She thought it was good to accept the invitation, since she had, after all, resolved to stop pre-qualifying dates and disqualifying potential suitors simply because his demographics might not initially appeal to her. This, however, was a bit of a curve ball. She felt particularly bad about knowing that he might not actually be divorced. After another coworker discouraged her date, and several hours of nausea at what she had agreed to, she worked up the courage to call him, leaving a message that said:
Thank you for the invitation. I have decided it's best not to get involved with someone I work with, but I appreciate your thought. Have a great summer.
Hours later, he called back:
Wow. You really shot me down, didn't you? That was harsh. Look, all I was looking for was a friend. I could really use a friend right now. I just wanted to go to dinner, okay? Call me so we can talk about this.
ummm....Confusion. At first her heart went out to the man in this story. He might be going through a rough patch. He could use a friend. Was she jumping the gun in assuming he was interested in more than dinner? But then she remembered. Didn't she just tell him she wasn't interested and politely and clearly convey the message that didn't want to go out with him? What more is there to discuss with someone whose message is longer than any conversation she's ever had with him? Her mind races- is he manipulating her? Isn't the very questioning of her decision inconsiderate on his part? Isn't this very call of his proving he does not respect her feelings or her decision? But, wait...it's just dinner, and maybe he does need a friend now- isn't he going through a divorce? Is she being thoughtless? Selfish? Elitist? Rude? TOO PICKY???
Another friend of mine decided to vacation in Seattle for a month. She found a great little apartment to sublet, a rental car, and her very first weekend there, met a cute, friendly man at church. He had a lot of free time and constantly invited her out on tours of the city, which was exactly what she'd been wanting to do with her vacation. At times, he did things that seemed a little juvenile, and she felt a little too mature around him. She didn't want to blow him off, since he had become such an attentive date. But a few weeks later, he revealed that he had just been released from 10 years in prison, where he had been since he was 18. Okay. So he grew up in prison. He was certainly a nice guy now. If she stopped seeing him at this point, was that judgemental of her? Upon leaving Seattle, she considered if it would be worth the effort a long-distance relationship.
So, at what point do we consider eliminating who we date as being wise and realistic, verses judgemental or picky? If we lower our expectations, are we automatically lowering our standards? Why are we so concerned with what other people may think of our decisions? How is it that ordering pizza is fine with us, until someone asks if we're really going to eat the whole thing on our own? Or that saying someone who is less educated or less mature than you can still make you feel guilty for not dating him/her just because they happen to find YOU attractive? How is it we allow guilt to play such a big part in what we find acceptable behavior, when the choices we make for ourselves should be our own?
Here's what I think. I think it's a fine line between "being open-minded" and "ignoring your own instincts." I think the better you know yourself and what you need and what you can honestly accept, the less guilty you'll feel about allowing people- any sort of people- into your life. Because the last thing you want for anyone is to invite someone who doesn't respect your boundaries to become the one in charge of them.