Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rejecting with Respect

(or Letter to the Lame Boy who Took Me Out Four Times and Disappeared)

The last time I ever saw him was a Wednesday. I remember this because I'm a damn busy person and usually have classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and do some work or go out with my girlies on Friday or Saturday. As he was leaving my house that last time, he asked when he could see me again. I suggested we do something Sunday afternoon, roller blading or a movie or some such nonsense. He left, the door closed, I headed to my room to get ready for bed when I heard a faint knock on the door. He must have forgotten his keys, I thought. I opened the door to big puppy dog eyes. "Is it Sunday yet?" he asked. We laughed and he said he'd call me later.

I never heard from him again.

Contrary to what many men believe, "I'll call you later" is not an effective method of blowing someone off. It is neither pleasant for the woman to believe -- and oh, yes, we do believe that you will indeed call later -- nor is it comfortable for the man to constantly utter the same mechanized phrase over and over while ducking around corners in shopping malls hoping never to run into said female again.

Let's rewrite this tale of terror in a more humane way: In order to avoid bruising the ego of another human it is best to use the honesty method. We're not talking brutal honesty here (I'm not attracted to you, you're dumb as a box of dirt, you should set your sights lower, etc.); We're talking about retaining your dignity while allowing the receiver of the blow off to do the same. Simply state the facts. Not even all the facts are necessary -- one will do. Pick the nicest one. Sugarcoat it if you have to. Make up something nice. It may sting for a second and she may not want to immediately be your friend, but she will understand. I promise. She will not call you again and force you to feign enthusiasm while you utter the famous aforementioned phrase of cowardly men.

Now let's weigh the benefits of your newly adopted method of respecting women. You will not have to screen phone calls, engage in phone calls with women in whom you have no interest, or face an uncomfortable coincidental meeting. She will not wonder what is wrong with herself (a common self-inquiry by even the most confident of women), will not continue to waste her time calling or thinking about you, and will not be forced to have you blacklisted by the international sisterhood of women who, in case you didn't know, list blackguard's names on women's bathroom walls around the world.

The bottom line: if you do your rejecting with respect, you in turn will be respected for your bravery, honesty, and immeasurable coolness. You will have a friend to say hello to while passing on the street. If you're good at being in the right place at the right time, perhaps you will have a friend who lets you cut in front of her in the Star Wars ticket line. Maybe someday, when you master the art of rejecting-with-respect, you will even have a friend who will set you up with someone more appropriate for you.

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