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The First Rule of Dating

Is that person truly available to you?

Key points

  • The first rule of dating is to make sure that the other person is actually available.
  • Physically available doesn't necessarily mean romantically available.
  • A person may not be available for various reasons—hung up on someone else, on a substances, or even on a fear.
Budgeron Bach/Pexels
When you are dating someone, you deserve his or her full attention.
Source: Budgeron Bach/Pexels

Would you move into an apartment before checking if it's actually for rent? Would you pull into a parking space that's not empty? Would you put on a pair of underwear before making sure that someone else isn't already wearing them? No, you'd probably check to see whether any of these things were available first. So why not do the same before even considering a romantic relationship with someone?

The first rule of dating is to make sure that the other person is actually available.

This may seem obvious at first glance unless Ashley Madison or Adult Friend Finder happens to be your dating site of choice. And for most people, "show up" is an important requirement for a date to be successful. But physically available doesn't necessarily mean actually romantically available.

In fact, being willing to date you doesn't necessarily mean being romantically available. Heck, even someone who's already your significant other may not be romantically available no matter how close you may seem. The other person may think or insist that he or she is romantically available but really isn't.

I once dated a woman whom I'll call Reallyluvs Someoneelse. When I first met Reallyluvs, she was already longtime friends with a guy, whom I'll call, Doesntluv Herback. At some point long before I had met her, Reallyluvs had expressed romantic feelings for Doesntluv, but take a wild guess as to how he reacted to her? He just wanted to be friends.

Early on during our relationship, Reallyluvs told me that her previous beau had been jealous of the time that she had continued to spend with Doesntluv. Perhaps she was checking to see how I would react. My frank response at the time was that I had no problem with her being friends with other guys. But it soon became apparent that Doesntluv was always her number-one priority.

The tipping point came when she spent considerable amounts of time planning his surprise birthday party yet subsequently completely forgot my birthday. This made me realize that she was not available, as her heart was already occupied by Doesntluv. Ultimately, we weren't a good match in other ways.

Lesson One: When someone is still hung up on someone else, that person is not available.

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels.
Substances like alcohol can keep someone occupied and not able to maintain a relationship.
Source: Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels.

Another example was Justa Fewdrinks. Justa was in many ways a carefree spirit, with an emphasis on the word spirit...or perhaps spirits. Justa was a fair amount of fun but would drink alcoholic beverages on a regular, often daily, basis. In fact, her partying led her to miss work and run into other problems. Even though I tried for a little while to help her get past these issues, eventually it became clear that she was not available. She was already occupied by alcohol and needed more help than I could provide.

Lesson Two: When a person is addicted to a substance or something else, that person is not available.

Then there was Youmust Showmeeverythingthatyoudo. When I first started dating Youmust, she told me that her last significant other had cheated on her. After just a few weeks of dating, Youmust mentioned that she knew she wanted to marry me. This seemed way too early for me. After all, that's not even how long it takes for yogurt to reach its expiration date.

Over the next few weeks, Youmust started insisting that she know my whereabouts and what I was doing at all times. She argued that her past beau had cheated on her while she lost track of him. I emphasized that if a person wants to cheat on you, no amount of policing is going to prevent it. Alas, Youmust was not available. She was consumed by the fear of cheating. Our relationship quickly deteriorated after that.

Lesson Three: When a person is gripped by fear of something, that person is not available.

Finally, there was Livingwith Amarriedman. My friends set me up with Livingwith, who seemed very friendly at first and enthusiastically encouraged a second date after our first. But she would seemingly fall off the grid for stretches of time. Why? You guessed it. She was living with a married man in one of his condos, unbeknownst to his wife. He kept telling Livingwith that he would eventually leave his wife. And you know how that often goes.

So, I could have potentially dated the mistress of a man who was cheating on his wife. My friends later admitted that they were hoping that I could help pull her away from this bizarre love triangle. Livingwith was not available for another potential romantic relationship. That's what happens when you live with a married guy.

Lesson Four: When someone is already in a relationship, that person typically is not available.

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels.
Source: Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels.

Of course, there are times when it should be obvious that a person is not available to you. For example, during school, I wasted time hanging out with Youre Friednzoned. She told me that she was not ready to date but was interested in remaining friends with me. My younger, much more naive self at the time thought that somehow my continuing presence would eventually win her over. If my current self traveled back in time through the Quantum Realm, I would pour water on my younger self's head and say, "What are you thinking? Move on to someone who actually is open to a relationship with and probably a better match for you."

Lesson Five: When someone has told you that he or she is not available, that person is usually not available.

In the end, availability wasn't necessarily the only problem with the aforementioned relationships. They weren't the right matches either. But even if you were to find your match in other ways, availability is part of the matching process. You both need to be available to each other at the time. That's why life is so often about timing.

For a relationship to really work well, both of you have to be ready to make each other top priority. Or at least you have to mutually agree where each of you falls on the other's priority list. Some people may be OK with not being on top, so to speak. Generally, though, it's better to stick with someone who's actually available.

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