Well Being

Dating Rules: Kill ‘Em With Kindness After They Break Your Heart

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photo: Thinkstock

We’re all familiar with that dating moment when the phone calls, texts, and emails stop (i.e. the dude disappears into thin air) leaving you to wonder WTF??? It’s hard not to take it personally.

It used to kill me, that radio silence. But then one day, I surprised myself. It had been over a week since I'd heard from a guy I was dating. I sent him a kindhearted email. “We all change our minds,” I wrote. “Best of luck out there!” He surprised me by writing back: “Yeah, you too.” Done. Closure. I could officially tell myself: “Next!”

I’d never call myself a relationship expert, even though a few weeks ago I did give you all a quick-n-dirty lesson on how to properly screen your dates using the tools from the World Wide Web. I’m certainly cognizant of the fact that how we think we should handle rejection and how we actually do rarely match up. I’m equally guilty of taking it all to heart, of claiming that I will give up dating all together, and of being a sloppy and stupid romantic.

Even so, ever since I began to use my Kill ‘Em With Kindness (KEWK) method, a whole new world has opened up for me. I was all ready to book my motivational speaking tour until a friend suggested I do a little due diligence first and run it by the experts. So I sent out a widespread email to shrinks, authors, academics, online dating industry professionals, and friends.

Stress management specialist Debbie Mandel praised my strategy. She’s also a relationship expert, radio host, and self-help author. “This sends a signal of empowerment to him which fortifies your dignity not only in his eyes, but in yours!” Debbie said. “Each stressor that you conquer raises your stress threshold for the next.”

Thanks for the optimism, Deb. I’m sure you’ve had a pap smear. Those are pretty good at raising your stress threshold, too. Still, it was nice to receive such encouragement; it kept poring in email after email.

“I concur with you. The best revenge is doing well,” said Dr. Gilda, an advice columnist for Match.com.

“Negativity attracts negativity,” noted Laurie Davis, an online dating coach.

“Those rejections are usually a gift because they're an indication of the man’s character and intention,” observed Karen Valencic, an expert in conflict resolution who also holds a black belt in aikido. (What guy is going to mess with her?)

Brown University psychiatrist, Dr. Scott Haltzman, shot off a brief note to me: “After all, what are your options, to ask him to fill out a brief survey discussing why he didn't choose you for ‘quality improvement’?”

From my friend Megan, I learned about Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts, a kind of “Be a Woman, Bitch!” boot camp. (Its website opens with: “Greetings, Sister Goddesses!”) This self-enrichment school, located in New York City, encourages women to write a Thank-You Letter after being dumped. “It's a sincere, appreciative note acknowledging and thanking him for all the pleasures he has brought into your life,” Megan told me. “It’s such a surprise to these guys (who are expecting whining, begging, upset, bitchiness, etc.), that all of them have responded warmly, and several have called the woman, in tears, to say how fabulous she is.”

Megan herself tried this tactic once with great success. “However, following it up with around two months worth of drunk-dialing probably made the point of the letter moot.”

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