Rules of Engagement

When is it okay to date an associate’s ex? (note the distinction: I did not say “friend.” I will not date anyone my friends have dated or humped**)

For my entire dating life, I’ve operated by what I call the Golden Rule of Relationships. That is, under no circumstances do you date an associate’s former flame. That broad definition of a man who was once important but is no longer included anyone that paid for dates of anyone in my wide-reaching circle, all their exes (of

course), jump offs, one night stands, and anyone I was aware that a current associate was crushing on whether he’d expressed mutual interest or not. Oh, and no one remotely close to an ex BF and when asked not to pursue, take the L. I figure this is a ladies’ game and all must show respect to keep the operation running smoothly.

I was steadfast about this and it made sense because… Well, why would I want to violate these rules? Associates don’t need dick in common anymore than friends do. It’s just bad business.

But as the dating game continues, my social life keeps expanding to include more associates, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites unite the world in one common group associate-ship, it’s become increasingly difficult to meet anyone that hasn’t known someone I know in the biblical sense, much less paid for a few dinners. (My crew is 27+) That and I realized people were holding claims on people that were, frankly, ridiculous. Like, I’m sorry, you dated him in college. That was 10 years ago. Let it go. Or even: he was a JO for 3 months 3 years back and you want to call off-limits? Let it go.

Naturally, I thought the rules should adjust to accommodate the new social setting. So I planned up…what else? New rules, ie the Dating Code of Honor. It’s less about a preference for having dick in common (not preferred) with your Facebook friends and more about opening up a wider dating pool, less single ladies be forced to dabble with the oldies, the meanies, the uglies, the brokies and the otherwise dysfunctional and undesirable for the sake of meeting someone “new.”

So I set forth the following:

Rule 1:  Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for consumption by the general market.  Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce their single friends to said exes.

Rule 2:  Currently booed-up people can still claim exes off-limits, if the ex is within the last three years.  Upon entering a monogamous relationship, they must release all exes with whom they parted ways more than three years back into the open market for general consumption.

Rule 3:  All college boos must be released back into the open market for general consumption at three years post graduation.

Rule 4:  All BIG’S remain off-limits to the circle of associates, regardless of marital/dating status.  This is a no if’s and’s or buts.  Break this rule, and it will get you cut off for an extended period of time.

Rule 5:  One-night stands are in play after ninety days.

Rule 6:  Jump-offs who have not been active for more than twelve months are fair game.

Rule 7:  Your ex’s inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission.  His associates are fair game without asking permission.

Rule 8:  In the case of a man who has been “claimed,” i.e., an interest has been expressed, but a return interest has not been expressed, said man is in play of friends and associates after a period of seven days.


38 responses to “Rules of Engagement

  1. Interesting post, because my current boo falls into a gray area. Long story short, a former co-worker BFF (you know, you’re only really friends because you work together) was friends with him and had a crush. She told him-he didn’t feel the same way at all. I didn’t meet her until 9 months after this. Needless to say, when I finally met him, we had a ‘love at first sight’ type of attraction. I struggled with whether or not to continue to talk to him because of my coworker BFF. I was getting ready to move and decided to keep it moving and see what happens. 1.5 years later, I’m still booed up and rarely talk to ole’ girl. I’m not even sure if she knows about us, but at this point…who cares?

    I know a lot of people who know each other and if I didn’t talk to anyone who anybody had interations with…I’d be screwed. I like the JO rule though, the problem is, some chicks don’t realize when they are simply the JO. I’ve seen friends ‘break-up’ because chick was confused with her JO status and was upset their JO had real feelings for her friend. They still don’t talk, and her former friend is now married to her former JO. That’s gotta hurt..

    Sorry for blogging on your blog. 🙂 I am a faithful reader.

  2. Can you add a glossary for the abbreviations? Lol, I’m pretty sure I’m in agreement with most – but I want to be sure of what I’m agreeing to.

  3. I agree with the rules. If any of my close friends tried to date my Bigs, I’d be PO. Thank goodness we all have different tastes in men!

    A friend and I were talking about how we never liked to dated people who were “known” in college. We like the loners. Come to find out, nearly 10 years later, everyone knows everyone in some kind of twisted way, so our “secret dating” was in vain. There’s no way you can NOT date someone because someone you just “know” and not even that close to dated. You’d be out of luck every time.

  4. I am happily married but my BIG is still off limits to all friends and associates FOR LIFE! It is what it is. I’ve never had to say it nor will I. However it is understood. Thanks for validating that point for me…Love the blog! All of it! Keep it up

  5. Excellent idea! I see your rules as having a dual purpose: 1) obviously your stated purpose of opening up the dating pool, and 2) encouraging one another to keep it moving in the dating lane and stay out of the rear-view mirror.

    *Love the exception made for BIG. Because even though I recently sent my BIG a card stating that there’s a reason why we aren’t together. . .I will cut one of my girlfriends if I learned of any communication b/w them not related to me. “Seriously. I will flip them over the couch. I am not the one. For real.” -Credit: Lisa Wu Hartwell

  6. you have some pretty good rules of engagement there…I’d definitely follow them when necessary!

    Me personally, the only one who is OFF limits to friends and associates alike is ANYONE I’m currently boning and/or STILL have a mutual emotional attachment to…everyone else is up for grabs!! LOL

  7. Well this is tough becuz you can’t help who you fall in love with. So if me and my Big did not work and my best friend married him it might be awkward, but depending on how and how long after we broke up they got together. I could be understanding. JO’s and ONS although that’s not my thing. Unless he was gettin it in currently, who cares. The past is the past, seconds is seconds. College boyfriends– yeah, if it’s not serious by now they can move on. NEXT!

  8. The main problem (if we want to call it a problem) that I find among associates is that folks are so private and secretive about their business. Not that I blame them because I keep mine on the hush too, but you don’t always know who was crushing/JO-ing/buying dates for whom within your extended crew. Only my closer friends really know my business and those are the people obligated to any such rules. So if you know my business, then the rules apply.

    Associations don’t carry that much weight in my circles. The world is far too small to keep up with all the cross-pollination going on in these streets.

    Furthermore, I hold my exes far more accountable than my associates. If I introduced you to my girl and you know her because of me and we shared the same space with you clearly red-flagged as my current whatever, then rules apply. And I’ll make sure that’s clear upon dissolution. (I rarely ever have bad breakups and am still cool with the vast majority of formers.)

    I do agree that Bigs are exceptions, and that married folks have to let go of all other exes. I’m going to apply 6 months of inactivity to JOs. As far as college ex-BFs, I think the 25 age limit should be raised based on the level of seriousness. (Age 25 could be only a couple of years for some, and some of us had “mini-marriages” in undergrad.)

    As for this one: “Men who have been “claimed,” ie an interest has been expressed, and not returned within 60 days said interest is in play.” I think you have to let your girl get all the way over it and then she has to say it’s okay. Some people crush hard and for a long time.

    Good blog, LS! Always reading… 🙂

  9. One of my Bigs was a college boyfriend. HOWEVER i wouldn’t care if one of my homegirls was dating him.

    Now the sticky part comes in that I had a JO who is also a Big (don’t ask) and he is CLEARLY off limits to anyone close to me.

    Hell, I know he’d shit a brick if I was every involved with anyone in his circle as well.

    That one is a complicated relationship.

    Other than that, I don’t really care who any of my people date.

  10. only one rule needed… “they are no rules!” All exes, regardless of level, are to be returned to the shelf immediately. (without paying a restocking fee)

    The person is an ex for a reason… move on.

  11. You ever thought of dating one of your friends (Bigs= Great love of your life) Also if that person, (your friend’s BIGS) was feeling you to and you feel that you can make it work with you and him and he feels the same way about you would you go there?

  12. Love this post, Miss Camron! IT makes for excellent “girl talk.” I feel like printing this out and having a girl’s night so we can discuss!

    @LeeWared: I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to agree with you that there “are no rules.” But alas, I cannot because there really are , for me, when it comes to who is and is not “off limits.”

  13. This world is to accessible for someone to be “off limits.” How can we all live on “main street”, but have these restrictive rules. If a girl likes me, wouldnt she tend to like someone with the same qualities, and isnt it fair to say that my friends would share the same qualitites.. so isnt it unfair to restrict her from a section of the population that have the qualities she desires?

    Ok lets say I have JO who works or is in daily contact with my boy, and over time my boy is really feeling her and then my JO decides to leave her JO status with me to be his BIG… by these rules that story never could of happened.

    Or how about if my BIG and I didnt work out, we tried and tried and it didnt work. If that person is really my BIG and wouldnt i want them to be happy.. or should i change that concept to “they can be happy just not with someone i know” cmon… we all adults, yes it may hurt, but if it was meant to be it would of worked out…

  14. Good stuff Cam!!! This is what I was complaining about in comments a few blogs back. It’s impossible to date even in a huge city like NY if you discount all the people who dated/slept with/had a relationship with/was jonsing for, etc someone you know. I’ve always taken an “off limits” stance with those dudes but your last few posts have really made me rethink things like that.

    I’m in the 24 set and I wont say that your last several post “scared me” like some of the 23 year olds 😉 (everything in it‘s own sweet time), but they did get me thinking about how many factors can be against black women in dating-land especially as we get older. I’ve come to the conclusion really it’s just time to start opening up the dating pools. That said, it seems super limiting to discount someone because they were involved at some point with someone you know! EVERYONE dealt with SOMEONE on some degree and there’s just not enough eligible men to be discounting people because of that.

    Three cheers to the new rules bu for me personally all my close homegirl’s previous dudes are off limits. There are still enough men in the world to not have to double dip!

  15. See this is why I love you CamronZoe, always ON TIME! Thank ya kindly for the guide. Turns out one of my besties has broken the rules and is in need of a reminder.

    I especially appreciate this “and anyone I was aware that a current associate was crushing on whether he’d expressed mutual interest or not,” but would have to say I will relegate this courtesy to close friends instead of associates.

    Close friends should have far stricter regulations than associates.

    I agree wholeheartedly with this whole list. Personally, I’m not interested in dating/boning/ONSing any of the dudes who have been with a close friend of mine in any way shape or form. Too damn messy.

    Associates on the other hand are SOL on any and everyone after 6 months. They threw him back. Can’t hate on me for recognizing good fish! Shooot!

  16. Great Post CamronZoe. I was thinking about this when I went on that tear a few blogs ago when someone mentioned the ‘rules’. As a guy, I wanted to know what the ‘rules’ are.
    I flirt, speak on the phone, and step out casually often with women (I don’t consider this a dating though) and later realize that me and that person are not compatible, time passes and I meet a woman who may be close to her circle, and she is interested, yet the ‘rules’ dictate that I am off-limits. This is often frustrating, like I’m being penalized for meeting new women. This is compounded with the fact that I don’t know what the women are saying about the depth of our friendship/relationship to others; then I meet someone who I find interesting, and I come across in the wrong way (player, serial dater,etc.).

    Don’Q and LeeWard, whole-heartedly, yet, this is not realistic. Ego and Pride are a mutha. You can say this now, but when it is in your face, if may serve as a reminder of how your relationship failed, things that went wrong, raise issued of insecurity (is the person better looking, have more education, etc.), etc.

    CamronZoe, I would like to know the reasoning/logic behind the several articles:

    Rule 2: if they have someone, why may they still claim people from 3-5 yrs?

    Rule 6: 12 mos?! that’s a long time.

    And the one that intrigue me the most: Rule 8

    Rule: 8: Has the interest been expressed to the guy? The guy may have no idea the crush exist, it’s unfair to ‘penalize’ him for ignorance. He may not ‘click’ with the girl who is crushing on him hardest. What if you all met him at the same time, he spoke to all of you, the crush(er) too greater initiative, one of the girls had a boyfriend at the time (but doesn’t have one now) and he was feeling her, etc. “Strongly Disagree”-please provide background/explaination/enlightenment

    You are on point with this one. (Anticipating answers-from any female, lol)

  17. I actually agree with LeeWard and Don’Q in theory: there shouldn’t be rules at all! Those situations just require everyone to grow up and be adult about it…but in execution, that’s sometimes easier said than done.

    I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable seeing a close friend with an old flame and even if I was able to be adult about it and deal, I’d probably question my friend’s loyalty. With my close friends I’d personally never want to be “that person.”

    Acquaintances are a little trickier. I think you have to take it on a case by case basis. Are you going to hurt that person’s feelings? If so do you care? Lots of people are salty at the person who comes after them regardless of if they know that person or not so you have to know that and if you actually know the person, you have to be prepared to possibly lose that acquaintance. Sometimes that’s OK, but sometimes it’s not that deep and if you’re not that serious about the person or vice versa it’s not worth the drama.

  18. @Drell:

    re: Art 2:
    It’s been the case that even when a woman is with someone, she does not want people she frequently sees dating her immediate ex. She is “on hold” but not “out the game” (ie, married). 3-5 years offers her time to retrieve valuables she has placed in the pawn shop of the dating game. Also, just because something didn’t work does not mean feelings end at the immediate time the relationship was dissolved. 3-5 gives ample time to get over lingering doubts, potential reunions. This time frame also helps avoid rebound flings within the circle (It’s a plus for all involved.) Additionally, I believe it lessens potential drama or awkward moments. We must remain civilized.

    Art 6: I agree. It’s to clear the air and show respect (this is a ladies’ game). Plus, I don’t really want to get at anyone when I KNOW they had sex with someone I know just months earlier. A year is more comfortable FOR ME (I encourage ladies to adjust the length for their level of comfort, (no less than 3 months) notify others, and proceed accordingly.) I also believe 12 mos gives time to soothe hurt egos in the case that she settled for JO when she wanted more. (too often the case.)

    Re Art 8: It doesn’t matter if he’s been told. If someone expresses interest, you must fall back and allow her to express it to him and give an opportunity for him to respond. (speaking of which, I’d like to ammend to add that a woman should be forced to declare to the Crush her interest within 30 days.) To impede on her expressed intentions causes unnecessary competition and worse, drama. I can see how a man may find this unfair, but this isn’t about his opinion. This is a ladies’ game. (The person I bounced this off was a dude, hence the disagreement to this and Article 7, which are in the ladies’ favor.)

  19. One more thing: for clarity, these rules are for Associates and DO NOT apply for Friends. For the love of all that is holy, leave your Friends exes, JOs, ONS alone. But if you must pursue, ASK PERMISSION. Fall back if it is not granted.

    Oh, and because it wasn’t mentioned (but pointed out offline that it should be) all BFs, fiances, and husbands re: of who they are bunned up with are OFF LIMITS.

    This is a ladies’ game. We must show respect for our sisters, even if we don’t know them.

  20. @ Camron: Thanks for the clarity; Indeed this is a ladies game, because some of the rules completely contrast with the way I see things/way most men would approach these situations.

    3-5 yrs would be reduced to a 1 year minimum/3 year maximum.

    JO: 3 mos(min.) 6 mos(max) seems ideal/fair. What I perceive is going on is that, people are have sex with one, dating others; then at some point their feelings b/w the sexual partner evolve and they decide they want more with the JO-sometimes this works, sometimes it does not. I just don’t think it should be determined by one party(the woman).

    In regard to the ‘crush’ article (8) :we agree to disagree. I think this article epitomizes the ‘ladies rules’. How can it not be about his feelings/opinion when he is a party involved? The amendment stating that the woman must alert him within 30 days makes it better, but I still have issues with this.

  21. I really like this blog. I can definitely relate to the subject matter. I agree with most of the rules, but when one is in the actual situation, the rules become fuzzy. I’m 20, in college and newly single. I sat in my room the other day with a guy friend trying to find cute guys that I might be interested in. Based on their solely meeting my requirements, we placed about 10 guys on a list. The problem with about 6/10 was that I either knew someone they had dated, been intimate with, dated one of their friends or they had showed interest in a girlfriend who failed to reciprocate it. I wondered if I could be excused for considering some of them on the list or not? So in the end, I picked a casual friend/associate of an ex-JO as he was the guy I would break the rules the least with.

  22. @ CamronZoe – I love your blogs. You give women the best insight as to dating and dealing with men. We should call you the go-to-girl for advice and insight.

    with that being said, I hope you are doing okay. But I have to know is your ex one of the guys that you have written about on here? The ladies in my office have been speculating that it could be one of the commenters, or someone you have already written about?

    I know the situation is probably hard for you, but could you please let us know…we are just curious here at the Dept. of Mental Health…

  23. I’m glad ya’ll brought this up. Cuz, a girl from my job said that the guy use to be your facebook page, but since I’m not friends with you on facebook, I would have no way of knowing. Was he white, or black? Would you take him back?

  24. Dang, ya’ll some nosy people…This has nothing to do with the thread at hand. Get out of the girl grill. If she wanted to discuss that personal event in her life, then she will. If she doesn’t then she won’t.

  25. I was just reading some of the old blogs, and I noticed that J.Alden posted a thread a couple of days ago. Nothing he said would indicate that he would be someone she knows or dating.

    Anyway @ camronzoe, we hope you are feeling better, and your healing process is speedy.

  26. EVERYONE – why would an EX boyfriend post on her CURRENT BLOG? That’s stupid.

    CamronZoe we love your BLOGS 🙂 as always you are on point with this one.

  27. Let’s stick to the topic at hand please!! Come on ya’ll, if you and your boyfriend broke up would you want to be sharing it online with strangers? Ya’ll are going over board.

  28. where the hell is J.Alden? I voted him our male representative. Dude, if you’re reading you gotta post more. Help us brother out.

  29. All I have to say is LMAO!! I agree with Kewon on this one!

    @LeeWard I’ve just been observing for the most part. But I’m here homie!

    @Ariel Be quiet girl. LOL

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