Office Diaries

An insider's guide to success in the workplace

Finding Out Your Date Wants to Be "Just Friends"

Dating doesn't have to be a game.
Bella DePaulo
This post is a response to Undateable: Guest Post by Elliott Lewis by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.

I was fascinated by this post on fellow PT blogger, Bella DePaulo's blog. It featured a piece by Elliot Lewis about his dating experiences. You can read it here, but basically, he talks about a date where the woman shows every indication that she is interested in him romantically, but then at the end of the night, informs him that she wants to be "just friends." But where it got really interesting for me was in the comment section where many were from women trying to clue him in, (from their perspectives) and many others were from men who sympathized.

The insights were informative and did a really good job at illustrating two sides of the same coin. But, once I digested it all, I was left with a nagging feeling that something was still missing. We have all of these people trying to "explain" the situation to Elliot, which may very well in fact, explain the situation. And that's where it falls apart for me. There would be no need for all the explaining if a conversation had supplanted the assumptions.

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I talk a lot about communications in the workplace, but why shouldn't the same rules apply to dating? Clarity, truth and understanding—how can it not pay off? I kept hearing myself say, "Why didn't they just talk about it?" They liked each other, but differently. No harm. No foul. Just human. If only we could make more space for people that makes it okay for them to be what and where they are.

I like to imagine a world where Elliot and his date could have had a conversation about how they felt. He could have told her what he wanted rather than expect the environmental queues to do the work for him. She could have done the same before she agreed to go out with him. Even if she wasn't sure how she felt, she could have just said that. It's perfectly reasonable.

By the time we are old enough to date, we should be old enough to give and receive information that enables us to make decisions that are right for us.  The judgments, expectations, rules and assumptions need to go. Otherwise, someone is bound to get hurt.

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Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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