I was having dinner with my girlfriends and mentioned that I was going on a first date the next night.
One friend asked if we were going to go dutch. Another said, “No, the guy pays for the first date.” The first friend replied, “That doesn’t seem fair. Think about how much it must cost a guy to actively date.” It led to a discussion about the rules of dating and what they mean for the people involved.
Who pays on the first date?
Do you wait until the third date to sleep together?
If he asks you to dinner, does that mean he pays?
When is the right time to talk about being exclusive?
What are the rules for dating?
Saying that there are rules when it comes to dating implies that the two people in a relationship are playing a game against each other. It implies that dating is a sport and before you play any game, you know the rules. You know what you can and cannot do and though you have a solid idea of how to win, the outcome of the game comes down to which team is more skilled and who has a better game plan. During a game, if you break the rules, you are penalized and it lessens your chance of winning.
But dating isn’t the same thing as participating in an organized sport. There isn’t a National Dating League that creates the game rules. There’s no referee on site to tell you when you’ve stepped out of bounds or to jump in when a fight breaks out. There’s no umpire to call a foul ball or tell you when you have struck out. While there may be some fans and critics, they are not present at the moment of the face-off.
So, if dating is a game, how do you know which rules you must follow and which you can get away with breaking?
If a guy asks to split the bill on the first date, is the game over?
If there is sex before the third date, do you automatically lose?
If you wait too long before discussing where the relationship is going, are the odds of winning no longer in your favor?
If dating is a game, the two people in the relationship are both players and refs. They ultimately get to create the rules and call the shots, regardless of what the fans think.
In each relationship, the “rules” are different and they totally depend on circumstance. It’s impossible not to miss a shot or get fouled once in a while. When dating, breaking a “rule” will not always get you kicked out of the game. Just like with any sport, playing by the “rules” doesn’t guarantee a win and some of the “rules” can be confusing.
But is dating really a game?
Is it two people playing against each other?
Is it two people seeing who can out score the other?
Is it two people hoping they get dealt a better hand or have a better jump shot?
Dating is two people trying to play together. Dating is two people seeing if their standards of play match up. Dating is two people letting down their guards, casting aside their poker faces, and seeing if they have a chance of winning together.
Dating is two people trying out to be on the same team.
Instead of always trying to win, focus on finding the right partner to play with.