I’ve recently discovered a little diversion technique that’s become extremely useful to me, and I feel like I should share. When used at the exact right moment, it has a 99 percent success rate, (that’s one percent higher than the “bend and snap,” for anyone keeping score) especially when immediately followed with the question, “What about you?” It’s a mere five words, nine syllables, but it’s saved me countless times from continuing an awkward conversation about my personal life. It’s called, “I’m not seeing anyone special.” And it works like a charm.
This nifty phrase is most successful when used to respond to a relative’s probing relationship questions, such as, “Are you seeing anyone?” “Any potential suitors?” or, “How are the boys treating you?” Because, let’s be real — Grandma, cousin Annette, and great aunt Edna aren’t interested in hearing about the “non-special” people you’re dating. They want to know if there’s any chance that they’ll still be around for your wedding, or when you’re finally going to bring someone over for them to torment…I mean, meet. Exceptions to this rule may include your crazy Aunt Val, who will always want to hear about your escapades — special or no.
It’s best used when you actually, really aren’t dating anyone special. For example: the extremely good-looking doorman at your office, who happens to have graduated high school that same year you graduated college, and is just working at your building for the summer. I mean, that’s my friend’s situation… but luckily, she won’t have to reveal that sort of information or explain herself in anyway when she employs this tactic.
“I’m not seeing anyone special” can also be used when you’re actually not seeing anyone at all, but would rather not say that out loud. Under said circumstance, it is best used with acquaintances, co-workers, or friends of friends who wouldn’t have expected you to reveal your secret non-special person of late.
This phrase can be used on actual friends — however, only at the right moments, during certain situations. “I’m not seeing anyone special” can be used after two or more well drinks at a loud happy hour with a friend you haven’t seen or spoken to in at least a week, who will most likely have some sort of story to tell you about her own romantic endeavors, anyway. It’s best used with your friends who are characteristically single, and understand “no one special” to include OKCupid dates, or that sort of okay guy you keep sleeping with in order to keep your number down.
Please be warned that “I’m not seeing anyone special” is not something that should ever be used on your mother. You are her child, which makes you special by default, and therefore means you are only expected to date special people. If you’re not dating anyone, just tell her the truth — chances are she’ll give you a little self-esteem boost about how amazing you are, list all the things that you have going for you, and reinforce that you should continue holding out for the right one. If you really are seeing no one special, you have two options: either come clean and suffer the consequences, or tell a little white lie. For instance, my friend’s mother was delighted to hear that her daughter was seeing the head of security at her office building. It’s a shame that he has to head back to law school in the fall.