The Nondating Life

Monday, April 10, 2006

Blogging and Dating: At the same time!?!

Blogs. They cause trouble everywhere they raise their bloggy little heads. Politics. Media. Yes, even dating. Perhaps, especially dating.

Nothing can screw up a relationship quite like a blog can. Okay, that's ridiculous. Plenty of things can screw up a relationship much better than a blog can. Financial issues, lack of communication, jealous lovers, old flames, general malaise, extreme political differences, religious conflicts, your hatred of her cat, your hatred of his mother, your attraction to her really hot younger sister, hooker addiction, and herpes. Those can all screw up relationships pretty good.

But blogs can present certain challenges. Have a gander at the comments from the previous post. Couple of issues there.

In the first, Anonymous is a little peeved that her boyfriend seems hesistant to link to her blog. As I told Anonymous, there are a few perfectly acceptable reasons why a guy or gal might not want to link to the partner's blog. If I'm writing a fairly focused political blog or a business blog or a sports blog, I'm probably not going to link to Susan's blog. If I'm simply writing a personal blog (or a dating blog), though, I might have some explaining to do if I don't offer up a link. Maybe I'm just an idiot and the thought doesn't occur to me (which happens with guys). Maybe I've got independence issues. Maybe I'm just embarrassed by the writing style and or content. Or, maybe, I want the reading public to think I'm a swinging single male and don't want any girlfriend cramping my blog style.

Those are issues worth arguing over. And if they can't be resolved, it's probably best to end the blog, end the relationship or both. And, really, if you're going to have these sorts of issues over a blog, the relationship was doomed from the outset.

But my quick advice to bloggers blogging about personal things? Link to your damn significant other, already. Give them a home on your sidebar. None of us have readers that care that much about this sort of thing. Most of us hardly have any readers. It's a small thing to do and it shows you care. Hell, even Glenn Reynolds throws his old lady some link love every once in a while (but I suspect sometimes he's just doing it to show off to other losers in the blogosphere that he a) gets more hits, b) makes more money, c) drives a better car and d) has a hotter wife than the rest of them).

Now, Trouble in Shangri La brings up an entirely different set of issues.

Have you written at all about the rules for blogging once you have a girlfriend who reads your blog? I see a number of dating blogs that are in transition because the main poster is now in a relationship, and at times, I wonder how they break the cycle of anonymity after posting for 3 months about this chick they've been dating.

Do dating bloggers come out of the closet to girls they date when it gets serious and say, "I blogged about you?"


Of course, Trouble being her first name, she has to start some with a fifty-pronged question.

The easy part. No, I don't think I've written about rules for blogging once you have a girlfriend who reads your blog. But that should be common sense. Having a girlfriend (or a boyfriend) technically should have very little effect on how a guy writes his blog. Sure, he might want to cut down on the flirting with his lady blog readers a little. And he might want to throw in a "My girlfriend's the best, the prettiest, the smartest girl in the whole world," from time to time. But as long as he doesn't find himself writing about last night's tryst with a hooker or how much he'd like to take a shovel to his mother-in-law's head, he should be fine.

Be yourself. Or, if you have a blogging persona -- i.e., it's one facet of you pushed to extremes -- be that as well. And trust that you and your partner can figure out the reality of the situation.

Of course, if you've been writing a dating blog, things are going to have to change. And you very well could lose some readers. If your blog had a big audience who lapped up your horrible date stories, you most definitely will lose some readers once you're in a steady relationship. Chances are people aren't stopping by to see how happy you are. They like to see someone else is struggling with the soul-crushing world of dating. If you're a good writer and you've built a relationship with some of your readers, they'll probably stick around to listen to you talk about other things--as long as they mostly agree with you about them. I imagine some of my dating readers would hit the road pretty quickly if I started posting here the stuff I used to post on As I Please.

But I didn't really truck in bad date stories. Nondating Life was always more of a generalized blog that, most of the time, dealt in larger themes and situations -- or in other people's bad dates. So now that I'm in a relationship, I can still get away with writing about the same things.

Granted, if you're in a relationship and you're an anonymous blogger and your new partner doesn't know about the blog, you can keep on writing about relationship problems. But that's the ultimate folly.

She will find out. Sooner or later, he will find out. I don't care how smart or clever you think you are, but you'll get caught--either because you slip up or because you reach a point where you want to get caught. And nothing good will come of it.

If you're blogging and you're dating someone, you should tell them about the blog. It's that simple. Hey, save the excuses for someone else. I don't want to hear about your need to be your own person. Your need for self-expression, your need to vent. If that's all you need, keep a damn diary.

"But my blog is my diary!" you might say. Bullshit. A diary is something private. A blog is something you do for an audience. I don't care what you tell yourself as you blog, but you're writing for an audience. Blogs are for all of us who used to think about keeping a journal, would label it top secret and then leave it hanging around hoping someone would find it. At the core of every single blogger is a little attention whore.

Again, if you're blogging and dating someone, tell them about the blog. You want more readers, right? What's the worst that can happen? They don't like your writing and they dump you? It was going to happen anyway. Explain that all the posts written before you met are simply like past relationships. They're there. They have nothing to do with the current relationship and there's the nothing that can be done about them. They're part of you. And if the new girlfriend can't accept that, seems to get jealous of your past blog posts and dating stories or whatever, she's a psycho crazy nut anyway and you should dump her.

And if your new boyfriend does like you, if he's REALLY into you, he's going to like your blog even if you can't write any better English than a five-year-old Somali kid. Because people get so stupid when they like someone else, you get a free pass. (But don't tell him about Sitemeter and that you can track how many times a day he comes to your blog, cuz that's kind of fun to watch and makes you feel so much better about your own stalkerish traits.)

Of course my inner little attention whore isn't so little. And I've usually told people about my blog on the first date, if not before. I also blogged with my own name, so there wasn't really a point in hiding it.

Why tell a person you're dating about your blog? Because you're an optimist and you expect THIS relationship to work, this one to be the one. And if that happens, how are you going to explain four months into the relationship that you've been blogging this whole time, that you have an entire different life going on on the web that you've been hiding.

And telling your boyfriend or girlfriend about your blog also stops you from one other form of stupidity: blogging about him or her, or, to be more precise, blogging bad things about him or her. That's a big no-no in my book. It's unfair to the other person and it's bad for the relationship. It warps your perspective. If you're a guy, all the girl readers are going to chime in and tell you what a stupid, uncaring whore your girlfriend is. If you're a girl, the guys will chime in and tell you what a jerk, what a tool, what an undeserving ass your boyfriend is. And in each group is at least one or two holding out hope that you'll break up and become single so they can prove their love.

Worse, you might start to feed off of this sort of thing. Yes, you'll get frustrated with your boyfriend or your girlfriend from time to time and it will be comforting to be able to turn to your blog and start railing about his shortcomings. But then one day you'll find that every other post is something about HIM, perhaps a five-thousand word rant about how he didn't want to watch Grey's Anatomy, complete with fifteen comments from guys and lesbians crushing on you telling you how wronged you are.

And you'll start to believe that these strangers have some insight into your relationship.

Oh, and did I mention he's going to find your blog?

I've seen it happen. Not to me, but I've seen it happen.

And it gets ugly. And eventually you'll break up. Because then you're stuck. Either you erase all the archives before he gets a chance to read him and look like you're guilty of badmouthing him for the last six months. Or you leave the archives up and say "I have nothing to hide" and then PROVE that you've been badmouthing him for the last six months.

Then you fight. Then you make up. Then he reads your blog a bit. Then his family reads it. Then it's just not the same. Then you fight some more. Then you break up.

Was it the blog's fault? I don't know. I'd say that if you're hiding half your life from a boyfriend or girlfriend you're heading for a breakup anyway, but that's just me.

The rules for blogging and relationships are the same: try to be honest. Fess up to your readers. Fess up to your new "friend." If either has a problem with it, they know where the exit door is.

****
Special new blogger note. Please go give my friends JD and the crew some love at BloggerAle.com. (Check out his latest poll) If You Please. Maybe one day they'll name a beer after you.

UPDATE: Also, if you're coming here for the first time, there's all sorts of other stuff to read. Topics include THE FRIEND ZONE and SEX and SLOW LOVE. So look around

19 Comments:

  • I'm still in the middle of reading your post, but I was just reminded of a blogger who writes about dating. I liked his writing and said, in email, that I'd like to go out for coffee with him sometime. He said he won't date commenters anymore because he did go out with one once and ended up in the Friend Zone. It struck me as a little weird that a guy who was writing about how he couldn't find a girlfriend cared more about being able to keep writing in his blog about his experiences than using the blog as a way to meet new women who he might have potential with. Like, the blog -- and his single persona -- seemed more important. That made no sense to me. Seemed to be missing the point, in my opinion. I mean, I can understand it somewhat, but if the guy's goal is to meet a woman, why turn down women who read your blog and find you attractive just because you might have to give up the blog? I feel like I've rambled, but I hope this made sense.

    By Blogger Caryn, at 3:29 PM  

  • damn. you just summed up my VERY recent breakup with my little bitch of a man..."man." couldn't handle my shit! you are who you are, right?

    good stuff. my, what a change from where my writing used to reside...

    By Blogger Skim, at 11:24 PM  

  • I can totally understand and relate to this post. I have blooged recently about my dating, but never anything other than generalities. I mention it to my dates as well. I think communication no matter the form, is essential and should be mandatory and yes, even if you're dating. Good post and so true.

    By Blogger The Muse, at 8:44 AM  

  • caryn,
    either that guy was giving you a very clumsy and stupid brush-off or he'd fallen in love with his own self-image as a blogger of truth and justice or something. (or he's gay ... not that there's anything wrong with that).

    who knows, perhaps he'd seen all the brain dead literary agents signing up girl bloggers and thought he'd get a deal if he kept it real or something.

    blogging should never become priority no. 1 in life. NEVER.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 10:55 AM  

  • Another brilliant post. Thanks for the linky love.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 11:14 AM  

  • I laughed, I cried...and then I worried about my blog and relationship.

    Brilliant, darling!

    By Blogger autogato, at 4:16 PM  

  • Well Ken, I am going to out myself as the idiot blogger in question. You nailed it on the head, it's just a lazy guy issue and I hadn't thought about how she might feel about my reticence to reciprocate.

    Well, it digs a little deeper than that. My blogs are like little fireside chats with the mayor; C'mon and sit down with a cup a joe and let me tell you a sprawling story. My blogs are about my observations and I don't like to tread to much on the person making them. It's not a self important "what did I do today blog", neither is it an issue centric repository of rhetoric and ballast. It is a place to reminisce. Hopefully relate to tales of growing older and living a life much more ordinary and mundane than I care to admit.

    I'm gonna link my gals blog on my side bar, but she doesn't get preferential treatment, and I won't blog about anything concretely personal. Because when it gets personal, it ceases to be about relating, and ventures forth into vicarious exhibitionism.

    I am glad that she inspired you to some of your best NDL blogging in months, and I encouraged her to hit up the chapters that first got me reading. namely the "Friend Zone".

    If Post Secret can put out a coffee table book, you can cobble something together in the next year or so I would think.

    Less BBQ, more marathons eh?

    Rye- A donut eating Canadian.

    By Blogger Rye, at 5:13 PM  

  • Rye,
    As I've read your blog in the past and with the way you describe it, I can see your point. I've thought in the past about doing a blog of memories of my grandma's place and such and, yeah, it would look a little odd to go plop something like that in there.

    I hope my advice--which should always be taken lightly--didn't cause any strife.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 5:49 PM  

  • Ken, re: brush-off. Very possible. I sorta realized that as I was writing my comment. Who knows. I haven't lost any sleep over it. :)

    By Blogger Caryn, at 6:17 PM  

  • caryn,
    ah. the true secret of keeping your sanity while dating: not losing any sleep over it.

    i actually never mastered that one.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 6:25 PM  

  • My BF is an occasional contributor (it helps that he's a good writer and we like writing about a lot of the same stuff), although I realize that the nature of many blogs would make that infeasible. Still, it allows him to chime in and make it a collaborative project.

    By Blogger Red Squirrel, at 8:55 AM  

  • You're now on my blogroll, I'll be back!

    By Blogger Grins, at 6:36 PM  

  • I don't link to my boyfriend's blog because it would really fuck up my attempt at anonymity. I'm not embarrassed about who I am or what I write about, but as long as I am employed in a respectable profession, I can't risk having an employer google me and find search results for "over educated nympho explains the ins and outs of anal sex." Nuh uh. So I asked him not to link to me, and I don't link to him. But only for anonymity's sake. Any other reason I can think of is sketchy.

    new topic (your post was so long! I may have to come back later for more comments)
    It can be very difficult not to write about serious relationship issues on a blog about sex and dating. It's hard to be serious, analytical, and/or entertaining if the post is generic. It's the little stories and anecdotes that make it easy to relate to and worth reading. You just have to know what is ok to write about and what is absolutely off-limits. With my blog I try to only write about the little stupid fights that are funny in hindsight because it was over something not worth fighting about. When I slip and write a huge long bitchfest that is just mean or catty, I let those fester in the DRAFTS section and eventually delete them, unseen by anyone. Otherwise I'm sure I would have been dumped six times by now.

    By Blogger over educated nympho, at 9:06 PM  

  • And once Mr. Wheaton, we come to a point of disagreement, one which odd enough, I was just about to post about. Yeah, you covered and dismissed it, but my blog is my DIARY. Honesty is all well and good, and good relationships are based on it, but I'm pretty certain neither you nor any really sane person wants their girlfriend/boyfriend living permanently in their head. Blogs inherently have a sheen of exhibition but for some people, they do provide a space to converse deeply with a few other people. I'm not sure I can do justice to your question here, but in essence I think you make too much black and white of the issue because of the angle at which it affects you. I'm going to write and think through it a bit more on my blog and perhaps get some of my ideas clearer.

    By Blogger Flint, at 7:39 PM  

  • Great post and very nice blog. Found your through Flint in NY. I'll...be..back. ;-D

    By Blogger Viviane, at 9:30 PM  

  • Great post, Ken. The latter part of it hit rather close to home, so I hope you don't mind but I posted a response of sorts at my new blog.

    By Blogger Mr. Woland, at 2:42 AM  

  • O.M.G.

    coffee came flying out of my nose when i read this:

    "At the core of every single blogger is a little attention whore."

    i think i love you :)

    By Blogger stephanie, at 9:22 AM  

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    By Blogger On The Rebound, at 1:29 AM  

  • By Blogger BLOG REVIEWS, at 4:55 PM  

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