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Dating in the age of Twitter should really come with a manual or a rulebook or at least some guidelines for what happens after you successfully complete the first date and decide that you want to continue seeing the person.

I either like you all the way or I don’t; there is no in-between. This is possibly a programming flaw and I am working on it, but in the meantime—I’ve decided that I like Mr. Big, and I want to continue seeing him. He falls squarely into the “I like him” category.

Men who date me have a significant advantage. I have a large online presence and I write a lot about my dating life—including my likes, dislikes, preferences, etc.

What works as an advantage for them can sometimes function as a disadvantage to me, for a number of reasons. They may come into a dating situation with me and assume what I want from the outset, even though I have not specifically told them anything.

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Because I speak openly about being nonmonogamous, many men automatically assume that I will be sleeping with other men in addition to them. That is not always the case. Being nonmonogamous simply means that the option is there. It is no more an indication that I am passing my pussy out like party favors than it is that the person I’m with is out sticking it to everything with legs. It just means the option is there if we’ve discussed it with each other.

But because they read my columns and my tweets, most men don’t discuss this with me. They operate from assumptions based on what they have read.

So I find myself in the tricky position of having to navigate their preconceived notions.

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How do I let him know I like him without coming off as thirsty? How do I keep it cool without him thinking I only want him for the D?

My current situation has the added element of distance, which could be both a gift and a curse.

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Without physical proximity, we only have phone and text conversations to sustain us in between dates (visits). We speak on the phone frequently, but not every single day. We both have busy lives, so texting has become the most common way that we communicate.

The thing about text messages is that you cannot always properly convey or interpret tone. I find myself spending a lot of time composing my texts, because I want my messages to be parsed correctly.

I want him to know I like him, but I don’t want him to think I’ve gone all “Single Black Female”-obsessed on him. I want to give him space so he can process whatever he’s feeling, too, but I don’t want to seem uninterested or uninvested.

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It is a tricky sea to navigate.

I’m an expressive person—effusive, even. I am the person who tells all my friends “I love you” at the end of every visit or phone call. When I care about people, I want them to know.

The same goes for when I’m into someone, but I realize that for some people—especially those for whom that is not the norm—it can get a bit weird.

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I really like this dude, and I want him to know it, but I don’t want him to think I’m already in love and planning a wedding, because I’m not.

So this is where I am with it, and this is why I feel like there should be some sort of guide so we know how to navigate this part of the experience with each person.

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It’s like when you cut off your hair and are waiting for it to grow back.

The “in between” phase is the longest and the hardest.

Everything else is smooth sailing.