In the words of "Seinfeld" character George Costanza, "Wouldn't it be great if you could ask a woman what she's thinking?"
To some, it would be much easier just to know what someone is thinking or how they feel. Yet, the rules of the dating game continue to be pervasive not only in how many individuals behave but also in they way they respond to others that spark their interest.
According to psychology of human sexuality professor Larry Bloom, the rules of dating are embedded in American society. People learn how to behave in the dating world by reading magazines, watching television and interacting with others.
"Some individuals are more keenly aware of these rules than others," Bloom said. "The reason that people don't normally behave discordant to the rules of dating is that it doesn't come off well."
Charles Davidshofer, director of the University Counseling Center, said that the established rules of how people behave in the dating world tend to get handed down from person to person.
"There's a kind of a law that gets passed down that says if someone calls right away they're too needy or if they wait too long, then maybe they're not interested," Davidshofer said.
Some people find that dating rules provide a set of guidelines that enable them to present an ideal picture of themselves.
"You want to put forth your best self," said Sarah Ford a senior English major. "You want to make it seem like you don't need anything."
For some, the guidelines of these dating rules provide a degree of comfort as they approach what is commonly seen as a realm fraught with personal risk. Generally, people are not comfortable risking hurt feelings until they are confident that their interest will be reciprocated.
"I would pretty much only show someone I like them after they have shown me," said Sarah Rasmus a senior social work major.
"The unwritten rules are annoying," said freshman technical journalism major Jessica Lipman. "By playing games, people want others to think they're one step ahead."
Many CSU students agree that a lessening of the prominent role of dating rules would minimize the hassles of miscommunication and reduce unnecessary time spent on analysis.
"I don't like to waste time on games," said freshman art major Carrie Williams. "It's easier to just know how the other person feels right away so you can just get over it easier if you are rejected."
Expressing interest in someone does not necessarily require a direct approach that may leave a person vulnerable to wounded feelings.
"You can let someone know that you have some interest in them by smiling, maintaining some eye contact and involving them in conversation," Davidshofer said.
Being a participant in the rules of the game often involves an attempt to decipher unclear messages. Jacque Voss, a clinical psychologist in the University Counseling Center, said personal experience with negative dating experiences and other factors such as dysfunctional family relationships might lead to a fear of intimacy, which further complicates the dating process.
"There are certain people who have gotten burned in the past or who had family relationships that led them to be afraid of being intimate," Voss said. "They will tend to under-trust, not to open up much and to have a hard time in giving of themselves because they're afraid of getting hurt."
Another primary reason people follow dating rules is that they recognize that it can often be easy to overwhelm the other person.
"A lot of people will take a neutral stance to avoid alienating the other person or scaring them off," said Neal Tepaske, a senior art major.
Likewise, junior biology major Robin Parks said being patient is key in the dating world.
"I have learned my lesson to just wait and be patient, see how things unfold," she said.
An important component of sustaining patience is to take the middle ground in terms of how an individual contends with the dating process.
"I think it's necessary to be in the middle and not be too aggressive, but to avoid not showing interest," Williams said.
Similarly, Voss said in regards to trust in the dating scene, the healthiest path to follow is somewhere in the middle between giving too much of yourself too soon and under-
"Something in the middle ends up being the healthiest for people where you trust a little bit and open up a little bit depending upon what you learn about the other person," she said.
According to Voss, playing the dating game can have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, Voss said that rules of dating can make people feel more comfortable and confident.
"On the other hand, sometimes those rules get in the way of people actually being genuine as to how they feel," Voss said.