For the most part, I feel like the only “dating rules” we should ever mind are the following: Don’t talk with your mouth full, and don’t impose arbitrary, impersonal social guidelines onto your relationship with another person. It’s always worth the effort to figure out what feels right and constitutes respectful, honest behavior between each two people – and while some things stay more or less consistent, dating unfolds very differently for everyone.
Also, being a game player (which, let’s be honest, that’s what most rules amount to) is not attractive. It will always be more appealing to be the kind of person who thoughtfully and creatively lets your behavior be dictated by the reality of each individual situation, and who pays enough attention to another person to act according to what they want and need, than it is to be a diligent little rule-follower.
So as a start to tearing down all of the useless preconceptions we have about the “right” way to date, here are the first 5 rules you should forget immediately:
The guy always paying
I mean, I’m a practical person – if you’re dying to pay for me, I’m going to let you. But you’re going to be disappointed if you’re under the impression that what you’re buying is a sense of control, or obligation on my part (to what? Have sex with you? The whole “guy paying for dates” thing is uncomfortably close to prostitution in its mental origins, and with all respect to my sex worker pals, that’s not my line of work.) Bottom line: Money, whether you like it or not, equals power. During the first few dates, I say split things, or take turns paying. If it becomes clear that you’re going to continue seeing each other, don’t be afraid to have an open discussion about what makes you both comfortable going forward. Establishing a policy of who pays for what and when is something that should be reflective of each individual couple, not some bullshit, outdated idea about men being the breadwinners.
Having sex on the 3rd date
I’m not historically a fan of book burning, but I’m down if anyone else wants to torch every last copy of the How To Not Look Like A Slut: By The Numbers handbook. Anyone who still adheres to the idea that they should wait until the 3rd date to have sex is ridiculous, and likely too busy examining their and their date’s behavior to really be engaged in the moment enough to have good sex anyway. Have sex when you want. If it’s the first date and it feels right, go for it wholeheartedly. If it takes you weeks (or months) to be ready to do it, then don’t let anyone make you feel weird about that. Sex is a thing that has to be felt up out on a case-by-case basis. There are no rules when determining what feels right for you.
Pretending not to care
The idea of being intentionally aloof when we like someone is entirely based in fear – fear that, if we let the other person know how we really feel, they’ll have too much power over us, or that being candid about our feelings will take away the mystery, or the thrill of the chase, and make them lose interest. The thing is, those are only legitimate fears if you’re dating a total dick. You should be striving to only develop feelings for people who are considerate, decent, and trustworthy enough to be nothing but protective of your feelings, to meet your openness with openness in return.
Caring about someone necessitates being considerably brave – if you choose to be authentic instead of putting up a fearful front of nonchalance to protect yourself, you run the risk that the other person might prove themselves to be an asshole. They might turn out to be in it only for the drama and anxiety of the chase, and have no real desire for something more. They might simply not feel the same. But at least by being honest, you know what’s what before you waste anymore time. And if it turns out that they do feel the same, and are someone worth loving, then you didn’t have to waste anymore time playing pretend before getting to the really good stuff.
Waiting a few days to call
This is an extension of the last dumb rule. Maybe it was one thing when the only way people could get in touch with each other was via actual, landline telephone, but I’m sorry – we now have the ability to call, text, iMessage, Facebook message, GChat, SnapChat, DM, and whatever other shit the cool kids are doing these days. Make contact. There’s nothing cute about someone who will ghost out for a week after a seemingly great date. The whole “I’m going to make him/her think I don’t care so they like me more” thing is very done now. Sincerity is the new fake.
Avoiding “serious” topics for…a long time.
I’m not saying you should walk into a first date, extend your hand, and in the same breath, introduce yourself with your name and the timeline in which you would like to have your first child. Like, take a minute to feel out whether or not you actually have a connection with this person, thus making your future plans potentially relevant to them. But once you crossed that line of Mutual Recognition of Real Romantic Potential, waste little time in telling them if you have set goals or dealbreakers. It’s the fair thing to do. And it’s hard too. Often, people shy away from being outspoken about the things they want in life, especially after they start to develop feelings for someone; it’s all too tempting to wait for the other person to start revealing their life plans and play the “oh yeah, me too” role because you feel all sparkly inside and so badly want the two of you to share a vision of the future as much as you share initial chemistry. It’s understandable but ultimately only sets you up for failure.
So if, for example, you know you want to move to another city for grad school next year, mention it. If you know you never want kids, say so. Again, timing is important when it comes to having these conversations, but anyone worth a damn will super respect the self-awareness and self-respect it takes to say, “Hey, I like you and you like me. I know we’re at the beginning, and don’t take this as an implication that I’m trying to rush things or get prematurely serious, but there seems to be something good between us so I just want you to know my bottom line. If you’re cool with it, then awesome. If not, it’s better we know now.” Anyone who gets freaked about that talk isn’t worth dating anyway.
Read more about sex, dating, and (maybe) how not to have a dysfunctional relationship here.
1. They treat a waitress poorly.
2. General rule: if they trash talk and gossip about other people, they are doing the same thing to when you’re not around.
3. If they hurt someone’s feelings, they defend themselves by saying “I’m just being honest” or worse, “do you want me to lie?”
4. You’ve seen them argue with someone they love (a parent, child, or significant other) in which they say something that shows a total lack of respect for that person and the relationship they’ve built with them. It may be the heat of the moment, but good people fight to solve problems, not to make the other person feel like the bad guy.
5. They’re obsessed with “new” people. Every 4 months they become obsessed with a new friend or love interest and their long term friends take a backseat.
6. They accuse people of “bullying” them and they are no longer in school.
7. They often utter sentences that begin “Let’s invite X because they will Y”–buy us drinks, drive us around, get us in for free, etc. Someone who is comfortable enough to casually mention they are only friends with certain people for the perks are just gross inside.
8. At any point they become a Debbie Downer. For instance, they tell a story about striking out with someone in their love life and they say “this always happens to me” or “I always have the worst luck.” It might seem like they are just currently down on their luck but this kind of negativity is manipulative of the other people in their lives, they are looking for constant reassurance, which is unhealthy.
9. You’ve witnessed them taking advantage of a drunk person.
10. They cheat on their significant other. They may make a compelling case and justify it in all sorts of ways, but a good person fixes a relationship or moves on.
11. “I hate drama.”
12. They act like a completely different person depending on who they are hanging out with. Different people bring out different aspects of each person’s personality, but no one should change dramatically.
13. They are extremely grossed out by regular human phenomena like body hair. If they’re so out of touch with reality that just being reminded of their humanity makes them so uncomfortable, they aren’t likely to be rational about other realities either.
14. Your dog hates them (and they usually are people friendly).
15. They have no friends they’ve known for longer than a year or two and don’t speak to anyone in their entire family. Cultivating relationships is an essential skill and when no one in your life can stick around longer than a few months, chances are the common denominator is the problem.
16. Anytime someone disagrees with them they make straw person caricatures of the other person’s argument in order to shoot them down. They cannot and will not perceive of valid reasons why someone might not take the same view as them.
17. Alternatively, when they disagree with someone, they call them “crazy.”
18. All their exes are “obsessed” with them still. Or, they still harbor vitriolic hate for people they haven’t seen or spoken to in years.
19. They say something along the lines of “I’m real” a lot. Normal people don’t hang around with fake people, so they wouldn’t feel the need to specify.
1. Late night singles hotline ads.
You’re minding your own business watching Friends reruns when Livelinks greets you with a fit bodied, symmetrical faced person and a sensual sounding voiceover that’s encouraging you to engage in phone conversations with hot locals. They’re desperately trying to make you want human interaction but logic says that a person down to talk to strangers at 1am isn’t your type. Success: 1-800-000-0000/10
2. Restaurant promotions that discriminate against single people with small appetites.
I’m looking at you, Applebee’s 2 for meal deal. There are others (*cough* Olive Garden & Chili’s *cough*), but you set the tone. Success: 5.6
3. Really good Groupon deals.
There’s something vaguely depressing about purchasing a luxury retreat knowing you’d be attending all by your lonesome. On the one hand, solo massages, champagne and spa festivities sound chill, but when you realize the package includes two super soft plush robes and other amenities, you might want someone to share those with… Keyword, might. Success: Just how soft are these robes?/10
4. Your friends who are in relationships.
Singleness is never more evident than when you’re in a third wheel scenario with a happy couple. Little moments like asking the waiter for a separate check because there’s nobody else to handle the bill with can be a reminder of your single status. That may feel crappy, but it’s cancelled out every time you watch a couple argue and make each other miserable. Success: 2/10
5. Invites to things for you and a guest.
There’s nothing like an invitation that provides you with a +1 because even if you’re happily single, you’ll now consider finding someone to drag to this event. You may decide against it, but the thought alone of finding a date could be nightmare inducing. Success: +6/10
6. The carpool lane.
Now your singular existence and lack of a companion are going to make you late for something. In this moment, stuck on the highway behind a minivan that’s going 5 under the speed limit, significant other stock is rising rapidly. Success: 7MPH/10
7. February 14th.
I didn’t want to use this particular date’s specific name because some people overreact to its significance and create a Lord Voldemort, he-who-must-not-be-named type feel. It’s trying really hard to make you want a companion. Chocolate, romance, perfectly filtered images of couples on Instagram – Valentine’s Day February 14th wants you to want love. Unfortunately it tries so hard that it actually makes you resent it and want to remain single in spite of it. Success: 1/10
8. Restaurant hosts/hostesses with shocked & confused expressions when you explain that you’re a party of one.
If only dining alone wasn’t such a shocking thing. “Table for one?” sounds are lot better than “IS IT JUST YOU?! OH, WELL DO YOU WANT TO SIT AT THE BAR OR SOMETHING? SURELY YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT YOUR HALF OFF APPETIZERS IN A BOOTH BUILT FOR FOUR.” Success: 7.8/10
There’s nobody to bring you juice or soup and now you have to drag your dying corpse to Walgreens for Gatorade because nobody cares if you have sufficient electrolytes or feels sorry for you. In the store, strangers scowl and try to steer clear of your coughing, sneezing, zombie-looking self, glaring like you’re contagious and inconsiderate for stepping outside of the quarantine you belong in. Now you feel like garbage both physically and emotionally. Success: 9.3/10
10. Your bad days that you’d like to rant and vent about.
Someone on the highway was going 5 under the speed limit making you late and ruining your day, but you’ve got nobody to complain to. Success: 8.7/10
11. Your lack of motivation to wash your sheets.
You should probably wash your sheets. It has been a while and they need to come in contact with water & detergent. You may unenthusiastically clean them, but if there were someone coming over regularly, you’d have more incentive to maintain fresh sheets. Any unkemptness in your home (or body) can be heavily influenced by your singleness. Success: 5/10
12. Spiders in your home.
It has to be taken care of and you’re the only line of defense.
Success: 8 legs/10
I was at a dinner party on the weekend where I was presented with a set menu of meat, meat with a side of meat. Hoping to go unnoticed with my fellow guests, I whispered my ever recycled line to the waiter “Sorry to be a pain, but I’m vegetarian…”
Unfortunately, I didn’t get away with it and had to endure the usual barrage of questions. Because, you know, it’s totally not rude or annoying to ask strangers about their personal eating habits…
I’m sure that every vegetarian out there can relate – the five questions and comments we are sick and tired of being interrogated with at every social event.
I’ve included my responses, however please note that vegetarians choose to abstain from meat consumption for a variety of reasons, these are simply my personal beliefs.
#1 “Why are you vegetarian?”
Well, when I was about four years old and figured out that meat equals dead animals, I decided that it was pretty f@$%ed up and wanted no part of it. To me, I’ve always thought it completely unnatural and unnecessary to eat an animal when you could simply eat something else that didn’t have to die for your meal.
Eating meat goes against every fibre of my being, with my involuntary attitude perfectly summarised by my partner once when yet another person suggested that I “just try eating a little piece of chicken”. My partner said “to Alex, eating meat is like eating a piece of poo. You wouldn’t just eat a little piece of poo.” Vegetarians are on the receiving end of this kind of pressure a lot, so please, don’t force your beliefs on us.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I have tried eating meat, every kind of meat just to be sure. Alas, no matter how flavoursome the bacon or how tender the beef, to put a piece of dead animal in my mouth feels just plain wrong. But trust me, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m in the minority with this one!
#2 “You should just try not to think about what it is and just eat it.”
Trust me, I’ve tried. There’s nothing like biting into a piece of flesh to shake you out of using a Jedi mind trick to disassociate your mind from the reality of eating a carcass. Anyway, if your morals are pulling you in another direction, why force yourself to make it OK by turning a blind eye?
I’ve always thought that people who continue to consume meat while find animal slaughter wrong or gross are incredibly simple minded and odd. It’s twisted to selectively shut down your brain when faced with an ethical dilemma just because it’s the easier option. How can you be expected to grow as a human being if you don’t question things and develop an opinion for yourself?
If you were shopping and noticed a lost child, would you “just try not to think about it?” If you witnessed an assault, would you “just try not to think about it?” If your spouse was cheating on you, would you “just try not to think about it?” If you saw an animal in immediate danger, would you “just try not to think about it?”
Hell-to-the-no! Selective ignorance isn’t good for the mind or for the soul.
#3 “Don’t you miss meat? I know I would!”
Admittedly, meat does smell awesome. But that’s where it ends. The fleshy texture freaks me out to the extent that I can’t even handle anything resembling the texture of meat. Much to my (and many a dinner host’s) dismay, this means that things like mushrooms, eggplant and silken tofu gross me out because they’re too meaty.
Yep, these very things are supposed to form the staples of a vegetarian’s diet. Yep, this sucks. Big time.
To try and combat this, every time I’m presented with one of my nemeses, I’ll force myself to consume a portion in the hopes of acquiring a taste for it. Unfortunately, over twenty years of this tactic hasn’t matured my palate a bit.
I don’t miss it because meat is disgusting (to me). I’m resolute that we’re simply not supposed to put that in our mouths – and especially not supposed to kill animals for food when we have such choice and variety in the first world. It all seems a bit silly.
#4 “Can you eat seafood?” “Or cheese?” What about eggs?”
Just because sea creatures don’t have legs doesn’t mean they’re not alive, you still have to kill them to eat them. It’s scientifically proven that they do feel pain and stress. I used to force myself to eat seafood, but now I no longer allow myself to struggle with that internal battle. Plus, have you ever seen an octopus?! Eww city.
And cheese? Last time I checked, cheese isn’t a dead animal. Vegetarians don’t eat dead animals, vegans don’t eat animal derived products (including dairy). And Eggs? Well they’re technically chicken periods, so weren’t destined for life anyways. That said, eggs do give me the heebie-jeebies if they’re not disguised within the delicious and mysterious depths of a cheesecake or a stir-fry.
#5 “What can you eat? You must struggle with protein and iron deficiencies.”
It’s really not hard finding meat substitutes – I’ve been deficiency free and supplement free since forever. However, it does suck when eating out and usually only having one choice on the menu. Thank god for pizza because I can always give pizza a makeover if I’m completely restricted for choice!
Nuts and seeds are essential, so I use ABC spread (Almond, Brazil, Cashew) and Tahini spread (sesame seed) daily. Then there are oats with milk, whole wheat bread or flat bread, beans and chickpeas, tofu and cheese. Discovering haloumi has been a god send and perfect solution to those awkward “I don’t eat meat” BBQ situations.
Just because I have chosen not to eat meat doesn’t mean that I intend on bashing vegetarianism down anyone’s throats. Good on you carnivores for having what’s regarded as ‘normal’ dietary habits in this day in age. I’m envious of your freedom – it must be great having all that choice and not having to worry if you’ll be able to eat anything wherever you go. It also must be great being perceived as ‘normal’ and not feeling like a nuisance at meals when dining with others. Because for me, I don’t feel that vegetarianism is a choice. It’s who I am.
I can pretty much relate any real life situation back to an episode of Friends. (Or The Simpsons.) So when moving recently I obviously took any opportunity to yell “PIVOT!” ala Ross. Here’s a list of words that will cause any Friends fan to begin an intense quotefest. Whether you like it or not.
Friends fan will yell this word back at you, complete with the “PIVAAAAAAAT” version. I’m so sorry.
As discussed, Ross, when directing the moving of a couch up a stairwell, yells pivot…repeatedly. If you mention moving or moving couches or tight stairwells or even just the word pivot in a normal context any
Possible quotes: “PIVOT PIVOT!” “PIVAAAAAT” “Shut up, shut up, shut upppppppppp!”
2. Leather pants
Friends episode???” Basically, the gang is trying out their New Year’s resolutions and Ross’ is to try a new thing each day so one day he tries wearing leather pants but obviously can’t get them back on and calls Joey for help and ends up creating a paste (which he unfortunately cannot make into a pair of paste pants) and has to leave his date’s house with his pants in a ball. Poor Ross.
A co-worker mentioned to me the other day she was breaking in new leather pants and I immediately said “hahaha remember that
Possible quotes: “Someone comment on the pants!” “And the lotion and the powder have made a paste!”
3. Spray tans
Aw Ross. If you ever ask my advice on getting a spray tan I WILL just casually mention that you MIGHT become an 8 just like Ross. And it might be the worst experience of your life. Sorry.
Possible quotes: “I’m an 8?!” “Mississippi-lessly???”
4. Thanksgiving sandwich
We’ve all been there, buddy. You put a sandwich (or a Chobani yogurt, KAREN) in a work fridge, you forget to properly label it (Or you did and someone ignored you) and it gets eaten. Not having food I planned on eating throws me into a rage too, Ross. Especially if it was a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich with a “moist maker.”
Possible quotes: “Well what did the police say?!” “Someone ATE the only good thing going on in my life!”
“Unagi is a state of total awareness,” according to Ross. He teaches it to Phoebe and Rachel after they’ve started taking a self-defense class. I cannot get NEAR a sushi restaurant without talking about unagi.
Possible quotes: “Ah salmon skin roll.” “Say we are unagi!”
Friends. I’m probably just quoting Friends lines in most of my daily life, actually. And then “we were on a break!” immediately follows.
If any couple anywhere talks about taking a “break” – including when I was the one saying it, I am ONLY thinking about
Possible quotes: “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”
7. Teeth whitening
Anything that isn’t just a Crest White Strip or like, “whitening” toothpaste that you do to your teeth makes me assume you will end up with teeth like Ross that you can see from space.
Possible quotes: “They’re really white!” “What was wrong with your old…human teeth?”