Tiffany Quay Tyson

Dos and Don’ts for Dating in the Modern South*

Don’t be hard to get. Be impossible to get.

In the 1990s The Rules, a series of bestselling books, articles, and seminars, sought to teach every girl how to win the man of her dreams. It seemed silly and exhausting at the time, but just like high waist jeans, puffy sleeves, and adult rompers, everything comes back into fashion. Nowadays, it’s smarter than ever to play hard to get.

1. Do be a creature unlike any other.

Be the sort of woman who can charm the skin off a snake while organizing three book clubs, whipping up a whole fried chicken, and monogramming every pillow in sight. A man may trust you with his fraternity brothers, his money, and his Mama’s banana pudding recipe, but he’ll never trust you to make medical decisions about your own body. Bless your heart, you really are a diamond in a rhinestone world!

2. Don’t talk to a man first (and don’t ask him to dance).

When you speak to a man, you are asking for sex. When you dance with him, you are basically having sex and you are probably a whore, or at least that’s what the deacons at the Baptist church tell us and they are more important than you because they are men.

3. Don’t stare at men or talk too much.

Keep your eyes and your opinions to yourself, sweet pea. To stare at a man is to inflame his carnal desires. Sure, maybe you were just trying to place your waffle order with that waiter at the diner, but eye contact is a slippery slope. Shhh, hush your mouth. No one is listening to you. Ever.

4. Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date.

A Southern Belle does not go halfsies. Insist that he squire you around like a delicate flower and pamper you like a hothouse bloom. Save your money for birth control pills or IUDs or whatever methods of contraception you can still access in your state, which has all sorts of restrictions to make sure none of it is covered by insurance. And if you can’t afford it? Well, everyone knows that birth control is just a plan to sin. You’re not planning to sin are you, sugar?

5. Don’t Accept a Saturday Night Date after Wednesday.

Speaking of plans, have some. A man won’t respect you if you are never too busy to see him. Also, you’ll need this time to figure out if you’re fixin’ to ovulate, to check your diaphragm for leaks, and to road trip to another state for emergency contraception just in case. Go hog wild and make it a girls trip!

6. Do Fill Up Your Time Before the Date.

Locate the lone abortion clinic in your state. Is it within reasonable driving distance? Can you make the trip twice or three times depending on the mandatory waiting period? Now do a deep dive on your date’s social media feeds. Does he use phrases like “sanctity of life” and “a child is not a choice”? If so, put your pretty little head to work on some basic math. Figure the likelihood of your current level of fertility divided by the availability and effectiveness of your birth control multiplied by the likelihood that this man will support your decisions if that birth control fails. Is this date a risk worth taking? Be sure to do all of this before the man shows up. Men don’t like girls who do math!

7. Do End the Date First.

If your date is the sort of man who believes an embryo the size of a butterbean is more valuable and precious than you, the beautiful Steel Magnolia standing right in front of him, then you must send him away unfulfilled. And even if you’ve snagged yourself a progressive southern male (rare and elusive), are you sure he’ll risk jail time to help you obtain the morning after pill or drive you across state lines two months from now to get an abortion? No? Then invest in a good vibrator and avoid sex with men until the laws are rewritten in such a way that you regain autonomy over your body. Your man is liable to pitch a hissy fit, but that’s not your concern. Don’t be hard to get; be impossible to get.

8. Do Stop Dating Him if He Doesn’t Buy You a Romantic Gift for Your Birthday or Valentine’s Day.

We’re talking condoms, y’all. If your man doesn’t bring condoms, run!

9. Don’t See Him More than Once or Twice a Week.

And don’t schedule any dates 12–14 days after the first day of your last menstrual cycle. Nothing is more alluring than a woman who effortlessly manages to avoid pregnancy without breaking any laws.

10. Don’t Tell Him What to Do.

Don’t demand that he keep track of your fertility or talk about the potential consequences of that broken condom. Definitely don’t try to persuade him to take you way over yonder to New York City or Vermont or some sinful place where women are allowed to see a doctor and make decisions about reproductive options all on her own. No man has time for that! Men are too busy doing the important work of legislating what you can do with your body.

11. Don’t Expect a Man to Change or Try to Change Him.

Save your energy for changing other things — like the batteries in your Magic Wand and also your state representatives and your governor. And until the law recognizes you as a human being with full and equal rights, we reckon you should consider changing the locks, playing possum, and keeping to yourself until menopause.

12. Don’t Date a Married Man.

Or a single man. Or a man who is casually dating other people. Or a man who says he loves you, but maybe isn’t in love with you. Basically, don’t date men at all unless you are 100 percent ready to be a mother. Because, honey, if you get pregnant he’ll still have plenty of choices, but you’ll be flat out of options.

*Also Ohio, Missouri, Utah, and Iowa

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