Don’t text back too soon, or you’ll seem desperate. Don’t wait too long to text, or they’ll lose interest. And don’t ever, ever send two text messages in a row.
There are a lot of rules people set for themselves when it comes to the early stages of dating, particularly in an era when dating apps have upended the norms of how most singles meet and mingle.
Many of these self-imposed regulations, however, can actually hinder your chances of finding a healthy romance, according to relationship experts.
“Relationships are contextual,” says relationship therapist Kimberly Moffit. “You have to understand the context of your ‘situationship’ or relationship and use your instincts, as opposed to just always following rules.”
Here are some common dating “don’t’s” that experts encourage daters to let go of:
‘Don’t text back too soon (or too late)’
Text anxiety has become a staple of online dating. “Am I writing too much? Too little? What if I respond too quickly, and they think I have no life?”
Yes, it’s probably wise not to drop everything going on in your life to respond immediately. But you also don’t have to feign being busy.
“In dating, someone’s going to figure out who you are eventually,” Moffit says. “If you’re a naturally busy person and you have stuff going on, there’s going to be times where you take a few hours to respond and then there’s going to be other times where you’re there and you get into more of a texting conversation.”
Bottom line, she says: Respond when you have time and when it feels natural to do so.
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‘Don’t date more than one person at a time’
How about: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket instead. Celebrity matchmaker and online dating expert Carmelia Ray says there’s no need to cut yourself off from other connections if you’re still in the early stage of dating someone new, what she calls the courting process.
“It takes a while to get to know somebody, so if you’re going to invest all your time in one relationship, and then it doesn’t work out, then you’re back to ground zero,” she says. “It’s OK to be hanging out with two or three people to see who is actually consistent, because after a while you’ll really know somebody’s true colors.”
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‘Don’t compromise on (superficial) standards’
Moffit and Ray agree: Many daters are far too strict about the type of person they’re willing to go out with, leading them to rule out great options over superficial standards like height, location, education level or occupation.
Moffit encourages people to stay open-mind about these things. After all, you could have great chemistry once you meet in person.
“It’s a personal decision of course with dating, but I do feel like it just restricts people that if you met them in the wild, you might just really love them,” she says, adding you learn more about your attraction to someone from sensory information, such as the way they talk and move, than from information on a dating profile.
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‘Don’t bring up politics or religion (or anything interesting) on the first date’
Politics, religion and other controversial topics tend to be viewed as off-limits for early dates; however, they’re important issues that can reveal someone’s values and spark interesting discussion.
Moffit says it’s OK to share views that are important to you early in dating, as they can deepen your connection and inspire conversation beyond the typical, ‘So, what do you do?’ banter.
“People do say things like, ‘Avoid politics. Avoid business. Avoid religion. Avoid existential conversations,’ ” Moffit says. “The best first dates have a lot of deep conversations. How else are you going to get to know somebody and connect if you can’t talk about the things that matter to you?”
Plus, if any of these issues do prove to be deal-breakers, isn’t it better to be upfront about them sooner rather than later?
“You might have to turn off 80% of people in order to really appeal to the 20% who are the fit,” Moffit says.
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