Today it occurred to me that love requires structure and rules.
Maybe this is really obvious to most of you, but let me just reiterate that throughout my last major relationship I referred to the guy as "whosit number bazillion." I have issues.
Ex-boyfriend #6's parents had this dog, a 90-lb. American Bulldog named Elvis. I hated Elvis. I complained about Elvis incessantly. He used to jump on me whenever I walked in the door, shove his slobbery face in between my legs at the dinner table, jump on top of me whenever I went swimming in their pool, and bark at me incessantly. Once Ex-boyfriend #6's dad took Elvis alongside for a bike ride, and when Elvis saw the next-door neighbor's dog in the yard, he knocked the bike over and launched all 90 lbs. of solid bulldog muscle right at the poor little terrier. Ex-boyfriend #6's dad then yelled at the neighbor for not keeping the terrier on a leash.
I hated Elvis.
But the question I asked myself today was this: Did I really hate Elvis, or did I just hate the fact that he had no rules? How could I blame a dog for doing whatever he wants when there are no rules? And in the same way, how can I blame men for treating me however they want to when I have provided no rules, and no consequences for breaking them? And of course men have more control over their own actions than dogs do, but the idea is the same.
So here are my rules:
1. No sex for the first month. I don't really like this one myself, but there seems to be no way around it—it's a basic respect necessity. If I'm not worth waiting a month, it's over.
2. If you don't call me when you say you're going to, it's over.
3. If you give me a big lecture on commercialism and misogyny when I mention Valentine's Day, but you still use the words "whore" and "fag" casually and buy video games as soon as they come out, it's over. I want flowers. Get your damn wallet out. (Side note: I do reciprocate on Valentine's Day. This is my favorite holiday, and it's a personal thing, and I give presents to all the people I love that day, including my friends and family, so if I explain how important it is to me personally and you still can't be bothered, well, I hope you enjoy lying on your deathbed alone.)
4. I need alone time, and one-on-one time with my friends who aren't you.
5. I would like you to come with me occasionally to do the things I like to do, even if you don't want to do them. Not always, just sometimes.
6. If you're not nice to my cat, it's over. I have made a lifelong commitment to my cat. Have you made one with me? No? Then be nice or get the f*&% out.
7. Clean up after yourself in my place. Put your dishes in the sink or the dishwasher. Don't leave food wrappers around. Hang your towel back up. I'm not your mother, and she probably wouldn't put up with that crap either.
8. We go dutch on everything. If you insist, I will object twice and then I will let you pay. But then it's a gift and I don't owe you a damn thing.
9. I would like to go out on dates. Dates do not involve hanging out at your house or your friend's house watching you play video games/smoke pot/get wasted/watch TV.
10. If you don't like to read books or at least newspapers or magazines, please go away and don't come back until you're literate.
11. I like presents. They don't have to cost money, but they do have to involve you thinking about me. Do my dishes before I get home. Leave a cute note on my car. Offer to help me take my cat to the vet. Make my life easier and more enjoyable because you're in it.
12. I'm not living with you unless we're married. Until I can check the “married” box on my tax forms, I'm still single. In which case, my money is mine, my apartment is mine, my car is mine, my cat is mine, and my life is mine. And I can pay for all of it. If you can't, call your parents.
13. Slowness, in all applicable areas, is appreciated.
14. When you're talking to your friends, you're not “f*cking” or “banging” or "screwing" me. You're having sex with me. Get it right. I suppose “doing” is acceptable, but just barely.
15. If you ever non-jokingly insinuate that my intelligence is subpar, it's over.
16. And you won't even get as far as buying me a drink if it becomes apparent that you haven't thought seriously about gender roles and women's rights. You want to play stereotypes? You're a sexist, horny slob and you better run to the ATM so you can take care of my tab when I walk away.
17. Two words: birth control.
18. If you can't figure out how to make me come, ask. If you can't figure it out and you don't ask, it's over.
19. If we are in a serious relationship, the things which are allowed to take precedence over me are: your own well-being and happiness, God, and your family. I make allowances for emergencies with friends, work, and pets. If you are always having an emergency, it's over.
20. If you are not interested in getting married, then I am always going to be looking for someone else who is. Game over.