We’ve talked about the pandemic a lot here at Plenty of Fish. Realistically, who hasn’t been talking about it non-stop for the last year and a half? A lot of you might just be over it, and that’s totally fair. Personally, I’m still invested. Of course, I’m invested emotionally because it’s taken one hell of a toll on all of us. I’m also invested though, in the behaviors it’s changing, and the long-term effects it’s going to have on relationships and dating (it is my job after all).
We’ve chatted one-night stands, and general habits picked up over the course of all things Covid, but dating rules, in general, are sure to change drastically too. So many of the classic ‘dating rules’ we’ve followed for decades are outdated anyway, but there are a few in particular that just feel dead in the water post-pandemic.
1. Seeing Someone/Hearing Their Voice For the First Time IRL
This might still be important to a lot of people. You can’t deny though, Covid has removed a lot of the stigma around meeting online or getting to know someone virtually. For what felt like an eternity, it’s all anyone could do, and collectively, I think we made the most of it. Sure, who doesn’t love a good meet-cute in a coffee shop or at the park, but thinking you need to see someone for the first time from across a crowded room for it to be legit just ain’t it anymore.
I’ve met countless co-workers (even my boss) over video-chat for the first time. No, it’s not quite the same as dating but it’s pretty close, and it just feels normal now. You can get to know someone virtually just like you can get to know them IRL. Anyone who tells you otherwise needs to get with the program! The online world is pretty cool, in case you didn’t know.
2. Not Googling or Looking Someone Up Someone Before a Date
If anyone’s watched How I Met Your Mother, there’s an episode where Ted goes on a date and they promise not to look each other up beforehand. Inevitably, he does look her up and it completely intimidates him and the date’s a huge fail. What seemed like a lesson in keeping the mystery alive in a relationship then, now feels totally out of touch. Sorry, but safety is a thing now more than even (unfortunately), so if someone’s asking you not to look them up before you meet, it’s probably a red flag.
It’s okay to want to know a bit of info about someone upfront. Hey, it could even end up making for some entertaining conversation! You don’t need to go into super sleuth mode and decipher their life plan and credit score. Checking out their social media and searching them on Google though? Totally fair game. There are other ways to introduce mystery into your relationship, trust me.
3. Having Your Date Pick You up at Your Place
When people say chivalry is dead, this is probably what they mean. I’m not saying picking someone up for a date isn’t a nice gesture, but to be honest it just isn’t the best choice anymore. The pandemic has made us hyper-aware of privacy and safety, and while it’s not always fun to err on the side of caution, chivalry’s best saved until much later on in the relationship (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Outside of not wanting someone to know where you live right away, taking control of your own transportation to and from a date is just a solid exit strategy. Not to be a pessimist, but if all goes terribly, there’s nothing worse than having to ask for a ride home…
4. Expectations Around Picking Up the Bill
Recently, I was out for dinner with my boyfriend. When the bill came and I grabbed it, our server made a point to say I shouldn’t be paying – “The man always pays.” He had no idea, of course, if we were on our first date or our thousandth (it was the latter), and was probably just trying to help – but I was kind of offended. It reminded me what an outdated rule it was, especially now when the last year and a half has deeply impacted people’s financial situations. Let whoever wants to pay, pay!
I’ve seen this rule adjusted to be inclusive of all relationships as well, saying whoever asks for the date should pay the bill. Again, fair intentions, but any rule at all when it comes to picking up a tab feels very 2000’s rom-com to me. A recent Plenty of Fish survey shows some agreement as well, with over a quarter (34%) of singles and casual daters saying they’re over this rule too.
5. The Three Date Rule
Whoever made up the infamous “three dates until sex” rule and the “no kissing on the first date” rule…. Just no. They were outdated ten years ago, and they’re extra outdated now – 30% of our surveyed singles and casual daters agree. Everyone has their own individual comfort levels when it comes to physical intimacy, and no rule should ever dictate when things like that are expected. Add the extra layer of a pandemic and social distancing, and it only makes this rule feel all the more irrelevant.
We’re only just starting to be able to ‘get back out there’ IRL again. Some people might want to get down and dirty on the first date, others might wait until the 5th, or the 10th, or the 27th, and that’s okay. If you need a rule to live by, respect everyone’s boundaries. That’s all.
6. Avoiding ‘Serious Topics’
I don’t know if it’s just me, but the pandemic has made me hate small talk more than I already did. I want to get to the good stuff, the substance, and I think people are starting to feel the same way when it comes to dating. It’s always been a no-no to get into anything serious when you’re just getting to know someone (ie talking about your ex or your childhood trauma), but now I’m not so sure.
Sure, if you’re still not over an ex maybe keep that out of the mix (and sub yourself out of the dating game for a bit), but everyone has a past. The point of dating is to get to know someone, and our pasts are what make us who we are today. Tip-toeing around a huge life event just to keep things light feels unnecessary now. Surprisingly, only 19% of singles and casual daters think avoiding the serious stuff is outdated, but I’m willing to bet that number will keep on growing. To find deeper connections, you need to have deeper conversations.
7. Having A Relationship Timeline
This one goes for anyone casually dating or in a serious relationship. So many people live and breathe their relationship timelines or life plans. Wanting certain things with an SO (marriage, a family, etc.) is completely normal. You should always be communicating your wants and needs, but life is so unpredictable. In the blink of an eye, we could all be chained to our living room couches for over a year due to a global pandemic, and suddenly everything changes.
I’m not saying seeing a particular future for yourself and staying committed to that idea is a bad thing, it’s not. The whole idea of insisting on sticking to a specific timeline though just doesn’t feel like the norm anymore. Life can shift so quickly, and staying too attached to things happening at a particular time in your life can end up leading to disappointment fast. I’m sure we’ve all learned that once or twice this year. The point is, stay open!
It seems like there will always be some unspoken rules in the realm of dating. Remember though, the world is changing fast, and what’s “normal,” changes along with it – we’ve all had a front-row seat.