I know that everyone says that “no” is a complete sentence, but sometimes it can be really hard to put that into practice, especially when someone has feelings for you that aren’t reciprocated. To avoid further confusion, here’s how to politely say that you’re not interested in someone you met via online dating.
- Ghost them. There are ways to ghost and ways not to ghost. A golden rule: before you’ve been talking for a month, that’s fair game. Anything after the three-month period, particularly if promises have been made and it’s out of nowhere, that’s a no-go area for ghosting. Then you’re just being a d**k. Before that, however, you’re well within your right to assert your boundaries and leave someone by the wayside, especially if you haven’t even met in person. That’s the cleanest way to do it. For you. Yes, I know that it’s a complex issue, but we don’t owe everyone in our life an explanation. Sometimes, it’s the safest and easiest option for us to detach ourselves. And actually, that ends up being the most polite method too. It ensures you don’t completely burn the bridge, just walk away.
- Get a friend to draft it. If you’re feeling too connected or in too deep with an issue, step away. Often, you’re in your own head about a situation or opportunity and that puts loads of pressure on you. Ease yourself out of that situation and get another pair of eyes. They will likely have a better perspective on things and will manage to streamline any sense of emotional hang-up or guilt. I know it can be hard to ask for help, but with relationship situations, it’s essential. Talk to your people and communicate your needs. You will feel so much better, I assure you. This has the added benefit of ensuring you’re safe and polite and cordial because a third party is involved to neutralize emotions.
- Run the message by someone else. Whether it be your parents or a therapist or a random dog walker on the street. Getting another person to look at what you’re planning to do is a great way of judging and controlling the tone. You might not realize how your message sounds to other people because you’re overthinking. That will help you politely tell your suitor that you’re not interested because you won’t overstate matters or amplify the drama.
- Be honest. This is your time to be honest. You have the protection of relative anonymity and being behind a screen rather than seeing them in person. That makes these conversations easier. Plus, you can say what’s really on your mind. It will help you move on and will help them to grow going forward. The value of honesty in this climate of dating cannot be underestimated. Take ownership, don’t disappear.
- Say what you mean. When you’re out with a person in person it can add added pressure to a situation. The stakes might seem higher or more complex. Being online simplifies this process. In addition, because you’re safe at home, you can say what’s on your mind, rather than softening the blow. You don’t have to pander to the male ego, and in fact, you can get your own back. I don’t mean to say that you have to be mean, but you can assert yourself. These are useful skills to learn how to be tactful and polite while still conveying constructive criticism. It will help you with future relationships, romantic and platonic.
- Know that you don’t owe them anything. Yes, it’s nice to be polite, but if they haven’t earned that basic level of respect, don’t let them stress you into wording things perfectly. Say what needs to be said and get the heck out of there. Do whatever serves you best. If you’re worrying about politely rejecting them it’s because you’re rejecting them and they’re not for you. That’s fine. You don’t owe them anything because you went on a few dates. These are important boundaries to establish early on in your dating life so that you don’t risk getting into bad habits going forward.
- Stick up for yourself. You have to prioritize yourself above anyone or anything else. This doesn’t mean that you go on a rampage or rant at them because you’re stressed about something else. You aren’t a man – the whole point of this enterprise is that we retain the moral high ground. All this to say, know yourself and go in swinging. It feels good to get a clean break when you aren’t interested in someone.
- Set boundaries. Don’t lead anyone on. There is a risk that you can be too polite. So polite, in fact, that your suitor might not realize they’re getting broken up with. It’s important to be clear and set these boundaries. Don’t invite further attention or say that you’ll keep in touch if you don’t want to. It’s important to do what feels right for you, not what you feel guilt-ridden to do. There’s a huge difference and you’ll feel it in your gut.
- Treat it like you would any other dating relationship. The truth is that online dating is just a means to an end — it’s not really all that different to meeting someone in person that you ultimately realize you’re not compatible with. If anything, it’s slightly less awkward because you may not have even met face to face. Telling someone you met via online dating politely that you’re not interested is just the same as telling someone you met at the bar that you’re not feeling it. Handle it the same way and you’ll be fine.