Ladies, has something like this ever happened to you?
My client “Lisa” was recently at a singles dating event. She met a guy (let’s call him Bob) whom she liked. She walked over to introduce herself and they started talking. Even though Bob seemed a bit shy and reserved, they had a lovely conversation; Lisa was already envisioning sitting across from Bob in a restaurant having a real date.
All was going well, until Bob did the unthinkable …
He offered Lisa a shoulder massage!
“Can you imagine?!” Lisa spat out at me a week later. “How sleazy can you be? Who does he think I am?”
Needless to say, Bob and Lisa never went out and Bob doesn’t even realize how close he came to being knocked down and slapped until he begged for mercy.
As Lisa relayed the story to me she was still fuming with indignation. What made her so irate was the fact that … she actually liked Bob.
She and Bob shared similar values and many interests. They even both have brothers with the same name. Therefore, it was that disillusioned feeling of disappointment and let down that made Lisa “lose her sh*t” (as she put it to me, later).
So ladies, how many of you can relate?
Maybe it wasn’t a guy awkwardly offering to massage you after you just met. Perhaps it was a blunt invitation back to his place, or an attempt to hold hands or touch you too soon. All it takes is some stupid gesture or remark from a seemingly nice guy (who actually does have husband potential) and BOOM — there goes your last hope of finding “Mr. Right.”
Right? … WRONG!
Maybe you did just find “Mr. Right,” but you were too busy reacting to your own inner demons to notice it.
Here is the news flash from the guy’s side, ladies: not all men were born as smooth James Bond. Not every guy knows exactly what to do when he meets a woman he likes. Hell, many of them don’t even know where to begin. That’s why dating coaches exist … to help guys like that. That’s the reality. It’s not that the guy is actually a jerk. It’s not that he’s just looking to get laid; it’s not that he’s just after your money.
It’s just that he’s looking for love, just like you and for whatever reason he’s not very good at this whole dating thing.
It is especially true for men in their 40s and 50s, coming out of long marriages and relationships. Think about it — the last time he dated he was in his 20s, living on campus and picking up girls at Frat Parties, where the only pick up technique required was a shirt-lift to reveal his well-chiseled six pack.
When you fast-forward 20 years, however, life is very different in the dating world.
Dates are no longer arranged by writing one’s phone number on a napkin and sticking it down a girl’s pants. Relationships are virtually formed and phone calls are virtually extinct. So this guy is just trying to find his place in this modern dating game that is strange and new to him.
Does that mean he deserves a medal for merely trying? Of course not. But, he does deserve a second chance.
To be sure, I would never suggest that you should settle for someone with whom you are not completely happy. In my book, settling is never an option. However, what I am saying is that before you throw away the baby with the bath water, you may want to give it a second chance. Perhaps he is really a good guy with poor dating manners. Unfortunately, you would never know, unless you let him pick himself up after a stumble.
So how do you get past a cringe worthy gesture or comment? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Laugh it off
Sometimes the gestures or statements themselves are so obviously ridiculous (like the aforementioned offer of a massage) that the only way to kill it is with a joke. For example, after an offer of a shoulder massage, Lisa could have told Bob “Thank you, but not unless you do the same for every woman here. I would not want them to feel jealous as I’m the only recipient of such luxury!”
2. Change the subject
If he says something that is just plain stupid, the worst thing you can do is humiliate or chastise him for it. Chances are, he is nervous and/or his not-so-dating-savvy friend suggested that lame pickup line. Instead, try to ignore the dumb remark and change the subject.
For example: Guy: “You are a thief because you stole my heart.” You: “Sorry, did you mention that Monet is your favorite artist? I just visited his home at Giverny, France last summer.”
3. Tell him the truth (politely)
Sometimes the best way out of an awkward situation is to just deal with it honestly and graciously. For example, let’s say at the end of a conversation he leans in for a kiss. You don’t usually kiss right after meeting someone. Instead of slapping him or calling him a pervert, you might want to say: “Sorry, I’m not comfortable doing that yet. I would like us to get to know each other better first.”
Disclaimer: If the guy persists in being rude or is in any way disrespectful, your best strategy is to walk away at once. However, if it is a momentary lapse of judgment, a second chance may give him an opportunity to show how truly remarkable he is once he just relaxes a bit.
Who knows, the ugly duckling may actually be a beautiful swan … once you get to know him!