Why is it that something that should seem so easy – telling someone you’re not interested – is so hard for many people? I get it – no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. So, I’m going to share a few examples of the right and wrong ways to kindly let someone down in various situations.
If after one date and the other person wants to see you again, below are two options that are both tactful and honest:
“Thanks so much for a nice time! Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel the connection I’m looking for, but I wish you nothing but the best.”
“It was really nice meeting and learning a bit about you. I don’t feel that we’re a romantic match, but thanks again for taking the time, and I wish you the best.”
As long as you keep things kind and decisive (as in, don’t make up lies about how your life is too busy right now or you met someone else in the 12.73 hours since your date), then that’s all you can do. As I often find myself reminding clients and friends alike – in both dating and in life – all we can control is what we put out there. What we cannot control is how others react to this. This is an important note because, if one out of 10 times someone does not take the rejection maturely, I don’t want that to stop anyone from making the kind, honest choice in the future.
What not to do: Ghost, be rude, list all of the things you didn’t like about that person, ghost, be curt, ghost. And did I mention ghost? Don’t do it. If someone makes him or herself vulnerable to you (as in, asks you out again), then you need to reply in some fashion.
Now, what happens if someone sends you a message on an online dating site like Match.com, where it does not have to be a “mutual match” (like most of the apps) for someone to write to you? It’s thoughtful and shows that the person took the time to read your profile and craft a unique, personal message. But you know this person is not for you for any number of reasons. General protocol online is to simply delete or not reply if you’re not interested. But in this case, if someone did take that time, then I still recommend saying something like, “Thanks so much for your thoughtful message. While I don’t think we are a match, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated it. Best of luck.” Again, most people will take this note graciously. Some will not. Don’t let the ones who get up in arms influence your desire to send similar messages in the future.
Unfortunately, not everyone is kind or mature enough to send these rejection messages. Sometimes we get ghosted or have rude messages sent to us that are neither kind nor mature. I just want to remind everyone not to let someone else’s opinion or behavior influence your value of yourself.
Lastly, once you’ve seen someone several times or are in a relationship, then a much more personal approach should be taken, whether that is in person or over the phone. Please don’t hide behind your screen so as to shield yourself from the other person’s reactions and emotions. It’s okay to express yourself, and, in turn, it’s okay for the other person to react. Will it be difficult in the short term? Yes. Will you feel better about how you handled things in the long term? That’s the goal.