The rules of engagement Residents give advice on how to play the dating game in Hudson County

As young people around the world find other priorities in their lives pushing marriage back further and further, Hudson County’s young residents are following the trend, embracing their single status and living it up on the local dating scene.

Many locals participate in group singles events to meet new people in a safe, comfortable environment. But even if sparks fly on the initial introduction, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. What you do next can determine if you qualify for a dinner date!

The Current asked area twenty and thirty-somethings to sound off on which laws of attraction ruled their dating lives. Below are the top five picks from area singles.

Rule 1. Don’t get discouraged by a slow winter

Daters shouldn’t despair if things were slow-going in the cold. Many singles interviewed said that the scene tends to heat up again in warmer months.

(Editor’s note: Many area singles spoke on condition of anonymity. Last names have been omitted.)

Hobokenite Stan is living proof. The 27-year-old has had a different date every week for the past four weeks, with two dates this week and one lined up for next week.

Single since mid-October, Stan said he has been dating on and off since last fall. He attributes some of this to the positive effect nice weather has on people.

“When it’s sunny out people’s mood changes,” he said.

Erin, 26, also from Hoboken, had another theory as to why people date more in the warmer months: “I think people date more in the spring and summer than in the fall and winter because sweaters get in the way,” she joked.

Rule 2. You have to work for your supper

Regardless of the season, daters agreed that a traditional dinner for a first date is about as out as last year’s styles. Busy, upwardly-mobile professionals said they were reluctant to spend money and time on a full dinner with someone they didn’t know very well. However, most agreed that if initial plans went well, such as drinks at a happy hour, things could transition into dinner.

Or, it is often a second or third date, if things went well.

When Joe from Jersey City asks a girl to dinner, she should know that she has made the cut. The 28-year-old has a special way of determining if a girl is dinner-worthy:

“If I think ‘if I kiss this girl it would be awesome,’ then I’ll ask her out to dinner,” Joe said. “If that’s there, then it’s worth it.”

Rule 3. Don’t make yourself too available

So girls have to seem kissable, but not too eager.

At least that’s what Vivian, 26, thinks.

“You can’t be so easy for [guys] to get,” the Jersey City native said. The one-month newlywed said she followed the advice of the book Why Men Marry Bitches, and it changed the way she responded to her now-husband’s advances.

Vivian said she made sure she didn’t pick up the phone every time he called. “You have to show him that you’re not available anytime,” she said.

Vivian also said that the book advised women not to cater to the men they’re dating, and to instead put up a bit of a fight. “They like hard tasks, they like to make challenges for themselves,” she noted.

She said that her husband doesn’t know she read the book, which she bought a year ago, right before they started dating.

“I experimented with him,” she admits.

But Vivian’s hard-to-get routine does not work for guys like North Bergen resident Fernando, who said he doesn’t even follow the famous “3-day rule” to call a girl after a date.

“I follow up within 24 hours,” the 32-year-old said.

He said he makes sure a girl knows he’s interested pretty early on, mostly because he is concerned over the local dating scene’s market situation. “In the New York tri-state area, meeting people is so easy, she could meet someone new in 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

Rule 4. Guys should pay, but girls should offer

The concept of going “Dutch” on the first date is still a little progressive for Hudson County daters.

When the bill comes, many girls said they often reach for their purses as a purely symbolic gesture.

And while guys expect to pay, they are put off when girls don’t offer to split the check.

“Some girls are sincere when they offer,” said Tina, 27. “But,” the Hoboken resident added, “even those that are would be mortified if the guy said yes [and let them pay].”

Zach, 32, agreed.

“The guy should always pay, but the girl should absolutely offer. It’s a nice gesture for a girl to say, ‘I appreciate you taking me out for drinks or dinner.'”

Rule 5. Set your own rules

Larry, 31, doesn’t understand why people in their 20s and 30s read books and magazines on dating advice.

“I think once you get to a certain age you should know the rules of the game – and it IS a game,” Larry said. “There definitely are rules,” the Union City resident added, “but people pick them up through life experiences, not by reading a book.”

Zack, from Hoboken, agreed that the advice that books and magazines on dating give often does more damage than good. “I think all that stuff warps the dating mind,” he said.

Many people also said that they have their own, personal rules.

Erin, who is 5’11, only dates guys who are taller than her. She also has age requirements.

“The guys have to be older than me (26) and younger than my brother (31),” she said.

Stan doesn’t curse on a first date, unless his date curses a lot.

“I do a lot of mirroring,” he said.

Seasoned daters know that the most important rule is to keep dating and not get discouraged.

“[Dating] is good because it builds people skills, but it takes a wear on your heart,” said Edward, 31, from Union City. “I’m in sales,” he continued, “so I know that you have to talk to 10 people to make one deal. The fact that you have to is horrible, but that’s the way it is.”

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