Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Auntie Seraphic & Mauled By A Bear?

This email has been edited for length and details:

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I'm a long-time reader, and I'm really in need of some professional guidance on how to deal with flaky Type B guys when you are a reliable Type A girl trying to cultivate a Girl Next Door kind of persona (as you so helpfully suggested in a recent post).

I just got stood up for the first time ever by someone I thought was really interested in me, and I need your help on how to deal and not internalize all of it.

Back story: I joined a stupid online dating website when I moved to a new town after college. A guy in my area who seemed really cool and interesting messaged me, and we eventually--after one date cancelled at the very last minute due to illness--met in person for coffee and hit it off.

For about a month we were going on dates once or twice a week, and I felt confident that he was interested--despite the fact that he was prone to planning things last-minute and not being prompt about communication--and that I was being clear about my interest in him too, while not coming off as desperate or overeager even though I haven't been involved with anyone in years. I liked him a lot; he is quite intelligent and fun to talk to and attractive and seemed to have good relationships with his friends and family.

The last time I saw him, we met up for a drink and then to hang out at my apartment. It was late and snowy, and he asked if he could stay the night. Being a Good Girl I said he was welcome to crash on the couch but me and my bed were off-limits. I gave him the Talk and he passed the test with flying colors, saying he was perfectly fine with my beliefs and ethics and it was really ok (he is not Christian or religious at all). I really thought he was fine with it as we moved to a different conversation topic and talked about tentative plans for later in the week. He then walked home and sent me a sweet goodnight text.

That was […] ago. Since then, every time we try to make plans, whether it’s lunch or a movie or a drink at a local bar, there’s always some excuse that seems legitimate, but they’ve mounted to a point that seems ridiculous.

At first I thought, "It’s the holidays, things get crazy, I understand". Then I left town to visit family. We texted back and forth every other day or so, him usually initiating. He asked me what I was doing for New Year’s because there was [an event] he wanted to invite me to, but I wasn't in town. I told him when I arrived back in town, but then he didn't seem in too much of a rush to make plans. A couple of times now I've asked him to maybe hang out sometime, and he either doesn't respond or later replies with an excuse, e.g. "My bike got stolen so I can't come over there/I had to work/I lost my phone".

The other night he made definite plans, changed them the day of, and then canceled last minute because he had to work late. I tried to reschedule for the next afternoon/evening, and then he finally agreed to get lunch this afternoon. Well, lo and behold, I arrive at the restaurant on time: no guy. I sit, drink my coffee for an hour and read my book, send a non-pushy “where are you” text after 20 minutes, then go for a long fuming walk around town imagining all the horrible things I was going to say to his inevitable explain-y text or email that as yet, five hours later, has not arrived. I am not actually going to send a nasty text/email, as that would not be gracious.

Seraphic, I know you say to go with your gut intuition, but my gut goes back and forth on this one. Up til the past few days, it said “He likes you, he texts you pretty regularly and asks you to do things, you simply have two different personality types (planner vs. non-planner), you are being overly suspicious of his legitimate reasons for not being able to hang out.” But for the past week or so it's been saying “He’s just not that into you, he’s found a hotter girl who will put out, you’re annoying him with your texting, you’re the fallback girl/a crazy person.” I hate my gut. My gut is being self-loathing right now and I don’t like that. Of course, after being stood up today I feel like he doesn't like me that much after all.

I also feel like this is all my fault for getting even casually involved with a non-Christian guy who expects sex on the third or fifth or whatever date, and I shouldn’t be surprised that he is no longer invested in making plans or seeing me. I thought he passed the Talk Test at first with an A, but based on the evidence I am no longer sure. I know it looks like, in writing, that I was doing all the initiating and texting and pushing, but really it has only been this past week or so because I have been so fed up with not seeing him for so long. “If only I can see him in person,” I have thought, “Then perhaps we can have a conversation about communication styles and whether or not we really are compatible/capable of compromise on this.”

Seraphic, I am not being gracious or full of Christian charity right now. I am angry at him, at myself for being so stupid. Did I mention that I hate experiencing strong feelings? And becoming vulnerable and trusting guys who have the ability to hurt me? I should also add that I do have a busy and active life full of social time with friends, a fulfilling job, regularly going to church, hobbies, etc., so it's not like I'm sitting at home every night staring at my phone, willing this guy to call me. I am trying to cultivate detachment, not get too invested/infatuated in any one guy, and not be surprised if this sort of thing happens but it is hard.

As far as real-life consequences of all this go, I’ve deleted that stupid online dating profile and am resolved to just Get On With My Life Already and wait for someone who is actually interested. However, I’m still tempted to send an email asking what happened/gently reprimanding him once I've cooled down. Would that be a horrible idea?

The last time I thought he ignored a lunch invitation I sent a polite check-in email because the conversation had just stopped all of a sudden and he responded saying that he had tried to set something up but my phone hadn't received any messages from him...which I think I believe. If he gets in touch with some awesome excuse...e.g. he was mauled by a bear...and apologizes profusely and wants to make it up to me, should I let him?

Mauled By a Bear?

I got this late at night, so I responded with my usual "I'll sleep on it" plus a variation on "Don't misdirect your anger at yourself. He's the undependable one, not you."

Dear Mauled By a Bear,

It is day, so I am less tired and more brainy, and I hope you are feeling better. My initial thoughts are still the same: he's an ass, and you are not. You didn't do anything wrong, and he's an undependable flake. You just wash that man right out of your hair. Do not direct your clearly justifiable anger towards yourself. It's bad for you.

It is sad when charming men behave like undependable flakes. Being with them and talking with them is so much fun that when at last you meet up, you forgive them for their flakiness. You forgive the fact that he left you hanging for a week, or changed the date or venue three times. You are just happy he's there with you. It is perfectly understandable.

BUT! There comes a moment when, as Camille Paglia once said, "the chills outnumber the thrills." If a man is always late or (much worse) taking a rain-check, that is annoying, but may be a personality quirk worth putting up with. (I'd say lateness, yes, constant rain-checks, no.) HOWEVER, if a man stands you up without explanation, without a text, without a sincere apology and flowers to back it up, then he must be scraped off like a barnacle. Ultimately he is just too thoughtless and selfish for you.

It's not even a case of "He's just not that into you" because, although he isn't, the important thing is that he isn't even worth keeping as a friend. It's not that he might have faked his answer to The Talk. It's not that he's a non-Christian. It's that this time he hasn't even paid you the courtesy of cancelling the date in advance. This has nothing to do with you or your desirability. It is entirely about him and his flakiness.

I cannot see the point to texting him, which would merely give him another opportunity to be rudely silent. So instead give him the cold shoulder, and if he should contact you again, tell him you aren't interested in any man who would stand you up.

I hope this is helpful.

Grace and peace,

As for the rest of you, I will not now say never suggest you two do something together, if he has already suggested the first two or three get-togethers. But if you want to know if a guy really likes you, you have to leave the heavy social lifting to him. Let him be the first to text in a text stream. Let him be the first to email in an email stream. If he wants to see you, he will ask to see you. Men do what they want, and usually try to get out of whatever they don't want. End of story.

If he doesn't want to see you, well, that's too bad, and obviously he has bad taste, but that's not your fault and you don't want to see everyone yourself, either. Meanwhile, one of the hallmarks of Mr Right is that he will almost always want to see you.

1 comment:

Jam said...

OOOOOH, that's terrible. I agree with Seraphic, though, in a case like this it is far better NOT TO ANALYZE at all but just to focus on the basic, blatant inconsideration and wrongness of his behavior. Or you might analyze your way around to spending another year or two on the other end of this yoyo's string... not that I've done that... *cough*

Sometimes our dating problems are Catholic problems. But sometimes they're not, and they're just run-of-the-mill this-isn't-happening problems.