How Gender Norms Influence Your Dating Life

Gender norms infiltrate your life every single day, rather stealthily, too. In fact, you might not realize that you deal with gender norms even when you go on a date. I'm not referring to when a guy opens the door for you. The norms I'm speaking of are so deeply embedded in our minds and behaviors that we don't even notice them anymore, which means that we certainly don't question them. But maybe we should, because they're definitely not doing any of us any favors. Indeed, they're more likely to be actively harming us.

Dating has become a science. A formula. A how-to of what to wear, what to say, how to do your make-up, how to style your hair. We carefully, precisely follow steps — the things that we're supposed to do (or supposed to avoid) — all the while wishing and hoping that we'll get another date. Our own wants and needs get placed on the back burner, trumped in importance by how our dates view us. Do you sound desperate for a relationship? Are you going to scare him off? These are the things we're taught to worry about the most — and they're all based in gender norms.

Think gender norms aren't controlling you? Here are six things you might not have thought of. They're typically considered "dating rules," but I say, go ahead and chuck these "rules" right out the proverbial window.

1. Not Texting Too Soon After The First Date

Careful. You don't want to come across as needy or clingy. If you have a wonderful first date, you should never — gasp! — let the guy know you had a wonderful first date. What planet are you living on? Good God.

... Or at least, that's what convention says. But who says you have to follow convention? Go ahead and text whenever you like.

2. Not Being The First One To Text After The First Date... Period

Yes. Yes. The beautiful art of playing hard to get. The people have another name for this one: stupid. But there's something even worse than both this one and the last one, too, and that is ignoring your one-time date when they reach out to you at all (e.g., ghosting someone). All because society tells you that you should want to seem mysterious and unattainable. Good news: You'll always be a mystery to them, because they decided to stop texting at all and moved on to your best friend.

Women shouldn't feel desperate for wanting to thank their date for a lovely night, or for wanting to text someone and ask how their day is. And if they do think you're desperate, cut them loose. Your best friend, too.

3. Not Allowing A Gentleman To Be A Gentleman (So We Don't Seem Like We're "A Typical Girl")

A gentleman will at least offer to pick you up for a date. A gentleman will offer to pay the check. A gentleman will open doors and pull out chairs for you. But we often find ourselves in a catch-22: It's lovely that he's being so polite... but if we accept it, we worry we're being "that girl."

How many of us ladies have actually countered these lovely gestures with a rejection? "Oh, it's all right. I can drive myself. No, don't worry about it. I can pay for my meal." Many of us don't, but sometimes the reasoning can be problematic — that is, if we do it out of guilt or out of not wanting to seem like one of "those girls." Society does not like "those girls" and tells us we should never ever be them.

While I do prefer to drive myself (you know, in case he turns out to be an ax murderer), there is nothing wrong with being "that girl"; indeed, the idea of "that girl" is problematic in the first place. Pitting women against each other in a competition to prove that one is more worthy than the other is not cool. Girlfriends, if a guy is offering to do these things for you, sweet! You found a man who has half a brainstem. Look at him and say thank you, and enjoy it. Don't you think you deserve it? I sure think you do. You're a catch! And then the next time you go out, feel free to pick up the tab yourself.

4. No Sex On The First Date, You Slut

I admit, this one gets tricky; sleeping with a guy the first night can drastically change the course of your relationship. Regardless, if you're looking to have fun that night, you had a good date, and you want to go home and boom-boom, use a condom, wash your hands, and have fun. You're not a slut. You're not a whore. You're a person who enjoys sex, like most people. End of story.

5. Avoiding, At All Costs, Being "That Crazy Chick"

There was this guy once. I liked him. He liked me for five minutes. Then he didn't like me. I was very sad. I cried. It hurt my feelers. Was I allowed to let him know that? Of course not. Every time I saw him (we worked together), I had to pretend that I wasn't crushed. I couldn't let him know how much I cared, because if I did, I would be "that crazy chick." The fact that we're apparently never supposed to be "that crazy chick" dictates our behavior in all sorts of weird, gender norm-based ways.

And while we're on the subject:

6. The Fact That The "Crazy Chick" Stereotype Even Exists

What am I, a rock? A shoe? Am I not allowed to have feelings? Emotions? If you insult me, criticize me, degrade me, or otherwise act like any kind of arsehole, it is fully within my rights to become emotional. So shut up. People take advantage of this preposterous stereotype to justify their own hurtful behavior. "I slept with her and then slept with her roommate and she got, like, all crazy!"

Does that mean crazy chicks and dudes don't exist? No, not at all. They certainly exist, and generally, they abuse people. Does it mean we're all crazy chicks and dudes, just for having emotions? NO, NOT AT ALL.

To hell with gender norms! Be kind to others, stay true, and let the rest happen on its own. Happy dating.

Images: Duet Postscriptum/Stocksy; Giphy (6)