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Rules of Dating: The Unspoken Guidelines that Create the Best Dates

Dating is a weird yet wonderful experience. But if you don’t know the rules of dating, how can you be sure that you’re heading for success?

rules of dating

The rules of dating are a little ‘love it or hate it.’ Few people actually sit on the fence on this one. Most either find dating thrilling and exciting or dread it and find the whole thing dramatic and confusing. 

What’s your take on it?

Personally, I detest dating. That might sound a little harsh, but while I like the first meeting side of it, anything after that I just find to be completely confusing and full of mind games that I have no time to play. Play hard to get, don’t play hard to get, wait three days before replying, there are so many rumors on what you should do, it’s just downright mind-fuddling!

[Read: Banish these hugely false dating ideas from your mind!]

I often wish it was possible to meet someone, decide you like them, skip the confusing part and jump straight to the part where you know where you stand and everything is great. However, I totally appreciate that some people enjoy dating. In fact they actively go out there and participate. If that’s your take, good for you. You’re obviously more patient than I am!

Admittedly, dating can be fun if you’re not too emotionally invested. That’s probably where I’ve always gone wrong. However, there has to be rules of dating in some ways, otherwise everyone would offend everyone and cause chaos. But, what are they? And, how seriously do we need to take them?

[Read: How to be better at dating and enjoy every step along the way]

What are your rules of dating?

It really comes down to common decency and being honest with one another. Far too many people assume the rules of dating means playing games and making the whole situation ten times more confusing than it really needs to be. 

When you break dating down to its most basic level, surely it’s just getting to know someone and deciding whether you would like to take things further or not? The dating part isn’t supposed to be serious or committed, it’s meant to be fun and flirtatious. That’s the part I like. When it turns into game playing central, I’m out.

Perhaps that’s one of the biggest rules of dating, or at least it should be – no playing games.

[Read: Are you sabotaging your own happiness? 12 ways you could be ruining your life]

Do you have your own personal rules of dating? Maybe you refuse to call first, maybe you wait an hour before replying to a text, maybe you never kiss on the first date, or you avoid being intimate for the first three or four dates. It’s personal on so many levels. Maybe everyone has their own set of dating rules they abide by to keep themselves sane!

The best rule to have is to not take it too seriously and to go into the date with an open mind. Don’t be clingy or assume that you’ve met ‘the one.’ Just have fun. That’s the best way to approach dating, don’t you agree?

[Read: How to know if online dating is the right speed for you]

dating etiquette

Why do we even need rules for dating?

Why do we even need rules of dating in the first place? Surely something that’s meant to be fun should be rule-free?

Well, they’re not actual rules. They’re more like unspoken guidelines that ensure decency and respect for the other person. It’s about being a good person and not wasting the other person’s time for the sake of it.

When you don’t have these rules, or at least guidelines, how are you supposed to know whether the person you’re going on a date with is actually decent or not? It’s how we measure whether or not a date went well, or whether the person you’re loosely dating is actually worth the long-haul or not. [Read: 15 signs they’re not interested in a second date and you’re wasting time]

For instance, if you go on several dates with someone and they’re always on their phone, you’re probably going to deduce they’re not the most suitable candidate for further dates. However, if we didn’t have these unspoken rules of dating in place, you might overlook it and continue to waste your time. 

Put simply, rules of dating might not be set in stone, but they give us a point of reference. In the confusing world of dating, that’s pretty important!

[Read: What does dating mean? All the things you should understand about what it is]

The 10 unspoken dating rules and dating etiquette everyone must follow

#1 Always be on time. Ah, this is a big one! If your date is always late, it’s disrespectful and not the best start. It’s normal to run late once and apologize for it. But if you’re dating someone and they’re always late or always coming up with excuses about the traffic and other creative explanations, it’s probably time to just put this one down to experience and move on. It’s not a cute quirk, it’s annoying. 

#2 Put your phone away. Always be present in the moment. If you’re on a date and you’re on your phone constantly or you’re regularly checking it, you’re not paying attention to the person you’re with. 

Flip this around and consider how you would feel if the moment your date sat down, they took their phone out and put it beside them, checking their social media notifications every five seconds. You’d be annoyed, right?

Again, it’s down to respect. If they don’t find your company more absorbing than their phone, it’s never going to work. One of the biggest rules of dating is to keep your phone in your pocket until the date is over. [Read: Texting etiquette and 20 unwritten rules of flirty texts]

dating rules

#3 Don’t have an agenda. Don’t go into a date with a specific aim. Dating is supposed to be fun, and it’s not going to free and easy if you have a final aim. It just puts pressure on the whole thing and neither of you are going to enjoy yourselves. 

Don’t go into a date expecting sex, and don’t go into a date expecting it to be the start of some grand love affair or the first step towards marriage. Just go into it hoping to have a great time and see where it goes from there. [Read: 18 signs your dare really likes you on your first date]

#4 Give them a chance. How many times have you heard “never judge a book by its cover?” This is a prime example. If this person isn’t your normal “type,” forget that and just give them a chance. If you’ve heard something about this person and you’re not sure what to think about it, again, give them a chance. 

Also remember that some people find dating very nerve-wracking. Overlook a few nerves and allow them feel comfortable enough to allow their true self to shine through. Just give them a chance! [Read: How to find love and learn to be open to what life has to offer]

#5 Go somewhere you can talk. The single worst place you can choose for a date is a noisy environment where you can’t hear yourselves think, let alone talk. That means nightclubs and loud bars are a huge no-no. If you’re going to see a band, make sure there is plenty of time before and after for chatting. Consider meeting up beforehand for drinks, so you can fit in a little pre-gig chatting. 

One of the biggest rules of dating is that you actually have time to sit down and talk. That’s how you get to know one another! [Read: Top 50 amazing first date ideas to wow your date]

#6 Don’t splash your date all over social media. Please don’t share with your followers that you’re about to go on a date and then update them afterwards. If you really want to share the deets, do so with your closest friends on your WhatsApp group, not all over Instagram and Facebook! 

#7 If you don’t want what they want, tell them so. It’s vital that when you’re dating, you’re upfront and honest with whoever you’re seeing about what you want. This doesn’t mean sitting down on date one and telling them that you’re never going to get married or you’ve decided that having children just isn’t for you. 

However, it does mean letting them know if you’re really not up for a relationship right now, or you’re only looking for flirty fun. Don’t waste someone’s time by making them think that you’re ready for a relationship when it’s not even on your radar.  [Read: 16 biggest signs you’re just not ready for a serious relationship yet]

dating guidelines

#8 Don’t talk about exes. The worst thing you can do on a date is sit down and talk about your ex and why you split, or what was wrong with them. It’s even worse to sit down and talk about what was so right about your ex!

Basically, let it go. It’s in the past and that’s where it needs to stay. Your date doesn’t need to hear about it. It makes you look like you’re not over it, and you would no doubt hate it if they did the same. Out of all the rules of dating, please stick to this one!

#9 If you’re going to get physical, always be safe. If you decide to take things to an intimate level, always be safe. You’re not in a committed relationship. You’ve not been checked out and you might be seeing other people at the same time. That means the two of you are potentially putting the other one at risk. Just be safe, it’s not hard to do! [Read: How to have safe sex in every single way possible]

#10 Forget tradition but don’t be tight. Forget the “who should pay” deal and simply go with the flow. This is something which causes all manner of anxiety, but there’s really no need. There are no rules here – the guy doesn’t have to pay, the person who suggested the date doesn’t have to pay, you don’t have to go halves.

You just do whatever feels comfortable on the day. It’s nice to offer to go halves, but if you want to pay, go for it. If they want to pay and you’re fine with it, let them.

[Read: 10 unfair but relevant dating rules we all have to live by

These rules of dating basically come down to dating etiquette. Perhaps that’s all these rules are – guidelines that we should probably think about following if we just want to be decent. And of course, have a really good date!

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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