By deciding to enter the dating world, we agree to a long and constantly growing list of rules, regulations and expectations.
With all of these factors and variables, dating can be its own form of science that some of us just haven't been able to figure out yet.
But, despite some initial confusion and a few failed attempts, most of us find ways to persevere and adapt as we continue to pursue our romantic endeavors.
And while we constantly discuss the things we should be doing to get what we want (and better yet, whom we want), I’ve noticed there are some widely-practiced dating tendencies we need to put to rest immediately:
1. Viewing everyone we meet as a potential mate.
Perhaps this is a result of the oversaturation of romance movies, but many of us try to fit everyone we meet into the category of "potential mate."
It’s almost as if we are constantly waiting in romantic purgatory for someone to step up and fulfill the role of our future significant other.
Unfortunately, this creates unnecessary pressure and forces us to adopt a sort of "trial and error" mindset, which often creates a cycle of romantic disappointment.
Finding someone who fits your idea of a romantic partner should not be a calculated process.
Allow these things to happen organically, without the added stress of pre-playing the potential relationship in your head.
If you continue to form these immediate expectations with every new friend or date, you will close yourself off to potential, real connection, romantic or otherwise.
The right person will come in time, and you will know, without a doubt, when that role has been filled.
2. Refusing to make the first move.
We may not all be so bold at heart, but I have never understood why people are so hesitant in the dating game.
We become so obsessed with the careful calculation of each conversation, text, date or encounter that we overanalyze or blow the entire thing out of proportion.
We immediately put the ball in someone else's hands, waiting for the person to do something about it because we are too terrified to make the first move.
This is an antiquated concept, if you ask me. Sure, being proactive might not always pay off, but in the grand scheme of things, making the first move is nothing to be afraid of.
We don't have to play specific roles here. If you're interested in someone, channel some inner "carpe diem," and make a damn move.
The worst case scenario is it may not amount to anything. The best case scenario is someone appreciates the fact that you know what you want and aren't afraid to go for it.
Stop wasting so much time waiting for someone else to make things happen for you.
Life shouldn't be a waiting game.
3. Settling. No reason to leave is not a reason to stay.
Breakups are never easy, but they're a lot easier to fathom and actually execute when there is an obvious issue messing with you and your partner's romantic cohesion.
Sometimes, there isn't necessarily an identifiable problem to be fixed.
There's just something missing that, perhaps, you can't quite put your finger on.
I can't stress this enough: No reason to leave is never a reason to stay.
We will make a lot of compromises in our lives, and there will be many times we have to settle.
The relationships we build and keep should not be included in that wisdom. Love isn't about complacency.
Sure, being on your own can be terrifying at times, but settling isn't fair to anyone involved.
Don't rob yourself the opportunity to explore the full extent of your romantic desires, and don't rob a significant other of the chance to explore his.
4. Refusing to love those we know we can’t be with.
So many of us spend years guarding ourselves from potential heartbreak.
We exert more energy considering the ways someone else could hurt us than we do actually considering what could happen if someone didn't.
The fact is, we will sometimes love people who don't love us back, or perhaps, we will love people we can't be with.
These are feelings we are meant to feel and understand at some time, even if they hurt.
Love isn't just about the return. It's not always about getting what you want because love shouldn't be selfish.
Sometimes, love is about opening ourselves up, even if we know there's no sure gain to come from it.
If you spend all your time playing defense, you'll never score, right? Rules and rationale cannot always dictate our emotions.
Love whom and what you love, and let those experiences run their courses. In the end, we all become better people and better lovers because of it.
5. Making excuses as to why we can’t be with someone “right now.”
Finding the happy medium between love and practicality isn't always easy.
When we experience change or uncertainty in our lives, our romantic relationships are usually the first things to suffer.
We justify to ourselves or to our significant other that we just "can't be together right now."
While I can accept things won't always be easy and the structure of our lives won't always be forgiving to relationships, I view this as an excuse. It's an easy way out.
When times get tough or the foreseeable future isn't guaranteed, your first instinct shouldn't be to abandon the relationships in your life.
I am by no means a romantic, and I am generally not idealistic when it comes to love.
But, I still believe if you love someone enough, you can make it work. If you care about someone enough, you will find it in your heart to at least try.
If it's so easy for you to make the excuse, "It just can't happen right now"; you are either scared of getting hurt and pushing someone away, or you just don't care enough to give it a shot.
Whatever it is, be honest with yourself and your partner. If there's a reason you can't make it work, then so be it.
But, timing and convenience shouldn't be the only factors deciding who and when you love.
6. The belief women have to be "catered to" in order to be romanced.
This isn't to say I'm a self-appointed feminist who recoils every time a man speaks of old-fashioned "gentlemen" idealizations.
Most of us aren't, at all. However, the idea that women have to constantly be catered to in order to be romanced is utterly ridiculous to me.
Of course, this does not apply to everyone. Any woman and any man will have different intentions and expectations within a relationship.
But, I maintain, many women do not wish to be "taken care of" because we take care of ourselves.
Romance doesn't stem solely from a man's ability to provide or take us under his protection.
It's the idea of equal partnership and respect that we are interested in.
This isn't to say you shouldn't be a gentleman; being a gentleman doesn't necessarily mean you have to take care of a woman in the literal sense.
The concept of being a gentleman is more about general decency, compassion, mutual respect, manners and good intentions, if you ask me.
We are not a burden.
Romance us as potential partners with whom you wish to share your life, not someone to live off of yours.