I’m intense AF when I first start dating someone. It’s pretty simple — if I think you’re great and it seems like you think I’m great and I like kissing you and it seems like you like kissing me, I’m going to want to spend a lot of time with you. Seems pretty clear-cut, right? I mean, it always did to me. Why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as possible with someone you think is dope?? 

Because of the rules of course.

You know the rules I’m talking about. We hear them from our friends; we read them in magazines and in blogs — whole books are written about them. The outdated, sexist, prop-up-the-patriarchy rules that women and femmes have been conditioned to follow since time immemorial. Sure, they change slightly from decade to decade (I mean, no one is waiting at home by the landline anymore) but they’re basically the same. Play hard to get. Don’t give “it” up too easily. Make him prove himself to you.

These rules are so ingrained in our national consciousness that, unfortunately, there’s some measure of truth to them. Just as women and femmes are being told to do things a certain way, men and other masculine-folks are being told that a woman who is “worth it” will do things that way. So, playing by the rules might work sometimes. 

But here’s the question: Do you want a dude who plays by these rules? Who thinks you’re only “valuable” if you don’t put out before an arbitrarily-designated timeframe? Who dicks you around with games, instead of just being a grown up and saying, “I like you”? 

I sure as hell don’t. 

So with that in mind, here are seven outdated relationship rules that need to go the way of the landline.

1. The Man Has To Pay/Make Him Work For It

The idea that the man has to pay for things — from dinner to clothing to gifts — comes from the late 1800s, when women were first entering the job market in big cities, but didn’t make enough to pay for their own nights out. Those city girls were called “charity girls” because they weren’t paid directly for their services, but there were definitely some sexual expectations tacked onto that movie ticket or dinner out.

Now, I know we’re still not making as much as our male counterparts, but many of us are making enough to pay our own way. If you want to sleep with a dude, sleep with him. But don’t set up a situation where you feel obligated. And treat him out sometimes, too! I promise — dudes like being spoiled just as much as we do.

2. He Should Say “I Love You” First

I fall in love fast and hard, so I’ve never, ever followed this rule. And, sorry to break it to you, but if you’re in love with someone? They can tell. Saying it super, super early — like, I don’t know, two weeks in — might display some emotional immaturity, but in general if you’re feeling it and think they might be, too, say it! It’s going to come out anyway.

3. The Woman Doesn’t Pursue The Man

I hate it when guys pursue me. I’m almost always the one in pursuit — the one who approaches first in the bar, the one who kisses first, the one who calls and makes plans and buys gifts. I know that’s “weird” for a woman — especially a very femme one, as I am — but it’s how I prefer to do things. I feel uncomfortable when guys pursue me and I also consider it to be a fun way to mess with gender roles and expectations. 

If you like being pursued, of course, then that’s totally cool. But not all women do and saying that it’s a the rule that the guy pursues is just garbage.

4. Don’t Double Text

Ugh, why? I understand the idea that people of all genders don’t like it when anyone is super clingy or texting them a million times in a row, but you know the difference between that kind of activity and just sending two texts in a row. For example, just because you said the last thing last time doesn’t mean you can’t say the first thing this time. Or maybe you need his response because it’s time sensitive.

So there are circumstances where double texting is totally legit. Instead of following an outdated rule, use your best judgment. And also? If a guy doesn’t want to date you because you texted him twice, he’s the psycho.

5. Wait Three Days After A Date To Be In Touch 

You go on a date. You have a great time. How would you feel if the guy texted you right away that night or the next morning? If the answer is “like a billion champagne bubbles were popping inside me because it means he likes me too,” then don’t you think he might feel the same way?

6. Make Him Wait For It

Women’s value has been pegged to our sexuality for longer than history can recount. Whether it’s fetishizing virginity or shunning “loose” women or the Madonna/whore complex, we’re told that we’re only worth it if we’re keeping our legs closed. Except, we have to open them sometimes. And we have to make guys think that maybe they could be opened, with the right dinner out or compliment or time spent or whatever.

But guess what? Women can work now. We can choose whether or not we want to have children. We are no one’s property and that means it’s up to us to decide if and when we want to have sex. Not up to our friends. Not up to our dates. Not up to some arbitrary rule. 

So stop beating yourself up for sleeping with a guy “too soon.” Sure, drawing it out can be fun because it builds up tension. But don’t do it because you’re “supposed” to. If he likes you, it won’t matter anyway.

7. Don’t Poop At His House 

I know, I know — this is one that plenty of people are going to disagree with. But, look, if you have to poop and you’re sleeping over at someone’s house, just poop. Turn on the faucet if you’re embarrassed; carry matches in your purse; whatever. But if you’re comfortable enough with a guy to let him stick his penis inside you, it seems pretty weird to not be comfortable pooping. 

These rules not only make grown ass humans act like dumb teenagers, they also support patriarchal ideas about women and our worth. Personally, I’m not interested in supporting those ideas — and I’m definitely not interested in dating a guy who does, either. So instead of following someone else’s rules, make your own. And if he’s the right person for you? He’ll dig it. And if he doesn’t? Boy, bye.