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Dear Breakup Girl,
Why can't people reject me in a simple, straightforward fashion? There is
something to be said for "being cruel to be kind." Mind you, I don't want to
be told that the mere sight of me is unbearable. I just don't want to waste
my time pursuing relationships that will never work. Why do I have to go through
the complicated process of figuring out whether Bobby really does have a lot
of work to do or is just trying to "let me down easy?" Do people really think
I would rather go on four dates and then find out that they "don't want
to hurt my feelings," but they "weren't really interested in [me] in the
first place" but "we could still be friends?" I would honestly prefer
a simple, old-fashioned, "Go to hell." I know this doesn't seem like a
big deal, but after you've dealt with a certain number of "feelings-sparers,"
you start wanting to kick their asses. Besides, I always suspect that the feelings
they are trying to spare are theirs, not mine. I mean, do they really think
that "I don't want to hurt your feelings," ever made anyone feel better? Thanks
for your help.
Hear that, Christie?
Your query kind of reminds me of the time when I
invited two friends over for dinner. My inner Martha prepared an elegant, yet
deceptively simple, repast ... and then waited. It got later and later, and
still no show. When I finally got in touch with one of them, he said, "Oh,
yeah. Turned out we couldn't come. Didn't want to tell you because we thought
you'd be mad."
On second thought, don't.
So Juliet, yes. Your letter has duly reminded us that
"sparing" often...doesn't. It can even backfire. And I think you're
astute when you say that some folks may be seeking to spare their own feelings
(as in: "Hey, I'm not a bad guy! Right?" ... or, to be flaky and non-committal
enough that they "make sure" that the person in your position loses
interest ... but that's more Psychology than we need to get here, I think.).
Still, there's "sparing," and there's sparing.
No matter how ass-kickingly annoyed you feel, BG can never endorse an exchange
JULIET: Dinner was real nice, thanks.
BOBBY: Go to hell.
Um, no. General rant: Manners.
You can be clear and polite, you know. Remember IMPORTANT
BREAKUP GIRL MAXIM: Mean is bad, but blunt is fine.
First of all, after only a date or two (or a lukewarm
three), you don't even have to "break up" in the first place; if you
think you do, you might should lighten up. You can do the lack-of-repeatand
fade. Otherwise, a simple -- and I know, don't groan, there's really no non-dorky/lame/awkward
way to say this "Have had a great time with you, but for now
I think I'll say a respectful no thanks." Heck, e-mail (Calling Lite),
in this case, is fine. And actually, even one of those "so busy!"
groaners is excusable, if only as it -- in the immediate -- serves as WD-40
for the moment. Beyond that, this person doesn't "need to know," like,
Why or, really, anything else. And after a date or three, s/he is not really
permitted to ask. (Stick to Brady Dating
in the first place, and this will not be a Thing in the first place.)
So what should you do, Juliet? Believe me, I understand
why this is wearing. I mean, it would get wearing to hear even the approved
"Have had a great time with you, but for now I think I'll say a respectful
no thanks," more than, like, once. (And we're already up to twice.) Basically,
I'll bet you'd rather not be "rejected" at all. I'd suggest -- though
this is hardly foolproof -- that you politely refuse date two, three,
whatever, if you're feeling only a waffly Bobby (not Brady) vibe. I'd
say in some cases, never mind how Bobby feels ... check how you feel,
and proceed (or not) accordingly. Maybe next time you'll be the one saying
"Have had a great..." -- well, you know. Or, rather, the opposite.
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