Signs They’re Looking For a Reason To Reject You

man hands over mouth

Name: Denny Laine
Age: 44
State: New York City
Question: I recently started talking with an OKcupid woman who I’ve been e-mailing with for a  week. Things were going great and we finally made an appointment to meet. Before hanging up though she said “Just to let you know, I just got out of a 10 year relationship.” I didn’t know what to say but “OK.”   I didn’t know what to make of that.  What did that have anything to do with me? With us? Shouldn’t we start out fresh when meeting possible mates? Should I admire her for having a relationship last that long? Or should I question her for ending a relationship that lasted a long time? Do I give myself 10 years with her to see if we would make a different kind of couple?  When I meet someone, I like to think we’re starting out fresh. I would answer any question they may have from “how long was your longest relationship?” to “why do you think it failed?” I would answer absolutely anything and everything and be totally honest. I understand it’s not about me, that she’s just trying to get a picture of what WE would be like in the future.  But I wouldn’t saddle anyone with something like that when first meeting them. Was that supposed to be a warning to me, a total stranger looking to see her in good faith, starting out fresh? Any thoughts?
Age: 44
State: New York City

Wow. Okay. First, slow down. You haven’t even met this woman an already you’re thinking in terms of “we.” You are over-thinking this, which is almost certain to lead to you psyching yourself out.

She told you about her break-up for two reasons:

1. Because she’s probably a bit of a mess and didn’t know not to say that.

2. To warn you that she’s a bit of a mess and that you shouldn’t get your hopes up.

Her lack of self-awareness will inevitably cause problems down the road.

Personally, someone like this would present a degree of difficulty that does not interest me. I’d bail.

I would answer any question they may have from “how long was your longest relationship?” to “why do you think it failed?” I would answer absolutely anything and everything and be totally honest.

You’ve written several letters to me complaining that you can’t seem to find a girlfriend and that women think you’re “too nice.” This is why. You have to understand that when people ask virtual strangers these kinds of questions there’s a reason and it’s not just curiosity. They want to find things out about you to eventually use against you in some way.  They’re trying to establish just how far they can push their perspective date. If you answer these questions in any kind of detail, you risk looking weak. That is what “too nice” actually means.

I understand it’s not about me, that she’s just trying to get a picture of what WE would be like in the future.  But I wouldn’t saddle anyone with something like that when first meeting them.

That’s where you’re wrong. You do not factor into why she revealed this bit of information. You’re right. Nobody should ever saddle a prospective date with something that personal. It’s inappropriate. She lacks the social skills needed to know that. That’s what makes her a liability.  My guess is that she’s not looking for a relationship. She’s just looking to get back on the horse and have dates so she can get back out there. Same goes for men who offer such revelations. Except they’re also looking to get laid, since that’s what truly convinces a man that a woman finds him attractive.

This is why people should skip all the chit chat and decrease the amount of communicating they do before actually meeting someone in person. Inevitably someone says something stupid or inappropriate. You have to remember that everything you say is being put under a microscope. That’s why you should avoid discussing, among other things,  dating/relationship history. That topic is a minefield and gives people far too much ammunition. The whole subject should be avoided until the two people have established a level of trust and intimacy. Let them get a first hand sense of who you are in a relationship before you tell them about who you were in other relationships.

Need I remind people that firing personal questions at someone you don’t know that well is rude. Period. Full stop. The person you meet on Tinder or OKCupid does not owe it to you to answer your probing inquiries. There are numerous obnoxious ways to test someone, and that’s one of them. “When was your last relationship” is the GrandDaddy of litmus tests. And keep in mind that – no matter how you answer – you’re screwed. Say a year ago and they’ll wonder if you’re still rebounding. Say three years ago and they’ll wonder if you’re a trainwreck. In the early stages – certainly before you even meet – you’re being asked these questions because your date is dying to find a reason not to meet you. Same goes for the stupid phone step and all the extensive Googling. They’re looking for anything that will justify their bias and ambivalence.

I will say this for the seven-hundred and eighty-fifth time: Stop Talking And Start Meeting. Forget all the vetting and just show up to that date. Google is not going to help you improve your judgment. The only thing that will assist you in becoming more situationally aware is critical thinking, and that skill can only be honed with actual in-person and first-hand experience. I’ll go further and say that all the tests and online research only serve to stunt your ability to sniff out a lie or sketchy situation.


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15 Responses to “Signs They’re Looking For a Reason To Reject You”

  1. sarah Says:

    “[W]e finally made an appointment to meet.” Sounds fun, Denny!

  2. alan Says:

    My sentiments are with Moxie. If someone is going to set up a barrier in the name of full disclosure, I am going to bail on the meet and greet. I’d probably be a little too direct about it and mention that I prefer not to be someone’s reemergence dating guinea pig but that is not the right or smart thing to do. No feedback is required for the lady. Just bail.

  3. KK Says:

    You know, I have never really considered that people might ask those types of questions in order to get ammunition. And i agree. There is no need to ask until there is some intimacy.

    I had 5 dates with a guy who then told me that

    • KK Says:

      Hit submit by accident. He then told me that he was not available because he was still hung up on his ex. I was fine with that solely because i was not interested. But if you are really hung up on your ex, why date? Or, really, why seeiously date? That could be cruel

      • EANx Says:

        He was likely letting you down easy.

        • KK Says:

          I wasn’t asking for an explanation of what happened. My point was that people start dating before they are ready and if the other person wants a relationship with them, they are screwed. And he said this to me after i told him i wanted to be friends, which made it very wtf.

  4. Z Says:

    I agree with much of what you say. It’s early and presumptive to ask things like how long since your last relationship and the only possible good answer is the one that exactly matches the questioners belief system as to what the “right” answer is. And meeting >>>talking/texting, every time.

    But, calling those questions ways of finding ammunition to use against you is true…but seems overkill in terms of tone.

    When people ask probing questions like those, it tells me something about the person who is asking; it points out what their own issues, touchpoints or deal-breakers are. When someone asks you about length of longest relationship or time since last breakup they clearly are using those items as qualifiers, but that doesn’t make it ammunition to use against you necessarily. It’s not a binary result set but instead each questioner will filter some results as definitely no, some as acceptable and some as pluses. It’s still a litmus test from their checklist (which is super-annoying) but it’s not “ammunition”

    example: 45yo guy asked about longest relationship.

    – 6 months would be a deal-breaker no doubt since that seems unusual.
    – 15 years could be either a big plus (he’s marriage-minded) or perhaps a negative to someone who’d never been married and didn’t feel themselves an equal.
    – 4-7 years might well be in the “sounds normal” sweet spot.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      You’re proving my point with your breakdown of what each relationship length signifies. You don’t know why the relationships ended or what may have been impeding their relationship history. Maybe an ex died. Maybe they got sick. Maybe they were in law school or med school. There are all kinds of reasons why someone might not have been in a relationship for an extended period of time or why a relationship didn’t last.

      • KK Says:

        But also, just because a relationship lasts a long time doesn’t mean it is a success. It could mean someone is commitment-minded. It could mean someone is afraid to be single. A short relationship could mean arrested development or fear of commitment. It could mean they know what they don’t want and they leave when that is clear. It is really better to wait until you know the person to ask.

      • Z Says:

        Atwys I agree with you that it’s bad data since the reasons behind endings or relationships in general is not related to time. I was pointing out that, despite that shortcoming, while you see it as a disqualification effort, person X asking the question could be looking at it as a way of qualifying, not disqualifying.

        I think it’s a stupid thing to ask people but I’m not so cynical as to think everyone is trying to disqualify someone.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      I agree that it’s not about gathering ammunition. It does however say a lot about the person asking inappropriate probing questions.

      There’s no need to gather ammunition to “use against you” because they don’t need to have a “good reeson” to justify not dating you. They will never be required to provide an explanation to you or others why they weren’t interested. It’s not s court of law and people don’t need to narrate their motivations like fictional characters. Nor do I think people need to “justify” to themselves why they made a decision – at least not in the conscious sense. (Unconsicious justification is after-the-fact anyway). I think people ask those questions because they are socially inept and don’t understand (or agree) that the information gleaned from such interrogation is not useful. They’re stupid.

      But whatever, it’s on them to make their bad choices based on ambiguous or incomplete data. Their problem. Not yours.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Yeah, “gathering ammunition” to use against the other person is more for established relationships. Established relationships that are *dysfunctional*, sure, but…something you’re invested enough in to want to win arguments.

        Inappropriately nosy questions on a first date could be someone sniffing for deal breakers, sure. They’re most likely just clueless at making conversation.

        • Nia Says:

          I heartily agree to this last point: clueless/bad at making conversation.

          There seems to be a few topics that almost every guy brings up:
          “How’s this site treating you” (that’s usually early on in chatting or if we magically avoided it, it comes out on the first date) or
          “So…what are you looking for?”
          Occasionally my date and I drift into a very vague discussion of “last relationships”—especially if they have kids or were married. But it’s organic–kind of a comparing notes type of deal. Not an interrogation!

          I generally don’t get asked because (and I get that this is something of a faux pas, but I have a reason!) I bring it up casually “I was seeing someone seriously for awhile but it ended last year.” That gives a good enough answer for those that might be curious.

          Also, a lot of guys hint around that they worry women are desperate to get married/have kids/find a boyfriend/their forever home (heh) so I try to let them know subtly “Hey, it hasn’t been like 15 years, nor is it 4 months since my husband of 8 years left me, okay? We’re cool. I’m normal.”

          …not that that’s really doing me much good? :/

  5. Mark Says:

    Denny (the LW)

    Lot’s of points that you raised. I’ll just highlight my 0.02:

    If they ask things like when did your last relationship end, etc. – your answer should be along the lines of “Long enough to be ready to move on.” If they press the point, simply say that you have given them your answer. Re: you shouldn’t be dating if you are not ready to move on. If they are not satisfied with your answer, then in all likely hood you have your answer as to whether to continue seeing them.

    She mentioned that she just got out of a LT relationship? Bad news. One, she mentioned that to begin with. Two, she may well be still working things out and is trying things out on you till she gets her sea legs back to dating again.

    Points to look for: if someone is mentioning ex’s, then they are not ready. If they are saying that they want to move slowly (as in glacial). In other words, they say they are moving forward but in actuality they aren’t.

    Understand, we all hit rough spots. Some rougher than others. Many people work them out on their own in their own time. But with someone you don’t know or have not met before, those issues really are not your problem. We all have luggage. But it’s the difference between a steamer trunk full of them vs. a carry on.

  6. betty Says:

    I disagree. I always ask men how long their longest relationship was and when their last relationship was. I’ve been on too many dates with commitment-phobes and men just out of a long relationship and are not willing to commit anytime soon to avoid asking those questions. Past behavior is the best determinant of future behavior. I want someone who tried, but has processed his feelings about the relationship, not someone who hasn’t dated anyone longer than 3 months or is super bitter that his girlfriend just left him.

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