Home > Blogging, Love, Relationships, Work, Writing > Farewell, Cult of Rules

Farewell, Cult of Rules

O, bloggers and lovers,

Today a friend asked what I thought about dating men with kids. Some of her friends said it was cool. Others said it was a never-do.

I wouldn’t have offered an opinion unsolicited, but I’d been asked.

“Ugh!” I began. “All these stupid rules!”

I don’t support rules for love, or blogging, or most non-paying endeavors.

(I get enough from the government and the workplace, thank you very much.)

When people say you can never date someone who has kids, they’re strangling love before it can even begin to grow.

When people say you can never do this or this in blogging, but must do that or that instead, they’re strangling creativity before it can even begin to grow.

But why would you strangle love? Why would you strangle creativity? Because someone else said you should? Because they believe it worked for them, it must therefore be universal truth? I have a billion faults to pick with these strange and terrible notions, but that’s not what I’m here for. Apart from being better fodder for the followers of the Cult of Rules

(If it isn’t in a rule, it isn’t real, or right!),

I’d rather dedicate my unpaid time to things I love.

Like software licenses.

Just kidding!

I work with software licenses.

Software runs from code, lines of characters read by a machine and assembled into tools you can use.

Some folks charge you to use their code, or the usable software (“applications,” some call them now) that their code generates.

Others don’t charge a fee. They let folks use their code–or products–without a fee in exchange for complying with their rules. These folks are “open source” licensors. Many such licensors spend their free time arguing about what makes software free. Generally, they want code to benefit more people than fewer; the freedom they seek is not in cost, but in the code’s ability to proliferate without restriction, for profit or otherwise.

There are bunches of different open source licenses. Everyone has a different idea about what makes code “free,” and open sourcers love to argue about it.

Bless ’em, but arguing code freedom is not what I’d want to with my free time, either.

My least favorite open source license to review is GPL. Blah blah boringendlessrules blah blah.

Others are unfun, but not quite as unfun as GPL.

And then there’s the one.

That beautiful one.

It’s called “WTFPL,” and its one line reads pretty much exactly as you’d expect:


I wish more people seeking rules to guide and orient them would apply WTFPL rules to their life, their love and their blogging.

Living by this license isn’t as easy or cozy as having someone tell you what to do. There’s a lot of space off that comfortable rules-shaped leash.

Where can you even begin? Who can you touch? Who’ll love your words, or read you, or cherish you, if you don’t follow the rules someone else told you were real? (They’re not lying, mind you; they tend to genuinely believe the rules are necessary and beneficial! Don’t fault them their leashes, even as you opt not to use them.)

The answer is: LOTS.

When you untether yourself from someone else’s leash and both love and write as you want to, you’ll discover who you are: the full breadth of you, not just some wing-clipped version that’s more enticing to someone speaking for 0.000000004% of the world’s population.

You’ll discover that there are a whole lot of people who will love you exactly as you come. Exactly as you write.

Exactly as you are now, and who you grow to be when you allow yourself to reach into the dark space beyond the rules and chart your own path.

Do it. Reach out there. Embrace the discomfort of not knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do, or how.

That’s where adventure lives.

Where truth lives.

Where love lives.

Not in rules, but in the reaching to find all of you.

So for today, today I urge you to eschew all those damned rules others shower upon you that do you no good, and to instead:

(as long as you’re not a dick about it)

Choose freedom. Do what the fuck you want to.”

As you wonder how others’ rules apply to you and how you can untether yourself from those that don’t free you to love and create better, know that my answer to my friend was this:

“I’d be nervous about any man who said he had kids but not to worry, ’cause he doesn’t see them that much. Well, why doesn’t he see them? Why is he so flippant about it? Ask questions and decide if it’s right! But if a man talks about his kids lovingly, and wants you to know they are an important part of his life, then go the hell for it, because that’s a man who knows how to commit.”

Love always,
The Deefinator

  1. October 20, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Fuck rules. I post about Love then kids then this time I got really drunk and threw appliances out of a window. Whatever… I do what I want.

  2. October 20, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Beautifully put. Thank goodness some of us don’t always follow the rules.

    • October 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm


      … and thank goodness that perpetual, unwavering rule-following isn’t genetically ingrained! I’d be rather despondent otherwise, and might not have bothered writing this post! ♥

  3. October 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Well said. In terms of art, rules only risk constraining originality.

    • October 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Yes! So succinctly and perfectly put.

      How much will not be created in the interest of abiding by “the rules”? Such a sad thought, that.

  4. 1jaded1
    October 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    This is awesome. If I ever date again, kids will not be a deal breaker. Kids are people and the advice about wanting to know why one could be flippant about his or her offspring is sage.

    • October 20, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      I think people have one bad experience (“Dating this guy with kids totally sucked!'”) and they walk away with the wrong takeaways, like that dating anyone with kids ever is a terrible idea. Naaah. I feel like if there’s someone out there who’s willing to love you wholly as you are and as you will be, that’s a beautiful thing … worth even the adjustment of suddenly having kids, sometimes. 🙂

  5. October 20, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    The only rule I try to always follow is do no harm.
    The rest are ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions. Answer? It depends.

    • October 20, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Hear, hear!

      I’ve always felt more or less this way, but I’m feeling it more intensely every time I hear a new rule or rule-set that makes me go googly-eyed while resisting the urge to holler, “Whyyyyyyyyy? Why does that even exist? Who does that benefit?!”

  6. Melanie (DoesItEvenMatterWhoIReallyAm?)
    October 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    “That’s where adventure lives…” I could not have said it better myself! AMEN! 😘

    • October 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      I was so afraid of anything off the leash even this time last year! I stepped away from it and have spent the year since seeing (holy cow) just how exciting things can get when you don’t know exactly what the next step is … and so have to make it for yourself, seeing as you do that you’re capable of learning, growing, and owning the confidence that comes from it all. 😀

      • Melanie (DoesItEvenMatterWhoIReallyAm?)
        October 20, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        Isn’t it fun to break away from societal constraints and just be FREE? To me, there’s nothing more liberating in the world than venturing out intimate the great unknown with utter disregard for all boundaries, rules, regulations and requirements. It’s the best feeling in the world, allowing yourself to discover your TRUE SELF! Shedding the shackles of rules and guidelines is imperative to living your life to the absolute fullest in my humble opinion. I’m so glad to see that you’re discovering that! I wish you all the best in your adventures 😘💋💋💋

  7. October 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I never abided dating rules. They didn’t make sense… I didn’t have the words at the time, but you captured them nicely here.

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:08 am

      I didn’t give ’em much thought until my ex-boyfriend drove me up north to visit Mom before she died. “Your guy let you do that?!” Those conversations opened me up to hearing how many rules folks tried to apply to other people’s lives …

  8. October 21, 2015 at 2:45 am

    You are so incredibly right. What’s doubly odd (as you point out) is not that people have “rules”, but that the ones they come up with are so counterproductive.

    I had kids, and so did my wife, when we met. How wonderful she was with kids was part of the attraction.

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:10 am

      the ones they come up with are so counterproductive.
      YES! Exactly so!

      How great A is with our kids–any kids, really–is part of what prompted me to marry him despite what I thought of marriage before. Now when I see pictures of purportedly hot, childless kids, I wonder what the heck makes ’em hot. But stick a baby in their arms and have ’em start playing? OH MY WORD.

  9. October 21, 2015 at 4:04 am

    Well said. Aren’t rules made to be broken anyhow?

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:11 am

      Often! It’s interesting trying to teach a six-year-old the balance: “Yes, sweetie, some rules should be broken. But not safety ones or health ones! Just ones where following the rules is riskier than not following the rules!” The questions are endless. 🙂

  10. October 21, 2015 at 4:42 am

    This is awesome! I love love love how you took a foreign hard to understand concept, like love, and likened it to freeware software licensing. It spoke to the geek in me for sure! I’ve always been a “two left feet” kind of guy with love matters and thankfully I found someone that understands that. Especially now what we’ve worked things out and are back together as a team solving a mutual problem. Great post!!

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

      I started writing a post about WTFPL a couple months back. I misplaced the draft, but it’s kept rolling around my brain regardless. I wouldn’t have thought a dating-related question from a friend would set it rolling out, but I’m glad it did … and glad to have a tech person appreciating the connection out loud! Thank you. 😀

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Also, yay for working things out!

  11. NotAPunkRocker
    October 21, 2015 at 6:06 am

    Rules, shmules. I never cared for them, and certainly not when it comes to something like dating.

    Either you like me, or you don’t.
    Either we get along, or we don’t.
    Either you make me laugh, or you don’t.
    And likewise for me to them.
    Etc. etc. etc.

    (now the fact that I am perpetually single should not factor into this AT ALL 😀 )

    • October 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

      LOL! I think you’re spot on. And the fact you’re perpetually single? Well, that just means you’re not wasting your time with the rabble. It’ll be like it was with my “second mom,” with whom I spoke every few weeks in law school. Maybe three weeks after I’d last talked to her, I called and was confused when a man answered. I called back. The man answered again, and I was perplexed. As I was about to hang up, he told me it wasn’t a wrong number and he was now her husband. Shocked the heck out of me, but when she called me back later, it was with a smile in her voice as she said she’d spent enough time looking to know she’d found what she needed. (Now, a decade-ish later, it seems weird that I was ever surprised; it seems like he was always there.)

  12. October 21, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Rules are for fools.

  13. October 21, 2015 at 6:59 am

    All of this is so good, Deb.

    I especially like your answer to your friend, because that is the heart of the “rule” for dating someone with kids. How he treats his kids says volumes about who HE is, and you best listen up.

  14. October 21, 2015 at 7:56 am

    “I just gotta be free! I just gotta be me! What else can I be but what I am?” Isn’t that an old song? I can’t remember it but it just came to me.

    Yes, originality is where it’s at…Be yourself no matter what they say. (another song, sorry!)

    • October 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
      Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
      I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
      What else can I be but what I am?

      Sammy D said it all. And yes, apparently I’m stalking you throughout the interwebz, Darlita Davis, Jr.

      • October 21, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        Yes, Sammy Davis Jr.! Thanks, Pego. I love it when you stalk me…

  15. October 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I used to blog without rules. Now I feel like I have rules and it makes blogging less fun. I don’t know how to go back to the way things were 😦

  16. October 21, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Cherishing you — and the return of your words — today!

  17. October 22, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Yasssss. Said the women who swore never to have children, dated a man with children (really young children), married and divorced him and ended up with said children in the divorce. How the hell did that happen? Oh, ended up with wife-in-law as great friend too. Cause how do you raise sons without other mother? Now? Have fabulous extended family with grandchildren, in-laws (out-laws too). What would I have ever done if I had looked at those two little faces more than 25 years ago and said, ‘nope, not going to do it’.

    Do what the fuck you want to do.


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