think so.”

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