March 15, 2010
Thanks, Agatha, for a link to Miss Manners and her ideas about rejecting a potential suitor. It's one of the hardest things to do, isn't it? And I think it's something that can create unnecessary drama for women. Goodness, I have a lot to say about it, but I'll keep it concise.
There is no easy way to tell someone that you don't have any romantic interest in him or that you don't share his intentions in your interactions. I've been on both the receiving and the rejecting end for about 9 years now, and I don't think the process of rejection gets any easier with time. Sure, it varies in difficulty depending upon your interest, how well you know someone, what his pursuit has entailed, etc. But there is just no clean and tidy way to say, "Well, I don't like you that way."
In my experience, the worst kind of rejection (at least from the P.O.V. of the receiving end) is the "fade away": a slow and seldom lack of communication from the man. Time gets longer between each contact from him, and you eventually realize that you have been initiating the communication while he merely responds. It takes a few weeks before you realize that he is not interested...perhaps this is your naivete or denial, but regardless, it's a prolonged agony and period of uncertainty that could have been considerably shaved down if he were a bit clearer.
That being said, I am guilty of the "fade away," and it is something that I have been conscientiously trying to stop doing. If a man's intentions are very clear, or even kind of clear, I have resolved to be very honest with him, in as gentle a way possible. It's hard to do without feeling guilty, but I do think we women owe men an honest response to their courage in pursuing someone. We save them time, uncertainty, and money. Now, I think the forum for honesty will depend upon whether your contact has been on the phone, face-t0-face, or through email, but the message of appreciation for their pursuit but honesty in one's feelings has to be clear. I think every women can pull this off with grace and charm (and with the help of a little prayer before doing the deed).
My dear, dear brother, once put it this way to me: "You'll know who you want to wind up with when neither of you would ever think of rejecting the other person." He's oftentimes too practical and very candid, but I think he's right.