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Those Rules That You Make… and then Break

·406 words·2 mins

I see it a lot in my line of work: Someone has a string of disappointing dating experiences and searches for a commonality to all of them.

And once they do, they make a rule regarding that commonality.

In my case, I had my heart broken by a string of single men, in quick succession when I was a newly polyamorous person.

Looking back, I don’t know if their single status (in this case, not only unmarried but also not living with a romantic partner) had much to do with what went wrong in those relationships. Frankly, we weren’t really fits, and they were all basically weird with polyamory as a concept. They wanted to date me but couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that I was married, didn’t plan on leaving my husband, and that I wanted to date them.

They tried, but it came out all weird.

And I think at the time that I attributed it to the idea that they’d never been married before — and frankly hadn’t lived with a partner long term — so they had no idea how you could be married or in a long-term relationship and also find dating other people fun or meaningful. And that it wasn’t a sign of trouble in the long-term relationship.

Anyway, I responded to this spate of hurtful breakups by making a rule: No more single guys. When dating men, they had to be married or in a long-term domestic partnership. No exceptions. (I didn’t just date men, but this rule was just for men because men were the ones being disappointing/weird in my dating life at that time.)

Well, guess what happened then? I met a really cool single man. He had three girlfriends at the time, but they were all married, and he lived with a platonic roommate.

By my own rule, he was off-limits. We became friends. And then we became closer friends. And then we started dating.

Then I moved in with him.

And look… we’re still together.

Anyway, I think of it any time I hear someone making a rule like that, one designed to protect themselves from getting hurt again.

Even as I hear other people chiming in and saying, “Yeah! That makes sense! Go for it. That’ll work,” I find myself sitting back quietly and reflecting on how that approach didn’t work for me. And how I’m glad I broke my own rule.


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