Monday, 1 August 2011

Let Your Yes Be Yes...

Poppets, I am having computer issues. Alas! I have to use one computer to check my email and another to blog. It is a headache. And who knows when I will have time to fix it? I am once again leaving for Italy to see Hilary, who is still sick. This time I am going on Wednesday and not coming back for two weeks. Nobody steal my husband!


Of course, I could use Hilary's computer....

Sadly I can no longer easily cut and paste Auntie Seraphic emails to my blog, so today I will have to paraphrase madly. In short, I have had two (2) queries about "dating under false pretenses."

Now that might sound spicy, but I assure you it isn't. Both ladies in question are single, eligible and Nice Catholic Girls. But one has vowed to date only Catholic men and the other hasn't been on a date since an extremely lousy relationship broke up and doesn't know whether she's ready to go on one yet.

Nice Catholic Girl #1 was freaking because she was asked out for supper by a nice man she knows through work, but she doesn't know if he is a Catholic or not. Since she believes she will not continue to date him if he isn't a Catholic, she fears she has led him on just by accepting his dinner invitation.

Nice Catholic Girl #2 hasn't actually been asked out yet, but it is beginning to look like she might be. She is also freaking.

I have addressed both situations with my calming mantras of "It's just supper" and "You're allowed to say yes when you want to say yes" and "You're allowed to say no when you want to say no."

Unless you're actively pretending to be single when you're married or unattached when you have a boyfriend, there is no such thing as dating under false pretenses. If a man says "Would you like to have dinner with me?" there are only two answers: Yes and No. Hopefully you have figured out in advance which answer applies.

"Would you like to have dinner with me?" does not mean "Will you marry me one day?" or "Will you have sex with me if I ask nicely?" or "Will you date me for the next six months?" or even "Do you date Non-Catholics?" All it means is "Would you like to have dinner with me?" One dinner. One.

Maybe you would like to have every dinner with him for the rest of your life, but that is not what he is asking. Men are very literal. When they say something, they do not usually mean something other than what they are saying. They could be lying, but then they are lying in a literal fashion. Bless their little hearts. So when you say you would like to have dinner with him, he will think you are saying "Yes" to just one dinner.

I am all for first dates with men you like, especially if you have met them in person beforehand and not just on the internet. My favourite, of course, are first dates that you didn't realize were dates until you are engaged to the person. Thus, my first date with B.A. was in a pub on Rose Street, just after I tried to offer a tissue to a man reeling out of an alleyway brawl with a bloody nose. I had a half-pint of ale and a meat pie. I forget what B.A. had. I barely talked, since I was seriously jet-lagged and had just alighted from the London-Edinburgh bus. B.A. talked for Scotland. I merely listened and let him pay. Heck, no wonder he fell in love with me. But anyhoo...

Listen, I dated for twenty years or more (boo hoo hoo!), so I know it doesn't seem as simple as "Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no." It doesn't seem like you can say "Yes" to Date 1 and "No" to Date 2 without apologies and a huge explanation, but you can. You can even date a man for two years, discern marriage to him, go to see a priest together and then decide that you don't want to marry him after all. I did. Whoa, come to think of it, I think I did that twice. Hmm.

Oh well.

Let's face it, I was not Christendom's greatest dating role model. I learned the hard way that adults who do not discern within a year that they want to marry each other are wasting each other's time. But my point is that you never have to see a man again if you don't want to, and you can date a man for a year and then say "No" if he asks you to marry him. You can be engaged for a year, and then call the whole thing off when the planning-the-wedding drama reveals a side of him (or you) that you didn't know he (or you) had and that you don't like. You can do that. It's your right.

But to go back to first dates, the whole point to a first date is to get to know a person better. That's it. You drink your coffee or you eat your supper, and you sit back and allow the man--if he asked you--to do his best to impress you. (If you asked him, you're on your own, baby, because I don't know what to tell you.) Don't worry about impressing him beyond looking nice, speaking politely to the waitress and not putting your sleeve in the butter. Let him do all the heavy conversational lifting. Ask intelligent questions and give thoughtful answers, and do not for a single second make the mistake of thinking he is (A) a woman (B) a priest (C) your therapist.

After you go home you can decide if you want to see him again. If you do, I hope he calls. If not at all, all you really have to say when he asks once again "would you like..?", is "No, thank you."


Christine Falk Dalessio said...

Excellent advice, of course! I appreciate your comment "Men are very literal. When they say something, they do not usually mean something other than what they are saying. "... Because if we women would finally just BELIEVE THIS, I think dating and relationships would suddenly become much, much easier!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything you wrote, and think that it is very true about almost all men.

However, there are exceptions. Recently I agreed to go on a date with a man. In my mind, that was all I agreed to. A little later, I discovered that what he thought I was agreeing to was becoming his serious girlfriend, and spending all my foreseeable weekends with him. He was very hurt and offended when, after two dates, I gently let him know that I was no longer interested in dating him, and became quite nasty about it. This, of course, only confirmed me in my decision to have no further contact with him.

So, yes, most nice guys mean what they say and ONLY what they say. The weirdos, on the other hand...

Multum Incola said...

Brilliant advice as ever!

theobromophile said...

LOVE the advice! Women need to be told over and over that they do not have owe giant karmic debt to anything with a Y chromosome that must be repaid with their pain, a freakish display of selflessness, or the like. (Anyone want to guess what the first seven or so years of my dating life were like?)

But my point is that you never have to see a man again if you don't want to, and you can date a man for a year and then say "No" if he asks you to marry him.

What is not okay is to waste some man's time, to string him along because he buys you dinner or you don't want to be alone. One of the few things you owe all men is courtesy and good will - what you would expect from him. We don't want men to waste our time, we don't expect men to believe that inviting us to coffee is tantamount to an engagement ring (if that were true, expect to not be invited to coffee, dinner, or the prom until age 25, at least), and we would like men to treat us with respect. That's pretty much the sum total of what we owe them in return.

As for dating for a year and discerning marriage: one of the many very practical benefits of being a nice Catholic girl, to be euphemistic, is that it is hard to date for years on end without marriage. It forces both parties to make decisions that need to be made.

Seraphic said...

Oh dear. It is true that there are these freaky exceptions. They are definitely not rooted in reality!