Him: Older, debonair-looking older artist man (Jeff Goldblum type-ish).
Me: Well, me.
The scene: Walking the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art, he is solicitous and charming.
He brushes his fingertips lightly along my shoulder, which is warm from the North Carolina sunshine. He says in a dreamy voice (which, BTW, is smooth and creamy-sounding like butterscotch), “Has anyone ever counted your freckles?”
It’s like the whole world was an LP, and the needle just screeched across it. I stopped. “No,” was all I had.
He continued on, encouraged, “You deserve to have your freckles counted one-by-one, cataloged and loved.”
It’s like my brain went blank. I didn’t understand English and I couldn’t comprehend what he was saying.
But that would be awful, wouldn’t it?
I have thousands of freckles on my left forearm alone.
How would anyone count them all?
Would I get potty breaks?
Would we need a marker to mark off which had been counted and loved until the next time?
What if it washed off?
Would we have to start all over again?
What kind of person would be that obsessive, and why would I want to invite them into my life?
That’s a hella lot of scrutiny.
I glanced over. He was smiling slightly, gazing intensely at me, giving off waves of oh-so-suave seduction.
Only, he was far less Jeff Goldblum now, and more this:
WHY would he do that to me?
WHY would he make me think these things. He was…inoffensive…until that point.
I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind, but I could never get over it. It went downhill from there through the rest of the walk and mid-afternoon lunch.
The worst part?
He was SHOCKED when I thanked him for his time (after paying my half of the bill), and told him I felt no connection.
And I still sometimes feel a dark cloud over me, as if someone is walking up behind me, and has started counting my freckles…
There’s a right thing to do when you just aren’t feeling a relationship…
…and then there’s what we usually do.
The fade away.
Online, it seemed perfect. But you’ve met, and it’s… well… flat, maybe? Just not there. No sparks. No whiz-bang.
They are nice. Sweet, even. You could like them, sometimes even think
you should like them, since on paper, they are what you’re looking
for—except instead of fireworks, you don’t even get poppers. It’s just
And you’re let down. And you feel bad, because you had high hopes.
What’s worse, though, is that they don’t seem to notice. They’re
still excited about whatever it was you were trying to build. They smile
and send picture texts and ask when you’ll get together again.
So, you fade away.
Because you don’t want to be an asshole, right? You don’t want to say the words that might make someone feel bad.
I mean, we used to do it with self-blame.
“It’s not you. It’s me.”
But now, everyone hears that as, “It’s you, nyaa nyaa nyaa! You’re
hideous, deformed, socially awkward, and just undesireable to the
So, we have found a better option.
The fade away.
It says the same thing, but it takes so much longer that it’s harder for them to call you on it.
So, here’s the lowdown on stretching it out as long as possible, and
avoiding saying anything direct, while simultaneously making them doubt
their attractiveness and ability to meet anyone who is not a meanypants
1. For the first day, simply take about twice as long as usual to respond to texts.
Make each response short, and give no follow-up conversational lures.
For example, if you usually respond within 10 minutes, take 20-30 minutes, and make the responses simple.
2. Do not project any excitement.
Keep it neutral. At most basic smiley, not happy-laughing smiley.
And definitely not:
3. Over the next few days, stretch out the time between responses.
You will likely get called on this during this time. Be prepared with your reasons.
Note: These are not called excuses, because they are
not meant to actually excuse you. They need to know, deep down inside
that you are blowing them off, but your reason should be good enough
that they cannot call you on it without feeling like a douchebag
“Work has been crazy.”
“Been feeling under the weather.”
“My grandma is ill.”
4. Whenever asked for another date or time to get together, put them off, but don’t say “No.”
In other words, do the opposite of actually setting a date and time.
“My bestie/roommate/friend from high school wanted to do something this week, but I’m not sure when.”
“I have this project that’s due, and I don’t know when I’ll get free.”
“I’ve been crazy stressed, and I just need some me time.”
Ideally, these are things that are 100% true that you would say, and
yet, they should be flimsy enough that anyone would know that if you
REALLY wanted to see them, you would.
5. Just stop responding.
Or, alternately, respond in random, but always long intervals.
3 days, 7, 5 days, 2 days, 10 days…
ADVANCED DAGGER TWIST: Be active on social media that you share.
That way, they can see you being active and doing things and making time for others, while you simultaneously put them off.
This can backfire, though, so be aware and plan carefully.
Now it’s your turn!
I know you’re sick of just telling the truth and accepting the
consequences. Now, you can drag this out over time, possibly even create
layers of self-doubt and inwardly-directed recriminations in your
former potential partner that will stand them in good stead when
creating entirely new relationship neuroses in the future.
You may also get some really amazing “Why” queries to bolster your own ego and boost your flagging self esteem.
And if you start to feel bad, well, there’s a YouTube video about it, so it must be socially acceptable, right?