When it comes to love and romance, twenty- and thirty-somethings have pretty much thrown out the old rule book. We're hooking up more, marrying less and cycling through lovers on a digital merry-go-round of online dating sites. But while our more-monogamous elders may mourn the death of traditional courtship, they can rest assured that it's not romantic anarchy out there. Indeed, the higher powers of modern dating have wrought a new set of hard fast rules that we shall faithfully follow until the day we die
We hereby bring you the cliff notes of today's Dating Bible: The New Commandments of Modern Dating. You can thank us later, Romeos.
1. Thou shalt never maketh plans to hang out in advance, for thou art casual and disinterested.
Don't ask that special-ish someone out a week in advance. You're planning beer and nachos, not a damn wedding. Prove how nonchalant you feel and wait until the day of to propose said date. (The truly invulnerable even have been known to text the evening of... ) If your sweetie already has plans, and you are left spending Saturday night on an intimate date with your Netflix queue? That's just a cost of being The Cool Aloof One.
2. Thou shalt not expend a single ounce of effort into the planning of thy date.
Once upon a Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, a couple's first date was a sacred part of their love story. You know better. You reserve fancy dinner dates for special occasions, or when you need to borrow your boo's car. For a first date, wander into the closest $1 pizza joint to perfectly convey your lack of enthusiasm for dining, your date and dining with your date.
3. Thou shalt never, ever compliment thy lover. Speaketh only in condescending words.
Conventional flirting wisdom of yore suggests singing your lover's praises. Lavishing dates with flattery will make them feel fabulous, but it will also suggest that you're kind of obsessed with them. Play it cool with snarky insults about their sappy music taste or useless college major. They’ll want to work harder to impress you.
4. Thou shalt avoid the "relationship talk" tomorrow with the "not looking for a relationship" talk today.
Relationship talks are the absolute pinnacle of dating anxiety. Thus, the truly invulnerable dater sidesteps these conversations entirely by initiating the "I'm not looking for a relationship" talk on the very first date. Thanks to your courageous honesty, your insignificant other will set appropriately low expectations or, better yet, set out to "change you."
5. Thou shalt not share thy emotional, existential, artistic, musical or social drama with thy date.
If your date starts sharing personal history, decorum dictates that you ought to reciprocate. You can oblige... kind of. Don’t dig deeply into a current emotional crisis, lest you risk bonding. (Bonding is a common warning sign of Impending Vulnerability, and is bad.) Instead, hone in on a past weakness or struggle that causes you little to no grief today. Mild childhood geekery is a typical fallback.
6. Thou shalt not share any stories of thy family with any lover.
Mention your family and you willfully open the doors to probing questions about your childhood and potentially disastrous meet-and-greets. This is like driving backwards in the race to be The One Who Could Not Give Fewer Fucks. When asked about your siblings, declare yourself an only child. When asked about your parents, just make a "Daddy Issues" joke or, in cases of emergency, spill your drink.
7. Thou shalt not "Friend" on Facebook.
Do not follow on Twitter. Do not request on Instagram. Do not. This is a dead giveaway that you are Looking for Something More. And the only way to get Something More is to make it clear you want Nothing More. Duh.
8. Thou shalt not hang around thy lover's home the morning after and thou shalt NOT spoon.
Morning-after bonding is the most insidious of all. Whatever you do, do not linger. When you wake nestled in your date's arms, with a soft smile on your face and sunshine peeking through the window... don't panic. Creep slowly out of bed, gather your belongings and bolt for freedom. If your bed-sharing partner happens to wake, you are Running Late For Brunch. If you've done everything right up until now, an extended invitation will not be expected.
9. Thou shalt say farewell with a perplexing platonic kiss, squarely on the cheek.
You'll leave your date wondering, eternally, what the hell it meant.
10. Thou shalt not gush about thy date. Thou shalt Play It Cool.
If you have a great a time on your date, that's cool. Do not, under any circumstance, send a text message to your crush the next day gushing. It’s actually wise to avoid communication for at least six days. (Unless they get in touch first, in which case, congrats! You won.)
11. If thou dost err and speak in earnest, thou shalt promptly fall off the grid.
One sentimental "thinking of you :)" could derail all the progress you've made! Go into Code Red Aloof mode. Ignore your babe's texts for hours-long gaps and reply with one-word answers. In no time, you’ll prove your lack of investment, and thus restore the balance of power. Call it "The Importance Of Being Not-Too Earnest."
12. Thou shalt keep thy feelings secret with cryptic messages, ideally in emoji form.
13. Thou shalt never text before midnight on the weekend.
Your new romance should know that he or she is a mere afterthought, one you become conscious of only when the sun sets and the beer flows. When you do finally send a message, play it cool. Use casual texting vernacular like "hey u, sup," and include at least one typo in your text (because you're tipsy! Duh.). Your disregard for proper grammar and spelling directly implies your disregard for your honey, and that's a good thing.
14. Thou shalt covet many, many lovers, preferably in the same neighborhood. Thou shalt speak of them often.
You have plenty of sweet dishes on the back-burner and you let them all know it. Sprinkle references to lovers of the past, present and future into the conversation. Nothing helps you seal the deal more quickly than, uh, making your partner imagine you in bed with someone else. Did your current date order a Blue Moon? Relatable Alert! So did last night's date. Mention it. Is your current date studying to be a doctor? So much in common! Your ex once had to go to the doctor for a yeast infection!
15. Thou shalt remember, above all: The lover who cares the least wins.
Good work, modern dater. You've now mastered all the ways to make your current lover feel insignificantly small, yet pathetically attached, and ensured your perpetual status as the invulnerable lover. And if this all sounds awfully cold and impersonal? That's because it kind of is. For, some may say it be better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. But, in truth, it's best to kinda, sorta like... and never, ever lose. Right?