Should we follow dating rules? We debunk some myths behind universal dating bibles
I’ve had my fair share of relationship blunders and an equally abundant share of criticism from “friends.”
“You were way too eager to respond. You should’ve driven them crazy.”
“You told them too much about yourself.”
“You didn’t follow the third-date rule.”
These rules stem from outdated social norms and traditional gender roles that are no longer welcome in modern dating spaces. Yet, many adhere to them—but why?
We turn to some individuals who share their sentiments on dating rules.
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What dating rules do you follow?
Having attended high school in the early 2010s, dating rules were rampant, like making oneself unavailable, avoiding intimacy until the third date and waiting for the other party to make the first move.
While I’ve comfortably outgrown this archaic mindset, many of my NPSB (No Partner Since Birth) friends fall victim to toxic heteronormative expectations—even in queer relationships. 25-year-old June, who is bisexual, shares, “I’ve been raised to believe men should make the first move, no matter how long that takes. It may be part of why I’ve never been in a relationship. I often waited too long. We never communicated. I never expressed myself. Now that I’ve started actively dating women, I don’t understand how this rule would apply.”
On playing hard-to-get, June shares, “It feels sexist. Many batchmates I grew up with were admittedly backward—I understand. We grew up in a traditionally Catholic school. But applying this (useless) rule to heterosexual relationships and telling me it ‘wouldn’t apply’ to same-sex ones…I wonder why this is the case. Make it make sense!”
Another one of my interviewees struggling to find sense in a convoluted web of made-up dating regulations is 23-year-old Maria. Maria recently asked when I’d recommend introducing a new beau to her friend group—nothing unusual other than how she worded it. “What’s the rule for this?” To which I replied, “There isn’t any. It’s up to you and your partner. You shouldn’t worry about what others find socially acceptable. Speak to your comfort levels.”
@tonirmorales Ibang usapan ang pinagsabay ha! #advice #realtalk #reality #moveon #breakup #rule #relationship #dating #relatable #foryou #fyp ♬ original sound – marielle
Do some dating rules make sense?
Like any rule, acceptable dating “guidelines” shouldn’t be restrictive. While I’m hardly a relationship expert, I’ve recently received a random influx of questions regarding the whens and hows of relationship milestones like swapping “I love yous,” bringing partners home to the parents and moving in together.
Each time, I’ve provided the same advice—that it was something for them and their partners to discuss, external factors notwithstanding. With every conversation, I wondered whether there were applicable standards to a loose dating bible.
So, naturally, I asked some friends what they thought. 27-year-old Ina, who is in a polyamorous relationship, shares, “I wouldn’t call these rules—maybe guidelines or principles. Things I live by. For example, knowing and sharing my dealbreakers is a must when getting to know someone. Why would I invest time in someone with opposing values? At the same time, another self-imposed rule I abide by is staying open-minded. Say these values are a little ambiguous. I won’t cut someone clean when I don’t fully understand where they’re coming from. That wouldn’t be fair.”
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Leaving rules behind and never looking back
We’ve established that the best dating rules are unique to your boundaries and preferences. If you firmly believe in the three-day rule, who’s to tell you not to abide by it?
Still, there are some rules we’d rather leave behind. Far behind. June shares, “Growing up in a Catholic environment, I grew up hearing these two dating mandates. I can’t call them rules—the word isn’t harsh enough. These were the law. One, I was advised never to date outside my religion. Two, I was encouraged to date only for marriage.
Dating outside your religion is more enriching than you’d think. I’m still Catholic, albeit not always in practice. A lot of my friends are agnostic. The girl I’m seeing is non-religious. But my Catholicism hasn’t disrupted our chemistry or how we relate.”
She further adds, “On the marriage aspect… first of all, I can’t legally marry a woman. Second, I can’t divorce a man. Especially in this country, marriage is restrictive. If I were to become annulled by a man and we had children together, what rights would those children have? Marriage isn’t so palatable to me anymore. If I want to be with someone for the rest of my life, and we aren’t married, who says our relationship isn’t legitimate?”
Another not-so-welcome rule has to do with age gaps. Maria shares, “Date older. I hear it all the time. I guess it makes sense. You’d like to date someone with their shit together. But I have dated older men who have a long way to go. And by long, I mean long. I’ve dated someone four years older than me whose dad required him to turn on his mobile location when we went on dates because he didn’t trust him. Talk about immature.”
As a serial dater of younger men, I can see how age gap rules are trivial. I’ve dated men two years younger than me. Most gaps felt non-existent. Others have felt blatant. Perhaps what matters isn’t age but life stage. Are you on the same page? Can you handle the same responsibilities? Are you willing to learn from one another? What really matters?
The bottom line
Overall, the dating scene has come a long way. We’re making the first moves. We’re dating regardless of age. We’re talking about whatever we want to talk about. We’re allowing ourselves to thrive in ways we see fit.
Dating is complex; it’s hardly black and white. When you date with freedom and intention, you’ll find your happy place.
Words Zoë Isabela Alcazaren
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver