Remember in junior high or high school when you started dating and your mom and/or bff had a long list of rules you had to remember? “Don’t call first,” “Don’t kiss on the first date,” “Don’t be too needy.” Our favorite rom coms only reaffirmed these rules, teaching us we had to be the cool, Kate Hudson type of girl that played it chill, didn’t come off needy or crazy (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, anyone?), and to wait around for the fairy tale that includes the kind of Prince Charming who makes all the first moves and picks up all the tabs (50 Shades of Gray did not help give me realistic expectations).
We were programmed to think that dating is about following a set of rules that would allow us to trick a romantic interest into thinking we are the one. But it’s 2018 — should we really be trying to trick a romantic interest into thinking anything? Should we even have any rules at all, instead of just following what we actually want? Say it with me now — Dating. Should. Be. About. Finding. What. We. Want. So screw the rules and figure out what works best for you and what you want and feel comfortable with, in the grand scheme of your love life. Here are seven rules that it’s absolutely time we forgot about.
1. Don’t kiss on the first date
It’s time to stop pretending that physical chemistry is not important in a relationship, even at the very beginning. While the first date is traditionally about getting to know someone to see if they’re worth pursuing with a second date, physical connection is important too, and everyone has a different level of comfort. If you smooch before you even go on a date, or wait until the second month for a kiss on the cheek, what does it matter? Rules shouldn’t dictate our varying comfort levels and preferences when it comes to physical connection. If you kiss or not kiss on the first date, it does not make you a [insert any of the many derogatory names for women who pursue sexual activity on their own terms, however much or little that is].
2. Men should pay the check
While forgetting about this relationship rule might not be great for our bank accounts, it is great for our relationship. Originally, paying the bill was associated with power. Men paid, because women did not work, and therefore, men had the financial control in the relationship (as well as control in many other areas, too). But we are working, driven, and powerful women, who deserve partners that are equal to us. So why expect the man to pay the bill if you both equally wear the pants? He takes care of the margaritas, you get the guacamole, and you both split the cab fair home.
3. The “Three Date Rule”
Let’s be real — it’s #yearofthewoman. So let’s just throw out any and all rules that imply that what you want to do with your body, and when you want to do it, is not up to you. Besides, whatever you do or don’t do on a first, second, or third date should not dictate whether or not you’re “wife material,” and if it does, then you should not be dating that person anyways. If the chemistry is there, make your own rules.
4. Don’t introduce them to your friends and family until it’s serious
While it’s absolutely fine not to want to intermix potential love interests with your friends and family, if you do want to invite the potential love interest you’ve been talking to on Bumble out to drinks with your friends, or your mom’s in town and you run into the guy you’ve been casually dating, do not panic! We should be open about what we want and expect out of a relationship anyway, so introducing them to your family and friends should not be off-putting or confusing to them. Friends and families are big parts of our lives, so if you don’t want to separate them from a possible romantic partner, then don’t!
5. Men and women can’t just be friends
Ah, the classic rule that When Harry Met Sally took a whole hour and a half to explore — just to end on BFFs, Harry and Sally, falling in love at the end. Yes, you root for them to get together since the famous diner scene, but that doesn’t mean that men and women, outside of rom coms, cannot just be friends. Gender equality means seeing the opposite gender as a whole person, and more than just what they can do for you. So shouldn’t that mean being able to have fun with them, enjoy their company, talk, and appreciate them, without anything sexual or romantic spurring between either of you?
It’s true that the best relationships often start out as friendships, but if the spark isn’t there, but you enjoy their company, don’t write them off as another failed romance — they might just be one of the best friendships of your life! And it’s time we stop being threatened by our romantic partners having friends that are their opposite gender, already! If you don’t trust them, maybe don’t date them.
6. Wait for him to make the first move.
We’ve already established that it’s #yearofthewoman, and 2018 is way too late for us to still be keeping around these silly gender roles. Besides, making the first move might save you a lot of time and energy later on — for one, no more waiting by the phone for him to call (go ahead and slide into his DMs, already!), and if you meet someone that wouldn’t want to date a strong, independent woman who knows exactly what she wants, you don’t want to waste your time on them, anyways. (Cue Beyonce: “Boy, bye.”)
7. Play “Hard to Get”
We hold this idea that whoever cares less in the relationship is the one who has the most power. But should love really be about power? The truth is that caring is not a bad thing, as we’ve believed it to be. It’s okay to care; we’re supposed to care about each other. So what does it matter if you “come on too strong” or “care more”? Be true to your feelings and what you want. Because when you find the person you really care about, who totally impresses you and who you know is going to respect you and could make you happy, you should not want to play hard to get — to quote our go-to When Harry Met Sally, you should “want forever to start as soon as possible.”