Dating rules

Dating game. Just that word combination is enough to send shivers down any single person’s spine. It can be like a real-life version of The Bachelorette and the Hunger Games combined. In my opinion, it is pretty savage out there, and the biggest reason why I have aged quicker than I care to admit.

Being single is one of the most difficult things to navigate for anyone. We finger point and blame the opposite sex, and they do the same. Men will say women are aloof and hard to work out. Women will say that men are commitment-phobic with checklists for the perfect woman that is as attainable as getting your liquid eyeliner to match perfectly. If you are like me, you have a tendency to go through spells of meeting every type of bad guy that could possibly exist followed by periods of being as barren as the Sahara Desert.

I have tried everything. Online and all applications conveniently located a finger swipe away. Going out and trying every trick and hair flick in the dating book that I know. Guess what? I am still single. Although I am empowered by my relationship status and your fellow single people out there should be too but I get it, you get tired. Tired of the games, disappointments, the guys that never call, and getting ghosted. We follow the rules, and we still end up sitting on our lounge after another horrible dating experience wondering what the hell is wrong with us?

After spending so much time being single and just like you going through so many of the horrible parts that come with it, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with me. I blame the rules of dating. It is time to tell you some of the reasons why you need to stop following the rules and in fact, throw out the rule book altogether.

Dating rules do not guarantee a relationship

There are so many rules that exist for women in the dating world. It makes us feel like we can’t step a pedicured toe out of line because if we do a guy won’t want to date us. Ever had an internal debate with yourself about sending the first text message? You send it, throw the phone onto the bed like it’s a new strain of the Ebola virus, and stare at it in anticipation of the slightest noise or vibration. You broke the rule of not messaging first. Has it ruined your life by doing it? Absolutely not.

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Here is the thing about the so-called rules of dating. When did the rules equal finding love? One of my friends told me recently that she slept with her now-husband on the first date. Not everyone’s glass of wine I know but she is adamant to this day that if she followed the so-called rule about not having sex on the first date, chances are it would have fizzled. She didn’t follow the rules.

In fact, most relationships happen naturally and the rules didn’t even factor in. There won’t be any of the “wait two days to call,” “don’t text them first,” “let them chase you,” or any other rule that belongs in a museum of terrible dating advice. The right guy will like you not because of any rule but because you are amazing. Following dating, rules do not guarantee a relationship. The only thing that guarantees a relationship is finding someone who won’t treat you like a game in the first place.

Feelings and rules are not compatible

Honestly, feelings are as complicated as dating rules and are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Feelings vs dating rules are what you should do vs what you want to do. Meeting a guy cannot be broken down into a set of instructions to follow. You aren’t asking IKEA to send you a flat pack man and build him blindfolded, you are trying to get to know a real person.

Dating isn’t based on rules but feelings. Those pesky feelings have the ability to sneak up on you at the most inconsiderate time. I should know as I have been there. I have spent most of my adult life trying to play this dating game and follow what I thought were some pretty concrete rules on how to do it right. There isn’t a right way or wrong way, but there is your way, and I don’t think there is anything else you can do but to follow your heart. Dating with rules is much like any woman being unsupervised in a shopping center because it will mostly end in disaster. At least with shopping, you know that retail therapy will give you a kick-ass outfit in exchange for the contents of your bank account.

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One rule to rule them all?

There is one rule that you should follow, and that is don’t text your crush drunk. Actually, that isn’t a rule but a rite of passage. The one rule to rule them all though? Don’t play by the rules. Be fearless and ignore everything that you think you should do. Following the rules for dating won’t give you answers as to why a guy disappeared off the face of the earth.

Do yourself a favor and just do whatever you want to do. If you like someone, tell them. If you want to ask someone out, do it. Love isn’t about following the rules, it is about following your heart. Dating doesn’t need to be complicated where you question every decision like this could be the make or break. Girls if you order a third beer, this isn’t going to be the reason why he doesn’t call you again. Remember that sometimes people just don’t call. There isn’t any fault that lies with you here, it is just what happens. Much like waking up with a pimple after finally taking your makeup off before bed. It just happens!

All of those things that we are told we should do so that we don’t scare them away need to be forgotten like some of the 90’s fashion. Men should be terrified because of how beautiful, strong, and confident you are, and honestly if they run for the hills that means they aren’t enough of a man for you anyway so let them run. Get the rule book and throw it in the bin along with your mascara that needed replacing about three months ago.

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Take Control

You can feel like you have little control over what is going to happen. When in fact, it is you who has control. Dating rules are set. But they are not concrete. You do not have to follow them. In fact, I encourage you not to. Think about all of the great things that have happened when you let go of what you should be doing and just did what made you happy. Chances are you had so much fun you wondered why you actually cared about the rules. Dating is just like this. There are no rules for matters of the heart because you cannot control who you like and love. Love isn’t meant for following what everyone else tells you to do. It is meant to be what you are feeling and whoever you feel it for.

Life as a single person is hard enough. But it can also be the best time of your life if you just stop playing the game and start taking control. Make your single experience whatever you want it to be and take it one bad date at a time. Call the guy if you want to. Ask him out for a drink. Tell him how you feel. Break the rules. Start today. The rules won’t be there to make you feel better when you have another dating disaster. But remember after every knockback, you are one step closer to getting the love that you deserve.

So do yourself a favor and get rid of all the rules. Stop listening to them and those that tell you how to live. Besides, when was the last time you listened to anyone who told you that you shouldn’t wear black every day? Exactly.

Ashleigh is a writer, blogger, poet and completely knee-deep in the dating world. She likes to talk about love and relationships because those who can't do, write about it from the comfort of their own home whilst wondering if peanut butter and wine are a nutritious dinner.

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