20 new dating rules

As 2010 turns to 2011, it's time to update the dating rulebook

New year, new dating rules. Forget that stuff about playing hard to get, waiting for your soulmate and expecting the man to pick up the bill. The dating game is evolving fast.

Today’s rules are a little more user-friendly, and there’s much less gender division than there used to be. But some of the rulebook changes may surprise you, especially if you’ve been out of the dating scene for a while.

Read on for the new rules of engagement…

The old: Women don’t ask men out.
The new: If a woman fancies a man and she thinks he might like her, she should ask him out. If a man fancies a woman and he thinks she might like him, he should ask her out. There’s always the risk of a “no,” but it makes no difference whether you’re male or female.

The old: Play hard to get.
The new: If you’re interested in someone, let it show. No-one likes a stalker, but people are attracted to people who like them. Treating ’em mean does not keep ’em keen, it makes ’em go and find someone else.

The old: Women prefer rich men.
The new: Lazy gold-digging women prefer rich men.

The old: Men don’t date women who earn more than them.
The new: Men frequently date women who earn more than them. Unless the woman has given up work to raise a child, there’s no reason why the higher earner shouldn’t be female.

The old: Women date older men; men date younger women.
The new: Women date older and younger men; men date younger and older women. Age-gap stereotypes are disappearing fast: in 23% of all British marriages, the woman is older than the man. In the US, one-third of women aged 40-69 are dating men 10 or more years younger than them.

The old: True love is destined to happen.
The new: To find love, you have to look for it. You don’t find the love of your love by sitting around watching telly. Accept party invitations, join a dating website and flirt like there’s no tomorrow.

The old: Your one true soulmate is out there somewhere.
The new: The world is stuffed with potential lovers for you. If you persist in believing that your ex was your destined soulmate, you’ll never get over them.

The old: If it’s love, you’ll know straight away.
The new: Love takes time to develop. Don’t expect too much from a first date, and don’t lose faith if there’s no immediate lightning strike of infatuation. If you like their company, see them again.

The old: Romance is about flowers and chocolates.
The new: Romance is about creativity and thoughtfulness. The most cherished pressies are those that needed time and imagination.

The old: Love at first sight.
The new: Never fall in lust with a photo on a dating website or a face across a crowded room. Chemistry is almost impossible to judge until you spend some time with someone.

The old: Online dating is for lonely people.
The new: Online dating is for anyone who wants a date, whether it’s to find love or just to have some fun. More than half the UK’s 15 million adult singles are currently looking for love online. That means a lot of competition, so, if you like someone’s emails, ask them out pronto.

The old: The man pays for dinner.
The new: Whoever asked for the date should pay. If you decided together to go out, split the bill. If you’re in a relationship, take turns to pay. But be thoughtful about it. If one of you is short of cash or has something to celebrate, the other should offer to treat them.

The old: If a man pays for dinner, he’s earned a night of sex.
The new: A man can throw hundreds at a posh meal, but that doesn’t mean that his companion owes him sex or even another date.

The old: If a date is boring, be polite and stick it out.
The new: Life is too short to waste several hours of it on someone you don’t want to see again. Have a pre-prepared reason to escape if you’re feeling uncomfortable or just not hitting it off.

The old: Modesty attracts.
The new: Confidence attracts. Daters who mumble “I’m no good at this kind of thing” sound self-pitying and inexperienced. But don’t brag – there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance.

The old: Girls should be seen and not heard.
The new: Women should be seen and heard, loud and clear. People aren’t telepathic, so couples have to speak up about their feelings and needs – and not be belittled for doing so.

The old: Never date a workmate.
The new: Never date your boss. You spend most of your waking life at work, so it’s a good way to meet people. However, consider how a break-up could create tensions at work.

The old: Never have sex on a first date.
The new: If you talk all night and end up dying to rip each other’s clothes off by sunrise, go ahead. Just use a condom, and never be pressured into sex.

The old: A woman must never call a man after a date.
The new: If a woman wants to see a man again, she should text or call him the next evening. If he’s interested, he’ll be happy that you called. If he’s not interested, at least you’ll know – and you can move on to the next date.

The old: Men dump women by disappearing. It’s the kindest way.
The new: If you want to end a relationship, do it face to face, with humility. Going off-radar and changing your phone number will cause immense hurt and confusion – and she will tell all her friends that you’re terrible in bed.