8 Easy Ways To Unf*ck The MESS That Is Modern Dating

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dating rules

Modern dating is f*cked. Completely, totally, and utterly f*cked. It seems nobody knows what the actual hell they are doing or how to be decent about it. It’s time to unf*ck it.

I have some ideas about how, which I have conveniently outlined in a bulleted list. You can work them in order like you’re aiming for your 30-day chip or do them in order of ease, or hell, do them all at once like some kind of orgy of decency. I don’t care how you do them; just do them.

These ideas aren’t revolutionary and yet, if you’ve dated in the last five years or so, people behaving this way would have been pretty damn revolutionary. This list of dating rules won’t solve everything and it's not a comprehensive list, but it's a good jumping-off point — like a Sermon on the Mount for those of us who are trying to make our kingdoms come on the regular. Let’s begin.

1. Know what you want.

Sounds simple, but I bet if you asked a bunch of people who are actively dating what it is they want in a life partner, most would look back at you with a mix of confusion and mistrust. I don’t care what it is you want but you better know what it is.

2. Be honest.

That’s it. Be honest. With every person, every time. If all you want is to get laid, say that before you get laid. There are plenty of people out there who also just want to get laid. You will find them if you tell the truth, and you will simultaneously do this magical thing called not lying to people so they will have sex with you.

If you want a boy/girl/non-binary person-friend but not something serious and long-term, say that before you pair off with someone whose life plan includes marriage and kids in the next five years. If you want to date lots of people casually or not casually or for the rest of your life, say so. If your life plan includes marriage and kids in the next five years, SAY SO.

Give people all the information so they can decide if they want to get caught up in the particular web you are weaving before they find themselves already caught and feeling misled because, dammit, they thought you were talking about the movie Black Widow and not your dating MO. This will also help prevent one person from pressuring the other to change their life plan because their feelings have made breaking up pretty painful to consider. (Unless someone changes what they want. Which happens. Because f*ck all of us.)

3. Accept others’ truth.

When people tell you what is true, listen hard and — here’s the important part — believe them. “Hey, I think you’re sexy and cool but you’ve got a kid and I’m not a kid person” should be the point at which you say, “Well, I’ve got a kid, so I’m not a 'you' person, good luck to you,” and not the point at which you determine to make them fall in love with your kid so they can fall in love with you.

Now, substitute the kid thing for any other true-but-kind-of-a-dealbreaker statement. Don’t tell yourself a story about why it’s OK. It’s not OK. Move on.

4. If you like someone, act like it.

News flash: If someone you’re dating has to wonder if you are into them, you’re doing it wrong. (And they should drop your ass.) Don’t be coy. Don’t play power games. If you like them, show it. Don’t make them guess. I don’t know why this is even a thing that people do, but it is literally the worst way to go about obtaining all the things we are trying to get by dating. Stop it.

5. Take no for an answer and stop bitching about the friendzone.

No means no. Period. It’s not the start of a negotiation or a signal for you to implement a long-term plan to change that no to a yes. No means no. And while we’re at it, stop it with the friendzone sh*t.

The friendzone is not a thing anywhere but in the minds of people who think that their boner/ladyboner is more important than another person’s disinterest. If someone doesn’t want to date you but does want to be your friend, that is not a loss. Bitching about it makes you an assh*le. Don’t be an assh*le.

6. Break up like a f*cking adult.

Unless someone you are involved with is abusive or unhinged, disappearing on them is mean, cowardly, and also super-sh*tty. Contrary to popular belief, your phone’s algorithm will allow you to actually contact a person to let them know you no longer wish to date them. Yes, really. Check Snopes.

So, if you can spend weeks or months sliding into their DMs or sliding into their jeans, you can figure out how to use one of the 42 communication functions on your phone to let them know that it ain’t gonna be happening again.

7. Figure out your sh*t.

Self-awareness is a beautiful thing. Getting some will help you be a human good being and help minimize the damage you do to other people. Win-win. Get thee to a therapist, stat.

8. Treat people like...I don’t know, people?

Nobody is here for your entertainment and pleasure. They are actual humans with feelings and thoughts and entire lives outside of you. Treat them as such. This goes for online interactions, too.

While it’s true that Tinder feels a lot like a fun video game on your phone, save for the spambots, there are actual people on the other end of it. Consider that before you send the sort of message you’d be horrified for someone to forward to your mom. (Because some of us will do that if you cross enough lines.) Be kind. Be respectful. Talk about human things instead of whipping your dick (or tits) out as an opener.