Dating Rules That Shouldn’t Disappear Once You’re In a Serious Relationship

Basic dating rules are common sense to most people. These rules are there for a reason: because they’re effective. However, they shouldn’t go away once you’re in a serious relationship. You can’t present yourself as a rose and then become a turd once you have a guy committing to you. All phases of relationships take effort, and you should still continue those efforts even when your relationship upgrades to “serious” mode.

  1. Give him compliments. Doing this in the early stages of dating conveys interest, and it does the same thing when you’ve been together for awhile. Compliments are easy to give and they make the recipient feel warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, they never really get old. Everyone likes to hear a compliment, especially one that’s coming from their significant other. Tell the man that you like what you see and that you appreciate him.
  2. Put your phone away. Few things are more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who’s always staring at a glowing screen. Texting in the middle of dinner on your first date is just as insulting as it is on your 100th date. He’ll feel like what he has to say doesn’t matter enough for you to peel your gaze off of your phone, and you don’t want that, do you? Having a normal conversation without checking your social media feeds every two minutes shouldn’t be difficult.
  3. Go on dates. Being in a serious relationship is no reason to stop dating each other. You’re partners, not roommates. You can still take time for a nice dinner out or some romantic and/or drunken jumping at a trampoline park. Just because you “have” each other doesn’t mean that you should get lazy and stop putting thought into the “wooing” aspect of your relationship.
  4. Show affection. Having a serious boyfriend does not mean “mission accomplished.” You had to work to get him, now you have to work to keep him. Don’t wait around for him to initiate all the physical stuff. Touch the man. Touch him everywhere. This isn’t just one of the best dating “rules,” it’s just good relationship etiquette.
  5. Buy random gifts. Fancy, expensive stuff isn’t necessary. Just grab his favorite chocolate bar or a six-pack of his favorite beer on the way home. He’ll enjoy those things and the fact that you were thinking about him like that. As cheesy as it sounds, it truly is the thought that counts. If you do want to go all out and spoil the hell out of him for no reason whatsoever, then go for it.
  6. Maintain your health. Your body is not something that you will get second chances with if you neglect your health. Being “skinny” isn’t necessarily an ideal goal, but being a strong, healthy person should be. A serious relationship is no excuse to let yourself go and fall into lazy complacency with your body. You put effort into yourself to snag a partner, so why would you suddenly cease those efforts once you finally get someone? A girl who takes care of herself is hot — it shows that you care about the future as much as you care about the present.
  7. Dress well. There’s nothing wrong with throwing some sweatpants on after the end of a long day, but wearing crappy clothes as everyday attire and dressing like a bum is a huge hard-on killer. Dressing like a functional adult shows that you care about “you” enough to present yourself well. You don’t need an enormous, pricey wardrobe to do that. All you have to do is find what flatters you and expand on that.
  8. Don’t be clingy. No matter how in love you are with your significant other, you should always give him space and let him have a life outside of you. Extreme infatuation is not attractive — it’s a huge warning sign telling the guy to run the hell away before locks of his hair end up on a creepy mannequin that happens to look exactly like him. He wants to date a woman, not a bottle of needy super glue. Let. Go.

Not in a relationship yet? There are dating rules you should live by too

  1. Focus on building a bomb life on your own instead of finding a guy. It’s a cliche for a reason—you can bet that if you don’t see yourself as dateable, that opinion is going to be shared by the guys you meet. Luckily, this doesn’t mean going on a radical diet or heading out in inch-thick makeup to feel attractive. Saying nice things in the mirror, acknowledging what you love about yourself and spending some time with family and friends who boost you up will all send your dating confidence soaring. Your dates will appreciate it, trust me.
  2. Give occasional second chances. We’re so fixated on the idea of the fairy tale romance that we’re sometimes too quick to write off perfectly nice guys. It’s not about settling for average, but it’s definitely worth broadening your idea of the type of person you want to date. If he was awkward on the first date, put it down to nerves and give him a second chance. In a world fuelled by tech, it can take more than a round of drinks to make a real connection with someone.
  3. Don’t EVER give third chances. Second chances are a yes sometimes but letting a serial relationship offender back into your life is a huge no. Make this the year you quit taking crap from guys because deep down you know you deserve better than that! Stop replying to the texts of the guy who can never be bothered to arrange a date, and quit Instagram stalking the guy who only calls you when he’s drunk. You’ll feel so much better the minute toxic people are out of your life.
  4. Delete your ex’s number. Of all the dating rules on this list, this is one you must follow. Seriously, why do you even still have it there? The temptation to send the odd text is too much to resist, especially on New Year’s Eve, so take him out of the equation before your drunk self takes matters into her own hands. New Year is a time for looking forward, so make the decision to say goodbye to the past for good.
  5. Get off your phone and out into the real world. So, it’s out with Tinder and texting your ex, how are you going to meet new people? There are a ton of ways to get noticed that have nothing to do with swiping right. Take up a new hobby or sport that you’ve always been interested in trying, tour swanky bars in your area with your girlfriends, and head to events you’re interested in even if you can’t drag a mate along. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will bring you closer to stepping into the arms of your dream man.
  6. Say “no” more. This doesn’t just go for the dating game, who would have thought there was so much power in two little letters? Saying no to people you’re not interested in, to obligations you don’t want to do, and to parties that just aren’t your scene will empower you to focus on exactly what it is you do want to do. Never feel pressured to do anything that just isn’t your thing. Life’s too short and your time is much too valuable to please others above yourself.
  7. Make the first move. Be honest — is there someone you’ve been eyeballing for some time that you’ve never plucked up the courage to ask out? Ask yourself what you have to lose from a refusal then go out there and ask for what you want—trust me, he’ll be relieved that you’ve taken the stress out of his hands!
  8. Know what you want and if you don’t, don’t date until you figure it out. It’s easy to feel lost at sea in the world of dating, especially if you don’t have some sort of game plan. Knowing what you’re looking for helps you know where to go to meet people, what questions to ask them and how much of your time you’re prepared to give up to do it. Don’t be afraid to be picky — the guy of your dreams will be worth the wait.
  9. Have more fun. If dating isn’t enjoyable, then what exactly is the point? However you decide to approach relationships, make sure that you’re having fun. Dating is about playing the long game, but with these resolutions, you’re in with a fighting chance of success.
  10. Kick game playing to the curb. If you spent way too much time last year waiting to text him back twice as long as he waited to text you back, then you wasted too much time. A guy isn’t going to like you less if you text him right back, and if he does, he’s not the one for you. Leave the game playing to the kids and start saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Don’t make or follow arbitrary “rules”—follow your heart.
  11. Don’t be afraid to have “no chill.” Conventional dating rules would tell you the opposite, but hear us out. If you see the relationship going somewhere and want to know where his head is at, ASK! If you intimidate a man by being upfront with your emotions, then he’s clearly not man enough for you. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting your time on a guy. Months later, you find out that you’re not on the same page. Save that time for someone who deserves it.
  12. Be open and honest even when lying would be less painful/awkward. Lying full-time time job and a serious commitment. One slip-up can ruin any trust you built in the relationship and it’s simply not worth it. Don’t embellish to try and impress a guy. Eventually, the truth will come up and a relationship built on falsities is bound to crash. Be open with your feelings. Be honest about your intentions. Don’t try to be someone you’re not if you want someone to fall in love with you.
  13. Broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to try new things or give chances to someone who isn’t quite your “type”. The reason for previous romantic fails could be because what you need isn’t exactly what you’ve been looking for. It could also be WHERE you’re looking. Sign up to new clubs. Check out different events. You never know where the one can be lurking.
  14. Say “yes” more. This is one of the more unconventional dating rules but it’s still worthwhile. Yes to going on a date with the nice guy at the desk over who isn’t totally your type. Yes to getting coffee with the kinda nerdy type you met at the bookstore. Yes to going to that concert that your friend wants you to go to even though you’re not into that type of music. Worse comes to worst, you walk away with a new friend, some new memories, and no regrets or what-ifs.
  15. Don’t waste your time on the wrong ones. If the chemistry isn’t there, bail. If you don’t see a future, end it. If he treats you terribly but he’s really cute, realize your worth. These dead end relationships are a waste of time and could be keeping you from finding him. Don’t let the fear of being alone turn a monster into Prince Charming. Savor your alone time. There won’t be much of it once you do find the right guy.
  16. Try online dating if you haven’t—as in, genuinely try. It’ll easily and quickly turn the dating pool into an ocean. It may be hard to believe but there are decent guys and potential candidates on dating sites. You have better odds meeting someone you connect with online than at a frat bar. Plus, you get to pre-screen them and avoid spending valuable time with someone who clearly has different values or intentions than you do. If you hate it, you can always quit, but it’s worth a shot.
  17. Stop ignoring red flags. This is one of the most vital dating rules to follow. If you see he’s a liar or a player and think he’ll change, he probably won’t. And those little habits you can’t stand now will only get more annoying with time. If there are things that piss you off about him during the “honeymoon” stage, imagine how badly they’ll annoy you once it’s over. Listen to your gut in the beginning in order to you save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.
  18. Don’t be a hero. I don’t know what it is with women — maybe a maternal instinct, maybe our attraction to the wounded—but we’re always trying to “save” guys. Chances are, they’re not going to change their ways for you and they might even drag you down into whatever hole they’re in. Protect your heart and try to avoid these situations. As they say, “If someone shows you their true colors, don’t try to paint a different picture.”
L. Clark is a writer that lives in Denver, Colorado. She hates social media with a fiery passion that burns like taco night in hell but is considering starting her own blog. She loves heavy metal more than pants and consumes approximately 10.7 gallons of green tea a day.