Jul 14, 2010

Dating, Part III: Rules?

WARNING: Skip this one, Mom and Dad. Really.

I've taken to blogging about dating faster than I expected. Part of it is out of sheer necessity, because after being with John for eighteen years, then experiencing two sort of doomed relationships, I'm dating again. Casually, because I'm not up for a real relationship; I'm still licking my wounds from the last one. But when opportunity knocks, who am I to say no? The problem is, I don't know the new dating rules. I'm lost in a sea of confusion over how to best navigate these murky waters. Full of questions, and short on answers. So, you singles out there, I ask you: what are The New Rules?

I've had a few good experiences, but admittedly, I'm interacting with the male of the species with my guard up. I'm wearing my wounded heart on my sleeve, whether I realize it or not. Maybe it's because I tend to put the whole divorced-and-recently-out-of-a-relationship bit out there so everyone knows what's what. Decent, perceptive men sense my skittishness surprisingly quickly, and don't seem too crazy about the odds. I can't force myself to be vulnerable again, though. Should I fake it?

Communicating with men these days is like trying to learn a foreign language on the fly. No one seems to use the phone anymore. Email is rife with the possibility of misunderstanding. And texting? Please. It can take me forever to send one simple sentence. And what is the etiquette surrounding texting? If I have not asked a direct question, should I expect a reply? (And vice versa.) Should we take turns? If I want to share a random thought, but have yet to hear back from him after my last couple of random thoughts, am I text-stalking?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but when do we have sex these days? I'm forty-three. My basic philosophy is that I can have sex whenever I feel ready, as long as I'm safe. But are we still playing the waiting game? Am I supposed to ignore my own instincts so he doesn't think I'm some sort of slut, even when he's giving me the full-court-press? (That ship has already sailed, to keep the water metaphor going, but I'm still curious.) I can't help but feel that old fear: once we've had sex, is he going to disappear? I'm not talking about casual sex, mind you; that's not how I roll (ha ha). But let's face it: even casual dating can lead pretty quickly to physical attraction if there's any sort of chemistry involved. And making out on the couch seems so... high school. What's a girl to do?

Finally — and you can file this under TMI if need be — what's the protocol around farting? One boyfriend handled this beautifully. We were hanging out not too long after we met, and he looked up and asked, "Are you ready for a real relationship?" Every muscle in my body clenched in fear as I stared at him. Then he just let one rip. It was hilarious, and perfect. But not too many men have that particular sense of humor, and I can't walk around with a stomach ache simply because I'm afraid to rock the boat (ha!) with a little wind. If there are going to be overnights, is farting allowed?

I have many more questions, of course. But some advice on these burning issues would help steer me in the right direction, for the time being.


M said...

Oh, hell, yeah, woman!!! You cover all the ground, all the slippery slopes of modern dating. It is war out there and no wonder I don't even wanna look at one again for a very long time. ;-)

Pirate Alice said...

If you get any answers let me know. I've been out of that world for like what? Going on 8 years now? I'm dipping my toe in the water and really... it's not water, it's ACID! As for farting... I have the BEST story... call me!

Wubledoo said...

In my experience between husbands, being very upfront about not wanting a real relationship but merely looking to have fun seemed to shift the power in my direction. Very interesting results. Let's talk...

Laurel said...

But Wubledoo, how can we talk if I don't know who you are?

Laurel said...

Never mind, W. I figured it out. Call me, you whackadoo.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could help you as well, but my guard is also up like armor (and has been for a long time). Trouble is, I drop it for the wrong people. It's hard to not walk around warning everyone that you're bitter, bruised and jaded - you don't want to appear disingenuous, do you? But it's likely not attractive to someone who's really looking to get to know you.
In any case texting is a nightmare but I fall prey as well... it's a way to get quick validation but also a way to be quickly blown off - text at your own risk. I find different people have different texting styles - some respond to everything, some do not. Best to not take offense until you know.
Sex? Oh who the hell knows. If you're going to wait, I'd say it's to make sure you don't get your hormones confused with feelings (women sometimes do that, you know). Not because he'll think you're a slut (not likely if you're dating men in the appropriate age range). Maybe not a first date, but after that, I say it's a free for all (sorry mom and dad).
Farting - I don't know. I walk arond with a belly ache :)
This is Abby by the way, I just didn't want to post with my email address.

trying to begoode said...

Don't even get me started on texting! Like at what point in my life did that become acceptable communication? And why do I even know what the phrase 'predictive text' means?!