Dating can be a complicated and frustrating social practice. In order to simplify baffling situations that invariably occur when we attempt to determine the suitability of another as a potential mate, society has conveniently created a set of rules that most people abide by. Following established “dating Dos and Don’ts” may seem convenient on the surface, as it allows for predictability and clearer explanations when trudging through the dating mud. However, ironically, the rules that intend to simplify dating have instead turned it into a manipulative game resulting in unfavourable consequences. Dating rules assume that people are predictable and alike. When the dating process inevitably allows for the discovery of another person’s individuality, and when a situation occurs that we cannot neatly prescribe to the Dos and Don’ts of dating, it can cause shock and lead to dating failure. I’ll explain.
I admit, I am an avid reader of woman’s magazines. I also enjoy reading chick lit and watching a good chick-flick movie. This has allowed me, like many other people, to become quite knowledgeable and well versed in dating rules. One famous well-known rule is Never Have Sex on the First Date. It is popular belief that when a woman has sex with a man too early in their relationship, the man will assume she is only interested in him for sexual purposes. To him, she will never be wife material, only a fuck buddy that will serve him until something more wife material comes into the picture. Another dating rule you’ve probably heard of is Wait Three Days to Call. After a date, it is a social faux-pas for a man to call a woman right away. Never mind if the date was really good, and both interested parties would like to see each other sooner. And if waiting three days causes the interested female anxiety and she is left wondering if she did something wrong, so be it. Waiting the prerequisite Three Days is a dating must. A third popular dating rule that has been slightly adapted to suit feminist standards is A Man Must Pay on the First Date. This is a traditional dating rule. Although it is now socially acceptable for a woman to offer to go dutch, the man must never take her up on this offer. This would mean he does not have a) either enough money to be a good provider, or is b) too inconsiderate to pay. Translation: he is a poor potential mate that probably shouldn’t be granted a second date.
It seems that when it comes to dating, most people have a Deal Breaker. Even if the person you just had a date with has the physicality of Ryan Gosling and is funnier than Seth Rogan (or whatever floats your boat), and he/she lacks this one important trait or interest you deem to be Very Important, they are out. For a soccer player, not having an interest in sports may be that one character flaw that overrides every other positive personality trait. For a computer programmer, not understanding the binary code may be theirs. A bad kisser may be non-negotiable. The Dating Deal Breaker make people forget that people can have different interests in a relationship, and (shocker!), the relationship can still be happy and successful.
However, it is just not all women’s magazines articles, movies and books that are to blame. Men are not immune to the pre-established rules of dating and they are key players in the dating game. The website Askmen.com published 10 Timeless Dating Rules. Included in this article are gems such as Thou Shall Not Place her on a Pedestal (“It may seem romantic to revere your girl like Aphrodite, but it comes across as desperate and overbearing”), Thou Shalt Not Seem Too Enthusiastic (“Like the old showbiz cliché says: Always leave them wanting more. Try to follow the 3-for-1 Rule: Don’t initiate contact more than three times in a row; let her come to you once in a while”) and my personal favourite. Thou Shalt Not Share Excessive Details about Your Past (“You have a past; she has a past. Bringing up all the fine details of your old dating triumphs and troubles is unnecessary. It’ll only lead to jealousy and pointless competition. Don’t give her graphic details of your best one-nighter, and don’t badmouth the ex”). This same article advises men to treat dating like you are presenting your CV to a job interview. It suggests men should “give the woman a few details to display your credentials, but not enough to show that you are a psycho.”