Warning: naughty language ahead!
When I was married, I used to sympathetically listen to all of my single friends complain about how hard it was to meet someone decent that they wanted to date.
When they actually did meet someone they were into, it seemed to be endless drama about all of the “rules,” mind games and general mind reading needed to figure out where the relationship was going or if they wanted it to go anywhere at all.
I can’t tell you how often I’d say to my husband after they left, “Thank God I’m not out there anymore…”
Except now I’m back out there.
I am fiercely independent, so being single again actually didn’t bother me so much. Being a single mom wasn’t high on my list, but being without someone in my bed, eh… I didn’t really care.
That lasted maybe three months—the not wanting someone in my bed.
So I opened myself to the dating world: hesitant, not really all in, but at least open to it.
I quickly learned that there are a whole lot of unspoken rules to dating and sex these days. Ones I wasn’t sure I liked. And as much as you’ll hear me say, “I’m too old for this shit,” I am gradually accepting that these so-called rules exist and those of us in the dating world are actually following them for some bizarre reason.
So we meet someone we like, we exchange numbers and the games begin! Here are some of the rules I’ve recently learned and personally think are total bullshit:
1. The three-day rule:
You need to wait at least three days to get in touch with the person you had a date with.
Why we think it’s important: we don’t want to look desperate or appear that we’re actually into someone. I mean, God forbid, let’s not reveal any feelings we may have. Instead, we hold off and play it cool to make ourselves seem a little more mysterious and non-attached.
Why this is bullshit: We’re not being authentic—which I never think is a great way to start a relationship, even a casual one. And aren’t we too old to still be playing these games with each other?
2. The texting rule:
There are two parts to this rule:
#1: You have to wait three days to send a text or you may seem needy or “too interested.”
#2: If you send a text message, and the other person does not respond, you shouldn’t send another message until the person responds to the first one.
Why people follow the rule: breaking this rule makes you look too eager and trying to move the relationship along too quickly. Supposedly, texting twice in a row indicates you’re a little too into someone, and that is not good.
Why this is bullshit: If you had a great date with someone and you’re interested in them, why would you wait to get in contact with them again? I think we run the risk here of giving someone the opposite message that we want.
When I don’t hear from someone within two days of a date, I question whether they’re into me. And once I feel I have to start playing this game, I lose interest fast. My take: if you enjoyed your time with someone, and you want to see them again, send a flirty text or give them a call to say you had a great time. It doesn’t make you look eager. It makes you look up front and honest.
3. The waiting at least three dates until you have sex rule:
You don’t want to give it away so easily or the other person will lose interest fast. And they might also think you sleep with everyone you go out on a date with.
Why people follow the rule: people wait a while to sleep with someone for a number of reasons. They want to get to know the person better. They want this to be more than a casual hook up relationship. Or they just don’t want to come off like they’re a total slut or man whore.
Why this is bullshit: Sometimes the chemistry is there, you’re both into each other, and we’re all adults. So having sex on the first or second date just happens. I don’t think we need to feel guilty or be slut shamed for this. See Amber Rose’s recent “Walk of Shame Video” if you’re having any doubts.
4. The we’re-not-exclusive-until-we-say-we’re-exclusive rule:
Don’t ever assume the person you are dating or sleeping with is only dating and sleeping with you.
Why people follow the rule: if we don’t know where the relationship is going, we don’t like to close off all of our other options. And we do tend to be a bit cynical in the beginning and fear we’re going to lose interest in the person or the person is going to lose interest in us. So we keep a few other people “warm.”
Why this is bullshit: I can’t say this rule is unfair. I personally don’t like dating more than one person at a time and I’m definitely not going to sleep with more than one people at a time because that just doesn’t feel right to me, but I’m learning there are lots of people out there who find this perfectly acceptable. So I’ve just learned to not make assumptions.
5. The timed-text-back rule:
I’m guilty of feeling I have to follow this rule. This is the time it takes for you to respond to someone’s text message. It should be equivalent or approximate to the time you waited for their text message.
Why people follow the rule: it’s a stupid game. The idea being, “I waited for you to get back to me and now you’ll wait for me since I don’t want it to seem like I was waiting by my phone for you to text me back.”
Why this is bullshit: Again, it’s just not being authentic. Let’s be honest. Most of the time, we all have our phones on us and we get text messages as soon as they come in. If it’s someone we aren’t trying to seduce into liking us, we respond right back. When it’s someone we’re interested in, we get a little giddy and then play the wait game…so it seems we’re a little hard to get.
The truth is, every one of these rules have never been spoken out loud but they exist. In the end, the right person is the one you don’t have to play games with to begin with. They are the ones who will call you right after a date to tell you what a great time they had, send you as many text messages as they feel like, and sleep with you whenever they feel that connection with no judgment.
And isn’t that what we’re all ultimately looking for?
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman