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5 Old-School Dating “Rules” That Are Probably Keeping You Single

If you've never read The Rules, it's a crazy dating book from the '90s that implies the only way to get a man is to play hard to get.

It gives suggestions like women should never call a guy first, women should always hang up the phone before men do, women should never talk on the phone with a guy for more than 10 minutes, and if a guy wants to go out with a woman on a weekend, he has to book that date by Wednesday.

Now, I think there is some truth to this. If anything, it's good to establish boundaries and make yourself seem like a prize. But when you stick only to these kinds of typical gender roles, men get to feel like men, and women get to feel like women.

However, we also live in the year 2017, and literally, what does any of this mean anyway? Gender is absolutely fluid, and the idea that I can never call a man or make a spontaneous plan with him seems a bit insane.

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I tried to practice the traditional rules in a relationship once, and the guy broke up with me, claiming “he was doing all the work here.” And you know what? He was right.

There's a difference between establishing boundaries in a relationship (and making a guy earn your affection) and giving all of your power away. And I realized gender-related dating rules were actually keeping me single.

So here are some traditional dating rules, along with some new dating rules to break those gender stereotypes:

“Don't have sex.”

New rule: Have sex when you feel like it.

Here is my truth: I've had sex on the first date before, and many of these encounters have turned into relationships — beautiful, long-term ones. Sex and physical intimacy are a huge part of relationships. I mean, it's what distinguishes dating from friendship.

Waiting too long to hook up with the guy you're dating just because you're following some rigid, “three, five, or whatever dates before you get down” system can not only friend zone the person you're dating, but it also prevents you from going with the natural flow of your relationship.

So while I'm not suggesting you sleep with every guy you go on a date with (because in this online dating environment, it could be a lot of guys), if you're feeling a strong connection with someone, don't intentionally stop it because of some old-fashioned rule you feel like you have to follow.


“Don't text him first.”

New rule: Text him whenever you'd like.

Guys feel all the same emotions we do. They're nervous, insecure, and scared you don't like them. So just like how you enjoy reassurance sometimes, so do they.

If you had a good time on a date, text him to let him know. If you think about him during the day, tell him.

What's the worst that can happen? He thinks you're a cool, nice person who's actually interested in him? That's what dating is all about. And it's better than being a cold and aloof gal who seems uninterested and unobtainable.

There's a difference between having needs and being needy, and showing interest and being smothering. Once you've figured out the right way to communicate, it doesn't matter who reaches out first.

When you stick to the antiquated rule of not texting or calling guys first (or ever), some people may perceive that as disinterest. You may come across as emotionally guarded and unavailable, and that vibe may be what's keeping you single. Why not just pick up the phone?

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“Don't say yes to last-minute plans.”

New rule: Be spontaneous.

Sometimes, you'll be messaging a guy on a dating app, and he'll ask you if you want to get drinks… like right now. Do it. Meeting up in real life is better than having a pen pal.

If you constantly say no to last-minute plans, it may seem like you can't go with the flow or be adventurous. In the real world, plans change. Sometimes, you may get off work early, and you want to see the person you've been thinking about all day. Why would you reject that because of some archaic dating rule?

However, if a guy constantly only asks you out last minute, you might be just a booty call. But if your hang outs are a good mix of spontaneity and planned-out dates, then last-minute plans are not only fine, but they can be fun.


“The guy should always pay.”

New rule: Split the bill.

I'm old-fashioned in my belief that, on the first date, I like the guy to pay. But after the first date, or the first few, it's definitely time to open up your wallet, or at least do that awkward thing where you begin to reach for your purse.

When a guy constantly pays for every date, it sets up a weird dynamic within the relationship where the man is almost paying to hang out with you.

This could even cause resentment on the guy's end, leading to some relationship awkwardness. So if you both make about the same amount of money, split the bill while you're splitting that large pizza.

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“Don't let men show their feelings.”

New rule: Let men be vulnerable.

When we rely on old-school gender roles in relationships, it doesn't always allow men to tap into their emotions fully. By getting rid of old gender roles, men are allowed to be vulnerable and open up emotionally. And any games that complicate dating get thrown out the window.

So while you might be looking for a man who's stoic because old, gender-related dating rules tell us that's what we want, remember, you might want a guy who is sensitive and understands you instead.

In a more feminist dating era, it's time to throw some of these old dating “rules” out the window. What do you think? And how does this change in LGBTQ relationships? Sound off in the comments.

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Alison Segel

Staff Writer

Ali is a writer with bylines at Vice, Refinery 29, XO Jane, Hello Giggles, and Fashion Canada. Follow her on Twitter @OnlineAlison or Instagram @alibaby90.
Ali is a writer with bylines at Vice, Refinery 29, XO Jane, Hello Giggles, and Fashion Canada. Follow her on Twitter @OnlineAlison or Instagram @alibaby90.

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