Josephine Baker was an African-American showgirl who took Paris by storm in the 1920s and '30s. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Washington - Are you stuck in a romantic rut? Fighting? Breaking up? Fed up with the concept of human love altogether?

It may be comforting to realise that women have been living with whatever love woes are ailing you for thousands and thousands of years. Okay, maybe that's not so comforting after all. On the plus side, though, women have also been flouting the dating rules for just as long.

In my new book, She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It, I chronicle the lives of 100 unknown women from around the world who broke society's expectations about how women should behave - in their careers, their politics and in their love lives. Whatever your relationship status may be, look to these historical women for some radical dating inspiration.

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, 10th-century Spain

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi was born in 994, the daughter of Caliph Muhammad III of Cordoba. When she inherited a fortune from her father, she set about living the dreamiest life, full of romantic intrigue. She opened a literary salon and stocked it with poets, artists, and, of course, lovers, and passed her days writing poems full of sensual wordplay.

For years she enjoyed an illicit romance with fellow poet Ibn Zaydun. As you can imagine might happen when two poets get together, it was a tortuous affair. Eventually, he betrayed her, so she left him to be with his worst enemy and lived to be nearly 100 years old. What better way to take revenge on someone who has wronged you, then and now?

Tomoe Gozen, 12th-century Japan

Not much is known about Tomoe Gozen, a 12th-century Japanese warrior, but one contemporary chronicler said she was "prepared to confront both demons and gods," which is a great motto for anyone's dating life. You're going to confront a lot of demons before you find a god.

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Tomoe was an exceptionally gifted rider and archer; she led 100 000 cavalry into a battle in 1183, no biggie. At another battle, in 1184, she took down a fearsome opponent by pulling him from his horse, pinning him against her saddle, and twisting his head off his body.

Khutulun, 13th-century Mongolia

If you're getting grief from parents, aunties or other interested parties about getting married, tell them you're merely following the example of Khutulun, the Mongol princess born in 1260 who would only marry a man if he could defeat her at wrestling. 

Not only would each failed suitor have to skulk away without a wife - he would also have to fork over his horses to her. Khutulun ended up with thousands of horses, and plenty of broken egos in her wake. After a while, Khutulun decided her herd was strong enough - and her wrestling reputation totally undeniable - that she settled down after all.

Alexandra Kollontai, 20th-century Russia

Maybe the Bolsheviks aren't your first thought when you're looking for dating advice, but if you've been badly burned in matters of the heart, you may be interested in a woman who thought we should ban love altogether.

Alexandra Kollontai was the most important Bolshevik feminist of the Russian Revolution. She was from a wealthy background, but along with other Russian feminists she sought to organize poor women to gain equality in work and education, to overhaul repressive divorce laws and to advocate for birth control. To Alexandra's mind, however, women would not achieve equality without destroying the family unit itself. 

Josephine Baker, 20th-century France

Josephine Baker was an African-American showgirl who took Paris by storm in the 1920s and '30s. She danced topless and slept with men and women as she pleased. She married four times but would say that every man she had ever loved was her husband. 

She wore fur coats with nothing underneath, and walked a cheetah on a leash through the streets of Paris. She was brilliant, carefree, ambitious, witty and also brave, risking her life in World War II as a spy for the French Resistance, and working for civil rights in her later years.

The Washington Post