In your earliest days of dating, Mom probably had a lot to say about handling that budding relationship with the cute boy in class or obsessing over your latest crush. And while you may want to keep your mom clued in, the dating landscape from her day is totally different from yours. There’s a lot about your relationship life she just doesn’t seem to understand, from s*xting to ghosting to Tindering.
While some of Mom’s advice can be incredibly wise, some of it…not so much. Go with your gut if you question Mom’s philosophies—and take some practical, modern wisdom from our experts.
Texting? It’s something Mom never, ever encountered— and a lot of people kill relationships early on with their texting habits, says dating coach Laurel House, author of Screwing the Rules. “If you don’t have conversations that are substantive, revealing, fun, or flirty, he will quickly grow bored and disappear,” she explains. Think of all those dead-end texts you get from guys who clearly aren’t carrying their portion of the conversation. Bottom line? Boring texts read: boring person.
What’s the magic texting formula? House suggests: Text about something you did that’s interesting, and ask a question. Pretty straightforward, but less common than you think. This conveys you’re paying attention to his day-to-day activities, even in the midst of your own—but not just mindlessly checking up on him. “Show interest, absolutely,” says House. “But there are other much more effective ways to do it than multiple daily texts that say nothing.”
We live in a world with the illusion of options. Lots of options. Way more options than Mama ever had. “Dating websites and apps offer thousands of daters at our fingertips,” says dating coach Neely Steinberg, author of Skin in the Game. “There’s always someone better out there, just one more date, just one more person—instead of appreciating someone right there in front of you, who just so happens to be great.”
Let’s say you meet a guy who has potential, but you’re not sure if you love his career path or his sense of style. Give him a chance, even if you’re not all-in from the moment you lay eyes on him. “Be practical and realistic about your expectations for a partner, instead of thinking you can find a guy who is everything,” says Steinberg.
Being elusive and mysterious is a game that doesn’t always work. So, ditch the copy of The Rules that mom gave you and don’t be afraid to be upfront about the stuff that (you think) might scare him off early. Would it be appropriate to tell a guy on your first date that you’ve been divorced, twice? Absolutely, says House—if you keep in mind that there’s a fine line between oversharing and simply being real and honest. Remember, you’re a complete package, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
And if your news raises an eyebrow, wouldn’t you rather know now than in three months when he bails on you? Think of it as a filter and a time-saver, says House. “If you want to find that deep, guttural love— the love that lasts, hooks your heart and implants itself in you — you’ve got to get rid of the protective layer,” she explains.
In some capacity, ghosting (or fading out) has always existed. Some people just can’t speak up and be honest, regardless of their generation. Today, though, it’s tougher than in Mom’s day because our ghosts linger for longer and never really disappear.
Most ghosts don’t just do the insta-poof. It’s a few excuses about being busy, a few ignored invites, a few unanswered texts… and then, they’re gone. “Our moms didn’t grow up in an age where the person who disappears on you is all over Instagram and your Facebook feed,” says Steinberg. So, it’s up to you to erase them quickly and permanently. Remember: if someone wants to see you, effort (not excuses) will be extended. If someone ghosts you, delete them from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the like.
The final word: Daters have more choice than ever before—and more choice is more power. “We can make our own rules while dating,” Steinberg says. “We can choose to enter into relationships that are more equitable. We can ask a man out and not feel weird about it!” Yes, these options come with a little more hair on the whole “meeting your match” situation—but like in all decisions, you get to have control to be yourself, take charge, and call out or nix anyone who isn’t right for you.