Breaking up not hard to do when it never got started
Kristi L. Gustafson
Albany Times Union
Dec. 21, 2005 11:51 AM
A friend was set up on a blind date recently. By her aunt. At a funeral. OK, so taking the locale of the setup into consideration, this coupling may have been doomed from the get-go.
But she agreed to the meeting. More for her aunt than anyone else. Over coffee, they learned that, other than both having spent a year in Spain, they had nothing in common.
He seemed nervous, fidgety. She was calm, bored even. The conversation lulls were many and when they did talk it was forced - like being stuck chatting with a great-great-aunt at the family Christmas party.
On the walk out of Starbucks, he told her they should "do this again sometime soon" and then e-mailed her a couple days later reiterating his good time and inviting her out to a movie, or coffee.
It was time for the prerelationship breakup. That moment where you have to tell someone you've dated only once or twice "it's over."
" Is honesty the best policy? That probably depends on your ability to convey honesty with compassion," says John Seeley, author of "Get Unstuck! The Simple Guide to Restart Your Life."
" If you lack the compassion gene, it might be best to use the silence method."
Silence is the weak way out, I told my friend. Give it to him straight. This is the one time where "it's not you, it's me" doesn't work because, well, it is the other person.
So, say "I'm really not interested." Be nice about it, but get right to the point. And do it now - rather than letting it drag out.
Other people weighed in, telling her to "just be friends with him," "let it fade out naturally," or just have her aunt break the news.
One friend suggested she text-message him, but she nixed that idea, not wanting him to have her cell number. No matter what, though, she wanted an easy way out, one that avoided confrontation.
" In the early stages of dating, it really is all about getting to know each other," says Victoria Pericon, a Manhattan-based etiquette expert and author of "Social Etiquette and the City."
" If you aren't into the person anymore, you should just say it and let them continue their search."
In the past few years I have finally embraced the straight-up approach. I used to be wishy-washy. I'd avoid the person, hoping they'd catch on to my lack of interest. Usually, though, this was seen as playing hard-to-get and only made the pursuit more aggressive (flowers, notes, late night voice mail messages). Now, I'm blunt, to the point, and when faced with a similar situation I said, "I'm sorry, but we're just not compatible."
He did nothing wrong. In fact, he was nice, considerate and someone I'd be happy to set up with a friend. But I wasn't feeling it.
In fact, if I went out with him again, it would have been because I felt bad. "Sticking around because you are afraid someone's feelings are going to be hurt is not a good thing to do," says Pericon.
This, you see, can only lead to disaster. It may give the other person hope, or make them think you're actually into them. Thing is, my friend's sweet approach is much more typical, says Liz H. Kelly, dating coach and author of "Smart Man Hunting."
" Women are much more likely to politely give the guy the boot," Kelly says. If you're not into the direct approach, she recommends letting the guy go with little white lies. "Say you've met someone else; it's much softer than handing out a complete rejection. You can also say that you just broke up with someone and need more time to get over it."
Adults, especially those of generation X and Y are probably going to know you're lying, but if the point is for them to get the point, the mission is, most likely, accomplished. In the end, remember: Not every relationship is meant to end up at the altar.
" You're setting yourself up for a lot of pain if you think every date you go on immediately means a serious relationship is going to stem from it," she says.
It took three weeks - and a couple e-mails from her coffee date asking for a second time out - but my friend finally took the same route: e-mailed Mr. Fidget and called it quits.