Last week I wrote a simple, straightforward, honest and detailed list of dating instructions for all of my clueless-by-choice potential/current suitors to follow in order to stop being jerks and causing me sadness and igniting my wrath. I also did it to help the world in general, ‘cause I’m a philanthropist like that.
The piece garnered an interesting reaction, which inspired me to write this manifesto about respect in the realm of romance. For the most part, readers were in complete agreement with my “tell it like it is” advice, but certain individuals found my base-level requests incredibly demanding and high-maintenance and totally nutso. They were flabbergasted that I would suggest such a preposterous petition when navigating sex and dating with emoting humans.
What really perplexed specific consumers of the content was that I used the term “coitus buddies” in the first sentence. This threw them off aggressively because it meant I was demanding better treatment from the people I date, no matter what capacity. They understood behaving in this polite, kind manner while in a long-term, serious, monogamous, loving relationship that uses the labels of girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife or partner or person who owns a house with me or person who owns a baby with me or person who owns a nice fan with me. But, these skeptics could not grasp applying such tips as “Ask me how I’m doing” to a union that is non-exclusive or undefined or occurring in mysterious, irritating sporadic intervals. One person said that they don’t “respect” the women they have casual sex with and they see absolutely nothing wrong with this gross, selfish, rude, sexist line of thinking.
I felt I needed to express my concern in response to this outlook because the excuse of “I don’t have to respect you if you’re not my soulmate” is becoming a popular one and every time I hear it I want to vomit in the face of whoever is saying it, ‘cause goddamn is it disgusting.
Proclaiming, “But, but, but! They’re not my soulmate, so who cares?” is not a get-out-of-being-an-asshole free card. I have heard such a statement out of the mouths of acquaintances, colleagues, friends, dudes I’m banging, and folks I have on Facebook who I don’t think I know. Some people truly believe that you can interact with human beings, with whom you share the most intimate experience on earth, in the same way you interact with your compost. (Actually, in a less delicate way. At least with your compost you put some genuine thought into how many days it’s been since you’ve checked in with it and you determine the proper method of saying goodbye to it is as defined by the city and you let the bin sit in your house for longer than an hour after you’ve put stuff inside of it.)
In my opinion, nothing on my list was outrageous or onerous or only acceptable in a ten-year-long marriage. An alternate title for that piece could have been “Basic Human Decency. Heard of it, Bro?” That’s all it was. Basic human decency is a dying practice that we should all exercise when interacting with any sentient creature at any time, regardless of their official relationship title.
A homo sapien is not a pair of disconnected, non-responsive, faceless, floating genitals that evaporate as soon as you finish going down on them. They are attached to a body with a beating heart and a big old brain that feels sadness and insecurity and anger and love and joy. Every single person possesses one of these mind organs and even if we desperately try to ignore the sad chemicals pumping within it (sometimes by consuming alcohol or taking long naps or watching all of the Netflix in a weekend) it’s basically impossible to do so. All humans are humans and we can’t avoid our human-ness. I know. Pretty radical stuff, right?
So, when you say, “I don’t respect the women I have sex with casually,” you are basically saying, “Fuck you, general humanity! I get to pick and choose who I treat like shit! I get to stamp some of you tits as loser robots made of nothing who I screw and then crush and then recycle. Forget human decency for robot tits! But always recycle though. It’s important!”
And if you don’t want to cease and desist this behaviour, which is 100% your choice, then you have the option to respectfully end your arrangement with them. Yes, that is also human decency. It’s decent to acknowledge their existence and explain to them that your interests have shifted and provide a formal farewell. This gives them closure and allows them to move. ‘Cause, guess what? They will suffer if you string them along and make empty promises and lie to them. Are you cool with making a person suffer? ‘Cause I’m not. You shouldn’t be fine with consciously hurting others.
A few weeks ago, I read a brilliant Facebook status crafted by a fellow comedian named Alan Shane Lewis that succinctly stated what I’ve been ranting about here. He wrote:
“We have to divorce this idea that ‘respect’ is something that has to be earned. As in, ‘I must do something in order to gain your respect.’ No, respect is something you should have for every person on this planet from the start. It is definitely something that can be lost or tampered with but not some award I receive after I impress you.”
I have so often been told by employers and friends and lovers that I need to prove myself to them before they start being nice to me. Meanwhile, I’m nice to every adult and child and squirrel I come into contact with, especially when engaging with someone romantically (a date, a kiss, a sex, a serious relationship, a one night stand, a marriage, a house/baby/fan co-owning or really any situation where my underpants come off).
I also consider all interactions with people to be relationships. Not everyone agrees with me, but I agree with me and this affects how I conduct myself in a positive way. It reminds me that I have a responsibility as an emoting human to be as considerate as I can when speaking with/hanging out with/fornicating with my fellow humans. Of course I make mistakes and am not perfect, but I try my best to learn and grow and be better going forward. That’s all I can do and all that I ask for in return.