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 Age Factor

The first time I ever dated a considerably younger guy, I repeatedly asked myself “What in the hell are you doing?”

It’s not like I was new to dating younger guys. In fact my first boyfriend was younger than me, my ex-husband was 7 years younger and my most recent LTR was with a guy 12 years younger. It wasn’t exactly new to me. But then out of nowhere it seems, the 20 year olds started appearing. I’d been hit on by 20 year old guys before, but none of them were ever able to truly capture my interest. There’s nothing remotely appealing about “Heyy whats up babe?” or “How r u?”  If he can’t string a simple sentence together, you kind of already know the deal.

But then twitter happened and it opened up a whole new group of guys – of all ages – who were actually thoughtful and funny and intelligent. Then add tinder (no explanation needed there) and the flood gates opened.

That’s when I decided to rethink the whole age thing.

I started out with just simple conversations.  I’d often ask these younger guys why they were interested in older women? Their answers were always the same:  Girls their age demand too much. They get upset if you don’t text them 20x a day. They don’t give a guy his space. They need to know where you are every minute of the day. They’re too dramatic. She was only interested in money. She wanted a serious boyfriend. She wanted to get married.  She was insecure. She was extremely jealous. The list goes on. All huge turn offs to a guy of any age.

Which brought me to why they were drawn to older women: Older women are confident. We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of the day. We don’t care about that girl who you were talking to at the bar. We’re too busy to text you every single day. We don’t care how much money you make. We are busy with our own lives and careers. We’re more open minded and experimental when it comes to sex. And we certainly are not looking to get married.

Maybe dating a 20 yr. old would be fun.  I decided why not.

One guy in particular made me change my mind. It all started with a few sweet words. Not only was he articulate but extremely intelligent. Two things I can’t resist (even though I tried). Instead of partying with his friends, he chose to spend time with me. He was emotionally mature and genuinely interesting- both extremely sexy- which made him irresistible.

One of my flaws is that I sometimes try to end things at the first sign of trouble. Even if the “trouble” doesn’t actually exist.  I’m like the Runaway Bride of dating. So after only a few months of amazing sex and great conversation, I told him I could never see him ever again.

WHO DOES THAT?

Me, apparently. Well, I used to. (But I’m getting better.) It’s easy to let your head overthink and complicate things, but sometimes you need to think with your heart, which is kind of the same as NOT thinking.

Then a friend told me “Just let the relationship run it’s natural course.” Words I sometimes forget but should definitely try to remember. It’s sometimes difficult to enjoy time with someone when you’re constantly thinking “This can’t last.”

Luckily, he wouldn’t let me end it, so we continued to see each other.

And each time I would start to overthink it, friends would weigh in with “Just have fun. Who cares how old he is?”

It’s our experiences and the people we meet and share time with who ultimately shape who we are and who we become. So I did my best not to overthink it and just enjoy it.

Here is what I discovered. Age really is just a number. Your brain doesn’t say “You cannot be attracted to this person because they’re not the *right* age.” It’s all about chemistry and connection. It’s probably true that a guy in his 20’s isn’t looking for a girlfriend and is more interested in just having sex.  But that’s often true about guys in their 30’s and 40’s, too. And it’s a common fact that women reach their sexual peak in their mid 30’s to 40’s. We think about, enjoy and want sex, too.

I had dismissed many guys simply because I thought they were too young.  But there’s a difference between someone’s age and  emotional maturity. And just because a guy is older doesn’t mean he’s emotionally mature either (I’ve been down that road before, too).

Age doesn’t determine chemistry. If you connect with someone who’s fun and interesting, why not just enjoy it?

It’s all about mutual respect and how you make each other feel. If he makes you feel sexy and beautiful, and he’s respectful and honest, where’s the harm in that?

It doesn’t mean it has to turn into anything serious. Having fun together does not always equal love. It’s not a promise for forever. (I admit that’s a beautiful and romantic notion, but it’s simply not realistic.) It’s just fun and enjoyable and one more life experience that makes you a more interesting person. I mean the world could END TOMORROW. Would you really say no to having fun and good sex if you thought you only had one more day to live? I THINK NOT.

Find a person who you connect with, who you feel comfortable with, who you respect and trust. That’s when the sex really becomes amazing. If those pieces are missing, then you’re probably just having mediocre sex.

And age has nothing to do with finding that connection. Connection has to do with chemistry. And you never know who will have chemistry with until you actually spend time with someone. You shouldn’t dismiss a person simply because of their age.

I don’t often meet guys who can capture my interest. So when I do, why would I dismiss him simply because of his age? It’s all about how he treats me, how he makes me feel and how we interact together. And if all those pieces click, then why not just take it for what it is and simply enjoy it?

 

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