Miss Information

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Have a question? Email Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,
    I have a question about online-dating etiquette. What’s the most mannerly way to let someone know you’re not interested? I know some people just don’t bother to respond, but I find that rude. Yet often my gentle let-downs generate pissed-off replies. What’s a polite girl to do? — Manners Matter


Dear Manners Matter,
    You can place it on a lovely doily and top it with a sprig of parsley, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference: rejection sucks, and the rejectee always wants to shoot the messenger. A no is a no.
    Like you, I tried the rejection-letter experiment and came up with similarly questionable results. Chalk it up to Hollywood movies that equate low-grade stalking with romantic comedy. A lot of suitors see a rejection note in their inbox and take it as a green light to try harder, when what they really need to do is lay off. You’re dealing with a dater, not a Magic 8-Ball.
    Not everyone agrees. If you’re hell bent on putting Emily Post to shame, my advice would be to steer clear of canned rejection notes. They come off as cold and insincere. Save your efforts for those respondents who took particular time and care with their missives. Then a simple, “Thanks for writing, I really appreciate it. I’m sorry to say I’m not interested” will do.

Dear Miss Information,
    I’m a twenty-nine-year-old guy who loves going out with his friends. My girlfriend lives in another state. Even though I’m a natural flirt, I would never cheat on her. What can I do to let her know she’s the one I want? — Miami Man

Dear Miami Man,
    Long-distance relationships have a tendency to amplify emotions. The highs get higher and the lows get lower. The next thing you know, you’re living in a Spanish soap opera. How to quash the drama without using a big stick? Several tactics to try:
    1. History Lesson: Do you have a stellar relationship resume? Have you remained in perfect control as some wanton hussy threw her picnic basket in your face? Tell your girl about it. A squeaky clean past speaks volumes about your present.
    2. Knowledge is Power: Tell her what you do when you go out, who your friends are and where you guys go to have fun. When she finds out it’s not half as interesting as she thinks it is, chances are she’ll stop asking.
    3. Set Expectations: What exactly is cheating? A look across a room, a phone-number exchange or an all-out fuck in a bathroom stall? Knowing where that line exists is helpful for some. Have a talk with your lady and establish your relationship’s unique boundaries.
    4. Man in the Mirror: Have you thought about what role you play in all this, my “natural flirt” friend? Do you enjoy her jealousy? Maybe just a teeny little bit? It’s okay if you do, but recognize what you’re doing and stop bragging about that swimsuit model who flirted with you and your boys last night.
    A final thought: A lot of people with jealous partners over-promise and under-deliver. Be clear with her about what concessions you’re willing to make (phone calls to check in, not hanging out with your recent ex) and which ones you’re not (giving up your friends, staying in on a Friday night). Then stick to them, despite her protests. It may be a pain in the ass in the short term, but the long-term harmony will be worth it.

Dear Miss Information,
    I’m dating a widow of nine years. I’m her first sexual relationship since her husband died. When we’re intimate, she often moans his name — never mine. For the first few months, I put up with it, but after eighteen months of dating, I find myself cringing when she’s about to come. I love this woman, but at some point, doesn’t she have to get over him? — Doing the Deed, But Not Getting the Credit

Dear Doing the Deed,
    If your girlfriend isn’t in therapy already, I highly recommend it. Otherwise you guys might move on to some sort of sick role-play using her dead husband’s clothes, and I wouldn’t want that to happen. You seem like a nice guy.
    Why is your girlfriend yelling her dead hubby’s name? Who knows? A heavy-duty guilt-complex could be to blame. She feels bad about sleeping with someone other than him and has decided it’s only permissible if she keeps her mind on him during the act.
    It could also be something less personal, like psychological conditioning. She associates orgasm with hearing her husband’s name and might even require it in order to come. Ever hear of Pavlov’s dog? It’s kind of like that. At least she doesn’t uncontrollably salivate.
    If she refuses to go into therapy and cannot abide by your requests to call you by your Christian name, you have a few options: 1) Light bondage: A silk scarf or a hand over the mouth can serve as a reminder for her to minimize the verbal diarrhea. 2) Turn up the stereo: Who cares what name she’s using when The Commodores are playing? 3) Coitus interruptus: When she uses his name, the sex act is over. End of story. You’d be surprised how good a motivator this can be. 4) Role reversal: Try calling her by an ex’s name the next time you come. Mean? Maybe. Immature? Definitely. But it may be enough to stop her from doing it again.

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