Being nice on October 19, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
With all your immense wisdom, can you PLEASE let us in on the secret of turning someone down nicely? There is nothing I hate worse than trying to explain to gentlemen friends that I’m not interested. Is it all right to tell a tiny white lie in these situations? Like, “Actually, I’m leaving for a remote area in Africa tomorrow so I can’t go out this weekend?” Well, you get the point. Please help!
– Not Interested
Dear Not Interested,
The Africa thing is risky, as a plucky suitor may up and offer you his international cell phone.
Here are some examples of acceptable lies:
1. “I had a great time.”
2. “Dinner? Well, actually, I think it would be so much more meaningful if you came over and acted out a new dramatization of Diana’s Last Days that I’ve just completed. I’ve already highlighted your lines in pink. How’s sevenish?
3. “I’m not in a very relationship place right now.” (As in, standing here, right now, talking to you.)
Basically, though, NI, it’s not about lying, it’s about not telling the whole truth. If that’s what it takes to be nice. And early on, that’s all you owe your gentlemen callers. No Explanations — and definitely no elaborate Excuses — but simply a “You know what, that’s very kind, but I’m going to pass. Thanks, though.” In this case, being clear, even blunt, is being nice.