Confessions of a Social Butterfly
I love to date. Let’s just put it out there. I think dating is fun. Meeting new people, going to cool places, boosting each others’ egos… what’s not to like?
Back when I was in college, in the Stone Ages, I had an active social life. I had at least 3 dates most weeks and my calendar was booked a month in advance.
Fast forward a decade. I’m older, not necessarily wiser, and I’m in graduate school. The dating scene has changed. I can’t just go to a frat party and pick up a guy because the undergrads are way too young for me. Heck, even the men in my classes are too young — I worked for a few years before going back to school.
So it’s making it harder for me to date. I complain to a friend. She suggests something called “The Rules”. I pick it up. I read it. I throw it in the trash.
What rubbed me the wrong way about “The Rules”
The book struck me as being manipulative and formulaic. I’m an independent person who thinks dating should be more organic. Where’s the fun in checking off a laundry list or being constrained?
If I want to call a guy, I will. When I was an undergrad, it worked. Sometimes boundaries got blurred — a friend would morph into more, or romantic possibilities transformed into good friends.
Plus the rules about when to have sex seem antiquated.
I grew up in a traditional Indian family, so I’m conservative when it comes to the physical stuff. As an undergrad, I was waiting for marriage.
However, that doesn’t mean I approve of slut shaming. If a woman wants to have sex on a first date, or a series of one night stands — why is that anyone else’s business? She should be responsible — not lead anyone on, not use men for free meals and practice safe sex — but aside from that….
One “Rule” I do like
The one exception to my general distaste for “The Rules” is their rule about not calling. Because to me, that translated into respect, not manipulation.
Here’s why — everyone has their own rhythm when it comes to relationships. Some people are naturally extroverted while others need to take their time to feel comfortable with a new person. And some people are just super busy.
When you keeping calling without waiting for a response, you show a lack of respect for the other person’s boundaries and needs.
Therefore, at least in the early stages of a relationship, you need to treat it like a ping-pong match. You can be assertive, just don’t be pushy.
Everyone’s needs are different
For some people, an ideal relationship is one where you are constantly together. Other people need a lot more of their own space. There is no right or wrong here. Just like there is no right or wrong about sex.
Some people want sex every day. Others would be happy if it happened once a month. Neither is wrong, but it would be a bad idea for them to be paired with each other. On the other hand, if someone who wants sex twice a week is hooked up to someone who wants it three times a week — that’s workable.
It’s the same thing with personal space and emotional intimacy. You need to find someone who’s compatible. Following the rule on not calling helps you do that.
How it Works
Let’s say you flirt with a cute guy every time you’re at the gym. Go ahead, ask him out. But then — even if you have a great time, even if you have awesome sex — don’t call or text. Don’t email. Let him make the next move.
What if he asks you out and you have a great time? Then you can totally call or text. You don’t have to wait some ridiculous number of days. Call him the next day if you want. Or wait a week if that is more your pace. Talk to him for hours if he’s willing. But, after you hang up… you wait for him to contact you.
With texting, this works great, since you generally take turns texting each other. With phone calling, it might not work as well. Then again, if he’s calling you every day and you like it, you don’t need to play ping-pong.
However, if it’s making you uncomfortable — respect yourself and slow it down. Let him leave a message and wait until you are ready to call him back.
Same thing with dates. If he wants to see you two days in a row but that’s too much for you, tell him you can’t but you’d love to see him later in the week. If he refuses to respect your boundaries, then he is not someone you want in your life.
Mutual respect helps you find a good match
This is not about playing games. It’s about mutual respect. It’s about finding a rhythm that works for both of you. After all, if you want to see your honey every day and he wants someone he sees once a month, then you are not compatible, and that’s OK. You move on.
If you are compatible, this particular rule allows you to give each other the space to grow. Because you are showing each other respect, you’ll want to grow towards each other.
Previously published on medium
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