The Golden Rule of Dating #1 – Is it fun?

I met my husband on Tinder. Before I met him though, I went on A LOT of dates over the years. Because of all those dates with strangers, friends, friends of friends, I was able to craft a few rules for myself. I followed them in the last five or six years and they have definitely served me well. The most important of those rules is –

Is it fun? Am I having fun? If the answer is yes, keep going. If not, stop.

Clarissa Muttley laughing

I found this rule very helpful when I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue seeing someone or even continue being in a relationship with them. If I had just met a guy, it’s easier to decide if I want to keep seeing him or not. Once going out becomes stressful or a chore, or when we’re just not on the same page about what we want (e.g. I’m looking to settle down but he’s not, or I just want to get to know him a little more but he wants a more exclusive relationship already), things stop being fun very quickly. At that point, I know I just have to stop the BS and move forward.

Of course, in longer-term relationships, there are times when I might feel annoyed, angry, sad, all of those feelings. But the not-so-fun feelings should be fleeting. If I’m normally sad or angry about the relationship, I ask myself – is the relationship still fun? Am I still having fun? If the answer is no or not anymore, I consider breaking up. It’s a harder decision when I’m in a committed relationship and there are a lot more factors to weigh, but I should be able to be honest with myself and to my partner.

I didn’t always think of relationships this way. Often, I was dilly-dallying, trying to justify to myself – “oh but I love him and he loves me.” (This is the most unhelpful and useless argument in the history of relationships because love is a CHOICE. More on that another day.) I would also think to myself, “We have good times and bad times, that’s normal in relationships.” Sure, but if only I had stepped back and looked at my relationship from a distance (or listened and understood what my friends were saying), I would have seen that I was not becoming my best self or living my best life. It doesn’t mean anything about the kind of person either of us were – there are no morals or judgments that are relevant in this decision-making process. It just means that we were not a good fit at that time. We weren’t growing and helping each other become better people.

After very many heartbreaks and self-loathing episodes, I realised that spending time with someone who I don’t have fun with was just a waste of time. In Filipino, sayang ang oras. Being with that person (exclusively or otherwise) while I was not having fun meant that I did not give myself the opportunity to meet or be with other people who I could have fun with and who will allow and support my growth and development to becoming a better human being. All that time I spent in the midst of drama, agonising over issues that don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, and not having fun was wasted time. As Steve Jobs (and many other people) said–

Saying yes to one thing, means saying no to another.

They may have been talking about focus and time management, but I think this applies just as well to time spent on relationships (exclusive or otherwise). Saying yes to a not fun date/relationship, means saying no to something else that might be fun, whether it’s a spending time with another person, friends, family, or yourself.

I suppose I had to go through all of those experiences to learn this rule and very many lessons about myself, my self-worth, my value so it’s a bit inaccurate to say the relationships were a waste of time. But I do wish that I learned and followed this one rule earlier on.

The question “is it fun?” is my yardstick to determine if I still want to be with someone. I married my husband because it never stopped being fun. We were goofing around a lot, but more than that, the daily chats and challenges (including that time when we had to go through that long-distance crap for about 10 months) was, on the whole, fun, and I decided I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On a final note, for all you type-A folks out there like myself, there’s no one definition of fun. You get to define what “fun” is for you. For me, it was laughing most of the time, being fully myself (whatever that means at any given time), and being content. This allowed me to have fun being single. When I finally took this rule to heart, I was able to choose to spend time with people who would only make my life more fun.

This is the fun circle that is my life. You’re only allowed in if you can make it more fun.

That’s it for now. Do you have any dating rules you live by? Let me know!