They say what you put up with is what you end up with, and this is especially true when it comes to relationships. We have to have standards because, without them, we’d all be dating men who call us “broads” and expect us to serve them breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed while we juggle three jobs to pay for Champagne rooms and NFL season tickets.
With that said, some relationship standards deserve to be put out to pasture because they’re silly, totally outdated and do very little to strengthen our relationships. So, while you should embrace his habit of opening car doors for you — yes, you can be a feminist and still appreciate this gentlemanly gesture — here are 10 archaic relationship standards that should go the way of the dodo.
1. Men should fix everything around the house. Women should do the dusting.
If you bought a house together, you should both be aware of how your boiler and hot water heater work, or at the very least how to turn them off if disaster ever strikes. You should both know that if you spray glass cleaner on granite countertops, you’re royally effed. Your house and all of the various things you must do to keep it up and running aren’t male or female jobs — they’re people jobs.
2. Men should discipline their children and women should nurture them.
Some couples decide early on that Dad will dole out all of the consequences for misdeeds and mom will be there to wipe away the tears when their child comes a-running to complain about Big Bad Daddy. That’s a recipe for resentment between partners and confusion for children. And if you think little Johnny isn’t going to realize by age 2 whose authority he can totally ignore while at the mall, the proof will be in the number of shampoo bottles he knocks to the ground at Walmart.
3. Men should pay for all dates.
I’m still old fashioned and believe a man should pay for the first date, especially if he was the one who invited a woman out. But if you’re now officially an item and you don’t at least offer to pay for coffee or a meal once in a while, you are basically making it clear that you aren’t willing to pull your weight. If you have a job and enough income to buy cute shoes, you can certainly cough up some dough to purchase movie tickets.
4. All conversations should be face-to-face or over the phone.
As someone who abhors six-minute phone calls in which all important information could have been conveyed in a five-word text, don’t even talk to me about how texting spells the downfall of civilization. Baloney. If you just want to say “goodnight” or “I’m thinking of you,” there’s sometimes nothing sweeter (and sexier, depending on the message) than a short and simple text.
5. Thou shall not have sex until date number (fill in the blank).
Last time I checked, the third date — or is it date number 5? — is the magical night when sex can happen and neither be too soon or too late, for what exactly, no one is sure. But when you get to know folks who are in stable and healthy relationships, you’ll learn that many had sex on the first date. Some waited months after they met. Others had sex, dated for a month, broke up, and then met again a year later and got married. There’s no sex recipe for a lasting relationship.
6. Men should have more past sex partners than women.
If you really must have the dreaded talk about past lovers, suit yourself — even though you know deep down that the past is a ghost, right? But, OK, you’ve both deemed this conversation necessary, now don’t shrink if you learn you’ve had more sex partners than your boyfriend or husband. You had different lives before you met and your choices were yours to make. You don’t owe anyone in your current life an apology for the love life you once had — it belongs to you and you alone.
7. Don’t call right away after a first date.
My husband and I had the most magical first date of my life. I was head over heels in love after one hour of speaking with him and spent the entire next day daydreaming about what our babies would look like. So, what did I do when he ignored the rule about not calling right away and called the very next morning? I ignored his calls on purpose. My boob move didn’t keep us from having a second date a few nights later, but when I ultimately told him how I was trying to play hard to get, he confessed that he almost gave up because he didn’t think I was interested. Who wins in that situation?
8. You should always vacation together.
You should definitely vacation together. Smooch in the Caribbean and explore Rome taking bites out of one another’s gelato. But, if you’re in a financial position to do so, you should also get thee to Prague immediately — and bring three of your closest girlfriends. Getting away with the girls brings out the 12-year-old giggler in you — and makes you a more interesting partner when you return home.
9. If you fight, you aren’t soul mates and aren’t meant to be together.
It isn’t the fact that you fight, it’s how you fight that matters. Unless someone is being downright abusive to you, it’s a good thing to express yourself and set boundaries in your relationship. Assuming your arguments are over actual issues and not an excuse to unleash your inner anger over some injustice that happened to you 25 years ago, each uncomfortable experience should teach you both about one another. And this can only bring you closer together.
10. Couples should always keep things spicy.
Women’s magazines and lingerie companies make a fortune selling the idea to women that they must constantly change something about themselves or their lives in order to keep their partners interested. We’ve all been taught that routine is a fate worse than death. But, in reality, it’s necessary. It’s comforting. And you are enough, with or without the “spider” sex position and cage back panties. With that said, yes, by all means, try the “spider” if you do get bored on a random Tuesday night. And then jump back into your flannels and watch Shark Tank together.