Second date advice sought
December 25, 2004 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I've gone out with this girl on one date which went “ok”. And, at the time, I figured on going out with her at least once more since first dates can often be unrepresentative of other dates. [MI]

Due to conflicting schedules, it's now been three weeks from our first date,. And, we've called each other about once a week since then but mostly for the sake of checking our respective schedules for a second date. (“Are you free this weekend?” “No?” “Well, let's try for next weekend, then.”)

Over the course of these phone calls, I've realized that we're not a good fit for each other and I'd like to make the breakup as painless as possible for her. Normally, if I came to this conclusion after a first date, I would just call her and end it over the phone. However, in this case, we've had several phone calls under the assumption that we'd have a second date. And, I wouldn't want to end it over the phone only to have her think that I was leading her along all this time (as it was only after our most recent call that I made up my mind).

I suppose that another option to breaking up over the phone would be to go on a second date with her and then tell her at the end of the date (this would also have the benefit of allowing me to tell her in person). However, that scenario seems a bit dishonest to me since I would be going on the date under false pretenses. Complicating things further, if we went on a second date, it would likely involve a New Year's Eve party with her friends or my friends. (I say “complicating” since New Year's Eve is often a memorable time and I wouldn't want to ruin the evening for her.)

Any suggestions on how to proceed? I could call her and end it, which would save her from an unpleasant conclusion to New Year's Eve. Or, I could go out with her and tell her at the end of the date, which would allow me to tell her in person.
posted by Handcoding to Human Relations (44 answers total)
My vote: be honest and direct, it will hurt less for her, and then she can move on and have a kickin New Year's with her friends, and work on forgetting about you.

Plus, you never know, she may be reaching the same conclusion...
posted by beth at 2:15 PM on December 25, 2004

I should add, just in case it isn't obvious, that you should be as kind and gentle as possible in letting her know. Saying you're sorry is good, and avoiding blaming her or criticizing her is key. Plus you may want to wait one day so you don't do this on Christmas itself. But you should do it soon, I think.
posted by beth at 2:22 PM on December 25, 2004

You're putting way too much thought into this. It's not 'breaking up'; you only had one date. Sure, be polite. Next time you talk on the phone, just tell her (nicely) that after all this time, you've been thinking that maybe it's not such a great idea.

But you know, unless you and she are already friends (which it sounds like you aren't), or your first date went really well (which it didn't), and she has been around the block at least once, then you are not committing a cardinal sin if you just don't call her back next time, and she'll probably get the message. Sometimes doing this sort of thing indirectly can actually be less hurtful than doing it directly.
posted by bingo at 2:48 PM on December 25, 2004 [2 favorites]

My wife and I talked this over (to get a both-gender p.o.v.) and we're in agreement that you SHOULDN'T go on a second date.

Here's what I would do: one more phone call in which you're honest about what you've said here. "I'm not sure how you feel about me, and I really hope you don't think I've lead you on or misrepresented myself, but the more I think about it, the more I think we wouldn't be a really good match." That's it.

From my perspective, I've had two girlfriends break up with me AFTER a long dinner date. The second time it happened, I swear the girl said the same thing that the first girl had said: "It's been such a great evening, that I hate to end it on a bad note, but..." Both times I left feeling really pissed off (and a bit humiliated) that I had to sit through the whole dinner only to hear that. I would have preferred it short and quick.

My wife mentioned a guy who broke up with her -- after they'd had only one date -- and made a big deal about how he "knew he was really going to hurt her, but..." She didn't feel all that strongly about him, and she was offended that he acted like he was breaking her heart. So I'd avoid coming across that way. All those schedule problems sound like she might be luke-warm about things too. I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but even your post here sounds a little self-centered ("I know I'm a heart-breaker, but I like to make things a little easier on the ladies when I dump them...") Again: to-the-point and quick.
posted by grumblebee at 2:49 PM on December 25, 2004 [2 favorites]

Yeah, just tell her. Be kind. Make an effort to be kinder than usual. But just say that you were thinking it over and that you'd like to just remain friends and leave it at that. Good luck.
posted by amandaudoff at 3:08 PM on December 25, 2004

I agree with all the above - if she were more interested in you, she would probably have made time for a second date by now; I doubt you're going to break her heart or any thing. Just be polite and end it now (well, not today).
posted by muddgirl at 3:25 PM on December 25, 2004

What Bingo said. Look, you aren't going to be "letting her down." Cause the truth is, if she liked you, she would have made the effort to go out with you again, even if it didn't fit her schedule perfectly -- and it sure as hell wouldn't have been 3 weeks later. Unless you run in overlapping social cricles, you might as well just blow her off.
posted by fourstar at 3:29 PM on December 25, 2004

I don't think there's any breaking up to do. Give her a call and just say that your schedule's nuts, hers looks pretty busy too, and casually mention that if you were fated for one another, you'd probably have figured out a time to get together. Then get the heck off the phone.
posted by theora55 at 3:53 PM on December 25, 2004

Not calling is just impolite, in my opinion. Agreeing with everyone else: call her, make it short and sweet and to the point, say thank you for the date you did have, and leave it there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:24 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

Seriously.... donn't even bother calling. The purpose of dating is to find out if you mesh, and if you don't, well... loose ends are incidental.
posted by pissfactory at 4:26 PM on December 25, 2004

Don't waste either her or your time or money. Call, be honest, boom, you're done. That's the risk that comes with dating: getting dumped.
posted by gramcracker at 4:35 PM on December 25, 2004

I agree with dirtynumbangelboy and disagree with pissfactory. It's rude not to call at all. But I find it interesting how people's rudeness threshold is so different. If pissfactory and I went on a date (which is unlikely given sexual preferences and marital status) and I didn't call him, he would (presumably) say, "oh well, back to the game." On the other hand, if he didn't call me (even if I was totally uninterested in him), I'd think, "what a rude asshole. The LEAST he could have done was to pick up the phone and tell me he wasn't interested."

I guess it all comes down to what game you're playing and what the rules are. Unfortunately, with dating it's possible for one person to be playing chess, another person to be playing checkers while both think they are playing monopoly. I'm so glad I'm out of the game!
posted by grumblebee at 4:48 PM on December 25, 2004

Your phone conversations count for something, even if you're just trying to synch your schedules. It's not a natural conclusion for her to think you were "leading her on", and you can probably make it clear without any great discomfort that you've come to these feelings in the time since your last date.

I'm of the "call, don't just disappear" school. I think it shows respect.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 4:55 PM on December 25, 2004

I just want to second the not making a big deal of it, as you almost certainly won't be breaking her heart (and I've had that done to me, also and wow...rude). Call her, tell her that it's just not something you're into anymore (blame a short attention span) and move on. She's most likely thinking the same way.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 5:01 PM on December 25, 2004

Just let it fizzle. Doesn't sound like there's anything there in any case.
posted by rushmc at 5:26 PM on December 25, 2004

Just don't call. She'll call you if you actually gives a toss, and you can tell her then.
posted by reklaw at 6:26 PM on December 25, 2004

I agree with lots above- just let it fade away; calling to break it off assumes that she actually cares, when all signs point to not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:42 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

I find it so amusing how straight men, generally, say that you just shouldn't call. Let's try having some respect for our fellow humans, boys.

It's simple politeness to call and say "Thank you for the lovely time," (even if it wasn't lovely), "but I don't think it's going to work."

It sends a clear message, the other person isn't left going :What's wrong with me? Why didn't he call me?," and it's just altogether more civilized.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:47 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

Call her. Tell her what with the conflicts in schedules and all you just don't think it's gonna work out.

Seriously, if you were both interested, you'd have both made more of an effort to change something in your schedules so it would happen.
posted by kamylyon at 7:09 PM on December 25, 2004


rush you are so lazy.
posted by kamylyon at 7:10 PM on December 25, 2004

It's not just men, dirtynumbangelboy, who think you shouldn't call. I'm a girl, and I'd rather not get a call. The stereotype perpetuated in your statement irks me- "Oh, men are such pigs, they leave pooooor women all alone, sad and crying by the phone." As my high school English teacher used to say, Child please! I don't put all my eggs in one basket, and anyone that does ("He didn't call- what's wrong with me?) is silly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

Even if you like the guy in question? Say you go out on a date, you think it goes fabulously, he doesn't. Can you honestly say you'd rather get no call whatsoever?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:02 PM on December 25, 2004

Absolutely. It's one date- some guy I barely know. What is he supposed to do- call and say, "I know you reeeeally liked me, but I don't see it going anywhere, sorry!" Please. In the stated situation, the silent brush off is almost always* the best kind.

*I can't think of a time when it wouldn't be, but I don't like to generalize.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:18 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

No, I wouldn't expect him to say that. What I would expect is a phone call, and a polite notice that there will not be another date.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:36 PM on December 25, 2004

I heart ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by bingo at 8:53 PM on December 25, 2004

Actions have consequences. If there is any chance that the girl will ever speak about you to anyone who might matter to you (a friend, a friend of friend, a co-worker, some other girl you might want to date), then you should do the right thing for pragmatic reasons as well as being able to sleep soundly at night.

The right thing to do is to call. If you make it a casual conversation (lots of good suggestions above as to wording), then all you're doing is communicating information (that is, she can stop thinking about scheduling - or what to say the next time you talk - or whatever she might be thinking). It's helpful to her to be able to cross you off her list (whatever list that might be).
posted by WestCoaster at 9:03 PM on December 25, 2004

Ahhhh, bingo, I heart you, too. And I promise, should our love affair ever turn sour, I will never ever ever call you again.

And yes, WestCoaster, there's the exception!! I knew it was there somewhere. If it's someone that you're going to see again in your social circle, you probably want to call someday far in the future and be all, "Hey, FRIEND, how's it going, FRIEND, we should hang out, FRIEND!" just to set things straight. I really don't date a lot like that, but I know (or guess?) a lot of people do.

I guess it all comes down to what you want. If the first date didn't go well, I don't want him to call me and remind me. It makes me feel good when a guy just..... lets go. If a guy called me, it would put me in a bad mood. But if you want a phone call, what the heck, go ahead and want one. It sounds silly to me, especially considering that I think most people do not call, but to each their own.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:11 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

I usually call unless it's clear at the end of the first date that both parties on the same "thanks but no" page at the end of the evening.

This especially since an event two years ago, where I got *really* excited about a woman, which doesn't happen often, lately, who also initially seemed interested in me (saw her at a few parties, and at the third one, there was lots of touching, saying several times "we should really do something")... and then, after our first date, no returning of phone calls for a few weeks. I did finally get the hint. Hints suck. Calling politely and explaining doesn't suck.
posted by weston at 9:21 PM on December 25, 2004

I can't fathom why you even think a second date to tell her in person is an option. Additionally, calling her to "break-up" will just be awkward and unnecessary. Skip the call, and just let the acquaintanceship just fade. The reason I say this is that there is no way you can handle the call with aplomb. "Breaking-up" with her, and acknowledging that you are incompatible simply heightens and credits the entire first date episode & aftermath into a situation that does not warrant the attention. Whatever excuse you throw her, you will only succeed in sounding like a complete egoist.

Listen, if you don't call her, I'm sure she's smart enough to figure out that your relationship didn't work. It seems like it was the obvious direction for both you and her anyway. You don't have to justify or rationalize it to her because the relationship never really existed in the first place.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:26 PM on December 25, 2004


Tell her an ex-girlfriend who you used to live with, who you were with for years, who you were madly in love with, just called you up and you are simply going to have to give it another shot.

Lying is good. She doesn't care anyway.
posted by sic at 4:46 AM on December 26, 2004

It's simple politeness to call and say "Thank you for the lovely time," (even if it wasn't lovely),

So your idea of "respect" is to lie? God protect me from such as you! Anyway, your premise is off. I would agree that one should never say they are going to call and then not bother to follow through on it. I always keep my word. But that does not describe this situation where they've already had multiple post-date conversations. The honest (and mean) thing to do is to call and inform the girl that you do not wish to see her again. The honest (and nice) thing to do is just to acknowledge that it has died on the vine, almost certainly as the result of the preference of both parties, and go on about your business.
posted by rushmc at 9:24 AM on December 26, 2004

I say (as a straight female) don't call. If she has any clue whatsoever, she'll get the message, and it doesn't sound like she's going to care all that much. If a guy called me just to tell me he didn't want to see me again, no matter how uninterested I was in him, it would still hurt a bit. If you bump into each other, make excuses. Lie your ass off and she'll lie her ass off pretending not to notice you lying your ass off.
posted by eatcherry at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2004

The key to this situation is that sweet Alex Handcoding has established a calling precedent. It would be strange if he didn't call suddenly after several post-date calls.

To be honest, I am mostly on the don't call side of the fence, but the most important thing is to pick one or the other and always stick to it. If you are a not-caller and you force yourself to call someone to "let them down easy" you will probably flub it up because it's not genuine. If you are a caller, not calling is going to drive you nuts and you may find yourself using your valuable once-weekly question up on the matter so you may as well get it over with and call. Pick and stick.
posted by tinamonster at 10:51 AM on December 26, 2004

it sounds to me like it's just not a big deal for either of you ... if she calls, you can just tell her you're no longer interested ... if she doesn't call ... that speaks for itself, doesn't it?

i just don't think one date represents any kind of commitment or attachment ... and it's clear that both of you would rather be doing other things ... no loss, no blame
posted by pyramid termite at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2004

I find it so amusing how straight men, generally, say that you just shouldn't call. Let's try having some respect for our fellow humans, boys.

well, I'm female & absolutely on the "don't bother" side of the fence. It's a waste of time and actually feels worse to me to be directly told "I don't like you" than for a thing to just fade out. If either party is really interested, they'll call. If she's interested, she'll try to get in touch. If she does, you should absolutely call and be straightforward. But the way it sounds is that you both feel a little obliged to be nice to the other person, but neither of you is actually personally excited about it. This is just dumb.

Basically, the polite thing isn't to necessarily formally "end" every acquaintanceship, it's just to respond to the other person. I'd bet she's feeling almost exactly the same way you are and that's why nothing's happened, so I don't think you need to call, but if you want to, just say you're busy, and you get the feeling that there isn't really much chemistry between you, so, you know, nice meeting you, good luck, etc.
posted by mdn at 12:00 PM on December 26, 2004

I'm a straight female and I would normally fall on the "meh, just let it fade" side of the fence as well since I do think that if she was really into you she would have cleared her schedule by now.

However, there is always the chance that she has truly been busy and is looking forward to a second date. If that's the case then she might be cancelling plans in order to free up some time. You owe her a phone call to let her know that she doesn't have to worry about reorganizing her own schedule. That's just good manners.

As for scheduling a second date just to blow her off in person? That's crazy talk. You'd be miserable and she'd certainly pick up on your discomfort and be miserable herself. I'm sure you only thought of it because "doing it face to face" is supposed to be the respectful way to do things but, speaking as someone who has been on both ends of this exact situation, it's uncomfortable all around.
posted by LeeJay at 12:38 PM on December 26, 2004

I think what LeeJay said is right--it seems to her right now that you want to have a second date, given that you've been calling her to try to arrange it, and it would be polite to let her know that she doesn't need to leave time open for it.

Do you have her email? If so, I think an email saying, "I know we've been trying to arrange a second date, but I guess we should just accept the verdict of the universe that you and I are just Not Meant To Be. I enjoyed meeting you, and I hope your dating search brings you men more compatible for you than I!" would be polite. Or a voicemail saying much the same thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:26 PM on December 26, 2004

If you have her email, just send her a note saying:

Hey, do you ever read that site MetaFilter? If not, you should totally check it out sometime. It's got links and bickering and stuff. And there's this part called "Ask MetaFilter," where people can just put up questions about pretty much anything (except MetaFilter itself) and the interweb hordes will rush in and answer with their opinions about what that person should do about his toenail fungus/booze/radiator/car stereo/Mac OS X/mediocre first date/"friend's" drug habit/sexual preference/crotchety relative/stupid coworker/travel dilemma/customer service nightmare/recipe/movie he can't recall/small business idea. It's cool! I think you'd really get a kick out of this thread some dude posted on Christmas.
posted by jewishbuddha at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2004

Here's another reason to be polite and call--she may pass you on. During my many single years this was a standard practice of a group of us. The guys were a little surprised but also flattered. After all only the good ones got passed on and you sound like a good one since you care. good luck!
posted by dsaelf at 6:26 PM on December 26, 2004

Response by poster: Well, for anyone looking for the denouement: I called her, got her voicemail, and left a message. It's done.

Thanks to everyone who responded -- I found it very useful. Thanks also to grumblebee for asking your wife to get a both-gender POV.
posted by Handcoding at 7:53 PM on December 26, 2004

Hurray, I always like to hear the resolution. It was an interesting thread- thanks for asking.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:48 PM on December 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

If she calls you back, you have a moral obligation to post about it.
posted by bingo at 10:29 PM on December 26, 2004

Response by poster: Bingo: Well, since you asked, she did call back about 10 minutes after I left my message. And while my phone was ringing, I knew it was her from the Caller ID:

Me: Hi, [name]

Her: Hi.

[awkward pause]

Me: Um, did you get my voicemail message?

Her: Nah, I just saw that you called and I thought I'd call you back...

At this point, I went through the process (again) and ended it. It seemed to go ok and the call wrapped up fairly quickly once she realized the nature of the call.
posted by Handcoding at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2004

Ah, thanks for following up. Sounds like she actually was interested. Glad it worked out more or less okay for you.
posted by bingo at 5:39 PM on December 27, 2004

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