Dating Rules Are For Suckers

So what are the rules for dating in 2015?

In the words of Local Natives: “Who knows. Who Cares.” (Don’t get that obscure indie music reference? Well then…we shouldn’t even be friends! Just kidding…you’re the best) In all seriousness, I was having a conversation with a close friend about how all the books and articles on dating had screwed us up. Just a quick search through will reveal that there are an insane amount of books purporting to be the authoritative scripture on dating. As an analytical and practical person, research and preparation seems like the best solution for any obstacle. So I’ve studied up. In the past couple years, I’ve read a few of books and blog posts. I’ve listened to audiobooks and podcasts. And after all of that research, I’ve discovered one universal truth: No one has a damn clue what they’re talking about.

At some point over the past decade, I’ve met women who swear by all types of dating self-help bibles:

“Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” (I’ll pass on dating advice from Steve Harvey. The man is currently on wife number three and has horrific fashion sense. I’ll take my chances Steve. Thanks for your concern, however)

“Why Men Love Bitches” (This one has been recommended by three different women who I don’t know very well. Each time it was recommended it was completely off topic. For example, I was mentioning something about how delicious cheese is and a woman suddenly said, “You know what book you need to read? Why Men Love Bitches! It’s so true. It’s like my bible.” I’d smile and nod and think, “Girl, I was just talking about cheese. How did this conversation take such an unexpected turn?”)

“He’s Just Not That Into You” (Can we form a class action lawsuit against the writers of this?)

“Make Every Man Want You” (I actually listened to the audiobook of this – I’ll admit it)

“The Rules” (Which I’ve never ever read but I’m certain is in a bargain bin at Books A Million in the suburbs near every major city)

“Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus” (Never read it but I do remember the author being on Oprah when I was growing up. So…there’s that)

“Power Texting Men! The Best Texting Attraction Book to Get the Guy” (First: the title of this book makes no sense. Second: if you buy this book, we can’t be friends. Third: If a guy isn’t into you, I highly doubt a POWER TEXT is gonna turn it around.)

“Ho Tactics: How to Mindf**k A Man Into Spending, Spoiling and Sponsoring” (I’m going to assume this is the guidebook for most women on reality TV. Wait. Why am I dissing this book? Maybe I need to read this one…JUST KIDDING!! Kinda)

According to these books and all the articles on various websites, women are supposed to do an exhaustive amount of mental gymnastics to entice and keep a man. I’ve read two of the above listed books, googled some quotes and tips from some of these masterpieces and asked a couple friends about the remainder.  And after all of my extensive “research”, this is what I’ve found:

  • Don’t be too pushy
  • Don’t text, call or email first
  • End the date first
  • Let a man be a man

  • Never ask a man out on a date
  • Don’t text more than three times in a row (kinda agree with that one…)
  • Be sexy (but don’t have sex)

  • Don’t reveal too much (“Where did you go to college?” “A university.” Oh. She’s a lady of such mystery!)
  • Always be happy — guys don’t want to see you sad or angry because….you’re a robot? Yeah I don’t get this one.
  • Don’t boast about professional accomplishments

  • Wait a certain amount of time before responding to a text, email or voicemail
  • Don’t be too available
  • Be busy all the time except for when you’re on a date – you’re a girl about town and he should be lucky you could pencil him in.

  • Be available – This point contradicts the points above so your guess is as good as mine

  • Don’t be too opinionated
  • Don’t talk about the future, ever
  • Always have something to do — bored people are boring
  • Act like his life is fine and perfect

  • Feelings are a deep topic so don’t talk about that
  • Stay in shape
  • Find a gay guy friend to talk to about your feelings because your straight boyfriend doesn’t want to talk to you — That homophobic gem is from a Steve Harvey book. So, yeah, file that one away.
  • Be a “keeper”, not a “sports fish” – Not clear on this one
  • Always look well put together (even after working out, you heathen!)
  • Always look natural

  • Learn how to cook
  • Always smell good

All these rules are enough to make you pull your hair out. All of these conflicting and, often, antiquated rules coupled with the confusing landscape of Tinder and hook up culture are enough to make a girl want to give up.  A night of Netflix and chilling completely alone in yoga pants with a pint of Gelato sounds much more appealing than navigating the treacherous and confounding landscape of modern dating. This post serves as the sequel to my post from last fall about the “Rules” of dating.  After talking with a friend recently about all of the books, advice columns and so-called “rules”, I felt the need to add a few more rules to the list. And these latest additions are revolutionary:

Use Your Common Sense – Does that text message you’re drafting sound psychotic? Don’t send it.  Would you suggest the actions you’re about to take to your best friend if she were asking your advice on a dating scenario? No? Don’t do that! Does that text look like something you’d send a friend who you like spending time with and who you want to make plans with? Hoorah! Send it! I can’t keep track of whether I’m supposed to wait three days to text someone or wait until they text me. And frankly I don’t have the energy to figure it out. I’m just gonna relax, breathe and act normally.

Be Yourself – I’ve changed my clothes, my interests, and my location for guys. I’ve hired personal trainers. I’ve ate kale. I’ve read books I didn’t want to read.  I’ve looked up words in a dictionary to sound smarter in text messages (I did that. I actually did that.) I’ve said I’ve seen movies I’d never watched. Guess how much all of that worked? I can’t be anyone but myself. I talk too much. I’m extremely goofy. I’m awkward. I’ve never seen the Wire or Game of Thrones. I keep trying out bohemian outfits even though they don’t work with my body type.  I’m overly competitive. I only like my kale steamed (raw kale is nasty y’all). I like attending gallery openings because there is usually free alcohol. Most days I walk out of my house and think, “This dress is much shorter than I thought it was.”  A couple years ago I made a pact with myself. I would just be myself and see how that worked out.

Rules Are For Suckers – Courtship, dating, relationships and love are not Ikea furniture. There are no instructions for this stuff. Each situation is different because each person is different. All of us enter into romantic situations with our own baggage, insecurities, quirks, and expectations. Why would there be a set of one size fits all rules for the millions of people roaming around the world? Therefore, just use your common sense, be yourself and hope for the best.

P.S. I made a playlist for your commute because I care about you. It’s around an hour long. If your commute is over an hour, it’s time to reevalute your life choices. KIDDING! (kinda) As always, it’s a mixture of genres. A few things to note: the new Carly Rae Jepsen album is surprisingly awesome (if you were one of those girls who listened to a lot of Martika growing up, this one is for you. If you don’t know who Martika is then I just can’t even with you. And if you’re thinking: “can’t even what?”, how do even we know each other?) Also, Leon Bridges? Get into him. Sam Cooke reincarnated. It’s amazing stuff. And Fleet Foxes because they should be played during every car ride.

2 thoughts on “Dating Rules Are For Suckers

  1. Ali O says:

    Funny enough, I just recorded final voice over for the dating documentary, and all I really had to say was, “There is no answer. Keep trying. Keep going out. But there isn’t one right way to do it, think about it, or be.”

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