White Lies

We all tell them. So how do we get them to stop? Maybe after the second date is just that bad.

On an episode of “Friends” from midway through the series Chandler sleeps with Rachel’s boss, Joanna. My memory of the specific date is hazy, and they don’t exactly show the hanky-panky. But I remember the serious issue Chandler has with the poor dame: In the corner of Joanna’s eyes, goop constantly forms and collects whenever he looks in her direction, and it’s just plain HORRIBLE. (That’s the character’s diagnosis, not mine.)

This eye-goop situation is apparently severe enough that Chandler is turned off and no longer wants to see her again. Yet, at the end of their date, when he’s supposed to break things off, he turns to Joanna, tells her what a great time he’s had and promises to call her again for another date. She’s delighted and won’t shut up about Mr. Bing the next day, unbeknownst to the fact that he’s not so into her.

Rachel, of course, knows her friend’s true intentions and scolds Chandler for leading her boss on. “You can’t tell her, ‘Let’s do this again’ if there won’t be an again,” she tells him. Or something to that effect.

Too bad this type of situation isn’t relegated to “Friends.” 

Lately it feels like we’re all plagued with the white lie syndrome when it comes to dating.

I had such a great time.

Yeah, I’ll call you.

I really like you.

I’d love to see you again.

Phrasing in this vein rolls off of our tongues like we’re mini versions of Ari Gold, schmoozing and telling the client what they want to hear. It’s a reflex, a thing to say when nothing else comes to us.

Really, we’re lying through our teeth, wussing out.

Watching Bravo’s “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” viewers have the luxury of seeing how men date but, more interestingly, what they think while they’re doing the dating and how they actually follow up with the ladies post-date.

So many times the voice-overs reveal how lousy they think the women look in real life compared to their online profiles or that they find their speaking voices shrill and annoying. Yet what do they say to the person in front of them?

You look beautiful

Yeah, I’ll take you out again.

As in the card game, I call B.S. Maybe don’t over-the-top compliment her if you don’t mean it. Maybe don’t make her promises or declarations that you are not going to keep. Thanks her for coming and leave it at that. Remark about how it was nice to meet her and end it there.

I’m definitely not removed from telling white lies on dates—or, I’m sure being the recipient of them. Recently I went out with a man and the chemistry was nonexistent. The date was best described as fine. When it was over I wanted to escape to my couch and away from pleasantries and trying to create banter. Yet he put me on the spot as we reached the point in the walk where I headed straight and he left.  

Would you want to do this again?” he asked me straight out.

I froze and then mustered up “Sure.” It’s not what I wanted to say or what was in my heart of hearts. But I couldn’t imagine telling him “Nah” or a harsher “It’s not gonna happen, buddy.” And he asked in such a direct way that stalling wouldn’t have cut it either.

Subsequently I know I’ve been the victim of this, too. If a guy leads you to believe another date is on the brink and that date never quite surfaces, well, what else is the cause? (Or there is the explanation leveled by Miranda on “Sex and the City” that there’s a special place where men who blow you off after a second date go.)

I’d hazard a guess that most of the time we’re just sparing each other’s feelings, trying not to be blunt about the less-than-magical time we’ve had and the fact that never seeing that person again would be too soon. Cruel is letting them know the harsh truth.

There’s just got to be a better way, clear of white lies that masquerade as hope.