The Why Not – or Three Bite – Rule for Relationships

When we’re looking for companionship – romantic or otherwise, but particularly for romantic partners – it’s easy to confuse an imaginary ideal for a boundary.

We usually list positive qualities we’re looking for in a companion… then treat them as if they were boundaries. And that’s a mistake.

It’s a mistake from a purely pragmatic point of view, where dating is a “numbers game”. It’s also a mistake from an emotional and spiritual standpoint – and for the exact same reason. When you confuse desires for boundaries, you’re ruling out a wide variety of people and experiences.

Instead, take some time and really sit down with yourself. What are your real boundaries? The deal-breakers. The things and qualities someone absolutely cannot have.

Those are going to be specific to you, and they can be qualities big or small. Just be honest with yourself about the difference between dealbreakers and things you’d just prefer.

For example, I will not be a “Sugar Daddy“… but that’s my actual boundary. How much someone makes – or whether it is more or less than what I make – simply is not a dealbreaker by itself.

For me.

Some people are okay being a “Sugar Daddy”, some people consider “not earning more than me” a deal breaker, and I see lots of Tinder profiles stating “must have a job and own residence”. It could be anything – whether or not you want kids, religion, political views, where you want to live.

But a dealbreaker does have to be a thing that would absolutely, in any case, would mean there was no relationship. It’s a boundary.

Making your limits actually based on your boundaries instead of your preferences means you’ll have more dates, more opportunities, and be able to grow and expand as a person.

BUT WAIT! What about the rule of “fuck yes“?

Well, yeah, you should still pay attention to that; this just means you won’t have such a “fussy eater” [1] vibe. Think of this idea as the “why not?” rule.

To state the (hopefully) obvious: You do not have to stay in any situation where you feel unsafe. It should still be a “yes”.

Aside from that, the “why not” rule is something like the “three bite rule”. When my kids were growing up, the rule was: You had to try three good bites of any new dish before deciding you didn’t like it. After three decent – you had to actually taste the food – bites, if the child didn’t want any more, that was the end of it. No harm, no foul.

We figured that after three good bites, the child would be actually interacting with the food instead of their preconceptions.

Sometimes they didn’t like what they tried.

But sometimes, to their surprise, they did.

The “Why Not?” rule is the relationship equivalent of the three-bite rule.

Imagine: You see someone on Tinder that doesn’t throw any red flags, but isn’t the ideal person you’re fantasizing about. Maybe they have a different age, size, skin color, whatever. No dealbreakers, but not that idealized person you’ve imagined.

Give that real person a chance [2]. Enough of a chance to know whether you actually like that person or not, and that none of your boundaries come into play.

Again, don’t put yourself in – or stay in – a situation where you feel unsafe. Not at all.

Just have yourself a good first date with someone a bit different.

And maybe, just maybe, to your surprise, you’ll discover that “why not” is becoming a “fuck yes.”


Featured Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash

[1] Otherwise known as a “big pain in the ass.” – George Carlin

[2] If your problem is more like “too many matches”, then yes, make your criteria narrower.