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dating and relationships

Relationship and dating advice for men: 12 rules

Not every guy wants to be a lifelong playboy, so I’m here to teach men how to have a happy relationship.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

For men looking to get into relationships, there isn’t a lot of information out there.

There are rules that you must follow if you want to have a successful and healthy relationship, but it’s difficult to find guidance or instruction on them. That’s because there is a vested interest in keeping men ignorant of how to have a strong, happy relationship.

First, you have to deal with the obvious: there are a lot of women and Vichy Males out there who feel threatened by a man who chooses to place his happiness at the center of his romantic decisions…

Next, you have to deal with a society that disincentivizes satisfying romantic relationships. There’s a lot of relationship advice out there that boils down to women behaving the way they want to and men simply enduring it. Men who suggest that may not be the optimal way to coexist are labeled “misogynistic” and “controlling.”

There’s a wealth of information out there on running game, meeting chicks off Tinder, and learning how to become a hedonistic bachelor. There’s almost nothing on how to be in a relationship that isn’t some “happy wife, happy life” nonsense.

Well, I’m here to fill the gap. I’ve figured out how to have a happy and healthy relationship for myself, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with you. My “12 Rules For Relationships,” if you will.

These rules are informed by my experiences as a man, being in a steady relationship for over nine years — and still going strong, with no signs of ending anytime soon. Follow my rules, and you will become the type of high value man that women want to be with and stay with once they get into a relationship with you.

If you’re still struggling to get into a relationship I’ve got a whole blog post on how to do that here.

Illustration of guy crawling before his wife, giving her money. Captioned "Happy Wife, Happy Life"
I'm sure this guy has to beg for sex too

I’m not teaching you rules that will guarantee your relationship will last forever—no one can do that. Instead, I’m teaching you rules to make sure that you are happy and fulfilled.

That’s what ultimately matters.

If you read no further than the introduction, remember the following: “Happy life, happy wife”. If you get that right, you’ve won the most important battle in a relationship.

Get it wrong and you’ll hate your life and wonder why none of your relationships last.

1.  A man must become more than what he wants

You have to be the type of man a woman wishes to attract. Actually, due to the effects of hypergamy, you need to be even more.

What is hypergamy? Here’s the definition from Wikipedia (saved you from googling it!):

Hypergamy (colloquially referred to as “marrying up” or “gold-digging”) is a term used in social science for the act or practice of a person marrying a spouse of higher caste or social status than themselves.

If you want an intelligent woman, you need to cultivate above-average intelligence. You can’t raise your IQ, but you can read more books, increase your education level, and start hobbies that build your brainpower.

If you want a fit woman, you need to live in the gym. Too many guys want a woman to be in shape, but they can’t do a single pull up or they have a body fat percentage in the twenties.

If you want a feminine woman, you need to be a masculine male. You can’t expect a woman to be a paragon of femininity if you aren’t willing to be a leader, take risks, and build yourself into a man worthy of feminine admiration.

This list can go on, but the point remains: whatever trait you want, you need the same trait (or it’s masculine equivalent) at greater levels than you desire.

It’s not fair, but grown men don’t complain about unfairness. We just adapt to get what we want.

2. Outside of dating, have a life; have some goals; know your priorities

Me hitting the speedbag in the boxing gym
Pro boxing used to be my life.

The goals aren’t there to attract her. The lifestyle isn’t for her. These are for you.

No woman wants to be your top priority.

What type of man only has his work, sports to watch on the weekend, and Netflix? The type of man who is so boring that none of his relationships last.

This is also the type of man who will obsess over the woman because she instantly becomes the most important thing in his life without having to earn that spot.

You need a mission that develops your mind and body. It doesn’t need to be something grandiose that will impact the world on a large scale, but it should force you to physically, mentally, and emotionally grow and mature.

Photo of me playing chess
Body <strong>and</strong> mind. I was never just a boxer; I'm also a competitive chess player.

Unless your goal is to attract gamer girls, video gaming hobbies don’t count. That’s because video games–while fun and enjoyable–do not come with consequences for mistakes and exposure to real-world stress.

Yes, you feel frustrated when you keep dying and restart, but not only is that easily alleviated by quitting the game, you aren’t forced to control your frustration.

Anyone who’s ever sat in an Xbox Live chat room knows that people will say and type anything because there are no consequences for your behavior, good or bad.

That’s also another reason why video games aren’t suitable as a hobby, even for attracting gamer girls. They don’t make you learn anything applicable and useful.

I’m not talking about computer engineers who build the interface or the games.

You, the gamer, exist in a fantasy world where nothing you do matters. As a result, you don’t get better at anything that will improve your life despite investing hundreds (and for some, thousands) of hours per year.

By the way, this is also the same problem with pornography.

You don’t get any feedback from reality in your quest to satisfy your sexual desires. As a result, you aren’t forced to become more interesting, get in better shape, or improve yourself in any meaningful way.

Have goals and priorities beyond the digital world. Grow and develop so you have something to offer yourself, the world, and your woman.

If you have no idea which hobbies to get started with, I’ve written a blog post about hobbies that help you meet women. You should read it.

This isn’t a piece on evolutionary psychology. However, the following are the basic facts:

Humans sexually reproduce

For guys, most of the information used to make a mating decision is displayed in a girl’s physical appearance. It’s why we really don’t care about a girl’s personality (initially). It has no bearing on her reproductive abilities.

Women seek strength and security

They’re physically weaker and are the vessels for growing human life. Regardless of the current technological and social climate, that’s the environment that most of human evolution was spent. This means all displays of strength, dominance, and power are attractive to women.

This explains why murderers and drug dealers can get good looking women just the same as a professional athlete or celebrity.

Strength and power are amoral

One man’s desire to protect and serve is another man’s ambition to conquer and destroy.

Forget all the modern social conditioning nonsense.

This is the result of evolution. It’s occurred over the course of millions of years. 100 years of social upheaval won’t change this.

In her search for a provider and protector, she can’t tell much about you beyond your appearance. The rest of your life and your behaviors provide a clue to your evolutionary fitness, strength, and power.

If you’re a loser, it will show in your behaviors. Only a lame-ass with no hobbies obsesses over a girl or relationship.

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

Get the short free guide here

3. Don’t be afraid to dump her quick and early

At no point in your relationship can you be afraid to end it.

This is the hardest mindset for guys to develop.

Now, the longer you’re with someone, the more things should factor into the decision to walk.

However, the one thing that must never be part of the equation is fear. It’s only when you aren’t afraid to be alone that you can be happy in a relationship.

You should end the relationship, regardless of what stage it’s in, the moment you realize that it’s impossible to move forward. This is powerful because it forces you to deal with your biggest fear head-on and fully in control: Rejection.

Most guys see potential in every girl that gives them attention. They’re afraid of prematurely extinguishing that hope.

It could be hope for a future wife, one-night stand, a kiss, or even just a little attention. A sad fact is that many guys would rather waste time and money being uncertain than proactively making a decision and riding with it.

When you aren’t afraid to get rid of girls, you increase your self-esteem and courage. You’ll have more time for hobbies or to meet better-suited prospects.

I met my girlfriend because I wasn’t afraid to cut off low-quality women who were a time sink.

This also makes you more attractive.

Remember, no one likes a doormat. Especially women.

A woman will emotionally manipulate a weak man to the point where it’s not possible for him to be happy in a relationship with her—if it ever even gets that far.

4. Learn from your experiences

If you don’t know how to deal with a thing, that thing will soon deal with you. It will set the rules for engagement and you’ll be at a disadvantage.

This is true for anything with its own goals and priorities. Women are no different.

In many ways, this is how guys become “pussy-whipped”. They simply don’t understand how to or lack the requisite courage to deal with a woman.

All things considered equal, the more unhappy a man is in a relationship, the less experienced he is with women in general.

When I say experience, I don’t mean just being a hardcore player. While it’s true this lifestyle exposes you to several women, it only exposes you to them in a certain way.

The general actions and behaviors of women are such that you’ll learn just enough to make more problems for yourself.

Experience comes from:

  • Working with women
  • Dating them
  • Having them as friends
  • Your family.

The key to learning is to view their behavior objectively.

If you view the behavior of women through a lens of naivete or bitterness, you’ll never learn and you’ll be continually miserable. A favorite saying of mine explains this perfectly:

“If you view the world through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags look like normal flags.”

For 3 years, I worked in an all-female office with women ages 22-60. I’ve got a few female friends. I’ve had 3 serious long term relationships (current one included).

I also did the pickup-artist thing, cutting my teeth on day game, night game, and everything in between. All of this experience has given me a better understanding of women and their thinking. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’m way past the point of doing things that make my life with my girlfriend difficult or unhappy. Since I’m happy and kicking life’s ass, she’s happier as well.

To get better with women, you need experience. To get experience, you have to make mistakes. These mistakes tend to leave emotional scars and make you apprehensive towards romance.

That’s fine. In fact, it works to your advantage.

The sting of those mistakes reduces your impulsiveness and makes it easier for you to abide by the other rules.

5. Drop the fairy tale about dating and face reality

Disney fairy tale couple
This is some bullshit.
  • There are no soulmates
  • There is no such thing as unconditional romantic love
  • Women don’t love you the same way that you love them
  • Marriage is an ideal thing in a less than ideal world
  • Girls like strength and dominance

If any of these statements made you cringe, you’ve got some work to do.

While these are probabilistic statements and not hard-and-fast truths, anecdotal and experimental research tells us that these are the most likely outcomes. In other words, it benefits you to treat them as fact and prepare accordingly.

The moment you deny reality, it begins to–by definition–work against you.

We live in a different world than the one our parents grew up in. The rules and expectations are different. Understanding this is the difference between confusion and anger. Understanding it is the difference between happiness and contentment.

Force yourself to confront human nature so you can predict it. You must face uncomfortable truths about the world to face uncomfortable truths about yourself.

6. Make sure she has a strong relationship with her father

You could stop reading right here if you wanted to.

This is the 80/20 rule for deciding if a girl will be good to have a relationship with. It’s the closest thing to a guarantee (assuming you did the self-development work in the first 5 rules) you can get that she will make a great partner.

She is more likely to have a positive opinion of men and respect them. There’s always the possibility that her father was weak and subservient to her mother, but even that’s better than complete absence or ill-will towards him.

However, if she holds him in high regard, this means he was a positive masculine influence. He likely influenced her opinion of men in a positive way as well.

7. Don’t seriously date smokers

First, let’s state the obvious: any substance abuser is not relationship material. Most guys understand that a crackhead should not be their first choice.

The same goes for a drunk as well.

Heavy drinking and hard drugs (a hard drug being anything that can’t be consumed as it grows naturally) are a non-negotiable deal-breaker for most men. But the reality is that any drug use should be a deal-breaker.

That’s because even smokers have been shown to have lower impulse control. Even if you don’t believe it to be so, anecdotal and experimental evidence tell a different story.

The bottom line is that the use of any mind-altering substance (beyond the occasional drink) is going to be a problem.

For lighter vices like smoking, you should still avoid it. Assuming you have your own health in order (as you should if you’ve done the self-development work that we discussed earlier), dating a woman with worse health habits than you will be frustrating at the very least.

Smokers have a lower level of self-discipline and self-restraint — two things you want someone to have that you commit a significant amount of time and resources to.

8. Diet discipline corresponds with relationship suitability

Diet and exercise are often grouped together.

To me, they’re two sides of the same fitness coin. Though they’re both important, people seem to have a bigger problem with diet than exercise.

I think I understand why. This understanding is the key to realizing why it’s an important quality to screen for.

It’s easier to start a new activity than stop an old one. More specifically, more self-control is required to maintain a pleasing appearance through diet than exercise.

Ultimately, many traits come down to discipline because it’s emotionally and mentally draining (as well as potentially physically dangerous) to be with a woman who lacks self-control.

9. Look at the quality of her friends

You need to know how to assess female friendships.

They aren’t conducted the same way as men’s. There is a saying that describes the difference between male and female friendships:

“Men insult each other but never mean it, while women compliment each other and never mean it.”

In other words, a woman who speaks unfavorably of her friends isn’t particularly unusual. With that said, all of the keepers I’ve met never did this.

Since the point of this series is to give you the rules for entering and maintaining a solid relationship, this isn’t a good trait for a woman you want to be in a relationship with to possess, regardless of how benign.

I don’t mean talking about a friend’s obviously poor lifestyle choices. Blatant hypocrisy is the real issue.

It’s one thing to criticize someone’s shoes. It’s another to criticize someone else’s drinking habits when yours are similar or worse.

Friendships with men should be assessed on a bell curve: too many male friends is just as alarming as none at all.

When a woman has many male friends, there’s already a masculine presence in her life. What can you, one man, hope to offer in place of many varied men?

On the other end of it, it’s nearly impossible for a woman raised in western culture to have zero male friends. That would suggest a special type of isolation that is just as difficult to manage as over-exposure.

Remember: her bucket for masculine energy is finite.

If it’s filled with many small drops (a bunch of male friends) or a large well (a strong close heterosexual male friend or actual relationship), there isn’t room left to bond and form a happy relationship with you.

10. Learn her romantic history

Continuing with the bucket analogy.

Each time you put water in or take water out the bucket, you do a small amount of damage to it. It’s barely noticeable, but eventually a dent or crack shows up. Then it’s incapable of working properly.

Once the bucket is broken, it is beyond repair.

I don’t know the exact number where you encounter a serious increase in problems (like fidelity and emotional control) but generally speaking, the more lovers a woman has had, the more difficult it is for her to bond with new lovers. (Source)

If you want to get into a serious relationship, you have to be aware of this fact.

11. Make sure she has some hobbies and accomplishments

It’s at this point I remind you this guide is for the man who wants to enter a relationship lasting longer than 6 months. Some guys just want a pretty face around until it becomes too boring or stressful.

I’m not hating on that game. I’m just saying that this guide isn’t for them.

Girls who spend their weeks drinking at happy hour, watching Netflix, and working a boring office job aren’t interesting. Unfortunately, this is most girls.

For a relationship to flourish, you need someone with an interesting hobby or side gig.

Great conversations are the result of a rich life. A life that’s been lived beyond the barstool, the couch, or the office.

Eventually, you won’t be running on pure animal lust. You’ll need hobbies, interests, and things you learn to discuss and connect over.

Ideally, her hobbies and interests enhance your life as well. Generally speaking, a relationship isn’t worth getting into if it doesn’t improve your life in some way beyond having an attractive companion.

12. Avoid women with major physical modifications

I used to have a strict “no tattoos” policy.

My current girlfriend doesn’t have tattoos nor do the prior two. However, after discussing this topic with some people I respect, I’ve revised my stance.

Tasteful tattoos probably don’t signify anything. Especially if it’s something with personal meaning (important dates or achievements).

1 or 2 two tattoos is also meaningless. This is a probabilistic list, after all.

However, excessive amounts of tattoos or tattoos in a place where it would be strange if a family member touches them is a red flag.

The same goes for piercings (beyond basic earrings or a tasteful nose ring), weird hair colors, or strange haircuts.

Also, be wary of excessively short hair.

The rule about hair length is simple: if you could see the girl from the neck up and from the back, would you know for sure you’re dealing with a woman?

The moment you have to hesitate is the moment you are dealing with too short.

A summary of the 12 relationship rules for men

  1. Become more than she brings to the table
  2. Have a life of your own
  3. Hire slow and fire fast
  4. Learn from your experiences
  5. Face reality
  6. Make sure she has a strong relationship with her father
  7. Don’t date smokers
  8. Make sure her diet is on point
  9. Look at the quality of her friends
  10. Know her romantic history
  11. Make sure she has accomplishments
  12. Avoid girls with physical modifications

It’s always a gamble, but now you have a better chance.

Remember: the point of this post is to serve as a guide for men who desire a happy relationship. None of this stuff matters if you just want brief fun. Either way, you have to do what makes you happy.

However, if you want a girl for 6 months or longer, it’s important to start with a strong foundation.

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

Get the short free guide here
Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.