I'm just not into you.
March 23, 2008 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Datingfilter: I went out on a date, in the end, I wasn't into the person. They're really into me. How do I let this person down without hurting them?

This is new ground for me. I'm in my mid-30's and I've been very lucky in that I've never been on what either datee/er would consider to be a "bad date". Friday was a bad date. I let it go up to making out (because honestly, making out can radically change things), but all this did was decrease my attraction for this person.

I haven't spoken to her since Friday night, but she has sent me 5-6 emails. I want to tell her "no, sorry", but everything I come up with sounds harsh. I can't just ignore her because that's just damned rude and I would feel bad. (See, I'm an over-processy guy who, according to my OMGBFF! is WAY to considerate of other people's feelings.)

I know that this was just one date and I owe no one anything, but for some reason she's REALLY into me. (I know for a fact that I did nothing committal, but I also recognize now that kissing may have more than I should have done..what can I say, some guys think with their dicks, I think with my lips).

Any suggestions for letting her down easy?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There is always some modicum of hurt associated with being rejected. 5-6 unreturned e-mails sounds excessive on her part, though.

Just tell her the truth. That's probably the most respectful thing you can do.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:20 AM on March 23, 2008

Yes, tell her the truth, and quick, because 5-6 emails is really a lot. Bad dates happen, she'll move on.
posted by sweetkid at 11:22 AM on March 23, 2008

Just tell her. It'll probably not be the nicest conversation you're ever going to have but she has a right to know and the sooner you tell her the better.

Something like "Listen, I enjoyed myself last time but I don't think we should go out on another date. You're just not what I'm looking for in a relationship. Sorry."

Short and sweet. There's no reason to go into detail about how horrible she is or whatever. But you do need to tell her you don't want to see her again.
posted by sveskemus at 11:23 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've thought about it for a while, and I don't think this is going to
work out. I'm really, really sorry.

I hate to do this over email, but I thought I'd spare both of us an
awkward conversation. I think you're a really wonderful person, I wish
you the best, and I hope there are no hard feelings.
posted by jejune at 11:24 AM on March 23, 2008 [11 favorites]

Well you sound like a nice person, so it comes as no surprise if anything resolute sounds to you to be harsh. I've had this happen to me (sans making out), and the girl just said "You are a nice person but I don't think it's going to work. Good luck in your search!" I was bummed for about five minutes and then moved on with my life.
posted by rhizome at 11:25 AM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

I like rhizome's response. It doesn't really put anything on the girl personally. I might leave off Good luck in your search as that sounds like a job application response.
posted by sweetkid at 11:27 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

You seem great, but I just didn't feel a connection/spark.
posted by callmejay at 11:31 AM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Kissing someone you don't want to marry or even date again is fine. It sends a teeny "I'm into you" message, but really so does talking to someone or looking at them. Just send a nice, polite email as other people have said. If you're not even as-a-friend interested in this person, I wouldn't leave any avenues open for further conversation. "Thanks for the nice time, sorry not to reply sooner but [you're not the one for me/this isn't going to work out/I'm not feeling it]. Best of luck."

Ignoring is rude, correct. However, sending 5-6 emails is also a little... outside the norm as well (in my experience). Honestly, if you didn't reply to the first 4-5, she's probably getting the message anyhow. Just let her know.
posted by jessamyn at 11:32 AM on March 23, 2008

What callmejay said is precisely my standard "I'm not interested" response.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:40 AM on March 23, 2008

This happened to me recently. I told her (lets call her May) that I met someone else while out with friends and we really hit it off, and because this "someone" was a friend of a friend it was inevitable that I'd be seeing more of them and it would be unfair for me to see May again.

All in all, if she likes you and you don't like her, she's going to get hurt. Its gonna happen. If she's that caught-up with you she'll be planning your future together, so nip it in the bud before she gets really hurt.
posted by refactored at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I’m in this situation after one or two dates, I give the guy a reason to be angry with me. I do this by not replying to follow up e-mails. Some may say that’s rude, but that way the guy can blame my rudeness for things not working out. But in your case it sounds like she’s really got her hopes up. Here I like refactored’s approach. It puts the blame on you and does not imply that she’s the problem. To me, nothing is more mortifying than a guy saying, “sorry I didn’t feel a connection.” I hear, “you’re not stylish, cute, or clever enough.” Make it easy for her, even if you end up coming off as a flakey jerk. (I’m not saying you are flakey or a jerk, I’m saying that it makes it easy to accept when being rejected).
posted by vincele at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you are 100% absolutely sure that there's nothing to come of this then tell her, but single-dude mid-30s may suggest standards are too high. Of course it may not, but you completely remind me of someone I know (who is now early 40s) and breaks off after the first date for silly reasons like "didnt like her ears" and other craziness.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2008

Nthing an email to her. Though I think keeping it short and sweet is best - it's only been one date. You really don't owe her an explanation. Just write something like, "I had fun, but I'm not in a position to be serious with someone. Thanks." If you go into more detail, it will invite questions from her, and judging from the fact that she has already sent you a bunch of emails, she is looking for any excuse to get in touch.

You'll probably hear back from her, and if you choose to respond, brevity is best.

It is easy to over process something like this - it's no fun to hurt someone's feelings. But the sooner you do it, and the less chance of hope you give her, the better off she'll be in the long run.
posted by suki at 12:35 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just a short simple email ASAP.
"I had a nice time on our date, but I don't think the chemistry is there for me."
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:49 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't talk about spark or chemistry. That'd be like, "yeah, things were going in your favor until we kissed." I'd be more vague.

I'd also not associate the word "you" with anything, as in "you aren't the one for me." What wouldn't work out are things, things like "hanging out more" or "taking things further." In other words, what you're evaluating is the potential relationship, not her as a person.

"Hey, thanks for the date the other night. It was nice hanging out with you, and you seem like a really cool person, but ultimately, I don't think it'd work out for me to go any further with things.

Good luck with your [upcoming test] and the rest of your [semester] -- hope it goes well. Thanks again!"
posted by salvia at 2:20 PM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Wow, did I post this in my sleep under a sock puppet I didn't even know I had?

I was in this precise situation yesterday. It was two dates, she seemed fun at first but by the end of the second I just knew it wasn't going anywhere. Meanwhile, she had decided that instead of being aloof and casual as she is with everyone else, she will let down her guard and let herself like me and tell all her friends and imagine super happy scenarios.

I called her yesterday to say it wasn't working for me. It was one of the more painful conversations of my life. She cried. Heaving, torturous sobbing crying. She called me nasty things. And I, like you, have been told I'm too considerate of other people so this was absolutely terrible for me to go through, to know that I'd done something to hurt someone this much.

All the other advice here would have been great for me two days ago, and I ended up going along with a general 'you're wonderful, but it's just not going anywhere due to my confusing past' thing, which was the truth. But it still hurt her. It still hurt me. I don't think there are any magic words that can avoid that pain.

So, I say just do it. Don't obsess about the perfect words, because there aren't any. Accept that you're going to hurt her, be upset about it, and move on.
posted by twirlypen at 2:45 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Not sure I could offer a specific response to this person that would be better than some of the ones posted already, so all I want to add is that while being direct may seem harsh to you as a person who (very admirably) wants to be nice, in the long run it actually most likely IS kinder to tell her you're not interested, soon, and in a way that offers no hope for some possible relationship in the future. The problem is that being more indirect or fuzzy - even with the intent of sparing her feelings - could, in this person's mind, leave open a door that truly isn't open, thereby keeping her hopes up unfairly or even prompting her to dedicate more mental energy towards the possibility of something happening with you when she -could- be focusing instead on Person B, with whom maybe she -does- have a chance. It's cliched, I know, but sometimes the ol' "it's cruel to be kind" (or vice versa) does indeed seem to be true ...
posted by zeph at 2:46 PM on March 23, 2008

Kissing someone you don't want to marry or even date again is fine. It sends a teeny "I'm into you" message

I'd say it sends a big 'i'm into you' message, which might be why this is kind of delicate. Maybe a subtle apology for sending the wrong message might be worked into the email.
posted by jonmc at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2008

Don't apologize for kissing her- a kiss isn't a contract.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:07 PM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Oof. I just sent the email. I let a little bit of crankiness fuel me (I got home to find 3 missed calls from her.). I kept it short and honest (I'm simply not going to invent a situation to extract myself from this one..besides, lying would make me feel like shit). I used salvia's model. No finger pointing, no "you".

damn dirty ape: I don't have particularly "high" standards. I'm pretty accepting of just about everyone and am always willing to gives things a chance. Things on the date had me screaming "run" in my head, and I have NEVER experienced that before.

Thanks everyone. I'm feeling kind of bad right now, but I'm not going to let it eat me up (hopefully). It will also be easier if she doesn't respond to the email, but considering all of the emails and phone calls, I'm fully expecting it.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:08 PM on March 23, 2008

A contract? No. But it does send a signal to someone, and we need to think about the signals we send out. That's just consideration.
posted by jonmc at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but dumping someone calls for a phone call. Don't leave words on a screen she can read again and again - cold words unadorned by everything that speech can add. Pick up the phone, call the girl, and say hey, nice time etc but I don't see it developing into anything etc.

e-mail is for cowards.
posted by three blind mice at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

From twirlypen:
She cried. Heaving, torturous sobbing crying.

Just for future information for all guys who similarly hate to hurt someone's feelings, if a girl reacts like this to you calling things off after two dates, it says way more about her than you. You didn't do anything wrong by giving her a polite no. If she's investing that much emotionally that early on, it's about something else besides you. Or she might just be someone who cries when she gets angry, but either way don't beat yourself up over it.
posted by MsMolly at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with MsMolly and also seconding that if she's called you three times on the phone when you're already sending the pokey "I'm not replying" message, that's indicating a level of interest/attention that is a little edge-casey for a "we've gone on one date" situation. This is true, to me, even if it was a terrific date.

I feel like the email/phone thing depends a lot more on what your primary mode of communication is/was. If you guys have already been emailing, it doesn't seem that crazy to email "hey it's just not working for me" to her. Sure, you could have been clearer about how you were feeling -- making out does tend not to imply that you're screaming "run" in your head, for example -- but you clearly know that. If she has a twirlypen-style freakout that strikes me as over the top.
posted by jessamyn at 3:28 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The "run" feeling came from a series of things that began early in the dated. The complete "run" feeling occurred after the makeout when certainly rather uncomfortable things were said to me.

As for emailing, we had spoken on the phone once; the majority of our conversations were via email, so email felt like the natural medium.

The messages all involved pet names and things along the lines of, "where are you?" and "I'd like to stop by your house". To be clear, on our date, I told her that I would be committed to other things for the next day and a half and would be out of contact.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2008

after five unreturned emails, she should have gotten the message (i would have gotten the message after one unreturned email). so, time to lay it out for her, as a kindness.

send a short email saying, "hey there, i'm really flattered by all the attention, but i just don't see things heading towards a second date. thanks for hanging out on friday, though. i'm glad we had a chance to meet. all the best to you."
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:06 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with three blind mice. Doing this over e-mail is not only cowardly, it's cold. Give her a call and tell her yourself, however awkward it might feel. Prepare a script before hand if you feel you need to. Whatever you do, don't use e-mail. As three blind mice said, she'll keep reading that e-mail over and over again, assign her own inflection and meaning to your words, no matter how well intended they might be, and it'll hurt her more each and every time she does.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:28 PM on March 23, 2008

Effigy2000, it's already done, and the poster has explained why email was appropriate.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:58 PM on March 23, 2008

Agh. I've been trying to find another askme thread from a few months back (maybe last Nov) where the following idea was proposed: honesty when dumping someone is basically self-serving, since it will help the dumper, but mess up the dumpee's feelings. For the life of me I can't find it, but I remember that the thread consensus gravitated towards that opinion.

A mefite explained that when she dumped someone, she would pull the ex card: telling the other person that you can't see them anymore because your ex is back in town/the picture and you want to work things out with them. IMO this is preferable, since this way the abandoned party will have something to tell themselves other than "god this confirms it: I truly suck". Trust me, it was better said in that thread. I only wish I could dig it up.
posted by papafrita at 5:26 PM on March 23, 2008

People always say "don't use email to break up with someone" -- so I'd just like to add the single anecdotal data point that I'd far, far rather be rejected in an email than on the phone. Maybe it's generational or cultural or something, but if I've been using email to have every other type of conversation with you, I don't see why this one has to be so much more about putting me on the spot and hearing my doubtless-at-least-awkward-if-not-worse response live. Especially after just one (or even a few) date(s)!
posted by obliquicity at 6:43 PM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconded for me; I'd much, much rather get a rejection email than a phone call. Not if we had been dating for many months, but in this instance a phone call would seem cruel to me. I have to somehow make my voice sound like I'm not hurt, while the reject-er waits for my response? Ugh. Give me an email I can react to in private, please.
posted by chowflap at 7:13 PM on March 23, 2008

Thirded, assuming the relationship is still at the first/second date stage.

Also would like to reiterate what was said above about her reaction being more than a little off. Sounds like your "run" instinct was correct.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:53 PM on March 23, 2008

Since my answer (the 4th one in the thread) seems to be pretty popular, I should add that I copied and pasted it from an actual email (as you can see from the line breaks I inadvertently left in). It was well received.
posted by jejune at 9:41 PM on March 23, 2008

Three Blind Mice,

It was just one date, there is no "relationship" to end, and the OP wasn't dumping anyone. He was considerate enough to tell the girl she had no chance.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:45 PM on March 23, 2008

Oh, and I've been in plenty of situations where I'd rather get a "This isn't going to work out" email than a "This isn't going to work out" phone call.

Three blind mice says, "Don't leave words on a screen she can read again and again," but you'll be interested to know that email programs have a cool feature that makes those words disappear at the click of a mouse -- it's called a "delete button." The hostility to email, when all we're talking about is a first date that didn't go anywhere, is kind of weird.
posted by jejune at 10:15 PM on March 23, 2008

I happen to hate the phone, but if someone is telling you, "No. Period." why would you want to be sitting there in real time as if a response is expected from you? I don't like being put on the spot, and I don't like doing it to others, either.
posted by caitlinb at 10:46 AM on March 24, 2008

^ that is, I think email is perfect for this situation - and many others.
posted by caitlinb at 10:46 AM on March 24, 2008

E-mail was fine; good job. Just don't answer her calls or e-mail from now on, even if they are all OMGEMERGENCY!! Filter your e-mail and delete any voice mails from her without listening. (If she's really into you, she will invent any scenario to win your attention.) It would be cruel to dangle that glimmer of hope for something between you two in front of her. Let her move on.
posted by LordSludge at 9:04 AM on March 25, 2008

If your really not in to this person why dont you just say you know what in the beginning I displayed an interest in you but recently I just had a change of heart and Im really not interested in continuing this with you Plain simple nice and to the point right???
posted by soooblesssed at 6:01 PM on April 1, 2008

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