DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have entered the dating scene again after ... 25 years. So, as you can imagine, texting, emailing, Facebook and eHarmony did not exist my first time around, and I frankly don't know what the expectations of people are today where the "I'm not interested" conversation is concerned.
I am in a situation where I have been in contact (via email, text, phone and in person) with a gentleman for two weeks now, including two real dates. I agreed to a second date to see if his nervousness was the cause of his lack of personality in the first one.
Unfortunately, it wasn't. So I made the decision after that date not to go on any more with him. But as he had left to go out of town the very next day, I was waiting to hear back from him upon his return to have this conversation.
However, (fortunately for me) he has not contacted me for another date.
So should I count my blessings that he evidently didn't want to continue on with me, and forget all of this, or should I still reach out to him to thank him for his interest and for the dates, but say that I don't see a future for us? Can I do that via email? Text?
Obviously, I'd rather not say anything if I don't have to, but having been completely abandoned after weeks of communication with other potential suitors recently, I had wished they had at least reached out to say, "Thanks, but I'm not interested." The reality that they just stopped returning emails or phone calls with no explanation has been very disheartening, and I don't want to do that to anyone else.
GENTLE READER: But you are so pleased that the unsuitable gentleman did that to you. Getting in touch with him for the purpose of saying that you no longer wish to be in touch does not strike Miss Manners as either necessary or kind.
In the non-virtual world, the failure to follow up one or two dates is, in itself, a definitive answer. So is a general statement of being busy. That way, no painful explanations need be made or endured.
But the world of online dating is not characterized by patience or subtlety. It's more like shopping, where you take leave of a salesperson by saying, "Thank you, but I believe I'll look around." The equivalent statement, when you don't want to leave dangling an obviously interested prospect, is, "I've enjoyed meeting you, but I don't think we're really a match."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am seriously disabled, move slowly with the aid of a walker and am often in considerable pain.
What do I say to people who tell me how "lucky" I am to have a handicap parking placard? Saying, "I'd be happy to trade places with you" doesn't seem to work, and "Are you crazy?" seems rude.
GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners would be tempted to say, "Well, I wish you luck, too," she would not succumb. However, she might allow herself to say gently, "Well, I hope your luck in getting around is somewhat better than mine."
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)