Fools of Engagement: Are Dating Rules Really Helping You?

Fools of Engagement: Are Dating Rules Really Helping You?

Here’s a fact about me--I ask a lot of questions. I know this about myself, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when I took Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies Quiz, and got labeled a Questioner. And while my mind is filled with questions daily, there’s one big one that seems to overshadow the rest--what’s with all the rules? People really like to dish them out, particularly surrounding a relationship or breakup.

We’ve all experienced it. You go through a particular situation, and then someone says something like, “Oh no, you can’t be friends with your ex.” You ask why, only to get their life story, their experiences and somehow that’s meant to be applicable to you. We literally experience this daily over a variety of topics in multiple forms--guidelines, restrictions, regulations--call them whatever you want, but it’s all the same thing. And they are everywhere.

How did we get to a place in time where we no longer lead with intuition, but rather live our lives following a set of made-up rules when it comes to dating?

When discussing this topic with friends, we joked that we’ve become so obsessed with rules that we are now inundated with lists online, such as 10 Ways to Find the One and 5 Tips and Tricks to Wow Your Partner (here’s a tip, don’t use the word “wow” in a headline ever). We’ve become so saturated with these “guidelines” that we don’t even realize how toxic they can be.

What we often fail to recognize is that we begin to use these listicles and “experts” as crutches, and ultimately become so heavily dependent on them, that we completely lose faith in our own ability to make a decision and simply listen to our gut. Granted, we don’t all make the smartest decisions, but we’re also completely capable of deciphering what’s best for us.

Do you ever find yourself feeling nothing but anxiety when following some “advice”? (Answer: Yes, last week.) What you’re ultimately doing is taking someone’s opinion, and letting it affect how you go about your own romantic relationship, which might even cause an issue between you and your partner. At what cost do we to do things a certain way just “because”?

Life isn’t a prescription. So maybe we need to cool our jets on dishing out a lot of advice. Be cautious with your words and maybe practice more active listening than active advice-giving, because some of the best decisions I ever made, no one understood, but they were the best decisions for me, and that’s what matters.

So I am going to thank my mom right now for preaching to me every single day as a kid, “Trust your gut!” We all have the power of strengthening our intuition. Just like the brain is a muscle that requires work, I think tapping into your intuition is simply formed by the conscious habit of listening to what it’s telling you.

After all, do you want to live a life based on other people’s truths, or learn to find your own?