Tips for preparing the ground for low-pain rejection
October 23, 2018 6:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm a man who dates women (late-20s to mid-30s), exclusively through apps. Like everyone else, I dislike being on either side of a rejection. I can handle my own disappointment. How, though, can I be better at being the rejector?

People who do app dating should have experienced that first dates often go nowhere. So if I intuit I'm catching someone by surprise when I decline a second date, or when I don't ask for one, could be I'm doing something wrong. How can I signal earlier on that it's not turning out to be a match without being unfriendly or telling a white lie?

Example of a white lie: "I'm just looking for friends right now." That's an easy out, but it's disingenuous. Of course this has been a date, even if just coffee. We both know it was a date. Also, I might not actually want to be friends.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This advice is probably intended for someone a bit further along in the relationship, but using some combination of Miko's breakup advice is a good place to start.

You also have to remember that even though it will likely be painful for the other person, it's better to end it earlier and not string them along with false hopes.
posted by seesom at 6:17 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Trust me, anyone who has dated via an app knows what "I'm just looking for friends right now" means.

I prefer a simple: "You seem like a lovely person, but I don't think it's a match. I had a really nice time and am glad to have met you."
posted by frumiousb at 6:18 AM on October 23, 2018 [83 favorites]


Do:
-Be engaged, interested and kind.
-Try to have a good time and help them have a good time.

Don't:
-Lay it on thick with compliments or flirting.
-Initiate anything physical.
-Suggest or agree to any potential future plans
-Overthink it. Everyone who dates had had the experience of feeling like they really click with someone who didn't actually feel the same way. It's fine to let them know afterwards. Frumiousb's simple script is perfect.
posted by prewar lemonade at 6:26 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


"You're great, but I didn't quite feel a spark. Good luck!"
posted by ChuraChura at 6:26 AM on October 23, 2018 [19 favorites]


Just be honest. Everyone understands rejection is part of the game, and a long break-up spiel when you barely know someone, or obviously lying about using a dating app to find friends, will turn a run of the mill disappointment into something weird and/or creepy.

If you've only had a couple of dates and you're not feeling it, just say 'I really enjoyed meeting you and I think you're great, I just can't see us working as a couple/didn't feel a connection/don't think we're a match. All the best!'

It sucks, but they will be fine! In fact, this is so much more than most people do, they'll appreciate the honestly and transparency and return your good wishes.
posted by Dwardles at 6:35 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


A simple "I had a nice time, but I don't think we're a good match." does fine.

"You're very attractive, but I just don't feel a spark" is fine too.

I don't agree that everyone knows what "looking for friends" means. Yes everyone knows that means you're not interested in a relationship with the person, but I once went on a date with someone who lived in my neighborhood and when I said that, they really believed we could just hang out as friends. I was surprised by this and almost rejected it, but... long story short we've been buddies ever since and her SO double date with me all the time now.

Women get more attention on the online dating game than men do and I know women who've told me that they completely forgot about a person they went out for a drink with until they received their "rejection" text or any other text from the person. It's sad that online dating has given people so many options that they can't even remember who they meet anymore but based on what I've been told by these women I do think that not asking for a second date is generally considered fine with them and they won't give it a second thought (assuming you're not doing more than one is generally expected to on the first date/second date.)
posted by fantasticness at 6:36 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


After one date? And nothing happened except for some pleasant conversation?

I explicitly prefer that people just ghost me if I reach out for a 2nd and they aren't feeling it, I hugely cringe at the thought of someone giving me some sorry-ass shpiel about how "they aren't looking" for this or that or whatever. Everyone gets a ghost card and you are allowed to apply it whenever you went on a date that can be categorized as "fine but ultimately nothing much happened".

Now if you bonded and made out for four hours and secretly you are thinking "shit shit shit this is wrong" - or if you've gone ahead and gone out on multiple dates - then that's a whole other story. But for everything else, yeesh just fade it out. No need for a production.
posted by windbox at 6:45 AM on October 23, 2018 [17 favorites]


Also the idea of sending someone a rejection/"just friends" BEFORE they've even reached out after the first date? Like a follow up after the date, for no reason other than to say "hey let's just be friends"? Like I can't even wrap my head around why someone would feel it's necessary...sorry but all this is stuff is like the diametric opposite to how everyone I know conducts their app dating affairs.

Yeah everyone complains about ghosting and slow-fading and omg let's clutch our pearls about how millennials don't communicate anymore, but none of that shit applies if you've gone on literally only one date and nothing happened.
posted by windbox at 6:51 AM on October 23, 2018 [27 favorites]


a lot of women are so unused to basic courtesy from men they date that they mistake basic courtesy for interest. don't try to fix this by being less courteous.

nobody would ask you out if they didn't think there was a tiny chance you might say yes, so of course they will be a little suprised when you say no. this doesn't mean you led them on. but trying to say no without saying no, in a way that somehow makes them feel wonderful about themselves, might mean that. don't ever contact someone unsolicited to let them know you're not interested or that you won't be asking them out again, that's surprising in the bad way because it's rude and presumptuous. but if someone contacts you and you have to decline an invitation, do not try to manage their feelings or give an essay response. they will be disappointed when you say hey thanks but no, and that is fine.


How can I signal earlier on that it's not turning out to be a match


never go to a secondary location, like john mulaney teaches us. don't go from coffee to dinner to cocktails on a first date if you knew at coffee it wasn't going anywhere. don't kiss them. say you had a nice time, but do not say you're looking forward to doing this again. do not give unnecessary compliments out of nerves, to be polite.

and don't be rude or tune out of the conversation to signal anything. if you listen as much as you talk and ask as many questions as you make statements, many women will think you are wonderful or that you are interested. this will be awkward, later. you still have to do it all of the time anyway.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:52 AM on October 23, 2018 [13 favorites]


I’m with windbox: if you’re not interested in a second date, it’s fine to just say at the end “It was great meeting you — take care!” and that’s that; chances are good that the other person feels the same way. I’ve had people send me super obnoxious texts afterwards, giving a whole earnest speech about why they don’t want to see me again. That shit is just arrogant after a single drinks date. If the person texts you asking for a second date and you don’t want to, then it’s perfectly fine to text back, “I really enjoyed meeting you, but I don’t think we have the connection I’m looking for. Best wishes!” or something similar. People understand the drill.
posted by holborne at 7:36 AM on October 23, 2018 [15 favorites]


I prefer a simple: "You seem like a lovely person, but I don't think it's a match. I had a really nice time and am glad to have met you."

I find this message works well. It's clear, and clarity is everything. I would, however, add "thanks for coming out" or some other thank you. People put in time and effort into these things, and acknowledging that is important.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:45 AM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'd question the assumption that if someone is surprised, you've done something wrong. Down that road lies madness.

First dates are going to involve surprises, or at least the risk of surprises. You come in with next to zero information about the other person. As this thread is demonstrating, you might have different ideas about how people on a date should treat each other. You're trying to get a little bit closer and a little bit vulnerable with them without anyone tripping over any landmines. You're also doing this weird negotiation where you figure out if they check your boxes or raise any red flags without necessarily admitting that's what you're doing. And dates are scary, so you're both doing something scary and trying to keep your hopes up in the face of that.

That's a lot of balls to have in the air, socially speaking. Sometimes someone's going to drop one, and that's okay. Obviously, be as kind as you can manage. But "nobody will ever find a rejection by me surprising" is not a realistic goal.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:49 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


How can I signal earlier on that it's not turning out to be a match without being unfriendly or telling a white lie?

If you need something for at the end of the first date itself, a handshake goodbye signals all of this. At least, that's what I've found. It can be a bit jarring or cold, but it's polite while creating distance.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:55 AM on October 23, 2018


I online dated pretty actively a few years ago. Even when I thought the date went really well, I had zero angst over the guys who said "it was nice to meet you but we're not a match/I don't feel a spark". Simple, non-offensive, and impossible to argue with. Disappointment sure, if I liked them, but that's unavoidable with online dating.

Strongly seconding the advice to wait until they contact you before giving them the rejection, unless it's been like 3+ dates or you otherwise have reason to believe they're expecting to meet again (e.g. talked about a specific future date). That's just harsh and presumptive, maybe it was obvious to them as well that you weren't a match. However, gently opposing advice to ghost them when they ask for another date, which I find inconsiderate although not the worst offense in the world.

I was also never surprised to not hear from someone when the night ended with "it was nice to meet you" (no talk of seeing again) (with or without handshake). I was more surprised if I got ghosted after the guy went for a kiss and/or there was non-vague talk about seeing you again soon/setting up another date, so avoid both of those if you aren't feeling it.
posted by randomnity at 8:01 AM on October 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


I was more surprised if I got ghosted after the guy went for a kiss and/or there was non-vague talk about seeing you again soon/setting up another date, so avoid both of those if you aren't feeling it.

YES THIS A MILLION TIMES!
posted by Melismata at 8:12 AM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


As a woman who used to do the online dating thing, I hugely preferred being ghosted.
posted by Ziggy500 at 10:02 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Short and sweet. "I'm not feeling a click, but thanks for the great date. Good luck out there!"
posted by fritillary at 12:32 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


"I'm not feeling the connection I'm looking for. I enjoyed meeting you, and wish you well."
posted by Dolley at 12:58 PM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


If it makes you feel any better, I don't even necessarily consider what you're talking about to be ghosting.

Say you and I go on a first date, fine but no sparks, we part ways politely. If you don't call me for a second date, that's not ghosting me, that's just not asking me out again. Nothing wrong with that ... you're not feeling it. You don't need to call me and tell me you're not feeling it, just don't ask me out again. I get the message, and I probably wasn't feeling it either.

If I was feeling it, and I called and asked you out, you could politely decline (+10). Only if you accepted a second date and then failed to show up/disappeared forever would that be ghosting (-100).

THANK YOU for being concerned about people's feelings!
posted by mccxxiii at 2:04 PM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


How can I signal earlier on that it's not turning out to be a match without being unfriendly or telling a white lie?

Agreed with others that it's okay that people are sometimes slightly surprised when you aren't interested in a second date, everyone knows that's just part of app dating, and that you probably don't need to do anything differently.

That said, general tips on not giving the wrong signal once you know you aren't interested:

- If conversation during the date turns to future plans together, don't agree to hang out again (like, no, "Oh yeah, that place is cool, we should totally go there sometime").
- At the end of the date, don't say "We should do this again sometime," not even in that breezy, not-really-serious way that people often do to make the goodbye smoother. Just say "Thanks for hanging out; it was nice to meet you" or something similar.
- Don't kiss at the end of the date, minimize physical intimacy and flirting in general during the date.
- Don't engage in a ton of text/app-message banter after the date.
- Don't let the date be super long. If there is an obvious time to wrap things up, end it there and don't extend the date by getting a third round of drinks or going someplace for dessert or whatever.
- If there are slightly awkward pauses or something during conversation, just let them be there and be slightly awkward; don't bend over backwards trying to make everything flow perfectly.
- Don't flirt, don't compliment them excessively, don't talk about emotionally intimate things. In general switch from date-vibes to polite-stranger vibes as soon as you realize you aren't interested in a romantic/sexual thing.
posted by aka burlap at 4:04 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


One more thought:

Like everyone else, I dislike being on either side of a rejection. I can handle my own disappointment.

What are the signals people send that allow you to not feel caught off guard when people reject you? Do those things.
posted by aka burlap at 4:09 PM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


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