The Non-Continuation Agreement

If you’ve ever dated, you’ll be familiar with the agreement that I’m about to elucidate on and, to some extend, describe.

Rather recently, I entered into a non-continuation agreement with a woman who I had been seeing. The postal carrier was at the front gate, so to speak, so it came with little surprise when I opened the text message confirming what had been my intuition. Being a man of great outward emotion, and little emotional intelligence, I began preparing myself for this eventuality at the time when first my intuition arose. Knowing that I very much dislike surprises, I often think of all possible outcomes to most situations and mentally prepare by first dealing with those likely to be most devastating.

The serving of a non-continuation agreement has become something of a regularity in my dating life — not that I date much — helping me to both sharpen my senses toward the signs of its forthcoming and to better handle the inarguable compliance that is required of me.

For those of you for whom a non-continuation agreement is unique, or otherwise esoteric, I’ll briefly outline only some of the signs that may indicate that you may soon be served. To be clear, the signs, or “indicators”, that I’m about to outline come as the result of the numerous occasions upon which I have entered into a non-continuation agreement, and are not exclusive to my most recent such experience.

  1. A sudden increase in busyness. This is often overlooked as an indicator because, as we all know, life gets very busy. Between managing our home and work lives, there are times when we simply don’t have time for the things we enjoy most, such as the company of a significant other. Taking notice of this is tricky but is made easier when the recurrence of “busy time” increases. Look for unusual delays in response to text messages or emails.
  2. “Good morning!” and “Goodnight!” ceases. This one is easier to detect than the first indicator because they are common greetings offered by people who spend time thinking about one another. Of course, some nights we are very tired, and we can rest easy knowing that the one we are thinking of is thinking of us as well.
  3. A growing need for the independence of both parties. This one is also tricky because it encompasses the independence of both parties involved. You may notice that you, the one who may soon be served, are being encouraged to deal with situations independently that you would otherwise have dealt with in partnership. An example might be a lack of commiseration after a hard day looking for a job. At the same turn, you may be relied upon less for commiseration.
  4. Response to a nonaction. I will admit that this one is most fascinating to me, but also the most enigmatic. This is a more abstruse version of the “you’re home early” scene, that we are all familiar with, in movies. This indicator occurs when you elicit a response by not doing something that is unnecessary, but somehow expected. What is most interesting, however, is that the response is directly related to the noticing of the change in your routine by the other person who is assumedly actively distancing him/herself from you. By way of a very simple example, say, you are in the habit of texting your significant other around lunchtime to find out how his/her morning went. A nice gesture, sure, but ultimately unnecessary. Now, say, you don’t one day. At the end of the day, while your significant other is packing his/her bag before leaving work to get on the bus, he/she text messages you to ask how you have been because he/she didn’t receive a text message from you at lunch. This seems innocent enough, but a text message from him/her at noon would be more reasonable because he/she would, hopefully, be in the habit of responding to your text message at lunchtime.

Anyway, the short list above is something of a tangent and shouldn’t be taken as gospel. What these indicators can do is help you prepare yourself for handling your responsibilities once you’ve been summoned.

What makes non-continuation agreements most unbearable are the conditions under which the agreements are drafted and entered into. In all of my experiences, they are drafted by a single party, but I’ve heard of them being written up by all parties concerned. In the case of the latter, I would assume that the burden is borne equally and all parties amicably agree to the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement. In the case of the former, however, the party served is devoid of any recourse toward anything but compliance with the terms and conditions presented to him/her. Because of this, non-continuation agreements are understood to be unilateral decisions dependent on a tacit rule of acceptance by all parties.

Further, because the agreement is dependent on a tacit rule of acceptance, the party served often makes his/her first strike at this keystone. I should add, that it’s often in vain. This response is understandable, because you have been suddenly cast into the water, like you were when you were an intrepid child who was once enjoying the pleasures of being in an inflatable tube that’s being pulled over a body of water with great gusto by a speedboat. And, like the child you once were, your first response is, understandably, to attack the inflatable tube or wake that catalysed your entrance into the water which was very recently your gallant supporter. But, the inflatable tube or wake, like the tacit rule of acceptance, is a necessary condition for the enjoyment you were, only moments ago, experiencing. The water, your singleness.

Full disclosure: I flail. I can’t swim well. I imagine it would be like watching the equivalent of a pen exploding in the unprotected breast pocket of your favourite shirt with tenacity commensurate to a supernova, in HD.

There is very little that can make the compulsory acceptance of any non-continuation agreement enjoyable, even if BDSM is your thing. What I’m finding is that continued exposure to such experiences is helping me better understand not only my responses to being recipient to such agreements, but why I respond in the manner that I do. Because I date relatively little, it’s taken me far longer in life to come to this understanding of myself than what I’ve noticed in others. I’m not dead yet so I’ve got some time, however indefinite, to further refine my response, but this is only made possible through the recurrence of seeing additional and variant types of, in my case, women.

At the risk of sounding like a pathetic pontificator, one can only hope that one day, when you find yourself sitting in your favourite poorly lit pub, sipping on your favourite beverage, in a glass surrounded by condensation, and staring at the stack of non-continuation agreements that you have tacitly agreed to in your past, you’ll come to realize that each time you tacitly agreed to a non-continuation agreement you reasonably forced your once-significant other to do the same.

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