THE PHASE OUT: HOW TO BOW OUT GRACEFULLY

Did you know that Miss Wingman takes requests? It’s true. It’s like Christmas (and Hanukkah) year ’round over here. And it just so happens that my latest topic request was already on deck, but now can be brought to you with one particularly funny reader’s insights into the problem. I’m talking about what to do when you think you’re being phased out of a “relationship” – or what you thought was the beginning of one, at least – when she pulls a disappearing act and you didn’t see it coming. Sniffle… It’s a common problem, but one that’s delicate.

There is a right way and a wrong way to handle being phased out by someone post-hook up, and contrary to popular belief, men, you are not the only ones to employ these tactics. You just need a little refresher course on how to conduct yourself if she stops answering your text messages and doesn’t call anymore. Of course there are extenuating circumstances – she might be going through something unexpected or just buried in work, family stuff, etc. But this is the exception, not the rule.

But generally speaking, when the romance has ended and she’s moved on from Could Be Into You-ville to Please Lose My Number-town, here’s what NOT to do, in a nutshell.

Text/email/call persistently: Even if a woman was still into you, a high volume of contact would be a delicate balancing act between “I can’t get enough of you,” and “OK you’re starting to drive me nuts now.” But when she’s already put distance between you, this type of behavior just repels her even further. And, as my reader pointed out: “If the roles were reversed and a girl was sending the “haven’t heard from you and just checking in” messages to a guy, she’d be labeled a Clingy Psycho.” Amen, sista. Right you are.

It’s a rare instance when my male readership will hear me rail against unfair double standards in dating behavior. In fact, most of the time I see more eye to eye with the guy’s side of the story and cringe when I hear about female behavior gone loco. But in this case, I’m 100% behind Reader Girl and I emphatically repeat this statement: If a woman initiates contact with you or, God forbid, tries to DTR – that’s “Define The Relationship,” for the uninitiated – she is immediately labeled a Stage 5 Clinger and has to wear a scarlet letter “P” (for psycho) amongst your social circle.

So when men engage in persistent behavior, it’s not only annoying but it also makes us mad, because it’s a reminder of the corner we’ve been painted into by the actions of the crazy outlier members of our sisterhood that we had no control over. Moral of the story: Read her Radio Silence Technique as just that – silence. And if you do reach out before you’ve caught on, definitely don’t…

Pose any contact under the guise of concern: I’m going to let Reader Girl take this one, she sounded off on these “She’s Fine” situations best by saying: “Please address when a guy starts attempting to contact you because he’s ‘concerned for your well-being.’ As in, ‘I’m concerned because I haven’t heard back from you in a while and I just want to make sure you’re okay.’

Yeah, I’m fine. If a girl wants to respond to you, she will.  If she’s stopped responding to you, and it’s been 2 days or 2 weeks, or a month, and you’ve ‘been concerned’ with her well-being at least once, if not multiple times via email, text, and voicemail – just let it go. Odds are she’s not lying face-down in a drainage ditch somewhere, she’s just not interested. She also probably tried throwing polite hints if not blatantly spelling it out for you already, and you just haven’t picked up on it yet.”

Well said, lady, well said.

Also, try to avoid getting angry if you sense you’re being phased out. Look, in the course of every person’s dating career they’ve probably both phased someone out and been phased out themselves. It happens to all of us. (And if it’s never happened to you, then consider yourself lucky. Also, the rest of us hate you now, thanks). But sending any clear signs that you’re bitter or infuriated won’t accomplish anything in the vein of endearing yourself to us further, even if it does make you feel better. Lashing out will only reinforce to us that we made the right decision to eliminate someone so immature from our lives in the first place.

So what can you do, you ask? Nothing. That’s the thing with being phased out, you can’t do anything about it other than recognize it and bow out gracefully. If you really must know what caused her to sell your stock (for educational purposes, or for your own ego – whichever) you could always ask her friends. Just realize that they might not give you a straight answer, and they’ll definitely tell her you were asking – unless they’re your friends, too.

Getting cut loose by someone, in a word, sucks. It’s a cowardly move no matter who pulls it, because what it says is, “I care more about avoiding confrontation than about your feelings.” Ouch. It makes the person who does the phasing out look bad, but if the phasee lets it go, he or she saves face – the only upside to the story. I’m not foolish enough to suggest that all men stop employing the Radio Silence Technique, though, because A) it’ll never happen and B) we do it, too. Just know that if you’re on the receiving end of it, the best thing you can do is walk away with your dignity intact by doing just that: walking away.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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