How to break it off with someone you've seen, uh, once
July 26, 2014 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Let's say you go on a date with someone. The date goes well, you go back to their place. Things happen...SEX things. You realize afterward that it may have been a mistake. Yeah, definitely a mistake.

But now they are texting you to make plans again. Why wouldn't they! Things went well. You indicated it was going well.

And you may have said "sure, okay, plans!" because, why wouldn't you? Things went well. And maybe you have issues saying no to people, specifically people who were trusting enough to make themselves vulnerable to you in a sexing situation, after only one date. But now you're feeling dread. Because you know what, you weren't that into them and this was a mistake.

So you want to cancel. Well, great, now you're just a hump-and-dump asshole who leads people on. There is probably no way to avoid appearing as such to the other party. That said - is there a gentle, tactful, graceful way to engage in this unique kind of dumping?

I'd refer to Miko's breakup advice but, ugh, isn't it a bit too soon for such a heavy "speech"? I mean, it's only been one date, we've spent a cumulative 5 hours together.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You definitely don't need as much detail or concern or whatever as you find in Miko's speech.

Just cancel the plans. Tell them you've thought about it and while you had fun the other night, you aren't interested in another date. You just aren't feeling it.

They might think you're an asshole. You might be an asshole in this situation. But this is still the best (and ultimately kindest) approach, I think.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:52 AM on July 26, 2014 [25 favorites]

"I'm sorry, this isn't working out and I am not interested in pursuing it any further. Thanks for a great night."

There's really no way to do this gently, but prolonging it with lengthly explanations isn't going to help either. Be brief but kind.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:52 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Hey, I had a great time but it's not going to work for me. I'm sorry that I wasn't more decisive. Good luck with everything."

Sex is a mutually pleasurable thing. When someone trusts you enough to have sex with you and you respect their body and their consent, and trust them in return, you're even. You don't owe them a "yes". And, in fact, the thing we can't really get back is time, so sooner is better.

If you're a woman writing to a man I don't recommend the above script, actually, because guys expect way more fluffing and you have to suck up to them in annoying ways. In that case I'd say something like "Hi, thanks for thinking of me! I had a great time, thank you, but I don't think I can do an ongoing thing. Good luck with everything!" and then stop talking to him completely.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:56 AM on July 26, 2014 [21 favorites]

Is this someone you may run into from time to time, or a stranger? If the latter, you can sugarcoat it a bit with a little white lie, e.g., "I had a great time with you the other night, but now I am realizing I've got way too much going on right now and I don't have the time to get into a relationship." Be firm, and don't give the impression that you may change your mind.
posted by tuesdayschild at 7:06 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's right to make plans with someone with the intention of using their time to dump them in a situation like this. THAT would be leading them on. A kindly worded call or text is fine, something along the lines of "thank you for a lovely night. Hey I've thought about it and I don't think we're right for each other long term, so I don't think going out again would be the right thing, but thanks for asking and have a great week." Let them have their privacy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:08 AM on July 26, 2014 [12 favorites]

Well, great, now you're just a hump-and-dump asshole who leads people on.

Someone having a change of heart is a risk you both take if you have sex before your feelings for each other have a chance to stabilize. Maybe this is an experience you'll both learn from, but this fact isn't really going to be news to either of you.
posted by alphanerd at 7:18 AM on July 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Can I just play another devil's advocate here and say:

How can you know in the span of only 5 cumulative hours that nothing meaningful can come out of this? (you don't need to answer on here, just a hypothetical question)
posted by eatcake at 7:28 AM on July 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Thanks for the great time, but I don't think it's a good idea to go any further. I'm sorry* for giving you the wrong impression. I wish you all the best."

*I'm Canadian, we apologize for everything.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:30 AM on July 26, 2014 [10 favorites]

Also, I don't. Think this is as hard or fraught as you're making it in your mind. You had sex on the first date. Sex is a wonderful, intimate thing, but I don't think anyone thinks that sex on the first date means anything other than sex.

You haven't done any leading on. It's cool.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe this varies with the age you happen to be, but I see no need to have this conversation in person or even on the phone (personally, I would *rather* hear it in an email, if I were on the receiving end, since it's awkward for both people). It's unfortunate, and yeah, they'll probably feel bad (especially if you're male and they're female, because of how women are socialized to think about sex) but just use something like fingersandtoes' suggested text.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:40 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd go on the date. Then if it doesn't work out you can tell them later its not working out for you. Also allows for best case scenario: they decide they're not into you and don't call back. I think going out with them once alliviates the problem, because hey, you tried and it wasn't in the cards.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:13 AM on July 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

Not to sound like a giant slut or anything, but this is not that big of a deal. I have been on both sides of this equation more than once, and it leads to maybe a day or two of feeling down and then you just get on with your life. Relax.

I'd go with a brief phone call rather than a text, because whenever I've been text-dumped I privately thought "coward!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree with the folks who are saying you don't need to have this conversation in person. It is disrespectful of the other person's time. I also agree that sending this information in an email or text is preferable. If you know you are no longer interested, you want to communicate that in a way that is clear, definitive, as compassionate as you can possibly make it under the circumstances, but quick.
posted by jazzbaby at 9:00 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Polite, brief, unilateral, unspecific, and including a "had a great time" indicator.

Everyone who has dated for a while gets to be on both sides of this at least once. Don't sweat it.
posted by ead at 6:26 PM on July 26, 2014

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