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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The Affair

As her date droned on, she noticed a group of guys laughing and drinking beer a few feet away. The bar was loud and crowded. She couldn’t make out their faces. Except for one.

Her date asked her a question.

“What?” All she could hear was this handsome stranger laughing a few feet away.

She caught him staring at her. So she smiled back. And no sooner had her date left to make a phone call, she looked up to see his face smiling down at her.

He asked her her name. Before she could answer, he said “You’re beautiful.”

Soon they were walking down the street together, huddled close in the winter wind. They passed a group of loud girls, smoking and an old man walking his dog.

He grabbed her hand and led her across the street and into another bar. His hand felt warm and strong.

“Two vodka tonics” he said to the bartender. Despite the toasty fire crackling in the fireplace, the bar was practically empty.

He said something funny and she laughed. Suddenly his hand was on her waist, gently pulling her closer. She thought he might kiss her. But instead he leaned over and whispered into her ear.

She’d always been attracted to quirky. But only when it was perfectly mixed with intelligence and wit and charm and of course humor.

And he was all of the above.

And the fact that he was tall was the cherry on the all ready delicious cake.

Two hours later, they were in his apartment. He offered to take her coat. She politely declined.

“I really should go,” she said. As she started to leave, he leaned over and kissed her. Soft and slow at first, then deeper and passionately. She wanted to tear off her coat and throw her clothes on the floor. But instead she kissed him one last time and left.

The 18 minute drive home felt like an hour.

Two nights later she was in his apartment again. A bottle of Patron sat on his countertop next to a basket of fresh raspberries. How did he know those were her favorites?

He was wearing dark jeans and a long sleeved tee and a boyish grin. He opened the tequila and she did a shot to take the edge off. They drank and talked and kissed. He told her about his family. She talked about her new job. They kissed and talked and drank some more. His lips were on her neck. Her hands were on his waist.

She knew she wanted to sleep with him but there were so many reasons not to. But maybe even more reasons why she should. His lips tasted like tequila and raspberries and perfection. He pulled her closer and she whispered into his ear “Where’s your room?”

A candle was burning on his nightstand. His room smelled like red velvet cake. His bed sheets were dark gray. She could hear music playing from the apartment next door.

His curtains were slightly drawn and she could see the moon outside his window. He kissed her as she started to unbutton his pants. Their hands were everywhere. She could feel the weight of his body on hers and every doubt she had disappeared from her mind. Every movement felt electric. The candle flickered next to the bed. He felt perfect and delicious and intoxicating.

At 6:15am the alarm went off on her cell phone. He helped her locate her clothes as she hurriedly dressed. He followed her to the door. All he was wearing were a pair of dark blue gym shorts. His chest was smooth and perfect. She kissed him goodbye.

They started meeting 2 or 3 times a week. Sometimes it would be at her house and sometimes, his. They’d snuggle on the couch and watch a movie, but mostly they would talk and drink and make out for hours before falling into a heap in bed. And in the morning he would always tell her how beautiful her eyes were.

It was easy and fun and exhilarating and uncomplicated. Weeks and months passed. Sexy texts and flirty conversations. She knew it wouldn’t last – they both knew – but it felt good now. And he was smart and sexy and he was so drawn to her and their bodies fit so perfectly together. The sex was addictive. She knew she couldn’t say no.

Then something happened. It doesn’t matter what. Because something always happens. He started to get too close and he said something that hurt her feelings. And she held back because she knew it could never be anymore than it was. He pushed her away and she pushed him away further. She imagined she would never see his beautiful face ever again so she busied herself with work and meaningless things.

The weather grew colder and she would lie awake at night thinking about him. He imagined her with someone else and it drove him insane. But neither of them contacted each other. They were both too stubborn and practical, and she was so busy. But not too busy to lie awake at night imagining all the nights they had spent together in her bed.

And he stayed busy too. But he could still smell her on his pillows and he imagined her body wrapped around his.

And the days and weeks passed and it started to get easier. She started to forget the little things. Like how his skin smelled and the way he would hold her so close, wrapping his arms around her waist when they were lying in bed.

One night, around 1:24am or something like that, he sent her a text.

“I miss you.”

They saw each other again after that. It turns out, it wasn’t an affair. It lasted over a year and a half. And each time he would walk through her door, without a word, he would  immediately grab her and kiss her like he hadn’t seen her in a hundred years.  It was sexy and passionate and she never wanted it to end.

He made her feel beautiful.

Then something else happened. Maybe she met someone else. Or maybe he did.  It doesn’t really matter. Because something else always happens. And so it ended again and they went their separate ways, as people always do.

And sometimes when she is out with another guy, she gets distracted and finds herself searching for his face in the crowd.

And sometimes when he is out with his friends, he’ll see a girl with long blonde hair and he’ll hear her laugh and he imagines it is her.

Image #1047511 by korshun on Favim.com

Love in the Rain | via Tumblr – image #1047511 by korshun on Favim.com

When Love Is (Or Isn’t) Enough

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  The story of a couple who meet, fall in love and break up.

Their break up is so painful they both decide to undergo a procedure that erases all memory of their relationship.

After their memories are erased they become strangers and go their separate ways.

But they meet a second time and are instantly attracted to each other, as if meeting for the first time.

The movie ends there, suggesting they fall in love all over again, despite their past.

The whole thing- falling in love, meeting a second time and being given a second chance- is appealing on many levels.

Most people have one person they wish they could have a second chance with.

A past relationship that was electric and exciting and passionate that you wish you could do it all over again. Even if there was some bad mixed in with all the good.

No relationship is ever perfect and every couple encounters problems and misunderstandings. People change, circumstances change and feelings can change, too.

And a history that took months and years to build up, can all fall apart as easily as a sand castle being washed away by the tide.

You might try and save it.  You grab your bucket and add more sand.

And things are good again. Maybe not as perfect as before but there’s still a lot of good left so you both hold on.

But the issues and the tide will reappear again. And unless both people are trying to fix it, you realize you can’t do it alone.

The whole situation can seem impossible and overwhelming. And sometimes it’s easier to walk away when you feel hurt, even if you love someone.

But after some time has passed, you start to miss the other person and maybe even wish you had a second chance.

But what if all your bad memories-  every fight, every lie, every hurtful word ever spoken – were all erased.

What if you met again as strangers without a past.

Maybe this time you would both be different.

Maybe if enough time had passed and if your experiences had changed, maybe you’d both be better.

Maybe. Or maybe erasing the past wouldn’t make any difference at all.

Don’t mistakes teach us what not to do next time and how to be better?

How would we know what to do differently if there were no past to learn from?

Maybe a second chance with someone wouldn’t be wonderful at all.

To go through the hurt and pain of breaking up all over again? No one would ever choose that.

And what if the other person walked away without a fight. Or they treated you badly the first time?

If they really loved you, wouldn’t they have tried harder and treated you better? Would it be any different the second time?

It takes mutual love and respect and the effort from two people, to build the relationship and to protect the sand castle.

These are all just words and words don’t really mean anything unless the person who they are meant for actually reads them.

And even if they read them, there are no magic words that can change the past and make things work. Not even “I love you,” not even “I’m sorry,” and not even “I really wish we could start over again.”

Love isn’t always enough and some things were just not meant to be.

What does matter is finding someone who won’t give up on you. Even after you’ve messed up.

Someone who is as passionate about you as you are about them.

Otherwise, all you end up with is a pile of useless fucking sand.

“If you love something, let it go.

If you don’t love something, definitely let it go. Basically, just drop everything, who cares.” – B.J. Novak

 

I Love You, by Banksy, canvas print.

I Love You, by Banksy, canvas print.

 

   http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2954530560/tt0338013