Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Kiss and Tell

As I've noted before, one of the tenets of Singletude is that mutual respect is an integral part of any relationship, short-term or long-term, romantic or otherwise. A pet peeve of mine is the crass talk that some singles engage in when discussing their dates with friends.

I'm sure you've heard it, too. Guys get a lot of flak for it from women, and it's probably true that they tend to be cruder and more explicit. But the ladies are just as guilty of mean-spirited gossip after a date. While men may bare the details--no pun intended--of their sexual encounters, some women boast about how readily they can get a smitten guy to ask how high when they say jump. And both sexes can be equally malicious, judging their dates for every awkward stutter or popped pimple with a jury of their best buddies or BFFs urging them on.

At least once, it's probably gotten back to you that someone you went out with was not only "just not that into you" but had some choice words to share about the "laugh like Flipper on helium" or the "shag carpets for eyebrows" that he or she wasn't into. Even worse, maybe their derision extended from a genuinely embarrassing first date moment like an unintended display of your Scooby-Doo undies or your Pepsi's quick detour through your nose, and now, instead of cutting your losses and putting the humiliation behind you, you're forced to relive it at intimate gatherings of your close friends and family...and at office parties...and with that old woman on your block who catches you walking your dog and asks again if you aren't the one her grand-something took to that wedding who threw up on the bride's dress 'cause those stains are hard to get out and that must've really been something.

It hurts, doesn't it? And you feel ashamed and betrayed and disillusioned.

But I'll bet, at least once, you've also listened to a friend talk about one of his or her dates in similar fashion. Maybe you've even talked about it yourself. Either way, you laughed and joked about it, just like everybody else.

Wouldn't the dating scene be less intimidating if we didn't talk about each other that way? If you could trust that, no matter what your crush's unflattering opinion of you, the secrets of your first date faux pas would be safe with them?

Ever think that your actions could help keep those secrets safe?

Bragging about conquests and demeaning former dates is primarily a method of distinguishing oneself among peers. It's a way of saying, "Look how awesome I am! I'm too cool for this schmuck!" And, in the case of sexcapades, "I'm too cool for this schmuck, and they still come crawling back to get a piece of me!" If our culture didn't support this behavior, we wouldn't have such an incentive to engage in it.

As with all culturally driven behaviors, you have a hand in how such posing is received in your circle of friends. The next time one of your crowd shreds an innocent former lover, don't endorse it with laughter or agreement. If you wouldn't like a date to talk about you that way, show the same courtesy to the victim of your friend's ugly commentary. You don't have to pull out your handy pocket bible and teach them a moral lesson, but you don't have to encourage their callousness, either.

Don't respond, change the subject, or, if you've met the brunt of your friend's jokes and feel comfortable doing so, try defending him or her. You don't have to lecture. It's enough to answer your friend's suggestion that his ex had a nose to put Ronald McDonald to shame with a short, sweet "I never noticed anything wrong with her nose." Or, if your friend is one of those who thinks it's the height of chic to use someone, try a simple "I feel bad for him; that must've hurt."

If you remove the carrot your friend is aiming for--the respect of your social circle--he won't be so eager to jump. Maybe she'll even pause to think about what she said and be struck by a pang of remorse...Well, okay, the remorse might be stretching it.

The point is our social behavior is driven by rewards and benefits. Maybe, in some 22nd-century utopia, dishing about your date will be as cool as dishing about your parents' sex life. Until then, if we can't appeal to the better side of human nature, we can at least remove the reward for stooping to its basest depravities.

Remember, once upon a time in the 20th century, it was cool to beat up gay teens and make African-Americans sit at the back of the bus.

Attitudes change because someone changed them.

Have you either spilled too much about a date or had this happen to you? How did you feel about it afterward? How do you respond when your friends trash their former flames? Tell us about it!

Fun Link of the Day


Wizardry said...

Wicked, I defiantly have something to say this time, but first, I need to explain my definition of “relationship.” When I use that word, I mean a real connection with someone, and deep feelings and emotions that follow. In such words, when I say, “first real relationship;” I do not mean your first awkward get-together with someone of the opposite sex where the two of you sat around filling time with small talk. Relationship means real connections with other people. If you dyslexic like me, you can see that “Rela-tionship,” Has Real in the first four letters.

But truly, we’ve all seen this happen, and though we may laugh and even join in at the time, when we have a few minutes to think, we all know- “that wasn’t pretty, or flattering, or anything really but embarrassing.” Unfortunately, there’s not much I can say here except what little I attempt to achieve. Personally, I don’t like hearing it- negatively, of course. If it comes to how someone’s first date with so-and-so went, my friends know well enough to tell me only, literally- “how it went,” not everything in-between. Strange as it sounds, when someone gets on a rant about someone I know, perhaps not even well, the slightest twinge of embarrassment wells up in me. Stupid, yes, but I just don’t like hearing all the unflattering details; I’ve already lost enough hope in humanity.

In relation to myself, I can’t say I’ve really experienced the harsh end of this blade. My first real relationship (see above definition) lasted a relatively long time considering how difficult we were with each other; and despite how we violated every trust and friendship we ever had, there is one thing we both still respect- the closeness we once had. By keeping my mouth shut and refusing to say anything degenerative to worsen the whole situation, we both kept an oath of silence. Perhaps its because we both respected each other in this fashion, or perhaps its because we each had so much metaphorical dirt on the other that we kept our mouths closed for fear of retaliation.

In conclusion, the only things I can say are, First; Argumentum ad hominem in absentia- attack of man (or woman) in their absence; even Latin disagrees with you. Second; don’t get in a relationship if you’re not going to make a connection or intimacy deep enough to cover each of your faults- it’s the only reason my ex and I weren’t spreading tons roomers about each other.

Ah, yes, good times. Until Later,


[Interesting, I noticed you said, "tell us" in the last bit of your post. Since Clever Elsie is only one person, could you be refering to me?]

Clever Elsie said...

As usual, I think your policy for dealing with this kind of behavior is very wise. You obviously have a good deal of empathy for others, which is great. And good for you that you've made it clear to your friends what you will and won't listen to!

I also admire your refusal to let mudslinging come between you and your ex. That takes a lot of conviction to uphold when you're angry and hurting and desperately want people to be on your side. But, ultimately, if you want to preserve a friendship, it's the only way to go, and even if you never regain your former closeness, you can be at peace with yourself knowing you did the right thing without dragging someone's name through the dirt.

[Of course I was referring to you, Victoria...and my three other self-identified readers plus any lurkers I've picked up along the way. (Note to lurkers: Jump in any time!) But no matter how many readers I do or don't amass, you will still be First Commenter. :)]

Anonymous said...

I like to post detailed blogs about when I get lucky, seeing as how it only happens once every ten years, but that's only because I'm in desperate need to be excepted by my father.


bobbyboy said...

Hi Elsie!

I'm a nubie on blogger, but really enjoyed singletude! I have been around "The boys" when they talked all kinds of things about their ex's or previous evenings dates. I've also been around "The girls" when they did this as well. Seems to be the norm in relational society.

Discussing dates with friends or family is fun because we're excited about it. But, the perspective in your post is quite true and gives us all something to think about.

Personally, other than discussing a date in general, I avoid things that shouldn't be said and kept between my date and I. It's based from the respect I have for myself which over the years, has spilled over into respect for others also. A large part is also the way my Mom taught me about respecting others.

Great post Elsie!


Clever Elsie said...

A warm welcome to the newbies! I hope you guys will stick around.

Bobby, I just want to clarify that I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing some details of a date. When you're excited about someone, you naturally want to talk about it.

The problem arises when people use these post-date chat fests to ruin their date's reputation.

From your comment, I think you understood what I was getting at, but I just want to make sure no one else is confused on that point. :)

It sounds like your mom taught you well. Your tactful approach to dating is bound to make your dates feel comfortable in your presence and more inclined to go out with you again.

Blister, on the other hand, apparently did not get the same sound advice from the parental unit. :P

bobbyboy said...

Thank you for the warm welcome Elsie!

Yes, I did understand your point as your writing is very clear. Having re-read my comment, I also see why you wanted to clarify your point.

Keep up the good work here Elsie!