my friend heidi stumbled upon the Restatement of Love published in the Yale Law Journal while doing some research on Westlaw (104 Yale L.J. 707). the article was intended to codify the complicated network of unwritten norms that specify the parties' rights and obligations in relationships (not including marriage and estate which has been clearly codified since well codification began).
i dont know if it is the lawyer in me (is there a lawyer in me? i wonder that a lot) but i really liked the idea of creating rules/standards that you can rely on when you are dating. that way, when you break up and dont know what to say you can cite something like, pursuant to USC 83 (a) 12 its over, etc. that way you know if you have a duty to someone including third parties. that way if your there is a dispute on whether you are in the wrong there are clear guidelines.
because as the article points out, although in relationships you are supposed to accept the person for who they are and a "formalist view that a relationship is a have for idiosyncratic behavior, parties cannot escape the notions of reasonableness that pervade society, and will advert to them when disputes arise." (id. at 723).
for the sake of brevity i will only expound on a couple of concepts that i found the most interesting and useful.
the article discusses several models under which people begin dating. my favorite and the one i do the most often is the informal acquaintance model. in entering this relationship the parties must consider the following factors
1. avoid any tendency towards willful blindness: flirting with no interest, this encourages reliance and may foreclose the innocent party from pursing other deals (ie the non bf)
2. establish a claim of right through possession: perhaps the first person to establish a "claim" on an unattached newcomer has superior rights. however courts wrestle with the question of what constitutes possession and actual possession is widely conceded as proof of superior rights. ill will can be particularly strong when one party has long attempted to establish a relationship but has failed only to see another succeeds. (dibs)
3. corporate opportunity doctrine: exploitation by friends and acquaintances: in principle if a party cannot avail himself or herself of a relationship then others may pursue the opportunity wiht impunity. in practice, such doctrines are rarely neatly or painlessly applied and those aggrieved by another's success but who lack a legal right to relief, often seek other avenues of redress. (id. at 716).
i liked this section because it deals situations i have dealt with in the past. situations in which no actual dating has occurred but there are rules and regulations still surrounding the situation. even not dating can be very complicated.
and this was another highlight, constructive eviction. this is a "common tactic employed by moving parties who wish to dissolve a relationship, but who lack the wherewithal to articulate any ground at all, even pretextual. rather than confront the anguish of breaking up, the disaffected party engages in conduct so unbearable that the opposing party find the relationship uninhabitable. such behavior often includes picking fights, refusing to return phone calls, breaking plans, regularly, and conspicuously avoiding public appearances as a couple. the opposing party feels forced by the moving party's behavior to initiate the breakup. this is a form of fraud by the moving party and is highly disfavored."(id. at 727).
yeah been there...nothing better than having to break up with someone for their reasons which they refuse to share.
anyway the whole article is a pretty good read and i recommend looking it over. it gives some great guidelines from things spanning from first dates to dealbreakers to religious differences to proper break ups. finally, i have more than he's just not that into you which as far as i can tell is the most cited authority on the subject.