As a single woman who is about to turn 30, I’m not really in the position to be doling out dating advice because according to society’s standards, I’m unsuccessful in love since I haven’t locked down a partner for the long haul–nor do I have an official hashtag, like #FoxfieldsFineFiancé.
However, society also says people who faced failure, yet got up over and over again, are the ones who have all the trustworthy advice — or are just insane (See: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Dolly Parton). But as a single woman who is about to turn 30 and who has been around the block so many times that I should now be a certified cartographer, I’ve come across all of the dating urban legends that haunt our psyches.
While I think any sort of dating urban legend or rule is archaic, likely extremely sexist, and should be burned in a pile of sage to get rid of any residual bad ju-ju, here are five urban legends that continue to plague us and the truth behind them.
Urban Legend #1: If a guy really likes you, he’ll make time for you.
Reality: This is wrong. So wrong. Listen, when I have a huge deadline at work, planning my itinerary for a solo romp somewhere around the world or just doing things I enjoy in my own space, I’m probably not going to be able to make time for you, regardless of how much I like you. That’s just a reality of life. You can’t expect someone to drop their life or rearrange their entire schedule just to see you in order to prove that he really likes you. That’s bullshit. If someone truly likes you, he will do whatever he reasonably can to see you. If someone rearranges their life to satisfy your needs all the time, that’s not a relationship, it’s called co-dependency.
Urban Legend #2: Women should never make the first move.
Reality: Maybe I’m just more audacious than most, but I’ve never felt the need to wait around for a guy to make the first move. In fact, they called me “Reject Girl” in sixth grade, which proves that I gave zero fucks about putting my pre-teen hormones on display and that kids are mean. Anyway, if I like a guy, I’m going to ask him out. If it weirds him out, then I really don’t want to date someone who is so easily emasculated or cares so much about their precious, man-baby ego. I mean, I basically just did the work for you, so don’t be ungrateful.
Urban Legend #3: When a guy doesn’t respond to your text/email/phone call/smoke signal right away, it means that he just wants you to go away because you’re creeping him out.
Reality: Ok, I’ll admit I recently had a freakout moment when the guy I was dating didn’t respond to my text for a full 48 hours. By the way, this text I sent him was pure gold — full of flirty jokes and wit. I went so far as to dramatically tell my best friend, “If he doesn’t respond by tomorrow, he’s dead to me.” I’m propounded by shame just by re-typing that.
The truth is, people are busy. People have their own lives and that’s important. In the past, I’ve dated really, really needy men who would constantly get pissed at me for not responding to their texts quickly enough. I hated that. So rather than take it as an immediate sign of rejection that you didn’t get a response right away, reframe your thoughts to think, “I’m glad I’m not the center of his universe and that he has his own life going on.” If there’s any type of relationship potential, it cannot be built off of worry, codependency, and the stress of timelines you can’t control.
Plus, think back on your own life and you’ll probably recall several instances when you forgot to respond to even your best friend’s text because something came up or you’re just my best friend, Jess, who is the shadiest texter ever (LOVE YOU, JESS!).
Urban Legend #4: If a guy doesn’t pay for the first three dates, he’s broke and he’s what TLC is singing about in “No Scrubs.”
Reality: Ok, maybe this is sexist of me to say, but I DO think that men should pay for the first date, unless it was so awful that you insist on going dutch so there is no confusion that there won’t be a second date. However, after the first date, I think it’s fair game. It would be nice to be treated all the time, so I can save my money to pay for my travels or those sick pair of boots that look exactly like the other three I already have, but ultimately, I’m looking for a partnership, not a one-sided courtship. So the way I see it, going dutch after the first date is a way of putting your fists together in a huddle and saying, “We’re in this together!”
If Captain Planet appears after that, even better.
Just kidding, Captain Planet, we’re not looking for a threesome here.
Urban Legend #5: Don’t ever show feelings until you know for sure that the other person likes you back.
Reality: What are you, a robot? I will forever not understand why people are congratulated or admired for holding out on their feelings. Like, “Good job for denying the existence of a genuine human connection!” That makes no sense to me. Sure, you don’t want to appear overeager because desperation is not cute, but you don’t wait to be stoic either. Things should flow naturally. You’ll know when someone likes you – it’s very obvious. So even if they don’t say it first, you can go ahead and just say, “I like you.” It’s really easy. You should try it. Your whole face will light up when you do and real happiness is pretty damn sexy.
Bottom line: Dating games are fucking stupid. Yes, we all have an intense fear of getting hurt, but it may be worse to close yourself off to love by believing arbitrary and outdated urban legends. As clichéd as this sounds, there are no rules to love. You just need to go with what you’re feeling and not be afraid to take a risk. The most exciting feeling is the anticipation of seeing whether that risk paid off. Some may call this butterflies, some may call this nausea. Just be genuine and be yourself and the right person will eventually show up and high-five you for being open.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself to avoid future meltdowns.