Yes, You Can Talk About Your Ex and Other Dating Myths It’s Time to Debunk

We’ve heard them all before: “Don’t talk about your ex,” “Wait three days to call.” Dating “rules” have plagued singles for decades. But, in an age where smart phones and dating apps have changed the game, are they, in fact, still true? We consulted the experts and found seven dating myths that are way past their expiration dates.

MYTH: Never Talk About Your Ex
THE REAL DEAL: While no one wants to hear a bitter rant or a worrisome pining, avoiding all discussions of past relationships can sometimes feel like ignoring the elephant in the room. Erika Kybartas, a matchmaker at It’s Just Lunch in Chicago, says discussing your dating history is okay. “Just try to put the focus on you, what you learned about yourself,” she says. “Don’t make it about the other person.” And most important, Kybartas cautions to tread lightly. “As long as you’re keeping it positive, light and lighthearted ex talk doesn’t have to be off limits.”

MYTH: Expect the Guy to Pay
THE REAL DEAL: “A recent study said that 77.4 percent of women felt the man should pay on the first date,” says Kybartas. Unfortunately, it seems most men—particularly younger men—haven’t gotten the memo. “I hear a lot of young women who expect the guy to pay, but guys not infrequently ask to split the bill,” says Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist in Manhattan. “One could wonder whether they are confused by feminism or just cheap.” Either way, adjust expectations accordingly and bring cash or credit card. “If it turns into a long-term relationship, you can discuss finances openly and decide together who pays for what,” she says.

MYTH: Banish Your Phone
THE REAL DEAL: Yes, says Fitzpatrick, it’s a “bad idea to check Instagram in the middle of dinner.” But phones aren’t totally forbidden if it’s something that enhances the conversation, not walls you off. “If something reminds you of a funny YouTube video, that might be just the icebreaker you two need,” she says. In that case, by all means, break out the iPhone.

MYTH: Downplay Your Career
THE REAL DEAL: We’ve all heard this adage before: Men are intimated by successful women. Not true! “Many men dating today have moms who were in the workforce,” says Fitzpatrick. “They are not only comfortable with successful women, [but also] seek out partners who are serious about their own careers.” And Kybartas agrees. “Women tend to want to downplay their accomplishments, and while it’s not great to brag, you should absolutely not dumb yourself down,” she says.

MYTH: You’ll Know He’s “The One” Right Away
THE REAL DEAL: While some couples feel an instant, Cupid’s arrow-like connection, not all do. This could in part be personality-based. More reserved people can require more time to open up. This, says Fitzpatrick, is fine. “Getting a sense of someone’s character and a shared understanding of the kind of life you want to build takes longer anyway,” she notes. Kybartas concurs. “Unless something totally horrifying happens, I always encourage a second date,” she says, cautioning that first date nerves can sometimes get the best of people. And if it doesn’t work out after date two, there could still be a silver lining. “You never know who they know,” she says. “I’ve had plenty of clients where there was no chemistry, but ended up dating each other’s friends.”

MYTH: After the Date, Always Wait a Few Days Before Responding
THE REAL DEAL: Playing “hard to get” used to be considered good strategy, but today, experts caution against this move. “Avoiding the person isn’t the answer,” says Fitzpatrick. “It’s confusing.” And can send the wrong “I’m not interested” message, particularly these days, when most people are never too far from their phone. “Shift your focus to tuning into him,” Fitzpatrick advises. Kybartas agrees and says that, “there’s no harm in texting back right away.” But don’t get carried away. Both experts agree: DO NOT send numerous lengthy texts without replies. “It’s a bad idea,” says Fitzpatrick.

MYTH: Don’t Be Yourself
THE REAL DEAL: While this may seem obvious, Fitzpatrick says that staying true to yourself “is easier said than done when you’re nervous.” So while pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t helpful to you or your date, don’t pressure yourself to feel totally comfortable and relaxed. “A little nervousness generates excitement,” she says. 

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