I Can’t Play The Dating Game & It’s Slowly Destroying Me

With the proliferation of dating “rules” dealt by blogs, friends, and Wikihows, at 30, you’d believe I’d understand the game by now. Not so—I’m still at a loss and it’s started to take a toll on my self-esteem. Here are 10 dating rules I can’t bring myself to follow and how it’s destroying me.

Never text first. I always text first. Whether he puts his number in my phone manually or sends it to me via a dating app, I will text it. I have fun texting and am always looking for a good conversation, but I’m way too impatient to wait for a guy to start it. I like things to happen and for things to happen now. Unfortunately, my initial eagerness can put people off, and I’m often left with a blank iPhone screen. Ouch.

Don’t show interest. If I like a guy, I’ll tell him. End of story. I once had a guy tell me over text that he liked me so I returned the favor… only to be immediately abandoned after a mere returned smiley face. Why are guys so afraid of girls liking them? We don’t always want them to wife us up. I don’t understand why we can’t just get to the point. If we obviously like each other, why not say it? Doesn’t a guy want to know if we’re interested? I guess not.

Don’t be too availableHe wants to get drinks on Thursday? I will get drinks on Thursday. If I’m digging a guy, I’ll leave a few of my nights open for a potential hang or rendezvous. If I’m excited about someone, I want to be with him all the time. I want to see him Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I’ll keep my planner light just in case. Apparently guys don’t like this. If you’re available, it’s like you don’t have a life. I do have a life, I just want to fit you into it. Is that so wrong?

Don’t have sex on the first date. I’m a firm believer that sex is a key component to a relationship and that sexual chemistry is an extremely important part of dating success. If we’re getting along and I feel something, I’m going to want to test it out. Is it my fault I want to test it sooner rather than later? I don’t know if “fault” is the right word, but I do often leave these situations empty-handed and feeling defeated. However messed up it is, a lot of guys judge girls who give it up “easy.” I still haven’t caught on.

Don’t over-text. I admit I have a problem. I not only text first but I text second and third and fourth. I do double texts and paragraph texts; I just can’t help myself. If a guy sends me a message, I won’t wait the “required” three hours to respond: I’ll respond lightning fast. My message screens are usually consisting of blue bubbles (or green, if you got that ‘Droid) with no break in sight. My habits spring both from impatience and fear. I’m afraid of an empty chat box, so if a guy doesn’t respond, I will text until he does, and if I don’t get that magical ping, I will cry, “What did I do??” repeatedly when I know certainly well what went down.

Never initiate. If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m pretty impatient when it comes to men. This includes asking for the first date. You’ve met the type: he’ll talk to you forever on Tinder but makes no plans to ever meet up. Or maybe he’s an IRL acquaintance who just doesn’t ask. If we’ve got good textual or physical chemistry and I’m really feeling it, I will beat him to the punch and ask to hang first. This is called “being forward” and it turns some guys off. It’s the 21st century, dudes! Get over it. Yet still, I get crickets.

Be a bitch. You know that book Why Men Love Bitches? Yep, I’ve read it front to back, and multiple times too. The book is ultimately about female empowerment and becoming an independent woman, but while I do consider myself a strong female in the real world, I just can’t bring myself to be a “bitch” while dating. Am I a doormat? If I’m honest, sometimes. I want my prospect to like me and at times I sacrifice, usually falling victim to my feelings. Ladies, don’t do as I do. Be strong.

Stay mysterious. I’m as shy as they come, but as quiet as I may be, I have a rather large mouth. I don’t know why, but for some reason with dates or potential dates, I rattle on and on. Is it anxiety? I think so. I can be an open book sometimes, especially when I shouldn’t be. I overshare, usually too soon, and scare men away. For example, I once talked about a recent gyno visit with a first date and maybe gave him too many details. Why can’t I just stop talking?

Don’t put in too much effort. Dating advice sites tell women to only put 25% effort into the game. While I do tend to do this with guys I’m not-so-interested in, if I like a guy, woof, I want it to work. Badly. Am I desperate? Maybe. Mostly I’ve been single for 10 years and I just want something to work out for once. Yes, putting in effort is exhausting, especially when a guy is playing it cool, but how far will I get if I don’t push a little?

Be chill. I seriously have no chill when it comes to dating. I analyze every word, every emoji, every awkward silence, and I usually bring my friends along for the ride. I cannot be calm. I freak out over every text (or non-text) and I can literally drive myself crazy. I’m already anxious, and needlessly putting myself through the ringer during every conversation does not help at all. If you don’t text me for a day, I’ll put on Fiona Apple and brood. Again, no chill.

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