What is a Receiving End Promise? It’s an odd promise. And I mean mostly in the name. I don’t think it’s a real name; I just made it up. It fits. It probably happens often enough; more often than occasionally, which is what “odd” implies. And it’s one of those that really never ends up being fulfilled.
Mind you, I haven’t had too many….thankfully. However, enough of them even just in the past two years for me to dwell on their unusual nature. For example, being called or sent an e-mail message, consisting of a brief and “factual” statement, followed by the calm send-off, “I’m sorry, but I/we have decided to let you go.” Yes, work related but also some in recreational activities. So, really….anywhere.
Two others were in person. I much prefer those, in spite of the same discouraging message, but somehow it feels decidedly better in person. Something about eye contact. Not as cold and distant as calls or messages. Plus, I know that it takes more courage to hand someone that message in person, because there’s nothing to hide behind if the receiver takes it badly. I have respect for that kind of courage. Not that I took it badly. No fits. No screaming. No anger. Wiped away at the moistness in my eyes, yes. That’s more my style. I listened to the explanation and, in nodding, demonstrated my quiet acceptance of the situation. It’s always a mixed bag of emotions being at the receiving end of that message – part of me sensing things were headed in that direction and so not entirely surprised……even a smidge of relief?…….and part of me feeling sad, because good-byes usually are tinged with some sadness. Of not getting together any more; of not seeing one another any more. Like that.
Except…..that’s the point when the person delivering that message ALWAYS adds in that promise of “We can still be friends. We will still keep in touch. Drop in when you’re in the area for a little chat?” I KNOW it’s an empty promise. I have a hunch the other person knows it, too. Is there an actual intention of staying in touch, even casually? In the end both of us go along with it. It sounds hopeful. It sounds better. Better than what? Better than not making such a promise in the first place.
Notice the person on the receiving end isn’t making that promise. Probably still in the midst of quietly, mentally figuring out what all just happened….and well, not wanting to come across as needy.
In that case, I see two reasons for the promise being issued:
1) the person giving the letting-go message wants to salvage the conversation and leave it on a positive note;
2) the receiving end person took it all so reasonably, calmly, understandingly, nicely……that the other person feels a stab of guilt, in spite of it all, and with this promise all is resolved. Nobody to blame. Right? No follow through either.
At least….that’s how it seems to me.