Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rules of Engagement

One of the significant differences between Old Melanie and New Melanie (have you met her yet? If not, she's a pretty cool chick) is her knowledge of what she wants and doesn't want.  Okay, switching from awkward third-person.  During this nauseating roller coaster ride of first dates and icebreaker communication, I have come to realize that dating is much more than simply finding someone that you "click" with.  The older I get, the more some startlingly important factors play into the decision-making process, things I honestly wouldn't have considered years ago or wouldn't have been dealbreakers.  So, I've decided to make a short list, here for the world to see, of rules for courtship.  This list will also help you keep me in check.  If I stray from these crucial elements, feel free to shake your head at me, clear your throat, and politely remind me of Rule #4, for example. 

Rule #1.  In order to engage me in courtship, you must be some form of Christian.
I know this one is going to bug a LOT of people.  To each his own, folks, but it is important to me to know that you can go to church with me and have an understanding and appreciation of my faith.  You don't necessarily need to be the same denomination, but essentially, I need to know that we believe the same thing and can raise children that way.  Not important ten years ago; critically important as I sit here listening to Pandora, attempting to drown out the ticking and tocking of my biological clock.

Relevance, you ask? I'm happy to comply.  During my "date" with Mr. Banderas, he asked me about my faith.  We'd touched on the subject before but only via text, which is an awkward way of expressing a commitment to anything, honestly.  He clarified that he was fine with me sharing my story as long as I wasn't a Bible Beater, of which I am not.  If we've met, you know that I have no place beating anyone with a Bible.  I shared my unique story cautiously at dinner (keeping in mind the golden rule of avoiding politics and religion, at least until you know the person's last name) and he shared his...or the lack thereof.  Although he'd marked "Christian: Other" on his profile, Mr. Banderas pretty much stated that he is without religion at this point in his life.  He didn't say that he believes in something and just doesn't practice, which is acceptable and understandable.  A lot of people go through ups and downs of commitment, including myself.  Sometimes that Sunday morning alarm clock is the worst sound I've ever heard in my life.  But, I always eventually come back around.  He said he has no religion.  This, my friends, is a dealbreaker.  As much as I'd like to think I can see around that trait, I know that eventually, on down the line, it will play a major role in whatever decision I'd make about him.  Granted (I'm sure you've thought of this), I'm not dating him and could be great friends with him.  But, to commit to a relationship with someone who so honestly shared this fact with me at the onset is unlikely and destined to cause anguish.  I know this about myself, one of the few things that I can unhesitatingly state about what I'm looking for.

Rule #2.  You must be a non-smoker or seriously committed to quitting. 
Again, probably going to stir up controversy.  Although, I would never tell the love of my life that I can't be with him because he smokes, he better be prepared that I'm going to nag him until he quits.  It'll kill you, people.  Remember the Shards o' Glass popsicle commercials? Watch and learn.

Rule #3.  You cannot be better on paper than you are in person.
I'm not just filling an empty space at the other end of the dinner table here.  I'd like someone who can engage me and who is engaged by me.  Short and sweet.

Rule #4.  You should be able to participate in 12-year-old boy style humor or at least handle it.
My friends and I often confuse people about our age.  They can't imagine that a group so vulgar and immature in their humor can possibly be in their late twenties/early thirties.  That's just who we are.  If you can't go with that flow, you're probably going to be uncomfortable in my group.

Rule #5.  You should make a moderate attempt to look presentable. 
Hmm...how can I put this?  You don't have to be metro-sexual, checking every strand of hair in the rear view mirror more often than you're looking at the road or adorned in the latest haut couture runway styles.  I don't even have a preference for a particular style:  preppy, redneck, outdoorsy, goth, whatever your choice is fine with me. You don't have to spend a lot of money on designer brands or fabulous shoes.  Heck, I don't.  I  would just appreciate some fashion choices that a). fit, b). aren't dirty, and c). don't look like you borrowed them from your grandfather. (And before you ask,  yes, I have witnessed all three of those...sometimes at the same time.)  That's all I'm asking.  Basic skills your momma taught you before you started kindergarten.  I get the whole "This is me expressing myself" thing, but I don't buy it. I think a lot of "fashion" now comes from sheer laziness.  And if I'm respecting you enough to put effort into how I look, I expect the same.  Effort, friends, that's all I'm asking. And effort usually doesn't mean that your shirt's original intention was to be a barrier between your sweaty armpits and another shirt.  Note to men: Women notice how you dress.  We especially notice if you look nice and as though you put at least two minutes of thought into your outfit.

Now, don't send me hate mail about my inflexibility.  I don't think any of these requirements are unreasonable.  To my fellow gal pal readers, do you agree?  What rules do you/did you have when screening dating material?  To the gentlemen in the audience, same for you.   Please comment with your "Rules of Engagement."  I would love to hear if this is one element of the battle of the sexes that we agree upon or if one of the reasons we are so clueless about each other is because we're each expecting totally different things.  I'm thinking it's the latter, but we'll let the jury have some deliberation time!


  1. Oh my gosh, we seriously should be friends. I completely 100% agree with your rules. I can't stand a smoker, it's a deal breaker. And I don't want someone who doesn't believe in God. Humor is important--I like laughing off all those extra calories I have, and I often get bored easily so I must be engaged and entertained. Tall orders, I know. But it's better to be honest than pretend.

  2. Totally agree! I'd rather be honest and alone than miserable and with someone. At least, I think that way now! Get back to me in a few years, and I might reverse that! LOL

  3. I got to a point in my mid-twenties when I decided to date only Catholics for the same reasons you gave (hence 5 years without a date), but I stuck to my standards, and now I'm stuck with a husband! LOL

  4. Totally agree with all five, especially with presenting yourself. I hate it when I take the time to get dressed and then I meet up with a guy and he looks like he just woke up, I mean really we are in public, lol.

  5. I'm kind of in the same place with standards - despite my family's incessant chorus that I'm too picky, I know myself - I'm not only not going to be happy with someone who doesn't meet some minimum requirements, but also it would frustrate me so much I'd give up on dating/men altogether. So, my non-negotiables are a) Christian (same reasoning as you), b) someone I can be attracted to (not McDreamy, not a model, not even someone other people have to find hot - but someone I can deal with), c) responsible (I have NO PATIENCE with or use for overgrown boys who refuse to get jobs/take responsibility for themselves/etc in their late twenties), d) brings something to the table and shares common interests and values (this one is very vague - basically, someone who has his own life and isn't going to be too clingy, someone who I can be interested in and who can be interested in me, like you said).


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