The 'Lemon Law' is the harsh but brilliant dating rule we all need to start doing.

The modern dating experience is a minefield.

People no longer meet in real life, swiping has replaced the meet-cute and while you think chemistry can be replicated through witty, banter-filled messages, you quickly learn that meeting up in person will always be the best barometer for human attraction.

That’s why after exchanging anecdotes about lacklustre dates with a friend, she surprised me with this piece of borderline-cruel, but surprisingly brilliant dating advice.

In actual fact, she borrowed it from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in which Barney Stinson thinks he’s discovered the secret of dating.

“From the moment the date begins you have five minutes to decide whether you’re going to commit to an entire evening,” he begins to explain.

“And if you don’t, it’s no hard feelings, just good night, thanks for playing, see you never.”

Now, for the uninitiated, Barney Stinson is a womaniser and a Grade A douche, but in that moment from one (arguably slightly bitter) single girl to another, it was as Oprah would call it – an ah-ha moment.

Although the five-minutes might be a bit presumptuous – let’s extend this to say 15-20 minutes – generally you already know in that short window of time whether the conversation flows naturally and whether or not you want to commit to a second date.

This isn’t to say you have to decide, but if there’s no spark and you’ve decided you’d rather be at home in your PJs watching the latest episode of The Bachelor, is it that bad if you bow out before the first drink?


Watch Barney Stinson explain the Lemon Law on How I Met Your Mother here:

Video by How I Met Your Mother

Alas, the majority of my colleagues thought yes, and while I was left to contemplate the benefits of a dating sabbatical, they shared some more level-headed dating approaches.

One recommended the humble ‘first dates can only be coffee dates’ rule because she “didn’t want to waste money, time or a night out on someone that wasn’t worth it”.

Very fair.

Others thought the five-minute rule was too quick, while another agreed that although it was ruthless and incredibly judgemental, she also thought women too often ignore their first instincts when it comes to dating.

However, one colleague confessed that she had friends who had gone on dates where they didn’t even sit down or get out of their car because they knew it “wasn’t going to work” after just looking at the other person.

Despite this, the overall consensus was clear – be polite and wait it out because sometimes – most of the time – it takes more than one date to really make a good impression.

As one friend told me – no one is their best self in the first five minutes of a date.



But still, a part of me thinks the ‘lemon rule’ is just the more honest, upfront version of ghosting but condensed into a shorter period of time.

Don’t you think?

Would you ever use the ‘lemon law’ in real life? Share your story in a comment below.

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