Break the Dating Rules—And Win!

Break the Dating Rules—And Win!

Break the Dating Rules—And Win!

One author finds that listening to herself—instead of the dating rules—pays off.

Having been thoroughly indoctrinated by those girl-power dating books—The Rules, He's Just Not That Into You, and, most recently, The List—I am fairly cutthroat about dating lulls. You know: you go out with someone a couple of times and then … nothing. Sometimes it's eternal—you never hear from him again. Sometimes it's the more intense pain of a short-term silence, which finds you incessantly checking your voicemail, your email, your text messages. Girl-power daters have been taught to give such situations not so much as a backward glance. Move on with your head high, and someone better will come along. In fact, here comes someone now.

In theory, this works quite well. I definitely want a relationship in which I know for certain that he's digging me. I don't want to be a pathetic man-chaser. I have dignity. But late last year I experienced a crisis of faith—in the rules, that is.

I'd gone on a Sunday-afternoon first date. We had lunch, did a little shopping, and walked my dog. He chivalrously carried my Christmas tree home from the store, even though he had a pretty bad cold. In short, it was a success. We hugged goodbye.

The next day, he sent an email thanking me for a great time. (Oh my! Could I have stumbled onto a List guy?) I reciprocated, going so far as to say our date was "wonderful," because by then I was feeling slightly guilty for letting him schlep my tree home when he could barely breathe. So far, so good. I assumed we'd go out again, probably the next weekend.

Then it happened: nothing.

Four days of nothing. I was baffled. And because we'd met online, I had no way to check out what his story might be. Should I figure that he'd met someone else? That I'd misread his initial enthusiasm? That he'd died of pneumonia? I could have gone on like this for days. (And sometimes have.)

I asked a few friends what they do in this kind of situation, and got these responses:
• "I do something that makes me feel great about myself—get a facial, climb a mountain, talk to my best friend, buy a hot dress."
• "I go out with other guys. It reminds me there are other fish in the sea."
• "I focus more on whether I like the guy or not, versus whether the guy likes me or not. When I was younger, I spent so much time wondering if the guy was interested that I never really put much thought into whether he was a good match for me. Nowadays, I am a much better reader of whether we're a good fit, so I spend a lot less time wondering if he is going to call."
• "I call my ex-fiancé and meet him for a drink. It makes me feel attractive again and I'm out of the house."

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