Proclaiming Truth Honesty Is a Tricky Policy

There you are sitting across from a date who's eager and hopeful and trying her or his best to engage you. This person is perfectly nice. Perfectly acceptable. Perfectly wrong for you. For whatever reason, you know it's not going to work out. How, then, do you let your date down easy? Be honest . . . without harming the poor, unfortunate soul unnecessarily.

Truth-telling is a tricky bit of business. In the guise of "truth," many a hurt has been inflicted. Do you really need to tell someone he or she is fat, even if that is the case? Do you need to say, "No, your nose isn't big; it's huge"?

Using tact

The difference between hurtful truth-telling and honesty is four letters: tact. The best way to be tactful is to put yourself in your date's shoes. If you wouldn't want to hear it, your date most likely won't want to hear it, either. To help you out of any potential corner into which you might paint yourself during a date gone sour, Table 16-1 provides a list of some tactful translations

Table 16-1

Tactful Translations

How You Really Feel

Tactful Translation

I want to go home now.

Gee, it sure is getting late, and I've got an

early morning tomorrow.

You bore me to tears.

Please excuse my yawning; it's been a really

tough week.

We have nothing in common.

You've led such a different life than I have!

You sure seemed nicer when

There are so many sides to your personality.

1 asked you out.

What a waste of time!

I've been in such a time crunch these days, I

never have time for the fun stuff.

You look nothing like your picture.

Your photo doesn't do you justice.

Why don't you say something

You seem quiet — are you okay?

instead of just sitting there?

Are you ever going to shut up?

You're so full of energy!

1 never want to see you again.

Tonight has been an experience. Thank you.

Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, sort of...

The one time you really do want to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is when your date asks, "Can I call you?" — or worse, "Will you call me?" The phone thing is fraught with nearly every conceivable emotion — hope, fear, anxiety, trust, excitement, rejection, and anticipation.

Now is the moment to take a deep breath and tell the truth. It's not fair to leave her waiting by a phone that refuses to ring or have him logging on to check his e-mail every few hours. If you're not going to call, now or in the millennium, don't say you will. Period. It's not cool. It's not fair. It's not what polite, respectful people do. That said, here are a few tactful ways to get the message across:

1 "Though I had fun tonight, I don't think it's going to work out between us." 1 "To be honest, I see you as more of a friend." 1 "We're just too different, you and I."

1 "I don't want to mislead you by telling you I'll call. I'm sorry, but I probably won't."

1 "I'm going to be really busy at work for the next couple of months." 1 "Family concerns are going to keep me tied up."

It's tough. No two ways about it. Everyone wants to believe in love and union and two souls who were meant to be together. But if this isn't that scene, don't make it even worse by lying and leading your date to believe it might one day be.

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