Dating Rules I Need to Remind Myself of Constantly, Part One

Posted on July 1, 2010

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1. Don’t believe everything people say.

Have I told you about the married guy yet?

I met D. through Craigslist back in November. We talked a lot, went out a few times. I liked him, but I didn’t really like him like him. He was a little flaky, but they all are, more or less. This was in my first flush of dating and sex and I was much less jaded and suspicious than I am now. For instance, I didn’t have his phone number, but I didn’t really care; in the age of smartphones, who uses phones to talk anyway? I asked him several times if he was single, and he always said yes, even telling little anecdotes about dates he’d been on recently. Like everyone else I was casually seeing, or talking to, or "talking to", I cut him off when I met Lieu.

D. hung on though, IMing me every couple of weeks and asking if we could get together. I always declined; technically Lieu and I never shut it down to outside parties, but I am a monogamist at heart. Lieu was the only one I wanted anyway. Then, in mid-May, we broke up. The next day, a Monday, D. asked again if we could get together and I agreed. I thought I deserved a pleasant distraction (and he always had been a pleasant distraction, if you catch my drift, and I think you do.) We made plans for Thursday night.

I emailed him on Wednesday to confirm and it bounced back. Huh, I said to myself. Thursday I tried again with the same result. For someone who’s been trying to see me for six months, deleting an entire Gmail account seems like an extreme way to get out of a date, I thought, but then this really isn’t my week. I was miserable anyway and spent that Thursday night gazing up at my ceiling, wondering when I’d get my first cat, and if that’s the one that would eat my dead body or if it would be one of the dozen others I would surely obtain as my lady parts and prospects dried up.

On Friday, at a much-needed happy hour, beautiful margarita in hand, I got an email from his wife. His allegedly non-existent wife, who’d found his slut account and ransacked it. The email had pictures of their kids attached. She said that "the person I knew as D." was her husband, and that he was supposed to be a stay-at-home dad who took care of his disabled toddler, but instead had been spending his time trawling Craigslist and cheating.

The lesson: Get a phone number. Get the name of an employer. Google. If anything seems fishy, it probably is. I obliviously overlooked some pretty big warning signs because I was new at the game and I didn’t care about him that much. In retrospect, ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.

2. If someone wants to talk to you, they will.

Have you ever been too busy to talk to someone you were infatuated with? Too busy to return a simple text message about, say, how cute you are, for a number of days? Me neither. If, in fact, you are too busy to return a text message–a TEXT MESSAGE, not an email or a phone call or a letter written on stationery–I might suggest you are too busy to be dating. I emphatically believe that you are too busy to be dating me. For the record, the non-response–preceded by weeks of talk and two very good dates, the most recent of which ended with all kinds of chatter about future plans–is the coward’s way. Consider this a lesson you are lucky to have learned early.

The lesson: Don’t date Republicans.

3. "Separated" does not equal "divorced."

Separated means he is still married. Separated means an ugly divorce battle looms–and they are all ugly–where all the bad things that led to the separation will be re-hashed ad infinitum and blame will be cast around like pixie dust. Or more like volcanic ash. Yes, it’s true, some rebound relationships work out. Some people shed their baggage, or transform it into something pretty, like a new handbag for you. Most require some time to be bitter and stew and work shit out. For me, falling in love with people who are emotionally vulnerable and messed up is like breathing. What else do you do? Each of the red flags–referring to the ex as "my wife", being too depressed to talk after a meeting with the lawyer, conflating "separated for two years" with "out of marriage counseling for 6 months"–is like a marker that lures me further down the path to ruin. I think there can be healthy divorces, and healthy divorced people who are good to go on new relationships–but man, you want to be as far away from the smoking ruins of the old one as possible lest you be coated with that volcanic ash as well.

The lesson: Lieu.

To be continued…

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