Not to brag, but I go on a lot of first dates. But this point, I’m familiar with navigating all the unspoken rules of the game. Will we split the bill, or is that too platonic? Should we acknowledge the fact that I obviously stalked you before showing up tonight? To hug or not to hug?
Many of the “rules” of dating are at best circumstantial, and at worst, utter bullshit. (I’m looking at you, “the man has to ask the woman out.”) And yet, the dating wisdom of our elders needlessly persists. If you’re dating again for the first time, or you’ve been striking out lately, consider letting go of some of the following myths about dating.
“Dating apps are embarrassing.”
I’m always shocked to see dating profiles say something like “Let’s never tell anyone we met on here.” No worries, bud—we won’t be meeting at all.
We must move on from the belief that dating apps are a “last resort.” It’s akin to being embarrassed that you had to use a job search site, as opposed to being spontaneously offered a job in “the real world.” It’s unrealistic, and at the end of the day, your embarrassment is only holding you back.
Dating apps are the dominant arena for everyone playing the dating game today. Don’t stay stuck on the sidelines by acting ashamed of using an app.
“You can’t get better at dating.”
Contrary to this misbegotten belief, dating is a skill. True, it comes more naturally to some of us, but to a certain point, you can learn how to do it, and to do it better. It’s a simple matter of enhancing certain parts of your personality to reach their most attractive potential. And no, I’m not talking about catfishing. It’s as simple as training yourself to be confident, considerate, and ask your date lot of quality questions.
“You should go on as many dates as possible.”
Dating burnout is real. While you can improve on your dating skills, overloading your schedule with an endless stream of first dates will do more harm than good. Think of first dates like a muscle—there’s a reason why newly single people feel “rusty,” but there’s also a reason we can’t work out all day every day to get stronger. Like muscles, our dating brains need time to rest and recover. Think quality over quantity.
“There has to be a ‘spark’ right away.”
Meeting up with someone from Tinder won’t always bring that warm, fuzzy meet-cute feeling. That’s okay. You want to feel some sort of connection, but don’t be deterred by a lack of a cinematic spark. Some of my best flings required pushing through a little awkwardness at first.
At the same time, if you really don’t feel a connection, don’t feel the need to “push through” anything that doesn’t make you at least a little bit excited or interested.
“The man pays the bill.”
Outdated. Heteronormative. Leads to resentment and/or entitlement. Next.
This can be true, if by “opposites,” you mean “morning person versus night owl,” or “cats over dogs,” or “sweets versus savory.” Those differences are cute, and give you the opportunity for fun banter.
This rule does not cover the difference in politics and ideologies, like, say, “’COVID is a hoax’ versus ‘I believe in science.’”
“Just be yourself!”
Okay, perhaps claiming that it’s a myth one should “just be yourself” is a little harsh. Of course you should be yourself. However, you should be the best version of yourself, at least for the first few dates. If dating is a game, the only rules worth listening to are the ones about putting your best foot forward. Be the best listener you can be, rein in your tendencies to be a whiney complainer, and clean your room better than you usually do.
All I’m saying is that you should make sure you’ve put some effort into the mutual attraction before being all of yourself all of the time. If all goes well, you’ll be bringing your date back to your messy room in no time.