What is the most polite way to turn down a request for a second date?
June 13, 2014 12:46 PM   Subscribe

So, I've jumped into online dating. It's going oddly better than expected, such that I now have a couple etiquette questions: 1) how do I politely turn down a request for a second date? He seems like a kind person and I'd like to avoid hurting his feelings inasmuch as possible, but I wasn't quite feeling that spark of attraction. Is there some equivalent of Miko's breakup talk for this that will help here, something clear but gentle? Also...

2) what's the expected lag time between first date and text asking for a second? I hadn't heard from this dude for a couple days, so I had assumed, with a sense of relief, that the Not Feeling It was mutual. I guess I figured if the thing had gone well, or seemed to go well from on one party's side, you'd text the next day. Is that off base? Do most people wait a day or two?

3) in general, how much time to I have to respond to a text before I begin to seem like a jerk?

4) also, in re chatting on the site itself, again, I'd assumed if I a conversation went dead for a couple days that was a clear sign of disinterest. But I recently had someone message me back after about a week between messages, no mention of being busy or anything. Is that pretty typical? I know people often fade pretty easily online and was prepared for that. But now I'm worried I might be needlessly writing people off if they don't get back right away.

These are terribly petty problems, but I'm all of a fluster and want to not be an asshole. Forgive me, dear AskMe.
posted by maggiepolitt to Human Relations (28 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
1. "I had fun, but I didn't feel the necessary chemistry. Good luck out there!" - revise as you see fit, you can text this if you were already texting

2. Shrug. It depends. I've gone from a 'I had fun!' text that night to planning the next date right then. I've gone a few days. It's not a hard science and sometimes people have dumb rules that cliche dating websites recommend.

3. Depends on the other person and their perceptions. I barely even carry my phone around with me when at work or at home.

4. It's not about you so don't read too deeply into any pauses. People have a lot of things going on. I once had a girl message me 3 weeks later to apologize and ask me out after she went silent. Her grandmother had died and it'd been a stressful few weeks. Over drinks she said other guys had messaged her to say "WHERE DID YOU GO" which is just rude and pointless. Those guys didn't get more dates. When you're at the stage of just messaging, it's probably not the highest priority for people so there can be lapses. I've even meant to respond but was at work and then forgot.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

As someone who's been declined for lots of second dates, I think being straightforward and direct is the right thing to do. "Thanks for hanging out the other night, but I'm not interested in another date." Anything like that is fine. It might sting a little, but there's really no way to prevent that on your side.
posted by chrchr at 12:52 PM on June 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

1. "You're awesome, but I didn't quite feel that spark. It was great meeting you. Good luck out there!"
2. I've seen anything from five minutes to a week.
3. It's cruel to wait more than an hour, especially if the other person can see the message was delivered and read.
4. That seems pretty typical. Especially if you're picking up conversations between meeting other people, and the other dates don't quite work out. People get really optimistic or overwhelmed.
posted by mochapickle at 12:52 PM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you don't want to date someone for a second time, just say, "you seem like a great guy, but the spark just wasn't there for me."

Don't text stuff back and forth.

Text is for: Traffic, I'll be there in 10. Nothing more.

Email is better for longer things, "Had a great time the other night, want to get wings and watch the game on Saturday afternoon?"

Calling is optimal for date making and conversations.

As for responding to messages, don't game this. If you have a minute, respond. If you don't, respond when you can. As for people who have come back from the dead, if you're still interested, great, if not, just say, "Gosh, it's been a while and I'm seeing other people now."

Don't over think this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:53 PM on June 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

"Hey! I had a nice time with you, but it's not what I'm looking for now. Take it easy!".

You will hurt his feelings a little (not a lot). There is a nobel prize for someone who can figure out the perfect sentence that both rejects a person and makes them feel good inside.
posted by jjmoney at 12:53 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're really not obligated to respond, as no response is a response. Rejecting someone unfortunately sometimes leads to a barrage of insults. I'm a guy and I'd prefer no response to a rejection response, but all that matters is what you're comfortable with.

Anyway, I find that saying something like "It was nice meeting you, but I don't think we're a good match. Best of luck with everything." works pretty well. (Feel free to copy and paste this.)

In answer to your other questions:

2) It depends.

3) Respond whenever you want. If someone thinks you're a jerk because of your response time that's a pretty good indication that that is someone you don't want to go on a date with.

4) People fade in and out for a variety of reasons. If you're interested resume the conversation and ask him or her to meet in person.
posted by bdk3clash at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

In the past, I've just said: "I enjoyed hanging out, but I'm afraid the spark just wasn't there for me. I wish you all the best."

Most people are - or become - pretty cold and results-oriented when it comes to online dating, though, and I don't think there's an expectation that communication will continue if both parties aren't interested. No response gets translated quickly into "OK, then, lemme go look for another profile with a cute photo."
posted by ryanshepard at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2014

#4 is typical don't take it personally at all BUT if someone actually acknowledges a time lapse (not in a weird way, just in a normal: hey sorry about that, so anyways...) then I'd consider that +1 for them.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:59 PM on June 13, 2014

I live in a small enough city that if someone matches up enough that I want to meet in person, we probably have enough in common that we will run into each other again.

So what I do is I define the level of interaction I want/expect to have: "maybe I'll run into you at the farmer's market some time" or "let's be friends who go to the theater sometimes but nothing romantic."

That way, they're not getting all hopeful that I might be Feeling It, and I don't cringe when I run into them out and about.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

FYI I've met a number of people who surprisingly have relationship-level results on tindr. Maybe it's because you don't know all this stuff about them off the get go, you're not reading some profile, there's still some mystery there, you just check if they're cute and then start chatting & see if there's chemistry.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2014

1) If you don't want to be friends: "Hi John, it was a very nice to meet you, but I don't think we are a match. Good luck!"

If you do want to be friends: "Hi John, it was really nice to meet you. To be honest, I am not sure we are a match. However, we do have a lot in common and if you are comfortable with it I would really like to be friends. "

2) Lore amongst the men I know is 3 days. However it can be anywhere from immediately after the first date to a week to something else.

3) Assuming there's nothing unique about the text that makes it particularly time sensitive, I'd say a day.

4) If you are just chatting and haven't met yet, long pauses are not unusual.
posted by bunderful at 1:13 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Text is for: Traffic, I'll be there in 10. Nothing more.

No, texting is fine. All the cool kids are doing it. I would be weirded the fuck out if someone called me on the phone in early casual dating. My peers generally feel the same way. (I am 28.)

Texting is not for important discussions or relationship status talks.

Texting is PERFECTLY OK for the no-thanks-second-date and all of the other early casual dating whathaveyous.

My rule of thumb with texts is (as long as I am awake) within an hour, even if it's just to say "ugh, busy day at work," which I'll then actually follow up on with a real message after work.
posted by phunniemee at 1:15 PM on June 13, 2014 [22 favorites]

1. I reject requests for dates 1-3 by not responding. Like bdk3clash, I have found that people take non-response a lot better than outright rejecting them.

2. Usually, I assume that there will be no invitation for a second date if I haven't heard anything within a week. I would probably be a little surprised if someone contacted me the day after a date, unless it was an amazing date and there was clear interest from both sides.

3. I think it depends on the expectations you've already established. For example, although I am a slow responder to texts, emails, and phone calls, if the person I am communicating with usually responds more quickly and then suddenly stops responding within that time frame, I will assume that I am probably rejected.

4. I think is long, but not abnormally long. If you are still interested, I recommend that you keep communicating with him/her and see where it goes. You could just be dealing with someone who is an inconsistent responder.
posted by emilynoa at 1:24 PM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've gotten similar messages three or four times, and I understood and appreciated even the short ones in the vein of, "I'm sorry, but I don't think we should go out again." For someone with whom I had a fun time but no chemistry, I once got a paragraph-length text about feelings. For another, I got a simple "No thanks" in response to asking if she wanted to go out again.

For what it's worth, I like getting that text-- it beats the hell out of a non-response, and I'm (by and large) going on first dates with people after we've established at least a little bit of honesty about what we're looking for.
posted by 4th number at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2014

1.) I personally would feel really guilty leaving a (2nd or later) date invitation un-responded to, and the times that has happened to me I didn't like it. Just say, "I enjoyed meeting you but I don't think we're a match." Then the guy won't be waiting for a reply or wondering if your phone broke or if there was some other unlikely scenario. IMO better to know quickly and unequivocally that the person isn't interested.

2.) Date request after 1st date: 1 hour to 3 days.

3.) I think you have about a day to respond to a text before you look like a jerk.

4.) I don't it's too abnormal to have online communication drop off for a week or so. People get busy, and responding to a message from someone you haven't met yet is the kind of thing that can fall off your radar even if you are still interested.
posted by Asparagus at 1:39 PM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

No, texting is fine. All the cool kids are doing it. I would be weirded the fuck out if someone called me on the phone in early casual dating. My peers generally feel the same way. (I am 28.)

Even us 40-somethings are doing it! (Or maybe I'm just a cool kid. Not really. ;)

Re: the lag time issue, echoing what OnTheLastCastle and Asparagus say above, online communication can drop off and it can mean nothing other than IR life intervened. I've restarted conversations with guys a few weeks after our last exchange and most people seem to understand that's just the way it goes -- until you've actually been on a few dates. Whether or not that's polite or that's the way it should be, is another issue -- but it is the norm.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:53 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. I just ignore the request for a second date. I usually spend a long time feeling anxious about how to respond and then end up not responding at all. I was once in the position where I received a rejection text and I would have much rather been ignored.

2. I expect a text within the next few days after a date. After that, I forget about the person. I am a woman and I feel like if the guy is interested, he will text me after the first date, so I never initiate the second date request.

3. I try to respond within a couple of hours if I'm interested in the person. I don't think you are ever obligated to respond to a text within a certain amount of time, but when I'm interested in someone and want them to know, I respond to their texts quickly.

4. It sometimes takes me a week or two to respond to someone I have never met before. I don't login to dating sites at work and sometimes when I get home, I feel too exhausted to login to dating sites. Basically, if I haven't met the person yet, I'm not at all invested in him, so it might take me a week or more to respond. The people I tend to talk to on dating sites are also busy, so I don't take it as disinterest when I don't hear back right away.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:58 PM on June 13, 2014

I actually just called an ex-boyfriend of mine because I remembered he had great success with this particular situation. He'd go on dates, have a great time but feel like the spark wasn't there - his success was that he was able to convey this to the person he'd gone out with and suggest that they instead be friends. He ended up with some great friends this way. One of the things he suggested was to say something to the effect of:

I had a great time the other night hanging out with you but felt like the chemistry/spark just wasn't there. I'd love to hang out with you another time as friends. Are you interested in [doing this thing with a group of my friends next week]?
posted by sciencegeek at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

So I use the following (or variation) that I actually got from a guy friend who was rejected via a text by a girl and he said he thought it was respectful and he appreciated her honesty: Thank you for dinner last night. It was fun getting to know you and you seem like a nice guy, but I don't feel there is enough chemistry for more dates. Good luck with everything.
posted by whoaali at 2:47 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Huh; I guess I'm an outlier here because I don't think it's in any way necessary to add the detail that you didn't feel a spark or chemistry. I would just say, "It was nice meeting you, but no thanks." I don't need someone to tell me that they didn't feel any chemistry towards me, it seems unnecessary and slightly harsh.
posted by kinetic at 3:55 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

"There is a nobel prize for someone who can figure out the perfect sentence that both rejects a person and makes them feel good inside."

"Sorry, I'm just looking for my own Hitler right now, and I don't think you have the future of the white race at heart!"
posted by klangklangston at 4:12 PM on June 13, 2014 [23 favorites]

1) If you've actually met in person, I believe just not responding to an invitation to a second date is rude. Clear communication is a good policy, and not responding at all can leave things murky since texts sometimes get lost.

4) Personally, I think it's a little odd when people go a long time without responding, but I also find myself doing it sometimes and have realized it's actually not at all correlated with how interested I am. I try to push people out of my mind if they don't respond, but I don't necessarily hold it against them or assume they're not interested. If you'd like a wacky extreme example, someone recently messaged me on OKCupid after dropping the ball in 2011. Yup, 2011.

My policy is that it's OK to check in once if you were already talking about making plans to meet when they stopped writing, but I draw that line at that one follow-up, if they don't respond to it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:09 PM on June 13, 2014

"Thanks, I had a nice time with you but I didn't feel we clicked. Best of luck finding a (gender appropriate pronoun), you're a nice (gender appropriate pronoun)."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:26 PM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

1. I would deliver it in the same media the invitation was made. Obviously mileages vary on whether you respond at all. "Thanks, but I'm not interested in a second date" is fine.

2. My SO asked me on a second date about 10 minutes into the first date, and I didn't take him seriously at the time, and yet here we are....It's not so much that I expect the "next date" text by a certain date, but some communication within a couple of days is a clear sign of interest, to me.

3. This is going to vary person to person - I know people who are butt-hurt if you don't respond immediately. Respond when you have time.

4. People typically fade because they are more interested in someone else. Yet, once I went on a couple of dates with someone that I had first started chatting with three entire years earlier. (No, it didn't work out. But I suppose it could.)
posted by sm1tten at 5:31 PM on June 13, 2014

1. Please, please, please don't ignore the second date request! You might think you're being kind by not actually turning him down explicitly but in my experience, it hurts a lot more when someone doesn't respond at all vs. when they said, "Actually, this isn't going to work after all." With the latter, I'm all like, "Damn, that sucks, but let me be grumpy for a bit and then I'll move on" but with the former I'm like, "Did he get my text? Maybe his phone ate it. Maybe MY phone ate it. Ohmygod, maybe he's dead?" Maybe it's because I'm a naturally anxious person, but I really think giving someone a firm "no" is nicer and, hell, more respectful of the guy's time and interest. Just send him a short, respectful "thanks, but no thanks" text. Then he knows for sure and you can both move on to greener pastures. It's a clean, honest break.

2. It's kind of random. Anywhere from the end of the first date (this was at the tail end of a very long first date and the best one I've ever had) to a few days. Sometimes the guy texts first, sometimes I do.

3) Depends, I think, on the content of the text and the pattern that's already been established, re: response time. If a guy and I were texting all day, everyday and then he suddenly slowed down his responses, I'd raise an eyebrow and think he was losing interest/playing me.

4) I've done it a few times, but I've always been apologetic about the radio silence. Sometimes I was legitimately busy, other times I wanted to see where things with one guy were headed so I stopped checking my messages/logging in regularly. It's actually never happened to me but if it did, I would try not to take it personally. People are busy/presumably dating multiple people from the site at the same time.
posted by breakfast for dinner at 5:49 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Thanks, but I didn't feel a spark" (return text or email or whatever)
posted by J. Wilson at 7:40 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you are -- laudably -- concerned about this person's feelings, with perhaps a bit of fretting regarding their reaction thrown into the mix. Although these worries are legitimate, don't let them overshadow your actual duty in this situation: Namely, not going on another date with someone you aren't interested in.

It's true that some people are extreme when rejected. Some may plead for another shot or pick at your deeper reasons, which can be awkward. Others can become angry, which could be frightening.

Thus has it ever been, though, and there is a healthy limit to the efforts you should make to shield this person from hurt, or yourself from blowback. That limit sounds something like, "Oh, Hi, Internet Date. I got your text, and while I enjoyed meeting you, I think I'll pass on another date. [Insert reason, e.g. chemistry, decided not ready to date, etc. here, if desired] I wish you the best in your search!"

Keep it simple, kind, and unambiguous. (Don't leave room for unfounded hopes, such as "... at this time," or "... right now.")

My first attempt at online dating, I couldn't muster the courage to directly turn down a second date offer, and fended off passive texts for a few weeks. I'm still embarrassed about that. More recently, a woman revoked her own offer of a second date, a few hours beforehand, because I revealed that I didn't (by choice) drive a car. I didn't respond to her text, out of irritation. I'm still embarrassed about that, too. And I was -- one time -- the pushy guy who got a wee bit snippy when he thought his messages were being ignored (during the process of setting up a first date). I got an earful, and obviously no date. I'm really embarrassed about that. Like, for ever.

My point is, don't embarrass this person or yourself. Just respond as soon as you can, and politely turn them down. That's about the extent to which you should worry about this; do your due diligence and let everyone smoothly go their own way. (If you really want to overthink this, isn't it possible that they were only asking for a second date because they were trying to be nice/were confused on the protocol, and might actually be relieved to be turned down?)
posted by credible hulk at 8:52 PM on June 13, 2014

your obligations in online dating are: be clear, be polite, be adult, be brave

if you're Not Feeling It on a first date, end it by saying so. "thanks for a great evening. I had a really nice time, but I'm just not feeling any chemistry. but it was lovely to meet you - best of luck!"

do not ignore a request for a second date. you're not a teenager - have some manners and politely decline. also: don't stand people up.

usually people will ask within two days for a second date. texting is the norm if you've arranged most of your interaction via OKC thus far.

people also just get really busy with life. I'd say it's not uncommon to pick up a convo after about a week. more than a week generally means they were pursuing better options or out of the country.
posted by wayward vagabond at 5:19 AM on June 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

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