Dating your friend's college ex? Jealous your BFF is with your one-night stand from four years ago? Relationship guru Demetria Lucas spells out what's fair and what's not for women in today's dating culture.
For most of my dating life, I've operated by what I call "The Golden Rule of Relationships." That is, under no circumstances do you date an associate's former flame. That broad definition of a man who was once important but is no longer includes anyone who paid for dates for a woman in my wide-reaching circle of friends, all of their exes (of course), jump-offs, one-night stands, and any person I was aware that a current associate was crushing on, whether he'd expressed mutual interest or not. Oh, and no man remotely close to an ex‑boyfriend. And when asked by a woman not to pursue, take the loss. I figure this is a ladies' game, and all must show respect to keep the operation running smoothly.
I was steadfast about this, and it made sense because, well, why would I want to violate this rule? Associates don't need penis in common any more than friends do. It's just bad business.
But as the dating game continued, my social life kept expanding, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites continued to unite the world in one common group associate-ship, it became increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hadn't already known someone I was just meeting in the biblical sense, much less paid for a few dinners or drinks. I also realized people held claims on people that were, frankly, ridiculous. Like, I'm sorry you dated a guy in college… ten years ago. Let it go.
Or even that he was a jump-off for three months three years back, and you want to call him off-limits? Let it go. Naturally, I thought the rules should adjust to accommodate the new social setting. So I wrote up… new rules. Yes, like Bill Maher. The Dating Code of Honor is less about a preference for having penis in common (not preferred) with your Facebook friends and more about opening up a wider dating pool, lest single ladies be forced to dabble with old men, mean men, broke men, and all other undesirables for the sake of meeting someone "new."
I set forth the following:
Article 1: Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for consumption by the general market. Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce their single friends to said exes.
Article 2: Currently booed-up people can still claim exes off-limits, if the ex is within the last three years. Upon entering a monogamous relationship, they must release all exes with whom they parted ways more than three years back into the open market for general consumption.
Article 3: All college boos must be released back into the open market for general consumption at three years post-graduation.
Article 4: All great loves remain off-limits to the circle of associates, regardless of marital/dating status.
Article 5: One-night stands are in play after ninety days.
*Anyone your friends would say fits the description of Big on Sex and the City.
Article 6: Jump-offs who have not been active for more than twelve months are fair game.
Article 7: Your ex's inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission. His associates are fair game without asking permission.
Article 8: In the case of a man who has been "claimed," i.e., an interest has been expressed, but a return interest has not been expressed, said man is in play of friends and associates after a period of seven days.Demetria L. Lucas is the founder of ABelleInBrooklyn.com, where she muses almost daily on dating, sex, and relationships as well as pop culture and women's empowerment. She is also the relationships editor at Essence.
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