Do you have Rules for Dating?
If you don’t, you should. Yes, I know, “should” is bad and evil and I’m stomping all over boundaries to tell you that you should be doing anything.
Feh. I suck, I know.
You might find it helpful to write yourself a series of dating rules. (Better?) I certainly have found it helpful and useful in my own life! If you’re writing it to yourself, you can pretty much make it as funny/harsh/sentimental as you like. It’s important to write it in a way that suits you and illustrates your personal principles. I wrote mine as “one of those letters you’d never send, in response to a Worst Case Scenario that thankfully hasn’t happened (at least, not all at once to me. After eleven years of reading people bitch on poly discussion groups, though, I’ve seen all of them happen at one time or another to someone else.)
Being newly single and have been around the lighthouse more than once in the stormy seas of Romance as that so elusive of creatures, the single, polyamorous Hot Bi Babe,(We changed our mind about the divorce) I have come up with these Rules.
- On a date, I wish to enjoy social company and have a good time. My only interest in dating is laughter, pleasant conversation, fun (for whatever value of “fun” upon which we mutually agree) and good will. If that’s what you want, we’ll have a delightful time when we meet.
- I am not a therapist. If the date startes to feel like a therapy session, there won’t be any more.
- I am not dating you to get a mentor. You like being The Wise One? Then be wise and don’t try it. If I decide that your advice on matters would be helpful, I’ll ask. Trust me, I’m an information junkie, and not shy about it. However, if you give me unsolicited advice on things outside your real, live areas of expertise, it makes you look like a damn’ fool, and yes, I am snickering at you behind that smile and comment of “You might have a point.”
- For partnered dates: If I find out I am the first person either of you have dated outside the relationship, there will be no more dates. “Practice” polyamory on someone else. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds like I’m rolling my eyes and saying “been there, done that”. Well, dammit, I have. Fire’s hot, and if you put your hand over a candle flame, it burns. Just sayin’.
- If I am expected to make the couple a package deal, there will be no further dates. I deal with people on an individual basis only. If there is an individual attraction between your partner and me, we’ll work it out on our own. We’re mature adults. Your help is not needed. Honest. Even if we’re both “just women”.
- If any single date is interrupted for an emergency, my warning system goes on. If a second emergency happens in less than 5 subsequent meetings, there will be no more dates. No, I don’t care if you’ve “had a run of bad luck”. (This rule will be suspended for the professional activities of on-call medical personnel, sysadmins and the like. I’m talking more about drama from home).
- On the flip side, I don’t want to date people that don’t take previous commitments into account before making new ones. If you’ve got a sick child, and your partner is starting to get sick, call me to cancel and stay home. If you’ll blow off one person for new and shiny, you’ll blow me off for new and shiny down the road. (I generally expect that eventually I’ll be treated as you treat the “old” partner, and buddy, you’d better believe I’m watching carefully. I do not have the necessary vanity to think I am somehow “different” as I have never seen an exception to this rule).
- No, I won’t collaborate on a book with you unless you’re hiring me outright, or are an established author with a specific project and pitch ready that you’ve discussed with your publisher or agent. If you have an “idea”, get out your butt glue and develop it. Trust me, you really don’t need me for this. (This one has happened to me. One would think I would not have to put this on the list, but I’ve had several guys think I’ll be impressed by “ideas” that seem to be Ian Flemming knock offs. The first time it happened, I was surprised. The second, dismayed. The third, depressed…)
- I don’t do threesomes any more. You may ask. If you try to argue me out of my answer, there will be no more dates. In fact, attempts to tell me why I shouldn’t think/feel the way I do will result in me walking away laughing. Um… never mind. Scratch this. If the wind is blowing right and the stars are exactly aligned…
- Just because I usually phrase it as “No, thank you” rather than merely “No” doesn’t mean that it’s not as serious. I have no qualms about punctuating it. I just prefer dignity first. If you do, too, we’re all good.
- Grand Unification Theories about relationships do not interest me, and attempts to bring me into a social engineering projects will result in me walking, too. I’m enough of an amateur sociologist to know they can get really nasty. You will be assessed even more negatively if you’re “writing a book” about it, unless it’s your real, live professional field. I work in academia and I know what questions to ask, so trying to fake it will make you look like a jackass.
- More than one panicked phone call after my early bedtime with severe emotional issues gets a hangup and there will be no more dates. I make really dumb decisions when I’m not sleeping enough and neither of us will like it. Trust me on this one.
- I am not looking for another parent for my children. No, not even you. Make friends with them if you meet them and want to make friends. That’s fine. My kids have plenty of parents thankssomuch!
- I’m not looking to move in with anyone. If my living arrangements change, it will be to a household where I am the sole adult. No, you’re not the exception. Not even if you’re a millionaire Tyr Anasazi look/sound-alike with a cunnilingus fetish who thinks reading aloud is one of Life’s Great Pleasures, is just pantingly eager to fund a poly activism organization, and has a thing for short, “ample” chicks with big blue eyes1. I’m not kidding. I most certainly don’t want to move in with you, take care of your kids, contribute to the household budget, be a buffer between you and your spouse, and clean your house. (This is mostly for the blissfully rare jerks who want a “junior wife”).
- Evil Ex stories=no more dates. I have exes, too. If everything had been blissful and wonderful, they wouldn’t *be* exes, now would they? You’re a self-deluding fool if you think your Evil Ex doesn’t have an opinion about you that’s just as unflattering. In the game of Romance, there are no innocents. We all know breakups suck and hurt a whole bunch. If you can’t own up and be a grownup about it to a virtual stranger, I don’t wanna know you. Vent to your intimates. If you don’t have any, I really don’t want to date you. If I actually become an intimate, I’ll listen to stories of your past, but by then I bloody well hope you’ve got some perspective on your past.
- I understand if this seems too hardassed. Feel free to flee! If you’re still attracted, I’m already in love…(Well, no, but mightly impressed…)
Your rules will be different from mine, of course. We’re different people, and we have different buttons, issues and what have you. I’ve put my own out there2 because I want to point out that thinking about such things are useful. It’s important to know where your lines are, why, and what you want.
It helps guard against what I shall name the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” syndrome. (If you’ve never read the book, do. It’s a children’s book, will take you three minutes, and it’s hilarious). If someone asks you for a little favor, you’ll do it, right? Well, who wouldn’t? We all like to be nice.3
If you haven’t outlined what you’re about, what you want, what you’re okay with and what you’re not, it’s entirely possible to find yourself having said “yes” to something, over time with little bits, concessions, favors and whatnot, to something you would never have said “yes” to if asked for all at once. You wake up to what you’ve said yes to over time, find yourself pissed, your partner is shocked that you’re so upset at such a little thing, and it can all blow up.
Think in advance.
Embrace the inner hardass and write yourself your personal rules.
1But if you are, I’d like to meet you. For purely scientific purposes, of course!
2 Ensuring that no-one is ever, ever going to want to date me after reading that. Please applaud my generosity and sacrfice to the poly community. I’ve ensured it will be my only solace, after all. <sniff> I do it all for you*…
3 Yeah, I know, I call myself a misanthrope. Shaddup…
*And we “Relationship Experts” (BWHAHAHAHAHA!) call this Emotional Blackmail. It’s supposed to be something to be wary of.