Here’s What’s Wrong with Saying “My Kids Come First” on the Dating Apps

Jennie Young
5 min readMar 5, 2024

Burned Haystack Dating Method™ uses applied rhetoric to make the dating apps work more effectively and more efficiently for people. You can join the project on Facebook where I am teaching the Method (for free) or follow along on Instagram from the links at the end of this story.

The Method works on principles of applied rhetoric (which is what my Ph. D. is in). My specialty is in CDA (critical discourse analysis), which is a formalized methodology within the larger field of applied rhetoric.

Quick definitions: “Rhetoric” is the study of language and other sign systems, and “applied rhetoric” is simply applying that study to real life. In this project/group, we are applying it to the dating apps.

Some foundational principles of rhetoric are text, subtext, and context.

“Text” is the actual words you see;

“SUBtext” is what lies beneath the text — the intended or hidden meanings OR the *unintentional* reveals (what CDA does REALLY well is train you to quickly detect what people are telling you without intending to);

“CONtext” is the conditions surrounding the text (the prefix “con” means “with,” so literally “with the text”).

Okay, let’s return to the “My kids come first” line and analyze for text, subtext, and context.

Text: Taken literally, this is a neutral-to-positive statement. This person’s…



Jennie Young

Professor and humor writer in Green Bay. McSweeney’s, The Independent, HuffPost, Ms. Mag, Education Week, Inside Higher Ed, Slackjaw, Weekly Humorist, others.