When Love Hurts All Over Again: A Guide to Better Dating Etiquette
It’s not that you want to be in a relationship with your ex anymore; it’s that all these new jerks, douchebags, mean girls, and maneaters make you want to be with your ex. Going on a catastrophic date can definitely open any wounds you thought were healed. Just when you think you are better off without him/her, you meet someone who makes you forget about what you used to hate in that ex of yours. I hear it all the time, and it goes a little something like this: “Ex would never do what this guy just did; even Ex had the decency to know better.” Well heck, if even EX, the sleazebag, or cold-hearted broad that left you for your wingman wouldn’t do THAT, then the dating world really is that terrible. This needs to be addressed, so everyone gather around for a pep-talk and life lesson, and hopefully by the end of this, at least even a tiny spot in the world will be a better place.
What I realize is that there are five parts to a break-up, which are similar to a cathartic process:
- The actual break-up
- Making sure you got in everything you wanted to say.
- Thinking you are going to be just fine without the ex.
- Getting over the break up
- Realizing it actually happened.
- Teetering on the brink of beseeching the other party to take you back and sticking with your decision.
- Cry for attention: Changing your Facebook status to single, posting pictures of you living a fabulous life without your ex, mostly ones where you are laughing and smiling really hard with a group of beautiful individuals surrounding you, making-out with your ex’s best friend and hoping it gets back to him/her.
- Getting over the relationship
- Being alone.
- The grieving process.
- Understanding that the other person might meet someone else and spend life without you.
- Cutting that person out of your life (if necessary).
- Dating (sometimes this comes as number three and depends on whether someone is ready to date without getting over the past relationship)
- Finding things that you never had from the previous relationship: Good things, bad things, new things.
- Forgetting about the ex , or turning back to the ex (depends on your dating experience).
- Getting into a new relationship
For now, I will focus on number four, the dating part (which I have conveniently highlighted in red for your viewing pleasure). Dating is probably painful because it eliminates a comfort element that used to be present either in another relationship or from you being alone all these years; there is a lot of uncertainty, and it can make you miss your ex. Just when you thought you survived the emotional earthquake resulting from your last relationship, there come the little aftershocks. So, to reiterate, as I focus on the dating element, I hope to provide tips that make those partaking in dating a little more receptive toward their behavior, and a little more in tune with the social niceties of the dating realm. These suggestions are derived from real-life encounters of friends subjected to dating. In other words, these situations really happened to people.
1. Don’t be cheap. Your name may be Ebenezer, but you don’t have to be a Scrooge. If you are a male, courting a female, please pick up the check. I don’t care if it’s the first date, or the fourth date, always offer to pick up the check. And most especially, do not ask to split the check. If you cannot afford to take a girl out, then cook for her. You can even make it a couple’s adventure, and have the two of y’all cook together. In other words, do not invite a female out to celebrate her job promotion and then make her pick up the tab; yes, that happened to someone I know.
2. Don’t be a food Scrooge either. If you are a male, taking a female out in the evening time, please feed her. I have heard about a male asking a female on a date around 7PM, fully aware that she was hungry, but he constantly thwarted the idea of food when she brought it to his attention. Alcohol, however, was allowed and for some reason he wanted it to flow in copious amounts. If you ask someone out in the evening, do not tell him/her that you do not want to eat just yet, and wait until 1030pm to finally bring up the notion of a dinner. By that time, you have caused that person a low-glucose induced headache and acid reflux from an all-liquid diet. In case you didn’t know, drinks like alcohol and caffeine not only dehydrate the body, but also erode the esophagus by keeping a sphincter open for acid to flow copiously, much like the alcohol you are providing. This can cause an ulcer. So whatever your motive is–to get someone extremely drunk, or you just have an issue with food–do not subject your date to this. It’s rude and thoughtless.
3. Don’t eat all of the onion rings that someone else ordered. At least save two or three for that person to enjoy.
4. Don’t purchase child-rate tickets at the movies. It’s just tacky.
5. Don’t be a racist, misogynist, man-hater, or evil person. Specifically, please do not mention how you are a racist and do not like a certain ethnic group or race. If you use an online-dating web site, mention that in your profile so that person will already be aware. Most especially, do not leave a hostile voice mail interrogating someone about whether they have ever dated derogatory forms used to describe African-Americans and Mexican-Americans. Also, look at a calendar, and figure out that the century is currently the twenty-first.
6. Don’t bring up your ex. You want to focus on the future, not the past. If you need to mention your ex, refer to them as a “friend of yours” or “someone you know.” Example: “OH, you like that movie?? I went to see that with someone I know.” You don’t want your date to feel uncomfortable or seem like you haven’t moved on from the last relationship. Save the ex conversation for another few more dates down the line, or let the other person ask.
7. Don’t be boring, but don’t be a conversation glutton. Gluttony is a sin, and well, boredom should be, too.
8. Don’t ask about weight issues. Specifically, if you are re-united with an old flame, don’t ask, “How long did it take you to gain all that weight?”
9. Don’t talk about how you can never see yourself with someone long-term, or how you don’t see yourself as the kind of person to take care of your significant other if he/she became disabled. If you say all these things, think about what sort of message you are relaying.
10. Don’t be afraid to text someone you just started dating on a holiday like Christmas, New Year’s, or Valentine’s. If you avoid that person on those particular holidays, it is pretty obvious that you are sending out a message that goes something like this: I don’t want you to think I’m thinking about you on this day in particular because you might get the wrong idea and think that we are something serious when we are not, and I just got out of a serious relationship, and I am just not sure if I am ready to have another one, so I will just pretend we don’t exist for just this one day, and we can go back to normal after this twenty-four-hour period is over, which I will then proceed to ask you if we can go to second base. Instead of all that drama, just be a man, be a woman, and be normal on a day where you feel inclined to act abnormal.
If any of these rules are broken, it is often a disastrous situation. The person that is subjected to the in-etiquette on the date thinks of all the alternatives he/she could be doing: kick boxing, yoga, dusting all the areas of the house that are often neglected, eating macaroons while watching Gossip Girl, or just sitting alone in silence. That person is also probably thinking about how great his/her ex was, and is idealizing him/her throughout the evening. So please, listen to my public service announcement: Do not do the Don’ts I’ve listed. Just be a kind individual. If you feel inclined to do any of these things, in particular, rules five, six, eight, and nine—please seek counseling. Yes, there is something wrong with you, but you can get help, and there is still hope. You are just not ready for dating, and that is OK.
For those who are subjected to this lack of etiquette, do not be discouraged. Do not immediately call your ex. There is no need to visit them after the date to make you feel better. That is a huge step back from all the work and progress you have done. Do not let the idiosyncratic behavior of some oddballs scare you from dating, or from love. Just know that you are wiser; if you are noticing that this behavior is ridiculous, and you are not putting up with it, well that’s a victory in itself! You have figured out that there is much more to life and love; it may not be in the past, it may not be in your crappy date, but it is in the greatness that you surround yourself with—from friends, to family, to your own self. Know that there will be those great dates where you feel excited about something fresh, and learn about things you want for yourself that you didn’t have in another relationship. Oh, and don’t forget—those terrible dates are not a waste; they can always, always make for some highly entertaining stories. Or blog posts.