You know those people who jump in a pool to get it over with? I'm not one of those people. I have to inch my way in, one little bit at a time. It's the same with dating, which makes for many false starts and maybe one of these days I will jump in, at least a little bit, but that's not where I am now.
Intertwined with the world of dating, is the idea of rejection. Not everyone wants to go out with everyone else. There are no two ways around it. The question is how to go about telling someone that you don't think he (or she) is the one?
There has recently been some debate about this in my office. I think it is better to be upfront and clear. This fellow asked me out, and I told him no. That's because I didn't actually want to go out with him. Apparently, this broke some rule of conduct, because when I told people what I had said, they were aghast. I asked around, and what I was supposed to do was tell him I was already seeing someone. In addition to being a bald-faced lie, I think he would have known it was a lie, because why wouldn't I have mentioned that earlier? How is that respectful. The youngest member of my office thought I should have gone out with him anyway. Normally, I subscribe to this theory, but I used to belong to the same synagogue as this guy, so I already knew him. Plus he was much older than I am. In order to bypass the cutoff age, we'd really have to have some instantaneous connection.
It works both ways, of course. There was another fellow I met last week who I thought was going to ask me out. He acted like he was going to ask me out. Started up a conversation, asked for my card, etc. Well, mostly just those two things, but he seemed interested. He didn't ask me out. Not one to stand on ceremony (well, I will if at all possible), since he had given me his card, I emailed him a really short note saying that it was nice to meet him. He emailed me back saying he agreed and that it was too bad I didn't live in Manhattan because it would be easier to get together and continue our conversation. Now what does that mean? First, I work in Manhattan, so it isn't like I'm never there. Second, Astoria is essentially the next town over. It's pretty much as close you can get to Manhattan without actually being there. (Not in tone, but it really is very close.) Now if I had said something like this, I would have meant I didn't want to talk to person. But it's subtle. You're saying that you don't want to talk to this person by saying you want to talk to that person. I would say that, because things sound clearer in my head than they do in real life, but it doesn't seem likely that another person would mean the exact same thing. He might mean what he said, but what he said was weird because it doesn't make all that much sense.
So basically, I vote for clarity over compassion. Maybe I shouldn't have been so blunt with the fellow who asked me out, but at least he knows I don't want to go out with him. I'm not making him make more overtures. This other guy, who knows? I think this is a positive step in my development. Besides, one of the reasons I moved to New York was so I could say what I think. That and the great grid system they have here. Above Houston Street, I almost always know where I am. Except for on West 4th Street. That ends up crossing West 11th Street, which is supposed to be perpendicular to it.