I have a lot of rules. An utterly ridiculous amount of rules.
Last night I was having a conversation with someone and mentioned the way I was raised — an extremely conservative evangelical upbringing — with….yep, you guessed it A LOT OF RULES. “I’m not there anymore,” I said, “But I guess I make up my own rules now because it helps me feel safe.” He smiled into my eyes, shook his head, and the disconcerting feeling that maybe some of my rules were unnecessary crawled up into my chest.
I began going on dates for a couple of reasons. None of this would even be a thing if it weren’t for one of my best friends sending me a text to say, “I joined Tinder.”
I groaned, abnormally judged him, and sent some variation of eyeroll, grit teeth, and skull emojis.
My own first experience with Tinder happened almost a year prior and could only be described as colorful. I know that word “colorful” causes you to imagine a vibrantly painted mural on some urban, brick, newly hip, industrial bit of town but this was more colorful in the way that a one-pump gas station bathroom in the middle of southeastern Missouri would be described as such.
It was so terrible I swore off the idea of casual dating and even men for quite some time, but we all know the truth…
I love men.
I do. Micah says I love their souls. The truth is I love humans; men and women. What Micah said made me think. I came to the conclusion that I love masculinity — true masculinity — the kind that makes you feel safe because of the character of the man holding your hand, not because of the size of the bicep connected to it.
So, when my friend told me he was casual dating, I decided it was time to dip my toe back in. I was terrified.
The sheer length of the Match.com bio questionnaire was overwhelming. OKCupid’s insistence that they could give you a percentage of compatibility took romance to a level of science for which my analytical mind was too skeptical. eHarmony seemed like a place where men were going to want to wife me up in a matter of minutes. And my thoughts on FarmersOnly are better left unwritten as to try and restore the brokenness that occurred to the internet when KimK’s ass mass destructed it.
So, I joined Tinder.
For the first two hours, I thought I was going to die. “This is terrible,” I told two of my buddies, “Plz just let me curl up and die right here on this couch. I am definitely going to quit. And look! There are SO MANY ABS. Ugh. You know how I feel about abs.” They laughed and assured me I wasn’t in danger of dying. “Breathe,” they said, “keep swiping, and yes, we are well aware of your insanely irrational fear of well-defined, exploding abs.”
There was a lot of left swiping on shirtless selfies. Right swiping means you are a fan of someone’s face and/or bio and would like to have a conversation with them. Left swiping means you are saying, “Hell no. Please take your douchey, shirtless self and PUT SOME GOSH DADGUM CLOTHES ON.”
Then I began having fun. I made up some rules.
Because rules make me feel safe and stepping out into the hellhole that is Tinder and casual dating was like walking out into the middle of one of those giant pits of an Indiana Jones movie and expecting some invisible step to just appear under my feet. Rules appeared underneath me like those steps.
- Swipe left if bro is holding a baby or a machine gun or several tiny, blonde women, especially if any part of their anatomy is exposed.
Swipe left if there are only pictures of him and his bros chugging brewskis. And btws, dudes, stop catfishing with the first pic being the bro that’s more charming than you. One day I’m going to right swipe and ask about your hot bro. (UPDATE: I’M A TERRIBLE HUMAN AND ACTUALLY DID THIS. SEE ACCOMPANYING PIC)
- Swipe left if you are looking for a running partner or have the word “crossfit” multiple times in your bio or want someone who can “motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle.” That’s called a trainer, not a date.
- Swipe left if you are in an “open” relationship, use that mahogany quote about leather-bound books, say ANYTHING about the necessity of the way my teeth and eyebrows should look, HAVE PICTURES WHERE YOUR WEDDING RING IS PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED, and/or use the phrase BDSM in your bio.
But my number one rule is, “No comedians.” That has a long backstory that you’ll never hear but one day I’ll tell you guys the story of how I broke that rule and almost became an episode of Bones. Preview: “And then we walked under this bridge and there were FOUR LIFE-SIZED HUMAN SKELETONS…with Mardi GRAS beads hanging from it!!! I said, ‘WTF is going on?!!’ He glanced up with disdain and replied, ‘I’m sure they got what was coming to them.”
See, most of my rules are rules for a reason. They serve purposes. This is why the Two Date Rule was created.
The Two Date Rule says the following: “At this point in Melissa’s life, she will only go out on at max two dates with a man. Regardless of how enjoyable she finds his company, she is only allowed two formal dates with him in order to preserve his feelings and ensure her focus remains on her priorities of the moment.” The reasons behind this are LEGION. Many. Multitudes. I can spout them for days…
I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Chicago. I’ve been in relationships my whole life. I’m learning how to be present with humans instead of trying to figure out all the possibilities. I have a laundry list of projects and life priorities I’m building right now. I don’t want them to get overly invested in me or vice versa because I’m just not ready for a relationship.
Amirite? I’m right. There are half-truths in all of those sentences but the whole truth is my rules are there to make me feel safe. Even if I am not safe. Any time you meet someone new, you risk the chance of having your heart stolen directly out of your chest to be held in their hands. You don’t always get to choose when and how that happens. Look, love, your damn rules aren’t going to save you when it does happen. They’re just going to confound and consternate you.
I hope you meet someone who makes you want to break all your rules.
The Two Date Rule is the Two Date Rule for a reason, but at some point you need to lose ALL MEASURE OF CHILL and you need to break it. I hope he or she walks in the door and scares the shit out of your heart when they look into your eyes and you can’t remember what either of you were saying because your heart is beating so fast in a race to meet the rhythm of theirs.
When the time is right and your heart is ready, you will know…yes, yes, you will know.
Break all the rules.