Thursday, April 2, 2009

She's Just Not That Into Me

Hey, y'all. I've just returned from spending 3 days in downtown Sydney for a women's conference. My dear, fantastic, capable Jason took care of the kids so that I could go and stay with some girlfriends in a REAL HOTEL. Without worrying about portable cribs and naptimes and where to find chicken nuggets. I adore my little munchkins, but I am not one of those moms who can't bear to be away from their children for 24 hours or more. I can bear it! I promise! Here--let me show you!! It. was. awesome. And the conference was great too! I have lots to say about that, but I'll reserve it for a time when my brain isn't quite so overloaded. Deal? 'K.

I was inspired, though, by my sister Becky's recent post on the etiquette surrounding Thank You Notes. Go read it and then come back. She basically discusses the phenomenon of writing a thank you note to someone who's written you a thank you note, thereby prompting them to respond in kind. Like, "Thanks for thanking me." She calls it a "Gratitude Death Spiral". (She is hilarious.)

But it got me thinking about etiquette and well, social expectations in these crazy times we live in. Specifically as it pertains to email. Yes, I'm about to explain. So at this conference, I ran into a woman that I met almost two years ago in a local park. She was at the park with her kids, I was there with mine, we struck up a conversation. At the time, we really connected. When she asked the dreaded question and I told her I was a pastor, I found out that she is in ministry, too. So we had a lot in common, and it was a pleasant surprise to have this random encounter turn into something significant. (Or so I thought. Sniff.)

At that park day long, long ago, she gave me her email address and mobile number and really went out of her way to invite me to get in touch with her. I mean, really. Well, alrighty, I thought. I just made me a new friend.

So later that week I emailed her, and she did email back within a few days. I basically did the "hi, it was nice to meet you, it would be fun to meet up sometime" kind of email. I mean, I don't wanna look desperate, so I thought I'd ease into it. You feel me? But after that one response from her,and ever since, nothing. I have emailed her several times and seen her at various ministry conferences 2-3 times and she still never answers my emails.

When I see her, as I did a few days ago, she immediately recognizes me and comes to chat--like we are buddies. And I kind of don't know what to say. Like, does she know I've been emailing her and she hasn't been answering? Cause if she does, that introduces a certain level of awkwardness to the conversation, even if we don't talk about it. Or, has she forgotten, in which case me bringing it up would be slightly sad and lame. Isn't this starting to feel like seventh grade? Who am I gonna eat lunch with?

So I didn't bring it up. My feelings aren't hurt or anything--I hope that by now I am secure enough to not take things like this personally. I know there are probably a myriad of things that pushed my emails to the bottom of her inbox where they were forgotten or overlooked. Whatevs, right?

But here's where my etiquette question comes in. At what point do you give up and stop emailing occasionally? I am all about giving people the benefit of the doubt,and sending a follow-up-in-case-you-meant-to-reply-email, but I don't wanna be a stalker or anything. And is it appropriate to mention that you've been emailing when you see the person? Cause I didn't.

I think that in the past,like in the last century, letters or messages were pretty much always answered. If they weren't, then it was a deliberate message to the sender that their correspondence was undesirable. This was a clear, unambiguous response that both sides understood. It isn't that way anymore, which introduces a whole new level of nuance and confusion.

So what's your rule of thumb? How much do you follow-up before you give up? Just wonderin'. Oh, and do you wanna hang out sometime? I'm really nice and fun to be around, I promise.


  1. Hmm, I usually give it a couple of goes and then give up. But if I saw the person I would mention that I'd emailed. I think it's incredibly rude to not even acknowledge receipt.

  2. As long as you never give up on me..!! :) I'm sure I've responded to every email...we just still need to have our phone date..soon!!!! You TRULY ARE..the coolest, funnest gal in the universe..really! Someday..perhaps..we will be neighbors and my "Amy Hubbart tank" will be forever full to the brim. Love you much my dear friend.

  3. anyone wearing that outfit to school would be oozing so much confidence they could eat alone safely.

  4. Hmm, it's weird that she would be so emphatic about y'all getting together and then just flake. But there are people in my acquaintance who I know like me/us, they just are that flaky.

    I would have probably said, "I emailed you to see if you wanted to get the girls together," and probably you wouldn't get that sentence all the way out of your mouth before she offered some rationale for why she hasn't communicated. Not that it excuses it, but it lets her say whatever she wants to say and then maybe that isn't a weirdness between you. Then I'd try her one more time. After that, forgizzle.

  5. Melon--I know! She is rocking those feathers. I love that movie.

    Thanks, everyone. I think I'll just let it go. This person, I happen to know, is extremely busy and I think she probably just gets overloaded. So my search for someone to give the other half of my "BFF" locket continues.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Pat--Due to my own paranoia, I deleted your comment in case, in a one in a million chance, someone who knows this person stumbles across this blog and figures out who I'm talking about. But yes, you're right--that's who it is. :)Good memory!

    And b south--meant to say--I agree, it IS rude. But what can ya do?

  8. I loved this post (found you from Becky)! I've had the same thing happen a half-dozen times or so since Life As Mommy commenced, and it totally always leaves me mentally FEELING SO SEVENTH-GRADE.

    If she's like anyone in ministry that I know personally, she gets a zillion emails a day that HAVE to be dealt with. And is running around six ways from Sunday in general. But. This does not excuse poor etiquette, not really.

    So me, I'd try one more time with something concrete: You know she's busy, so you won't keep pestering her, but you'd really love to get together, can it work this-day-next-week? You could even call instead of emailing. One call does not a stalker make, and for sure she'll get it.

    You're putting yourself on the line... but so what, right? Then the ball's squarely in her court. She either gets back to you or she doesn't, and either way you know. Good luck and if you lived less than a hemisphere away I would so eat lunch with you.

  9. Hi Fraught! Thanks for that--I think you're right...I may try to just suck it up and call her. Especially since moving here and "starting over" with friendships, I find I often have to work alot harder than the other person--who already has a network of people they know. It's good though, cause it's made me much more aware of others in the same situation!

    And if you're ever in Sydney, or heck--the South Pacific in general--call me, girlfriend! ;)