Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

Sometimes, you go on a date, and it’s just not what it’s panned out to be.  What seemed like a wonderful person, perfectly compatible with you…isn’t.  This is just the way life goes sometimes, and it’s not the end of the world.  Everyone has their dating horror stories.  And now you have your own story to share with friends afterward.

The key in these situations, of course, (as it is in so many cases of being a gentleman) is to not be a dick about it, especially to the other person on your not-terribly-great date.  Mine was last week.  She seemed fascinating on paper, but in person, over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, it quickly became apparent that I had misjudged our compatibility. Badly.

My first instinct–and this will be yours, too, probably–is the old “use a text as an emergency to get out of it” trick. Don’t do this.  It’s dishonest. You’re lying.  And, if you are your date’s ride, abandoning them miles from home is never polite. (Now, if it’s an actual emergency, of course, then at least have the decency to pay for cab fare, but we’re talking fake emergencies.  Not real emergencies–just the fake ones.) Besides–you should have your phone turned off, or silenced during your date anyway–it’s proper etiquette to not be on the phone during such social incidences anyway.

So after we finished our glass of wine, I took her home.  And made it very clear I was not interested in her.  How do you do this without being a jerk?  What I said was “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’re compatable romantically.”  Which was true, and it didn’t hurt her feelings.

Tact is always an important weapon in the arsenal of a gentleman, and it is something we are not terribly good at, as a generation. (I would argue).  It is something that is absolutely necessary. The problem is that tact can be a very difficult thing to learn, especially for us Orthodox who tend to be blunter than average.   The key thing about tact is that it is a way to tell the truth truthfully, without lying, but without also making the other person involved feel badly. But tact is a perfect means in which we can, after a horrible date, be honest to the other person in such a way that it does not make them feel horrible-because, after all, sometimes things just don’t work out the way we planned.

In cases like this, DO NOT PLAN A SECOND DATE.  Be abrupt, but civil, and honest.  Don’t say that you will call, if you won’t.  That’s also lying.

(The quote, of course, is by Winston Churchill, who…actually was not very good at being Tactful, incidently.)