real life

Have the dating rules changed, or are we still waiting by the phone?

Have you ever asked somebody out on a date?  If you are female in 2011 the answer will probably be no. Or will it?  Lucy Ormonde writes:


“If I applied the same rules to my dating life that I do to my professional life, I’d be sitting by the front door waiting for someone to knock twice and offer me a job. So there’s little wonder why I’m single.

This post is not about feminism and it’s not about liberation. It’s about confusion. You see, one day while I was patiently waiting for prince charming to throw stones at my window, I began to think about all the things that modern women do. We have careers. We become world leaders. We’ve thrown away our sidesaddles and we’ve saved the number of our local Thai take-away shops into our smart phones.

And yet when it comes to dating, we seem to be stuck in the past. We act like it’s 1814 and we’re playing out scenes from a Jane Austen text.

While other aspects of life have evolved and progressed over the years, the rules that govern our dating lives have stayed the same. Yes we’ve added mobile phones, Farmer Wants a Wife and Oasis Online, but for the most part we follow same dating principles that our parents – and their parents – followed back in their dinner-and-a-movie days.  Like a gazillion years ago.

What I’m talking about is the first move. And more specifically, who makes it. I don’t date a lot, but when I do I always wait for the boy to make the first move. And my reasoning? Because that’s just the way at is. Because I don’t want to seem too forward. And because no love story ever started with the line, ‘Well, Mummy pursued Daddy for a very long time…’

I asked a friend of mine if she thought women could make the first move in a relationship. When she answered with an exuberant ‘Yes,’ I feared my dinosaur dating standards might not be as widespread as I once thought. Only when I asked her if she had or would ever make such a move, her excitement dropped and a dejected ‘Nooooooo’ came out under her breath.

There seems to be a disconnect between what women could (or should) do and what they’re actually doing. In theory we should be making the first move but in reality we’re not. I have a job, I pay rent and if I had to I could roast a bloody chook. With stuffing and sides. But can I walk up to a boy in a bar and tell him I think he’s cute? Hell no.

Here’s what I don’t understand. When did it become such a bad thing to tell someone – man or woman – that you like them?

My friend is an online dater. And even in the virtual world she waits for the man to make the first move. “If I’ve been chatting to someone I like, I’ll probably wait for him to suggest catching up,” she says. Yes she’ll engage in some flirtatious banter, exchange a sneaky ‘xox’ here and there, but when time comes to meet in person she reverts to those traditions of dating we’re all guilty of following.

So we wait. We wait by our phones. By our Facebook pages. By our Twitter accounts. We wait for chivalry, we wait to be chased. We wait for the kind of bold romantic gestures that occur only in over-the-top Hollywood versions of already unrealistic Nicholas Sparks’ novels.

And then we wonder why nothing’s happening.

So what I really want to know is, in the age of mobile phones, paid maternity leave and online dating, should women be able to make the first move and ask a man on a date?

And if they do, who pays for dinner?


What is/was your dating etiquette? Are you an asker or an askee? 

00:00 / ???