Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Re 90 Day Rules

So...I'm taking a small commercial break from the usual legal/political discussion to delve into something that will probably end up stirring the hornet's nest but oh well, it's good to stir things up every now and again.

By now I'm sure most of you have heard about this so-called Steve Harvey "90 Day Rule" business. If you haven't, Steve Harvey has a book out now entitled “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment ”, which wound up becoming a New York Times #1 best seller. In the book, Steve gives the ladies a string of advice based upon the premise that in order for women to be successful in their relationships they need to understand the perspective of a man and how we think. OK, sounds reasonable enough right?

Somewhere in this laundry list of advice, Steve submits that ladies need to adhere to "the 90 day rule." In other words, ladies are not to "give up the cookie" for the first 90 days from the time when they first start talking to a guy. The rationale being that"more likely than not, a guy who gets benefits early in a relationship, without having to put in work or prove himself, leaves and moves on to a committed relationship with a woman who puts him through some type of probationary period to find out more about him."

Houston we have a problem.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Steven makes millions from his book and goes on talk shows and gets endorsements and the whole 9. More power to the brother. That's not my issue. And even though I've laid it out in detail here, my quarrel is not necessarily with the decision to have sex before or after 90 days (or at all) in and of itself. No, my issue is with arbitrary rules in relationships period. Any rules. I submit that the problem with many relationships is that people can't get out of their own way when they lock themselves into these arbitrary rules that they read in a book somewhere, and then have the audacity to wonder why they keep having relationship trouble. See Two Can Play That Game staring Morris Chestnut and Vivica Fox.

My inspiration for this piece is a prime example of the point I'm trying to convey. I have a co-worker, who will remain nameless, who recently jumped for joy when she heard about Steve's book and the 90 day rule. She is the type of person who collects these kinds of rules from various books and TV shows, applies them to real life, and wonders why her dating life is unsuccessful. So we had this discussion the other day, and I suggested to her that she make life simple on herself by taking all of the arbitrary rules that she's collected over the years, throwing them out the window, and going with the natural and unique flow of her own relationship since every relationship is different. A wild concept, I know.

She rejected it outright.

Then she pulled out her blackberry calendar to see when her first date was with the guy she's currently seeing so she could count 90 days forward. I then took my right hand, opened it up, slapped my own forehead, and gave up.

A good friend of mine once said, "life is hard enough, don't complicate it with thoughts." I think there's a lot of wisdom in that statement. We have enough rules to follow in our daily lives that don't make any sense. Is the answer to a successful love life really to add more rules?

Take this 90 day rule for example...if you're dating a guy and you're not ready for sex then my suggestion is... (are you sitting down for this one?)... don't have sex. And when I say ready I'm not just talking about whether or not your body is ready, I'm talking about whether you are ready as a person, and whether it fits with the natural flow of your relationship with this person. If you're ready, great. If not, also great. But under no circumstances should you be placing sex (or any other aspect of the relationship for that matter) on a time table. By doing so, you're committing yourself more to the RULES than to the PERSON you're supposed to be with. Not to mention, it's a major turn off.

Could you imagine hearing "sorry honey, I know the moment is finally right between us, but it's only been 4 days and 12 hours so we can't hold hands yet" or "I really wanna kiss you but it's only been 12 days so we can't." Getthefuckoutahere with all that. Two times.

I guess my bottom line is, each relationship you will encounter in life is different. Your chemistry with that person will be different. Your level of comfort, your vibe, your interaction...all of that stuff. It will be different with different people. Since this is a fact of life, how can there possibly be such a thing as one bright line rule that applies to all the many different people you are going to come across in life?

**On a side note, I think "rules" like these (and the people who buy into them) tend to be overly concerned with public perception and double standards rather than the practical implications that stem from a woman's choice to interact physically (or not) with a guy she is dating when it comes to what makes a successful relationship. But what do I know?**

So that's my 2 cents on Rules and Relationships. What say you?


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