How do I say thanks but no thanks to someone after a date?
July 8, 2020 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I've spent the last 3 weeks texting with someone a few states away who I met on a dating app. Recently we got together in a park to chat and drink wine. I don't feel romantically interested. How do I handle this?

We have texted virtually every day for a bit, laughing and joking a lot, sharing personal info, sending occasional photos and having a couple chats on the phone.

It started to get a little weird so I made sure to say we should meet up in person soon. She looked pretty different than her photos and wasn't really what I imagined. But we've kind of built up a friendship also.

I don't have much experience with this and it's especially unique in a time of covid where you're not necessarily meeting in person.

How do I handle this diplomatically without hurting them?
posted by critzer to Human Relations (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
“Hey Name, it’s been great getting to know you over the past few weeks, but I just don’t feel like we have the romantic connection I need in a relationship. I understand if you want to end contact here or if not, I’d love to stay friends [if you actually do]. Either way, chatting with you really eased the solitude of these covid times and I’ll never forget that!”
posted by sallybrown at 12:07 PM on July 8, 2020 [13 favorites]


I had this happen a few years ago. I was honest yet kind and they were hurt for a while but we stayed friends and it was fine.
posted by Young Kullervo at 12:10 PM on July 8, 2020


I echo the other folks but I'd leave out the part about staying friends, even if you do mean it. If you guys stay friends, awesome, but saying it as part of a no thank you sandwich will always sound false. I'd literally just take out one tiny clause of sallybrown's text:

“Hey Name, it’s been great getting to know you over the past few weeks, but I just don’t feel like we have the romantic connection I need in a relationship. I understand if you want to end contact here or, either way, chatting with you really eased the solitude of these covid times and I’ll never forget that!”
posted by phunniemee at 12:11 PM on July 8, 2020 [17 favorites]


This is an incredibly common scenario, in my experience the most common way for a first app date to go, on one side or the other. But I do want to validate you that these things feel a little different now that there's more lead-up and chatting than usual before the first date.

The best and kindest thing to do is just to be direct and brief. Tell her you had a great time getting to know her but aren't feeling like it's a romantic connection (don't feel a spark, don't feel like you're a match, whatever language feels right to you.) Then just wish her the best. No need to apologize or explain why, and don't mention anything about her looking different from her photos. Personally, I would not suggest or expect a friendship out of this kind of contact.

There's no way to do this that avoids the possibility of hurting her. As long as you're prompt (don't waste her time), kind, straightforward, and don't over-explain, you've done your due diligence.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


I had a lot of trouble with this in the past, it is normal to be concerned and anxious about this if you're someone who is essentially kind. The realization that helped me get over my issues is this: You are going to hurt the other person, and probably yourself, and you cannot stop that. What you DO control is how much hurt you cause and for how long. So do it simply and kindly, and that will give both of you the best path forward. If you try too hard to avoid hurting the other person that just makes it more awkward and prolongs the emotional pain.
posted by JZig at 1:18 PM on July 8, 2020 [4 favorites]


It's the greatest kindness to tell folks you aren't interested in them. You don't have to say a lot, but you do have to be quite clear. I kept a list on my phone when I was on tinder and mixed-and-matched phrases depending on the situation:

*I enjoyed meeting you, but I don't think we're a romantic match.  Good luck to you. 
*I really did have a great time, you're a cool guy, but I don't see us as long-term compatible.  Best of luck.  
*I have enjoyed our time together but I am no longer interested in pursuing a romantic connection with you.
*Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and share about yourself.  I just don't feel we have enough in common to move forward. 
*Hi. I'm sorry to let you down, but I just didn't feel a strong romantic connection. I have had a fun time with you so far, but it doesn't seem to me that it would work out if we kept seeing each other. I hope you find the right girl some day soon.
*Sorry, I meant to get back to you earlier. I'm just not really feeling it right now. Good luck out there though.
*Actually, my schedule is looking pretty full, and I feel like I've lost the vibe a bit anyway. I'm sorry, and good luck to you!

The (NSFW) instagram account WhatsWrongWithMollyMargaret has a lot of texting templates for difficult situations too.
posted by mcgsa at 1:24 PM on July 8, 2020 [9 favorites]


I've been turned down after one date with a text that was too detailed as to the why, and it didn't help. It was a perfectly kind text, but the "why" was not helpful- stick with the verbiage that other commenters gave.

When that happened, I really wasn't super enthusiastic after the date either, so being turned down didn't hurt much. It was a nice date, it wasn't a "we have a great connection" date. She might be thinking the same! You just don't know. A short, clear message with no self-justifications like those suggested will do no harm.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2020


When I started dating again a few years ago, my therapist and I actually had a conversation about how to approach a conversation like this. I think you want to be clear, direct, and kind, and it would be a kindness not to be completely honest. A simple approach after a first date might be something like, "It was great to meet you. I'm not feeling a spark so I think we should end things right here. Best of luck to you." (I think some people don't like the "Good luck" thing but I do think it's good to end on a positive note.)

Extensive messaging and chatting before meeting up for a first date can lead to a false sense of intimacy. Or maybe a real sense of intimacy but unrelated to actual attraction and chemistry. And I also think it means you feel some additional obligation to "break up" even though you've only just met. It sounds like you do like this person, but not romantically. So I think you could address this along the lines of... "It's been lovely to meet you, and I've really enjoyed chatting with you these past few weeks. I am not really feeling a romantic spark here, however. If you are open to the possibility of staying in touch as friends, I'm open to that, but I'll leave that for you to decide. Regardless, it's been good fun laughing with you during a difficult time, and I wish you the best either way." And then just let it go and see what she says. This is if you truly want to be friends.

If you're not interested in being friends but want to be kind, then perhaps a compromise between the two. "It's been lovely to meet you, and I've really enjoyed chatting with you these past few weeks. I am not really feeling a romantic spark here, however. ,It's been good fun laughing with you during a difficult time, and I wish you the best." I think you need to be clear to yourself what you want.

(Of course I'm imagining that all of this is happening through text, which seems okay to me after only one date.)

By the way, "not hurting them" is not an outcome you can control. I think it's always better to be direct -- that is a kindness -- but if they feel a spark and you don't, there might be hurt that they experience. You aren't responsible for that.

In general I think it's better not to message extensively before meeting up, but obviously that's a bit complicated right now, so my advice that you didn't ask for is maybe, if something like this arises again, to ask to do a video chat rather than a phone call. That might be a good way to get a bit better sense of chemistry than just talking and texting.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2020 [4 favorites]


Nthing everyone above that says come clean, be honest, but kind. Short and sweet.

And adding the perspective from someone who's been on the RECEIVING end of those kinds of statements - honestly, they often came as a bit of a relief, because I hadn't felt a spark either and I was having a similar "do I really wanna go on another date or should I say something" conversation with myself, and for exactly the same reasons ("I had a good time, but there really wasn't a connection, but maybe I should give it a second chance, but my gut says no, but...."), so when they emailed me to say "hey, it was great to meet you, but there was not really a spark or a connection I felt" often my immediate reaction was "OH THANK GOD it wasn't just me."

And even when I was a little interested in pursuing, and was let down when they said this, it was only a super-tiny letdown that I bounced back from within a day or so, and I also was ultimately glad they hadn't tried to ghost me.

So there exists the possibility that you may not hurt her after all. Just proceed with kindness (meaning, don't say "that date sucked, don't call me again" or anything, which I doubt you'd do anyway).

Good luck!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


Thanks all — I kept it short and sweet and gleaned a lot from your examples. She took it well and we both made some jokes. There was no drama. Whew. This helped a lot.
posted by critzer at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2020 [20 favorites]


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