25 Old-Fashioned Dating Rules to Stop Following After 40

You'll never come off outdated ever again.

john cusack boombox scene in "say anything"

Given the explosion in dating apps—and cultural phenomena such as the #metoo movement—the rules of courtship today are changing in real time. And if you're over 40 and re-entering the dating pool after a long absence, you might find the new reality jarring—and that many of the things once considered "romantic" are now seen as "creepy."

To make sure that doesn't happen to you, here we've compiled all of the wildly dated and totally old-fashioned dating rules that once were great but today you should avoid at all costs. So read on—and happy dating! And to learn all of the seemingly dated but still relevant rules of courtship, check out 40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today.

It's Helpful to Play Hard to Get

playing hard to get

Back in the day, women were taught that if they really wanted to hook a man's attention, they should turn down his first few attempts to secure a date in order to make the man feel victorious when he finally gets a "yes."

But this is actually terrible advice, because it makes it seem like courtship is a battlefield in which men are knights and women are conquests, and sends men mixed signals about whether or not "no" actually means "no." And for more on this, learn Why Your Days of Playing Hard to Get Should Be Numbered.

If She's Not Interested, Try Harder

john cusack boombox scene in "say anything"

Just as women were taught to be coy, men were taught that if a woman turns you down, you should just try harder to woo her affection. It's worth noting—again—that if a woman turns you down, you should just accept the rejection and move on. And if a woman does later tell you that you should have just "tried harder," feel free to remind her that it's 2018.

Men Need to Always Make the First Move

40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today

Not only is it no longer taboo for women to ask a man out or send the first text, but there are also a lot of men (especially those on dating apps like Bumble) who actually prefer it when a woman takes initiative. And it's not just Millennials who feel this way either. And for more on this, see how this New Study Says Older Men Want Women to Make the First Move.

Dating Apps Are for Losers Who Can't Find Love

old-fashioned dating rules not to follow

There are a lot of ways in which the apps have made the dating landscape more challenging, especially for women. But there's also research to indicate that it's been beneficial to people in older age groups, who might not be as comfortable scouting for a partner in a bar or nightclub as they were when they were 25.

Either way, we've come a long way from the days when it was so embarrassing to have a Match.com account, and there's certainly no stigma to meeting someone on the Internet. Give it a try! And for the best options, check out The Best Dating Apps if You're Over 40.

The Man Needs to Pick You Up for the Date

man in fancy car

There's nothing wrong with picking a woman up in your sweet Chevrolet for your night on the town. But, equally, there's nothing wrong with a woman picking a man up for the date either. In 2018, it's totally fine to just meet at the restaurant.

You Need to Get Super Dressed Up for Your Date

outdated dating rules

You don't want to look like you rolled out of bed and into a hamper, but wearing a three-piece suit and a feathered hat might make it look like you're trying too hard. (Well, unless you're Ryan Gosling, who gets a pass.)

The Man Should Pay the Bill

oxford study finds gender norms persist in online dating

In 2018, it's customary to go dutch. In fact, some women today may insist on splitting things evenly, because allowing a man to pay makes them feel like he's expecting something more.

Now, let's be clear: there's nothing wrong with being old-school, and some women think it's a nice gesture when a guy does pick up the bill, so there's no harm in offering to pay. Just be mindful of your date's reaction and comfort levels.

My tip: If you're a man, offer to pay, but say say, "You can get the next one," which serves three purposes: you feel like a gentleman,  you're indicating that there will be date two, and she won't feel like you're simply angling for a one-night-stand. And for more great dating advice, check out the 40 Things No One Tells You About Being Single After 40.

Always Bring Flowers

outdated dating rules

There's nothing inherently sexist about bringing flowers to a date, and some women would still find the gesture sweet and romantic. But it's definitely become very outdated outside of Valentine's Day, and it's worth knowing that a lot of women find it overeager and weird.

And Presents

outdated dating rules

Giving someone a thoughtful gift (i.e. a book that they said they had been interested in reading), once you've been seeing each other for a while can be really nice, but, unfortunately, doing so really early on can scare someone off and make them feel like you're trying to move way too fast.

Men Can't Show Weakness

best teen movies

Newsflash: It's no longer necessary for women to play weak and men to play strong. In fact, it's not fair or healthy, and studies have actually shown that women prefer men nowadays who are sensitive and conscientious.

Women Shouldn't Be Opinionated

woman annoyed

Our grandmothers taught us that women are natural nurturers who need to always be caring and accommodating and cater to her man's needs. That means that many women are still hesitant to be too opinionated or assertive for fear of seeming "difficult" or "too demanding," which is a sexist double standard we need to leave behind. Guys: encourage her to speak her mind. Gals: speak your mind!

Single Moms Are Dating Lepers

jerry maguire scene

In 2018, being a single mom doesn't make you the social pariah of the dating world that it once did. For more on why check out why Dating As A Single Mom Isn't All Bad.

You Have to Wait Until the Third Date to Have Sex

old-fashioned dating rules not to follow

Sure, it's always prudent to wait and have sex and follow biological anthropologist Helen Fisher's phrase,"fast sex, slow love." But know that many long-lasting relationships have sprung out of a heated first date. And if you're after 40, you're and adult and you know what you want—and you're many years removed from any social stigmas of high school.

It's Promiscuous to Date Around

sex and the city

In today's day and age, where millions of potential suitors are literally waiting in your pocket, it's more than fine to canvas the field.

You Have to Date Within Your Ethnicity

couple in love

The obvious truth? You don't!

Boys Will Be Boys

Marry Rich outdated life lessons

It's very unpopular to hold the theory that if a woman cheats that means she deserves a scarlet letter, but if a man, cheats, well…what can you do? Boys will be boys. If you decide to be monogamous, you're both beholden to that promise of exclusivity.

Being Territorial Is Normal

why people cheat

If someone starts flirting with the person you're dating, it's natural to feel jealous or threatened, and it's better to have a conversation about it than to bottle those feelings up and have them boil over later. But it's really unattractive to throw a hissy fit about it and act like the person is your possession.

Telling a Woman "I Can't Believe You're Still Single" Is Flattering

Couple, argument

This is one of those statements that sounds like a compliment but actually isn't, because you're mainly implying that her life isn't whole. What if she doesn't want a boyfriend yet? What if she's picky? There's nothing wrong with being a strong single person. And, yes, for the record: it's definitely one of  The 17 Worst Things a Man Can Say to a Woman.

Getting Married Quickly Is Fine

four weddings wedding scene

While seemingly romantic, jumping into things too quickly can jeopardize a potentially great relationship, and while it's not necessarily a bad move, it's also extremely uncommon these days and most relationship experts advise against it. For more on this, check out This Is How Long Today's Average Couple Dates Before Getting Married.

You Know Right Away If Someone Is "Marriage Material"

meet cute movie cliches

The phrase "marriage material" in itself makes you sound like you stepped out of a time machine, and it problematically implies that some women aren't worth settling down with for various (usually) sexist reasons. The reality is that we're all just flawed human beings trying to find someone who can stand us.

Dinner and a Movie Is a Great First Date

woman angry on a date

It's really not. You can't talk, and if you don't end up clicking, it kind of ends up being a bit commitment in terms of both time and money. If you're looking for great date inspiration, check out the 40 Valentine's Day Date Ideas.

Have "The Talk" Too Soon

70s slang no one uses

Asking someone to be monogamous on the first or second date is a surefire way to have them head for the hills in abject terror.

Spend All Your Time Together Right Away

happy couple at airport

We all want to go on a date and immediately go into a movie montage that indicates two people who have just met are suddenly inseparable, but relationship experts caution that stepping on the gas too quickly can often make the relationship crash and burn.

Fight Over Her

outdated dating rules

Getting into a fistfight with a man who's trying to steal your girl is a common trope in romantic comedies but in real life it comes across as a bit psycho.

It's Smart to Play Mind Games

master of none online dating

Remember the golden rule of dating: If the relationship ever devolves into gamesmanship, everyone loses. Be honest, be kind, and be confident—and everything else will work out. Promise!

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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