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.
26 thoughts on “Embracing the Inner Hardass”
(yeah, sorry to be so lame, but I just refreshed the screen, and this just appeared, and I couldn’t help myself.
Goddam, what a fine post! Glad you’re back. I (re)entered the poly world just after you left, discovered and admired your back columns, and cheer your return. Percussa resurgo indeed. Congratulations.
Well, Alan, “Percussa Resurgo” is actually a family motto from way back in the Crusades (according to family legend, therefore suspect. But hey, I like it).
Rules that are self-imposed and enforced by self-discipline alone – whoo-hoo !
Well, I had a nice long reply typed up earlier for Alan. but the site was hosed and wouldn’t let me post it. So I don’t have time to type that all again, but the GoJ says the site is fixed now, so I’m testing it out.
I tend to agree and prefer not to use veto power in my rolitienshaps. If I object to someone strongly, I’ll talk about why and I’ll set up the boundaries I need to take care of myself and my kids but I won’t do an ultimatum or a veto.I *have*, in the past, had to say something like, If you sleep with X, I will be uncomfortable exposing myself to STD risk and you and I will not be intimate so long as your sexual involvement with her lasts. You will need to get an STD panel if we get reinvolved at some later date and I am seriously questioning your judgement here. and did not feel that was unreasonable. The ultimate responsibility for my safety lies here, with me, and I take it very seriously. That’s about as close as a veto as I’ll get and if necessary I will terminate a relationship on my end so as to protect myself and my family, rather than give my partner an ultimatum once discussion and negotiation fail. Because that’s the point of boundaries, non? Here is my hard line. Do what you will, it’s fine, but here is the line that for me is uncrossable and if you must go beyond that line, then here is the result of that choice.
It’s not even an intelligent pun. And,Of cosrue, without an explicit agreement for, let’s say, a feel-up free-for-all, you don’t have a sexually open anything, just a partner who’s cheating.doesn’t really count asbeing precise about stating what polyamory is and isn’t, and I feel I stated it rather clearly.Saying something like, Now, there are some relationships that are sexually open in which all persons involved have knowledge of and consent to multiple intimate relationships; these are called polyamorous. However, since your boyfriend doesn’t seem to care whether you know or consent to his behaviour, he’s not polyamorous: just a regular ol’ cheater would have been precisely stating what polyamory is and isn’t.Additionally!The headline in question: Along Came Polyamory. It wasn’t consenting polyamory, but the guy was groping a whole bunch of women; ie, he was forcing polyamory on his girlfriend without asking for her consent. To explain further: Along came polyamory without her consent well, how fun for her.If it isn’t consenting polyamory then it ISN’T polyamory. PERIOD. Polyamory requires consent by definition! She’s not just non-ironic she’s ignorant to boot. Fabulous.Moreover, if she thinks that the ethical part of polyamory is simply consent she needs to read Easton’s book a lot more closely.Argh. Count me among the pissed off polyamorists.
“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.”
So every person who expresses interest in you must have prior poly experience? If every poly person felt that way, no one would ever be able to get any poly experience. It reminds me of my jobhunting dilemmas back when I was newly graduated – no one would hire me without experience, but I couldn’t get any experience if no one hired me.
I’m very glad the first girlfriend that my SO and I had didn’t feel this way.
I am only going to date people with poly experience.
I have no say at all in whether or not someone “expresses interest”, only whether or not I accept the date.
And as I said in the article, your rules will be different! Of course they will. We’re different people!
Well, she is a hardass after all! :p
Personally, I like to give people the benefit if the doubt; I believe very firmly in second chances, having had plenty of them handed to me so far. I am always as up-front about being poly before the date itself, if at all possible, or during the process of the first date. Of those who had never had any poly experience before dating me, I’ve had precisely one date decide to not see me again after being informed that I already have oher partners. I’ve had one instance where it just didn’t work out because she realised that she wanted a more exclusive relationship with me (which I had been honest enough to tell them was not an option from the beginning).
Slowly, gently and carefully are the watchwords when I’m dating someone new or newish to polyamory. It’s worked very well thus far. 🙂
Amy: In terms of ad homs, here are the ones I was able to find just in your public reopsnse to Amy Gahran.1: Thin-skinned According to this thin-skinned polyamorous blogger chick, I’m supposed to be haunted. (I’m working on it, really I am!)Calling her thin-skinned is attacking her for finding offense in your post. Even if you take her commentary on your reopsnse as throwing the first punch, that still doesn’t negate your attack. Not to mention that you use chick here in a clearly derogatory fashion to present her as childish/young and therefore not someone who deserves being listened to.2: Poor dear just needs the trafficPoor dear, most of her posts have zero comments. I guess she needs the traffic. Let’s all help her out.You paint Gahran as a pathetic loser who has pursued this for her own selfish reasons; namely to draw attention to her blog. Your language is condescending as well, calling her poor dear and then asking your readership to help her out by giving her what you present her as needing/wanting. Instead of addressing the subject Gahran’s diagreement you attack her personally through the apparent lack of popularity of her blog.3: Getting one’s panties in a wad In reopsnse to a comment on her blog from Howard Owens, who really didn’t understand why she was getting her polyamorous panties in such a wad Here again, you use language to dismiss her personally and paint her as foolish. Here as above with thin-skinned polyamorous chick you’re using her polyamory as a point of ridicule and in this case you’re using a gendered slur ( panties in a wad ) in order to show your readership that she’s just some silly woman. This has nothing to do with her argument, and everything to do with attacking her character.5: Humourless womanGuess what: If you don’t have a sense of humor don’t read my column.If you know anything about feminism, you should understand why this is an ad hom and a pretty low one at that (though not as low as the panties one, which, as a self-identified feminist you should also know why it’s not good to use it here’s a hint: if you’re against special treatment that benefits women, you should also be against special treatment that hurts them, like gendered slurs).None of the above examples had anything to do with the argument that Gahran presented, nor do they serve any purpose other than to discredit her character and attempt to make you appear better smarter, more rational, more right than her. They are all pretty clearly ad hominem attacks.There’s more in your comment that is deserving of address, but this comment is already pretty massive and I’ve had a long day and I just want to go play some Sims 2, so I’ll leave it off for now.
Thanks for the chuckles and good advice! Would love to hear sometime what is up with the no threesome rule, if it’s not too personal (just curious, as I adore them :)).
Ensuring that no-one is ever, ever going to want to date me after reading that.
I’m thinkin’ this list makes me interested in dating you solely because you seem remarkably sane on your dating rules. *grin*
What is “digity”?
Well, you DO have pretty blue eyes.
Would you object if I used a copy of this article for background information at a non-profit workshop I’m facilitating on bisexuality and poly? I’d like to use it specifically because it provides an experienced viewpoint on dating couples. I’d present it without the comments.
Thanks! I really enjoy your column!
First off thank you for writing this.
I’m dealig with being poly. I say dealing because unlike every thing else i know about my self…this is the hardest thing for me to accept about myself. The guidelines You set out give me clues as to things that I may incounter on my new self discovery.
, everybody rlealy has a veto: If you do this, our relationship is over. To me, a veto is too tempting a way to shortcut communication. If you’re the veto-ee, you don’t have to listen to your partner so much because if you’re rlealy acting like an addled moron, they’ll veto you; if you’re the veto-er, you don’t have to deal with unpleasant feelings, you just hit the stop button.And I’ve seen far too many poly relationships where one secondary after another gets a veto until the veto-ee finally figures out that the veto is not a last safety measure, but emotional blackmail.
walks away, shaking head.
Don’t let the door hitcha on the ass on the way out, there, honey. *GRIN*
I’m here via yesterday’s advice column, just to say I really like this post. I sincerely hope that you don’t still believe it puts potential dates off (if you do & want a stranger’s advice, I’ll be happy to help) – IMO, there isn’t anything better than dating people who know themselves and can communicate clearly about their desires and boundaries. I even hear ya on the “no newbies” issue: my last boyfriend was one, and I think I’m done for a while. Hey, I took one for the team, right?!
Item 16 made me giggle, it’s very close to what I have on my OkC profile. And I still get dates there.
I never thanked you for this article, did I? Thank you.
Uhhh… You’re welcome?
Out of curiosity, sweetie, if you’re willing to say why you’re grateful, I’d love to hear it.