You don’t owe anyone anything (but when is it polite to give feedback?)
Ghosting… bread crumbing… the dating world gives us a lot of words to describe not being able to communicate a ‘no’ effectively.
This time I’m looking more towards the female presenting half of the dating world but like everything, it’s gender neutral.
You don’t owe anyone anything…
I hear this phrase a lot and it’s one to definitely live your life by. Sometimes it feels like the world wants plenty from you. Just the every day demands of life can be exhausting at times.
I also recognise as a woman; I have a lot of people I didn’t engage with clamouring for my sexual attention.
I’m a people pleaser, oftentimes I’ll go out of my way to engage when I don’t have the time or mental load to do so. Like mama bird, I’ll feed the time demand fledglings which are chirping the loudest. But I only have so much time. When I’m feeding squeaky beaks, I’m often not leaving enough spoons to interact with my own real-life children.
I don’t owe explanations for where I choose to put my limited energy. But there are times when maybe within the dating world, we should give feedback
Let’s use the example of job interviews. I put an ad up and 500 people sent an application. Some of them didn’t bother attaching their CV, some used the same one they also sent to 500 people. Many took the time to adapt their resume and write a little note to say why they wanted to work for my organisation. A couple spent several hours writing long cover letters explaining their life, their circumstances, and their goals.
I can’t respond to 500 people unless I hire an administrator to send a cut and paste ‘no’ response. It’s the same in dating. I never asked for a five-page cover letter, I don’t need to put any extra effort into that response.
But at what point would you expect a response?
Usually if you’ve had an interview you want feedback, or at least a ‘no’. I’ll tell you a secret, the reason recruiters don’t always give you this common courtesy is for the same reason your date didn’t. They’re afraid of your potential anger or don’t want a difficult conversation. Also, they have other things to do and forgot, three weeks passed, and they thought maybe you weren’t worried anymore. That’s a whole other story though. If you’ve had a job trial, you’ll one hundred percent want an explanation of exactly where you went wrong. If you spent a long-time answering questions or being telephone interviewed, you’ll also want feedback.
It’s the same in the dating world. If you’ve requested time and effort from someone (either directly or indirectly) you owe them a response.
Indirectly doesn’t mean they sent you ten messages even though you ignored the first three. It doesn’t mean they bombarded you with body parts while you responded with one-word answers. You’re right. You don’t owe that person a thing. You didn’t ask for their extra input. These people are classic squeaky beaks. They’re cuckoos in your time nest.
But there are times when you really should engage and explain before you withdraw. Times like, when you’ve met someone, or maybe you didn’t meet them, but you asked them a lot of questions or you spent time talking to them on the telephone. Maybe you indirectly requested a lot of their attention and time through a significant number of messages over a longish period. Especially if you asked them to share any part of themselves with you — be it personal stories, photographs, sex, or even the emotional labour of listening to your problems.
I can hear you saying, ‘I don’t have to’, and you know what? You’re right. You don’t.
Neither does the organisation you bought a suit, a train ticket, and had an anxious night’s sleep for. It’s super helpful if you’re brave enough to do it though. You don’t even need to give details, just a simple ‘sorry, not for me’ is enough sometimes.
I’m not always the perfect dater, just like I’m not always the perfect recruiter. Sometimes I need a little chasing, and sometimes it takes awhile for me to find a moment to get in touch. But the emphasis I think should be on trying, at the very least, to let people know where they stand if they’ve put a lot of effort in *at your request*
Let’s normalise responsible, respectful, adult to adult communication in dating because putting yourself out there is hard enough already.