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