"I'm not ready for a relationship." If those six words have ever snapped open your rib cage and scooped out your heart like gut hook, then you might be a woman.
The results are based on over 500 male and female users of Wot Went Wrong, a reverse dating site that allows exes to get and give answers about unsuccessful relationships.
In a period of four months, 15 percent of female users got the "not ready" response- the kind of reason that makes you want to ask more questions. But you might not want to dig too deep.
Consider the second and third most popular reasons men dumped women on the site: #2 Low sex drive. #3 Bad hygiene.
Is "I'm not ready" really just a nice way of saying "you have bad breath?"
Not necessarily, says psychologist and member of the male sex Lee Shapiro, PsyD. "They may be being honest about not being ready for the responsibility of commitment."
Tracy McMillan agrees, sort of.
"I think they're telling the truth," says the author of the new book, Why You're Not Married Yet, "but I would add to the end of that sentence 'with you.' They're not ready for a relationship with you. It's a nice way of saying this isn't the long term situation I want, but that's not because you're not good enough."
"It's a social grace," says McMillan.
To be fair, women have their own social graces, if you want to call it that. According to the survey, the most popular excuse women gave when dumping guys on the site was, "There's someone else."
It's not exactly gracious, especially if its true. But it does get the message across without putting a guy down.
"I would think the reason a woman would say that is to finalize the breakup," suggests McMillan. "It's a clear-cut way of making him stop the chase in a somewhat diplomatic way."
What's less diplomatic: Too short (the #7 most popular reason women gave men on the site)
Despite our tweaks of language, we're not so different. Both men and women can be vapid and cruel when it comes to the opposite sex. And if we're trying to be nice, we both exploit our gender stereotypes and blame "human nature."
Guys' "not ready" excuse is propped on the assumption that "men can't commit." Somehow, it's supposed to make the dumpee take it less personally. Meanwhile, women's "someone else" line relies on the stereotype that women crave relationships. If a guy used that line he'd be a cheat, if a women used "not ready" she'd seem like she was lying, even if she wasn't.
Bottom line: there's no good way to reject someone. There are some really bad ways, though, like "too hairy" and "lack of punctuality-both popular excuses used on the site.
"In the absense of some bigger connection, we come up with little reasons not to like a person," explains McMillan, generously (seriously, we can be jerks). "If it was the right person you wouldn't care how they ate or if their fingernails are weird."
Incidentally, weird fingernails didn't rank on this survey. But someone's probably heard that line before.
Top 10 reasons men were dumped on What Went Wrong
|1||There's someone else||14%|
|2||Our dietary habits differ too much||12%|
|3||Too high maintenance||11%|
|5||You don't earn enough money for the lifestyle I want to have||10%|
|6||You don't make me feel attractive||10%|
|7||Lack of punctuality||9%|
|8||Lack of attraction||9%|
|9||Too much fighting||9%|
|10||I don't feel like I'm a priority||9%|
Top 10 reasons women were dumped on Wot Went Wrong
|1||I'm not ready for a relationship||15%|
|3||I don't feel like I'm a priority||10%|
|4||Too much fighting||10%|
|5||Your sex drive is too low||10%|
|6||Lack of punctuality||9%|
|7||There's someone else||9%|
|9||I don't see a future with you||8%|