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5 Outdated Dating Rules

Challenging the rules that are no longer relevant.

Billion Photos/Shutterstock
Source: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

There are many “shoulds” and "shouldn'ts” when it comes to dating—rules that continue to exist despite their irrelevance. Many of these rules are based on outdated social norms and traditional gender roles.

Why do we keep following them, you ask? I don’t have a complete answer, as it's a loaded question, but I am going to challenge some of these rules and encourage you to date intentionally and outside the box of what are now ancient social constructs.

1. Don't talk politics.

They say, “Don’t talk about politics on the first date.” I say, “You can absolutely touch on politics, especially if the purpose is to explore whether or not you share similar core values and world-views.” Sharing values and similar beliefs is key for maintaining a long-term and meaningful relationship.

However, If you don't care about politics, it may not matter. But this topic is definitely worth exploring to determine compatibility, especially if you feel strongly about certain issues—social causes/human rights, religion/spirituality, environmental issues, etc. Politics does not have to dominate the conversation but it should be discussed if you find it important. It is okay to ask the hard questions. It is okay to have those conversations that might be uncomfortable.

2. Be unavailable.

They say, “Play hard to get” or “Don’t respond right away.” I say, “If you are interested, make it known and act interested.” Being available (both literally and figuratively) is OK. If you are available and able to go on a date (and want to go on a date), go on that date. If you want to see someone again, ask them or let them know.

While it is very important that you continue to live your life and “do you” as you date, be open about how you feel and where you are at. If you like someone, tell them. If you receive a text, respond back if you feel compelled to do so. You don’t have to wait three hours to respond or pretend like you don't care—if you do, in fact, actually care. Otherwise, it will be a never-ending game and games don’t typically bode well for a long-term partnership.

It’s about balance. You should not necessarily drop everything for a new person, but you should make an effort and be direct if you are interested. That doesn't make you “thirsty” and that doesn’t make you “needy.” Being direct and authentic just means that you are mature and know what you want. And if someone has a problem with that, that is on them.

3. Wait for them to make the first move.

In heterosexual relationships, it's often said that women should "wait for the guy to make the first move.” I say, “either person can make the move or take the lead.” The heteronormative culture in which we live continues to perpetuate traditional gender roles. Men are still assumed to take the lead and initiate a date or pursue the opposite gender. And women are assumed to wait until the man makes the first move. This rule is so outdated and doesn’t reflect the individuality of each person in the dating relationship, nor the gender continuum or queer relationships.

Now, it is one thing if you appreciate and value traditional gender roles—there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are feeling inclined to pursue someone or initiate a date or conversation, that is your right and prerogative. Chances are, the other person will be flattered. And if the other person doesn’t prefer it that way, they can tell you and there is a possibility that it may not be a match.

Again, let's stop the games and be direct. If you want to make a move, make a move. It doesn’t have to be so complicated.

4. Don’t have sex until at least the third date.

They say, “Don’t have sex until at least the third date.” I say, “Do what feels comfortable and good for you (and your partner)." Sex and intimacy are important in dating and relationships, but every couple is different and every person has their take on sex and what that looks like as they date. Some individuals prefer waiting a few weeks or even months before having sex and being intimate, while others are comfortable having sex soon into the new relationship.

For some, sex is something that can be fun and casual, and for others, having sex requires a deeper connection. What matters most is that both people are communicating their needs and expectations. If you need to wait until you know you and this new person are dating exclusively, that is fair and should be communicated. If you and this new person are both inclined to have sex and are comfortable having it sooner than later, by all means, go for it.

It is, however, important to reflect on what you want and to consider what having sex will mean to you and this person. Again, it is so important to assert yourself and communicate how you are feeling and what you are and are not comfortable with. And the right person will respect you and wherever you are at.

5. Be nice and give them a chance.

They say, “Just give them a chance.” I say, “Be open—but also know that you have every right to do what is best for you and to opt-out at any time.” I do believe in the importance of being open-minded and going into a new dating relationship with an open heart; however, you know yourself better than anyone. You know what you are looking for and if you are or are not interested. You know what feels good and what feels not so good.

So if your gut is telling you that someone is not a match or that it isn't a good fit, chances are it is on to something. I’m not saying that it is cool to walk out on a date if you're simply not interested—that is rude (with the exception of extreme circumstances in which it is completely necessary and warranted). However, it is always okay to end something if you are checked-out and don’t see it going anywhere. And realistically, most people prefer honesty over being led on. So be open, but also trust that you know yourself and your judgment.

To summarize, dating is complex and not always black and white. If you are dating, you can decide what does and does not work for you. The “rules” that have been imposed on us are often quite outdated and irrational, so I encourage you to date with more freedom and intention.