like him but not attracted to him. what to do?
February 21, 2013 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I met a guy through an online dating website who I like but am not attracted to. I'd like to meet with him again, but how do I manage this without leading him on? And is online dating always going to be like this?

For reasons which are mysterious to me, I have trouble finding anyone I'm attracted to or interested in. Despite my worst moments of self-doubt, I have it on fairly reliable authority that I'm a smart, attractive, kind and interesting girl. I don't know where all the smart, attractive, kind and interesting guys are hiding, but they're certainly not anywhere I usually hang out. So, through somewhat gritted teeth, and on the enthused insistence of a few close friends, I finally decided to give a try. As I feared, mostly I attracted creeps and weirdos who didn't read a single word of my (eloquent and witty) profile, and were mostly just spraying their virtual chat-up seeds in the hope that something would stick. (Do guys really think that works? gahh).

But then, I started corresponding with a guy who was literate, funny, wonderful sense of humour - just on a whole different level of conversation compared to the other goons I'd been fending off. We met and I like him a great deal - we had a lovely talk, we're on an intellectual and emotional wavelength, he's a genuinely good, kind and interesting person. BUT. I am not attracted to him. At the very least, not yet, and probably will not be. He's not UN-attractive, but he ended up not looking much like his picture at all, and is also waaayy shorter than I expected, and I really did not feel much in the way of chemistry -- whereas he is definitely incredibly attracted to me and thinks that I look exactly like my photos and that I am gorgeous. I feel guilty for thinking in this arguably shallow way, but I have to be honest with myself - I don't see us in any sorts of throes of passion.

At the end, he kissed me on the cheek. I wish he hadn't. I really would like to see him again because I think he's great to talk to and I'd like to get to know him, but I'm really not sure (yet) about dating him per se. I feel, however, that if I see him again I might be leading him on. I don't want to lead him on. How do I manage this better? I haven't really done the whole online dating thing before, and actually, I haven't ever even "dated" much before. I've tended to have really intense, long and serially monogomous relationships where it was clear from the beginning that we were together. I don't know how to handle these weird American quasi-"dating" rituals. How do I keep meeting with this guy without the pressure of both parties knowing we are there as the consequence of a "dating" website?

On a more general note, since I have so little experience with online dating websites, I was wondering: what are the odds that I will in fact find any attractive, interesting men on online dating websites? Or is the very fact that they are on such a website in the first place statistically selecting for creeps and weirdos, or nice people who don't look like their photos? Is this what all online dating is going to be like?
posted by starcrust to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The kindest thing you can do is tell him you're not interested in pursuing things with him. I've done my share of online dating, and it's tough and generally unsuccessful. But my cousin met his wife on an online dating site and I absolutely adore her -- so there's hope!

The thing is, if you meet someone and find that you aren't attracted, don't lead them on.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:32 PM on February 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

"Hey I don't really want to date you but you seem like a great person, maybe we could be friends?"

I mean you can futz with the wording to try to be nicer? But there's no way for it not to sting, really. Be ready for it to go down like a lead balloon.

Online dating has worked for many people. For others it hasn't.

At the end of the day, it's just people.
posted by kavasa at 7:33 PM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh and for the photos thing - from my experience, it's about 50/50 on ones that look like the person.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:33 PM on February 21, 2013

I don't know about the "statistics" but I have heard lots of anecdotes from people who met their SO's online. My best friend from high school (who never dated much at all) met her fiance on and I like him a lot.

As for this particular guy, just break it off.
posted by radioamy at 7:47 PM on February 21, 2013

what are the odds that I will in fact find any attractive, interesting men on online dating websites? Or is the very fact that they are on such a website in the first place statistically selecting for creeps and weirdos, or nice people who don't look like their photos? Is this what all online dating is going to be like?

Consider that you are on an online dating website. Why would a man who made the same choice be inferior to you?

I do think it's true that attractive, interesting, extroverted men who find it really easy to meet women are unlikely to be on an online dating website. But attractive, interesting, slightly introverted men who are not great at meeting women are very likely to try online dating, and it sounds like that kind of guy might be just right for you.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:50 PM on February 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

If you really do want to be friends with him, tell him so, but follow it up with actual plans so he doesn't think you're just feeding him a line. How about something like:

"Hey, [guy], I had a great time [doing whatever] the other day! To be perfectly honest, I don't think there was much of a spark, but I do enjoy talking to you quite a bit, and if you're up for it, I'd like the chance to get to know you better as friends. Any chance you're free Sunday afternoon for a trip to [something casual you guys have shared interests in, like an art gallery or whatever]?"

Sunday afternoons are just about the least sexy time to schedule an event, so that ought to help out on reinforcing the let's-just-be-friends-ok front.
posted by phunniemee at 7:52 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Please don't see him again. Just tell him you think he's great, but there wasn't a spark or whatever--that you don't think you two make a good match. End of discussion.
posted by bennett being thrown at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2013 [17 favorites]

I've tried it - hanging out with guys who were interesting but not attractive (to me) after a pleasant first date. Usually led to weirdness.

But if you want to try it you can - "really enjoyed meeting you, doesn't seem that there's really any chemistry but I would like to be friends if you are ok with that."

For me I found that it's just fun meeting new people I have things in common with, and my answer was just to go on more dates with (new) smart interesting guys. Eventually you do meet someone you want to kiss.
posted by bunderful at 8:01 PM on February 21, 2013

I was totally meh about about a guy I met online who lied about his height on his profile, I ended up seeing him again as "just friends" and 3.5 years later I'm totally in love with him. I had many other dates from online dating that I felt the same way about(not so crazy about them) and things never progressed- I'm honestly not sure about why my current BF worked and the others didn't- but I would say that sometimes online dating is as much about practicing the skills of dating as much as it is trying to find "the one"- and you might just find that once you get to know someone you realize your initial response was not totally right.
posted by momochan at 8:03 PM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Your best-case scenario for a friendship that starts like this is probably something like what's studied in Benefit or burden? Attraction in cross-sex friendship.

Spoiler: the answer is usually burden.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:05 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You met him through a dating website. He is mad attracted to you. If you keep him around, I conservatively estimate a 99% chance of drama, resentment, or some other weirdness in the future. Please just end it and move on, for both your sakes.
posted by Broseph at 8:16 PM on February 21, 2013 [29 favorites]

On a more general note, since I have so little experience with online dating websites, I was wondering: what are the odds that I will in fact find any attractive, interesting men on online dating websites?

Very high, if you're patient and don't let it occupy your mind too much. Online dating is a numbers game; several dozen frogs before a prince shows up. It is the way of it. Be patient and date. Dating is one of those areas in which you can't learn much useful without making some mistakes and experiencing a bit of awkwardness. Embrace the chaos. It won't last forever.

How do I keep meeting with this guy without the pressure of both parties knowing we are there as the consequence of a "dating" website?

I am sorry but you can't.

He's into you. Seeing him again anytime soon would be leading him on. This is not because of you, but because of him. The best thing to do is tell him you just didn't feel that spark and wish him best of luck and all that. He thinks your date went really well. That is a bad place to be in if it is not true. There is no kind way out of this.

In endeavors of the heart, you should be kind, but if you cannot be kind, be merciful.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:26 PM on February 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

I hate online dating, but use it for many of the reasons you have listed yourself.

Two options for fun but no chemistry first dates:
1) Tell them you would love to meet up again, but feel obligated to disclose that you are unlikely to want to pursue anything on a romantic level.* This phrasing has worked fine for me.
2) Decide that first dates are full of nerves and awkwardness and give anyone you have fun with a second shot before ruling out romance.

It will always be awkward. Message guys instead of letting them message you, and propose cool fun things instead of romance-y things and it will be a tiny bit less contrived. Match is also a bit... earnest? so you might want to check out okcupid to see if the audience is more your speed.

*My best friends met each other through fucking CRAIGSLIST. Not the actual for fucking only section, but the personal ads. After a couple dates she gave him some version of option number one above, and he was completely fine with it and proceeded to just come and join our friend group for a year while she continued dating. At the end of this year she realized he was awesome and asked him on a date and then moved in with him and now they are married.

posted by skrozidile at 8:32 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have had a ton of online dating experiences like yours, and i've realised: you can't really force attraction. You can let it develop - sometimes after a few dates, you magically find them attractive. If you go out with a guy three or four times, and you still don't have a romantic or sexual attraction to him at that point, then end it. (It's not leading someone on to do that - dating exists to test out attraction.) Transition to friendship if you can - my experience has been that online daters often want new friends too.
posted by Kololo at 8:35 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed that you should be upfront with him about not being interested in anything but friendship. I've done a fair bit of online dating and have been on both sides of that equation. Sometimes we end up friends and sometimes we part ways. But online dating is a numbers game, and it's just better for everyone to be honest and upfront always. It's awkward, but it gets easier with practice and really is kinder.
posted by smirkette at 8:42 PM on February 21, 2013

I think you should try a second date and see if you catch a spark, and if not, just decline to pursue it further. You're not going to be 'just friends' with a guy you met on an online dating site, and trying it is just inviting drama into your life.
posted by empath at 9:03 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

There are some people who are actually OK with being friends after a date gone non-romantic. Just be forthright about it and then see if there's weirdness.

In my experience, genuinely compatible people, whether there's a romantic connection or not, are rare, and I'd rather know them than not even if I don't want to kiss or sleep with them.

Be honest, say what you want, see if he's ok with that too. If not, move on. If he says yes, but acts like romance is still in the cards, move on.

Otherwise, say hello to your new awesome friend.
posted by zippy at 9:22 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is pretty much exactly how I feel about online dating! I found myself in this exact situation multiple times. it kind of.. flips the natural way you date backwards.

meaning, normally you'd meet someone you're attracted to, you feel that spark with, and you'd get to know each other, and then decide if you're compatible in a non-physical way.

when you online date, you meet people who check all your boxes intellectually, and I had lots of great email conversations with guys who I was really excited to meet up with and then was left in the same position as you, where I really wished I was online-friending instead of online-dating. and it makes you feel shallow, since you're judging people you know you like solely on a physical attraction.

but that's just the way it works? there's no way around it. you can suggest being friends, but generally people on a dating website are looking to date, so the chances are slimmer.

some people have success stories with dating people they aren't attracted to and ending up happy forever, but I think it's more rare then it seems. being attracted to someone is important.

I liked online dating in general, I met a lot of interesting men and had some great conversations and good meals and fun beers and I wasn't too deadly serious about it so tended to not be too disappointed. and then I met a guy who ticked all the mental boxes and I was excited to meet, and then after I did, I was even more excited to see him again and again and again.

maybe I'm just lucky, and I feel really lucky to have found such a great guy, but online dating, like all dating, is kind of "a numbers game" where you'll meet lots of people who are ALMOST right, or totally wrong, or you wish they were right, etc, etc, until you meet someone who is right.

stick with it if you're not hating it, try not to make it too important of a process in your mind and it becomes easier and less stressful and less disappointing.

good luck!
posted by euphoria066 at 9:33 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I disagree with the people who say you can't be friends with someone you met on an online dating site.

The key to being kind and respectful, IMO, is to be very honest and up-front. Tell him 'I don't think we're suited romantically, but I enjoyed your company. Are you interested in just being friends?'

If he agrees and then pushes for more than friendship further down the track, then you cut all ties.

(I think one of the failures of online dating is that it's black-and-white, all-or-nothing. People expect immediate sparks, or they cut contact. In 'the real world', there are shades of grey. You might start out as just friends and then attraction grows, your future SO might turn out to be a friend of this guy and he introduces you, or you might just make a cool new friend. Unless your life is so overwhelmingly busy and full that you are actively don't want new friends, I don't see what you have to lose. Just be very honest and very respectful.)
posted by Salamander at 9:58 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

He wants a girlfriend, not a friend--this is why he's on a dating site. He's wildly attracted to you and thinks you're gorgeous. HE IS NOT "JUST FRIENDS" MATERIAL. Please do him a favor and drop him politely, without even trying "friends." Friends is just leading him on and he's going to be pseudo-dating you while waiting for you to change your mind and start to likey-like him back. He's gonna be this guy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:35 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been in situations like this and I just be honest with the person - tell him you enjoyed the conversation and while you aren't about dating him you'd like to spend more time with him until you get a feel for things. Then he can decide whether or not he's okay with that.
posted by Autumn at 12:11 AM on February 22, 2013

what are the odds that I will in fact find any attractive, interesting men on online dating websites?

Are you only on If so, you might up the odds by using other sites. In my experience with, there were far fewer interesting chaps than on OKCupid. Or, perhaps, it was the way the site matches people up that ended up producing less interesting pairings than on OKC. Either way, it was all so very beige relative to OKC's more colorful cast.
posted by nacho fries at 12:31 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you like the guy but don't want to date him just tell him so. I presume that like yourself he is an adult. We don't have affairs with everyone we meet so why should this be any different.
On the other hand you have met him exactly once and say you like him just that his physically advertised atributes seemed to come up short..
Whatever. Don't lead him along that would be wrong. If you would like to see him again but in a non dating way just tell him.
posted by adamvasco at 4:58 AM on February 22, 2013

I met Mr. Getaway sticks on an online dating site over 8 years ago. Before I met him, there were other guys I talked to (and one other one that I met for coffee) and none of those clicked. I think it's that is pretty normal.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:57 AM on February 22, 2013

I disagree with the people who say you can't be friends with someone you met on an online dating site.

Same here. I've not only made a new friend from a dating site, I've stayed friends after having a five-month relationship with a guy I met on a dating site. (In fact, that guy is now one of my best friends in the whole wide world ever.)

There are a lot of different ways to be compatible, and not all of them are romantic. Be honest about what you feel and what you want (but also be willing to accept if he feels he can't do that).

As far as dating sites go - there's nothing magic about dating sites, they're just a way to meet people you wouldn't have otherwise met. Whether or not you click with them is an entirely separate thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was you, once. Serial monogamist dipping her toes into the dating world. I found that where I was living + age made different sites make sense. Plenty Of Fish yielded the most "trying to hook up/didn't read the profile" hits. Match got me a lot of really old guys looking for a younger woman to take care of. OKCupid was the source of many intellectually stimulating but emotionally unavailable and sexually inexperienced men. matched me with some guys who wanted to ask a lot of questions but didn't want to actually pull the trigger on a date. And so on...

I've gone out with many guys from online dating sites and I suppose that I'm lucky, as all of them looked like their pictures. Whether there was genuine chemistry and interest is another story. My boyfriend and I have an amazing relationship that started on

I do have a platonic friend that I met on an online dating site, but we never went out, so I think that's different. I'm not saying that you absolutely can't be friends with someone you had a date or two with but the fact that he is verrry attracted to you and presumably interested in your romantically (as opposed to a mutual "meh") is a problem. I think you should be up-front about not feeling it with him... and then not even consider hanging out with him again unless you've both been on dates with other people or it's a group thing or something that is 1000% not a date.

Of course, he might not want to be your buddy, but what you don't want is a guy who keeps hope alive.
posted by sm1tten at 10:24 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

BUT. I am not attracted to him

The best way to avoid not leading him on is to not hang out with him. You met on a dating site. His expectations are set. There are very few guys that are super interested in being just friends with women they have overtly met on a dating website. It is fair that he accept your desire not to date him. It is also fair for him to not want to be close to someone who he has strong interests in that he cannot have.

So I would drop the communication.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

On his profile, did he (and you) indicate that you are specifically open to making friends?

I ask because in the past, when I extended my hand in friendship to suitors, some flew into a white-hot rage. There are some guys who are just NOT into being downsampled to just-friends once they have it in their mind that you are a romantic prospect.

I'm no longer one to make friends from dating sites -- I'm admittedly pretty compartmentalized in how I organize my social life and relationships these days -- but others have a more fluid view of things. I suppose the only way to find out if your date is one of those guys is to ask.
posted by nacho fries at 1:16 PM on February 22, 2013

People aren't on dating websites to make friends. Don't see him again, don;t communicate again unless he contacts you. You both already have friends, presumably.
posted by spaltavian at 6:06 PM on February 22, 2013

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