I am doing this thing right now where I try to replace scorn with empathy. It’s both really challenging and sort of a relief at the same time. For me, scorn is more cutting than irritation and less productive than outrage. Scorn is a fleeting feeling of “Oh I am so much better than this person (thank god)”. Scorn is like a little pressure valve that releases built up guilt, because the things I feel scorn about in others are things I know I am guilty of myself.
For the last two days, I’ve had a tab open in my browser, unable to tell if what I am feeling is scorn or outrage. It’s an entry in a tumblr by a Toronto comic named Christina Walkinshaw. She is going on 50 first dates with dudes she is meeting on Tinder, which I’ve heard described as “Grindr for straight people”.
She recently went on a date with a guy is in an open relationship. My reaction to reading the blog post for the first time was big time scorn. I didn’t like that she used the phrase “bing bang” to refer to genitalia, I didn’t like all of her crummy assumptions about non-monogamy, I didn’t like the way she treated the dude she went on a date with.
I’m not really sure how I feel about open relationships… Sure it’s better than cheating, but if you want check out other people’s bing bangs, why not just be single? I’m confused. You “commit” just in case it’s love?
Reading this, I am trying really hard to remember what the worst most embarrassing thing was that I ever said about non-monogamy, before I’d realized it was the best fit for me, personally. I have no doubt that it was at best insensitive and at worst really dismissive. So even though she has decided non-monogamy is all about just wanting to sleep with a lot of people, I am trying to ease off on the scorn here and have more empathy. (Except for the fact that she seems determined to make “bing bang” happen, for which I have no forgiveness in my heart.)
But then there is this:
It’s 9:20pm. It’s time for me to make my move…
“Can I get the bill?”
My date looks confused.
“You have to go?”
“Yeah, sorry. I actually double booked Tinder dates for tonight. I was going to cancel the other date, but then I thought since you’re in an open relationship, you’d totally understand. If the girl you love and live with is allowed to sleep with other guys, surely a girl you’ve only known for two hours can run off to another man too, right?”
OH SNAP! (It’s 2013. I probably shouldn’t be using that expression anymore.) Just giving the doctor a little taste of his own medicine. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
He’s a little shocked, but how can he argue with me? He’s just spent two hours talking about how great open relationships are. He’s been a facking inspiration!
I guess this is where I veer more into outrage. Because it just seems so punitive, you know? It reads to me like she is going out of her way to treat him like he doesn’t have feelings, specifically because she thinks the way he does relationships is stupid.
There was a guy I went on a couple of dates with last summer. Five minutes after the first (SPOILER ALERT: and last) time we slept together, he grabbed his cell and started flipping through it, showing me the girls who were messaging him on various dating sites. It kind of hurt my feelings, not because I was trying to spin a mystical fantasy world where he would only have eyes for me, but because it just seemed super inconsiderate for him to be on his cell phone ignoring me to browse for his next date. I said something along the lines of “Uh, should I go? I feel weird.” He got visibly exasperated, and said “God, you’re non-monogamous. I thought you’d be cool.”
Even that guy, clueless though he was, wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings. I mean, I want to stress that I think it is completely fine to not want to go on a date with a person because they are in a relationship. But then just don’t go, you know? Don’t go, and then blast them and roll your eyes at them on the internet. That just seems super mean.
Let’s make this outrage productive. How could things have gone better for everyone?
Maybe she would have felt differently if he’d told her before they made plans that he had a live-in partner? That’s on him a bit for sure. It’s tricky, asking someone on a date when you are already seeing someone. What if you meet someone and they are cute and you smooch a little and they ask if you wanna hang out sometime? Do you tell them right away if you are already seeing someone, or does that presume they are invested enough to need to know all that? I mean, people don’t presume that they are being monogamous with someone from the first date forward, do they? That’d be something you’d wanna have a conversation about.
Those aren’t even rhetorical questions. I know this stuff is so tricky. This is why I only date people I already know, or meet through OkCupid (where I can be set as “available” rather than “single”). Any advice on how to best handle that is welcome in the comments.
Nearly a year ago, I sat in Dovercourt Park and ate Bakerbots ice cream with a charming freelance journalist named Chris. He hadn’t ever dated someone in an open relationship, but I think he was so relieved that I wasn’t vegan or something that he was up for the hanging out anyway. I’m really glad he took the chance on doing something unfamiliar, and that he didn’t just do it so he would have a weird story to tell the internet later. It was a great time that led to lots more great times, which led to a great relationship anchored by laughing and smooching and helping each other out when we’re struggling.
Chris says he finds being non-monogamous completely rewarding. He likes that we are always honest with each other and he doesn’t have to try to read my mind. He likes being close friends with Jairus, and how fun and supportive our whole crew is. He likes that he and I invent meals together while heckling the CBC. He likes that none of that means he can’t make out with women at parties.
Hearing about those make outs is a) hot and b) exciting, because I know that Chris wants to meet another stellar gal and raise children with her some day. I love thinking about this. He is such a loving, brilliant, and reliable person that he’ll be a fantastic husband and father. But of course in order to make that happen, he has to go on dates … presumably while still dating me! Reading Walkinshaw’s blog makes me worry about women going on dates with him and then being mean, rather than giving the whole thing a chance. Please don’t do that? To anyone?
As Chris explained to his parents (they love me, by the way): “It’s weird for about five minutes, and then it’s just life.”