Dating Rules: 16 things you should STOP doing today!

Let’s Face It, the rules for dating have changed drastically and one must (un)learn and (re)learn the new rules to be in the game! Wise Man is an entrepreneur, teacher, marketing and digital media expert. He shares his views on what not to do when dating.


Over the years, I have been in some really wonderful (and some horrible) relationships. In most instances, my ex and I have actually become good friends, and we still maintain a healthy relationship without impeding the other’s space.

However, over the last couple of years, I have had some terribly bad dates, and while in some cases I have questioned myself, I came to realize that some people have very different and possibly inaccurate expectations with regards to partners and relationships, and hence tend to have various bad experiences.

Based on my personal observations, I have compiled a list of things that we need to stop doing if we are ever to enter a healthy, romantic relationship again:

  • STOP being shy – If you never ask, the answer will always be no. You get one life; get out and live it.
  • STOP using a checklist – No one is ever going to be good enough if we have too many preexisting conditions and expectations.
  • STOP having your own agenda – There are two people in a relationship. Period. Find some common ground to connect on rather than just trying to find the best fit. It may work when it comes to shopping for shoes, but not when dating.
  • STOP looking at the other person like a cheque book – This is all too common, and while money is important, it takes two people to make a great relationship, and a large bank balance is never going to solve that.
  • STOP avoiding to communicate – If there is some confusion or reservations about the other person, talk to them. Lack of communication strengthens the confusion and creates further problems.
  • STOP living in the past – Comparing the person we are dating to people in the past is never going to make us happy in the present, nor will it allow us to move to a more positive future with another person.
  • STOP chatting online – While it’s important to communicate, and regularly so, texting, Facebook and Whatsapp messages can never come close to the real thing – they never convey the tone and feeling meant to be conveyed, and can sometimes lead conversations awry.
  • STOP discussing with friends about the person you are dating – It’s important for friends to meet the person you are dating (possibly with the intention to spend the rest of your life with), but you should do so only when you have independently made up your mind. Dating in today’s world is hard enough without the added confusion caused by other people who may not understand the circumstances, albeit with the best of intentions.


  • STOP waiting for the other person to be the one to always reach out – The rules of dating have changed. Want to talk to someone? Pick up the phone and call. Invite them to a coffee. If the person avoids you, move on. They’re not worth your time or perhaps they have their own issues to deal with.
  • STOP being so subjective – We can’t spend the rest of our life analyzing (most often over-analyzing) everything that happens. Don’t take things so personally, and let them build up within. They only get worse. Start looking at things differently. Only we have the power to change that.
  • STOP trying to change the person to suit yourself – Whether it’s clothes, hairstyle or even their car; always remember that you liked the person for who they were when you met them. And if they genuinely care about you, they will naturally be a better person as a result of the healthy relationship you share.
  • STOP losing confidence – a friend recently told me this, and I really appreciated her honesty. There are enough people out there who will try and make you feel bad, you may have a lot of bad experiences, but ultimately you will never be happy if you don’t love yourself, believe or be confident about yourself.
  • STOP making quick decisions – I cannot emphasize this enough. We live in a world where we make quick decisions about work, shopping and personal choices, and these shape the person we become. Take some time to get to know the other person, and be comfortable talking to them over a long period of time before making any decision. Be patient.
  • STOP asking the wrong questions (and giving the wrong answers) – OK, so perhaps there is nothing such as a wrong question or answer, but sometimes the manner in which the questions are asked can really push a person into a corner and make them uncomfortable. This only ensures answers that you may be uncomfortable with, and what’s worse, you may interpret them incorrectly. Take the time to get to know the person, be comfortable with each other, and then and only then broach the more important questions.
  • STOP being cynical – Yes, there are a lot of bad things that happen, and it’s getting harder to meet the right person. Yes, we are all getting older, and our families and friends put enough pressure on us. But not enjoying the experience of dating will never let us move ahead in life. Stop remembering all the bad things that happened in the past, and focus on the good aspects of dating.
  • STOP looking for the “right person” – There is no such thing as the right person – there is only a person that we enjoy being with, the person that we enjoy talking to, the person we are comfortable and secure with, and the person we want to come home to. Don’t focus too much on the choice, but how to adapt to each other, so that the relationship can be enjoyed equally.

Dating can be fun and it’s all a matter of perspectives. This has been my experience. I do hope that allowing yourself to look at it differently will help you have a better experience.

Happy Dating!


Marriage is Not a 50-50 affair

I was recently reading the guide to intimate relations that Reader’s Digest had published in 1999 and it brought back memories. I was going through a rough patch some years ago – seriously questioning why I had married and what was making me stay in the marriage. That’s when a close friend said, ‘marriage is a 50-50 partnership. Each of you need to be equally involved to make this work – that’s the vow you took when you married and you can’t back out of it now’.

Well his comment at that point in my life made me rethink if I was being selfish, just thinking about myself – addressing only those issues that mattered to me, impacted my life instead of looking at the alternative view – my husband’s? So I took a step back, tried to curb my instinctual reactions and made an effort to re-look at the good things we had going as a couple.

The rough patch passed or did it? In some ways it had but then again sometimes I’ve felt that those issues that we’d shoved under the carpet had ways of raising their ugly head once in a while.

Its much later in our lives together, that we both realized and more importantly accepted and acknowledged that marriage is NOT a 50-50 affair.

When my husband took up photography as a hobby, we enjoyed spending time together. I accompanied him on his travels and it was fun. He shared his thoughts on photography with me and wanted my inputs on the images he took. He inherently likes to delve deep into anything that interests him – in this case he researched on cameras, lighting, exposure, Photoshop, lenses etc – he slowly developed his expertise to the extent that his friends looked up to him for his opinion and advice. He would talk to me at length too about the different facets of photography – some of which I enjoyed but realized very soon that I didn’t share the same passion for photography. I didn’t totally understand the concepts behind the making of a photograph although aesthetically they appealed to me. I couldn’t converse with him with the same authority and soon got bored. I truly wanted to share his pleasure but it did take us a long time to realize that some joys are solo activities.

Similarly I loved to read and write, watch crime serials, play word games or Sudoku – none of which required interaction with others. When we’re on a holiday I like to carry a book along and believe in lazing around. My husband on the other hand prefers to check out local spots, take photographs, enjoy the local cuisine, and meet new people. We each looked at a holiday in different ways. It’s taken us some time to accept, accommodate and let go – allowing each other the option to do different things and at other times accommodating the other’s view do something’s together. I still regret the time when my friend offered me the opportunity to travel with her to Hong Kong – I declined as my husband was busy working and couldn’t accompany us. I believed that as a couple; we should always travel together (except when travelling on work). But years later, as I still regret that decision I now know that I should have gone ahead – travelling without him for fun didn’t mean I loved him any less nor did it mean that there were no feelings of ‘togetherness’!

After our daughter was born, we took the joint decision that I would stay home with her and work either part-time or on projects from home. Of course it meant that he was completely responsible for bringing in the moolah – a real pressure especially since we’d lived life king size as DINKS for a long time. The decision felt right for some time, rather most of the time except when I was physically and mentally drained looking after my daughter and desperately needed a break, when people only insisted speaking to me about motherhood and child upbringing, when I felt lost without the work ‘anchor’! On the other hand he too had his own battles to deal with, used to be equally tired after a long day’s work and needed ‘me’ time to unwind and relax. Although tempers flared often, the point was that apart from regular work, he too did a lot of other things around the house, shared many a responsibility. I too had help at home which helped hugely when I was working on projects from home. So our expectations from each other and our new roles in life needed to be revised.

The idea that an equal marriage had to mean identical experiences for us wasn’t true as it ignored our personal preferences. It’s a trap to assume that a marriage can be a 50-50 in all spheres, all the time. It only leads to unrealistic notions as no two people are identical in emotions, interests or responsibilities. Nor can two people divide their skills in some identically ‘fair’ way.

What is important in marriages is the spirit of 50-50, with the flexibility of give and take. Emotional equality where both partners felt equally loved, shared in family decisions and contributed equally to the family’s well-being – that perhaps is the kind of equality that really works.


Marriage is a maze of negotiations and decisions – each with its own impact and rippling effects. You win some, you lose some. Mostly you need to decide what suits you the best. Easier said than done!


For one the concept of ‘you’ changes as one ages – from ‘you’, the individual, it moves to include your spouse and then your children. ‘You’ could also refer to your family. What’s best for you has to be in the context of changing situations – even those that might come up in future.

Decisions can be a lengthy process or spontaneous. They can be taken in total agreement or be one-sided. It’s an open playing field and sometimes, the stronger side wins.

Ideally, decisions should be taken as a couple – well thought through, discussed at length, pros and cons acknowledged and both sides should feel like their views have been taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, the truth is that decisions cannot be taken as a couple in isolation. Your ego, id, family pressure, upbringing, emotions, past experiences, finances, situational context – all play a role and much depends on what or who gets the upper hand! The best place to begin, therefore, is to acknowledge this simple fact.

It is extremely difficult to develop the capacity to view every situation independently and objectively before taking a decision. Sometimes though, it’s best not to, as past experiences can rightly shed light to guide one’s actions. Sometimes it’s good to go by gut – if you believe in it, go for it.You might repent later, but at least, you’ve made a choice.

Failing to exercise your choice is still a decision, so you must accept that. You cannot blame anyone – and if it’s the wrong decision, step back, rethink about what went wrong, forgive yourself and move on. There is no point in harbouring the nagging doubt that it was your fault – you didn’t stand up and take action, or didn’t voice your opinion more strongly, or didn’t have sufficient information or didn’t want to face the ugly truth! Don’t keep score as it’s one way to guarantee that nobody wins.

Moving on is the penultimate truth about decisions. If you’re unable to move on then you’ll be stuck in the rut forever. No matter what new experiences you have – you will always look at them through doubtful eyes. Believe that you did what you thought was right then, stand by it. If, in the present, it seems wrong, then do accept, that it was right for a while.

A successful marriage includes two skilled negotiators. No matter who took the final call, if it’s right, great minds think alike. If it’s wrong, then share the blame as a significant long-term impact of decision-making, is that your child will learn from you and emulate in future.