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How To Make Your Own Dating Rules

Whether you’re meeting new people through a dating app where you swipe or answer a dozen questions on a survey, Internet dating is the new norm. While there are plenty of success stories from online dating, there are as many heartaches and difficulties. Along with it has come a slew of dating rules it seems everyone must follow. These include dos and don’ts, plus individual expectations on how we should all act.

Socially Defined Dating Rules

I’ve dated some guys where, by standard definitions, we took it slowly.  We went on several dates before getting physical, having certain conversations, or hitting certain milestones. 

I use the word “milestones” because I think that’s what dating has become nowadays. You have to be physical by the third date, meet friends by a certain time, or have the “talk” by date number whatever. If, for some reason, you don’t meet the milestones, then you’ve friend-zoned the guy, or it just won’t work out.

What are these dating rules based on? Where is the relationship guide that details what we’re supposed to do and when? Why is my timeline with one guy determined by what EVERYONE ELSE does with OTHER guys? 

Your progression in dating should not be determined by some social average that online dating has produced.  Any progress should be dictated by how it’s going with that person, the milestones you set for yourselves, and the discussions between the two of you about what you both want or are looking for. 


You Are The Sum Total of Your Experiences

Each experience teaches you something different about yourself, and with each relationship or date, you bring those life lessons with you. 

There have been some dates where I’ve been completely open and others where I’ve been much more guarded. It’s nothing against the person; it’s due to the experience I’ve just had or the realizations I may have made about what I want. 

As a result, your approach to each person, and each date, may be different. Your rules about dating may change and may conflict with the general dating expectations others have.

How Can We Avoid Getting Bogged Down by These Dating Rules? 

Drown Out the Noise

First, stop telling everyone what you’re doing on the dating scene.  Checking with friends and asking for dating advice is normal, and I encourage it. However, that’s all it is: ADVICE. Take what someone says seriously, but at the end of the day, trust your gut and do what you think is right for you. 

In other words, if you’re on the third date and things are going well, but you aren’t ready to get physical, then do NOT do it.  Go with your own flow and do what feels right for you and for that person. 

The dating rule you should pay attention to is to follow your own path of comfort with that person.

Throw Socially Defined Dating Rules Out The Window

Regarding people you have developed real feelings for, dating rules don’t apply anyway. Hollywood may have ruined our expectations of a romantic relationship; however, it has also shown us that what you ultimately say or do doesn’t matter…when someone actually likes you.

What am I referring to? Check out the movies “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Ugly Truth.” In both, men are mansplaining to women what to do to get a guy or how to interpret guy behavior. The female leads believe these male characters because they think they’re getting insider information. At the end of the day, though, the male leads fall for the females DESPITE the fact that those females didn’t follow the dating rules around them.

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter what those women did or said. True feelings happened anyway, and dating rules go out the window when true feelings hit you.

Be Yourself

You have to do you and be you. Otherwise, you won’t really know the person you’re with, nor will they get to know who you are. Real feelings come from genuine behavior and honest conversation.

All these comments about “not catching feelings” and “playing it cool”… what’s the point of dating if you don’t want to catch feelings? Isn’t the whole idea to find someone you click with and hope it turns into something real?

Aren’t we all looking for something real? So then, why is there a rule to play it cool?

Don’t Play Games

Please. Stop. With. The. Games. I can’t even emphasize how short life is and how we must start being honest with the people we meet.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari explains how modern online dating has prevented us from being honest with each other. We portray ourselves in our profiles based on what we think people want, say what we think needs to be said, and don’t call/text when we want, and instead follow some unspoken dating rule on waiting so many days before reaching out.


None of it makes sense. You cannot play games if you want to get to know someone. When you play games, you’re perpetuating an image and persona that isn’t true.

People get sucked into doing the games because they think it’ll help get and retain interest. But someone who needs to play games to stay interested in you will also lose interest very quickly. Whatever interest is there isn’t real when games are being played.

Be Honest About What You’re Looking For

Maybe you want to play games; maybe you want to date multiple people at once; maybe you do want something casual–that’s fine. Just be honest about it. If you do want a serious relationship, then say so. Be honest with yourself and the people you meet. The sooner you do this, the quicker you’ll weed out the people who aren’t right for you or aren’t looking for the same thing.

I often see heartache and have experienced it myself because everyone is on a different page. When you start saying out loud what you want, it’ll make following societal dating rules harder and irrelevant because you aren’t just dating; you’re actively looking for something.

Make Your Own Dating Rules

Dating is a dynamic process.  Sometimes it’s fun; sometimes, it sucks; sometimes, it’s boring.  As you grow and gain experience, you will learn things that make you change what you’re looking for or willing to deal with.

I’m not saying that you should go out and act crazy when you first meet someone. Be your normal and calm self, with standards…the point is to pay less attention to the societal norm for progressing in a relationship. For instance, if you’re making it through a couple of dates and the third is looming, you are not required to sleep with that person if you don’t want to.

Instead, make your own dating rules. Do what feels right for you and the person you’re dating. Have faith in your instincts, be honest and open about what you want and walk away from anyone who’s not reciprocating your efforts. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth about your feelings and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

In Summary

Whatever you decide you want or will tolerate, those are your dating rules. Stick to them because they are YOURS. Ultimately you have to be happy with the steps you take and the decisions you make. What society does or what your friends do, doesn’t apply because they aren’t with the same person; they aren’t you and aren’t in your current relationship. 

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