Dear Catholic Girl: How do I avoid hurting a girl’s feelings?
Dear Catholic Girl,
So, there’s this girl. And, I’ve had girls before in my life who I have asked out, or shown interest in before. But, in many cases, it seems that if it doesn’t work out, because sometimes it just doesn’t after a date or two, gals become really upset about that, and seem to not get over it. And I’ve seen this happen with other guys too. Now I’m worried if I show interest in this girl I have been thinking about lately, she will get unduly attached too quickly and be really broken up if it doesn’t work out.
Any tips on how to avoid hurting a girl’s feelings in situations like this?
If you’re worried about never hurting a girl (or anyone else’s) feelings, you might want to extend your view beyond situations like this. I know that even when it comes to the people I love deeply, like my family and closest friends, I still manage to hurt their feelings far more than I would like. And in the world of dating, with all the hormones as well as the emotions connected with the additional challenge of getting to know another person, well, there are a lot of opportunities for misunderstanding, confusion, and hurt feelings.
I think part of the potential for that to happen is when there is a lack of clarity and honesty on the side of both parties. But since you are the one asking here, let’s talk about what you can do on your end.
First, regarding clarity, I find that the “really broken up” after a few dates thing normally isn’t happening in a vacuum. I would first ask, what happens prior to these few dates? Was it months, or even longer, of a Ross-Rachel level “will they/won’t they”? Were you showering her with attention, strongly implying more than you intended to follow through with in your relationship with her? Were you everything but dating her? Perhaps none of this is your situation, but I think sometimes guys aren’t aware that while they might be building up an idealized story in their heads, unclear actions like those I laid out can cause the girl to do so as well.
So, how can you mitigate that? Clarity and honesty. Do you like her? Then, unless there is a very good reason not to, don’t hesitate to just ask her out. If you are both in a place to pursue a relationship, go for it. If you aren’t, don’t. If it is complicated, be clear about why and be honest about where you are.
I think the best dating experiences I’ve had, even when they ended quickly, have been with guys who were extremely clear with me the whole time we tried to figure things out and have encouraged me to be extremely direct about where I am. That saves all of us a lot of heartache and anger if we discerned that dating isn’t a great call for us.
On the other hand, all the best intentions won’t mean I don’t cry. I’m a cryer. It doesn’t even need to be about a particular relationship that makes me to cry. Sometimes, crying has less to do with you all, gents, and far more to do with the scars that ending things may touch in the heart—scars that in actuality have very little to do with you. People don’t always cry because you hurt their feelings. If you maybe didn’t behave with the greatest of integrity towards her, maybe do apologize. She might not forgive you then, or even to your face, but she will appreciate that you took responsibility if you did contribute to her tears.
But all in all, Sean, you can’t avoid hurting people. Sometimes you do everything right and they still get hurt. There simply is no way around it. People get hurt. Even married couples hurt each other. It’s the whole sin thing—we choose the wrong word, the wrong thing, act selfishly, every last one of us.
But if you want to avoid the Taylor Swift break up album effect, try, in your pre-dating, dating, and post-dating relationships to put her first. Choose to act with real charity, and ask “is what I am doing for me at her expense, or because I genuinely care about her greatest good?” If you answer yes to the latter, then even if she cries at the end, you can know you acted as best as you could towards her.
You can’t avoid hurting a person in all ways, because you can’t control other people. However, you can attempt to conduct yourself openly and honestly with her, so that should things not work out with your lady, she won’t look back and realize that she “knew you were trouble when you walked in.”
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