Someone I am related to has a habit of lashing out when his balls are held to the fire. As his mother, it’s my job to fire up his balls, then duck when the insults start a hurlin’.  It’s one of the joys of being a parent. Sometimes kids think you just suck, and when this particular offspring thinks that I suck he goes straight for the jugular.

This morning he started calling me Datergurl and announced that he had read my posts. He announced it to other family members, too, but not being on facebook, he doesn’t realize that I’m not hiding nuthin’ from nobody.  Everyone KNOWS….and I’m just fine with that.

I tried not dating. I tried keeping it all inside. I was miserable, cut off from important parts of myself, and absurdly lonely. I may have kept that scarlet letter off my chest, but my particular state of boo hoo was nothing to brag about.

So I jumped in. I’m having fun. I’m meeting all sorts of people – women too. I’ve opened myself up to the whole damn world and it’s no small thing. I’ve had to channel my inner fearless and just go for it. By old-fashioned standards this might seem unseemly, but to internet daters it’s one way we protect our own fragile, sloppy hearts. Having and abundance of  suitors make the ups and downs less bumpy – simple as that.

So, why not just meet one man at a time, serially, undercover and all ladylike?

Well here’s why. The internet dating world is flighty and fickle. Getting hung up on any one person, narrowing one’s focus too early in the game – it’s heartbreaking really. The chance of any random person plucked out of the ozone being the nail to hang my hat on is infinitely small. I’d like to believe in fairytales, but I’ve been there and done that and it nearly destroyed me. There is only so much Lexapro in this world. It’s tough.

The mouthy offspring’s implication that somehow lots of dating makes me unstable or kinda slutty is a charge that women have had to deal with since forever. Maybe Cleopatra got away with it, but she’s Liz Taylor and I’m just me.

I keep uttering the phrase, “I aint hurtin’ no one,” and it’s completely true. Somehow serial monogamists who devastate one another with cruel accusations and deep the slut-shaming world, they’re golden. Stand by your man? Uh, no.

I’m not standing by any man that hasn’t prepared a comfy seat for me next to him. I’m not jumping in with the first guy who says my hair looks nice. I’m not going to take someone good and pretend he’s great. And I am not going to take someone great and throw myself in so blindly that all the red flags look like charming pinwheels. A red flag is a red flag and I deserve a chance to save myself before it’s too late. It’s too late when you find yourself dating exclusively and never stopped to ask why he can never seem to plan a date or scramble you an egg.

So is it wrong to go out on a lot of dates, to kiss a few frogs, to make a lot of new friends and to crush a little on two or four or seven people all at once? It may be wrong in some phantom puritan world (the one we all are a little haunted by), but in real life it is, frankly, necessary….

……unless you want to be a sad puppy who whimpers every time you’re ghosted. Unless you want to get with someone exclusively, ignoring that little voice that says “hang on a minute,” just because you’re lonely. Unless you want to overreact to every hiccup life throws you, you gotta go wide.

I’ve said before that I’m sure that in time, anyone really right and ready would drive away all the others rather organically. I am proud to say that I have never ever cheated on anyone in all my years….and there are a lot of years I’m counting here. My boy who started all this, he can’t say the same. I’m intensely loyal and careful…..I would never have an ego big enough to endorse a little pleasure at the expense of someone I claim to love. I’m a protector, and no part of me would enjoy unloading that kind of disrespect on someone kind enough to put their faith in love, and in me.

So shaming me isn’t going to work. I know my values, and I know I am moving through this world as ethically as I know how to. I know sharing my mind and heart and soul and body can never be a bad thing. I know that this is my life and filling it with love and friendship is a good thing, even if I never am betrothed to any man again.

I think that slut  is what a man calls a woman that is sleeping with other people when she decides not to get with HIM. Then, she’s a whore. Feel free to switch the pronouns, use zee or they if you want to. But people are only sluts when they reject other people…then the insults fly.

The kind and good people out there dating understand this, because they are struggling just the same. If anyone great couldn’t get to know me with all the noise going on, I’d be happy to hit pause if they asked me to. But so far nobody’s asking and I am not going to prematurely hyper-focus on anyone who can’t find the gumption to hand me some binoculars and ask.

All I can say is, I’m the nicest, sweetest slut you’ll ever meet;  I’ve been the bitchiest girlfriend you’d never want to meet, too. Unless it’s really right, I prefer the former to the latter. And that’s that.

Datergurl…..thankful to all the men and women who let me love on them a little bit, and saying a prayer that someday the right man does settle me down just enough that I can lose that monikercleopatra.