Rules of Dating
A lesson from the Dalai Lama: Follow the 3 Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions.” This sums up my feelings about the rules of dating. There are many published books in which others have enumerated dating rules and/or etiquette, including what to wear, what to say, when to call, when not to call. With ever changing and evolving means of communication, I’m sure there are new additions, like when to text, tweet, snapchat…how often, what not to say via text or snapchat, etc.…In my opinion, some of these “rules” involve game playing, and games and dating don’t mix. The Dalai Lama’s lesson is all you need in order to understand the true rules of dating- be respectful to yourself, be respectful to others and take responsibility for your actions.
Respect Others: Treat others as you would want to be treated
When dating and trying to decide how to handle a difficult situation, I ask myself: how would I want or hope someone else would treat me in the same situation?…If you are serious about finding a relationship and looking for a potential life partner, there will be many people whom you will inevitably turn down. This is your journey. You have every right to not be interested and to say no. But try to do so as kindly as you can. Let the person know you are not interested in a respectful manner, and don’t lead him/her on…”Respect” also revolves around how you treat your date during the date itself, and around how you communicate before and after. Don’t be rude, and don’t intentionally hurt someone. Act with conscience.
Respect Yourself: First and foremost, love yourself
If this comes first, why am I putting this second? Because it’s easier to explain self-respect after having explained the concept of respecting others. There are some people who do treat others well, so much so that they do this at the expense of their own happiness and sanity. As I’ve mentioned, this is your journey and your life. Do not continue to date someone because you “feel bad” or guilty. You are allowed to say no. Treat yourself with respect. Respect your feelings, your opinions and your beliefs. Respect the gut feeling you have when you’re with that person. Respect yourself enough to give yourself a voice, and act accordingly. Ask yourself, is your partner treating you the way you would treat yourself if you were dating yourself (I know this sounds funny). Is he/she showing you the respect that you would be showing a potential partner?
Take Responsibility for your Actions
It is important to be aware that your actions are your own. You are choosing to act a certain way. You choose how you treat others, and you choose how to treat yourself- these are active choices. You choose to stay in a situation or leave. Take responsibility for these actions. Please, if you are capable, choose to act with conscience. Take into account other’s feelings as well as your own.
A Few Examples
It is important to strike a balance between the three aforementioned ideas in any situation you may find yourself in. What would that look like? Here are a few examples. Note: these are my suggestions. If you disagree with me, that’s ok, however, I recommend that you find your own way of respecting yourself, respecting others and taking responsibility in all dating situations.
1) When people message you online or on apps, or approach you in person
If someone messages you, you absolutely do not need to respond if you’re not interested, even if you have already started a conversation. This is the way online dating (or app dating) works, and it should be general knowledge to anyone participating. If you feel like explaining to a person why you would not like to date him/her, go ahead, but do so kindly, and ask yourself if letting this person know would be helpful or hurtful.
In person it’s a bit trickier. If you’re not interested you can say “no thanks” and walk away, or you can engage the person in conversation but not give your number. If you feel uncomfortably pressured, you could choose to give your number and then say “no thanks” if messaged, or you could give the wrong number. I don’t encourage being deceptive, especially with loved ones, but at times, in order to save yourself from an uncomfortable situation in the dating world, when it’s not with a loved one, it may be necessary.
2) When messaging others online or on apps, or approaching in person
Send someone you are interested in one message. If he/she responds, great. If not maybe send one more message. If you don’t hear from him/her, stop messaging. Please do not send an angry message about the fact that he/she did not message you back.
In person, approach someone. If he/she says no, or doesn’t seem interested, continue on with your night. Do not be forceful or rude if someone is not interested.
3) On a date
Be kind and respectful. Don’t play on your phone (unless you have an emergency). Don’t play Pokemon Go. Be fully present with your date- listen to him/her and get to know each other. Ask questions, make eye contact, keep breathing, be yourself. If you’re not interested, don’t be rude. You’re just having a conversation with another human- you can finish up the date and then not go out again. If you feel highly uncomfortable or annoyed by the person, excuse yourself and end the date…Be mindful and respectful when it comes to physical/intimate activity. Never be forceful. Take cues from each other and when in doubt, communicate respectfully and ask your partner if he/she is ok with what you are doing. Also communicate if you are not ok with what your partner is doing to you.
4) After a first meeting/date
If you’re interested, be in touch with each other via text/email/phone. Don’t be overly concerned with frequency. If someone likes you, it won’t matter. (Unless you flood someone with texts/emails/calls- don’t do that. Ever)…. If you’re interested, don’t ignore or play games. You two will take cues from each other and figure out how often it feels right to call/email/text. This can be different with different people- with time, you will find your own normal. This is not game playing- it’s adapting to each different person and respecting his/her space while simultaneously showing interest.
If interested, ask him/her out again, or wait for him/her to ask you out. Try to be tactful and plan a few days ahead- it shows respect for your date’s time and your own, and makes it clear you are aware that your date has a life and a schedule, and that you do as well.
If you’re not interested, unless the date went terribly, don’t ignore the person. If the person asks you out again, thank the person, but let him/her know, as soon as you do, that you are not planning on going out with him/her again. Do so tactfully. Don’t lead anyone on. If he/she responds combatively or questions why you’re not interested, you can absolutely ignore this.
5) After going on a few dates
Same as number four. Although the more dates you go on, the more important it becomes that you don’t ignore a person if you decide you are not interested. Don’t ghost anyone. This creates confusion and more hurt than if you had actually said no. Also don’t lead someone on- once you know you’re not interested, do not continue to date the person just to have someone around when you’re bored/lonely. Not ok. End things with tact and move on.
After going on a few dates, it’s important to communicate what you are looking for in dating this person. If you’re interested in “just having fun” as opposed to a potential relationship, be clear early on out of respect.
6) Navigating monogamy
Unless you have “the monogamy conversation” you do not have to stop dating others, nor does the other person… But this can get tricky. If you’ve gone on a few dates, have been physical, and you really like each other, and then he/she sees you out (or you see him/her out) with someone else, how do you think this person would feel? How would you feel?… Even though you’re technically not doing anything wrong, feelings may be hurt. Again, choose your actions based on respecting yourself and respecting the other. If you’re not ready for monogamy, then don’t force it, but recognize that your date may be dating others as well.
6) Once in a relationship
This article only goes through the dating phase, so I’ll stop here, though the same lesson applies- choose to act in a manner that allows you to respect yourself and your significant other.
When in doubt- just remember: respect, respect and responsibility!
Wishing you well, and enjoy dating!!