Doing what’s right, not what’s easy

At dinner with 3 other midlife dating women, one asked for input on a situation.

She’d gone out with a man three times. While she said she enjoyed his company, she didn’t feel any romantic attraction. He’d asked her to call him when she returned from a recent trip, which she had that day.

She didn’t want to call him. She said, “What would I say? That I didn’t want to go out with him again? That seems dumb and hurtful. If I don’t call him, won’t he get the message?”

We all agreed that the easy way out was not to call him. But the easy way was not the right way.

All of us had experienced men going poof and none of us liked it. Especially if we’d gone out with someone several times. We all felt it was disrespectful.

Her not calling him is not only disrespecting him, it is, in fact, disrespecting her. Anytime we don’t act the way we know is “right,” we ignore our own moral compass. I said that I wanted to behave in a way that had me respect my own actions, even when they involved something that was uncomfortable or difficult.

I think we all want to respect ourselves and feel we are acting with character. The dictionary defines that as “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; a person’s good reputation.” Many of us have been told that character is doing what is right when no one is looking.

We need to have character in dating, whether we call it that or integrity, backbone, uprightness, moral strength, or something else. We get frustrated when the men we date don’t personify these traits. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to — for our own self-respect.

Moving On GracefullyFor more information on calling it quits with someone you’ve dated, get your copy of Moving On Gracefully: Break Up Without Heartache.


14 responses to “Doing what’s right, not what’s easy”

  1. Arlene Avatar

    I agree 500%.
    It is the easy way out, or seems to be, but whenever I have done that in the passed, I spent days if not weeks feeling terrible.
    The other “easy” way out is not to speak up, but to string the person along..with lame excuses ….
    Better to be upfront and honest, allowing both people to get on with their lives.

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    Excellent topic & post! Yes, I think if she said she was going to call, she should. Stringing someone along is not right or fair. I think the conversation might be difficult, but it would be better than playing games (like so many men do). I’d suggest she call him and see how the conversation goes. If he mentions going out again, THAT is when she should say that while he seems like a nice guy, that she feels like they are not really a match for whatever reason she wants to give. Better to even say there is no chemistry than to lead the guy to believe she’s interested when she’s not. Eventually, the guy will appreciate her honesty even though it isn’t what he wants to hear.

    Several years ago when I was still doing online dating, I had met a guy who was several years older than me. After our first meeting/date, he emailed me that we weren’t the right connection. I felt hurt initially. In reality, I think he was looking for someone who might not have existed because while he was about 50, (he had been long divorced with no kids) he wanted a woman not a lot younger than him who wanted kids & didn’t have any of her own. I was well past wanting children & knew that that was not likely to happen in that stage of my life anyway. I later emailed him back for thanked him for being honest & deep down I knew we were not matched anyway. My guess is that he’s still looking for a woman in between the ages of 35-45 who doesn’t have kids and wants to be a Mom.

  3. Samantha Avatar

    He may have asked her to let him know as a way to find out if she’s interested. His M.O. might be disappearing if he’s not interested. But, I digress and over analyze. Guys don’t hesitate to let someone know if they aren’t interested, or, they just disappear. If I wasn’t interested and I didnt want to call him, I would not feel bad at all about emailing a Dear John note. It’s a good compromise.

  4. Anna Avatar

    A guy I dated for six months broke up with me in an email, he confessed to “taking the cowards way out” (his words) That was very hurtful and even if your friend has only dated him a few times, he does deserve the courtesy of at least a phone call. Yes its an uncomfortable few minutes but we are adults and should be able to survive the momentary discomfort! It truly is the cowardly thing to do NOT to call and explain why she thinks they would not be good together. He will definitely appreciate it, if not during those few minutes but later on.

  5. Anna Avatar

    As an aside to the above…….the same guy emailed some months later to see if I wanted to get back together with him. DUH.

  6. Mitsy Avatar

    Anna, I think the guy was worse than a coward for not at least calling you or better yet, talking to you face-to-face if you had dated that long. To me, 6 months is worthy of a heart-to-heart rather than a phone call. And, quite honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that he emailed you months later to see if you were still interested.

    The guy who left town without telling me (one I’ve written about many times here) emailed me 15 months later saying things were “over for good” with the wife. I emailed him a Dr. Phil letter about karma, dignity, and relationships. It was not nasty, but it said what needed to be said about his disappearing act. He was truly a buffoon (worse actually) for even thinking that I’d be interested after leaving town & not even talking to me. I was seeing someone else by then but let him know that even if I was available, he’d blown any chance he once had with me. I believe he’s been back/forth several times with the “wife” since that email so he’s a miserable, pathetic excuse for a man. Karma usually comes back to bite people and I sometimes have to be content for that to happen. Sadly, sometimes we don’t always know it and other times (like in both our cases), it is sweet revenge. 🙂

  7. nysharon Avatar

    I would say lets not do what we complain about with our counter parts. I usually sent a nice email that is polite and brief.

  8. Mitsy Avatar

    In my situation, polite was not my first word of thought when I replied back to the guy who left town & decided to contact me 15 months AFTER the fact. Sometimes, you have to say it like it is. I could have been a lot more hateful in my response to this guy. Like I said, I talked about karma, responsibility, and dignity. I took part of the blame in that email for getting involved with him in the first place because his divorce was not final. So it wasn’t like I was faultless on that part. But, as far as the rest, well, it was him who lied, led me on, and left town like a bigger coward than anyone I’ve ever met before. Karma is interesting..and that was what I titled my email response to him. Sometimes what goes around really does come around.

  9. Anna Avatar

    Mitsy, you are right, what goes around many times does come around, if not a few years later. I don’t really wish bad to happen to anyone but confess to some day dreams of what if’s…….in my case, I just never did reply to the how-are-you-and-lets-get-back-together-email. I decided to be dignified in my silence, and send a message across. Don’t beat yourself up for choosing your guy in the first place, we have all been there. And we learn from our mistakes. We hope!!

  10. Vertigo Avatar

    Hello All, it’s so great to read your comments and realize that I am not the only one experiencing all these crazy “adventures” or rather “misadventures” in dating. I dated a guy for about 6 months a few years ago, and fell for him quite hard. He then disappeared from my life…completely. I couldn’t get a hold of him. And I was devastated. Utterly devastated. It took me a long time to realize that “he was just not that into me” and that he was a coward for not having the guts to say that to me directly. I’m learning to spot the “cowards” a little easier these days…but it’s still disappointing when someone does not have the courage to say goodbye.

  11. Angela Avatar

    After three dates I would say don’t call. There is such a thing called nonverbal communication and we all need to do a better job understanding it. Many men have told me that they rather you not say sorry, we are not a match. They realize that by you not calling, you are not interested and it allows them to have a multitude of reasons why not. These reason allow the ego to stay intact and I could not agree more. If after 3 dates a guy stops calling me I would accept his lack of interest and move on. As women we tend to over analyze very simple things. The why is really not relevant. I would conclude ‘He just not that in to me”

  12. Mitsy Avatar

    I’d say any kind of “steady” relationship requires the guy to end things like a man if he’s changed his mind about things. Going out for several months (6 months especially) would not justify a guy just bailing with no word whatsoever. I don’t care how uncomfortable, how cowardly he might feel, if he has any kind of set of balls, he needs to talk to the woman. Same requirements for a woman who wants to end things. Stand-up men or women need to step up to the plate and not be wimpy or cowardly. In the end, the other person will probably be disappointed, but they will not have the same kind of ego or self-esteem issues at stake like they would when someone just “ghosts’ or becomes missing in action. I would expect chicken-SHXX kind of behavior out of 20-something year olds, but I don’t expect nor should anyone tolerate it out of someone in their 30’s and 40’s and beyond.

  13. Samantha Avatar

    I think it’s fine to email after 3 dates to say you’re not a match, especially if the dates were just a few hours in duration without intimacy. I would use my best judgement and act appropriately. If I had spoken to him several times before meeting followed by our dates being hours long each time or something, I would probably call instead. I think how one ends it after 3 dates might depend on the quality of the communication that’s been going on, eh? Since she didn’t really feel like calling after 3 dates it sounds like there wasn’t much happening. I think sending a respectful explanation via email is OK depending on the circumstance. Doesn’t mean I’m not a stand up gal or a chicken.

  14. Mitsy Avatar

    I said after 6 months or so (not 3 dates). Six months is a much bigger investment emotion wise for most people, so I would expect someone to call or talk to me in person if we had that much time behind us and one of us decided to end things.