Are the 'rules' redundant?

ANNABEL ROSS
Last updated 13:26 19/02/2013
dating app

BOY MEETS GIRL: Are the 'rules' redundant?

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It sounds like a children's toy, or perhaps an adult toy - possibly a new and improved version of the famed 'rabbit' vibrator. But Happy Rabbit is actually an app developed by a leading dating website, designed to help busy singles manage their dates.

The increasing popularity of online dating means that many of us are seeing more people at the one time than ever before. Happy Rabbit, to an extent, makes sense - in the same way that there are apps to help monitor your exercise and eating habits, Happy Rabbit is here to help you keep your dating behaviours in check.

"When you are newly seeing someone, generally they are on your mind a lot so it's natural to want to contact them frequently," said a spokesperson for the dating site. "This app will help people ensure they are contacting their dates at the right frequency," she added.

The "right frequency." Right.

We might have thought we were done with The Rules, the famous book written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider nearly 20 years ago, in which the women espoused such pearls of wisdom as: always wear lipstick when going for a run, as you never know who you're going to bump into; and never say yes to a Saturday night date when he asks any later than a Wednesday.

A new, updated edition was released a month ago to address the relatively recent phenomena of social media and online dating - but a lot of the old-fashioned 'rules' printed in the original remain largely unchanged.

Having recently re-entered the dating pool myself, I found myself feeling a little unsure of how to play the game. How long to wait before replying to a text message? Am I always supposed to wait for him to text me first? Am I allowed to ask him out, or do I have to wait to be asked? Is there any merit to these stupid rules anyway?

When I received an email about the Happy Rabbit app, I decided that for 99c, it couldn't hurt to consult the bunny.

Upon signing up, users must agree to an honesty pledge.

"I will add everyone that I am dating

I will record all contact with my dates

I will provide honest ratings

I will correctly record who initiated contact

I will have fun dating

I will try to avoid boiling the bunny!"

The app is clearly targeted at women - I don't know too many men who analyse their relationships to the extent that girls do, at least not publicly - but the jokey reference to boiling the bunny annoyed me a bit. It insinuates that a woman who is overly forward or enthusiastic is somewhat needy, or possibly unhinged. But when a guy shows a ton of interest in a woman, he's simply keen.

Pressing forward, I moved on to the next stage of the app, where you add your dates and record your 'nibbles' - who initiated the contact, was it a text or email, social media, call or date, has he or she responded, and was the conversation or interaction flirty, normal or cold. Upon completion of your date - if you go on one - you're prompted to complete a Bunny Survey quizzing you on how things went. If things go well, you're rewarded with items to fill your "bunny hot tub", like a rubber ducky, for instance. The objective is to keep the bunny hot tub warm, but not boiling - you don't want to get all Glenn Close on him. Conversely, if the temperature goes cold, you're encouraged to seek advice from the dating site that created the app, or to pull the plug on this particular date.

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Unsurprisingly, the app comes with a disclaimer from the creators: Happy Rabbit is a fun-based app providing users with general guidance of a light-hearted nature. This app does not provide professional or any other type of advice. Before acting on the guidance, consider the appropriateness for your personal circumstance... etc.

A cursory glance revealed that the Happy Rabbit wouldn't prove particularly helpful in resolving my dating dilemmas. The aforementioned email suggests that recording contact with the Happy Rabbit could help avoid the dreaded drunk dial, as you'd have evidence of who'd been doing most of the contacting and whether or not it was your 'turn' to give him a nudge. But arguably after a few too many, you're either unable to see the rabbit properly, or could care less about the opinion of a cartoon animal.

Quizzing my male friends on the subject proved only marginally more helpful than a bunny hot tub.

I'd recently met a guy and was still in that exciting-but-awful phase where you're checking your phone a million times a day and are still sussing each other out. I gave three mates the backstory (too long to go into here) and asked their advice - can I call him?

No way, said one. Wait for him to call you.  If he doesn't, he's just not that into you.
Definitely call him, said another - what have you got to lose?
Ross, the rules are that there are no rules, said a third. Everyone's different and should be treated accordingly.

I've never been one for games but can't help but think that sometimes you have to play along a little bit, no matter how outdated or politically incorrect it might seem.

What do you think - are the 'rules' there for a reason, or is it time to throw out the book once and for all?

- Sydney Morning Herald

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