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The Shoes Don’t Fit

By Mink Stole | Posted 6/29/2005

About a year ago I had a fling with Harry. He was passionate for a few weeks, then when he cooled off, he told me that he hoped we could still stay friends. Although I was still hot for him, I played it cool and acted like that was fine with me: “Of course I never thought we were serious,” etc., etc. I didn’t want to lose him completely, and thought if I we stayed friends eventually he’d see through my little subterfuge and want me again. Now he calls occasionally, but usually to get my advice on how to handle whatever relationship he happens to be in at the moment. I act like I want to help, but it’s hell; it’s tearing me up inside. I keep wanting to scream at him,“Me, me, I’m the one you want, we were great together!” But I don’t. The thing is we really were great together—we have so much in common, like the same things, and laughed all the time. He still makes me laugh when he calls, but every time we hang up I burst into tears. Should I just come out and tell him how I feel? Or should I just walk away from him and tell him to stop calling? I’m 28.

Hung Up on Harry

If I had a dollar, HUOH, for every time one person expected another person to read her mind and do something he didn’t know she wanted him to do but she expected him somehow to intuit it and do it anyway, I could keep everyone in my neighborhood in health insurance for life. As long as you keep telling him that all you want is to be his pal, his buddy, his confidante, his chum, he’s going to believe you. He wants to believe you. It’s normal to want to save face by downplaying how hurt we are when someone we’re hot for dumps us, but there’s no need to be masochistic just to prove the point.

I can’t say for sure this guy isn’t actually fond of you—I don’t know him—but he doesn’t want what you want, and pretending you’re happy with what he wants is hurting you. It’s like having a gorgeous pair of shoes that’s a half size too small. When you first put them on they look so good, but by the end of the night your feet are bleeding. It’s not the shoes’ fault, and it’s not Harry’s fault. But just like if you want to save your feet, you’ve got to stop wearing the shoes, if you want to stop crying over this guy, you’ve got to stop taking his calls. There’s no need for a tearful or angry farewell. Next time he calls, tell him that being his pal isn’t working out for you so you’d like him to stop calling. It will make you sad for a while, but you won’t go into cardiac arrest every time the phone rings.


So many people write to you about how their love lives are falling apart that I feel like my problem’s pretty inconsequential, but how do you tell a woman you’ve had a few dates with that you’re not interested without hurting her feelings? I’m a widower. My wife died three years ago of cancer. I mourned her and will always love her, but I really want to meet another terrific woman and marry again. I have no problem getting dates. I’m 36, am reasonably fit and attractive, and have a decent job. With the blind dates my friends set up and internet sites like, I’m meeting some very nice women. Nice, but none of them has been “the one,” and I haven’t figured out a graceful way of saying, “Thanks but no thanks.” I usually just say, “I’ll call you,” and then of course I don’t, which makes me feel like a creep. I want to be a decent guy, and I don’t want to date just to have something to do on the weekend, but I was married a long time and have no experience with breaking up with women.

No Cad on Purpose

Well, you are sweet, NCOP, not to want to trifle with a lady’s expectations and affections. While most of us recognize “let’s do lunch” and “we really must get together sometime” as the conventional fibs we fall back on when we’re looking for an inoffensive way to end a social conversation, when it comes to dating, most of us still want to believe “I’ll call you” is a true statement of intent. And if the call doesn’t come as promised, we feel betrayed, which either hurts our feelings or pisses us off or both, and makes things awkward if we ever run into each other again. So, if you ain’t gonna do it, you shouldn’t oughta say it.

Instead, it’s perfectly polite to thank the lady for an interesting or pleasant evening (lunch, whatever), express good wishes for any upcoming project she might have mentioned (good luck on that job interview), and leave. Kiss her if you must, but not on the lips—nothing tells a woman he’s not interested in her “that way” like a brotherly peck on the forehead. She may be disappointed, but unless she’s a psycho she won’t feel like dumping a week’s worth of garbage on your head if she sees you again.

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Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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