Advice: Mental Health

Are there rules for dating?

Dear Dr. Darcy,

I’m new to dating in general. For the most part, I’ve been friends with my partners before we started dating, but recently I met a girl online. What are the rules of dating and is there anything special I should know about? For example, is it weird to go out for drinks two nights in a row and then meet up for some demolition/apartment modeling the next day and then go play bingo the following night? I feel like people usually do the whole play-hard-to-get, but I don’t have the patience, energy or time to do that. Am I making myself too available that I might be turning the other person off?

—Amorous Amateur

Dear AA,

What you’re doing is undisciplined. You are too available, and you know it. If you don’t get some game, you’re going to have trouble dating.

When you’re too available, you become predictable and certain, two attributes that are the antithesis of the key ingredient necessary for successful dating: Excitement. You’re spinning stories about why you don’t have game: You’re too busy; you don’t have the patience or the energy. Stop with the excuses. You could use the same explanations for not engaging in foreplay, but I’m betting you make the time, find the energy and cultivate the patience to be a good lover.

Let me tell you something: At every stage in a relationship, you will need to employ self-discipline. If you don’t learn this now, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of flabby relationship muscles. That thinking that has allowed you to be with this girl, what, like four nights in a row? That’s the thinking that will allow you to walk in the door at the end of the day feeling exhausted and disinclined to give your partner the attention or emotional energy that’s required to sustain a long-term relationship. Make peace with this now, early on, and you’ll thank me in five years.

We scoff at terms like ‘playing hard to get,’ as though it’s beneath us to engage in such a childish, inauthentic practice. There is nothing childish or inauthentic about pacing oneself. Human Behavior 101 teaches us that people are more attracted to one another when there is an element of uncertainty about their availability, particularly during the dating phase. We call this excitement. Find ways to cultivate excitement into every date you have, AA, and you’ll have a long, happy romantic life.

Dr. Darcy Smith is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her practice, Alternatives Counseling, specializes in LGBT issues and is located in New York City. Dr. Darcy’s clinical style is very direct, goal-oriented and pragmatic. For years, the media has been drawn to her unique personality. She has provided expert commentary for networks including E! Entertainment and has worked with television producers throughout the nation. Her blog,, provides free advice to members of the LGBT community. Email questions to or call 212-604-0144.

*This column is not a consultation with a mental health professional
and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such
consultation. Anyone with issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own therapist or counselor.

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