What gives?

Why do women give us their business cards, tell us to call them, and then never go out with us?

By Cary Tennis
Published December 12, 2003 8:31PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I want to run a seemingly new epidemic in the dating world past you and get your input. Similar events have transpired among three friends of mine, on each of the coasts and here in the Midwest. The sequence of events is as follows: Boy meets girl at some place like the grocery store or library. Innocent, innocuous flirtation ensues. Then, girl offers boy business card and says, "Call me." Game on, right? Sure.

Then it get tiresome very quickly. Dates are made. Dates are broken. Makeup dates are made. They are broken, too. When all hope is lost (after, say, a week) girl calls boy again, only to make and break yet another date. In the unfortunate parlance of our times, we have come to call these women "trick-ass bitches."

What do they get out of it? Why do they call us? Is it enough to know we are interested? We did not ask for their business cards. We would love to take them out to dinner and kiss them on their doorsteps. Or we would be content with being left alone.

I would normally chalk all this up to one girl, but it has happened in the space of this single month to friends in California, New York and Ohio. Is this like that Internet mob fad?

What Gives?

Dear What Gives?

During the holiday season, everybody's sending everybody else gifts, of course, but everybody is also paying everybody else back. From November through January, as the days grow short and cold, our thoughts turn to pretty gift-wrapping and fantasies of revenge. Visions of sugarplums dance in our heads, and daggers glint in our eyes. Traffic in karma spikes. Santa asks, "Naughty or nice?" and we all think, "Nice." But what about "naughty"? What about Milosevic? What about Saddam? What about the lump of coal, the switches in the stocking? It's the season of good cheer, but it's also the season of Festivus, the airing of grievances, the making of lists, and the crossing off of names -- the names of deadbeats and two-timers, the ill-spoken and shallow, the hot-tempered and careless, the makers of nerve gas and hollow-tip bullets, the producers of "American Idol" and "Becker." It's payback time in Karmaville.

So all kinds of nasty stuff is flying by, and things get mis-delivered. Boyfriends who never called are getting scratched off lists across the land, and men who innocently make the acquaintance of young women are being dissed by proxy. Remember when you told that woman you'd call her and then you didn't? She really liked you.

Oh, maybe that wasn't you. Maybe that was some other guy. Oh, well, what does it matter? You're paying his bill. It doesn't seem fair. But you can afford it. Somebody's got to pay. That's how the world works.

It could be random, a clustering effect, like our recent storm of sunspots. But I prefer to think not. I prefer to believe there's meaning in the universe. I prefer to believe it's just another of the joys of Christmas.

OK, I realize I haven't really even tried to answer your question, so let me just say this: I don't know why these particular women are doing what they are doing, but I can say that generally when a woman whose telephone number you have obtained proves difficult to pin down for a date, it is because she is trying to get out of whatever it is you think she has agreed to -- getting to be friends, having coffee, which will lead to a date, which will lead to a kiss, which will lead to sex. What you think was a perfectly reasonable transaction indicating openness, interest, even eagerness, may have been far more one-sided than you realize.

OK, you may say you weren't really pursuing; but the pursuit may be so ingrained in you that you don't even realize you are pursuing. But she realizes it. She knows she is being pursued even when you don't. So maybe she was just being polite when she gave you her card; maybe she was trying to get out of a situation gracefully, without embarrassment, without hurt feelings; maybe she genuinely was seized with a convivial impulse she later thought better of. Maybe she appreciated your attention and handing over her card was an expression of gratitude for an act of sociability that came at an opportune moment.

The bottom line is that there was contact and apparent willingness and now there is resistance, veiled retreat. If she could put a sign in her window that said I Don't Want to Go Out With You, maybe she would. But that's not the language being spoken. It's a far more mysterious language. Why it's happening so much right now to you and your friends I do not know, but for my own dark purposes I am going to attribute it to the holidays.

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Cary Tennis

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