Last week I sat with my summer interns, both female college students and outlined “Palmer’s Rules for Dating.” The rules aren’t actually rules, but rather guidelines that, if followed, increase one’s chances of healthy dating and healthy marriage. The Rules have been gleaned largely from my experience as a youth worker watching high-schoolers and college-aged kids go about the task of finding a mate in the most disasterous ways. Since several people have e-mailed and facebook messaged me about The Rules, I thought I would share them here.
A few things to understand first: (1) These rules exist in the world of typical young adult dating. There are no “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”-ish type rules. I don’t have a problem with the book, I’ve never read it. However, these rules are aids in the world of dating that is familiar to most of us; (2) In nearly 15 years of working with students, the vast majority have been girls. Therefore, The Rules, are typical aimed at girls and designed to help girls; and (3) Some of The Rules are serious, some of The Rules are funny (or I think they are), but all of The Rules are true.
Rule #1: Boys Are Clueless!
I’m serious. Young men don’t think much, there’s not much going on upstairs. In fact, young men are very, very simple creatures. This means, whatever you’re doing to get his attention; He won’t notice. Don’t waste your tears crying to your girlfriends that he “doesn’t know I exists.” He knows, he’s just thinking about football.
A few years into my marriage, Rochelle shared with me that when she first became romantically interested in me, she started to hang around outside my classes, and sit in my vicinity in chapel. This was completely lost on me. If a young woman wants to get a guys attention, she’ll need to do something just a little shy of clubbing him over the head! You’re going to have to think like a guy. Think about it. What movies do guys like? Adam Sandler movies, The Green Lantern, Transformers; these are movies with horrible scripts, the storyline spelled out for a nine year old and more explosions than thinking. Subtlety won’t get you where you want to go. I would have never asked Rochelle on a date had not a mutual friend visited me one afternoon and brought a club with her.
We’re just wired to think differently.
For example, a young woman is driving with a young man. He’s quiet. She says, “What are you thinking?” “Nothing,” he replies. Suddenly her mind starts spinning: “What’s he thinking that he doesn’t want me to know? Is he going to break-up with me? What secret is he keeping? Maybe it’s the outfit I’m wearing? He doesn’t like it. Is my hair okay? Does he like someone else?” On and on it goes. And what is he really thinking?
He’s not lying. He’s simple.
That means if you want to date a boy, if you want something particular out of relationship with a boy, or if you want to get rid of a boy, you have to be crystal clear about your expectations. No beating around the bush. No hints. No suggestions. No “he’ll pick-up on my vibe.” To make him play a guessing game is a prescription for frustration for the both of you.
Movies will tell you that once you’ve found your “soulmate” (a topic we’ll discuss later), then he will automatically know your favorite color, when you’re discouraged, what flowers you prefer and when to give you a foot massage. Uh-uh! Won’t happen! Remember, romantic comedies are written by women. They are the projections of a dream world. Real life isn’t like that. Like everything else in life, people don’t know things until they’re taught things.
And if you think that it should happen and that if he loved you, he would know these things, then you’re going to frequently feel unloved. Yet, you’ll know you’re loved, when he knows what you want and need and then he gives it to you…whether he wants to or not. These are things that a good young man will learn and learn to do over time, but he won’t know to do them initially unless you tell him.
I know, I know. This doesn’t sound so romantic. Well, get over it. I’m trying to set you up for a successful dating life, which hopefully will turn into a fulfilling, life-long marriage. The Rules create fertile soil for romance to grow. Stay tuned….