Have you ever stopped yourself from sending a text message because your friend told you it came off as desperate? Let’s say you meet someone, and you really hit it off. You exchange numbers in hopes of planning a date. You shoot him a text, letting him know you had a fun night. And then, you wait. Two days later, you're debating whether to write off that apparently perfect person you met on Saturday night, or to pitifully send another text because, maybe, waiting for a text after a hookup is the better move. Who should text first after a hookup, anyway? Should you text a guy after a hookup at all?
We are the generation of laissez-faire souls who thrive off meaningless sex with good-looking people. We spend our rent money on plane tickets, and we are always searching for something more. We are by no means "put together." We have no idea where we are going, what we want or what we are going to do when we get there. But carelessness aside, we have rules. I’m not talking about the rules your parents made for you when you were 15 and screaming at your mom to let you sleepover at your boyfriend’s house. I’m talking about those unspoken rules our generation places around dating.
These are just a few unwritten rules that we all live by: Don’t have sex too fast, don’t show your boyfriend or girlfriend too much interest, don’t get wasted on your first date. As much as we would all like to deny it, there are many unwritten rules that we all follow, even though the dating game has changed so much over the years and new rules are being written every day. And because those rules are always changing, it can be hard to keep track of them all and to know when you’re actually crossing a line. To help you out, I’ve rounded up the most common hookup rules and figured out which ones are actually worth following.
The Age-Gap-of-Any-Kind Rule
The unspoken rule is you must not date anyone younger than you, or anyone who is "too old" for you. People follow this rule because they are afraid of judgment from friends, family, and peers. Some people believe dating someone even a year or two younger while in college, for example, can be a huge gap in maturity. Others believe dating someone who is a decade or more older is simply "too old” and that can be referred to as “robbing the grave.”
However, if your sex life is great — and if the two of you engage in interesting conversations and have fun and connect on a deeper level — then age is just a number. Yes, sometimes it may be strange for two people to be dating with a huge age gap, but as long as it is not illegal and you are comfortable with yourself, then there should be no wrongdoing. Go out there and live your best life.
The 3-Day Rule
This unspoken rule says you must wait approximately three days after a first date before you contact someone again. People follow this rule because they don’t want to come off as desperate or too interested. Often, people feel uneasy if the level of desire isn't equal in a relationship. Being needy is also seen as a huge turn-off in today's society. We like our significant others to be independent and strong, and apparently not waiting three days demonstrates weakness.
But honestly, who cares if someone texts you right after a date or three days later? If you had a good time meeting someone, you should let the person know whenever you feel it. There should be no need to wait three days. You could literally drive non-stop across Canada in three days. You could watch four seasons of Grey's Anatomy in three days. Do you know how much happens in four seasons? If you’re on the other end of this situation, and your date texts you within the next hour, evening, or day, and you do not feel the same happiness and urgency, then be honest. And if your date hasn’t texted you back within a day or two of meeting them and you want to see them again, then it’s completely reasonable to send a follow-up text. But if you do, just be certain that you both enjoyed your time together and would like to see each other again.
"Send a second text if you had a great time on the first date, and you have 80% certainty your date did, too," life coach Nina Rubin previously told Elite Daily. "How can you quantify? Be honest with yourself. Did it seem like you both were vibing on the same level? Did you both laugh? Was there mention of a second date? If the answers are no, don’t send. If the answers are yes, with more certainty than insecurity, consider texting [again]." You might not consider it, but it can also be a good idea to give someone a second chance after your first date went horribly. I say this because most people feel nervous on the first date and that can make them act out of character. First dates should not be a first impression. If you’re still not into that person after giving him or her a second chance, be honest and move on. Simple as that.
The We’re-Not-Exclusive-Until-We-Say-We’re-Exclusive Rule
This rule says you must never assume the person you are sleeping with is only sleeping with you. People follow this rule because casual sex has become very popular in our society. It seems only natural to assume the attractive person you’re sleeping with has someone besides you to fulfill his or her needs. If you’ve slept with someone once, chances are the person's probably sleeping with multiple other people just once, too. And if your hookup becomes a recurring thing, it’s never safe to assume you’re the only one.
As my friends would say, “You better recognize the game before the game recognizes you,” and this statement couldn’t be any more true. You and your partner need to get straight down to business and have a mature conversation about what you want. If being exclusive is what you desire then make that heard. And if it’s not, then make sure you’re being safe. (That means using a condom and getting tested regularly, if you weren't already aware.)
Relationship coach Nina Rubin previously said you should ask yourself a few questions to know if a casual relationship is right for you. "Ask yourself: Do you feel confident in what you’re doing? Are your expectations being met? Are you leading someone on? Are you on the same page?" Rubin previously told Elite Daily. And if the answers to these questions are no, then it might be best to let your “friend” go and find someone else who can better satisfy your needs.
The Booty-Text Rule
According to this rule, the only acceptable time to send a text to “hang out” or to ask someone to “come over” (i.e. to hookup) is after midnight. Perhaps you want the other person to know that — when you’re drunk on a Friday night — you're thinking about them. Or maybe you want the person to think you struck out at the bar and that the 3 a.m. phone call is totally OK. Or perhaps, you want the person to know they only look good in the dark.
Sarcasm aside, Australian psychologist Evita March discovered that people have different reasons for wanting a booty call. After conducting a survey called “Netflix and Chill,” March learned that women “are more likely to see booty calls as short-term relationships that have the potential to grow into longer term relationships,” whereas men see “booty calls as ‘a series on one-night stands,’ with little intention or possibility of anything more.
This can definitely cause a few problems between you and your partner if you both agreed on a night of passion. Again, it’s always best to make your desires heard, even if it starts an uncomfortable conversation. That way, you can spare yourself the heartbreak in the future. Don’t want a casual relationship? Then don’t send or respond to a booty text.
The After-Booty-Text Rule
This rules says it’s never acceptable to text your “friend” after a hookup, unless it's to see if he or she arrived home safely. As we’ve already learned, the dating game has changed and nowadays people are guilty of pretending to have no emotion, when it’s actually the complete opposite. If you’re having a strictly no-strings-attached relationship with someone, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to ask the person how their work day is going. However, if you ever feel like asking the person, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you. This person saw you naked last weekend and will probably again in the near future. Get over yourself and say hello if you really want to.
But if you do end up sending the text, then be prepared not to get a response. You and this person made it very clear that what you had last night was just a booty call, and if they don’t reach out to you after your hookup or respond to your messages, then you know where they stand. “Take their lack of communication as an answer. It may not be the one you want to hear, but it is an answer nonetheless,” Pella Weisman, licensed psychotherapist and dating coach, previously told Elite Daily. “If [someone] really likes you and wants to see you, [they’ll] find any reason to text you.”
Bottom line: Don’t get your hopes up. If you want to text someone after a booty call, then great. Remember that you can do as you please. But if you’re doing it because you want something more from your friend then you should try a different approach.
The No-Double-Text Rule
According to this rule, if you ever send a text message and the other party does not respond, do not send another message until the person does. Breaking this rule apparently makes you look needy and eager. Supposedly, texting twice in a row indicates you're a little too into someone, and that is not good. But in reality, it’s OK to double text. Sometimes, people have more to say than the last text they sent and sometimes, they forget something. There might even be a few occasions where someone might take way too long to respond to your message, so they’ll end up texting you again. Whatever the circumstance, it shouldn’t be assumed that this person is “needy.”
Everyone is different, and oftentimes, you might befriend someone who doesn’t have a lot of patience or gets very excited over the small things. Maria Avgitidis, CEO of matchmaking service Agape Match, believes that everyone has a reason why they might not respond promptly to a text message. “[Maybe] they’re at work and can’t have their phone,” she previously told Elite Daily. “Sometimes, people look at their text messages ... and think, ‘I’ll respond to this later,’ and then completely forget to respond.” But if this is a common theme in their behavior and they constantly put you on the back burner then Avgitidis believes this is a clear sign “you’re not a priority.”
The Sex-on-the-Third-Date Rule
This unspoken rule says you must not sleep with someone until at least the third date or the third encounter. People wait a while to sleep with others for a number of reasons, but no matter how you look at it, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to wait to have sex with someone. What is wrong is feeling obligated to wait a certain number of dates to have sex because of some silly rule.
Dating expert and author Susan Winter believes waiting for the third date is a good rule to have. "Forgiving the fact that it's called a 'rule,' I think three dates is a good guideline," Winter previously told Elite Daily. But take that advice with a grain of salt, because Winter also made it clear there isn’t a “perfect time” to have sex. It should happen when you and your partner feel the most comfortable and ready to take that next step, and sex and intimacy expert Irene Fehr agreed.
"Trust is very important in having a safe and enjoyable experience," Fehr previously told Elite Daily. "Done too early, having sex with someone who is not the right match for you — not only in terms of the physicality of it, but emotionally and relationally — can create an unsafe and unpleasant experience." That being said, you shouldn’t necessary follow a rule when it comes to having sex. If you normally jump in the sack too soon, then it might be best to wait a couple of dates. But if you know that this is something you want to do and you trust your partner completely, then go for it!
The 2-Drink Rule
This rule says you must not consume any more than two drinks on a date. You must only get buzzed, not drunk. People follow this rule because... well, they don't want to get drunk. You don't want to look like you're super nervous and are pounding back the liquor. You want to be classy. And if you don't know the person that well, you want to feel safe. Having a drink or two often acts as a social lubricant. In the world of business, drinking at networking events and other social gatherings is completely natural.
Having a drink or two on a date is fine, but just make sure you know your limits, and set personal boundaries. For some, that may be two drinks, and for others, it could be a pitcher of beer. Whatever your limits are, ensure you trust your date and yourself.
The Eat-Like-A-Lady Rule
According to this hookup rule, you must order something that won’t cause a mess, and people follow this because they don't want to gross out the other person. You're probably not on that level of comfort with your date yet. Salads are a cop-out, and ordering a salad will let your date automatically know that you're following this rule or will tell them that you’re not a big eater.
Either way, whatever you order on the first date can say a lot about you. And even though some people say they would love to date someone who loves to eat, how true is that when they’re destroying a rack of BBQ ribs on the first date? It’s understandable to be uncomfortable with notions like this, especially if you feel like messy eating might be reserved for that time in the relationship when you know your partner better. But whatever the case may be, eat whatever you want to eat. And hey, if you like salad, go ahead and order one!
The Timed-Text-Back Rule
This rule says that the time it takes for you to respond to a text message must be equivalent or approximate to the time you waited for that text message. Basically, I waited for you, and now you wait for me. Again, you can see the common thread here of not wanting to be perceived as desperate or needy. But this rule is by far the pettiest rule that has ever been created.
If you're the kind of person who is glued to your cell phone, don't be ashamed to answer someone back right away. You answer your friends and family back promptly, so why not everyone else? Of course, you can make someone wait for you if you were annoyed waiting for their response. But paying close attention to how long it took someone to answer you, then waiting that same amount of time to respond back to them is a little wacky. Texting someone back right away could either mean you were on your cell phone, or you were waiting for the person to text you back.
Each and every one of these rules are silly in their own way. Even though they were made up by society, the only rules you should follow are your personal values and beliefs. Know your limits, be comfortable, and do what ultimately makes you happy.
Nina Rubin, life coach
Evita March, Australian psychologist
Pella Weisman, licensed psychotherapist and dating coach
Dawn Maslar, love biologist
Susan Winter, dating expert and author
Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy expert
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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