Dating Rules That Keep You Unhappy and Alone


Find out why following popular dating advice may be bad for your love life.

"Don't text him back right away."

"Wait three days to call her."

"Hold off on sending a Facebook friend request."

"Don't let on that you're having too good a time."

"Be mysterious."

These are just a few examples of the dating advice you may be hearing from friends or family and reading about online or in magazines. The idea is to be cool or aloof after a first (or even second or third) date because it purportedly sends the message that you're not easy and are in high demand. Dating "rules" like these have been around for quite some time.

We've all seen the stereotypical "hard to get" woman and the "too cool" man portrayed in the media and attempted in real life situations too. The assumption is that if you appear to be a challenge for your date, he or she will be that much more interested in you, and is guaranteed to pursue you. We get the allure of the chase, and wanting to feel attractive and intriguing, but this scheme rarely works well, and here's why:

When you "play it cool," your date may get the message that you're: a) uninterested b) unavailable c) afraid of intimacy d) untrustworthy e) too much work! And maybe more. Worse yet, if you aren't convincingly aloof, you'll just come off as silly and inauthentic. Those are big turn-offs, and guarantee that your date will not be contacting you again.

Let's say that you choose to follow the dating rules that say you have to pull back and hide how you really feel and what you really want, and by some miracle, you two continue to date, and a relationship develops. What happens then? At what point will you start to be real and stop playing games? Or will you feel compelled to be cool for the long-term? You can see where this is going: When you're inauthentic at the beginning, you set yourself up for an inauthentic relationship devoid of intimacy and trust.

We understand the reasons why popular dating advice urges people to hold back. It's embarrassing to gush about how great you think your date is and how much you'd like this to turn into something long-lasting, and for that admission to overwhelm and scare the other person away. If you make the opposite mistake and come on too strong, you'll ruin a potentially great relationship before it can get started! As in many other areas of life, the secret is in finding the middle road. Avoid the seemingly "safe" urge to be aloof, but also be aware if you have a tendency to flood your date with intense emotions too soon. Remember these smart dating tips:

Be Clear

Know in advance what you're looking for in a date or in a potential partner. Stay open, but be clear within yourself about what kind of relationship you'd like (e.g. committed or casual) and act accordingly. You probably don't want to blurt out your grand plan for your love life on the first date, unless you two are already talking about it, but do think about what it is you really want. This will help you figure out whether or not you two are a match as you get to know one another.

Be Oriented in the Present

Don't get ahead of yourself — either when talking with your date or in your own mind. It's important to recognize that you're enjoying spending time with this man or woman and it's great to say that out loud too. Just keep your focus in the here and now. You can say, "I'm having a lot of fun with you tonight," instead of "I hope we get to have many, many more nights like this together!"

Be Brave

Instead of stalking your date's Facebook page to see if he's posted anything about you or the date you two just went on, find your courage and contact him personally. Rather than waiting to hear from her friend whether or not she had a good time with you last night, be brave and ask her yourself.

Dating isn't for the faint of heart. It requires you to set aside your fears of being rejected and to go for it if you'd like to date again and see where this goes. We're sorry to tell you that there are no fool-proof rules to follow when it comes to dating. Some situations call for being more open and forward, while in others it might be better to step back. Keep looking at the facts: What your date is literally saying to you, and how he or she is actually acting. Use this information to decide how often to text, call, email or message and what to say.

Above all else, be the real you. That's who you're best at being and that's who you want this person to fall in love with.

For more dating and relationship advice, visit Susie and Otto's Relationship Gold website where you can get their free ebook Passionate Spark~Lasting Love. It's all here:

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

More Dating Tips from YourTango: