Join 3,414 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How do I say no without being mean?
June 24, 2007 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I have problems saying "no thanks" on dates. Help me be honest without being mean.

I've been on a few dates from Match.com. I have a problem when I reach the end of the date, I know I'm not interested, and he asks to see me again. I end up saying sure, why not! AND, EVEN WORSE, I end up kissing him because I feel guilty! Unfortunately, I think it's just that I am trying too hard to be nice. If I'm not interested, I have a hard time saying so, and then I end up just not answering subsequent calls, or even going out on a worthless second date and then doing the same thing.

To be clear, I know this is WRONG. I shouldn't be doing this and I am sure I am hurting feelings too, probably even more so than if I just said I wasn't interested.

What can I do to help myself to be honest, but not mean? Is there a sort of "script" I can follow? I've tried to convey things properly with body language (leaning back instead of forward, crossing my arms, not returning those gentle romantic touches, etc.). Is there some way I can do this without feeling uncomfortable? Or is everyone just as uncomfortable?
posted by BuddhaBelly to Human Relations (95 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everyone's just as uncomfortable. This is why I don't go on match.com dates anymore. Try meeting real people in other real situations -- I've had great luck with dog parks after I got a dog, with training classes for a sport I was in, and hell, even with bars. Most of the guys my female friends have met off of Match.com were desperate with a capital D.
posted by SpecialK at 1:12 PM on June 24, 2007


I have the same problem declining dates, because I don't want to hurt someone's feelings.

One of my best guy friends explained it to me like this. When you drag it out over a few dates, you're wasting his time and your time. And you're being a tease which is not a polite way to behave.

You will feel uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Give the guy the courtesy of quick, firm no thank you.
posted by 26.2 at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a problem when I reach the end of the date, I know I'm not interested, and he asks to see me again. I end up saying sure, why not!

Maybe not everyone here will agree with me. But in my experience, everyone does this. Even if there is a vibe that both people realize it isn't going to happen, someone might still suggest that meeting up at some time in the future might happen. It's just way too awkward to reject someone in person like that.

AND, EVEN WORSE, I end up kissing him because I feel guilty!

On the other hand, don't do that! That totally sends the wrong message. And don't go on a worthless second date.

I don't think it's so bad to leave things open at the end of the first one. But yeah, telling him no next time he calls is better. Sometimes (most times?) you're going to get men who aren't so adept at picking up on the body language. There's no way around it sometime.
posted by grouse at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2007


Write a script and practice it in front of the mirror. Perhaps even, somewhere early in the date, bring up the awkwardness of blind dates in conversation?
posted by happyturtle at 1:27 PM on June 24, 2007


don't say no. say, "let me check my calendar when i get home. thanks for the lovely dinner." kiss on the cheek.

then, in that socially acceptable passive-aggressive way, don't return his calls. or send him an email. i think that's acceptable after a single date, especially a blind date.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:28 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you feel guilty, why not pick up the check? That seems like a nice way to convey no-harm-no-foul without getting your lips or perceived emotions into play.
posted by cior at 1:32 PM on June 24, 2007


Heh. Well, let me speak from the other point of view and say that the socially polite passive-aggressiveness is what drives most guys to be completely unable to read womens' body language because we can't tell if you're being polite, you really like us, or you just want to jump our bones and cook us breakfast the next morning? And oh, how we're hoping for the latter... that would make the incredibly high match.com fees --so-- worth it!

How about this one: Don't date until you can do it without being completely ambiguous? i.e. - don't date until you can say no.
posted by SpecialK at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whenever I'm feeling really awkward about anything, unless it's vitally important that I appear totally in-command, I try to be honest about my awkwardness.

"I'm sorry. I feel really bad saying this, because I don't want to hurt your feelings, but..." or "I wish there was a kind way for me to say this, cause you're a really great guy, but..." or "I'm so nervous about telling you this, but..."

It's not all about you, but it's an admission that you're human and that the situation is uncomfortable for both of you.
posted by grumblebee at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2007


BTW, I like how subtle some of the womens' suggestions in here have been. Because subtlety TOTALLY works with a guy who's desperately hoping to get laid.
posted by SpecialK at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and please please please don't ever do any variation of "it's not you, it's me." That makes a guy think you're trying to cover for the fact that there's something seriously wrong with him. I still feel paranoid about girls who said that to me years ago.
posted by grumblebee at 1:36 PM on June 24, 2007


I'm with grouse and thinkingwoman. After 1-3 dates, I think not returning calls/e-mails is the best way. And not only is it the best way, but it seems to be the way things are done, and I think anything more involved is too much (who wants a speech on why it's not working after 1 lousy date?)

As for the kissing thing, you should develop a goodnight script. "Thank you for dinner/the movie", shake hands, respond to any questions about future dates vaguely (I like "Let me check my calendar") and turn around and walk away. Do not linger.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:37 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ideal action would be::Straight up tell them you'll see them again as friends only. But you have to be brave. There's no secret codeword, sorry. :)
posted by tomw at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2007


Well as a former "nice guy" I am glad that you recognize the moral problems of leading the guys on, as it's bad for both of you. And of course the desperate guys are going to be using that post-date time getting more emotionally invested in the relationship.

Flipping backward in time and thinking how I'd want to be treated, I think you should find a way to take charge of the end of the date and wrap it up without any loose ends. As a crutch, a phone call from a friend or a suddenly-remembered commitment would probably be ok to speed things along. Thank him profusely, end it with a hug, and say with confidence that you had a good time but you really don't feel that you're ready for a relationship, and that you might call again if things get any better. Don't undermine yourself by seeking cues of acceptance or letting him rationalize the date, just be confident and apologetic and keep things moving along towards your exit from the scene.

On the other hand, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a guy who's desperate or lonely... we've all been down that road before. If they're obsessive or creepy, then that's a different story.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2007


PinkSuperhero! Shake hands? Eeeek. Embarrassing for both.
posted by tomw at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2007


How about this: if you don't say No, thanks (and don't go back on it) you may find yourself with a suitor you can't get rid of! There are some people who take "maybe" or "I'll think about it" or "perhaps some other time" or even "not right now" as "yes, but not until next week."

Which would you rather be, a bit uncomfortable for a half hour, or trying to get rid of the jerk for the next 6 months?

You want a script? "Thank you for a lovely evening. However I do not have an interest in seeing you again." Remember, you are in control of your own feelings regarding this fellow, and the nice thing is to tell him what you think. Be as businesslike as possible, as if you were talking to a client or colleague you don't know very well at work. You are trying to put emotional distance between the two of you so thick he has no choice but to wipe it off his face to see you. You can add "No, I will not go out with you next week, sorry," or "No I will not kiss you" or even "Heck no you cannot come into my home!" as necessary.

The only answer you need to make to "But why not" and any other objection is "I'm sorry, no is a complete sentence." If he persists beyond that, "You know, if you were half the gentleman you want me to think you are, you would be able to take no for an answer."
posted by ilsa at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


thiningwoman, I pride myself in being an "enlightened" male, and I SO want to agree with you. But in the end, I don't. I agree with SpecialK. Most of us guys -- especially during courtship -- are just not subtle enough to understand "open" endings. We'll take it as a literal maybe and keep pursuing. Hints don't work.

And I know I would NEVER pick any clue up from a woman picking up the tab, as cior suggests.

I know it really sucks for women who are trying to be nice and let guys down gently, but most of us just don't get indirectness.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a dozen men will write here to say that they can definitely take a hint. Even it that's so, there are plenty more who can't. It's not willful misunderstanding or even stupidity. It's just the way our brains are wired.
posted by grumblebee at 1:40 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


don't say no. say, "let me check my calendar when i get home. thanks for the lovely dinner." kiss on the cheek.

then, in that socially acceptable passive-aggressive way, don't return his calls. or send him an email. i think that's acceptable after a single date, especially a blind date.


Wait.. so a kiss on the cheek is a sign of rejection? When did that happen?

The calendar check thing is ok, but why the kiss on the cheek?

I'm not a fan of the "stop returning calls/emails." Sometimes people get busy, etc etc, so if a guy is really interested he's going to wonder -- is that the case, or is it disinterest? He'll spend the next several days, maybe even a couple of weeks, wondering.

That's just not cool.

If you can't be brave enough to say "no thanks" to his face, then go the "we'll see" route, and then send an email saying you're pursuing something else, etc... I really dislike the "just stop responding" approach. It's not cool, and seems to me to just be an excuse to be weak.
posted by twiggy at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seconding he'll get the vibe. I have no problem with someone saying 'yes' to a second date without the intention to follow through. If the vibe isn't clear then, its clear after the first phone conversation, and its not a big deal.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2007


grumblebee has it: we don't take hints. Until we see an ACTUAL closed door - we see openings for opportunity, not closed doors. We notice the potential signs of interest, not the subtle hints of a lack thereof.
posted by twiggy at 1:43 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with grouse and thinkingwoman. After 1-3 dates, I think not returning calls/e-mails is the best way.

With respect, psh, if anyone did this to me, I'd be DEEPLY offended. I think it's incredibly rude to just cut off communication with someone -- unless that person is being rude or hurtful or harmful to you. At the very least, you owe your fellow humans a goodbye.

(For the record, I also think it's incredibly rude to keep bothering someone after they've made it clear that they're saying "goodbye and good luck.")

Alas, you're probably right. That probably is "the way things are done." Which makes me incredibly glad that I'm way out of the dating scene and have been for years. Yuck.
posted by grumblebee at 1:44 PM on June 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero has it right: just not returning calls/emails is the best way. Otherwise you simply can't win, because if you're honest you're a horrible evil cruel bitch who isn't giving a guy a chance and if you're not honest you're a passive-aggressive bitch who gets a guy's hopes up.
posted by watsondog at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


After 1-3 dates, I think not returning calls/e-mails is the best way.

God damn.. sorry, I have to repsond one more time to this because it seems there's female concensus here.

You're talking about "best way" for you. Easiest for the female. That's not necessarily the "best way" the asker is looking for. The asker is trying to be respectful and not an asshole. Giving someone the silent treatment instead of being honest and adult with them and saying you don't see relationship potential is being an asshole, even if it "works best" for women who can't be bothered to show some guts.

Before you get all angry with me, think of the number of times you've wished a guy would give you the common courtesy of honesty. You'd prefer that, wouldn't you?
posted by twiggy at 1:47 PM on June 24, 2007 [15 favorites]


just not returning calls/emails is the best way.

I'm trying to imagine any other social situation where this wouldn't be universally accepted as rude.

You're my nextdoor neighbor. I leave a note in your mailbox inviting you to a party at my house on Friday. You don't show up, which is fine, then when I run into the next day and say, "Sorry you couldn't make it," you walk right past me without a word.

I go into your shop and ask if you have bottled water. You just walk away from the register, go into the stock room, and never come out.

People have FEELINGS and don't deserve to be treated as if they don't exist.

Now, if you say, "I'm sorry, we don't have any water," I'm out of line if I start bugging you about it. "Aw, come on. You must have some SOMEWHERE. Please. Please. PLEASE." If I do that, THEN you're free to ignore me. You've done right by me and I haven't been mature enough to respect your actions.
posted by grumblebee at 1:55 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm not a fan of the "stop returning calls/emails." Sometimes people get busy, etc etc, so if a guy is really interested he's going to wonder -- is that the case, or is it disinterest? He'll spend the next several days, maybe even a couple of weeks, wondering.

That's just not cool.


I kinda agree with this, but it really depends on the person. I have had this same dilemma (opposite direction, being a male). Sometimes you can not return calls and she'll get the idea of what it means..especially if she's been dating awhile. But the worst case scenario is what you describe though, that the contacts and interest doesn't stop because they just assume you're busy. In some cases it even amplifies the very situation you're trying to avoid, especially if the other person is needy or inexperienced with relationships.

I'm a big fan of just being honest and straightforward. A simple "you're a great person, but I don't feel we're clicking" kind of response is in many cases is appreciated and respected (speaking from a male point of view...it is actually a good thing to hear as it doesn't waste my time...most of us hate mixed signals, as few males have the gut intuition to know its time to continue looking elsewhere...takes awhile and practice on our part too :P).
posted by samsara at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Otherwise you simply can't win, because if you're honest you're a horrible evil cruel bitch who isn't giving a guy a chance and if you're not honest you're a passive-aggressive bitch who gets a guy's hopes up.

Well, if it's about "winning," I'm sorry. You still lose. Because if you don't have the courtesy to at least write a one-line "thank you and good luck" email, you're a coward.

But I think the whole premise is silly. You're not a "horrible evil cruel bitch" if you're honest. Unless you slant your honesty in a nasty way.
posted by grumblebee at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2007


The best method I've heard is a very honest "You know, I think you're a nice person but I just don't feel the special spark I'd like to find in a partner. Thanks for a really nice evening and good luck finding what you're looking for."

The end. No need to worry about another date, no need to explain much more. You can expand on how mysterious chemistry is if you'd like but it's not necessary.
posted by mulkey at 2:02 PM on June 24, 2007 [33 favorites]


After 1-3 dates, I think not returning calls/e-mails is the best way.

Ugh, that's kind of awful. How is that better than saying " Sorry, I'm not feelin' it"? Why does every dating adult put themselves through all this weird convoluted dishonesty?
posted by oneirodynia at 2:03 PM on June 24, 2007


Mulkey gets five checks and a gold star from me.
posted by grumblebee at 2:05 PM on June 24, 2007


Yeah, I'm a girl and I disagree with the people who are saying to just not return calls or emails. I did that a couple of times back in the day and even as I did it I knew I was being a jerk. (Although these were both guys I didn't really mind being a little jerky to.)

I mean, as a girl don't you hate it worse than anything when a guy just disappears? Why would you do the same? Follow the advice of the people who have given you suggestions for "scripts" at the end of the date, or, if you freeze and just can't get the words out, send a short "thanks and good luck" email. Anything else is just juvenile.
posted by MsMolly at 2:10 PM on June 24, 2007


Seems this thread isn't exactly going to reach a nice resolution, but I'll just chip in another guy's perspective.

After a first date, and even after most second dates, I interpret almost any positive signals/body language as "maybe we'll go out again" and all negative signals as "this isn't working out." I only get my hopes up in a "hey, she's really into me" sort of way if she's effervescently, enthusiastically positive (and even then, I realize that some people are just like that generally).

My recommendation for shooting guys down: at the end of the date, avoid physical contact, or withdraw discreetly if he starts it. Certainly don't initiate the "do you want to go out again" conversation, and respond noncommittally when he starts it ("we'll see" / "let's chat and figure it out" / "let me check my schedule and I'll get back to you"). Then take off. At this point he should feel brushed off - more on that later - but if he follows up, ignore up to 3 phone calls or emails, and if he persists beyond that, respond with something curt but polite like "I just didn't feel any chemistry" or "there was no spark."

I guess, then, I disagree pretty completely with SpecialK, grumblebee, and twiggy. Maybe they're more typical than I am and you should listen to their advice, I dunno. But to you guys: since there DOES seem to be a "female consensus" on some of these techniques, don't you feel like it's your job on some level to cope with them? As opposed to arguing that women who do these things are acting badly?

twiggy: not returning calls / emails cannot realistically be interpreted as someone "just getting busy." One simply cannot be too busy to drop an email to someone they're legitimately interested in, especially if she's put herself out on Match.com to say she's got the time and interest to date. I feel like you (we, men, whoever) really need to get used to no callback being a form of rejection.

Likewise, grumblebee, you don't owe your "fellow human beings" some kind of fond send-off after a date or two. The "goodbye" at the end of the evening has got to be enough for you; if you've already gotten attached during that period and you're having closure issues, talk it out with a friend, but the woman who cut off contact does not owe you that closure.
posted by rkent at 2:11 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Upon further reflection, I can see where it'd be preferable to bring up the "I just don't feel any chemistry" thing either at the end of date #1 or during the follow-up phone call. Certainly this is the way to go if it's a friend-of-a-friend who you met at a party or something.
posted by rkent at 2:16 PM on June 24, 2007


Before you get all angry with me, think of the number of times you've wished a guy would give you the common courtesy of honesty.

Not calling and asking me for a second date is an honest way of saying, I don't want to go out with you again. I'm fine with that method of communication. Of course it sucks if I liked the guy, but what can ya do? Hearing it in words from his mouth wouldn't have made things any easier. Except that I could have put him in the "Goodness, what a weirdo" category. I've been on my share of dates, and I'm just sharing how I've seen it done. It's not perfect, but it does seem to be the norm, and there are benefits to going along with the norm.

BuddhaBelly, all I'm saying is, don't feel guilty if the no-call-back after a small number of dates is the easiest way for you. A lot of people (male and female) do it and we all survive, somehow. Good luck to you in finding the person you never want to say goodbye to :-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:17 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seconding mulkey. Be straight, nice and firm and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:20 PM on June 24, 2007


Oh, and: PinkSuperhero! Shake hands? Eeeek. Embarrassing for both.

Yea, you're right. Thinking back, I generally do a half-hug (one arm).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:21 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's a "female consensus."

I just think there are a lot of women in the world who think setting a boundary equals being rude and is therefore to be avoided at all cost.

Please don't be one of them, BuddhaBelly.

I think dropping off the face of the earth is rude and cowardly. A simple "thanks but no thanks" does not equal being "a horrible evil cruel bitch." Rather, it's a chance to kindly acknowledge a person who made the effort to spend an hour with you and wish them well.

All you need to do is to say (or e-mail as soon as you get home) "Thanks for a lovely time, but I'm not feeling the chemistry. I hope you find what you're looking for."
posted by ottereroticist at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hmmmm, I never actually said it was okay not to return calls. I think that is a little bit rude, actually. But you don't have to confront the issue head-on either, which in ordinary circumstances would also be rude in my opinion.

There is a protocol associated with dating. When asking someone out, you should always suggest a definite time and date (that's why it's called a date, right?) That way the other person can turn you down with the excuse that they are busy. If they do this a few times you can be pretty sure that they aren't interested, without having to go through a rejection that can be embarrassing for the giver and humiliating for the receiver.

Any guy should know that a woman who is really interested will make time or suggest a time that will work. This method will also get the message across more quickly than not returning calls.

I think it is regrettable that many people now emphasize a kind of "honesty" at the expense of tact, which seems to be a forgotten value. Miss Manners once wrote, "Ah, the great moral conflict in life—honesty or kindness? Miss Manners tends to choose kindness, feeling that there is quite enough honesty in the world..."
posted by grouse at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


::sigh:: I love Miss Manners.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:25 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


since there DOES seem to be a "female consensus" on some of these techniques, don't you feel like it's your job on some level to cope with them? As opposed to arguing that women who do these things are acting badly?

I think we're having a misunderstanding. Sure I OWE it to people to try to understand the way they communicate. But what does that have to do with anything?

If you said, "shouldn't guys WHO HAVE READ THIS THREAD try to understand why women don't call or email," I might agree with you. But how is that relevant. The average guy who BuddhaBelly dates will not have read this thread. So how is he supposed to know about this consensus?

Also, you're claiming that if a bunch of people have reached a consensus to act in a certain way, it doesn't make sense to claim that they're acting badly. Huh? If me and my friends all have a consensus that it's okay for us to burn your house down or spit in your eye, you can't call us on it?

By the way, I'm under no illusion that this is typical female behavior or that there's a true consensus about this among women. I've been snubbed by both men and women, and it's just as rude coming from either gender.

When I was in my 20s, women used to continually complain about guys who didn't call them after a date. (I agreed with them that these guys were not gentlemen.) Has there been a gender-role shift or something?

I'm not trying to pick a fight here. I'm trying to help BuddhaBelly out by giving her an honest opinion of how I'd feel if someone treated me the way some people here suggest.

Likewise, grumblebee, you don't owe your "fellow human beings" some kind of fond send-off after a date or two.

Right. But I do owe them courtesy.
posted by grumblebee at 2:27 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


we don't take hints. Until we see an ACTUAL closed door - we see openings for opportunity, not closed doors. We notice the potential signs of interest, not the subtle hints of a lack thereof.

Most of us guys -- especially during courtship -- are just not subtle enough to understand "open" endings. We'll take it as a literal maybe and keep pursuing. Hints don't work.

Look, this "we" business is bullshit. I'm a man, and lots of my friends are men, and my partner has dated plenty of men, and these descriptions just don't apply to all men. There are lots of socially adept men who can take a hint, can read body language without being kicked in the nuts, and can handle a "thanks for the date, but didn't float my boat" speech without a breakdown. These descriptions -- "keep pursuing," "don't take hints" -- sound kind of stalker-ish, you know? I hear your frustration, but you are maybe going too far in the other direction.

Honesty and directness are great, but there are a huge range of social situations where tact and good manners support fudging, if not an outright lie. How often do most of us say, "hey, let's get together some time," or "yeah, let's hang out, definitely," or "thanks, that dinner you cooked was the best ever!", or "I look forward to reading your proposal," because that was the polite thing to say? So at the end of a date when it is clear you aren't feeling a spark, be polite, be nice, avoid confrontation, and move on, just as you would after a boring business lunch. If the guy is cool and not at all creepy, then absolutely the best thing is to say or email "great date, no spark, good luck, ciao." Kiss, or hug, or shake hands, whatever you are comfortable with. But if he is at all weird, then I vote for no explanation and just breaking off all contact.
posted by Forktine at 2:31 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think it is regrettable that many people now emphasize a kind of "honesty" at the expense of tact, which seems to be a forgotten value.

I actually agree with this 100%, but I don't think there's always a conflict between honesty and tact. When people say, "I may not be tactful, but I'm honest," I think they usually mean, "I say cruel things to people."

Honesty does NOT mean revealing everything. You do not need to say, "I'm not going to go out with you again because you're too fat and your breath stinks." THAT'S tactless. I won't bother to give an example of tactful ways to be honest, because others have already done that in this thread.

I'm SURE Miss Manners would say it's tactless not to reply to an invitation (e.g. to a wedding). I'm sure she would also say it's tactless to reply by saying, "I'm not coming because the groom is an asshole."

There's a middle way.
posted by grumblebee at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2007


In general, I'm against the not returning calls/e-mails thing. I went on a date with someone from OkCupid, and it wasn't really working for me. She asked about hanging again on our date, and I did the 'really busy with school, we'll see' thing, and contact (which had been IM, mostly) just gradually decreased between us. If she had asked for a second date, I'd have gone with a gentle no.

I agree with the above that you shouldn't agree to a date you don't intend to go on, and certainly no kiss goodnight. On the date I mentioned above, I shook the girl's hand at the end of the date. It was a tad bit awkward, but I think helped reinforce the 'not romantically interested' vibe. I think if you're asked for a second date on the first date, it's okay to be noncommittal, but no more. If they follow up and call and ask for a second date, then you have to be honest and just say you're not interested. Which should be easier, since it's over the phone/e-mail, presumably. I'm with grumblebee on the not returning e-mails/phone calls; I think if they contact you, it's common courtesy to return the call/e-mail/whatev and say you're not interested.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:34 PM on June 24, 2007


Offer your hand for a handshake at the end of the date and say you had a good time before he can ask if you want to do it again.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2007


since there DOES seem to be a "female consensus" on some of these techniques, don't you feel like it's your job on some level to cope with them?

Commonality does not equate to correctness.

Again, the original asker didn't ask "what's common practice", she asked, basically "how can I say no and not be a jerk."

Mulkey put it perfectly, and that's how you do it.

Does it hurt to be told there's no spark? Yeah, but we get over it and we respect your honesty. It also helps us see the truth in life, rather than rationalize a billion other excuses why she didn't call us back.
posted by twiggy at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2007


But if he is at all weird, then I vote for no explanation and just breaking off all contact.

As someone seemingly "in the other camp," I agree with this up to a point. Of course all men (all people) are different, and the best way to react in any social situation is to respond to the specifics of the person you're dealing with -- not in some kind of one-size-fits-all way. And of course you need to protect yourself from harm (stalkers, etc.)

Anyone here -- including me, if that's how I've come off -- who have suggested always behaving the same way to all people all the time is over-simplifying. I just don't think you should develop a general habit of (what I consider) rudeness.
posted by grumblebee at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2007


The average guy who BuddhaBelly dates will not have read this thread.

The average guy who she dates will probably have gone on other dates recently. He should understand the protocol of dating either through advice from others or the school of hard knocks.

Also, you're claiming that if a bunch of people have reached a consensus to act in a certain way, it doesn't make sense to claim that they're acting badly.

See, the thing is that I don't actually think that women who decline dates rather than being brutally honest and saying that they'll never go out with a guy are behaving badly. In human communication there is text and subtext. One can understand quite a bit through the subtext. Especially in an area with an established protocol, where the subtext is easier to pick up.

I'm SURE Miss Manners would say it's tactless not to reply to an invitation (e.g. to a wedding).

That's right. The correct response would be to say that you have a previous engagement, even if you simply just didn't think you would have fun. I am arguing that the correct response to a suitor is the same.
posted by grouse at 2:39 PM on June 24, 2007


I think part of the problem lies in the fact that you think it's "mean" to be honest and say that you don't want to continue dating someone.

Once you give up the myth that honesty and graceful directness are "mean", it'll be a helluva lot easier to be true in your self-expression.
posted by tristeza at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Not that this hasn't been covered to death, but:

As a dating guy: Please please please just be up front about it.

It simply shows respect for me and you.

Doing anything else is disrespectful and, frankly peeing in the pool. ("Ugh, another woman isn't returning my calls. Flake. Why is every woman a freaking flake?")

Do not be ambiguous. Do not hint. Do not play games. I'm not observant enough to get hints and games waste my time.

I've only had two women ever tell me at the end of the date "You know, I'm just not feeling it. Good luck with someone else."

And you know what? It hurt a lot less than getting mixed messages, trailed along on a series of "not interested" dates, getting and breaking a series of dates, getting hung up on, or a bunch of lame excuses.

Just f---king tell me.
posted by Ookseer at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


grouse, I think we're having a MAJOR misunderstanding. You're acting like I've said it's rude to give a subtle reply. I didn't. It's not rude to say, "I'm a bit busy next week, but maybe" or some variation. I think a lot of guys won't get it, but I don't think it's rude.

What I think is rude is treating a phone/email/person-to-person communication with silence. So we're in agreement about the miss manners thing. And I think that applies to dating, too.

I NEVER -- and I don't think anyone else here -- advocated "brutal" honesty.
posted by grumblebee at 2:46 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Relevant Yahoo Answers Thread - it is interesting to see the contrast between there and here.
posted by twiggy at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2007


How about "I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling any chemistry between us, but thank you for the nice time" (I'd use "lovely time," but unless you regularly use the word and can make it sound totally natural, it will come off false)? It cuts things off where and when you need them cut without having to dodge calls, emails, and IMs and without the guy wondering what's wrong with him.

When did Match.com become THE place to be for dating? Suddenly, all the married couples I know who met since 2002 or so met on Match.com.
posted by Cricket at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you look at this thread, you'll see several women (and one or two men) saying "It's okay not to return a call." You'll also see woman and men you think it's not okay. So there's no consensus. At least not here.

There are also quite a few men here who feel that indirectness doesn't work for them (and, of course, there are some others that "can take a hint").

I don't think we can reach any reasonable conclusions about norms from this thread. One of the things that make interactions so tough is that there aren't that many norms (something that I think is grossly rude is cool with some other people.)

But, grouse, if you do feel like men should respect the "female consensus" then why shouldn't women respect the "male consensus"? If men should respect women's desire to "be tactful," when should women respect men's desire for "directness and honesty"?

I don't buy that ALL (or most) women want indirectness and ALL (or most) men want directness, but if you're going to assume a consensus for the one gender (apparently based on this thread), why not assume if for the other gender?

And why should one gender's consensus trump the others'?
posted by grumblebee at 2:54 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sure, grumblebee, looks like we agree in the main. Where we disagree is that you think mulkey gave the best answer, and I don't. I think her answer should be reserved for guys who persistently cannot take the hint.
posted by grouse at 2:56 PM on June 24, 2007


Sure, grumblebee, looks like we agree in the main. Where we disagree is that you think mulkey gave the best answer, and I don't. I think her answer should be reserved for guys who persistently cannot take the hint.

Why? Why avoid honesty? Just because it's easier?

I think that regardless of what consensus is on either end, politely saying "thanks, but no thanks" seems to get across to 100% of the audience. So why do you feel that ignoring phone calls is better?
posted by twiggy at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2007


Well, I can't prove this (though it could be proved -- or at least rendered more or less likely -- via experimentation), but my guess is that if BuddhaBelly goes out with 100 random guys and tries mulkey's goodnight with 50 and "I think I'll be a bit busy next week" with 50, she'll get better results (on average) with the mulkey 50.

I'd wager a large percentage of the "busy next week" 50 won't get it and will continue to call, email and stop by her house. And they'll ultimately feel more hurt when they finally clue in than the other 50.

We're actually in agreement that mulky's answer "should be reserved for guys who persistently cannot take a hint." But I guess I think that includes many more guys than you do. So I think, in preparing a DEFAULT goodnight, which is what I assume this thread is about, I think mulky's response is so spot on.
posted by grumblebee at 3:03 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Grow a pair and get over yourself. Would you be devastated if somebody declined to see you again? The appropriate adult response is indeed 'No thank you.' If a guy persists, and certain losers always do, repeat yourself, smile and walk away. As an adult you don't have to explain yourself in these matters.

But then I really wonder who came up with the bright idea to ask for a second date at the end of the first date. What a big, desperate, tacky turn off.
posted by nixerman at 3:14 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


grouse, if you do feel like men should respect the "female consensus" then why shouldn't women respect the "male consensus"?

See, but I never identified these conventions as a "female consensus." I think that dating involves a protocol for everyone, and that things are a certain way mainly because of tradition and inertia, rather than any one "side" desiring things to be that way.

Nor do I think a consensus on what is desirable can be formed by either sex given the disagreement shown here. It definitely can't be formed here. MetaFilter is not a committee that decides on social norms for the rest of humanity (insert tagline here).

But for that matter, I would rather get the brush-off in a gentle and somewhat ambiguous way than with the sort of statement that some have been suggesting here. Perhaps this is related to how I approach the initial stages of dating. If I get a gentle brush-off, I might think that I still have a slim chance with the person, but I'm more likely to be too busy pursuing someone promising before getting around to it, and eventually I'll forget about the first person. From my perspective, it's a lot less painless that way. But I agree that many, many guys are somewhat obsessive and will fixate on the one woman until it is crystal clear.

We're actually in agreement that mulky's answer "should be reserved for guys who persistently cannot take a hint." But I guess I think that includes many more guys than you do.

That made me laugh. But I would rather presume that my date would have the social graces to understand the hint. In fact, that might be why I would be so embarrassed by a clear rejection—I would wonder whether I really seem like the sort who is so weird he can't take an obvious hint, and that this is considered necessary for? Everyone else acted in a certain way, why did this woman feel the need to explicitly reject me?

twiggy: Can you please re-read the part where I said "Hmmmm, I never actually said it was okay not to return calls. I think that is a little bit rude, actually." I'd be happy to respond to questions that were not predicated on a misunderstanding of my viewpoint. If the "you" in your question is not meant to be me, then I guess whoever it is can answer.
posted by grouse at 3:14 PM on June 24, 2007


Thanks, everyone, for excellent answers.

Yes, it would be easiest for me to leave things open at the end of the date and just not return his phone calls/emails. That's kind of what I've been doing and I'm trying to stop doing that. I think those individuals who said that's more hurtful than just saying "Thanks for a nice night, there was no chemistry, good luck" are 100% correct.

And, if only I could be dating those guys who could "get a clue", I wouldn't be here! :)

I have marked as best answer those that had "scripts" I feel like I could use without feeling too strange.

If you have any additonal "scripts" or more suggestions (some of these are really great - I would have never come up with that point of view!), please keep them coming.

Thank you, again!
posted by BuddhaBelly at 3:34 PM on June 24, 2007


You know, grouse, I see you're in England. Maybe the passive/aggressive thing works better over there. But most guys I know over here would rather be told straight up. Politely, kindly, with empathy. But directly.

Why should I waste my time pursuing something that is clearly not available? Ambiguity only leaves the door open. If the door is closed, why not express it as politely and directly as possible?

I think this is a cultural difference.

On the other hand, I'm married, so, thank God, I no longer have to play these petty, childish dating games.
posted by MythMaker at 3:37 PM on June 24, 2007


I'm in favor of a tactful but unambiguous demurral at the time he asks for a second date, for a simple reason: on the (perhaps rare) occasion when someone doesn't read the subtext of "maybe" and "I'll check my schedule," you may really hurt his feelings.

On my one and only blind date, I was bored silly. Though I tried to make the best of it, we obviously (I thought) didn't connect, so I was floored when he asked to see me again. I stammered out something about being busy, so very busy, and left. I figured I'd call him in a few days and tell him that, on reflection, I didn't think we had the necessary spark, thanks for meeting with me, etc.

But the friend who set us up gave him my home phone number. I came home that night to a message from my blind date, saying how much fun he'd had. The next evening, I came home to a message telling me he had bought ballet tickets for our second date and could hardly wait til I called back.

I felt like a heel.

By the time I called back and spoke honestly to him, he had convinced himself that I liked him, liked him a lot, and my belated honesty hurt him.

To be honest, this fellow proved a problem for me, refusing to stop calling me after I expressly asked him to, so he may be a poor example, but since then I've always chosen to be frank but gentle when asked for an unwanted second date. I never again want to feel like a cad.
posted by Elsa at 3:49 PM on June 24, 2007


I had no idea you were in the U.K, grouse. That makes sense. I'm a dual U.S. / U.K. citizen, and I probably would have responded similarly to you if I still lived in London and not NYC. Brits are much more subtle than we tend to be on this side of the pond.
posted by grumblebee at 3:49 PM on June 24, 2007


Though I tried to make the best of it, we obviously (I thought) didn't connect, so I was floored when he asked to see me again.

See, different people want and strive for such different things from each other. I've never expected a "spark" and I've been in good relationships (romantic and otherwise) that started with one and ones that have started without one.

If I don't feel "chemistry" when I first meet someone, I might still pursue them because, despite the lack of chemistry, I find them compelling for whatever reason (and because my past history has proved to me that lack-of-initial !!! does not always mean things won't work out later). Naturally, if I feel the other person wants to back out, I won't continue. But I have to really understand that that's what the other person wants to do.

I know there are plenty of people who don't like to move on if there's no initial chemistry, and I don't think they're bad or wrong or shallow. I just know that the world is full of unique people with unique differences.
posted by grumblebee at 3:55 PM on June 24, 2007


Would it work better if, when you are setting up a date, you say something (in an e-mail) like, "I want to make sure in advance that you are comfortable with me being honest if I don't feel that there is any chemistry between us. I've been out on a lot of dates through Match.com where the guys just didn't get the message, and honesty about these things is important to me."

Then, instead of setting up something like dinner, go to coffee. This seems to have the virtue of being explicitly an "interview for a date" situation, rather than an actual date.

I don't see the harm in making explicit that you want a thirty-minute coffee chat before you decide whether to go on a formal date with someone. Being clear about this up-front might help weed out the losers who are desperate or lacking in maturity and perspective. The mature guys shouldn't have any problem with it.
posted by jayder at 4:02 PM on June 24, 2007


Oh, and at the end of that coffee chat, just follow through by being frank: "I've really enjoyed chatting with you, but I'm not sure we need to get together again."

Since you've already gained the guy's commitment that you can be honest, this should be much easier.
posted by jayder at 4:04 PM on June 24, 2007


Okay, grumblebee, to be more frank than I would ever be on a date: it wasn't that we didn't spark, but that one evening with that guy made me long to bang my head against the table.

If instead of stuttering out, "Uh, I'm busy. I'll let you know," I had said,"Gosh, [name], tonight was nice, but I just didn't feel a spark," I would be saying no without being painfully honest.

This is my version of tact.
posted by Elsa at 4:07 PM on June 24, 2007


but if you're honest and direct
and avoid making a flowery emotional speech
when you break the news
the boy will respect you for your frankness
and honestly, he'll appreciate the kind straight-forward manner
in which you told him your decision
unless he's a real jerk or a cry-baby you'll remain friends

posted by Captaintripps at 4:10 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Elsa, I wasn't accusing you of behaving badly. I was just replying to your surprise that the guy felt so differently than you did about the date. My guess is he was just a clueless, boring, jerk. But I was pointing out then when to relative strangers meet, their needs, desires, goals and expectations can be a million miles apart.

Incidentally, due to some self-esteem issues, my M.O. on dates (back in my boring youth) was assume that girls didn't like me even if they said "Could we go out again tomorrow night?" I assumed they were just being nice. For every person out there there's a different neurosis and a different way to misunderstand.
posted by grumblebee at 4:13 PM on June 24, 2007


Oh, I didn't think you were snipping or snarking at me. And I did behave badly, or at least regrettably.

I didn't notice that I was being ridiculously tactful, even misleading, about a bad date. That's odd, to say the least, considering the unlikelihood that the fellow would ever read my remark, much less recognize himself in it.

I suspect this desire to avoid confrontation and hurt feelings is deeply ingrained in lots of women - heck, in lots of people - and actually results in badly hurt feelings once in a while. It certainly did in my case.

BuddhaBelly, your goal to be "honest but not mean" sounds just right, and lots of people give scripts up-thread. I will add some suggestions: avoiding the kiss will go a long way to clarify your lack of interest. Allowing a kiss can send mixed signals.
posted by Elsa at 4:57 PM on June 24, 2007


Thanks, Elsa. You're absolutely correct...hopefully those scripts will help me from even getting into the kiss situation...however, if he does lean in, what's the polite way to um, decline?
posted by BuddhaBelly at 4:59 PM on June 24, 2007


Pull back, but at the same time look into his eyes and with as much compassion as you can muster (and you sound like you have plenty) say, "I'm sorry."

That doesn't mean, "I'm sorry I don't want to kiss you" or "I'm sorry I'm pulling away." It means, "I recognize that it's humiliating to lean in for a kiss and have the other person pull away, and I'm sorry you had to go through that."
posted by grumblebee at 5:06 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


grumblebee's got it.
posted by Elsa at 5:08 PM on June 24, 2007


Wow, I'm going to add one thing.

All of you are putting too much pressure on this first meeting. And I mean that word. Meeting.

You haven't met the person yet. Really, really stress that it's a meeting. Not a date. it'll make the experience a bit easier.
posted by filmgeek at 6:05 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


i totally disagree with everyone who says "let me get back to you" and then never return someone's calls. i think that's just bullshit and cowardly. it is completely possible to straight up turn someone down and be nice. it works like this: "i'm sure you are a great person, so i'm sorry but i'm not interested." i would much rather hear that—or anything similar which tells me what is going on then have to be put through the bullshit of hearing, "i'll call you" when the person never actually intends to. you're big boys and girls. be honest—and learn to deal with honesty.
posted by violetk at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2007


As a guy, here's what I'd like you to do, if it were me. This thread makes it apparent that the old saying, "you can't please everyone" holds true in this case, though.

I'd like you to not offer to go on another date. I probably won't bring it up either if I'm getting a sense that you're not having any/much fun. If I do, be noncommittal and give me your email address or phone number or something. I'll take that as a no. If not, do the "I had a great time, but I'm not really interested in going out again" thing when/if I call/email you. No explanation required. After that one reply, it's ok if you never respond again - I had my answer and you shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Probably I won't call or email you. "The spark" goes two ways, and if you're not feeling it, I can tell. I'm my own toughest critic, and if you weren't enthusiastic, I'm going to figure you didn't like me. That doesn't mean I want to be explicitly told that.
posted by ctmf at 6:41 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


From a guy perspective. Just be honest about your feelings and dont waste either of your time dragging things out.
Avoiding calls and emails is disrespectful - don't do it.
Kissing when you don't want to sends the wrong signal too.

When I was on Match, here's what worked for me (I'm a guy but was much like you in that I felt there's no great way to say you aren't interested in someone):

Responding with things like, "you are very nice but I think there just isn't chemistry here" or "thank you for a nice date and good luck in your search for someone" to "thank you for the offer of a second date but I'm going to decline" for the persistent people.

Ideally, I found that you should set this premise of agreeing that we'll both be honest and say if we don't want another date in your first few emails back and forth about yourself before the first date.

What worked well for me was to have the first date be informal - like a lunch or meet for dessert or maybe go to a music store (something in common) and both arrive there separately with an agreed time. "Let's meet for coffee and then go check out CD's from 3-4 on Saturday to see how things go" always was nice and seemed appreciated.

That way you both have an out and you can make plans for later if things go well or not if they don't. (Have something in mind for later if things go well also helps :) everyone likes a decisive plan)

Maybe some of those things will help you - I hope so - but just be honest and fair and you will be fine, it's easy once you make a habit of it.

Met my wife on Match - well she found me :) best of luck to you!
posted by clanger at 6:42 PM on June 24, 2007


BuddhaBelly, one quick comment that might make things easier. Your date (if he has been on a half dozen match.com dates or so) has not only already heard the "no chemistry" speech but probably has had to make it a time or two.
posted by sexymofo at 6:48 PM on June 24, 2007


I think the checked answers so far are really good, but in case you want to hear more!

As a GIRL who has asked out GUYS and gotten both the no-response rejection and the clear "I'm sorry but there's no chemistry" rejection -- while they both suck, I would SO MUCH rather know for certain as soon as possible and be done with it, instead of wondering if they got busy or whatever and then finally thinking they're a jerk for not being upfront. Everyone is different in what they want to hear, but I'm sorry, if someone asks you out they deserve a yes or a no.

My basic rules are:
-you don't need to reject anyone preemptively. A lot of my first dates end with neither of us contacting each other, and this works fine.
-If they ask you at the end of the date, you could be vague, or you could just say you're not interested.
-Since it's match, if they ask you out again in a clear way, just do the "I'm sorry, I'm not interested, good luck" and be done with it.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 7:05 PM on June 24, 2007


I'll add another vote that not returning calls without telling the guy that you're not interested is just rude. You don't owe the guy an explanation of why you're not interested, just let him know not to be wasting his time and energy pursuing you. Short and sweet works best.

Much worse than that, however, is the habit of sending encouraging signals if you're really not interested. Saying that you'd love to go out again or giving a goodnight kiss after a date are encouraging signals. When I was dating, a simple "sorry, I'm not interested" would maybe bum me out for half an hour. On the other hand, if a woman I was interested in kept giving encouraging signals, she could keep me tied up in emotional knots for months before I figured out the game. Simple honesty is much, much kinder.

On the flip side, if you are interested, I'd suggest making sure that your behavior won't be mistaken for the passive-aggressive avoidant behavior some women practice. Back when I was dating, I went on one date with a woman I was fairly interested in. I called her two or three times after that to ask her for a follow up date. Each time she had some excuse why she wasn't available on the day I suggested, but she didn't express any particular interest in seeing me at some other time. I concluded that she wasn't interested in dating me and was being too "polite" to tell me outright. Years later (after I was married) I found out that she actually had had a serious crush on me. I have no idea why she acted as if she wasn't interested at the time.
posted by tdismukes at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If a girl I'm on a date said "we'll see" at the end of a date, I have no expectation of a second date. In fact, I would automatically assumed there wouldn't be a second date. If a girl said "sure" when I asked to see her again, then I assume there is a 35% chance of another date. If you never called me again or contacted me or were very cold towards me in subsequent responses, I would assume that we're done and I would turn my attention towards someone else.

The problem, I think, is what happens when the guy likes you and you don't like them. Guys can be dumb. Wait, no, they are in fact very very dumb. Guys typically assume that if a girl pays attention to them, the girl wants them, the girl says "hello" or "what time is it?", the girl MUST be into them and like them. If a guy tends to be socially awkward, doesn't get a lot of attention, he'll automatically assume any ANY ANY positive or open ended answer as "she wants me". Did you see Knocked Up? Remember when she calls for the 2nd date? Yeah. That's how we think. It's not cool but it's life. (it's also a mass generalization but it seems to work)

Don't feel bad about not answering phone calls back. If it's comfortable for you, hey, go crazy. And, yes, that's how a lot of people do it and is fairly common. But if doing that makes you feel uncomfortable and you want to change it, saying at the end of the first date "we'll see" or "i don't think this will work" is enough. If a guy can't get any hint based on your behavior after the date or even during it, he's not worth wasting time on anyways.
posted by Stynxno at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2007


I think the main problem is that we often think of chemistry as something that's between two people when really it can be extremely different for the two parties. If neither side was feeling it, then the "nice rejection" works fine, because everyone can see straight, and understand that "i'm pretty busy this week, maybe some other time" means "I'm not interested." But if one party was really feeling a connection, then they are going to take the being busy line much more literally - maybe you really are busy - people get busy sometimes... the subtext is going to get lost when excitement, attraction, chemistry and connection are thrown into the mix. If someone is feeling it for you, a nice rejection from you will come across like you're sending them mixed signals because they'll incorporate their own interpretation of what you must be feeling, based on the chemistry they're (at least subconsciously) assuming is going two ways.

That said, a straightforward rejection at the end of the first date every time might not be necessary. Plenty of first dates will end with both parties uninterested in a second date but making polite talk about possibly meeting up again anyway. You don't want to kiss someone you're not interested in going out with a second time, but a non-committal "maybe, let me get back to you" when you don't quite feel up an Official face-to-face No can be a perfectly reasonable way to handle a potentially uncomfortable moment. Who knows, maybe he won't even call (he might get the hint, he might have only asked because he was tipsy, he might have a better date the next night...) - & if he does, you just clarify via phone / email that it's not going to work.
posted by mdn at 8:28 PM on June 24, 2007


grumblebee has it: we don't take hints. Until we see an ACTUAL closed door - we see openings for opportunity, not closed doors. We notice the potential signs of interest, not the subtle hints of a lack thereof.

twiggy speaks for the optimists amongst us.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:30 PM on June 24, 2007


I realize this isn't exactly BuddhaBelly is asking, but I can say why I always take the wussy way out of these sort of situations whether it's after a first date or a guy at a bar. I have had guys totally flip out and scream at me in bars, follow me in their cars, etc. after rejecting them honestly (never rude or mean either).

For me it is just about personal safety, I don't feel comfortable rejecting a guy so I give fake numbers, fake excuses, just don't call back, because you never know what kind of reaction you're going to get. I know the vast majority of guys out there are nice and would prefer honesty and would react appropriately, but I don't feel like you can risk it with a guy you have just met and whose reaction you can't properly gauge yet.
posted by whoaali at 8:55 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


How about this, then: Don't go out alone with people you cannot trust.
posted by eritain at 10:03 PM on June 24, 2007


eritain: well, it's not such a joking matter, what with date rape & all. The fact is, strangers are often almost complete unknown quantities. Think about how many psychos, emotional vampires, parasites, junkies, narcissists, users, abusers, cutters, jealous freaks, passive-agressives & vegans you have encountered in your life, and imagine how much scarier they would be if they had suddenly decided to take an unreciprocated emotional investment in you, most likely with a few drinks thrown into the mix.

Being civil is nice, but I think whoaali has a valid point. Personally, I prefer to be civil, but that's just because I don't really want to live my life dominated by a fear of random crazies. And if I did, I probably wouldn't even venture out of doors at all, because god knows there are enough of them out there...
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:40 PM on June 24, 2007


Any guy you say "I'm sorry, but I don't feel the spark" is going to think "What the hell is wrong with me", and will hate you for it.

So, don't do this face to face, you could get hurt. These are people you don't know. Instead, send an email afterwards, telling them you would prefer to have them in the "friend zone", and that you think you connect better as friends than as lovers.

You allow him save face and avoid yourself getting stalked and hated by pissed off guys.
posted by markovich at 11:55 PM on June 24, 2007


Any guy you say "I'm sorry, but I don't feel the spark" to is going to think "What the hell is wrong with me", and will hate you for it.

That's a bit of an extreme claim, isn't it? Using slightly circular logic, I would have thought that most mature guys are mature enough to realise that these things involve a hell of a lot more than a simple, two-dimensional, linear pass/fail evaluation, and are able to take 'rejection' not as a personal failing, but a simple recognition that the chemistry wasn't there for whatever reason. People can have all kinds of preferences & turnons, which don't reflect poorly on the hopeful partner who happens not to be, say, a blonde fireman with a passion for Italian cooking.

Aside from that, I have no idea where you are from, markovich, but my impression of dating in the US is that it's far, far, far more 'casual' than in Australia or the UK. From what Americans have told me, it's just not that big a deal to ask somebody out without turning it into some great expectant romantic hoopla. More of a pragmatic try-it-on-and-see-if-it-fits approach.

This would be why they speak so openly about dating multiple people at once, or, as above, saying to tonight's date "hey, whatever, I've got another date with somebody else tomorrow night". That's almost totally anathema down under - it would put you into some sort of major creepy sleaze category. According to the American model, though, it shouldn't be all that much water off the poor duckling's back to be told, for the 80th time this year, that no great spark is felt. That's just par for the course. Um, the course full of water traps & ducklings, that is.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:30 AM on June 25, 2007


I've been jerked around by women before (in much worse ways), and I'll say I much prefer getting an honest "not interested". At the same time, it is hard sometimes. I've been aggressively pursued, and it definitely threw me off to the point where it took a while to be blunt.

I'm all for putting a message in your dating profile saying you feel awkward about rejecting people who are asking you out and you would prefer just to get a phone number at the end of the date, and "don't call me, I'll call you".

I agree with Filmgeek above though, the first meeting with someone should not be in a romantic context, but more in a let's get to know each other context. Go out for lunch, drive separately. Anyone who leans in for a kiss at the end of a lunch date probably needs some brutal honesty.

If all else fails, you could try the Chicago version of the NY rejection line 773-509-5096
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:26 AM on June 25, 2007


Any guy you say "I'm sorry, but I don't feel the spark" is going to think "What the hell is wrong with me", and will hate you for it.

yeah. maybe if they were 15. come on. grow up, deal with it. if a guy can't take being rejected nicely but honestly after one date then they need to work on their self-esteem and/or maturity level before attempting to date again.

as for worries about the crazies—if this is a blind date, online situation, nthing the whole meet casually first, probably in the daytime, and meet each other there—don't give a stranger clues as to where you live. if you're not feeling it, don't agree to go again; don't kiss them; don't encourage them in any way. it's just common sense.

rejection sucks now matter what the situation, no matter what level. but seriously, again, be big boys and girls about it.
posted by violetk at 3:02 AM on June 25, 2007


If you're dating a lot, you might want to consider having shorter, less elaborate dates. Meet for coffee or a drink instead of dinner. Meet at a gallery or museum with an exhibit you want to see. Takes off some of the pressure, and might be easier to gracefully end.
posted by theora55 at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2007


One thing on the "don't return phone calls" thing.

Of course it's not really cool to fall off the face of the earth. Breaking up by simply vanishing is cowardly. But....

If someone -- male or female -- keeps trying to contact you after you have clearly told this person in no uncertain terms you don't want to see them again, then it is appropriate to not reciprocate any effort to contact you. Telling someone a second time that you don't want to talk to them is talking to them, and talking to them once more than you wanted to in the first place.

But to get to this point you first have to say no, and that is the exact problem the original question attempts to address.
posted by ilsa at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2007


There is not one "correct" answer.

Not calling is fine for socially adept people. It sends a clear message. Then again, if they're socially adept, they'll know whether you're into them or not before the date ends. This is not vague, this is not mean, this is how well-socialized people say, "No thanks."

For the rest -- you know who you are -- you'll have to tell them directly. This is pretty harsh, really, but there are lots of desperate folks who just won't "get it" otherwise.

If, on the other hand, you want to completely crush a man's self-esteem, I mean grind his personal well-being into a fine pulp of pitious inadequacy and fuck him up for months, do this.
posted by LordSludge at 10:36 AM on June 25, 2007


Then again, if they're socially adept, they'll know whether you're into them or not before the date ends.

And you should also know for yourself whether you're into them or not.

This means that you have plenty of time to ensure that he's the one who pulls the plug, so that you can avoid grinding his personal well-being into a fine pulp of pitious inadequacy and fuck him up for months.

Making somebody dislike you can be more than just a matter of body language, especially when dealing with desperate males who probably couldn't read the signs even if they wanted to. You may need to resort to subtle verbal cues to turn him off.

You can start by telling him all about how many babies you want. If that doesn't get him running, try talking him into selling Amway for you, or joining the Scientologists. If that fails, he might have given some clues earlier that you can use to your advantage. For example, if he's a vegetarian, describe how you raise your own pigs, because nothing beats the taste of raw, freshly-slaughtered meat (this is especially good if he happens to be Jewish or Muslim).

Have fun, and be creative. Remember: the more outrageous the lie, the more likely people are to believe it, and you're never going to see him again, so there's no great risk of being found out, and no real loss if you are.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, good call, UbuRoivas -- ideally, the two should be on the same page by the end of the date. I would suggest "start"ing by disengaging, acting distracted, looking around the room, etc., *before* getting into the Amway/Scientology pitch...

The point being, of course, that one can and should give off social vibes throughout the interaction that subtly indicate one's interest (or lack thereof), so that the kiss vs. hug vs. handshake at the end of the date is a foregone conclusion. (As a guy, though, you really have to let her show interest FIRST, or you'll come off as desperate!)

And I should say, regarding the fine pulp of pitious inadequacy thing, if you do that to a well-socialized guy, he will probably laugh his ass off. Ironically, the guys whose feelings you're trying to protect are the ones who will be hurt. Please don't do this -- it seems "nice", but it is internally, crushingly cruel.

Metafilter: A fine pulp of pitious inadequacy.

(I'm very sorry. It's not you; it's me...)

posted by LordSludge at 12:24 PM on June 25, 2007


You can also do what I did a lot of and just say, "Thanks for coming out with me tonight. It was great meeting you." And if the person suggests a second date, you can just fall back on "I always make it a policy not to plan another date while I'm on the first one, but send me an e-mail this week." Then the person can either do it or not, and if he does, it's easier to decline.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2007


Late to the party, but for those in the future who end up checking on this thread... Some people seem to be locked in on choosing between "Be direct and say no in person" and "Just don't call or e-mail back." The compromise solution is best.

Being told "No," in person, no matter how nice, can be pretty devastating for a lot of guys. Obviously if they're even asking at the end of a first date, they're interested, so to be denied immediately, without a second's thought, seems too harsh. At least let them enjoy the memory of that night instead of being shut down at the end of it. Just go the "Maybe" route. Plus you won't have to endure the painful awkwardness of seeing them get rejected then and there. And the truth of it is, it's easier to be "politely dishonest" when the other person's still a relative stranger who you'll probably never see again. And while they may claim to appreciate the honesty, not everyone is confident enough to actually mean it.

Now, if you flat-out don't call or write, the other person will just be agonizing about what's going on at your end (this sorta goes for platonic relationships, like in a thread I started, but first dates would be even worse!). He might wonder if you lost your cell phone, you lost his number, if your e-mail ended up in his spam filter, if your computer crashed, your house blew up, on and on.

So the middle ground would be to just say "I'm not sure, it's still pretty early, I'll have to think about it, etc" Tell them you'll call or write within the week, and assure them you'll follow up on it. Just save them the trouble of giving them the option of contacting you first, since they would anyway. And it's probably easier to break the bad news in written form, for similar reasons to the above... On the phone you may sense the guy's disappointment. Plus, they may panic and start to insist why there should be a second date, or they'll be left wondering later if there was any way they could've changed your mind, etc. At least in written form, you can more easily cut things off after some point if it's clear they're not getting the hint.

It'd be easier to collect each of your thoughts and write it down. And who knows, maybe it'll turn out that the big thing that bothered you about the guy could've been explained by something else? You never would've known otherwise. If not, you still end up not seeing each other anyway. And definitely no peck on the cheek or anything. It won't offer any consolation then or later.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:33 AM on July 9, 2007


Not sure how matchme.com works but is it possible to initiate boundaries BEFORE YOU EVEN GO. Along the lines of for whatever reason this is just ONE outing. It's not a promise, it is not the beginning of anything it is just one occasion.

Obviously word it far more tactfully but make it clear you do not respond favorably to pushy or presumptuous behavior. Perhaps it flusters you and out of habit the answer is always just No! What ever they were trying to maneuver you into. As people not allowing you to come to your own decisions in a comfortable manner has never been even slightly to your benefit. (Obviously this would make a better internal bottom line rather than the ball-busting introduction to it)

Once they've reassured you 'they' are not like that if you need to remind them it will be simple or provide an excellent loophole for your escape.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:47 PM on September 13, 2007


« Older Sadfilter: Does anyone have ex...   |  What are the best Safari plugi... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.