How to stop dating after a couple dates?
February 16, 2016 1:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm 32, date women and men, and am just getting back into dating. After two-three dates, what's the polite way to let someone know that you're not interested in dating further (because of lack of chemistry or whatever)? Does it change based on how naked you got with them? These are mostly internet dates where we text a little, don't talk on the phone, and don't see one another outside dating.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I would text and say something along the lines of, thanks for taking the time to meet me but unfortunately I'm not feeling any chemistry. I wish you all the best in finding love. Short, sweet and polite. I don't think one or two meetings warrants anything more.
posted by Jubey at 1:57 AM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Please don't tell people with whom you have gotten naked that you don't feel chemistry with them. The only message it delivers is that they're bad at naked. If this is not a tiny incestuous dating community, "I've decided to take some time off from dating, I wish you all the best" is the kinder way to say "I've decided to take a [life]time off from dating [you]."
posted by DarlingBri at 2:31 AM on February 16, 2016 [13 favorites]

Whoops, I didn't base my comment on you actually having slept with them. My comment was based on the fact that you said you didn't have chemistry (presumably you had enough to sleep with them...?) For these situations, DarlingBri has it.
posted by Jubey at 2:38 AM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

After only one or two dates, I think the answer is a simple text along the lines of "I do not feel we should continue dating as I do not think we are a good match. I wish you all the best".
posted by fourpotatoes at 2:50 AM on February 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Just be honest about your feelings, lack of chemistry etc. Don't procrastinate. Do it ASAP. And if you can, don't do by text message. That's just so...unmanly, but that's just how I feel about it.
posted by james33 at 3:26 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My go to line which has worked well is the sandwich. Compliment, the breakup, and compliment. "You are a great person, really funny and I enjoy hanging out with you. But I am not feeling the romantic connection. You deserve someone who will have that connection with you."

It's a softer way of saying lack of chemistry.

Re how - it depends. I think text is fine. I would wait until they say something or if they ask you on a date. It's kind of annoying to set up a date only to be dumped. But offer to talk it through in person more so it's not just dumping via text.
posted by pando11 at 3:27 AM on February 16, 2016 [25 favorites]

Personally, I'd be fine with being told via text or over the phone. I don't want to schedule a date with someone I've only hung out with a few times just to be told that they don't want to date me anymore. It's a waste of my time. As long as it's only a few dates, I don't think it makes a difference whether you've already had sex.

Just don't ghost on anyone and you will be handling the situation better than most people.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:00 AM on February 16, 2016 [20 favorites]

As an internet stranger, I give you permission to ghost on people if you want to. I've done plenty of internet dating and the amount and degree of vitriol I've received from people who heretofore had seemed nice and normal, just because I sent them a polite text declining future dates, is incredible. Likewise I have been ghosted upon and the message is obvious and clear, and it doesn't waste my time with a pointless meeting or phone call.

Many may disagree and wring their hands about the state of the world today, but ghosting is the standard procedure in my experience. I would only resort to the 'no more dates' text if someone was concerned about my wellbeing based on ghosting, but that has never happened to me.
posted by telegraph at 4:30 AM on February 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I am the only person in the pro-ghosting (i.e. disappearing) camp. I'd much rather you just not return a couple texts than have you EXPLAIN that I'm just not good enough for you. I understand if you don't return texts or emails that you're not interested in me.

If you have gotten naked with the person, at least go out on one more date or call them or text BEFORE ghosting.
posted by Piedmont_Americana at 4:48 AM on February 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

2-3 dates in, ghosting on their last "Let's make plans!" message seems fine and what I'd probably do. But if they follow-up asking what the deal is, if you're OK, etc., then use one of the lines above.
posted by whitewall at 4:55 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. Stop responding to his or her message

If that doesn't work and he or she keeps asking you out

2. Just say you're not interested
posted by Kwadeng at 4:59 AM on February 16, 2016

As a reluctantly seasoned online-dater (gay male, if that's relevant), I'd advise against ghosting. It's rude to leave them in a state of ambiguity. If they're into you, failing to reply to their messages or sending them noncommital replies allows them to tell themselves that you're just busy at work, or you've got relatives visiting, etc. Maybe they're putting off going on dates with other people while they wait for you to get back to them. Don't leave them in that state because you're too afraid to send a simple breakup text. It's not like they're going to be devastated after just a few dates.

My method is this: If I go out on 2-3 dates and I'm not feeling it, regardless of whether nakedness occurred, I let them make the move. If they invite me for another date, I send the polite breakup text a la the ones suggested above. If they don't text me, I don't text them either. They clearly feel the same way as I do and there's no point in doing the 'I'm not into this' text. They move on, I move on, we run into each other at the grocery store a year later and neither of us feels rejected.
posted by Tenzing_Norgay at 5:27 AM on February 16, 2016 [37 favorites]

I'm pro-ghosting if it's only been a couple dates. (In my dating days I was ghosted lots of times, and found it easier than an abrupt not-into-you message.) A lot of times, it's not so much one person ghosting another as it is two people quietly moving on at the same time.

If you do decide to go with a message, make it gentle but make it specifically about things not working out between the two of you: "you're a great person, but I don't think we're the right match." If you try to hedge with "I'm busy" or "I'm taking some time off dating," you just come across as someone who can't prioritize or doesn't know what they want, in which case why are you wasting someone else's time dating? Plus there are lots of people who will take your message at face value and be like "oh, you're busy? I'll call in two weeks!" which is just not going to end well for anyone.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:03 AM on February 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

My take is please don't ghost. I'm the sort of person who will hang onto the wonder for twice as long as the 'relationship' - I'd rather just know. In return, when you say that you don't think things will work out, I'll graciously accept rather than grill you on it. Yeah, it's a challenging conversation for both of us, but if we both keep it short and sweet we can move on with just good memories.

As to how you do it. After 1-2 dates texting is definitely fine. Beyond that, it's nice to get a phone call - although there you will have to assess the other person's communication preferences. If they are anti-phone and voice mail then default to text. A date to break up isn't necessary unless you've really begun dating more seriously, say for a month or more.
posted by meinvt at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm just going to say it: if you're breaking up with a man, you can ghost. In my experience, men are way more likely to act somewhere on the spectrum of terrible to terrifying when they're told no, I don't want to see you again.

For a woman, you can (and in my opinion, should) be more direct as per much of the above good advice. Don't ghost. And don't do what multiple men did to me when I was dating: finally acquiesce and say you'll come to my place, stand me up, and then ghost.
posted by sockermom at 7:03 AM on February 16, 2016 [19 favorites]

Decline any further dates, wish best of luck, cut off further contact.
posted by RainyJay at 7:12 AM on February 16, 2016

Please don't ghost. I think it's OK to send a text after just a few dates - say "I'm sorry, but this isn't working for me." If they get nasty after that, don't respond. Just block them.
posted by FencingGal at 7:31 AM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

"You are a great person, really funny and I enjoy hanging out with you. But I am not feeling the romantic connection. You deserve someone who will have that connection with you."

Don't say this, scale it back. It isn't kind.
1) This is a backhanded compliment, as you are still rejecting them despite their supposed awesomeness.
2) This sets them up to believe there's still a chance, if they're interested in you. They may push to become friends with the ulterior motive of pursuing you romantically. You'll friend-zone them.

"I think you're great, but..." is as far as you have to go.
posted by lizbunny at 8:19 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

"You are a cool guy/girl and I had fun. I'm not feeling us working out romantically. Good luck with everything."
posted by pintapicasso at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ghosting is awful. If you are going to go that impersonal, then just do this:

Them: Hey how are you, would you like to get together Saturday?
You: I am sorry, that won't be possible. Best of luck to you. Thanks.
posted by oflinkey at 9:19 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your personal schema of what is appropriate will of course be your own, but just as a counterpoint, I think ghosting can cause unnecessary distress to others, and I think that is more likely in a situation where you've hooked up. You can be absolute and kind, while also protecting your own communication boundaries.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:01 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't assume the person you are ghosting/texting/messaging won't ever affect your life again.

People have friends, and if they are doing online dating their friends probably are too. Think about what would happen if you met someone really great that you want to make a great impression on, who then invited you as their guest to a large party where you run into several people you've dated briefly, some of whom know your awesome date. What do you wish you'd done then? Do that. (This might be different for different people.)

Generally, don't call on the phone if you haven't already been talking on the phone. Send a message via the same methods you've generally been using to communicate, if you just text it's fine to text.
posted by yohko at 10:24 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are only a few scenarios where I recommend (and want to receive) a light fib, and this is one of them. Yeah, ideally people should be okay getting a kind-but-direct "thanks but no thanks," but unfortunately that is not the norm in my experience. It's okay to not respond to one or two texts, because many people will get/appreciate the hint and/or it's a mild enough breach of etiquette that you can apologize when there's an opportunity... but if someone is continuing to contact you, continuing to ghost on them is just mean (especially if there's been nakedity).

DarlingBri's "I've decided to take some time off from dating" works on the light fib front, as does some version of "Things have kinda gone haywire on my end since I saw you last" -- something vague enough that it could encapsulate work or family or health or reappearance of an ex (etc.), and more credibly humble than the more personal rejections. Remember the campground rule, and good luck out there.
posted by argonauta at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

In my (10 years stale) experience, whether ghosting (we used to call it fading) is okay depends on the ghostee, and you just don't know, so you have to guess. My sister much preferred the fade, I preferred the "whoops, sorry, moving on." My best advice is to fade and then, if they persist, tell them that you met someone else (or something progressed with someone you met around the same time, etc.). I personally think that's a harmless kindness that doesn't imply they are bad at naked or any other thing.
posted by Pax at 6:27 PM on February 16, 2016

I'm honestly not anti ghosting in this situation, or even quite a bit of the time. Too many people flip the fuck out when you try and have this conversation. And most of the people i hear getting really upset about ghosting come off like this guy and although it can hurt, it doesn't hurt more than someone saying something shitty or that you spend ages overanalyzing.

If you do go that route, don't let anyone convince you you're an evil monster.
posted by emptythought at 11:47 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I was dating, I remember receiving a message along the lines of "it was fun hanging out with you, but I just don't think we have enough in common to take this further. Thanks for taking the time for me." The reference to stuff in common felt kinder than a comment on chemistry, even though that was clearly what he was talking about.
posted by rpfields at 9:15 AM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I ghost, you can, too. Sex def doesn't mean you owe anyone anything, ever.
posted by meeeese at 6:15 PM on February 22, 2016

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