Monday, October 18, 2010

'Don't Ask. Don't Tell': Why I Don't Believe in Exclusive Dating.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is in a fresh relationship yesterday. She was thinking of having lunch with an old friend of the opposite sex and was torn ab whether or not she should tell her boyfriend ab the lunch. The whole situation reminded me about why I don't believe in exclusive dating in the first place.  My position was 'Don't Ask. Don't Tell'. Which is my position on relationships, in general.   

I guess I should, first, warn you that this post is gonna piss some people off. My motivation, though, is the other 25% or yall that are gonna feel where I'm coming from and identify with where I'm at. I'm taking this one for the team. There are not a lot of us out here... Black women that reject the idea of exclusion before marriage. I'm not speaking about an entirely 'Open Relationship'. What I'm talking about here is more of a 'Don't Ask. Don't Tell.' type of situation. Maybe I should start there.

An open relationship is a relationship in which, within mutually agreed limits, the participants are free to have emotional and/or physical relationships with others. What I'm talking about here lies in the 'within mutually agreed limits' part of the definition. 'Don't ask. Don't tell.'(or DADT).  The mutually agreed upon limits of a DADT might look a little something like this:

*There is a mutual understanding that, for all practical purposes, this is your significant other. What this means is, the two of you do not, openly, date others. The important people in your life know this person to be your boyfriend/girlfriend/dude/lady/whatever you want to call it. You receive all rights and privileges that come with such a position. However...

*The two of you are allowed to see other people. If you so choose to. This makes better since if I say it like this...The two of you are not prohibited from seeing other people. AS LONG AS, the people you are seeing have been made aware that there is someone, who takes precedence over them, in the picture AND that person respects the boundaries of the situation. (ie.not calling at disrespectful hours, starting arguments, drawing attention to self, ect.) I know it's confusing, but stay with me because this is where it gets a little tricky...

*As long as there has not been a breech of boundaries on the part of the side chick/dude in some form, the two of you do not inquire about whether or not either of you see someone(s) on the side AND as long as there is not a necessity to do so, you do not voluntarily tell each other about the person(s) you see on the side. However, if asked... and the situation at hand warrants an inquiry, the two of you are forthcoming with the requested information.

(I, purposely, left out any sexual stipulations. I'm encouraging abstinence, not promiscuity, not even exclusion. Abstinence.)

Now... I already know what some of yall are thinking. 'AH AINT BOUT TUH GIVE MAH DUDE PERMISSION TO KICK IT WIT NOBODY ELSE!!' I'm gonna challenge you to come out of that 2x2x2 box for just a minute. Go ahead. Crawl on out. I'll wait.

Here's what I DO know. Titles are pointless. They don't stop a person from cheating. Take it from a from a person that has been on both ends of the deal. It doesn't stop a person from stepping outside of boundaries attempted to be set by it. I know this is hard for some of yall to grasp because I know some of yall live for the title. But keep it real... Did the fact that *insert cheating ex's name here* was your 'boyfriend' stop him from getting it in with *insert slore's name here* every chance he got? No. Why? Titles are not what keeps a person faithful. If a person wants to cheat on you, there is nothing you can do to stop them. The key to a person remaining faithful, is their own disinterest in seeing other people. That comes from commitment and connection.

Commitment- not to a title, but to a person. This is why I have such problems with titles. Most people use them as a way to control the people they love. 'If this person is my boyfriend, then he should act like this'. or 'If this person is my best friend, they should do this.' We start expecting people to conform to the titles we put on them as opposed to waiting for them to reveal (by their own actions) what their commitment level to the relationship we have really is. A person's commitment level is not determined by titles, but connection.

Notice I said 'connection' and not 'love'. Commitment is not always attached to love. Sometimes it is. A lot of times it's not. I know all too well that you can love somebody and lose your connection to them. When the connection is lost, so is the commitment. You don't have to believe me, but I'm telling you what I know. This is why we love some people enough to let them go. The fact that I love you, does not mean that I have to stay committed to you even after my connection to you has been lost. (If that were the case, some of us would be in some bad situations right now. So, thank God, it's not.) A person does not commit to that which they feel no connection to. And when two people feel a strong connection to each other, they, on they're own free will, cease having outside relationships. Because they have no desire to. Voluntary commitment...(meaning... I'm committed to you because I want to be) is a helluva lot stronger and more powerful than forced commitment (meaning... I'm committed to you because I feel like I have to be.) 

Once two people have reached a point where they are voluntarily faithful to each other... where the connection between the two of them is so strong that they are ready to commit only to each other... That's when you know you're ready to take the vows. This is why the only titled relationship I choose to be in is marriage. It's the only title that really matters. It's the only title that comes with an obligation to 'forsake all others'. It's the only title the Bible acknowledges. We all know that some people cheat in marriages. These people probably cheated in exclusive relationships too. My point is... concentrate on the connection and not the title. If the connection is right, the commitment will be there, and your position will remain intact.

That's my take. Discuss.


  1. I really like this mikki! It's true and real.

  2. I understand where you are coming from, my issue or rather my question to you is, what is the point of dating? After you answer that, my next thing is how can you get to that place that leads up to marriage if you are seeing other people. My next question is this how can you fall in love with someone and just all of a sudden lose the connection and then the situation becomes was it ever there to begin with and at what point are you consulting God about who your mate is?

  3. Good question, Kesha! The point of dating, for me, is to build a foundation...a really good friendship, first. Only after two people have built a friendship, should they consider what a 'more than friends, type of situation looks like. During this time, whether or not you see other people does not negatively affect your dating situation with this person. In fact, I believe that it's actually healthy because it helps you really see where you are. If you still have the desire to see other people, you're not ready to be married to this person. My point is that the desire to be exclusive should come naturally and not be forced on by a title. As far as when you should be consulting God..... my hope is that we always do. There's nothing in the Bible that says people must be in exclusive relationships before marriage. In fact, the Bible doesn't even acknowledge courtship. In the Bible, when two people want to be together, they married. I believe that God can give you revelation ab who your spouse should be while you date freely. My experience has been that people try to confine people with titles to feed their own insecurities. Which is why I love forces you to look at yourself and really deal with your own insecurities so that, if the situations does turn into a marriage, you've already gotten that out of the way. As far as how a connection can be lost... it happens. Sometimes an event, a change in goals, a change in maturity level, or a noticed personality flaw can cause a loss in connection. That doesn't mean that it was never there or that it can never come back.