Some people have had sex on the first date, only to never hear from the person again. Others went on to have a relationship and may even still be together. Some waited several weeks or months or abstained until marriage and progressed to a loving relationship. For others, the relationship fizzled out after sleeping together, or a multitude of problems were exposed.

Some couples committed to the long haul within a few months and are still happily together and some decided after a few years and have broken up. Some women (myself included) have called a guy after a first date and gone on to enjoy loving relationships. Others got tumbleweeds. I point this out because dating advice, often aimed at women pursuing straight relationships, has always been about the ‘rules’ women need to abide by to be society’s version of a ‘successful’ woman and avoid ‘spinsterhood’’. Note: I’m still with that guy almost eighteen years later. Who called who first wasn’t, isn’t, a factor in who gets to have create, forge and sustain a loving relationship.

There are lots of so-called do’s and don’ts about dating and relationships, and they all pretty much come down to answering one question: ‘What should I say/do (or not say/do) in order to influence or even control that person into giving me the relationship I want?’

A rule that works in some situations doesn’t work in many others. Rules, particularly dating ones, mask our lack of confidence and also hide our fear of vulnerability, intimacy and uncertainty. So-called rules are ultimately there to stop us from having to think ‘too much’, but also to create guilt and anxiety when we misstep. They’re about making us compliant, and that means people pleasing, perfectionism, overgiving, overthinking and over-responsibility.

Rules are at odds with being more of who we really are and intimacy. When we ditch the rules that hold us back, we stop tripping up on our blind spots. We get to show up for creating and being in mutually fulfilling relationships with love, care, trust and respect.

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