You’ve been online dating and made the decision to go out with you matches quickly after making contact. All the men you’ve met have been lovely, though none are really what you want. But because they’re so nice – and you want to be kind – you’ve seen them a few more times, even though you know you don’t want to date them long-term or sleep with them. It just seems so harsh to ditch them after one date. How can you tell them, without being too serious, that you’re not interested? You need a nice way out.
Put yourself in the position of those you’re dating. What would you prefer – someone thanking you for a date but making it clear you won’t be seeing each other again? Or someone seeing you several more times out of a sense of duty, while you’re under the impression this could be going somewhere?
Although you’re trying to be nice at the moment, what you’re doing is certainly not making you feel good – and it’s also unfair to the people you are dating.
You’re right that this doesn’t need to appear serious, nor is this the same as an established relationship breaking up.
How to end it?
As this is still very early days, email, text or phone are all appropriate ways of letting people know what’s going on. You can send a kind, short and specific message telling them what you feel – that you aren’t compatible or that this isn’t working for you. Also, let them know you don’t wish to waste their time, and that you wish them well.
You may wish to prefix this by telling them you enjoyed the date or that you thought they were a nice person. This might suit some people, although it could also suggest uncertainty on your part, and leave them with unanswered questions – ‘if I’m so great, why isn’t she into me?’ or ‘maybe she’ll change her mind?’
If you’re feeling anxious about saying very clearly what you want to do, you may inadvertently create more stress by trying to soften the blow – doing ‘nice’ things like offering compliments, or getting drawn into conversations about your decision. Or even meeting up ‘as friends’ when it is clear they are hoping this is going to turn into something more.
That’s why a short, kind, but matter of fact answer is better. Leaving no suggestion you’re open to changing your mind and making it perfectly clear these are your choices you are quite happy to own without further debate.
While nobody likes rejection, knowing where you stand is better in the long run. In the early days of dating it’s sensible not to rush ahead, assume those you’re dating aren’t also dating others, and to make prompt decisions about who you want to see again.
So hopefully most people you are dating will accept your choice. And if they don’t – particularly if they keep trying to stay in touch after you’ve told them where they stand, or if they are unpleasant with you – then ensure you block them where you can on social media and have no further contact.
When to break the news
Say you’ve had a date, it was nice but not one you want to repeat. You could decide to let the person know soon after (perhaps the next day) that it was a pleasant afternoon/evening but you don’t want to repeat it. Or you might want to wait until they get in touch to suggest another date when you can thank them but say this isn’t for you.
While it may be tempting to leave it to them to get in touch, this puts the onus on them to do so (and they may be waiting on you). Plus it takes away from a more assertive approach you want to aim for – which is being unashamedly straightforward about what you want.
What not to do
An alternative response to the one you’ve described is just to disappear from their life altogether.
Known as ‘ghosting’ this is often done to avoid any awkward conversations. But it leaves the other person feeling uncertain and rejected. And rather than ending contact it can mean they keep trying to reach you – just to find out what’s happened and if they did anything wrong.
If you’ve told them right away there won’t be other dates, you don’t have to discuss it further. But you do need to tell them something.
Personally me, usually say nothing or ‘Sorry, no!’ People react differently, but I don’t really care. It is better than waste your time on useless dating.