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Parallax - Advice            November 13, 2000

  Just say 'No!'

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

A friend of mine set me up with a woman who I thought I'd like from the description, but when I met her - oh man, nothing. No chemistry - nada. The three of us met at a bar and it was super casual, so I didn't have to blow out of there or kill off a relative to escape. However, my friend later sent me a message saying her friend wants to see me again. I should have said 'No.' Instead I was lame, and I said, 'Sure, why not? Maybe the three of us could do something fun.' I thought the 'three of us' would be enough of a hint, but now I'm not so sure. We're supposed to go out next week - all three of us. How does one get out of these things without hurting people's feelings?

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Her view:

Dear Mismatched,

Hmm…you should have said 'No!' earlier but that's okay because you dropped a good hint. Now you'll just have to go out with the two of them and sit through a boring and polite interaction. You'll have to exude cues of lacking interest. Don't have things in common, and be really boring yourself.

After that, do not call your friend or said 'set-up target.' Just let things go for a long while. If your friend asks you about it, tell her that you just don't think it's a match - don't even say why. Say that you don't think it will work and that's all, and let's have everyone just move along nicely. No belaboring, and no long discussions.

Then keep trying, until you meet the right one - eventually you will.

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His view:

Dear Mismatched,

The best way to avoid hurting people is to stop dating entirely, which is rather boring. Unfortunately, someone's feelings almost always get hurt in a dating situation. Better hers than yours, of course.

I'm no sadist - and I'm not suggesting you hurt excessively or on purpose - but pain is inevitable. The best you can do is to try to minimize it. Usually the right way to do this is to be honest up-front, as soon as possible. That doesn't mean you call her up the next day to say you'd prefer never to see her again, although if she does call, being forthright will save you a lot of pain.

Sadly, you are now in a position where forthright is less of an option. You'll have to go on this date and rely on subtle signals to indicate your lack of interest. You may want to show up late and not apologize. Then, stay aloof during the event. If subtle doesn't work, you can always bring another date along.

After the date, have a very busy schedule, and take a long time to return phone calls and messages - or just blurt it out the next time she calls. Never, ever, take the initiative. In making your choice, just remember that what goes around...

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