Welcome critters, to this week’s edition of the early 20s mailbag. As per usghe, we’ve got some very relevant questions regarding the trials and tribulations of modern dating — how to deal with an immature ex, hot and heavy Tinder protocols, and what to do when hit with the oh-so brutal slow fade.
All that and more, below. If you wish to ask us questions about casual spring time activities or how to become a force in the text-wording game, hit us up via the form below
-Lance and Steph
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Q: I’m living abroad and recently(ish) broke up with my first boyfriend. He was an idiot about the way he handled the break up, but not a bad guy. The problem is that there is a small foreigner community in our city; meeting up with others means meeting with him. Which is fine with me–except he expects me to chat with him as if we were still dating. I have no interest in anything beyond polite hellos–which is making me feel like a proper bitch until I hear that he tells his friends that I must not be over him. Do I have to fake friendliness with someone I’ve fundamentally lost respect for?
Steph: During the post-breakup aftermath, I’ve often found that the one who goes around claiming that the other person is not yet over him or her is the one who is still smarting the most. That, and the fact that he still tries to talk to you, makes me think that you must have nicked a proper hole in his heart. Boys are delicate.
Keep that in mind: he must be in pain. He’s trying to get over you and move on with his life. Continue keeping your conversation with him to a minimum. Polite hellos will and do suffice. Just don’t totally hold his less-than-optimal behavior towards you against him. He’s acting #salty because he’s probably sad.
Lance: That’s a classic insecure dude move. I take it he hasn’t really been that successful getting with too many other girls since you guys have broken it off, so he’s decided to prove his masculinity to his friends via what he’s currently doing — unfortunate, but so goes with the weird pressure males sometimes put on each other in that vein. For example, I was out with my friends last weekend, one of whom recently got out of a long relationship. He didn’t really seem into staying, so he decided to call it a night a bit early. Another dude raises his eyebrows, all disappointed-like, and just says “0-3.”
Anyway, he probably just feels the pressure to “convert,” so is doing so in an immature, roundabout way. I doubt he’s proud of what he’s doing, but don’t enable him. Call him out publicly out if need be. He’ll probably thank you for it. I would.
Q: I’ve been seeing this guy for a month and we’ve gone to like 8 dates together. Met him on Tinder and I’ve been meeting guys on Tinder as well but this one guy I am continually seeing. I’m wondering if I should ask him what does he want out of this thing that we have or should I wait for him to ask me? For some time, I did tell him I don’t want a relationship just yet (In general not specifically with him). I don’t want to lead him on, and I don’t want to be led on that’s why I’ve been wanting to ask him. I don’t wanna interpret the signals he’s giving me into something else that it’s not. I don’t wanna overthink and I don’t want to overanalyze each and every word and punctuation to every text messages we exchange and lastly, I don’t wanna feel guilty seeing other people while I’m seeing him. So what do I need to do to find peace?
Steph: I just watched Her. Seeing that film and reading this question really made me take a step back and think about just how large a role digital media plays in our generation’s dating lives. Wow. I’ve never met up with or dated anyone from Tinder — though I do occasionally perfect my mindless swipe game. The kids are getting into all sorts of tomfoolery these days!
Aside from that, don’t over-think it (it’s okay — I’m also neurotic about dating). Defining the relationship too early on, as you seem to want, could cause it to fizzle. Don’t try to find underlying meaning in his text messages where there potentially is none — when he says “I had fun yesterday ;),” maybe he really just means that he had fun. Lascivious smiley.
Just go with the flow. Have fun and see what develops from there.
Lance: Seems like he’s just waiting for you to show your cards. Next time you’re planning on doing something, cancel. Chalk it up to some excuse, then spend the rest of the night making sure you don’t blow your cover via an accidental instagram. See how adamant he is about rescheduling; this should give you the answer you need.
Q: Why do people think it’s okay to totally drop off communication for no reason? I’ve just experienced the third time that a guy has been really awesome and attentive for a while, then all of a sudden – zero contact ever again. There’s no catalyst, just conversations and hangouts for me to dwell on to wonder what it is about me that would make three guys pull back for no reason. What happened to clear and honest communication? I feel like that’s just basic decency. How do I avoid this in the future?
Steph: Ah, so it seems as though you’ve experienced the Slow Fade. People cut off communication like this because, most of the time, it is easier than telling someone outright that they aren’t interested. Doing that is difficult! Regardless of the circumstances, telling anyone that you don’t reciprocate his or feelings makes you feel like a subpar human being!
However, I might be giving these guys more credit than they deserve. Perhaps they Slow Fade because they are simply lazy or busy. Perhaps they do it because they don’t respect you enough to toss a “Hey, I’m not really looking for a relationship right now” or “I really like you, but I think we would work better as friends” your way. In that case, they’re skeezy…and you’re better off.
Whatever it is, remember that their Slow Fade is a personal problem. It doesn’t say anything about you.
Lance: The slow fade is the modern-day “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Q: How do you move on from someone, and then become friends with that person?
That’s the standard answer, but there’s a reason it’s so ubiquitous. After a break-up, it is important to distance yourself from your ex despite how tempting it might be to keep them around in your life. You need time to heal away from them — to forget and move past your sadness, anger, what-have-you.
Then, one day, you will wake up and realize that you haven’t thought about them in weeks. The mere mention of their name will no longer send you reeling. Accidentally running into them at a party or a falafel stand will no longer make your chest burn like you’ve just chugged three bottles of Sriracha’s finest. At that point, you will have moved on, and if you choose, you can reach out to them to rebuild whatever bridges you burned.
Lance: Same thing you do at a doctor’s office. You wait for an excruciatingly long time. Then, you laugh.