A friendly rejection
August 18, 2013 4:54 PM   Subscribe

What's the friendliest way to decline future dates from someone you've been out with a few times but just aren't that into?

I'm a 30 year old straight woman in Brooklyn that's been doing the whole OKCupid dating thing for years now. I have learned enough about myself and dating to know after two or three dates that I don't (or do) want to head toward a relationship. I've probably been out with 15 or 20 people that are perfectly nice or with whom I have a lot of fun but with whom I don't want to pursue a relationship. A good half of these people probably feel the same way, but then there are the ones I can tell like me more than I like them who will ask me to go out again. What's the nicest/best way to turn these guys down?

For example--I've seen S twice in the last two weeks. He's smart and funny and attractive and all that, but I know for various reasons that I don't want to keep dating him. He texted me saying that he really likes me and asking when he could see me again. What's the best way to respond? I usually say some variety of "Hey I think you're fun and attractive but I think we'd be better off as friends [which I would sincerely be okay with] than dating". I feel like there's some better way to say it, but maybe not. What do you say when turning down likable/friendly people that you don't want to date in order to do the least damage to their self-confidence?
posted by greta simone to Human Relations (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I think the whole "Hey I like you, but I'd like to be friends" is the best way. Through face to face conversation and not just texting. Ignoring him or not acknowledging his feelings would be pretty hurtful. I think it's best to just let him know you appreciate him and that you're just not interested. If he's pretty rational and cool about it, he won't ask you why.

Basically, the ball is in his court after that. He can either continue to see you and know it can only be on a friendship level, or go off on his own and digest the rejection. Just don't take it personally if he chooses the latter. It all depends on how serious his feelings are for you.

Good luck
posted by MeaninglessMisfortune at 5:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

"I've enjoyed getting to know you but I have determined that I am not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you. Good luck with your search! Please feel free to get in touch with me should you wish to hang out as friends."
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:18 PM on August 18, 2013

I honestly think that what you're saying already is fine.
posted by sm1tten at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

My magic words were always, "we just don't have the kind of chemistry I'm looking for."
posted by juliplease at 5:31 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think what you're already saying is as good as it gets -- at least, it's the best way I've been able to do it when in the same situation. Although I personally would not do it in person; nothing sucks harder than getting dressed up and excited to go out on a third date with someone only to have them tell you they don't want to go out with you anymore. Six months of dating calls for an in-person break-off, approximately 4 hours spent in that person's presence total, out of your while lives, does not, in my opinion. I would be really annoyed, in fact, if I got all gussied up to go on a third date with someone and he sat me down to let me know he just wanted to be friends -- let me stay home in my yoga pants with the Real Housewives in that case, dude!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2013 [17 favorites]

"I've had fun on our dates, but I'm just not feeling it romantically. Friends?"
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:16 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I said "I've enjoyed getting to know you and I think you're a good looking guy, but I feel we'd be better friends than anything else. Good luck though--you're a catch" and he said he felt the same way even though he had fun. Then we texted about cats. Perfect!
posted by greta simone at 6:48 PM on August 18, 2013 [14 favorites]

If you do want to pursue a non-romantic friendship, he may hold out hope that you will change your mind once you get to know him better. You may want to send him a link to "Joelogon's Foolproof Guide to Making Any Woman Your Platonic Friend"
posted by Sophont at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2013

I think you're already doing this really well, but just for future ref, if I was on the receiving end of "I've enjoyed getting to know you and I think you're a good looking guy" I would wonder if the subtext was "...but personality-wise you're a total loss". You might be better off sticking with a bland, highly general compliment à la "I think you're great".
posted by zeri at 8:12 PM on August 18, 2013

Just as another data point if someone told me "I've enjoyed hanging out and you're an attractive woman, but I think I'd prefer to be friends," I would not assume that said something about my personality. Just that they found me overall attractive. But maybe that's just me, since I wouldn't call someone "attractive" or good-looking if I really found their personality atrocious. (This is confusing but what I'm trying to say is compliments can make your head spin a bit when someone's breaking it off with you but I think they're a net good. Just IMO.)
posted by stoneandstar at 9:50 PM on August 18, 2013

Unless you really want to be friends, or you want to hook up with them later on, I think it's fine just to stop responding to their calls/texts. I know 3-4 dates is the threshold for things getting started, and have had it happen to me. If a woman doesn't respond to 2 invitations out,. or politely declines both without offering an alternative (i.e. "I'm busy Friday, how about Saturday?") I assume she has lost interest and I stop asking. After 5 or 6 dates I'm a little more persistent, but not 3 or 4.

Do you really want to be friends? Do you plan on hanging out with him later, and maybe helping him find someone else to date? If not, why do you say that?

So, in short, unless you want to make a booty call to him at a later date, just stop responding.
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:15 AM on August 19, 2013

I know it's a really common practice to just "fade" after a few dates rather than directly rejecting someone, but I for one think the latter is preferable for all parties, even if there were just 1 or 2 dates. For him, he gets clarity and closure and can move on instead of sitting there thinking, "maybe she's just really busy / her phone wasn't working / etc."

And you also get the closure of knowing that you gave him a kind but unambiguous "no thank you," so you don't have to worry about him asking you out again.
posted by Asparagus at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2013

In the past, I have said -- "You're a nice person, but I sense no chemistry between us. Sorry." No one doesn't get that.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:17 AM on August 19, 2013

Sadly, I had this happen to me recently.

She told me that she enjoyed hanging out with me but that's all that it was, just hanging out.

Message received. Honestly, I was kind of feeling the same way and I give her credit for being up front like that, so good for you in doing the same thing.
posted by Fister Roboto at 5:26 PM on August 19, 2013

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