Rules of Engagement
In the military, rules of engagement are defined as a directive issued by a military authority specifying the circumstances and limitations under which forces will engage in combat with the enemy. The Business Dictionary defines the term as “practices followed or behavior displayed by the participants (players) in situations of opposing interests (conflicts) such as negotiations.
I’ve noticed that there seem to be unwritten rules of engagement when it comes to dating so I thought I would write them. Then again, I have also heard that all is fair in love and war so does that mean there are no rules? Are potential mates and prospective dates the enemy? Is mating a form of combat? Under the business definition, we could say we are “players”, but I don’t think we have opposing interests. Actually, I think we are all interested in the same things such as forging connections of some sort whether they are emotional, intellectual, sexual or social.
So if we are all interested in the same things, why can’t we just clearly say what we want from people and expect to receive it? Why is it such a game? They want what we want so why don’t we just meet in the middle for an even exchange?
Instead, we play hard to get, don’t seem too eager or desperate, hide how we really feel, don’t tell the other what we feel or think, and maybe play it cool.
Online dating seems to have its own set of rules of engagement. I was recently chatting online with a man who lives in a town a little further away than I will usually allow. But, he seemed very handsome and cool. I had plans to go to a bridal shower the next Saturday in a town much closer to him than where I live. I thought it might be convenient for us to meet after the shower. Since he had not responded to my last message online, it was against “the rules” for me to send him another message suggesting this before he replied to the last one.
I had mentioned this to my brother, and his response was that was just playing games by not going after what I really wanted. I didn’t want to appear overly eager, but I did think the guy looked like he was worth meeting. I gave it some thought and decided I really wanted to meet this person so I sent the dreaded message on top of unanswered message. I broke the rule and offered to meet him after the shower suggesting that I would be nearer to him at that point. He has not responded. This could be due to a thousand reasons which probably don’t have anything to do with rules.
The same goes for calling or texting. Never leave two messages in a row. And if there is no response for a while, forget them and never try to contact them again. Not even to say “hey, I saw that band we loved again.” This is especially called for in the case of exes. If it’s over, it’s over for a reason and you should leave it that way. I know sometimes we weaken and get all nostalgic for a relationship, but really, what’s done is done.
And lastly, can we please be adults when it’s time to break up with someone and tell them the truth in a face to face conversation? Can we make this a rule? Ghosting is for sissies.