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When it comes to relationships, some men and women have a rule book they follow. "We feel protected from being hurt or disappointed by the other person by following these rules," explains Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "But we should question them, because ... people need individual and different ideas in life. As long as you feel secure in the actions you're taking and can deal with the outcomes, it's OK to break the rules." Here, our experts say, are eight such relationship rules you can and maybe even should break.
Rule 1: Always make the first date for coffee or cocktails.
Many people worry that a big dating investment up front might not pay off, so they give only a minimal time-commitment to the first date. "But I think you should turn this rule on it's head," relationship and etiquette expert April Masini says. "If you're going to accept a date, go all in. After all, when someone invites you to dinner on a Saturday night, they're showing you they think you're special and that they're committed. And you can weed out serial daters and daters who aren't that serious about you this way."
Rule 2: You must wait until the third date to have sex.
Think getting down too soon is a deal breaker? It might be time to think again, says Greer. "If you feel good about the person, are really attracted to them, and you feel safe with them, it's OK to go ahead and sleep with them," she says. "On the flip side, you can also wait until past the third date." In other words, wait until you're ready, whenever that may be.
Rule 3: You should always stick to your type.
"It's great to know who you are and what you're looking for," says Masini. But if sticking to a particular type of person isn't working for you, it's time to toss your type out the window and try something new, she says. "Many people don't even realize that they're dating a type until they start complaining that nothing is working for them," Masini explains. "You may come to find sweet surprises when you shake up the path you're on for a different one that leads you where you always wanted to go."
Rule 4: You have to wait to introduce him to your friends.
Greer says that many people think they can't formally introduce their love interests to their friends (and especially their parents) until after they've hit a certain number of dates. But, she says, "if you're feeling comfortable with him and want your friends to meet him, by all means, break this rule. Bring him into your circle and see if he clicks with them."
Rule 5: When you're right, you shouldn't be the first to apologize.
When you're right, you're right. And when you're right, it can feel like you shouldn't have to be the first to say you're sorry. But, says Greer, "it doesn't matter who's right or wrong — it matters that you're trying to understand each other and resolve the issue. Break this rule and try to work things out rather than standing on principle and feeling right."
Rule 6: I must have a plus-one.
Just because you get an invitation that gives you a plus-one to your BFF's wedding doesn't mean you should bring a date, says Masini. In fact, she suggests, it's good to fly solo if you're single. Why? "You'll have a much better chance of meeting someone if you appear single than if you drag along a friend or a default date simply because you don't want to be alone because it's uncomfortable," Masini says.
Rule 7: You shouldn't go away for the weekend before you've had sex.
If you've yet to be intimate with your partner, you might worry that going away together is a way of sealing the deal way before you're ready. Says Greer, "If you feel you're really into him and want to go away, it's OK — but don't feel pressured to be intimate just because you're going on a vacation. If you feel like he may have expectations, then let him know before you go that you make no promises in that department and don't know how you'll be feeling once you get there."
Rule 8: Never accept a last-minute date.
Masini says this is generally a good rule to follow. "However, there times when it's perfect to break this rule once," she says. "If he was taking his mother to the ballet and she wasn't feeling well and he would like to take you instead, grab your little black dress and enjoy. Or if his roommate just missed a plane and won't be able to use court side basketball tickets, and he'd love you to go with him in an hour, it's legit enough to change your tune, break the rule, and go. This isn't something you want to get into the habit of doing, but if there's a believable reason for the last minute date, and it's not 'hanging out' or watching Netflix at his place or yours, you should go."