Breaking it off is hard to do…

There is a very firm difference between “breaking up” (i.e., ending a relationship) and “breaking it off,” (telling a guy you’re dating that you don’t want to see him again..)

Breaking up is a hideous business. It involves an in-person conversation/fight/world war during which one  or both of you explain your decision to no longer be together. It can, on occasion, involve crying, sobbing, name-calling, psycho-analyzing the other person, diving up your possessions, determining norms for future communication, and dividing up custody of mutual friends/favorite places to go out, etc.

The aftermath involves spending a lot of time in your car sobbing while listening an assortment of the following: Jewel’s “Pieces of You,” Mandy Moore’s “Wild Hope,”  and Taylor Swift’s “Red,” and basically any Kelly Clarkson song ever written.

There may or may not be instances where you find yourself on your couch, eating alternate handfuls of Kettlecorn and PopChips, waiting for your nightly dose of Benadryl to kick in so you can fall asleep in pool of your own tears and snot and grief. (Hypothetically, of course. Personally, I wouldn’t know anything about this.)

donut gif

Breaking it off is a slightly less hideous business. In fact, if a guy is breaking it off with you, it’s pretty easy to endure. One of two things happen:

1) They just disappear (Please see Fade Away for more info on how that looks)

Hmm..wait. That’s the only way I’ve ever personally experienced a guy breaking it off.  (CLASSY, BOYS!) But, in theory, I realize they could also do option 2.

2) Tell you, via text or a very short phone call, that they don’t want to see you anymore. (As I have learned from S, having this conversation IN PERSON is a real No.)

While I’ve definitely been momentarily bummed by the fade away, give me a few shots of Jameson, an episode of PLL, and a short pep talk from S, D, C, or one of my other lovely friends, and I’m over it. I mean, 1 or 2 dates is at max, 6 hours of my life and I’ll forget about that person soon enough.

That said, I don’t love being the one doing the “breaking it off.” I am actually a pretty nice person, despite my fervent hatred of cats and disdain for my peers who aren’t quite proficient in Shakespearean English. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, and hate to think of myself of the cause of even momentary disappointment.

If I’ve only been out with a guy three times or less, then I think it’s fair to break it off by text, especially if that’s how we have communicated previously. When they ask for a repeat date, and I’ve decided I don’t want to go on one, I just say, “No thanks.”

normal rejection

And, you see, they usually take it very graciously. I mean, like I said, most normal people don’t get that attached to one another after  2 interactions, during one of which they were probably drunk. Every once and awhile, though, you’ll get a bit of terrifying push back:

weird rejection

Ginnfer Goodwin? Is that you? HAVE SOME SELF RESPECT!

Anyway, so far,  I’ve been able to skate by, breaking it off by text. But a few weeks ago, I started dating a really nice guy, R. R was, in theory, kind of the perfect guy. Why?

1. He was smart AND hardworking. Intelligence has always been a turn-on for me. I love it when somebody can tell me something I don’t know already, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that a concise, wittily-worded email or text from a guy doesn’t cause a stomach flip. But I’ve usually been drawn to guys who are smart slackers. You know, unmotivated guys who spent most of high school and college smoking weed and cutting class, but got by with a little bit of Adderall and a whole lot of cramming. R was different. This was a guy who was not only naturally smart, but interested in getting smarter. He was good at his job, he cared about what he did, and he was interested in reading, studying, etc. to improve himself personally and professionally.

2. He was actually a nice guy. We all know many men who call themselves nice guys. Most of them aren’t, and I think actually just adopt the term, “Nice guy,” so they can complain about all the things that go wrong for them and make self-pitying comments about “finishing last.” R was a genuinely, nice, polite person. He was interested in making the world a better place, he cared about his friends and family, and he planned the nicest, most thoughtful dates for us.

3. He was an ideal planner and communicator. Dude, did R READ this blog? Did he eavesdrop on a brunch conversation that I had with my girlfriends? Because he did exactly what I wish every guy would do to plan and follow up on dates. He suggested a restaurant I’d been dying to try for our first date, and floated a few dates and times for me to choose from. He didn’t harass me with mindless texting, just to confirm the day before. After each subsequent date, he would follow up with a text to say what a great time he had, and then call to ask when he could see me again and suggest some some possible destinations for us. I cannot tell you how much of a draw this was for me. S and I frequently commiserate about men’s inability to plan ANYTHING. And, as a the bossy oldest child, the bossy colleague, the natural planner in my friend group, I am SO SICK of making decisions. I make decisions all day. I plan things all day. There is nothing that turns me on more than someone else making plans. I mean, if I could write, shoot, and film a porn for women, I would call it “Men Making Plans.” Srsly. And R did that. Flawlessly.

And yet, after 3 dates with R, I had no attraction to him. I tried booze, I tried different lighting, I tried giving myself a pep talk in the bathroom every time he was going to walk me home from the restaurant or bar. But I just didn’t want him to kiss me, and after openly dodging his kiss after date 3, I felt like it was only fair to break it off. So, when he, like clockwork, called the next day to ask me out again, I realized I had to call back and say no, for good.

I consulted several dating gurus before making the call. Here is the wisdom I gleaned, which I will now share with you, dear readers, should you ever have to dole out a lil rejection.

1. Keep it short. No one likes to be rejected. As soon as they hear the word no, they want to peace out, be pissed and a little bummed, and then move on. 

break up image 1

2. Don’t tell anyone your sob story. This advice came from my friend, I, who is the Professor Emeritus of dating in DC (I, please come guest blog for us!!). I wanted to tell this guy that I’d recently gotten out of a serious relationship, and that I just didn’t think I wasn’t ready to date anyone. Shes said, “Look, that sounds fake. And even though it isn’t fake, don’t burden him with your personal baggage. All he needs to know is that you don’t want to see him anymore. Don’t waste his time making excuses just cause it’ll make you feel better.

3. Do it in a timely way. R called me to ask me out again Wednesday. I called him back Thursday and delivered the news. This way, he can move on as soon as possible to someone better.

This wisdom worked. R was super gracious (of course, cause he’s a GREAT guy). I am sure he’s out right now, with some much more emotionally balanced woman, planning fabulous dates.

Real talk: Do I feel great? No. 

hannah girls

Rejecting a good guy definitely wakes up the little voice in my head that keeps telling me to freeze my eggs or look into adoption regulations in post-Soviet states, because I very well might die alone.

But, I’d rather die alone than settle. Right now, at least.

Got any other good wisdom about breaking it off with someone you’re casually dating? Leave it in the comments readers!

Advertisements

Dating Phenomenon: The Fade Away

Rejection. Is it a dish best served straight up, or in a more subtle form? This debate has been on my mind lately because my last two first dates have followed the exact same pattern:

Go on date —> have great time on date —> have date ask me out again —> silence/crickets/tumbleweeds

liz lemon man

You lose some, you lose some. The funny thing is, for a while it was just the opposite: I’d have a mediocre or in a few cases REALLY BAD date, and the guy would basically propose marriage afterwards. Because apparently awkward silence, stilted conversation and overcompensating nervous laughter are like catnip to men! (Don’t forget shifting eyes and stammering. Also signs that the guy will ask you out again so he can repeat the uncomfortable situation.) But of course, I finally have a string of fun, decent dates and the guys disappear into thin air. Oh, life. What a delightful conundrum you are.

So what is the protocol after a first date when you don’t want to see the other person again? Do you formally tell them that, or do you do the classic fade away, loved by men and non-confrontational women the world over?

fade away

And which would you rather have done to you? Six months ago I would have said I preferred the fade away. And don’t get me wrong, if it’s reasonably clear that the other person wasn’t super into me, or they ended the date with something universally neutral like ‘it was nice meeting you’, then yes, the fade away is totally acceptable, thank you very much. Message received. 

But what about when the signals say otherwise? What about when your date 1. leads you to believe that they’re super into you, 2. acts like they had the time of their life and that they’d like to do a partners’ dance routine with you complete with a LIFT to convey their joy and excitement:

and most importantly 3. says, actually says, that they want to go out again? Well then yes, if you change your mind, or you meet someone else, or you have multiple personalities and the one who showed up to our date feels differently than the one who’s currently inhabiting your body, I believe I’m entitled to a small memo letting me know. All it takes is a short text: ‘Hey there, so nice meeting you but I’m not interested in going out again. Thanks and good luck’. A simple courtesy which absolves me of this song and dance of waiting for you to call or text since you know, you said you would, and saves you from earning the title of ‘douchebag’ on my dating blog (see: N; Dwight Schrute). (Editor’s Note: Please know that I went out with a guy who literally hugged me goodbye at the metro shouting, “I WILL MISS YOU SO MUCH WHILE YOU ARE ON VACATION. I AM PUTTING IN MY CALENDAR THE DATE YOU RETURN SO I CAN CALL YOU IMMEDIATELY.” Direct. quote. I mean, I was a little terrified by his theatrics, albeit still flattered. And I am sure you can infer from the post’s UPBEAT tone that I returned from vacation two months ago, and I still have yet to hear from this clown.)

The worst part about getting the fade away after a good date is that it makes you totally question your instincts and your judgment. It makes you feel like you’re the stupid one who somehow misunderstood/misread the situation. Real life example: the first of my two last dates was a lot of fun… M and I hit it off, had great conversation, good chemistry, and made each other laugh. Our date lasted over three hours and there was never a dull or an awkward moment. When we parted ways M said he had an awesome time and asked if I’d like to go out again. I said I had a great time too and that I definitely would. I received this text when I got home:

okc mcg

Ahahaha inside joke from our date. God, M, you are so funny.

Turns out M is also an asshole, because he then totally disappeared. Right after he said “the next time I see you”. So I’m assuming he meant “see you” in, like, an existential way…? 

I recently lamented this phenomenon to L on gchat:

gchat with lela

Preach, L. The “death scenario” is easily the most comforting thought process to go through when you’re on the receiving end of a fade away. Just simply imagine that the person died or at the very least is laying in a hospital bed in a coma somewhere. And who knows? Maybe it’s actually true:

Except the problem with online dating is you can see when people are signed on. And literally every time I get on OKC, there’s M, alive and well, presumably cruising for more girls to fake being infatuated with. He clearly needs to put a hundo in this baby:

dbagjar

That all happened over a month ago. The more recent fade away happened about two weeks ago with a different guy, also an S. Again, we had (or at least I had) a great time… good conversation, lots in common, joking, laughing, little to no awkwardness. Again, the date lasted over three hours. Finally we parted ways. Again, S said that “he had a great time” and then something to the tune of: ‘So I’ll call you/text you later this week about getting together again?’

You can guess where this is going: absolutely nowhere. I got another unsolicited late night text saying ‘had a great time, so nice to finally meet in person’ and then nada. I mean. Gentlemen. If you don’t want to go out again, how hard is it to just say NICE TO MEET YOU at the end of a date and then disappear forever? ‘Nice to meet you’ with nothing else attached is the universal ‘thanks but no thanks’ of dating. If you’re going to pull a fade away, at least do it correctly! 

I originally touched on this subject a few months ago when I wrote about my first fade away after a promising date, and I posted the following clip from the seminal film He’s Just Not That Into You:

I enjoyed this movie as a senseless romcom that allowed me to stare at Ben Affleck for two hours, but the way it portrayed women also pissed me off. Ginnifer Goodwin’s character is such a clueless halfwit in the beginning, and while I sympathized with her single gal plight she also made me cringe. I watched that above scene and just thought, no intelligent, normal adult woman is that naive. No one hears ‘nice meeting you’ and thinks they’re going to marry a guy. No one goes a week without hearing from someone and still thinks they’re going to call.

But what about the M’s and S’s of the world? Why didn’t the movie cover that scenario? Am I a Gigi if I actually expect “Would you like to go out again?” to mean we’re going to go out again? I don’t think so. I don’t think single women are these insane, pathetic creatures who don’t understand how men “operate” if those men are just straight up lying.

Beyond that, if you’ve been following StuCu, you’ve glimpsed who is currently on the market. This guy. And this guy. And this guy. It is tough. times. out here in Singleland. And while I’m certainly not lying awake at night pining away for either of these guys who I met once, I will admit that when a non serial murderer who can actually formulate a sentence comes along, and he doesn’t immediately try to share a troubling sexual fetish on me or insult me to my face, it’s kind of a big deal. So giving me false hope is frankly just cruel and unusual.

We all know dating is hella awkward. Especially because in the beginning, one party is usually more into it than the other. I’ve been on the other side of the coin multiple times, so I know from experience that it’s not fun or easy to tell a nice person that you don’t want to see them again, even if it’s through something as impersonal as a text. Full disclosure: I recently put off rejecting a guy who I’d been seeing on and off just because he was super nice and I felt bad. But I do believe in the golden dating rule, and that’s:

Reject others as you would want to be rejected.

It’s basic human decency and at the end of the day, good dating karma. Although, if my recent dates are any indication, that’s apparently something I don’t have in spades. Which is surprising seeing as I did spend half an hour of my life helping a certain someone find his automobile. Doesn’t that count for something, universe?

 

UPDATE: Our dear friend and loyal reader E shared this in the comment section:

Here I was smugly thinking my post was so original and that I basically coined a new phrase that would quickly take the internet and urban dictionary by storm, when I come to find out it already exists! Good to know. I swear I’ve never heard this song before, Garfunkel and Oates. Please don’t sue me. xoxo

Except in their version, the ladies are the ones being assholes and pulling the fade away. Interesting. As E said in her comment, apparently this practice is so ubiquitous that both sexes have (allegedly) experienced it equally. I’m kind of baffled that these gals have never been on the receiving end, but I totally appreciate their lyrics, which still ring true:

Cause there’s the right thing to do
Then there’s what I’m gonna do
There’s so much I should say
But instead… I do the fade away

The fade away: dating pandemic.

 

 

My best first date

This is the story of the best first date I ever had. But don’t get too excited, readers, as this story does not have a happy ending. Fast forward about 5 months from my very first okc date. I’d had some decent first dates, but nothing truly awesome. At that point I wasn’t convinced that there was such a thing as a great first date. Enter N, two years younger than me and pretty damn cute. He sent me a great first message, just the right combination of funny, charming, short and sweet.

N asked me out after a few messages back and forth. I was leaving for a work trip so we scheduled a date for a few weeks later, which meant there was a lot of build up before we actually met. In that few weeks we did some texting, but it wasn’t annoying, it was actually nice. We joked, flirted, and shared our favorite music. I was officially into him.

Finally, the night of our date arrived. I met N at a Thai restaurant in the city (his pick). I had learned pretty early on to push for just drinks on a first date, so if it turns out to be awful I can escape quickly, but when he suggested dinner I didn’t protest. We had hit it off so well online that it had to be good in person, right?

It totally was. N was cute and (miracle of miracles) actually the height he claimed to be in his profile. He was funny, smart and sweet in person, just like online, and our chemistry was good from the beginning. The conversation flowed easily: he told me about himself but also asked lots of questions about me and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. We drank Asian beer. We shared Pad Thai. There was enough snappy dialogue between us to fill an Aaron Sorkin script. Not to sound like a conceited asshole, but I made him laugh. A lot. I could tell he was into me. It was the closest I’d ever gotten to those fictional dates from movies and tv. Shit. Was. Great.

N had a good job in an interesting field and what sounded like a fun life. We talked about music, movies, books, college, our families, and the city. Finally, as our meal wound down, he offered to walk me towards my place since his apartment was in that direction.

It was drizzling as we walked and I wondered if N was going to kiss me. We stopped at our destination and he smiled, telling me he had a great time and would definitely be in touch. I agreed, thanked him for dinner, and was just turning to leave when he suddenly leaned in and kissed me. It was a short kiss and the only truly awkward moment on the night; he did it so suddenly it kind of startled me. It was honestly no more than a peck on the lips. Then he smiled, said ‘Bye’, and walked away.

I walked home doing an internal fist pump. Success! I thought. That was so much fun. The last part was a bit weird, but whatever. I was excited to hear from him again.

Except I never did. Days passed and I couldn’t believe N hadn’t called me. I started to feel really, really, unbelievably, spectacularly stupid. Did I completely make up how great the date was? Was it totally one sided and he was never into me the whole time? He had certainly acted like he was having as good a time as I was. How could I have been so wrong? Also, if he wasn’t into me, what. the. eff. was that kiss about? I decided that one of three things had to be the explanation:

  1. He wasn’t really into me
  2. He liked me, but wasn’t attracted to me
  3. (my preferred reason) he was tragically hit by a SEPTA bus before he had the chance to ask me out again. RIP

I thought about calling or texting him, but it just seemed too… desperate. This one was a real bummer. I don’t even mean N; I met the guy all of once, so who knows if I would have even liked him as much after a second date. I mean thinking something had gone really well and then getting a cold slap in the face telling me otherwise. I mean getting excited and then being let down. Also, there are few things more embarrassing than telling your friends, co-workers, roommate, mom, barista, pharmacist, bank teller and mailman about this awesome date you had, and then having to update each and every one of them when they asked with, “Yeahhhhh never heard from him again.” Ugh.

Am I a pussy for not reaching out to N? A few people told me to just call him. But I never want to be “that girl” who can’t take a hint, and I’m not sure there’s a bigger hint than someone not calling you. If he had wanted to see me again, he would have made it happen. Justin Long at least taught me that much.

Date rating: 8/10 (funny, smart, cute, great conversation, minimal awkwardness, good chemistry)

Lesson learned: Don’t get too ahead of yourself when things go well, especially on a first date. Also, don’t broadcast the fact that you had a great date to everyone you know until you’ve actually heard from the guy again.