When you first start dating, there’s always going to be someone—whether it’s your besties or some self-help book that gives you a laundry list of rules to follow, so as not to appear thirsty, loose or needy. These rules range from waiting exactly three days before you call or text to always letting the guy pay on the first date. But the great thing about rules, even the more silly and restrictive ones, is that they can be broken or, at the very least, challenged.
It’s 2018! No longer do women have to abide by certain rules when they know what and who they want. Dating should be fun, but most importantly, it should be about finding out what you, and only you, want in another person and in a relationship. That’s why we’re here to tell you it’s okay to call BS on these so-called “dating rules.” While you’re getting to know bae, here are five old-fashioned rules that you should gladly say buh-bye to this year.
1. Following the Three-Date Rule
Back in the days, women were encouraged to wait exactly three dates before making the first move. But seriously, with the ability to contact bae whenever you want, why wait for a text or for your crush to ask you out? Trust us, depending on your approach, you won’t look thirsty if you slide into their DMs or initiate plans for a date. As long as you’re responsible, mature and emotionally ready, it doesn’t matter whether you take things to the next level on the first, second or third date. If bae can’t handle the fact that you’re a strong and confident woman, why would you want to waste anymore time than you already have?
Speaking of the magic number three, it’s time to let go of the idea that you should wait three days after the first date before sending a text or DM. Nowadays, if people don’t hear from you after three days, they assume you’re ghosting them and move on.
According to Eboni Harris, relationship therapist, co-founder of Melanin and Mental Health and host of Room for Relations podcast, this rule was easier to follow when we only had phones to call our potential love interests. These days, after hanging out with that special someone, it’s possible they’ll be sending you funny GIFs or texts before the night is over.
2. Actually Going Out on a Date
Who says you have to eat dinner at a restaurant or go to a movie theater for it to be considered an official date?
“In a world of Netflix and chill or just hanging out, it can difficult to know what a date actually looks like [today],” Harris tells ESSENCE. “Labels seem to be a thing of the past for some, whereas letting things flow seems more appealing. Plenty of relationships, and even marriages, have spawned from friends with benefits situations or the undefined ‘hanging out.'”
3. Saying No to Last-Minute Dates
Harris remembers a time where it was socially acceptable to not accept a date after Wednesday. Yep, you read that correctly. It was actually a good thing if you only spent time with your love interest only on Monday through Wednesday.
“[There was] something about being desperate or appearing to have a busy social calendar,” Harris recalls. “Regardless of the reason, though, this rule does not hold true today. With everyone being so connected and sharing information via social media, your boo could see you snap that you are bored and invite you to hang out right then and there. It’s also not odd to get a text at midnight inviting you to come to a party that is too lit to be missed.”
4. Allowing Bae to Pay for the First Date
“In the past, it has been clear who pays on a first date—the man,” Harris says. “As gender roles and norms become more fluid, it is no longer safe to assume bae will pick up the bill. Even with the ever-changing rules, the check is often still the most awkward part of the date.”
5. Not Kissing on the First Date
Even on the first date, it’s important to know whether you have a chemistry with someone. And usually that first kiss will reveal whether or not you have sparks with bae. Sure, intellectual conversation, a great sense of humor and flattery will go a long way in getting to know someone. But if having a strong physical connection is of importance to you, there’s nothing wrong with leaning in for a kiss, as long as you both consent. And that also applies to sex.
“Our parents weren’t necessarily waiting for marriage, but there were these unspoken rules of what you do sexually when dating versus what you do once you are married,” Harris suggests. “As more and more women are getting comfortable with their own sexuality, they’re no longer leaving it up to chance.”