Taking the hard way out

by Dating Goddess on December 14, 2010

When you’ve decided you don’t want further contact with someone, it’s easy to ignore their phone calls, IMs, texts or emails.

Perhaps you rise a level to at least send a “we’re not a match” email.

It’s hardest to actually tell the person face-to-face. However, if you’ve only had one encounter, it seems counter-productive to arrange a meeting just to tell the person you won’t be seeing them again.

So a phone call is in order. But what do you say? How do you phrase it to not focus on the other’s deal breakers? You don’t want to stoop to a level of name calling or pointing out the other’s bad breath, disheveled appearance, incessant cursing, bad manners or lusting after you. You want to do this task with class and leave the other’s dignity intact.

You procrastinate making the call because you don’t want an altercation and since you barely know the person, you have no idea how he’ll respond.

But you decide you must act consistent with how you’d like to be treated — respectfully — so you make the call.

This was the thought process I recently went through to decide how to tell Erotic-Dream-Guy he shouldn’t bother contacting me again. He’d called 4 times in the previous 3 days and I didn’t pick up because I was busy at the time. But I also didn’t call him back. I thought about our interactions and how I felt during and afterward. While he was funny, smart and knew many of the right things to say, he also chastised me for telling my truth, told me I was evasive when I thought I was being polite, and had made many blatant sexual remarks even after I told him I was uncomfortable with them. Generally, I felt disrespected which is intolerable for me.

So I dialed. I thought about what I would say and how to phrase it to be as non-blaming as possible. I didn’t want to lie with the common, “I’m taking a break from dating,” or “I’ve met someone else and we really hit it off.” Neither were true, and I’d heard these so often I know they are avoidance lines.

He answered and asked about my weekend. I told him it had been busy (which it had) and I knew he’d called a number of times. He said he’d like to see me again. I thanked him and continued, “Because you are a direct man, I’ll be direct with you. After our last conversation I determined that we want different things and we weren’t a match.” He said he was disappointed and respected my decision. He didn’t ask for clarification, so I didn’t elaborate. I thanked him for his interest and wished him good luck. He said thank you and we hung up.

If he’d become confrontational and said, “What do you mean we want different things” I was prepared with a comment that I know is nasty: “I want a respectful gentleman. You want to get laid.” Luckily, I didn’t have to stoop to this low-level comment. I don’t like myself when I become snarky.

It is much harder to tell someone personally, not in text, IM or email, that you don’t want further contact, but it is, I believe, the right way. Have I always made the effort? No. But I felt cowardly when I took the easy way out. Dating is hard enough when you have to deal with cowardly people along the way. I think we need to have the courage to do what we know is right and treat others respectfully, even when they have not always behaved that way toward you. Their bad behavior is no excuse for you to lower yourself to their level.

How have you respectfully told someone there is no need for further contact? What did you consider doing that you’re glad you didn’t?
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For more information on how to break off contact with grace, get your copy of Moving On Gracefully: Break Up Without Heartache

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