Classic Dating Don’ts (that are actually Do’s)

There’s a lot of dating advice out there, and, like most things on the internet, most of it is really terrible. So much of it is focused on what YOU ARE DOING that is TOTALLY WRONG and how YOU MUST CONFORM TO THIS SINGLE STANDARD OF DATEABILITY or else you will DIE ALONE SURROUNDED BY CATS.

And I’m calling bullshit.

I’ve been on so many bad dates that I even wrote a column about the worst ones (shameless self-promotion!). We’re talking the stuff of nightmares. But you know what’s even worse than nightmare dates? Meh dates. Where nothing is really good or really bad, it’s just…meh.

That’s what this dastardly Single Standard of Dateability is trying to do to us: Turn the dating world into a world of meh. As if we didn’t have enough problems.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a meh-date world. So I think it’s time to shake up conventional dating wisdom with some actually awesome advice. Hello Alle proudly presents…

  • “Don’t be a weirdo.” There’s nothing worse–okay, maybe there are a couple of things worse–than going on a date with someone who is obviously putting forward their Job Interview Personality. You know the one: “I’d say my worst trait is that I’m TOO sexually giving.” Ugh, no. That is nobody’s worst trait. Your worst trait is that you let your dog kiss you on the mouth (which for the record, ew). While I’m not advocating bringing out every weird quirk in your arsenal on date one, you gotta BE YOURSELF, man. And if being yourself means occasionally high-fiving your date or giggling more than is usually appropriate, go for it! People who are put off by your weirdness aren’t less weird than you; they’re exactly as weird in a different way, but also judgy about it. I speak from experience when I tell you that you cannot say the wrong thing to the right person. Someone, somewhere thinks that your crush on Doctor Who is cute. I promise you that.
  • “Don’t put out on the first date.” Hetero girls, this one is mostly aimed at us: Cosmo wisdom tells us that if you bang a dude on date one, he will only think of you as a piece of ass, and then he will never marry you, and then you will be FOREVER ALOOOONE (sinks to the floor in a slow spiral). I say baloney to that! Sure, there are guys who will not respect you if you don’t provide the thrill of the chase to which they feel entitled. Those guys are assholes. You don’t want to date OR have sex with them on a regular basis. I’ve had sex on the first date and I’ve not had sex on the first date, and guess what? Whether or not I got into a relationship with the guy had NOTHING to do with when initial banging took place. Stuff like emotional compatibility, hilariousness and kindness are much, much more important than outdated sexual mores.
  • “Be a little late.” Apparently this is some kind of dating power-play, designed to show the other person that your life is sooo busy and sooo cool that you don’t even notice that you’re twenty minutes late! Ha ha! Appletinis for everyone! NO. That shit is rude as hell. All that it does is show your date that you don’t think their time is valuable. Even in the midst of your sooo busy sooo cool life, you can remember to send a text. “I’m so sorry, I’m running late!” is all it takes. Being considerate is never out of fashion.
  • “Keep topics neutral.” Look. Nobody wants to get into a fistfight about the intersection of race and class in America over appetisers with the person you just met on OKCupid. A lot of people will tell you not to talk about politics and religion too early in a dating relationship, but I disagree. First of all, big issues are big because there are a lot of threads that go into them, and you can learn an awful lot about the person sitting across the table by which thread they pull at. Secondly, if your date expresses views that are the exact opposite of yours, how do they handle that conflict? Can you have a civil discussion, or do they end up calling you names? Finally, if their views are so totally abhorrent to you, at least you know about it now and can nip the relationship in the bud. I can’t imagine anything worse than finding out six months down the line that my boyfriend thinks the Tea Party is just what America needs, can you?
  • “Always have an out.” Sorry everyone, the game’s up. That emergency phone call in the middle of a dinner that will never end? Everyone knows it’s not your mother/brother/grandfather in the hospital. It’s your best friend calling with a fake emergency so you can bail without hurting your date’s feelings. Except as I’ve mentioned, everyone knows about it, so you’re really just lying and you’re not even doing it well. Don’t be a bad liar. No matter how badly a date is going, stick it out. It’s two hours of your life and maybe you get a funny story out of it when it’s safely in your rear view mirror. It’s not like you have to do it again. Though if it’s going bad-scary, there’s always an exit through the kitchen, and that’s not an out, it’s an escape route. Smart people always have those.

And now I turn it over to you guys: What do you think about “Dating rules”? Are they there for a reason or there to be broken? Let me have it in the comments, or let’s get into it on twitter.

13 thoughts on “Classic Dating Don’ts (that are actually Do’s)

  1. My escape route during a date with a boring republican was saying “Sorry I have to be up early”, crashing a party in the city away with a very popular writer, because OBVS I didn’t have to be up early, and never speaking to him again. Worked like a charm!

  2. YES! Thank you ALLE. Right… *stretches fingers*

    First off… the no sex on the first date thing: if you go out with someone you sleep with them on the first date, guess who else put out on the first date! YOUR DATE. If that then means no relationship? Well… who wants to date a hypocrite?

    This is more a dating “do” that I think is a “don’t”…

    The whole wardrobe thing (particularly for girls). The idea that you have to really plan and think about and prepare your outfit… it leaves too much room for artifice. Sure, but some thought into what you’re going to wear, but don’t sweat it! Otherwise you lose yourself in the midst of what you look like. Dress as you would if you were meeting friends… because THAT’S YOU. And your date should get to know you. (But, perhaps, with a seductive edge.)

  3. I broke every single one of these rules and more once.

    Firstly, I am weird and after having tried to hide it for 20 years and then having an ex try to beat it out of me (which actually just brought it out more) I decided to wear my weirdo colours with pride. The only example I can think of just proves how uncool I am, not how weird I am, but it’s all I can think of;

    “I want to take you out somewhere special, where would you like to go?”
    “Subway!”

    Secondly, this date to Subway, then the movies, did end in my bed. That was fun.

    Thirdly, I was waiting outside the front door when he came to pick me up, ran to the car grinning. I don’t like to keep a nice man waiting. See ‘Secondly’ for reconfirmation.

    Fourthly, this particular man had some fairly ingrained religious beliefs, and I, at the time considered myself atheist. We discussed that at length. That too, was fun.

    Last point, I may have misled you, when I was dating I ALWAYS had an out. My out; “Are you having fun? No? Me neither. Better luck with the next girl!”

    I didn’t use that on the Subway dude, who is now also known as my husband.

    So don’t ever let anyone tell you that breaking rules doesn’t pay off.

    1. Just realised I remembered this completely wrong. Our first date was not even planned, we just went to the footy with some mutual friends and then to a pub where I grabbed his hand and according to me he kissed me. According to him I kissed him. We still ended the night in bed together but I don’t think we spoke much about religion that night.

      Subway was the second date.

        1. Especially sweet when you consider that what actually occurred is sex BEFORE the first date, but if there’s another way to jump in than with both feet, I don’t know it.

  4. My “escape route” has always been to just wind the date up and ask for the check. And pay it and leave. But that’s only in extreme circumstances. Otherwise, I can tolerate mild boredness for a few hours for the sake of humanity.

    And I like sharing my quirks — if you think sci fi novels are the lowest pulp fiction ever to be written — or you denigrate reading for fun, even? Done. You don’t have to be into the same things as I am, but you have to respect the differences. And YES to the “normal” conversation — the only thing I avoid is long or detailed discussions of past dating history.

    Be yourself!

  5. I LOVE this list! Thank you thank you for sharing and I’m so happy I found your blog! I met this girl at a bar the other night who was trying to tell me all these things I needed to change about myself to “get a man”. 2 things: 1) I’ve really never had a problem “getting a man” when I felt like I needed one (that night I didn’t) and 2) any guy worth my time is going to like that I dress like a hippie/don’t wear a lot of makeup/have traveled to exotic places. Being the same as everyone else is SO overrated!
    Great post!

    1. THANKYOU SO MUCH! I’m so glad you liked it.
      I really don’t understand people who take it upon themselves to tell you how you should change to “get a man.” You should never, ever change for anyone. You’re dead right, any man who is going to love you for YOU is going to be into your style and the cool stories you have from travelling. Always love who you are and where you’ve been, and ‘the right people’ will love it, too. Attitude is everything!

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