Advice: Throw the dating rules out

Woman on the phone

Woman on the phone (February 6, 2013)

I like this guy and we see each other around a lot and talk sometimes but should I be all old-fashioned and wait around for him or grow some and ask him?--Waiting

I learned something startling the other day, Waiting. According to the recent census, the most common job for women in 2012 was to be a secretary. This was also the most common job for women in 1950. Sixty years have passed, more women are getting their graduate degrees than men, and women are starting their own businesses in droves, but still the most common job is secretary. What does this have to do with your love life, Waiting? Only this. What's keeping you from asking your guy out is the same thing that's telling a woman with a master's degree that she should start at the bottom--the stubborn, persistent and false beliefs we have about ourselves and about gender roles.

It's 2013, Waiting. Dating "rules" these days are basically, to incorrectly paraphrase author Cheryl Strayed, "a pile of crap somebody stacked up real high" same as they've always been, but today they're smeared around the Internet so they have a much wider grasp. Here's an example of a dating rule from the '50s: "Don't use the car mirror to fix your make-up. Man needs it in driving and it annoys him very much to turn around to see what's behind him." You're also never supposed to talk to a man while dancing and to "never look bored, even if you are." We can laugh at such rules now, but 50 years into the future, our cryogenically frozen selves are the ones who'll be laughing at the fact that we thought we had to wait three days to text someone back, otherwise we'd seem "too eager."

You should move always forward, Waiting, in the direction of your truest self; that's the only rubric you need to follow. We humans like to complicate matters that are inherently simple because we are fragile and afraid of getting hurt, but really in the end, all we can do is be as brave and honest and hopeful as we can. What happens next is out of your hands, so you may as well spend your days living the shit out of your life because you only get one shot at it. So yes, dear girl, go, ask him. Have the courage to be always beginning. Get over those silly voices in your head that have told you you are a girl and therefore you should wait for a boy to ask you out. In fact, we'd all do good to remember to wait less and act more (except perhaps for brunch at M. Henry. That shit is delicious).

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