Hints vs Clues

July 19, 2009

Instead of being completely honest and using phrases like “Hey, I do not want to (insert non-desirable action here) with you” or “Hey, I really want to (insert desire here) with you”, men and women usually resort to sending “Hints” and “Clues”. If this is your method of choice, all I ask is that you remember the three C’s of Hinting & Clueing”: Always be Consistent, Concise, and Courteous.

Consistency:
First, you have to make a decision on your terminology. Are you going with “hint” as a positive thing (i.e. “I tried dropping him the hint that I wanted him to ask me out”) or is “hint” going to be used in the negative (i.e. “He keeps calling me even though I never return his calls. Why doesn’t he just take the hint?”)? Which ever option you choose, you have to accept that other term will be its opposite. If hints are good, then clues are bad, and vice versa. Note that in the above examples, the words can be used interchangeably, for the sake of this post; I’ll use “hint” as positive, and “clue” as negative.

Next, and this is still under the topic of consistency, you need to make sure that there is enough distance between your “hint” oriented actions, and your “clue” oriented actions. The things you do as a “hint” to encourage the relationship should never even be close to something you would do if you were trying to send a “clue”. If you don’t, then you may find yourself giving out all sorts of “hints” that are being interpreted as “clues”, and you will continue to sleep alone.

Here’s an example: “Couple A” have been dating for 6 weeks, and the female is ready for a long term commitment (feel free to change the number of weeks in your own mind if 6 feels too long or short to you, and by the way, if you are a female and you feel that the #6 is too long, then . . . well, I’ll stop there . . .) They go on a double date with “Couple B”. On the date, the “Couple A” female decides to wear a ring. The “Couple A” male knows he didn’t give that ring to her, and is embarrassed about seeing it for the first time around “Couple B”. At the post date debriefing (which probably started with the phrase “WTF!!! Where’d you get that ring?????”), the “Couple A” female claims that she was trying to send the “hint” that she was ready to receive a ring. The “Couple A” male, however, interpreted it as a “clue” that she was keeping her options open, and may already have another suitor lined up. From that point forward, the “Couple A” male is of the opinion that that women aren’t real people. Very confusing for the man. Very confusing, indeed.

Now, men are not innocent here either. Take the dreaded date concluding line “I’ll call you sometime,” used despite the fact that he has no intention of doing so. Here, the man is sending the “clue” that a telephone call will not be forthcoming. He hopes that the vague reference to “sometime” will be interpreted as “sometime when the temperature of Hell drops below freezing.” However, the female takes it as a “hint” that she must now go to DEFCON 4, as a call could be coming at any time, and she needs to be ready at a moments notice. Ladies, we are jerks. Put down the curling iron and step away from the mirror. You’ll be able to down a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s, gain weight, workout, and lose all that weight before a call comes. Sorry.

Concise:
The band-aid analogy works so well here. It is so much better to rip that sucker off in one concise move than to drag it out over the course of 5 minutes. Relationships are the same way. If its bad news you have to give, the best “clue” is the concise clue “Dude, it ain’t happening. I am just not that into you.” That is clear, to the point, and concise. As clues go, it would be like Sherlock Holmes finding a video of who actually murdered the victim. No ambiguity, and there’s nothing left to do but pick up the pieces and move on with your life.

Similarly, concise hints are appreciated just as much as concise clues. Look at it this way, if the hint you are sending looks something like a legal disclaimer found attached to an insurance policy, then you have violated the “be concise” rule. (i.e. “The party of the first part, hereinafter referred to as any of the following “I, me, that guy, horny male, hound dog, stuff muffin” or any phrase similar thereto, requests, desires, and or begs of the party of the second part, hereinafter referred to as any of the following including but not limited to “you, babe, hoochy, Pam Anderson look alike, honey, good old whats-her-name, who are you again?, ball & chain”, to join me in mutual exploration of various likes and dislikes as well as any of the following locations including but not limited to: a movie, dinner, your pants, my bedroom, a local bar, claim jumper, out back, office desk, my car, your car, the lake, or the dressing room at Nordstrom. If any of the foregoing activities appeal to your interest, please sign, have notarized and return the enclosed waiver of liability for any future actions I may engage in . . . . .)

You get the picture, way too complicated for a “hint.” Just be concise. “Hey, let’s go out.” And a tip for you guys: when you go out, have a plan!!! No fair picking her up and saying, well, what do you want to do tonight? That’s a copout!!! Grow a pair, and plan the date. If she wants to do something else after you pick her up, be flexible unless it involves another guy, then drop her off. (Of course, if it involves another girl it wouldn’t hurt play it by ear.) But remember, the last thing she wants on that date is to have to come up with an idea of what to do. She just wants to be able to sit back and see you in action, and believe me, you don’t want to be sending the signal that you can’t make up your mind on something as simple as what to do on a date. Imagine the doubts she’ll have about how you’d be able to handle buying your first house, or having a first child.

Courtesy:
This one is pretty self explanatory: you don’t need to be a jerk when telling someone you aren’t interested, nor do you need to treat someone like crap just so they will like you better. Just be nice. Until its time to stop being nice. Regrettably, some people just can’t seem to get it through their heads that it’s OVER. And as long as you haven’t been contributing to the confusion (like saying that it’s over, and then calling them all the time which makes them think that its not), it’s ok to be brutally honest to get them to stop calling.

So, let’s recap here:
– Make up your mind as to what a hint refers to, a clue will then be the opposite.
– Make sure that your hints and clues are easily distinguishable.
– Keep all hints and clues as concise as possible (remember K.I.S.S. “Keep It Simple Stupid, and
– Be nice until its time to not be nice.

Have fun, and stay safe out there.

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