I don’t have a clue why people do this.  I would say “men” since I am female and date only men, my experience is only with men, however, I’m certain the scenario occurs for men as well.  The scenario? 

Stupid jerk man dumps woman via email or Instant Messenger.  Chickenshi- is what I call that.  This has happened to me three times in the last ten months.  Well, actually only two, the third situation was an anomaly where the person started emailing me hate mail and asking for booty calls all in the same emails.  I figured he was wacko and just told him, in a really nice way, that I thought we should both move on.  Since it had been two months since he last contacted me, I didn’t figure there was much of a relationship built up.  I’d have easily met in person with him to say the same thing, but my safety became a real concern so I opted out.  That, however, is not my first choice of methods for telling someone I don’t think the “chemistry” is there.  But, truly, given the amount of dating I’ve done and the number of quality relationships I’ve developed, the odds of success are still highly in my favor.  So, why do these two incidences bother me?  Before I answer that question let me give you some background.

First scenario occurred shortly during/after I was divorced.  Probably at my most vulnerable, I was willing and open to most people who attracted me, could speak in complete sentences and appeared fairly decent.  Key word being, “appeared”.  What I’ve learned in the last year of online dating has been the discouraging realization that while men are older, and by that fact should qualify as “adult”, few of them really operate beyond a juvenile high school mentality and hiding behind the digital screen only makes it easier for them to ditch the responsibility of being a decent, honest, respectful human being. My Cinderella expectations at work:  I’d hoped there’d be someone out there who could deal honestly and respectfully with me…face to face.  So far, that has not been the case.  But, I am way off the beaten path here.  First scenario was cute guy, lots in common, six weeks of dating which revealed cute guy was still wrapped up in ex-wife and completely emotionally unavailable and one day out of the blue I receive a Dear Jane email.  If I was halfway across the world fighting in a war, I’d appreciate the honesty, in email form.  Considering the guy lived only a few miles from me, I didn’t think it so considerate.  He could have, at least, been respectful enough to set up a time to go get coffee, or go for a walk and tell me what he was thinking.  In the end, the most disappointing thing about that scenario is that my image of this person as a responsible, mature, respectful individual shattered in that moment.  Even if he wanted to go back and rework things, there was simply no way I could respect a man who thought so little of another person’s being that they couldn’t even talk about a subject like that in person or, at bare minimum, on the phone.  After the shock, surprise, and, yes, relief (that I found out about this character flaw now rather than later) I figured that I ended up the lucky one in that venture and moved on.  But it was still a bit of a painful process to endure.  He was a coward, and it was to my gain to be rid of that earlier rather than later, because cowardice is not something I tolerate well. 

Scenario number two happened recently and really is almost irrelevant in the blip of things. This was a person who contacted me and we met before scenario number one happened, but immediately after that meeting he told me he met someone else.  Yes, this was by email, but since I’d only met him once and had a couple of drinks, I figured it was no big deal and he was doing the right thing to let me know as early as possible.  Hmmm, but if he was seeing someone else, then why did he go out for drinks with me?  Yeah, that question came back to haunt me on occasion later.  Six months later, he contacts me, we go out for dinner, drinks and it was fun, several dates and phone conversations later he goes silent.  No contact, no calls, no explanation.  Now, after telling me he was crazy about me the last time he saw me, that was a bit of a disconnect for me.  Nearly two weeks later of no contact, I buzz in on Instant Messenger and he cuts straight to the chase and gives me the “I think we should both move on” line.  Not like that was any big surprise, but he could have done the decent and courageous thing and invited me out for a walk and talked about it.  He didn’t, however, and suddenly to my surprise, what  started out as a fairly harmless chat turned into a the shocking Dear Jane thing that I hate.  The surprising part about this is he was an accomplished business  person in the community, older than my by 15 years (that placed him at 61) and still didn’t have the guts to have an adult conversation to discuss and clarify where we both were with whatever it was that we had going on.  I was very disappointed.  Not that he was “ending” whatever, but that he was demonstrating his cowardly character so blatantly.  I’d pegged him as a mature and responsible straightforward individual.  Hah!  Boy was I wrong and that is where the disapppointment comes in.

It isn’t that he’s saying what we have doesn’t work for him.  It wasn’t working for me and I’d made at least two attempts to get together with him with the hope that we could talk openly about it as adults are supposedly rumored to be able to do.  He bailed each time.  I knew he wasn’t fully invested.  I would have to be an absolute moron not to pick that up.  But I still wanted to give him the benefit of having an opportunity to talk about it and remain “friends”.  He chose to play chicken and notified me by email. This really says more about who he is than it does about me.  

For starters, what woman wants to entrust her heart to a man who cannot step up to the plate and do the right thing, the courageous thing, even when it is uncomfortable and potentially painful to do? Not me, and not a lot of us out there.  Men like that simply make it harder for the decent guys to get heard. 

Which…means…the decent guys have to work all the harder to really be seen as decent. It becomes an issue of failed trust in the past and the future.  Dealing honestly, directly, respectfully and kindly with the person you are dating is always a good thing.  Asking where someone is at with the situation, checking in and then respectfully sharing where you are might be painful for both of you but in the end, if you address it face to face or (if you live at a distance) by phone, it communicates a level of respect for the other individual.  Email or IM, when the other options are available simply translate as cowardice and disrespect.  I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way.  In the end, it isn’t what is said, but how it is delievered that leaves the lasting impression. 

So, to prove my point, let me share the example of the very best and most courageous “breakup” or “its not working for me” message I ever received.  This was not a person I was dating but one whom I was in deep “like” with.  I was not in a place where I could pursue any kind of romantic relationship with anyone but had I been able to he would have been top of my list. We worked together but never got involved personally beyond the friendship stage and a time came about six months into our friendship where he felt he needed to put all his cards on the table.  He called me on the phone, since he lives several million hours away meeting in person was not possible, but I’m convinced he would have done the face to face thing if he could have.  Instead, he called me up and diplomatically, sensitively as he knew how and honestly straightened things out.  My admiration for this man went up a million-fold.  Because of how he chose to address what could have been a pretty sticky conversation, my admiration for him increased instead of decreasing.  I have now known this man for two years.  I’m certain that the best thing for both of us is to remain friends.  But I know this, he’d have my back in a pinch and I’d have his.  And, really, that’s the difference. 

We could have had a sticky awkward situation, but he handled it in an adult fashion and we still remain friends to this day.  The saddest thing about those other scenarios of mine is that none of us were able to behave in a way that translated to ongoing respect and future friendship.  Some people don’t care about that, but to me, it is our relationships that enrich our lives.  Even if we date someone a few times and find out it just isn’t going to work long term, isn’t there some redeeming quality in the other person that would make you value them as a friend?  I mean, why would you date otherwise? If you can’t first be friends then why on earth would you consider being romantic, because a long term relationship requires a long term friendship. 

I guess, in the end, courage requires one to behave as an adult and do the respectful, decent thing even if it is scary to do.

2 thoughts on “Cowardice

  1. Being friends first is very important….When you find a man it’s a lot like bringing a dog home for the first time. You really don’t know what you’re getting till you get them home. (smile)
    Because life these days has gotten so easy for people, it seems that men are less likely to become whole men. In other words they have a mans body, but they have a lack of mental and emotional maturity – they dont face the same hardships that men my grandfathers age had to face.
    I was the same way but i actually realized it and started making changes.

    Good article, it was interesting to read.


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