We wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with whoever wrote the dating rulebook. What an uptight killjoy! Don’t act keen, don’t talk too much, don’t get drunk, don’t mention your ex, don’t mention your mum, don’t mention that your flatmate’s out and you could do with the company… in short, shut your mouth and keep your legs crossed. And you thought dating was supposed to be fun?
The good news is that many of our dating rules and taboos are better off broken. Read on for seven deadly dating taboos that deserve to get dumped.
Taboo 1: Women asking men out
What the taboo says: Women fancy strong, assertive, go-getting men. Men fancy women who make them feel strong, assertive and go-getting. Men fancy women who are only go-getting about going to the supermarket and getting beer and/or their clothes off. These simple, clearly defined roles meant that everyone knew where they stood.
Why it’s rubbish: People don’t fit into simple, clearly defined roles. Some men are terrified of rejection, and won’t ask a woman out if their life (or sex life) depends on it. It has been claimed that men aren’t as tuned into body language signals as women are, so if either sex should be making the first move it should be the women. Go back further than the 50s and you’ll find that women (well, their families) always did the asking anyway. Tradition itself can’t make up its mind.
If you fancy someone and you think they may like you, ask them out, whatever your sex. There’s always the risk of a “no,” but it makes no difference whether you’re male or female.
Taboo 2: Phoning them first
What the taboo says: No-one will want you if you let on that you fancy them. Play hard to get, let them chase you, and on no account phone them first. It’s not manipulation, it’s basic psychology: people want what they can’t have.
Why it’s rubbish: Playing hard to get only works in the short term. It can fool someone into thinking that they like you, but they lose interest as soon as they “have” you. If someone genuinely likes you, they’ll be only too delighted to know that you like them back – and they’ll be tickled pink by a phone call after your date.
Don’t go overboard with your interest, of course. Coming on too strong could strangle a new flirtation at birth. To avoid looking fixated or desperate, let them see that you have a fun and interesting life of your own. So as long as you keep your cool, don’t be scared to show someone that you like them. They’ll be flattered, and you’ll gain a sexy aura of confidence.
Taboo 3: Sex on a first date
What the taboo says: Put out on the first night, and they’ll never respect you enough to fall in love. You’ve killed all the tension. You are a disgrace.
Why it’s rubbish: Great relationships very often start with a wham-bam shot if instant chemistry. Sometimes, as the old advert used to say, you just can’t help acting on impulse. Having sex on a first date does not mean a woman is “easy” and a man is pushy. It may just mean that two people really, really fancy each other.
If things fizzle out after first-date sex, it’s almost certainly not because you had sex, it’s because they didn’t fancy you enough for a relationship – but did fancy you enough to have sex. If you’re both single adults and you use protection, it’s your choice. “Choice” being the key word: never be pushed into sex that you don’t want.
Taboo 4: Older women dating younger men
What the taboo says: Women who date younger men are desperate, botoxed “cougars” who couldn’t keep a husband. Lock up your sons and nephews!
Why it’s rubbish: Men have woken up to the appeal of independent, financially secure and sexually confident older women. Women are equally partial to fit, energetic, fun-loving young suitors. Fertility (or lack of it) plays a role too. Women don’t always want men for their sperm. A woman who has had her family or who is past childbearing age can have great sex without fear of pregnancy.
Age-gap stereotypes are disappearing fast, and not just in Demi Moore’s bedroom. Twenty-three per cent of British wives are older than their husbands. In the US, one-third of women aged 40-69 are dating men who are younger by 10 years or more.
Taboo 5: Cutting short a bad date
What the taboo says: Cutting short a date is the height of rudeness. This person gave up their evening for you, so be grateful and stay put.
Why it’s rubbish: Life’s too short to waste an evening of it sitting miserably opposite someone who fancies you even less than you fancy them. If you met online, there’s every chance that you won’t fancy your date in person. Your only option is to cut the date short and stop wasting each other’s time.
You could be devious and slip out the loo window or get a friend to call at a pre-arranged time. But the best policy is honestly (and kindly) admitting that there’s no chemistry. It leaves no room for misunderstanding, and it’s kinder than stringing them along.
Taboo 6: Dating a workmate
What the taboo says: Workmate-passion leads to favouritism, jealousy, gossip and distraction. And if you break up, how on earth will you still work together?
Why it’s rubbish: It’s inevitable that workmates will get together. The answer is not to ban workplace hook-ups, but to be pragmatic and careful. Make sure to leave the canoodling and arguments at home. You’re paid to do a job, not to make goo-goo eyes over the computer monitors.
We wouldn’t recommend going out with your employer or employee, though. You’ll be open to charges of sexual harassment and nepotism, and you’ll both find it difficult to do your jobs properly.
Taboo 7: Dating on the rebound
What the taboo says: You should forget about your ex completely before attempting to date anyone new.
Why it’s rubbish: Sometimes, dating someone new is the only way to forget about your ex! You won’t move on by moping about on your own, refusing to flirt or even socialise because you can still picture your ex’s face.
The first couple of weeks after a break-up is not the right time to be looking for new love. Enjoy your own company and your friends’ company, and don’t be rushed into being part of a couple again. But if your ex is no longer the first thing you think about each day, there’s no reason to avoid flirting.