A long let down to the truth isn’t going down easy. Instead, fly straight and true.
We’ve all been in this position before, on one end or the other. A person expresses a more-than-friendly interest in another, and the feeling is not reciprocated. What to do, what to do… the second party does not WANT to hurt the first, so excuses start getting made. The first is caught in the normal dissonance dilemma; these excuses are probably just what they seem—excuses—but what if they’re not? Shouldn’t a person keep trying? After all, one can’t get anywhere if one just gives up after one attempt, right?
And so the routine begins. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. Maybe he/she really couldn’t get together that night, but could some other time? Maybe if I tried a different angle. And on, and on. And the second attempt begins, and the second deflection.
Depending on the stubbornness of the first party, the normal actions of the second can range toward complete avoidance to third-party intervention to outright hostility before the matter is settled.
Does it have to be this way?
I don’t think so.
To quote one of my favorite musicians, Ben Harper,
“I believe in a better way.”
When did we get the idea that letting someone “down easy” was really easy for either party? If you’ve lived through it, you know it’s not any easier—in fact, it prolongs the problem indefinitely in some ways. You are not helping yourself or the other side. Either they’re going to know what it’s about and are going to be just as hurt, or else they’re going to take the excuse as truth and try again, and you’re just going to have to shoot them down again.
Here’s the simple way out of this neverending cycle:
Fly straight and true.
An example, a few years ago, after moving to a new city, I tried my first foray into online dating. I experienced some immediately shocking results (if you’re asking me what our kids names should be before the appetizer arrives on our first date, we’ll probably not make it to dessert). So I edited my ad, and requested the 15-minute first date.
I posted an idea. We all decide pretty quickly upon initial attraction, usually within the first 90 seconds of meeting. The next 13 minutes are when we determine if there’s a personality connection, so why not meet for coffee or appetizers, and just be honest when that moment of truth comes. And it happened the first time I tried it. We met for coffee, she was attractive, but I just wasn’t feeling that kind of connection.
I politely told her I was enjoying our conversation and would like to continue, but I wasn’t feeling any romantic inclinations. She laughed, and said,
“Thank God. I like talking to you, too, but it’s just not there for me either.”
We talked for some time on, and we are still friends to this day. All it took was a bit of honesty.
Not all such interactions are this easy of course. When you’re up-front and blunt, someone’s feelings are going to be hurt,. They’re not out of line for feeling this way (and you are not, should it happen to you). NOTE- being honest does not, as some have tried, give you a right to be mean or discourteous. I do not endorse going out of your way to hurt someone. That is fully against my beliefs. The difference is both of you are stronger people for having taken the time to face your fears and be honest with one another.
I dare say that society is better off as well, because it’s one step closer to ending the pattern of telling lies to spare feelings.
The lies we tell aren’t helping anyone, and you are not letting someone “down easy.” The lies simply perpetuate the idea that we cannot be honest and open, which stifles our overall ability to be ourselves.
Being yourself is the first step toward being truly happy.Photo: joshDubya/Flickr