Dating is a circumstance which, as lawyers like to say, has no attaching rights. Everything is by agreement, or tacit assent. I ask you if you would care to join me for a walk on Saturday and then for some coffee, and you decide to join me. Or not. Or propose something different, which I’ll either go with or not.

Okay, you say, I get it. What’s the big deal?

Dating is a process. The architecture of dating is a gradual increase of knowledge and understanding of the other. They act, we observe and note. We act, they add to their wiki about us.

At some point during this information gathering process, one or other or both of us will allow our own wants and wishes to bleed into expectation – expectation of demonstrated behavior or acts by the other. Innumerable tv sitcoms exploit this assumptive inevitability:

  • is the Saturday date implied or expected?
  • are phone calls daily or random?
  • monogomy? assumed or by mutual assent?

Because dating is more-or-less whatever any one participant wants it to be, this area creates chaos between people. My idea of dating might include nothing more than an expression of interest in being with you. Occasionally. For short periods. Your idea of dating might include shopping for knick-knacks, Sunday breakfasts, gym workouts and pre-choosing pets.

Uh-uh. Nope. Dating is nothing but a mutual agreement of possibility. Now, if we both come to an agreement about how we conduct ourselves with respect to the other…well, that’s a different circumstance. We’re still dating, but now we’re also two adults with a limited treaty of understanding. Which is really a bit of a stretch, because what will the consequences be of stepping outside the agreement? But, whatever, it might be worth a shot.

What will never work is the ultimatum. For two reasons. One is that ultimata are rarely ever the LAST of anything. All those who issue them do not live up to them, especially in the area dating. And two, the foundation for demanding stuff from the other person is…what? That you have known each other for a while? You’ve had sex? Vague dreams you had of x and y aren’t coming true and it’s time to make that shit happen?

Good luck. Relationships with people you want to control are going to end up precisely the way you do not want. The choice is either a better understanding of yourself, other people, coupling itself, human nature and communication, or all of the above. Ulimata are ultimately the end, in one way or anther.

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