The Savvy Dater: Don’t Bother Telling Them Off. They Don’t Care.

Right after my sister died, I reached out to a friend, P.  P. and I met on OKC a few years back. At the time he was living with his Dad in his Park LIVEHAPPYAvenue apartment having recently broken up with his girlfriend and was “in between” places. That was something I learned on the date. In emails he said he lived on the UES. Once he clarified this bit of information I knew right then that this guy was not dating material. But he was enjoyable and, because he was “an actor” (read: unemployed),  he had a flexible schedule and was around to grab drinks during the day.

I reached out to him a few days after my sister had died asking to meet for drinks. We made plans for the next day. The next day comes around and I get an email from him. He was running errands and had to be somewhere at 7, but he could come over at 4:30. He only had about an hour, he said. He then suggested we do the next day because he had his whole afternoon and evening free. I told him he could swing by at 4:30 even if he only had an hour. 4:15 comes around and he sends a text saying he’s going to be delayed another 20 minutes and wouldn’t be able to get to my place til 5 and then he’d have to turn around and leave in order to meet his friends across town. He asked if we could postphone until the next day. “Please don’t be mad” he said. “I want to be able to be there for you and don’t want to be rushed.” I had sent him the angry email from my nephew and told him I had been left out of my sister’s obituary, so he knew I was upset.

I replied and told him the next day would work. “Please don’t blow me off” I said. He said he’d shoot me a message early afternoon.

That message never came. I followed up with an email asking if we were still getting together. No response.

I’ve always known exactly who P. was. He was an UES rich kid who has floundered around, always with a story about some project he was working on or audition he had. He was masterful at cultivating a support system of people who always managed to buy his schtick. He never appeared to have a job, yet always managed to have cigarettes and a gym membership and could afford to go out a few times a week. Having a sister who exhibited the same behavior, I knew he was mostly full of shit and that he was likely telling people a sob story and they’d throw him some cash. But, as the saying goes, I took the good and left the rest. (Though I never gave him money.) He wasn’t a malicious person, nor did he steal or intentionally try to hurt people. He’s just someone who has never been forced to be responsible for anything.

In any case, I saw a status update from him in my Facebook feed the next day. He was asking people to remember his deceased mother who had passed a few years earlier. “Go do something nice for someone in memory of her” he suggested.

I rolled my eyes and closed the page. The next day another update appeared. He was wondering aloud what to do for Thanksgiving. I think he was hoping someone would invite him somewhere. I wrote a comment on his update that said, “I know. Why don’t you make plans with a long time friend who just loss a family member and then blow them off and not even apologize for it. You’re good at that.” The comment stayed up mere seconds before it was deleted.  Normally I’m very good at curbing my angry impulses, especially publicly.  But in that moment I was just so disgusted at how insincere he seemed. My only choice was to suck it up and take the slight, something I feel like I’ve been doing over and over again for the past year and a half.

I debated whether or not to confront him and tell him how I felt. I decided against it because I knew I’d have to listen to a story about his insomnia or an interview or how his Dad was sick. It was always something with him. Worse, it was never his fault.

The moral of the story? I suppose it’s that some people just don’t care if they hurt you. Or they feel like they can get away with it because you’ve let them do it before. You can lash out of them or tell them off, but it really doesn’t do any good. They’ll either offer a hollow apology or they will turn the tables. Neither will leave you feeling acknowledged or vindicated for long. Some people don’t care. Others, like P., don’t care enough. That’s the true rub. They might lend an ear when you need it, but you will never take priority in  any capacity. They also don’t have the grit it takes to admit that they did something wrong.

There are so many people like P. on dating sites. The actors, the stand up comics, the writers. They mention all of their important projects in their profile in the hopes of conveying a level of success they don’t really have. They’re lives are completely topsy turvy, and yet there they are out there dating. I told the story a while back of meeting the guy on OKC who said he lived in Brooklyn, but who turned out actually to live with his parents in Massachusetts. I connected the dots before our third date when he asked, before we even met up, if he could stay over. That seemed odd to me given we hadn’t slept together yet so I asked why. He said, wait for it, that he had always had a fantasy of being woken up by a woman giving him head. Um, what? Dude, you’re 40. You haven’t made that a reality? Something’s off. I asked him point blank about his living situation and then he admitted the real story. I cancelled the date and never saw him again. OKCupid Hobos are real, y’all. No doubt that guy had a nice roster of women in Manhattan that provided him with a place to sleep. No way was I going to be one of them. I’m funny about stuff like that. For my friends, I’m happy to help any way I can. But with guys I’m casually dating? Nope. Earn your keep, bubba. Work and pay your bills like the rest of us.

Nothing rings more false than an apology you had to chase. It’s like texting back and forth with someone who never suggests you meet, and then you ask them out and they accept. If you have to do that, if you have to take the initiative and put it out there after all that time invested, how interested could they be?

If you have to force someone to acknowledge your hurt, how much could they possibly care in the first place?




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16 Responses to “The Savvy Dater: Don’t Bother Telling Them Off. They Don’t Care.”

  1. AnnieNonymous Says:

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t give guys a free pass on punking out of saying they’ll call. Sure it’s common and you learn to deal with it, but it doesn’t mean that those guys aren’t spineless. They’re used to getting away with it and resting on the way other people are socially pressured into not commenting on it.

    I dunno, I think it’s best to not pursue friendships with people who don’t initiate conversations equally as often as you do. These actor types are used to saying they’re actors and having people treat them like they’re famous. They inevitably have their top tier of “cool” friends, and they’re not shy about letting you know if you haven’t made the cut. I wouldn’t worry about it. It sounds like he hasn’t been a very good friend to you.

  2. msM. Says:

    Sorry to be so blunt, but you seem like an easy target.
    Why would ANYONE reply to these people or be in contact with anyone like that…what do you actually want? You sound like you’re 21 years old or something. Decide WHO you want to date, be somewhat flexible, but are you looking for validation in all the wrong places??? It seems like you are working through issues. You only focused on negatives I am curious as to what type of man you are actually interested in. I have no idea from your letter. The “actor” types are easy enough to spot. Plus, as we all know, ALL men, regardless of job situation are after easy sex and will have a go with those open to no-strings attached type of deals.
    We learned about them, but what about you???

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      You’re not reading this correctly. I never dated P. I had one date with him, learned lived with his Dad after his profile said he lived on the UES like me, and never dated him again. I would occasionally meet him for drinks because he lives in my neighborhood, but that’s it. Like I said, take the good, leave the rest.

      As for the other guy, again, I went out with him twice, then figured out before the third date that he actually didn’t live in Brooklyn, so I never went out with him again. This isn’t something I’d have known before hand. This is the purpose of dating someone. To get to know them.

      I don’t immediately say no to actors or writers or artists. I get to know them and get a sense of their lifestyle and then make my determination. If they can support themselves, great. If not, I don’t continue to date them.

      These are two instances over the course of a few years. I’m not quite sure why you’re acting so self-righteous.

      • JulesP Says:

        Moxie hey.. slowly, slowly girl, you are going to get through this.

        You and both know that if any one of us had written what you wrote, what your advice to us would be :-) This ‘P’ is not your friend and you know it. Don’t know if you sometimes manage to find the time to read ‘O’ magazine, there’s an excellent article in this month’s issue (the December issue) by Martha Beck in which she describes how to handle ‘emotional pirates’ (especially scurvy pirates like ‘P’… who tend never to be there for you, but only for themselves…)

        In the meantime Moxie…keep being here for us all – you always make me smile, frown, nod my head in agreement and pay attention (even if I don’t always agree with what you say).

        Chin up… this ‘P’ ain’t worth your while – you know this. Not on FB, not on a text, not on your mind. Not nothing.


  3. Yvonne Says:

    When the chips are down, you call a reliable, trusted friend, not an irresponsible airhead who can’t tie his own shoelaces properly. The unemployed actor who still lives at home whom you wouldn’t want to date, also doesn’t make a good friend when you’re going through a tough time. He’s the guy you call to kill an evening with over a few beers. And now you know he’s not worth bothering with even for that.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Very well put. Hell, even if the chips aren’t down.

      I had a similar situation with a flaky friend. He was constantly late or forgetting plans. Once he blew me off for lunch and called me the next day with, “Oh yeah, what happened with lunch? I never heard from you…” I said, “Um, well, I called you around noon and never heard back from you, so…” I seethed about how self-absorbed and unreliable he was and considered stirring the pot on Facebook – but I stayed civil and kept that stuff behind the scenes. I just downgraded him to a pleasant acquaintance I see around Facebook.

      I try to live by “Do unto others…” and feel that if you say you’re gonna do something, then do it, or clearly and promptly communicate why you can’t. Also, it’s not necessary but nice to make it up somehow if you do cancel (“since I missed XYZ event, why don’t I make it up and take you to lunch?”).

      It’s fine to have more casual or activity based friends where you take the good and leave the rest. I think that’s a healthy skill to master. Though sometimes it’s like, “Really, how low can my expectations get before I just shouldn’t bother having any?”

  4. Tinker Says:

    I totally get why you reached out to P, and I’m sorry he couldn’t even pull himself together enough to be useful for a drink! And I get your fb post too- just your way I letting him know that you noticed wtf happened the day before. It didn’t need to stay up and be read by the masses- the point was made.

  5. D'Alias Says:

    I think you should never talk to Paul again. Don’t reach out to him and don’t reply to any texts. He was never you’re friend, he doesn’t care about you. I’m sure you knew that already but it still hurts to have it thrown in your face like that. At a time like this, you need support from people who care about you. They don’t have to be your BFF or anything. I bet if you put up a protected post seeking company to destress, there’d be plenty of responses.

  6. Ben Iyyar Says:

    I am willing to bet that most total strangers would have shown you more compassion and empathy for your loss than your one time “friend” did! Indeed, I have seen more real emotion shown for your loss from commentators on this site than your “friend” and perhaps much of your family gave to you. To my mind there is nothing more cruel than deliberately hurting someone who has just suffered the loss of a loved one, you deserved better Moxie.

  7. Howard Says:

    It’s hard to ignore bad behavior. We are always a work in progress when it comes to this. I suppose we have to weigh how much we need to get emotional closure against the other costs of time, stress etc. And this applies to all our relationships in life. We can tell the boss off, but we know the cost of that emotional closure, no paycheck in the future.

    Most of don’t tell off the boss because we totally understand the value of that future paycheck. And that’s the opening to the argument for why we should quickly move on, ignoring that person we feel like telling off. The cost is actually higher than we think. Telling someone off, really increases our stress level. We vainly hope the emotional closure will lower our stress, but I often find that it increases our stress. Anger is a really toxic poison to our body and mind. There are numerous studies done, showing the physical damage caused by anger.

    The crazy part about all this, is that quiet resentment, also causes damage to our body and mind. I suppose that’s why we feel the urge to tell that person off. So we seem stuck with a problem that has no solution. One trick I like to use, is to ask myself, “How much will all this mean 20 years from now.”

    Another method is the true compassion method. I often find people who do this to us, to be very unhappy people. They are generally never any better off for any of their negative actions towards us. So it becomes incumbent for us to have compassion for them rather than anger.

    A third method, is to think about the people in our lives that we love, who do boneheaded things that puzzle us, but we still find ways to love them. The best people to think of are our best friends or kids and in some cases siblings, if we have good relations with them. It opens a door where we see the negative actions of others doesn’t have to cause us to fly into uncontrollable rage.

    The final and best method is to recognize that we are all one! Depending on one’s spiritual outlook, this can be very useful. Even if this doesn’t appeal to our spiritual outlook, we have to recognize that we upset other people too. We may be slightly better off emotionally, but still stuck in similar travails of living on this planet as everyone else.

  8. LostSailor Says:

    Leeches gonna leech. It’s what they do, because it’s all about them. I’ve fallen victim in the past when I was younger, even making the mistake about lending money that’s never repaid. I learned that lesson, and now just cut such “friends” loose. They’re not going to change.

    And whenever someone tells me that they’re an aspiring actor, I always ask “Oh, so which restaurant do you work in?”

  9. C Says:

    you knew what this guy was about. he is a narcissist and at best a ‘fair weathered friend’. i’m sorry to say but its your fault for knowing who he was and deciding to expect more. getting snarky on his facebook page is confrontational as is blogging about him. you’re better off accepting your responsibility in this, accepting that this paul is a douche, forgive him, forgive yourself, and distance yourself from him. we all make mistakes and its unfortunate that you made this mistake while in the midst of grief.

  10. peppermint Says:

    That sucks that this guy couldn’t step up and be there for you when you needed someone. Though it’s hard sometimes, I try to remember that people are doing the best they can at their level of consciousness — even when their best doesn’t seem very good.

    The sooner you can let it go, Moxie, the better: “Holding onto resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”

  11. D. Says:

    I suspect that, if one dates online (or just dates at all) long enough, one eventually encounters at least a couple people like this. These are people who are either totally self-absorbed, don’t have their shit together, or both. Sometimes, though, for whatever reason, you find yourself initially drawn to them, and end up getting burned.

    Some may say “Well, it’s your own damn fault for giving them a chance,” and to some extent that’s true, particularly if you thought something seemed “off” about them when you were getting to know them, or knew they’d be flaky after having already done so.

    That said, while it’s important to accept your own role in the equation, the fact that you knowingly went out with an asshole narcissistic flake who casually treated you like shit does not in any way change the fact that they are an asshole narcissistic flake who casually treated you like shit.

    It is for this reason that I think it is sometimes entirely warranted to tell them off when they do so, as long as the act of telling them off is for yourself rather than for them. By this, I mean that the purpose is to vent your frustration, not to make them change their ways. You know they won’t change; this is who they are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give ‘em a piece of your mind, particularly if — in this one isolated instance — it will make you feel better.

    This is, I think, part of finding a balancing point between blaming yourself and blaming everyone else. You should, by all means, accept your own responsibility for making a bad call. That’s essential in preventing yourself from becoming a “woe-is-me” type victim. But that doesn’t excuse or negate the fact that the other person treated you like shit. Lashing out at them now and then can be cathartic, but it can also be essential in recognizing it’s not ALL your fault all the time.

    • C Says:

      about 10 years ago as a 20-something, i agreed to go on a date with someone i met at work(!!!!!) during our date, he told me that at age 47, he lived in a $100 per month basement and had gotten out of jail 6 months earlier for multiple dui’s. he told me this as he illegally drove me all over town. he then proceeded to tell me all about his ‘lady friends': one who registered his car for him, one who went on skiing vacations with him and did most of the driving to prevent him from being arrested for driving without a license, plus a few others.

      it was shocking that this financially ruined overgrown juvenile had no shortage of women tripping over each other trying to get to this clown and fund/enable his lifestyle

  12. Noquay Says:

    Yep, here we call these guys “semi retired”. Actually that’s what they call themselves, we chix have far more descriptive terms for them. “Seeker of meal ticket” is the only one fit to use here. I am sorry you had to deal with such s@#$ behavior at this time. Unfortunately, some folks are all take and no give.

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