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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 21 August, 2019
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Explaining a CV gap, the etiquette to refusing a date, and getting too comfortable being single - it's Dear Fifi

It’s one week to Christmas, but most importantly, one week until the next Dear Fifi.

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Hello from Battambang in Cambodia. Due to an unexpected change in itineraries, it’s looking like I’ll be spending Christmas solo in a beach town or island in southern Cambodia. Which is… a little different to usual, let’s just say. But who’s to say different is necessarily worse? We’ll see.

Christmas and New Years can be rough, let’s make no bones about it. I’m always here for you. Get at me right here.

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I have lived abroad for nearly a decade, returned home due to mental health issues. Haven’t worked in nearly a year. My question is how to explain the gap in my CV now I’m going for job interviews?

In order to give you some practical and professional advice, I contacted a HR expert to handle this query for you. They replied:

Say you were recovering from a health problem and you are better and ready to work again. There is no need to elaborate and the interviewer would be very unlikely to probe. 

So there you have it!

That said, this is undoubtedly a nerve-wracking prospect for you at this time, added into the already stressful prospect of a job interview, so just remember: you’re there to show off why you’re a great fit for the role and company, not explain your medical history. Concentrate on describing how good you are at what you do. Personal details on your health are not relevant and a good interviewer will know that. Best of luck with the job hunt.

Please settle this dispute. What’s the polite way to decline an offer for a date? Somebody in my college class asked me for dinner via text (we are sort of friendly). I am female, he is male. I am notoriously awkward in these situations and inevitably resort to concocting some dramatic lie that goes many unnecessary layers deep to get out of it. I will do anything to spare somebody’s feelings so it doesn’t seem like a personal rejection.

My friend on the other hand, insists the answer is literally “no, thanks.” She’d even drop the thanks part. Brutal. That seems harsh to me. Unfortunately my plan failed when he took the bait and bought my lie first time, then returned to ask again. I’d rather not drop out of college but it does appear that I’ve been cornered here. Is faking my own death the only logical step here? Please advise.

I admire your drive to be kind, but sometimes killing someone’s hope is the kind thing to do.  You weren’t refusing by making up a fake alibi, you were just postponing the inevitable. You can’t really blame him for taking you at face value and trying again, thereby dragging the whole thing out. 

By avoiding an outright refusal initially, you’re making yourself feel a little better temporarily but actually just prolonging the whole fandango, which no one wants. It’s a false economy. While a blunt “no” is rude, crafting elaborate lies is patronising and serves no one. 

There’s a middle way. You can be both straightforward in your refusal while also being kind. Say you’re flattered, say you think they’re a great person – if that’s what you believe – but make clear that you’re not interested, and that’s why you’re refusing. Bear in mind there’s a fine line between honesty and tact, but also leave absolutely no room for doubt. “Thanks a mill for asking me. I’m flattered but I’m afraid I’m not interested. Hope you understand! See you in class.” 

You shouldn’t have to concoct fake plans or a fake boyfriend or a fake anything to refuse someone’s advances. It’s enough not to be interested. It’s not an insult. Be polite, be firm, be breezy. In the end, it’s really the kinder way.

(FYI – if he’s persistent in the face of a polite and considered rejection text, then in my opinion you can level up to your friend’s blunt refusals with no guilt.)

I’m in my early 20s and I’ve never had a romantic relationship. I’m not writing because I’m upset about this – to be honest, I think I might be a little too comfortable. I’m 100% happy being single. I have a great social life and great friends. But should I be making more of an effort when it comes to relationships? I don’t want to look back in 20 years and regret things. 

In the words of Kris Jenner: “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.”

I think if you continue to march to the beat of your own drum and feel no desire to change things in your life, then keep at it. It’s natural to think the grass is greener, but don’t second guess your own contentment just for something to do. 

Worrying about the future is a fool’s errand. If it happens, it happens. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise or let any outside pressure/opinion affect how you feel about your relationship status. For now, keep doing what makes you happy. Things tend to fall into place when they need to.

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