Over at Moxie's blog is a discussion of one-liners people use to either lie about their lack of interest or to maintain something casual without commitment. In the comments section, one of our regular readers here, Goldie, said the following:
Can I ask a newbie question? Is “I didn’t feel an emotional connection” the same thing as the above mentioned “I just don’t think we clicked romantically”? It’s not just me that didn’t get it – every one of my married girlfriends that I’ve shown this to had the same reaction, “WTH is this supposed to mean?” Is that another variation on “I didn’t find you attractive?”
Gosh, I just tell people “I don’t think we’ll work out as a couple” or “I don’t think we’re a good enough match”. And then I really do remain friends. Old school?
So, I highlighted this because I have often used a variant of the first like - "I didn't feel enough of a connection" - in e-mails after first dates. And I think I have also used some variant of the "didn't click romantically" line as well. Both of these phrases seem fairly clear to me, but I suppose how you write or say the rest of the response probably makes some difference.
Goldie later mentions that her question stemmed from a situation where a guy told her one of those lines and then proceeded to ask her out the next day. Then, after they saw each other again, the guy repeated the line, suggesting he wasn't interested. Sounds confusing doesn't it?
Although there could be slimy motives behind all of this, I'm guessing that this guy simply failed to handle his uncertainty well. Instead of spending the time to go on a few dates, and assess the potential, this guy chose instead to constantly broadcast his swings in interest. This is a direct path to headaches, nausea, and ultimately, remaining alone. And it's completely unnecessary.
It's actually been quite rare that I have felt a strong enough spark on a first date with someone that I didn't leave the date with some doubts or uncertainty. In our speed obsessed, instant gratification culture, these doubts and uncertainties are usually taken as direct evidence that it's time to move on. However, the way I see it, having some uncertainty is fairly normal and there are plenty of happy couples out there whose first few dates didn't break the hot and sexy bank.
The thing is that if you're dating to find someone for the long haul, it's really important to develop some patience, and to learn to withhold certain cards until you've spent more time with someone.
Perhaps Goldie's guy was always going to have mixed feelings about her. That happens. But if this was the case, he could have handled the whole thing better.
Specifically, he could have sat on the uncertainty for 2-3 dates, and then made a decision about whether to continue dating her or not.
Here's how it can be acted out.
If he decides to stop seeing her, he can use the same kind of phrase to end it, but maybe add something about not wanting to go out again. I tend to think that it's so much better to end time with someone with clarity, rather than leaving a door open with confusing messages. Which is why I think it's worth taking more time if you don't know, so you aren't sitting around weeks later thinking "What if?"
Now, if some uncertainty still remains, but Goldie's guy decides to keep dating her anyway, it's probably best to keep sitting on that uncertainty instead of broadcasting it. I say this figuring that the scales that case are tipped enough in her favor that he actually wants to see if they have a future together.
Perhaps this sounds like lying, but the reality often is that until you've spent significant time with someone, it's hard not to have some uncertainty, questions, or doubts about the relationship's long term potential. In fact, I'd argue that if you don't have a little bit of uncertainty for awhile, you're probably living in a fantasy land.
And yet, if the relationship develops, those initial uncertainties, questions, and doubts tend to go away. Because much of it had to do with not knowing how someone would react under difficult circumstances, or whether some behavior or another was an anomaly or a problematic pattern.
Note that I'm speaking here to beginnings. Which is different from having doubts and uncertainties about a relationship several months, or years into it.
What do you think? Does this ring true to you? Or do you disagree with something I said here?