Dating Atonements for the High Holidays — GTJ Dating Column with Erika E. (No. 49)

Believe it or not, the high holidays are upon us again.  (How do they always creep up like that??)  It’s important to not only celebrate the sweet new year but also reflect on our bad behaviors and sins from the previous year.  I’m guessing most of the things we’re sorry for are on a large scale – not calling our moms enough or wishing we had treated our friend better when she was going through a rough time.

As I discussed last year, I’m guessing that those of us who are on the market have committed a sin or two (or three or four?) in the field of dating.  So, let’s again think about it this year.  What dating sins have we committed, and can we correct them?  As we internalize the spirit of the High Holidays and try to improve ourselves in the year 5773, let’s remind ourselves of some of these “dins” (dating + sins), including a new one added this year:

Din #1: The last-minute cancel and never reschedule

You have a date planned that you’re just feeling “meh” about.  You’re tired.  You’re sick.  You’re hungry.  You worked late.  The last thing you want is to change out of your too-loose-to-show-other-people sweatpants.  So, you cancel.  Do you propose another date?  No.  Next time, cancel with the truth, or schedule another date at the same time you’re canceling.

Din #2: The no interest make-out

Have you ever been on a date and made out with someone at the end “just to see if there was chemistry” and there was, in fact, none?  And then you never contacted him/her again?  The make-out receiver thinks you’re interested.  In the year 5773, if this happens, at least give some variation of (over phone or e-mail), “I’m sorry.  I just didn’t feel the spark that I would have wanted.  But it was so great meeting you!”  At least no one is left out there wondering.

Din #3: Canceling via text

A text is never an appropriate way to cancel a date, especially a same-day cancellation.  E-mail is almost as bad.  Please have the courtesy to call.  The point is – make sure the person gets the message before he or she shows up and has to sit at the bar drinking one too many gin & tonics alone.

Din #4: Deciding you’re not interested and never telling the other person

It’s ok if you’re not interested in someone anymore after a few dates.  It happens.  That’s what dating is all about.  But if you’ve gone on more than one or two dates with a person and decided that he or she isn’t for you, dropping off the face of the earth is one big din.  It doesn’t require much, just a simple e-mail saying something similar to the response in #2.  It’s not a crime to lose interest in someone.  But the mature thing to do is to end it on a positive note.  Plus, if you run into this person later (which you know will happen), she won’t have to whisper behind your back that you’re the guy who snubbed her.

Din #5 (NEW!): Saying “I’ll call you” and then not calling

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.  Most people (men and women) take what someone says literally.  If at the end of the date you are 100% sure that you’re not interested, and you don’t want to apply the Rule of Two, then a simple “It was nice meeting you” will do the trick.

No one’s perfect, and I’m sure we’ve all committed one or more of these dins (myself included).  In the year ahead, though, while we are first celebrating and then repenting, let’s think about how we can improve the dating world in 5773, one din at a time… and, of course, call your mother.  😉  L’shanah tovah!

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

4 replies
  1. Stephen Richer
    Stephen Richer says:

    Why do you always have to hate on texting Erika? It’s my main form of communication!

    Also, can we be forgiven of all of our dins if we confess them to you and give you a small sum?

  2. D.
    D. says:

    The last part of the suggested exit statement in “Din #2” (“But it was so great meeting you!”) is an insincere platitude. While the writer might feel swell about ‘leaving things off on a positive note,’ the reader is left thinking “if it was so great meeting me, why aren’t you interested in meeting again?” And that’s not right.

    The writer should have the maturity and courtesy to deliver the facts without resorting to fake compliments to make themself feel better for sending the reader some disappointment, when in fact their feeling better comes at the reader’s expense.

    Even Nada Surf knew this (“Popular”):
    “…Even if you’ve gone together for only a short time,
    And haven’t been too serious,
    There’s still a feeling of rejection
    When someone says she preferres the company of others
    To your exclusive company,
    But if you’re honest, and direct,
    And avoid making a flowery emotional speech when you break the news,
    The boy will respect you for your frankness,
    And honestly he’ll apeciate the kind of straight foward manner
    In which you told him your decision
    Unless he’s a real jerk or a cry baby you’ll remain friends…”

    • Erika
      Erika says:


      I appreciate your comment and the good point you made about the flattery at the end of the “no spark” line. To leave it at “We had no spark,” may seem completely insensitive, though, so you do need to cap it off with something. And in this case, maybe it was great meeting them, but the spark still wasn’t there. Perhaps a lighter, “It was nice meeting you,” would do the trick, but simply ending with no spark will likely come off as a bit cold.

      Thanks again – I love hearing people’s opinions.

      Shana Tova!


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