Life Advice

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Science Advice Goddess: Truth Ache

Amy Alkon on

I spent an entire Sunday with a really cute guy I met through a dating app. We kissed a bit, and I stayed over at his place (though I said no sex). Things felt weird Monday morning, so I texted to see whether we were still on for dinner. He asked to push it to Tuesday, but I had a conflict and asked whether the weekend would work. He never responded. That weekend, I saw him out with guy friends, but he basically ignored me. I got him alone and asked him to go home with me. He declined. "Just for tonight or forever?" I asked. He said, "Just tonight." That was the last I heard from him, and I'm going crazy trying to figure this out.

--No Closure

If you really, really need closure, date a door.

It's normal to want closure: defined by psychologist Arie Kruglanski as "an answer on a given topic, any answer." We're deeply disturbed by "confusion and ambiguity" -- a cloudy mess of unanswered questions -- and we feel driven (and even desperate) to replace it with a solid brick wall of facts.

A practical (though admittedly cuckoo-sounding) solution might be trying to fire up a quirk of the mind psychologist Elizabeth Loftus calls the "imagination inflation effect": our tendency to convert events we imagine and then repeatedly recall into "false memories" we come to believe are the real deal.

These invented memories tend to be "stickier" when they include rich detail, like the guy -- reeking of BO! -- hanging his head and confessing he weenied out of admitting it was "goodbye forever." Don't forget to script his explanation -- ideally something torment-avenging and wounded ego-soothing. My suggestion: Despite your radiant beauty and extreme awesomeness, he'll need approximately 65.3 years of therapy before he'll be ready for a relationship.

 

If, after giving this tactic a good repetitive try, your mental hellscape hasn't faded substantially, there's an alternative approach: accepting there are things we just can't know and shifting out of the "WHYWHYWHY?!" by, say, reciting the alphabet backward or shifting into pre-planned healthy replacement thoughts.

The unfortunate reality: Closure should be considered a self-service item, as you can't control what others say or do -- though you could make serious headway by kidnapping and torturing them till they talk. Of course, I'm not advising this -- though, to be fair, it can lead to some major benefits: both in the form of answers and in being rewarded for your troubles with an all-expense-paid cozy new home...uh, in SuperMax.

Barking Bad

I read your response to "Conflicted" (the woman dating a guy so needy he wanted her to ditch all her friends and spend every minute with him). I suggest you tell her it'll never work out and she should date someone else.

...continued

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