Our generation’s warped perception of the so-called dating rulebook can probably be traced back to the first time we saw the movie Clueless. We can all remember hearing Cher’s narration where she said, “Christian said he would call the next day, but in boy time, that meant Thursday.” This sentence, uttered so matter-of-factly, was just the beginning of the quiet reinforcement of the rules that would plague our dating years later in life.
Over time, we’ve become fixated on several tactics, supposedly designed to give us the upper hand over our crush – as though romance is some sort of power struggle where we desperately need to stay one step ahead. These “rules” have been repeated throughout pop culture (Sex and the City, we’re lookin’ at you) and have been beaten into our heads by know-it-all friends. We’ve grown so accustomed to waiting to respond to text messages, or being fearful of seeming “desperate,” that along the way, we’ve forgotten how to simply be ourselves.
While flirting doesn’t come naturally to everyone, relationships don’t necessarily need to be built atop a foundation of strategy and game-playing. The best relationships are the ones that develop from an honest and genuine desire to spend time together. When both people are courageous enough to drop the “game” and let go of any facades – that’s when actual love can grow.
With that, here are 7 stupid rules that we really need to retire, once and for all.
1. Don’t text first.
This one is just common sense. If you’re afraid to text first, and your crush is afraid to text first…then no one will text first, and there will simply be no texts at all. Someone needs to take that plunge, and it might as well be you.
2. Don’t double text.
Thanks to the fact that text messages have changed to look more like old IM conversations with a traceable thread, it’s easy to see who writes more often or sends lengthier messages. We get way too hung up about the overall aesthetic of our text threads. It doesn’t matter if there’s more blue or grey in your window – what matters is how much you like each other.
3. He pays first / she pays / you should split the bill – literally anything related to the bill.
Dealing with the bill is honestly so situational. Every couple’s financial circumstances are different. And the whole “the guy pays the bill” rule assumes that a couple is comprised of a man and a woman, which, let’s be real, is not always the case. Just do whatever feels right for you and your date.
4. Wait until date number 3 to have sex.
We can thank Charlotte York for having this rule burned into our brains. There is literally no “right” time to have sex for the first time with a potential S.O. For some people, it’s the first night. Go for it. For others, it’s the second date, or the third, or the tenth. Do what feels good, and trust yourself.
5. Try not to seem “too” available.
This literally makes no sense. If you like someone, and you want to see them, and they want to see you, then FFS, see each other. Life is too short and too random to play the “Oh I’m busy” game when you’re really just sitting on your couch, binge-watching Netflix and patting yourself on the back for playing “hard to get.” This is a lose-lose. Just make the plans.
6. Avoid serious topics for at least a month.
Why? If there’s something that’s important to who you are, or a certain stance is a deal-breaker to you, isn’t it better to know this early on? And if a “heavier” topic comes up naturally, don’t be afraid to broach it. If you two are able to discuss something #deep in the first couple of weeks, it’s a good sign.
7. Don’t ever ask, “What are we?”
Honestly, this is why people get stuck in the “just talking” phase for months on end, or why almost-relationships are so prevalent. We’ve become so afraid to ask for clarity, because we’re fearful of showing that we care. It’s become cool not to care about anything, but the catch is that we all do care. We’re just a bunch of pretenders. So if you want a label, say so. If you want him to be your boyfriend, or you’re dying to say that she’s your girlfriend on Facebook, just ask for it. You will literally never get what you want if you don’t speak up.