Why do so many conversations end with, ‘We must catch up soon’? In fact it often means, ‘Sorry I ran in to you. I hope we don’t meet again’. Why do we do this?
I try never to say ‘Let’s catch up soon’. Because I know that, when someone says it to me, they really don’t want to…and if I say it, that’s what I’ll mean too!
My last ‘Let’s catch up’ occurred last week. A very nice person who I’d really like to be friends with said it after a relatively brief conversation in a crowded group party that had hours to run. She – and her husband – have been saying ‘Let’s catch up’ to me now for over a year! It’s the way the conversation always ends. We exchange some interesting information (because I’m really interested in their family and their progress in life) and then it ends with that phrase.
Why don’t I take the initiative and suggest a specific date then, you say? Well, I have! But she always comes back with something like, ‘I’ll check our calendar and get back to you. We’re very busy at the moment.’ Which never happens. Till we meet next time, some months later, when we repeat the process.
Why Do People Say ‘Let’s Catch Up’?
Some of them actually do mean it. But they forget it (since it is a chance meeting usually) or they decide they have better things to do. When I examine some I know who do it, their lives don’t seem that full. They do have time to make a date. But they don’t.
A major reason for doing it is that it’s an easy – and friendly – way to end a conversation. ‘Let’s catch up’ implies there’s more to share, we need more time than we have today. But the hidden meaning is usually, ‘I don’t have anything more I want to share with you. I just want to get out of here/on my way.’ And if you suggest a date, they will say ‘I’ll check my calendar’ meaning ‘When we are separate, it will be easier for me to say no, or not to find a time or forget or pretend I’ve forgotten’. Basically it’s a cheap, small lie.
What Should People Say?
You probably don’t want to be directly honest and rude and say ‘I don’t want to see you again/anymore’! Though that is what you may be thinking. So what are better alternatives than promising something you don’t plan to deliver?
‘Nice to see you’ is non-committal. It might even be true, but you definitely don’t want a formal meeting.
‘Sorry, but I have to run’/’I’ve got an appointment’/’I’ve got a meeting’/’I’m very busy right now’ (an imprecise time period), looking around, or at your watch, or towards where you were going when you met. These are all acceptable reasons, even if not true, and they don’t promise or offer a longer, more relaxed meeting/session sometime in the foreseeable future.
What Should You Do?
So, beware! If you hear the phrase ‘Let’s catch up’, remember the person probably doesn’t mean it. If you are keen yourself to catch up, you should aggressively suggest a date or time or place. The reaction to that will tell you if they mean it or not. And you will be in the driver’s seat. But be prepared for rejection. That’s the most likely outcome.