Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m Luke from #728. (The Solo family is fine, no worries.) I got a lot of mileage out of the suggested scripts then and I find myself in need of some completely unrelated scripts now.
I am not usually a dating-type of person. I’m not anti-dating. I’m dating agnostic, if you will. But I’m over 30 and don’t date and get a lot of “Your biological clock is ticking, dear” from *everyone* because hell is other people. Anyway, a dude I’ve known forever asked me out and we went on a handful of dates over a three-month period. I thought we were fine! Spoiler: We were not fine.
I have a dog named Crybaby. I mostly call her “Babe” or “Baby.” This has never been a problem before, because why would it? But this dude came over to pick me up for a date and went off on a four-and-a-half minute MAXIMUM VOLUME FEELINGSBOMB in the middle of my kitchen about how calling the dog “Babe” was disrespectful to him (??), calling her “Baby” was disrespectful to our future children (!!), and disrespecting him and our future children was disrespectful to his mother (?!?!). I just stood there and stared over his shoulder at the clock on the wall until he finished blowing up. Then he walked out, slammed the door, and got in his car.
I got a baseball bat, dialed 9-1 on my cell, and stood at a window with my thumb hovering over the “1” until he drove away. Apparently, I was supposed to run after him and apologize? I changed into sweats, gave Crybaby a treat, and ate a pint of ice cream for supper because that was upsetting.
The problem is, my entire family knows his entire family. My dad and his dad and his uncles all belong to the same hunting club. My sister and his cousin are besties. Our grandmothers go to the same church. I am in a book club with his mother. My options seem to be (a) quit society and move to a cave and eat worms, or (b) spend the entire holiday season explaining why I won’t return this dude’s calls *at Christmas*. I don’t want to eat worms! I want to strike a balance between “He doesn’t like my dog so he’s dead to me” and leaning into the other person’s space and saying, “He stood this close to me and SCREAMED LIKE THIS for four minutes because he doesn’t like my dog’s name.” This is so bizarre. I am at a loss. If you could suggest any kind of scripts for this clusterfudge, I would very much appreciate it.
I’m glad to know the Solos are doing well, may their baby not grow up to be Emo Kylo Ren. Or, at least, only for a little while in the teen years, and only for the funny Hot Topic parts and not the Fascism.
You know and I know that that date dude’s behavior that night was scary as hell, and I’m so sorry you had to deal with it. I will never understand what was running through his head that he could be a) personally threatened by your dog’s name and b) think it was cool to scream at you about it.
My biggest concern for you right now is safety and not in somehow preserving his reputation at the expense of your own social connections. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of or to hide from and you don’t owe your whole town a story that makes this guy look good. You don’t owe his mom and grandma a continued picture of him as a perfect little boy who would never scream in someone’s face because he hated their dog’s name. Like, right now, HE should be the one pooping his pants because maybe nobody in this town will ever talk to him again. HE should be finding holes to crawl into and wondering if his book club memberships are cancelled. HE forked up, not you.
First question: Who do you trust the most – family, friends – in your shared social circle? These are ideally a) people you trust to believe you b) people you trust not to fly off the handle and try to “fix” things or escalate the situation (i.e. maybe nobody who shoots guns on the regular). Tell somebody who knows both of you the whole truth of what happened and how much it scared you. Tell you’ve been ignoring Dude and are about to ask him to leave you alone for good. This is not some shameful secret you gotta carry. Tell your people, and then tell them that you’d like to handle it yourself. “I can handle it from here, I just wanted people to know what happened so that y’all won’t make it weird over Christmas asking where he is.”
Next question: Is he still calling you? Does he think you’re still together? I’m not quite sure how much time has elapsed since the scary yelling and you writing to me. If he does still think you are together and he is still calling, your first step is to break it off with him as cleanly as possible. You can do it on the phone. You can do it in an email or note. But you gotta say, “Hey, Date Guy, if it wasn’t clear, after the other night I definitely do not want to go on any more dates with you or talk to you anymore, please don’t contact me again.”
My prediction is that he will do two things:
- He will try to insist on meeting in person (where he can loom over you and yell and intimidate you). REFUSE UTTERLY. If he shows up at your house, dial that second 1. Think about staying with friends or family for a few days after you deliver the final “we are broken up” news.
- He will try to pressure you to keep what happened secret. Agree to nothing. “Keep what secret, exactly?” “What am I supposed to keep secret?” Make him say what he did. And don’t promise that you’ll keep it a secret. “I’ve already told my friends and family what happened. You scared the crap out of me! But from now on, if you acknowledge what you did, and if you apologize to me, and if you stay away from me & my dog pretty much forever, and if you don’t make it hard & weird for me and my family to hang out with our friends in this town, maybe I’ll consider letting bygones be bygones.”
Then you live your life. You don’t reply to any further communications from him. You figure out versions of the story to tell, from, “He doesn’t like my dog, so, I guess that’s that” to “He blew up at me over something super trivial, and I just can’t date anyone who yells at me” to “We had the strangest argument, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, and that decided it for me” to “What does he say happened?” to “That’s a long story for another time” to “It just didn’t work out” depending on the audience and the venue. When you see his mom and grandma and second cousin twice removed you say “hello” like you normally would and you remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong. If they wanna make it weird, that’s on them. The goal is not necessarily to get him ostracized by everyone, the goal is to de-escalate the situation as much as possible while still being truthful about what happened. “Yep, it sure sucks to break up at Christmas, I thought we had a good thing going, but this is the right decision for me.” If someone comes at you with a tale of how cruel and mean you are for not returning his calls at Christmas, that’s their problem (and his problem), not yours.
P.S. Crybaby is a GREAT name for a dog. GOOD BABY GOOD BABE GOOD DOG!