From having a grown man scream-cry to me, “I’m attractive, goddamn it!” while throwing his shoe at my roommate, to getting the “Why don’t you love me?” talk, the span of my love life could be characterized by a few too many amorous disasters. I’d like to imagine I’m not the only one who’s all too familiar with the trauma of thirty texts in a row from an emotional masochist who needs “Not Interested!” hung on a billboard with flashing lights.
I wouldn’t say that I have a tendency to attract the maniacally romantic type, but there could indeed be a certain chain of events that lead normal, self-respecting adults to throw their dignity to the wind in a last-ditch effort to get a second date. I won’t sit here analyzing my various player strategies in the game of “love,” I’ll just leave that for people who’ve dated me to figure out. Regardless of whether it’s been my fault or otherwise, what I can say is that some of my most failed exploits can be chalked up to my inability to communicate effectively.
These days, communication is so highly facilitated to the point where it’s possible and even desirable to sustain a serious relationship over the phone or online. Contacting current and future partners is just a drunk text away, for better or worse. And with such open access to increased communication with potential boos and baes comes the inherent difficulty of navigating when is too little and when is far, far too much. There’s something about contemporary “pick up” strategies that have come about in the advent of Tinder and other dating apps that encourages a no-holds-barred policy when it comes to putting on the charm. Hold up, what charm? “Hey girl, you look like you’d be fun to fuck.”
I used to think that all that was missing in the dating game was some old-fashioned chivalry. If only the cyber pornoscape hadn’t polluted the minds of millennials into thinking that people want to be treated like hoes and tricks. But after the seventh “Hey! How are you?” with no response, the “nice guy” shit just doesn’t work either. It turns out that “chivalry” as a seductive mode has the potential to be equally as horrific as the ridiculously common misconception that women need their egos “broken” within the first interaction.
In straddling the spectrum between outright neglect and stage-five clinger, the most essential component missing from most failed encounters in the game of “love” is a certain level of self-awareness. In the adult world, we call this tact. Finding an appropriate balance here can be tricky: It’s easy to default to an attitude of pseudonihilism in an effort to not appear too eager, often causing your love-object to seek validation elsewhere. Similarly, being a little too DTF can cause someone who would otherwise gladly have sex with you to search for a rarer unicorn. They call seduction an art for a reason, don’t you know.
Being on the other side of things can be equally as traumatic: Receiving that fateful one-word reply, “yep” or “nice.” can crush an ego as swiftly as Miley’s wrecking ball. Personally, I’ve never been able to push myself on people. If I sense even a semblance of disinterest or apathy from my pursuant, my fear of being annoying will generally lead me to stop contacting them. Some people — and this continues to shock me — need rejection in writing. There comes a time when refusing to respond simply isn’t enough. Even my go-to phrase, “please stop” fails me now and then, and the only option left is being honest and upfront with someone.
“I’m not going to beg you to go out with me again, but ‘nice’? Christ that has to be the worst thing a girl’s ever said to me.”
“Right, ok ur not that nice just didn’t wanna tell you you’re super boring.”
“I thought the point of a first date was to prove I’m not a serial killer?”
“I think I wore too much J.Crew.”
I admit that I’m wont to dole out the cold shoulder at times. The appeal of silence — almost comparable to the age old RBD (Report-Block-Delete) — is that it allows you to cease all communication while avoiding unnecessary confrontation. But instead of freezing out the fat, if I may be so bold, it’s not uncommon that the unwanted clingers-on turn overheated and fired up like never before.
“Est-ce que je mérite d’être ignoré, mon amour?” In my days before I knew how to break things off effectively, shit really began to hit the fan: “Please just tell me what’s wrong with me!” It took me far too long to realize that the only effective way of cutting unwanted ties is doing so swiftly and sans anaesthetic. I’ve let flings, texting and sexting affairs, even relationships drag on far too long for fear of hurting people’s feelings. Knowing how to communicate, though, is not a strictly defensive skill. And while true that much of this unreal behavior could have been avoided with a fuller disclosure about my feelings, it’s also the responsibility of pursuers and seducers everywhere to know when to chill the fuck out.