“Help: What are the rules for texting a new crush?”

Dear Sarah,

So, a lot of my girlfriends talk about how they like some guy, but they have to wait the requisite three days or more before texting them so they didn’t come off as too interested or something. And then, they can only respond to one of every three times he communicates. They also claim that if a guy doesn’t contact them after a few days he isn’t a keeper.

I feel so confused because if I was into a guy, I feel like I would want to text him pretty soon. I don’t understand these waiting periods. I mean, I get not wanting to come off as too clingy, but if I’m interested, what’s wrong with letting him know? I’ve also heard cute relationship stories about people who threw away all the dating rules and it worked out great. But maybe there are lots of situations where that turned someone off because the other person didn’t get how to play the relationship game? Can you provide some clarity in all of this dating-dos-and-don’ts madness?

—Skeptical in Cali

Dear Skeptical,

I’m not really into rules, I’m into common sense—and it sounds like you have plenty of it. Love and relationships aren’t based on games, they are about two people who really connect and, over time, reveal their deepest, truest selves to each other.

About twenty years ago there was a very retro book making the rounds actually called The Rules. It was basically 35 steps to tying yourself in a pretzel to make some dude marry you. The core message, as I read it, was: always play hard to get, fix your bitchy resting face, let him be a manly hunter, and always, ALWAYS, be happy, smell like rare roses hand-picked by Bhutanese monks, and look sexy and gorgeous (but don’t have sex). Are you cringing yet?

So, when it comes to how many days you wait before texting or how many times you respond to him, etc. etc. etc., I say, just do your righteous thing and be your fabulous self. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable, and never be ashamed of expressing yourself. The one little caveat I have is, that with so many easy ways to reach out to a crush, you don’t want to bombard them with tweets and texts and likes and comments—especially if what you are actually doing is fishing for responses to reassure yourself. Also, don’t assume that because someone doesn’t get back to you immediately or text you as frequently as you do them, that they don’t like you. They might not be as communicative in general or maybe they are busy going to school or working or being creative—living a full life that doesn’t revolve exclusively around their smartphone. And that’s definitely not a bad thing.

Love, Sarah

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