There are rules, stupid rules, and rules that nobody argues about. Like, the one where you don’t answer out loud if someone whispers to you. Call it common sense, human behavior at its best, or an unwritten rule, that doesn’t change it—you just whisper if someone whispers at you.

So what are these unspoken rules that never get written down and are considered logical arguments or actions? Are they that different when it comes to various people?

A person on r/AskReddit dared to find out as they posted the seemingly simple, yet very illuminating question “What is one 'unwritten rule' you think everyone should know and follow?” 44.7k upvotes and 18.3k comments later, we’ve got some of the most interesting replies. They show some rules worth respecting don’t need to be carved into stone and can perfectly live in the part of the brain where “it’s just like this” is enough to explain why.

#1

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Never make fun of someone else's laugh — be it how they sound or how they look. Laughing is the most natural expression of joy and happiness, and for someone to feel self-conscious about that because of other people's comments is so brutal.

ArthurMcSlothington , Quinn Dombrowski Report

Sum Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

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Never make fun of.... but you can laugh at it

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#2

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don’t put your music on speakers when in a public space. It’s not like everyone wants the same genre or was in the mood for music. Get your headphones.

MedschoolgirlMadison , saturnism Report

Yugan Talovich
Community Member
1 month ago

Ditto for talking on your phone!

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#3

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don’t ever say ‘oh, you’ve only got one child. That must be so lonely for them.’

Because maybe that person tried for years to have that one child, maybe they chose one for good reasons, maybe that had another child that died that you don’t know about.

Or, maybe it’s none of your business how many children people have. Actually, it’s definitely not your business. So, shhhhh.

debbastar , TheVirtualDenise Report

TexasWoman
Community Member
1 month ago

My opinion is the only time you need another 'child' is when it's an animal; example: I have 3 leopard geckos--not just one--so they have friends.

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Bored Panda reached out to Dr. Daniel Wendler, a therapist and author of “Improve Your Social Skills.” According to Daniel, the unwritten rules are really just an expression of the golden rule, “which is to treat others as you would want to be treated (or even better, to treat others as they would want to be treated).”

Dr. Wendler continued: “Many of society's unwritten rules are simple expressions of empathy and courtesy, a way to put yourself in someone else's shoes and realize what you can do to be kind to them.”

However, if you’re worrying about whether you or someone else lacks common sense, the therapist suggests not worrying about something “so vague that it could mean any number of things.” “Instead,” he suggests, “it's better to focus on the things we have control over—like trying to be a little more kind today than we were yesterday.”

#4

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Be kind to people who are working: food staff, medical staff, etc. Don’t take your bad day out on someone else.

sas1013 , Chris Report

Rebecca
Community Member
1 month ago

We do not get paid enough for your rude/mean/ignorant comments, but we have to put on a brave face or risk getting fire.

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#5

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life For buses/trains/any other public transportation, let people exit first before you get on.

miaowies , Oran Viriyincy Report

Vic
Community Member
1 month ago

Even in lifts.. if this happens in a lift and it's a friend I say "do you think I was in the lift to kidnap you?" Specially if it's the first or last floor..

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#6

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't say s**t about someone's appearance if it can't be fixed in less than 30 seconds. Spinach in someone's teeth? Let a homie know. Body type? Bad haircut? Worn-out clothes? Don't need to mention it.

vaguelyhumanpotato , jessabean910 Report

TexasWoman
Community Member
1 month ago

Or about someone's medical problem(s) because they can't control it.

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Dr. Wendler also said that there are many people who struggle to pick up on the unwritten social rules. “Sometimes, this is because they didn't have a lot of opportunity to socialize with others growing up, so they never got experience in putting themselves in someone else's shoes and learning what was expected.”

Other times, “it's because they have a condition such as autism or social anxiety that makes it more difficult to read other people and learn how to interact socially.”

Dr. Wendler claims that the good news is that whether it's easy for you to pick up on social rules or difficult, everyone can get better at it. “Just try to challenge yourself to get 1% better each day—maybe learn one unwritten rule, or practice one social action—and before you know it, you'll see dramatic improvement,” he concluded.

#7

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Do not swipe left or right if someone shows you a photo on their phone.

whattheheckisdecaf , Alan Levine Report

RiverStyxJix
Community Member
1 month ago

THIS!

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#8

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life I live by this rule I made after thinking about things late at night.

If someone does something that makes them happy and confident. If it doesn't hurt them or anyone else, animals included. Then leave them alone, let them do that thing. Let them be happy.

SpottyBoi , Benjamin Linh VU Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago

I cannot agree with this more. I wish more people did this.

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#9

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't propose at someone else's wedding.

LongliveLazarus , Robert Kintner Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

That’s a given, the only time it is okay is if the bride and groom are happy with it. Also don’t wear a white dress.

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Meanwhile, Lynn How, a life coach and author of “Positive Young Mind” who specializes in supporting educators, parents, and children with improving and prevention of mental health issues, told Bored Panda that unwritten rules are important to establish a certain culture, whether it is in a sports, company, or societal context.

“They are needed to ensure at least a basic level of expected behavior. For example, your boss has never said to you that you can't drink alcohol at work, but you know this already without needing it written down or having verbal clarification,” the author explained.

While most people do share a common understanding of unspoken rules, some have more difficulty picking them up. “We need to take time for a more detailed explanation of something we feel doesn't need to be said where required,” Lynn suggests.

#10

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life You can be wrong. It isn't a bad thing, either. And when you are wrong, acknowledge it, and learn from it, you don't need to dig down in your beliefs to try and comfort yourself because you can't handle not being right all the time.

untakenu , Georgie Pauwels Report

Kate
Community Member
1 month ago

This should be higher

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#11

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Always say please and thank you. Just because your an adult doesn't give you the right to stop practicing manners. Drives me crazy.

sa-c-baker , Michael Livsey Report

Daria Z
Community Member
1 month ago

*you're

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#12

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Chew with your mouth closed. Shocks me how many adults i see chewing with their mouth open.

knasty015 , Peter Hellberg Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

I agree for the most part but in some cultures it is a show of appreciation. We have a friend that is Chinese and he is an extremely loud chewer and chews with his mouth open and that is the way he was brought up. So whilst it maybe annoying for many we just have to deal with it because that is his culture.

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“Perhaps the person has a particular additional need that would require a more detailed explanation or it may be that the person in question did not have good role models growing up, which means they may find that many things that were acceptable in their family are not acceptable to the wider world.”

Alternatively, there may be a solid reason why one unspoken rule or another has not established itself among groups of people. Lynn suggests various causes may be at play, like “maybe your company’s unspoken rules are quite strict or perhaps there is an unwritten dress code?” In that case, Lynn recommends turning this sort of unwritten rule into a written one.

#13

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life There was only 1 rule in my house growing up...do not wake anyone up. My parents worked shift work. Its amaZing to me now how many people don't respect sleep.

tonineri31 , Toshiyuki IMAI Report

MagicalUnicorn
Community Member
1 month ago

i always took it as given before having flatmates, my family new that sleep is sacred

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#14

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life There are 2 people in your life you NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LIE TO. Your doctor and your lawyer.

Dancersep38 , DarkoStojanovic Report

Anne
Community Member
1 month ago

YES! Your doc doesn't care if you used drugs, he just needs to know so other procedures do not kill you because of that. Also, he's not even allowed to report you to police.

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#15

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If you're borrowing it for a third time, you need one of your own.

Kayge , Thomas Quine Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

True but for some things the other person may not be able to afford one of their own. We have lent our lawnmower out to a friend a few times but he can’t afford to buy one for himself. He is trustworthy so we have no issues lending it to him.

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#16

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life FFS be self-aware. I mean, be aware of the space you occupy, of your movements, of where you are. Don't zig-zag on sidewalks, don't fill the entire width of the sidewalk. Be aware of your kid moving their arms like a helicopter. DON'T STOP IN YOUR TRACKS TO CHECK THE F**KING PHONE, walk slower, or step aside but don't be that kind of person.



Just be aware of your body and don't be a dummy. This applies to whole families too, and people in cars, in supermarket lanes, wherever.

wastakenanyways , Free-Photos Report

Karl Baxter
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

This should apply to big family groups walking at a snail’s pace in staggered formation through IKEA. Why on earth have you taken 3 generations there for a day out anyway? IKEA is a terribly disorientating circle of hell anyway without making it worse.

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#17

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of the grocery aisle!

M3ggsandbacon , Polycart Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago

Omg yes, I find this super frustrating.

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#18

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don’t mess up an apology with an excuse.

MHE17 , Matus Laslofi Report

Julie C Rose
Community Member
1 month ago

When I moved back to New Zealand from Japan, I noticed that we tend to give a reason more than Japanese people do. I don’t dislike that; in fact, in a lot of cases I think just think “S**t happens; you don’t need to offer the reason for my approval”.

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#19

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Wash your hands after the toilet. Walkouts are shocking.

Master_Structure , Alabama Extension Report

Little Ms. Quirky
Community Member
1 month ago

surprising how many people don't wash their hands after using public toilets even in covid

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#20

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If you borrow someone's car, fill up the tank before you return it.

simplypsyched , Mike Mozart Report

Sum Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

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Except if you borrow it from your parents

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#21

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Announce your visits.

You can't be offended that nobody is home when you decide to drop by at random.

Plus it's super unfair to the host since it gives no time to prepare anything and they might have to drop everything they were just doing just to entertain you or cancel their plans.

Dionysus24779 , AFL-CIO America's Unions Report

Peko
Community Member
1 month ago

I really hate it when people do that. I have a phone, you have a phone, everyone and their uncle have a phone, just give me a heads up.

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#22

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Leave it in a better condition than you found it.

Essexal , Elizabeth Backus Report

Gandalf the Pink
Community Member
1 month ago

Looks eerily like the room in the beginning of portal 2

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#23

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't let friends drive drunk. Maybe offer to get an uber or something for strangers, too, if you can

M31K_ , Quinn Dombrowski Report

Peko
Community Member
1 month ago

I can't afford that, but I might carry you home.

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#24

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't start drama at a funeral.

mattcruise , carolynabooth Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago

It’s sad that this even needs to be mentioned.

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#25

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Always ask if a dog is friendly. You never know what kind of weird behavior things a dog can have, even when they appear friendly at first.

I had a dog who would be fine until someone bent down to pet him. He was very protective and nearly bit a few people. I'd they has asked first we could have told them that he doesn't like being pet by strangers.

I would hate to have to put my dog down because you are an idiot around animals.

Hotlikessauce69 , Maya ALESHKEVICH Report

H Edwards
Community Member
1 month ago

If you have a 'protective' dog that is likely to bite, then it's up to you to warn people or take precautions like using a muzzle when you're out in public.

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#26

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Turn down your bass! Be more considerate of your neighbors in apartment complexes.

I'm tired of people sitting outside my window in their car with their bass on full blast...at 2-3am! ((That's why I'm awake right now.)) I'm also greatly annoyed at my neighbors turning up their music (bass) to the point where it's rattling things on my walls. After getting multiple complaints you know it's a problem thus are choosing to be bad neighbors. *Also they have a lot of small children who should definitely be asleep but of course arent.

Komikazekitten , Rob Wall Report

Kristal
Community Member
1 month ago

This includes bass in a sound system for TVs when in apartment living.

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#27

Be kind to strangers even if you’re having a hard time

hailsx Report

Peko
Community Member
1 month ago

Be kind, period.

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#28

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't cook fish in the office kitchen

TiNYWalL , claire rowland Report

kasa alex
Community Member
1 month ago

Or boil eggs!

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#29

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Buy a plunger before you need a plunger.

olafthebent , Gary J. Wood Report

Sum Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

I don't have a plunger in my house... should I worry?

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#30

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life When driving a car, dont be nice, be predictable. People being nice leads to a s**tload of accidents.

Tauqmuk181 , Yonkers Honda Report

N G
Community Member
1 month ago

I think this needs expanding upon. Are you referring to giving way at points where it's not required by law? If that's the case, and you're referring to people stopping in traffic, or not going when you think they should, it's better to drive defensively because anything could cause a person to have to hit the brakes in an unpredictable manner that has nothing to do with being nice. Or fail to go from a standing start because there's something in the road that you can't see and it could be dangerous to the driver in front to proceed "predictably". Take "being nice" out of the equation.

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#31

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life When out to dinner with a group, only the person who ordered the least expensive meal/combo of things can offer to split the check evenly.

FreshPrinceofDelTaco , alex roberts Report

Vic
Community Member
1 month ago

But then it puts pressure on the person and makes it awkward. The person with most expensive bill should offer that everyone pays for their own.. or as we say India TTMM: Tu tera, mein mera (roughly translates to: you pay yours, I'll pay mine)

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#32

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life I have two:

1. do not wear perfume or cologne if you’re getting on an airplane.

2. do not use speaker phone or play videos on your phone without headphones in public places. Especially in public transit.

UninfluentialWear , Vetiver Aromatics Report

María Hermida
Community Member
1 month ago

Why not perfume or cologne? I'd say "do not pour half the bottle" as many people do, but a little? Everything smells, really, and I think the smell of "people", like sweat or God only knows what else, is far more annoying than perfume.

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#33

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If someone asks you a question, finish what you’re saying with, “what about you?”

Enjoy noticing how many people actually don’t do this.

thakrustykrabpizza , Pedro Ribeiro Simões Report

Truthsayer
Community Member
1 month ago

The police interviewers really like this one

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#34

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't look through the f**king gap of bathroom stalls.

PatricktheVieiraYep , Ben Schumin Report

Sum Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

Why do you have gaps in bathroom stalls?

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#35

DON’T USE THE URINAL IN YOUR DREAM! You’ll thank me later.

Yhslaw1 Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

I have done this once as a teen but instead of a urinal it was a toilet, and of course I ended up wetting the bed. I have had many dreams about toilets but they are usually gross, have no doors, flooded, full of crap, covered in toilet paper etc so I never use the toilet in those dreams and don’t wake up needing to pee. Bit of a gross dream I know but I can’t help it lol.

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#36

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If you have to cancel on a friend, it should be your responsibility to reschedule.

Havoo , Stephanie Kier Report

Gillbella
Community Member
1 month ago

And... don't make friends feel bad for cancelling. Stuff comes up...

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#37

If your going out to dinner with other people, and theyre paying, dont order the most expensive thing on the menu, go cheap

Report

Jo Johannsen
Community Member
1 month ago

With one exception: if a billionaire ever takes me out to dinner, I am gonna enjoy. Yes, I know it's not gonna happen, but being honest.

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#38

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If someone whispers, you whisper back.

GalvanizedRubber , Olichel Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
1 month ago

But don’t whisper around other people coz it is rude.

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#39

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life If you're going to listen to music, videos, or anything else on your phone that requires sound and isnt a phone call, either wait until you get home or invest in some headphones.

MartyMcMuffin , Tal Atlas Report

Deborah B
Community Member
1 month ago

and understand that noone wants to hear your phone convo either.

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#40

People-Share-Unwritten-Rules-In-Life Don't talk to anyone at the urinal.

MustBeTheMeds , Mike Mozart Report

Peko
Community Member
1 month ago

The few people who do this are definitely going to hell.

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Note: this post originally had 50 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.