Last summer, my dating memoir/ advice book, A Belle in Brooklyn, debuted in hard cover. Of all the stories or quips/tips, I shared, I noticed that in interviews and discussions about the book, there were three topics that near everyone who read it, or interviewed me about it (not always one in the same) got hung up on (in this order):
- The sexual assault that happened in Chapter 2, which everyone who mentioned it talked about by talking around it, and if I was in a room of people, everyone became noticeable uncomfortable. No surprise as in a survey by the Centers for Disease Control, one in five college women reported being raped at some point in her lifetime.
- The issue of Black women and weight because, whether being overweight or “unfit,” it’s an issue in dating or a general health issue, and it’s one that concerns a lot of us. Also unsurprising as 69 percent of non-Hispanic Black women are overweight or obese, according to the Office of the Surgeon General.
- My “rules” for dating a friend’s ex — seeming harmless in comparison to the other two topics as it’s not an issue that affects really important things like physical and mental health, but one that struck a chord nonetheless. (On Monday, I took a visit to VH1’s Big Morning Buzz to discuss a few rules to dating from a woman’s perspective, a take on MTV’s uber-popular series Guy Code, and the topic came up once again)
By no means do I think anyone should be plotting on a friend’s current significant other in hopes that they break up so you can make him your own. There’s a popular Chris Rock skit that talks about women noticing just how great a friend’s man is and think “I want him!” as opposed to what Rock says guys do and think, “I want a woman like that!” That’s just all manner of shady. But it’s equally shady for women to call “off limits!” to long ago exes, like the guy they were in a relationship with in college when they graduated years upon years ago, or even guys that were casual dating encounters that didn’t work out in the long run. Logically, we can’t lament, as we so often do, about the lack of quality male dating options, then create frivolous rules for each other regarding who’s dateable among the circle — no matter how far in history or on the margins — and expect to all have a fruitful selection.
I’m not fond of friends or associates having penis in common. But as our social media lives continue to expand — with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like making it more likely to meet people from our friends and associate’s pasts — it’s become increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hasn’t known someone we know-know in the Biblical sense, much less sat across from while having dinner and drinks. Naturally, I thought that with the new social setting I should get over my hang up about shared peen and evolve to accommodate our increasingly intermingled lives.
In my “Dating Code of Honor,” I set forth new rules — yes, like HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher:
Article One: Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for consumption by the general market, including friends and associates. Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce single friends to their exes.
Article Two: Currently boo-d up people can still claim exes off-limits if the previous relationship occurred within the last three years. Upon entering a relationship, anyone they were committed to — except those rare great loves – is fair game.
Article Three: All college boos must be released into the marketplace for general consumption at maximum three years post-graduation.
Article Four: All Great Loves — the type that “Carrie Bradshaw” would have called a “Mr. Big” — are of limits to the circle of friends and associates regardless of marital/dating status.
Article Five: One-night stands are in play to all after 90 days.
Article Six: Jump-offs who have not been active for more than 12 months are fair game.
Article Seven: Your ex’s inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission.
Article Eight: In the case of a man who has been claimed, i.e., an interest has been expressed by a friend, but a return interest has not been forthcoming, said man is up for grabs by friends and associates after a period of seven days.
In each and every case of dating a friend’s former flame, the friend must be given the head’s up or permission must be asked — no exceptions. (I’m trying to improve dating relations, not ruin friendships.)
Could you and/or your friend’s operate by these rules?
Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk