9 Dating Rules You Don't Have To Follow, According To Love Experts
Although shows like Sex and the City often made dating look exciting and fun, we sometimes make it harder and more complicated than it really needs to be. There are those of us who treat dating as if it's a job hunt, those of us who treat the whole process as if it's a job unto itself, and those of us who fear — gasp! — breaking dating "rules." But it shouldn't feel this way. For starters, dating isn't a job and those rules? Who even invented these so-called "rules?" The only "rule" should be that you just be yourself and quit being beholden to rules. And even love experts agree.
"Be yourself and be honest," Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, couples therapist, tells Bustle. "First dates aren't the time to find out the person's entire life history but you can get a good idea of what they might want in the future. Don't get hung up on small things and keep the big picture in mind. You can always decline the next date if you don't sense any chemistry."
While we may never know who came up with these silly dating rules, we can at least do our best to break them. That's right; break the eff out of them. Here are nine dating "rules" to break, according to love experts.
Rule #1: Waiting Three Days To Get Back To Someone
Exactly who decided that waiting three days to get back to someone was a good idea?
"We're all connected to our phones," Erika Ettin, founder and CEO of A Little Nudge and host of the podcast, “So, We Met Online,” tells Bustle. "And we're all adults. If you like someone, contact that person in a timely fashion. If a quick response turns someone off, then that's [their] problem — not yours."
Erika Kaplan of Three Day Rule agrees that when it comes to breaking dating "rules," waiting three days to contact someone after first them in order to play it cool should definitely be at the top of the list. "We totally do not advocate for that — in fact, our company's name is actually making fun of dating rules in general," Kaplan tells Bustle. "If you like someone, don't play the waiting game — call or text the next day!"
Rule #2: Avoiding Serious Questions Early On
You may have been told to avoid talking about serious topics, like politics or religion, is off limits on a first date. But discussing these things may be the way to find what you're really looking for.
"If you are going out on lots of first dates and find that people aren't looking for serious relationships, then ask some more serious questions," Stef Safran of Stef and the City tells Bustle.
For example, asking about politics can do more good than harm. Research by OkCupid from January found that talking about politics can actually improve your dates. So ask those serious questions up-front. You have nothing to lose and more to gain.
Rule #3: Having Sex After X Amount Of Dates
Just as rules should be thrown out the window, so should "scheduling" when you'll have sex for the first time with someone.
"Every relationship is different, so there is no prescribed period of time before or after which you should sleep with someone," says Ettin. "Do what is right for you."
Rule #3: You Should Have Sex On The Third Date
On the other hand there is the "rule" that sex on the third date is what you're supposed to do. "I'm not sure why this rule ever got traction," says Safran.
Ultimately, don't feel you must have sex on the third date or, as Ettin points out, any specific date for that matter. Sex means different things to different people, and its importance level in someone's life isn't always the same. If you "force" yourself to have — or not have — sex at a time that doesn't feel right, you're just getting off on the wrong foot.
Rule #4: Avoid Talking About Your Exes
"Contrary to common dating advice — talking about exes on a first date is actually a great way to learn about the other person and quickly see if there are any red flags that they are not relationship material," Charlee Brotherton, relationship/dating expert and founder of Executive Matchmakers, tells Bustle. "While going into too much detail and rehashing the past can ruin the romantic mood, asking a few light questions about past relationships can be very revealing."
Brotherton suggests asking how their last relationship ended or whether or not they keep in touch with their exes. How people deal with breakups and treat the people to whom they were once close really speaks volumes.
Rule #6: Treating Dating Like A Job
"Sure, dating can feel labor-intensive and tiresome, and if you let it, it can consume up to 12 hours a week (how long the average online dater spends swiping!)," says Kaplan. "But don't consider dating a job, and don't consider dates an interview."
Kaplan suggests trying to shift your perspective and consider meeting new people as simply meeting new people, not someone who's going to be a future partner.
"When dating becomes a job and dates become interviews, date conversation ends up being two people prying for information on if the other checks the boxes," says Kaplan.
Rule #7: Sticking To Gender Stereotypes
My mother was raised not to "chase" men. You wait until they come to you. For a woman to pursue a man, no matter how interested she might be, was just considered inappropriate behavior... oh, how archaic a thought.
According to Ettin, this is a rule that needs to be ditched stat. If you're a woman who dates men, don't feel like you have to wait for them to reach out. "It's 2018 — go for what you want!" says Ettin.
Rule #8: Thinking You Should Immediately Hit It Off
If you don't feel instant chemistry, don't write someone off.
"Sometimes looking for initial 'chemistry' can be an extremely limiting factor," says Kaplan. "Half the time that initial pull is indicative of lust, not even love, so if you are intrigued after a first date, give it a fair shot to see if chemistry grows with getting to know each other."
Rule #9: You'll Know If They're "The One" Right Away
If this were true, if we really could sense that we'd found "The One" upon a first meeting, then we'd have a lot less breakups and divorces.
"We keep seeing all of these celebrities getting engaged within weeks or months of knowing each other," says Safran. "Instead of assuming that 'instant click,' learn how to understand that most quality long-term couples, didn't know right away or even months later. Sometimes that slow pot to boil is the one that can be the better choice."
Not to sound cliché, but rules were literally made to be broken. So get out there and break 'em.