As noted in my debut post, one of the features to this blog would be a post on things that women have said and done over the course of my dating and relationship history, how I see it as a “single guy” and the lesson I learn from it. Here’s the first of what may be many controversial posts.
As a single guy who has dated and has been in relationships, there are certain things women say and do that have made relationships and dating situations slightly uncomfortable for me. I’m reminded of the “we need to talk” moment when the woman says it in an unassuming tone, void of any kind of emotion. I’m reminded of the “everything is fine/OK” moment and the way that scenario always unfolds. Or how about the silent treatment routine, whether it’s in person or via other communicative means like not responding to calls, texts, emails or purposely avoiding. While those are all alarming scenarios to be in as a guy, chiefly because it significantly tilts the balance of the situation into the woman’s favor, they aren’t necessarily “kill shots”. A guy could conceivably counter each of those scenarios, restore balance, and possibly save—and even strengthen—the relationship or dating situation. However, there is one thing that women say that a guy CANNOT recover from: the “you’re a great guy, but…” line.
I’ve long written over the years, in Triumphs & Tribulations, that those words are the absolute worst thing that a woman could say to a guy. In fact, on divers occasions, I’ve written that it’s like a form of “lethal injection”. Nothing—absolutely nothing—has left me feeling more burned from dating and relationships than those 5 words…not getting cheated on, not getting persecuted for my morals or living the life I want to live, not even being graded against guys who were the scene before me. 17 times I’ve had a woman tell me those words and 17 times, I’ve had that sulking feeling as a result. I’ve always seen the “you’re a great guy, but…” line as the 2nd most infamous copout ever, only ceding the top spot to “it is what it is”.
All of my dating and relationship experience has taught me that when things don’t work out, one thing is always inevitable: somebody will be hurt. I’ve heard all of the BS talk about how if two people mutually decide to part ways, nobody gets hurt in that scenario. Ummm…like I wrote, that’s BS talk. When relationships and dating situations fizzle out, there’s ALWAYS a heartbreaker and there’s ALWAYS a heart broken. I’ve been on both sides of it and I’ve come to realize that just being straight up in those situations is the best approach. That’s why when I do find myself on a first date or in a brand new exclusive relationship, I always present the woman with the following equation: 2x + y = 10, solve for x. I realize that some of you reading this may be mathematicians and you may actually have the answer to that but the reason I present this equation is that, for us normal people who don’t study math for a living, you can’t solve for x without knowing what y is. In other words, you can’t make a decision without knowing all of the information. Again, for me, it speaks to just being straight up…in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end.
My issue with women using the “you’re a great guy, but…” line is that it’s somewhat of an emotive statement. It’s almost always accompanied with validating statements that support how “great” a guy is. I’ve come to learn that women usually do that because of their nurturing nature and the fact that they’re wired to be encouraging not discouraging. As a guy, the whole scenario is likened to a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have a woman verbally expressing to a guy that he’s “great” or “amazing”, which she follows up with examples of such. Those words in quotations are pretty strong words when it comes to the description of a man’s character…especially when they come from a woman he’s dating or in a relationship with. On the other hand, the woman is ending things. Naturally, any guy would think “if I’m the great or amazing guy you just described, then why are you ending things”. Personally, I think it’s a selfish move under the premise of not wanting to hurt feelings. Again, it goes back to the inevitability of what happens when relationships don’t work out: somebody will be hurt. The use of affirming language doesn’t lessen the blow: it conveys a very distorted message.
Look, I realize that every woman I date or become exclusive with will likely NOT be my wife. I’m in no way that naïve of a person to think otherwise and I don’t think that the vast majority of guys are either. I went out on my first date around this time 13 years ago. That situation eventually blossomed into my first romantic relationship. It didn’t work out. I’ve been on a number of dates since and a few of those situations transitioned into romantic relationships. I’m a single guy at the moment: obviously, those situations didn’t work out. I’m cool with that…it’s part of the experience of dating and relationships. There are going to be all kinds of differences between a man and a woman that turns them off to each other. It’s inevitable…so much so that it happens in marriages. I’ve always felt that if something about a person freezes you and causes you to halt progress, then tell them. Will it hurt them? Of course, it will. Nobody likes rejection and it’s highly unlikely everybody will react to it the same way Jesus did at Nazareth. But there is an old saying that “time heals all wounds”. Eventually, the person who is hurt will get over it and their heart will rise up like a phoenix from the ashes. When women use the “you’re a great guy, but…” line, it makes them seem like the patron saint of rejections. I don’t need any woman to patronize me with pleasant words about my character or how I’ll make somebody “the luckiest woman in the world” or how we can be friends when she knows well that her intent is to take the exit door out of my life. I got close friends, family, spiritual mentors—and even my future spouse, when I get to that point—to assure me of my character and my likeability as a man. I can guarantee that I’ll never tell a woman that she’s several standard deviations above the norm, or any other emotive statement, when my intent is to run for the high hills at Olympic sprint speed.
LESSON LEARNED. I mentioned that I’ve been issued the “you’re a great guy, but…” line 17 times. In my younger years of dating, I reacted to it a bit differently than I would now. Back then—in my late teens and early-to-mid 20s—I focused more on the pseudo message the woman was conveying and not so much the actual rejection. That written, I found myself trying to fix the situation or trying to use the positive words the woman spoke regarding me to win her back. It never worked and I always ended up worse off than I would’ve if I had just accepted “no” and let her go. Today, I take it at face value when a woman rejects me. It hurts for a spell but just like any physical injury I’ve sustained in my life, it gets better with time. There have been instances where I do put up somewhat of a fight but that’s only when I’ve felt a distinct burning in my spirit that I’m supposed to be in that woman’s life in that season…but that’s only happened twice. Almost all of the women who’ve said the line to me have brought up the possibility of being friends. That particularly irks me because I see it as an insult: I’m not good enough to be your man but I’m just “great” enough to be your friend. I’ve made it a habit to shy away from those situations, moving on to the next season in life. I do pray though…I pray that I’d be at peace with the woman’s decision and that it won’t harden my heart to the next woman. I also pray, Lord willing of course, that perhaps one day in the distant future that paths will cross on different terms: that’s me always wanting a positive outlook on a rather unfortunate circumstance. The bottom line, though, is that the “you’re a great guy, but…” line is really bad business and I think all women should strive to discontinue its use.