Advice

Miss Information

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

   
Dear Miss Information,
     I met a guy and I’m so sprung, but I don’t want him to know that. We both have each other’s chat handles. I’ll be at work and I’ll see him online. Should I message him then, or wait for him to contact me? I don’t want to ruin my chances by being a spaz. — Digital



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Dear Digital,
     Everyone uses instant messaging differently. My mom treats it like a face-to-face conversation, whereby a pause of fifteen seconds is occasion to get huffy and log off. With other people on my buddy list, I can go from rapid-fire conversation to saying a four words per hour, knowing they’re fine with this kind of inconsistent response (if not my cloying kitty-cat icon).
     You don’t need to instant message this guy just because you see him online. Think about your cell phone. Do you feel compelled to call up everyone in your address book just because you’re getting three bars? If so, you were probably that woman standing next to me in the coffee line this morning and I’m sorry for winging my croissant at your head.
     If you’re worried about seeming like a spaz, I would use the medium sparingly until you get more familiar with this gent. Ask, "Is this a good time?" before you initiate a conversation, and use decent spelling and grammar until you work your way up to inside jokes, crude slang and cutesy abbreviations. It’s kind of like sex — you want to pay attention to timing and pace. When you message him, does he respond right away? If not, you might want to back off.
     One more thing. I want to use Digital’s letter to issue a general warning against relying too heavily on instant messaging in a relationship’s early stages. It can be a very immediate and intimate forum. If you want to flirt, that’s one thing, but using it to have conversations you’re afraid to have in person can be a difficult pattern to break.



Dear Miss Information,
     Is it possible to have a well-adjusted relationship with someone who works in the sex industry? I’m a lesbian who dated a stripper, and it didn’t end well. I caught her in several lies. Plus, she insisted she was a lesbian but is now dating her ex-boyfriend. I’m beginning to think that any job which requires you to put on an act to make money can’t coincide with a healthy relationship. What’s your opinion? — Between Two Chairs


Dear Between Two Chairs,
     If you want to institute a "no shuck-and-jive" policy with the women you date, you might as well write off ninety-nine percent of the working population. Whether it’s the white-collar worker who oohs and aahs over his boss’s ugly baby or the vegan waitress who swallows her disgust as she serves up a Meat Lover’s pizza, everyone puts on an act to some extent. It’s how we earn our pay.
     That said, I think you could make the argument that the sex-worker profession tends to draw a higher proportion of people with serious issues broken relationships, substance abuse, financial troubles and so on. Do people pursue this line of work because they have these problems to begin with (i.e., a woman who starts stripping to support a drug habit) or do they have these problems because we live in a society that’s unsupportive of what they do (i.e., an escort who’s mistreated but is afraid to tell the authorities)? Let’s simplify and say that you prefer not to date exotic dancers. That’s cool. You don’t need an empirical reason. I don’t like dating sound engineers. The personality required for the hyper-exacting process of recording music strikes me as anal retentive and boring. I’m sure I could meet men who defy that stereotype, but it’s easier for me to skip over those personal ads altogether. Central to dating is the concept of individual choice, so trust your tastes and experiences.
     As for your ex: stripper or no, dumping her was an excellent decision. It sounds like you put up with her untruths because you believed she was a sensitive soul who couldn’t bear to hurt anyone’s feelings. Now you know that, like most people who are that passive-aggressive, her lies were all about making her life easier and avoiding unpleasant emotional situations.
     Take some time to lick your wounds, then go find a more honest hottie to lick them for you.

Dear Miss Information,
     I’m in a bar, someone hits on me and I’m just not interested. What’s the polite way to handle it? I’m a female in my twenties. — Baby Blue

Dear Baby Blue,
     I like to think of guys at bars as telemarketers. Time is money, and the more time you spend listening to their spiel, the more guilty and attached you become. Also, that’s time that said guy could be spending talking to another (presumably more interested) girl. You think you’re being polite by spending all evening chatting with a guy you’re not into, but what you’re really doing is messing with his quota.
     So what do you do? You learn how to reject. It’s grown-up, it’s empowering and it gets easier over time. A good rejection has two parts. The first part thanks the solicitor for their efforts, and the second issues the rejection in no uncertain terms, putting forth any additional rebuttals in a clear, consistent manner. The exact wording is up to you, but I find a little white lie like, "Thanks, but my friend and I haven’t seen each other in a while and we want to catch up," goes down easier than, "Go away, I don’t want to talk to you." A logistics-related excuse like, "No thanks, we’re leaving soon," is also handy, but then comes the pressure to make good on your claim. If the guy’s being ultra-persistent, go ahead and be a little more blunt. The "won’t take no for an answer" shtick is not at all adorable, and the sooner he learns that lesson, the better.
    Most importantly, be kind. I have a girlfriend who brags about all the verbal smackdowns she puts on guys at clubs. Yeah, she’s sometimes funny, but she’s also been fired for being "abrasive" and complains that she can’t find a steady guy. I’d like to think these two facts are unrelated, but it’s the little everyday interactions that often have great bearing on your personal life.
     Ladies and gents, what’s your standard "thanks, but no thanks" line? Share it in Feedback and help the non-confrontational learn to confront in creative ways.  

 


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©2006 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com