The Rules of Engagement

[As promised to the lovely Ellie Hall…]

Now, you can certainly consider me one of those who believes rules are made to be broken. No U-turn here? I don’t trust your logic. Restrooms are for customers only? I don’t think so. You need credentials beyond this point? Oh….they’re….in my other….bag….

However, there are 10 Golden Rules that have been passed down to me from on high, through the generations, for the daily use of all Southern women. They came to me from my grandmother, Myrtle (you don’t get a more Southern name than that). From the woman who brought you, “Only lesbians and women who don’t want to get married wear pants,” and, “Relationships either end in a break up or marriage,” comes this much less offensive, much more practical guide to dating. I’m sure if I had followed them in my youth I would still be a disappointment (read: unmarried), BUT I would have saved myself a lot of trouble.

Since the days of Moses there have not been more sacred or sage words bestowed upon the masses. And now, I give them to you. I have literally broken all of them. Because I was young and stupid once (read: pretty much until about a year ago).


1. One and Done – If you break up with someone, it’s over. You can never gain that trust back and there’s obviously something that got in the way the first time. Take a page from TSwift’s book and say, “We are never ever ever getting back together,” and move on.

2. No Scrubs – Don’t date men you have to take care of. They, like you, should be capable of paying their bills and keeping it together. He should not be, “hanging out the passenger’s side of his best friend’s ride trying to holler.”  According to Myrtle, the only time you should ever have to pay for yourself is if the man in question is in law or medical school because, “it’s an investment in your future and you have to make sacrifices.”

3. Two Day Notice – If a guy is asking you out for a weekend night, it must be done at least 2 days in advance. For week nights, one day is fine. If he calls later than that and you really want to go, you can, but it should not be considered a date.

4. Call Me, Definitely – A woman should never initiate conversation. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t count if you’ve been “going steady” (YES, she said that), but in the awkward early phase, no. He has to call. Also, do not pull a Carly Rae and give a guy your number unsolicited. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

5. On the Record – This is the key rule. If it is not officially stated as a date, it is not a date. There is no room for ambiguity. If a guy wants to date you, he should be ballsy enough to say so. This is how I always end up being the last person to find out that I’m on a date, so it’s also a hilarious policy. I also don’t consider myself someone’s girlfriend until they ask about it. That’s kind of a joint decision kind of thing.

6. Totem of Chat – I had to update this for the modern era. The general idea from my gma’s rules remains. It’s what Girls has deemed the “Totem of Chat.” Basically, the higher up the totem a guy goes to talk to you, the more worth your time he is.

7. Keep Your Face to Yourself – My grandmother would say to never kiss a boy before going steady. I’m just going to tell you to not be a slut. Also, the guy has to make the first move.

8. “Twice Your Age, Minus 12” – That is the MAX age you can date. It’s the magic number. Holla, 30 year olds! Men have a similar scale for figuring out their lower bounds.

9. No ballers (or musicians….or actors) – If a guy’s sole purpose in life is to draw attention to himself, it’s like you’re dating Honey Boo Boo. Honey: no no. Date people who want to do good in the world. To my grandmother, this meant a politician, a doctor, or a lawyer. Obviously our definitions differ here.

10.  No snowbirds – Well, Myrtle would say “No Yankees.” I failed the worst here. Pretty sure all but one of the guys I’ve dated in my life have been from north of the Mason Dixon. Oops. Anyway, the way I’m going to spin this positively is to say, don’t start a relationship that’s going to get really complicated really quickly. In DC, don’t date someone who is planning to rotate out after a year. Don’t start dating someone working for a campaign, especially now. A couple of months is not worth the stress. In Florida, I would say never to date snowbirds. They’re just going to leave come spring. So that’s just stupid.

So, a classic moment of Brenna advice: Don’t be an idiot. Thank you, Grandma Myrt. God rest your soul.
The end.


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