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How to Deal With the Horrors of Dating

Both rejection and over-the-top attention from an interested party are tough. Here's how to pick up on important social cues.

Everyone hates dating. 

Sincerely. Who says “Oh, I love sitting across from a relative stranger while we silently appraise each other like potential runners-up at the Westminster Dog Show?” Malcolm Gladwell told us in “Blink,” that rapid cognition allows us to make most of our decisions in about two seconds. That, I believe, is true of our romantic assessments and I never understood my girlfriends who would go on dates, feel no sexual frisson and then, inexplicably, try again. Why? For the same reason they used to run a bell rope into a coffin in the 19th century — in case the thing isn’t quite dead? 

My dim views on the subject of romantic job interviewing darkened further last week when the story of 1615 word email made it’s way around the web: an investment banker named “Mike” went out on a date with a woman named “Lauren;” a date he thought was terrific but she thought was “horrific.”  The International Business Times said Michael was calling Lauren “incessantly.”

 The Australian Telegraph  gave Lauren’s brief backstory verbatim: 'Friend couldn’t make it to philharmonic at last minute so I went alone, met this guy, went on ONE, HORRIFIC date. Then got this...' the 1615 word email expressing Michael’s sadness, disappointment, confusion and clear inability to either accept or understand her unresponsiveness. If you  actually go to Reddit, where the email is supposed to have been originally posted , it’s hard to tell whether Lauren is the original poster or someone ‘several degrees of separation’ was, or if the people’s real names were used. 

It’s a disturbing story on a number of levels, but the first to me was the fact that so many news outlets posted the email with what felt like snarky commentary about it’s craziness, making the whole web feel for about one second, like the shower scene in “Carrie.” Granted, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to receive this missive, and a girl freaking out and feeling threatened, especially considering the ease with which anyone can be stalked, is understandable. The media waving it around like a Mean Girl reading out of another girl’s diary felt unnecessary. 

Further investigation found reporting in  The Frisky saying that this Mike — if he’s real — might be a strange kind of serial email harasser, having possibly authored similar lengthy letter to girl named Danielle some time ago — (one I found far and away more disturbing than the Lauren email; I’d have worried if I got it). That certainly makes one not want to minimize the danger of a potential stalker. 

On still further consideration, the Lauren email does have some disturbing elements, but it’s also full of words like “sad,” and “disappointed,” and obvious confusion on the writer’s part about social cues, i.e. citing eye contact as a textbook example of flirting when, in real human interaction, it can be variously interpreted. This suggests he might even have a  disorder, like Asperger’s syndrome,  or just genuinely does not get it. If a teenager had written this email and kids passed it around it would probably be considered cyberbullying. And while you might think adults should know better, I can site  example, after  example after example, that when it comes to romance, they do not, and their inability to asses appropriate responses runs the gamut from comic to sad to deadly. 

So, rather than go the smirky route, here’s some tips for how to deal with either rejection after a date or unwanted, potentially harassing contact after a first date. You might think these should be obvious, but adults have to be told  not to stuff Buzz Lightyears up their asses, fergodssake . There are no rational ideas that don’t bear repeating. 

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