The (New) Rules of Dating


According to Wikipedia, Dating is a part of the human mating process whereby two people meet socially for companionship, beyond the level of friendship, or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. But anyone who has been single in the last 5-10 years knows that more accurately, dating just means “we are sleeping together.” And by sleeping, I mean having sex.

This may be hard to believe but I have dated guys and never had sex with them. Shocking, isn’t it?

My senior year of high school I met my first love. Every Friday night, he would come into the DQ where I worked and always order the same thing. A hot dog and a chocolate sundae. He would smile at me and I would immediately blush. Within a few weeks we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I’m not exactly sure how the transition to boyfriend and girlfriend went, but it happened pretty naturally. I liked him and he liked me. There wasn’t any game playing or weeks of guessing or obscure text messages to decipher.

We were just 2 young people who liked each other and so we started to date. We talked on the phone every night. He sent me flowers and love notes. We took walks on the beach and my Mom would yell at me the next day for getting sand all over the house. We watched t.v. in my parents living room and made out on the couch. In the year we were together, I never slept with him. It was dating in it’s simplest, sweetest form.

Fast forward to now.

One divorce, two children and three LTR’s later, I admit that I do not understand dating. At all.

Every single aspect of it has changed since then.

Back then, if a guy liked you he would ask you out. And if the date went well, he would take you out again. You would start seeing each other regularly and magically, you were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Now, a guy can send you 47 text messages, spend three weekends with you and you still might never know how he actually feels about you. Are you just friends? Or friends with benefits? Maybe you’re just a rebound?  Or maybe he’s biding his time until something better comes along? Or maybe (like one guy I spent 6+ months with said to me) you’re just hanging out.

Hanging out? Don’t kids just “hang out” at the mall? And how does that relate to dating? What the hell does that even mean? I still don’t know.

Everything used to be so simple. Then dating websites and cell phones and social media and tinder changed everything.

Thanks to modern technology, you can immediately find someone within a 5 mile radius to hook up with and have sex. People don’t want relationships anymore. Why would you settle for one person when you can easily find a different person to have sex with each weekend? And if you do find someone interested in monogamy, you have to deal with the fact that they are still “just friends” with all of their exes. She’s stalking him on Facebook or maybe he’s “not ready” for a commitment, or he just “doesn’t know what he wants”, and it makes you wonder if it would have been easier to stay in your last relationship, just to avoid all the confusion and drama.

The whole process of dating has become ridiculously complex. How did something as simple as “I like you and you like me” turn into such a complicated mess?

So in an attempt to clarify things, here are The New Dating Rules I’ve learned along the way:

1.Never mention your relationship status. Confused? Not sure where you stand? Good. That’s the new normal now. And if you ever become tempted to ask that new person in your life “Where is this relationship going?” just don’t. That is the absolute kiss of death for any new relationship. Better to remain in the dark and guess and be confused than to end up alone.

2. Relationship vs. Sex. It used to be that people wanted to be in a relationship. To find that one person who is your best friend and lover; a partner who understands, supports and loves you unconditionally. That was called a LTR (long term relationship). Now, many people are only interested in finding NCS (no commitment sex).  And just because you’re having sex with someone on a regular basis does not necessarily mean that person has actual feelings for you. Confused? Want to ask this person how they feel or if it’s a LTR or a NCS? Don’t. See Rule 1.

3. Texting vs. Talking. No one talks on the phone anymore. Talking has become as outdated as flip phones. Talking on the phone is stupid. It’s all about texting now. But texts should not be too short or too long. Also, be very careful how you word your text because they can be easily misinterpreted. One badly worded text can turn into a huge misunderstanding that leads to you never hearing from this person ever again. So good luck!

4. Wait to Reply to Texts. It’s important to wait the right amount of time before replying so that you don’t seem too eager. So how long do you wait? As a general rule: Wait 4 hours to reply. And if a guy waits 4 hours to reply back to your text, wait an additional 4 hours to reply back, but add 30 minutes to 2 hours to the 4 hour rule, making the total wait time 4.5 – 6 hours. Unless it falls past midnight, then you should wait until the following day to reply. This pattern continues until eventually you both wait so long to reply, that you completely forget about each other, meet new people and the whole process starts all over again with someone else.

5. Release the Skeletons. In the age of the Internet, expect that you will be Googled. And any secrets you’ve been trying to keep will likely come out. Remember that DUI you got when you were 21? Or the time you were arrested for selling drugs in college? Well, at some point, your date will find out about any crimes you may have committed in the past. So if things seems to be going really great and then one day, POOF, this person suddenly disappears? There’s a good chance he/she Googled you and discovered you were a stripper for 3 years while you were putting yourself through college.

6. Play Hard to Get, But Not Too Hard to Get. Everyone is busy. But everyone has their cell phone within reach most of the time. It’s okay to play hard to get in the beginning. Rushing things early on is a turn off. But constantly playing hard to get by ignoring someone will result in losing them. Especially when there is a sea of attractive, smart people ready to take their place. So if you really like someone, you’d better let them know. But don’t say too much or you might come across as clingy and needy and they will dump you. It’s your job to find that fine line and not to cross it.

7. Don’t Assume Exclusivity. Even if you’ve been dating for several months, do not assume you are exclusive. In the age of tinder and internet dating, multi-dating is very common. So unless you’ve discussed and agreed not to date other people, assume that he/she is seeing [and possibly having sex with] other people. After all, Caitlyn Bristow, The Bachelorette,  was able to date [and have sex with] multiple guys on national television and that was considered socially acceptable, so don’t assume this person would think any differently. Isn’t dating fun?


I knew a guy for 2.5 years on two social media sites. Yet in reality, we were still pretty much strangers. Our online friendship slowly evolved into mutual flirting and a “Let’s take this to the next level” type thing. But when I asked him to call me so we could have an actual conversation, he replied “What more do you need to know about me?” Seriously? So if I follow you on 1 or 2 social media sites, we get to bypass the whole “Getting to know each other stage”? Um, No thanks.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to get to know someone through actual conversations and spending time together. I want to sit in a cozy restaurant and drink martini’s and talk for hours. I want to hear about the things you are interested in and talk about things we both care about. I want to hear all your corny jokes and see your facial expressions and hear you laugh. You have to spend actual time together.


And as far as rules, I have a few of my own. Good morning and good night texts are great, but I prefer out of the blue, unexpected texts when you say “I can’t stop thinking about you.” Don’t disappear during the week and only text me on the weekend, so I know you’re not just looking for a booty call. Take an interest in my life and be ready for me to ask you questions about yours.

Let’s spend a weekend together and drive through the country and explore places we’ve never seen before, together. Let’s lie in bed for hours and talk about everything and nothing.

Take me out. Woo me. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. It could be as simple as seeing a movie together or hiding in the corner of a bar and talking and making out. Introduce me to your friends so I know I’m not some girl you want to keep hidden on the side.

And most importantly, I won’t ask you where the relationship is heading or what I mean to you. Because if I genuinely mean something to you, I’ll never have to guess. A man who adores you will treat you that way and he’ll make sure you always know.

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