She Said, He Said: Finding right match is somewhere between forgettable and flawless
She Said, He Said
Dear Lori and Jeff,
My friends recently set me up with a guy and we went on a date a few weeks ago. He’s nice and seems to have his life put together, but I’m not really interested in him. I could tell that he was into me and said he wanted to go out again, but I didn’t feel the same chemistry. My friends think I’m crazy for not wanting to see him again and it’s gotten more complicated because they’ve started inviting him to hang out with our group. It’s becoming awkward because he keeps hitting on me. How do I get out of this gracefully?
Not Into Him
Lori and Jeff: While your friends probably have your best interest in mind, they may still need some feedback as to what you’re really looking for. But to paint the picture of your perfect mate, you also have to know what checks all your boxes. We encourage bae-seeking-singles to make a list of five to eight non-negotiables. These are traits, characteristics, values or interests that a person has to have in order for you to see yourself with them for the long-term. If you meet someone who you enjoy spending time with and fits the list, give them a chance, even if there isn’t an immediate spark.
Lori: If this relationship really is a no-go, Jeff will help you break down the steps to ending it with this guy. But before you make up your mind to swipe left, make sure you know who you’re letting go of. Jeff and I didn’t have instant chemistry. We worked together five days a week for over a year before we discovered how much we could feel for each other. The evolution of modern dating — from speed dating, to online, to apps — in all of its increased efficiency, has created one serious disservice: impatience. Singles have been trained to make decisions in the span of a second about their compatibility with another human. Daters used to spend weeks, or even months sussing out whether a decent potential mate could grow into something more. Now, for many singles, that decision is happening over the course of one or two dates. So if there’s any part of you that’s tired of Tindering or ready to find something real, you may need to slow your roll for a minute. Be open to the possibility that your friends know you and know what could be good for you. If you’re willing to stay curious tell him you’re not ready to jump into a relationship with him but that you’re willing to get to know him.
Jeff: If you’re sure learning more about him won’t have the potential to change your mind, then be clear with yourself as to why and let him know (with kindness and certainty) that the two of you don’t have a future together. This may be a bit awkward as you both spend time together as part of the group, but it’s better than keeping him “on the hook” as a way to lessen your guilt from rejecting him or as a back-up in case you can’t find someone better.
If you find that setting boundaries and saying “no” are challenging for you, then do a little soul-searching around your relationship with conflict, pleasing or accommodating others or keeping the peace at your own expense. Or, if you find that letting people get close to you is difficult, spend some time looking at your stories about trust and commitment. It may be that you often find faults and flaws in potential partners as a way to keep them at a distance and from potentially breaking your heart.
Lori and Jeff: You don’t have to settle for mediocrity to be in a relationship, but there’s also no such thing as a perfect partner. Somewhere between forgettable and flawless is where most matches are made. So if you want a relationship that lasts more than a few dates, you have to know how to prioritize what’s really important and how to overlook what’s not.
Of note: We received this question before the stay-at-home orders were instituted, and our response applies only to when life gets back to normal.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.
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