12 Old-Fashioned Dating Rules That Need to Die so Your Love Life Can Thrive
Dating is rife with uncertainty, which is why we like to come up with rules. Guidelines about who, how, when, and where to date help us feel like we have a little control over what is in fact entirely up to fate (and pheromones). While some dating rules had their time and place (read: generations ago), we think it’s time to throw some of those outdated edicts out the window. These are the 12 old-fashioned dating rules that need to die so that our love lives can thrive.
Cover Photo: Steve Prezant (Getty Images)
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Guys should do the asking.
What is this, the 1950s? Plenty of women are comfortable taking the initiative of asking a guy out. What this really comes down to isn't gender but whether you're an inviter or an invitee. Being an inviter means you'll have more dates; but are they dating you to fill a time slot or because they're actually interested? Being an invitee means you know the other person is interested; the bummer is you have to wait to be asked out.
New Rule: There's no right or wrong way to set up a date. Try both approaches and see what feels most natural to you.
Don't double-book dates.
Booking two dates for the same night might seem like an insensitive and opportunistic move. We say it's just more efficient. If your first date bombs, there's still hope for the next round. If your first date goes well, you'll leave them wanting more (so you can jet off to your second date). Win win.
New Rule: If your calendar and your sanity can handle it, double-book away!
If you don't hit it off immediately, move on.
Dating is rough. The nerves, the bad jokes, the food stuck in your teeth. It's enough to make anyone jittery and uncomfortable. Just because you two don't click instantaneously doesn't mean it's doomed. Some people take two or three or even more dates to warm up and start revealing who they really are.
New Rule: Be patient. Be kind. As long as you're not instantly repulsed by your date, they deserve a couple more chances to wow you.
Avoid serious topics.
Old-school dating lore says that you should avoid topics like politics and religion when you're getting to know someone. We say it's 2019 and we need to talk about the most pressing issues concerning society today, even if it's a boner-killer. (OK, maybe stop before that happens.) If you two are diametrically opposed on the ideological spectrum, that's something you should know sooner rather than later. Some stances are too important to surprise each other with later.
New Rule: If serious topics come up, address them honestly but with levity. Make sure you listen as much as you talk. And don't let your date turn into a contentious debate.
Don't talk about your ex.
Somewhere, the rule of "Don't bash you ex" became "Don't talk about your ex." There's nothing wrong with talking about past relationships on a date; in fact, it can be quite informative to hear why your date's last relationship ended. If they're particularly forthcoming, you can spot patterns and red flags and save yourself a lot of heartache. On the other hand, if all your date wants to do is trash-talk their ex, that's a conversation you want to shut down ASAP.
New Rule: It's OK to share why your last relationship ended. It's not OK to wax nostalgic about your ex or verbally berate their every wrongdoing on a date.
The man must pay, every time.
Chivalry dictates that the dude pays on the first date, and we still endorse this practice, especially if you did the asking. Going forward, though, she should at least offer to pay once in a while, or to pick up the tab for another part of the date. (You pay for drinks and dinner, she pays for the movie tickets.)
New Rule: Dudes pay for the first date, but let her pay on subsequent dates if she offers to pick up the tab. It should be a give-and-take. If she never offers? Try, "Mind picking up the tickets for tonight?" and hope she takes the hint.
Wait 48 hours after a date to make contact.
If you purposefully postpone reaching out, especially after a great date, at the very least you're going to confuse her. At worst, she's going to lose interest. Egos are fragile after a date, and if she's a worrier, by the time you've called or texted, she'll have come up with 100 reasons why you didn't like her, don't seem to want to see her again, are seeing someone better, or are simply an asshole. The female imagination is not your friend.
New Rule: If you're blown away, say so. If you're interested in seeing them again, express that interest. Don't delay! Make contact the morning after an evening date or a few hours after a daytime date.
Only date one person at a time.
The rule of two is out. Not only can you (and should you) date multiple people at once, you can sometimes date multiple people together!
New Rule: As long as none of the people involved object, it's a free-for-all, baby.
Sex happens on the third date.
Sex doesn't belong on a schedule. You'll date some people with whom first-date sex feels perfectly fine and others that you want to get to know better, maybe for weeks or months, before you take that step. Trust that the two of you will take action when the time is right.
New Rule: Have sex for the first time whenever you both want it and feel comfortable having it. No shame.
You have to meet their friends -- and like them.
Who decided that friends get to weigh in on your dating life? In our view, it's better to keep those two worlds separate, especially in the early stages of seeing someone new. If your friends and your new flame happen to collide organically one night at the bar, so be it. Otherwise, skip the formal meet-and-greet; it's just awkward for everyone.
New Rule: Friends and lovers don't have to mix or mingle if you don't want them to.
You have to define the relationship.
The "Where is this going?" talk is so '90s. Modern daters don't obsess about the future of their relationships; they're just happy to have someone special to spend time with right now. If you don't feel the need to ask for exclusivity, and she hasn't broached the subject, either, let it be ambiguous for a while. You can always hammer the details out down the line.
New Rule: Unless someone explicitly requests to define the relationship -- or you feel compelled to -- you don't have to.
You have a type and shouldn't date anyone who doesn't fit it.
If you have a disappointing dating life, it just might be because you're clinging to "your type" too tightly. Type-casting gets us into trouble. It limits the potential for something unexpected and amazing to happen. Be more open and curious and try dating people who specifically don't fit your type. You'll be shocked at how you can vibe with a wide variety of people, and may even discover someone worth holding onto along the way.
New Rule: Be willing to date anyone and everyone. Let life -- and love -- surprise you.