For me, the concept of dating rules began with the movie “Clueless.” I’m not sure why – maybe it was naivete combined with a desperate desire to be Cher Horowitz – but I took her logic as straight up fact when she said, “Christian said he’d call the next day, but in boy time, that meant Thursday.”
The concept itself is almost laughable – “boy time” – as though men and women operate in different time zones. And yet, this idea came stayed with us, throughout the next couple of decades, right into our current dating culture. I would be lying if I said I never applied the “Cher Horowitz Algorithm” to my own life. It made me feel better when I hadn’t heard from a boy yet, and it helped me feel pleasantly surprised when I heard from him sooner than anticipated.
At some point though, I started to question these rules. There are so many of them, and they all boil down to these two terrible, horrible, no good, very bad labels that we desperately want to avoid. Girls don’t want to be perceived as “crazy” and guys don’t want to be seen as “creepy.” We try to achieve these goals by feigning coolness and apathy.
Basically, we are terrified to show too much interest too soon.
This generic golden rule is dotted with other guidelines — girls shouldn’t text first or make the first move, guys should provide lots of wait time between texts, the guy always pays, and — Charlotte York’s favorite — girls definitely shouldn’t sleep with the guy on the first date.
Sorry, but isn’t this kind of exhausting?
Just the other day, a friend of mine wondered if her date from last night would really “text her tomorrow” as he promised he would. When I casually suggested that she text him first, her face contorted like she needed an exorcism – it was as if I had advised her to propose marriage.
Maybe it’s another form of naievete, but it just seems so simple – if you like someone, and he likes you, and you are both interested in seeing one another, why waste time with all that shoulder-shrugging? Also – isn’t it possible that he is just as scared as you are? Life is short and weird and unpredictable – if you are lucky enough to find someone who gives you butterflies, why not seize that feeling and take a chance?
The answer, of course, is people are afraid of getting hurt. To that, I say — and I know it’s harsh — tough sh*t.
There is no reward without risk. The very act of falling in love with someone is painful in and of itself — you are literally handing your heart to another human with the very clear knowledge that this person could break it in half and completely ruin you. But you do it anyway. You do it for all of the beautiful and amazing things that come with love – the lazy mornings in bed, the mistakes you’ll make together, the pieces of yourself that you’ll discover along the way. You cannot fall in love without the painful knowledge that you very well may lose this person. To love someone is to make a bargain with time – but it’s a bargain worth making.
Most love stories begin quite simply. A smile, a wave, a hello, a text message. If you’re waiting for him, and he’s waiting for you, you’ll both be waiting forever.
More importantly — if the rules haven’t helped you yet, perhaps it’s time to trash them entirely. Choose risk instead.