Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The NEW Rules of Dating

Today both Kim and the Mrs expounded upon the issues that come up in the dating world today, from men who don't understand that no means "no" and women who allow this kind of behavior to continue.

So in response to Kim's list of rules for men to follow, I will list my own set of rules for BOTH sexes to follow. These rules are gleaned from years of experience in dating and the continual bitching of my single friends.

1. Talk about where you stand.
Everyone has different beliefs regarding what is appropriate. If on the first date you decide you want to continue, these things need to be discussed before things progress past casual, non-commital dating.
  • What you want out of a relationship right now. This includes sex, companionship, marriage prospects, everything. If you want something major, and the other person just wants a fuck buddy, you need to work that out.
  • Sex: is it a possibility? Will it be a possibility sometime down the road? If it is, you need to discuss levels of protection, expectations of fidelity, etc.
  • Religious beliefs, or lack thereof: this is really important if you have an eye towards the long-term. If you're only looking for "the One" this is of vital importance.
  • Where you want to go in life: once again, if you're looking at the long term you need to know the basics.
  • Politics: I know that politics are a traditionally taboo subject, but the fact is, these days the political divide is so acrimonious, that you don't want to invest yourself into a potential relationship with someone whose politics make your skin crawl.
  • Passions: What are the passions in your life, and can your prospective partner stand them; and stand the time you give to them.
  • Splitting of the check (or not). In one relationship I had we agreed to a simple system since we both made the same amount of money: whoever proposed the date, paid for it. This way we could choose things we could afford, and nobody had any nasty surprises when the check arrived.
As a sidenote, all of these things help you get to know the other person, so should come up anyway somewhere along the line. If you can't come to an understanding or a basic knowledge of what the other person wants, assume nothing until they TELL you what they want. On the flip side, make sure the other person knows where you stand on things that affect them.

2. Comfort level wins
If one of you is ready for sex, or ready for physical contact, and the other is NOT, the wishes of the person who is NOT ready must be respected. If you can't handle waiting, or if the other person can't and tries to pressure you, it's OVER. Any name-calling, guilting, or other juvenile behavior on their part just means you leave faster.

3. On protection: the most paranoid person gets to decide
If sex becomes a possibility, protection must be discussed. If one person is happy with just birth control, and the other wants birth control and a barrier, the latter person's wishes stand. Once again, if you can't handle that or the other person can't handle that, it's game over. Ditto on the juvenile behavior.

4. There are no expectations of physical contact or sex; ask permission
Just because you paid for dinner, or you know that your prospect "put out" for someone else doesn't mean that you get to expect ANYTHING. If you want to kiss on the first date, ask. If you want sex, ask. Don't assume that you're entitled to anything.

5. Just because you've gone somewhere before, doesn't mean you have to again
But do be considerate and let the other person know that although you've kissed/petted/had sex you aren't comfortable with it now. If they can't respect that, kick them to the curb.

6. Keep your perspective
Infatuation can be fun, but it can also be all-consuming. Remember that no matter how good a new relationship feels you have friends and family who need your attention as well. If your relationship ends, you will need to have other people in your life. If your prospect has a problem with you spending reasonable amounts of time with friends and family, RUN.

7. If your prospect wants you to meet their friends or family, indulge them.
You can learn a lot about a person from their friends and family. Conversely, once your prospect's friends and family meet you and you get their approval, the likelihood of your relationship lasting increases tenfold. If they don't like you, don't expect the relationship to last.

(Note: if upon meeting your new girlfriend's friends you find that the males tend to be protective of her AND well-armed, this is your warning that any ungentlemanly behavior will not be tolerated. Behave accordingly)

8. The ex is the ex for a reason
If you are meeting the ex, chances are they managed to stay friends. This is most likely because:
  • They were friends to begin with
  • They broke up in an amiable manner
  • They followed the aforementioned rules and therefore can still stand each other as human beings
Do not assume that because the ex is around, he "wants her back" or "they're still seeing each other". If you think such things your relationship will go downhill fast. Instead, think of it as reassurance that your prospect is a nice, considerate person who, when things don't work out, handles it like an adult.

9. If you've decided to break up, there is only one way to do it
Face to face. No phone calls, no standing them up, no emails, and NO HAVING THE POLICE DO IT FOR YOU. And do it as soon as you decide you need to so you don't string them along. Arrange to do the deed face to face, and hold your ground. If they're being an ass on an issue, leave them right there.

There are only three exceptions to the face-to-face rule: long-distance dating, people you're breaking up with because you can't ever reach them or because they have a tendency to stand you up, and those you have determined to be dangerous. But still, for god's sake, find some way to tell them.

10. There is only one way to handle being dumped
Accept it, and move on. Stay friends if you want to, or don't. Either way, it's obviously not going to work out and you should get on with your life.

Under no circumstances should you:
  • Beg, plead, guilt, strip, or resort to any other kind of demeaning behavior.
  • If there is another person involved, make reference to "fighting" for them, or anything resembling "let the best man win". That's incredibly insulting to both you and them.
  • Stalk. This is especially important if the friends were the well-armed men described above.

If both parties can follow these rules (summed up nicely as ACT LIKE ADULTS) dating doesn't have to be a scary, landmine ridden undertaking filled with misunderstandings and misuse of police resources. If you can't find another adult to date, keep looking. There are more of us out there than you think.