The Dating Wordgame

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I recently got a text from the guy I’m dating. Not that that’s unusual, to receive a text; it was the context of that text that had me concerned. We were discussing the right timing on meeting each other’s children. And I told him that in my (ten) years of dating and being single after my divorce, I had yet to introduce someone I’m dating to my kids. And his response? “Well, yes! Based on your track record, I would say…”

WOAH. Hang tight, sparky. My TRACK RECORD??? I sat there, stunned and didn’t respond. Yes, folks, this is when it gets real. Because in your mind you’re thinking WTF is in my “track record” that is so shocking that I haven’t introduced anyone to my kids? So now, we get to play an episode of The Dating Wordgame. Now for those of you already in a committed relationship, this is MUCH different than playing The Marriage Wordgame or even The Engaged Wordgame. Those games are much trickier, and tend to have far more painful consequences than The Dating Wordgame. (And for our friends NOT in a committed relationship, we don’t EVER play the FWB Wordgame. We just don’t.)

If you’re a writer, then you begin to obsess. “What did he mean, ‘my track record’? Are we talking sheer numbers, here? Or the fact that I went on a date with a guy who confessed (after ducking UNDER the table AT DINNER) that he ‘might’ be wanted in several counties for evading child support. Does that mean MY judgement is bad? Does that make me a less attractive candidate to date?” My mind began to reel as I called a few friends and polled whether the phrase “track record” had the negative connotation I was using it in. Although the general results from friends were that referencing a woman’s “track record” in relative to her dating history was NEVER a nice ‘conversation piece’, they didn’t see it as a reason to ghost him. And yes, I’ve ghosted for less. Judge away.

As I drafted my response, I thought about how many times we say things in one frame of mind that can be accepted in another. Someone can, perhaps, offer a compliment that – in their mind – sounds nice. Like, “Gee, that’s pretty. I’ve never seen that color hair on someone alive before.” But you might not know that that person is a mortician and they mean no offense. However, to the passive observer…those words can end a blooming relationship. Or get you shanked. Depends on the audience, right??

I had a formerly married friend – and yes, this is where we dabble our feet into The Married Wordgame pool – who once responded to his ex-wife’s feedback on an outfit by telling her that he hadn’t seen that color since he’d gone to Vegas last fall. At the strip club. On a dancer. On a pole. NOW! To SOME people…let’s just call them…MEN – that comment isn’t necessarily offensive! It could even – in some foreign, sad, backward cultures – be considered a compliment! But those are the kind of verbal word games we play when relationships are at stake.

And so I offer these cautionary words of advice to you: Before saying, texting, tweeting, snap chatting something…think if it’s REALLY offensive in ANY CONTEXT. Think hard. Now question whether it’s also really funny. I mean….such a delicate balance, right? Whether to be funny or offensive? So many times, yes, it can be both. However, in this tale, let’s assume that we want to forgo humor for the sake of our relationship. Thus, I repeat words of wisdom from Rumi (or someone on the subway, I can’t recall): However messed up, darkly funny you THINK your comment is…to the people hearing it…you’re really just gunna sound like a jackass.

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