Dating: Myths & Misconceptions
As soon as people are old enough to watch their first rom-com, they start learning the "rules" of dating. There's the three-day rule, the three-date rule and all sorts of other rules people claim you must follow to find your person. In reality, though, no two people or relationships are alike. It's better to take any unsolicited advice you receive with some skepticism and use your own best judgment and gut instincts instead. Forget these common myths about dating:
Myth: If you like them, play hard to get.
Reality: Waiting three days to call someone back is less likely to make them interested and more likely to make them irritated. While it's true that a little mystery is intriguing, making someone wonder whether you even like them at all is not. If someone you like sends you a text, reply in a window of time that feels respectful. If you want to make a plan for Saturday night, don't wait until Saturday morning to reach out. It's OK to have other plans and not always be able to call or text regularly, but vanishing for days in between dates will just give someone the impression that you're just not that into them.
Myth: Never settle. Hold out for the perfect person.
Reality: Staying with someone who isn't right for you for the sake of being in a relationship is a bad idea. Don't do that! On the flip side, waiting around for perfection might result in a lifetime of…waiting around. Relationships require compromise from both partners, and they always include some conflict—yes, even the best ones. If you're unhappy with someone and know deep down it's just not the right fit, don't settle; but remember that nobody will be perfect. And for the right partner, whatever trade-offs you make will feel worth it.
Myth: Women no longer want a chivalrous man.
Reality: Nobody—and I mean nobody—said that equal rights and chivalry are mutually exclusive. Gender roles have become less defined (and less important), but being polite, attentive and courteous will never go out of style. Holding the door for your date is sweet, picking up the bill is generous, and doing kind things for a person you care about is a healthy, positive thing—regardless of the gender you identify as. If you have good manners and enjoy taking care of other people, continue to be your chivalrous self. The vast majority of people still want and appreciate kind gestures from their partners.
Myth: After 40, unmarried people are 'damaged goods.'
Reality: In 1960, the median age for marriage was 20 for women and 23 for men. That sounds so young now, doesn't it? The median age for marriage has since steadily increased as society and habits change—between 2014 and 2018, the median marriage age for women was 27.9 and 29.7 for men. As stigmas around unmarried couples cohabitating and having children decrease (and divorce rates in the U.S. soar as high as 50 percent), weddings and marriage no longer feel as compulsory—or even appealing—to many people. Some still see a never-married 40-something as a red flag, assuming the person must have commitment issues or a specific problem that's turning off potential mates. In reality, a lot of people simply feel less interested in marriage than in past generations, and are still looking for a meaningful—even lifelong—connection.
Myth: Never discuss religion or politics on a date.
Reality: In the old days, people avoided these "touchy" subjects because they might expose fundamental differences between you and your date. The idea was that you should get to know one another before you encounter any potential deal-breakers. These days, most people would rather know up front—before developing feelings—whether they're going to face a major conflict of interest down the road. If you're adamant about certain political issues and couldn't imagine a partner who isn't, it's fine to ask. Similarly, if you're an Orthodox Jewish person and need someone who's going to light candles with you every week and agree to keep a Kosher home, you can and should discuss that before you get too serious. Just remember to present it without pressure and focus on learning your date's perspective—not pushing yours.