“That may have just been one of the worst first dates I’ve ever been on AND he wants to hang out again,” my friend said as she plopped down on the couch.
The only thing worse than dealing with the confrontation of telling someone you don’t want to go out with them again is the feeling of going out with them again knowing they are totally not a match for you.
As a therapist working with adults in their 20s and 30s, I see many clients who struggle with not wanting to ghost someone after a bad date but also aren’t sure how to communicate that they don’t want to go out again.
Whether you’re single, recently divorced, or just love dating, you know many people will come in and out of your dating orbit. And when it’s time for them to go, you may need a plan.
This can be done in one of three ways: in person, over the phone, or via text message.
Which form of communication you decide to use is based on the golden rule: treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
And as of for the language used in that interaction, try the following:
Step 1: Thank them for their time
Examples: Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for our date the other night. Thank you for spending time with me.
Step 2: Acknowledge the joy of getting to know them
If you authentically enjoyed the connection but don’t see yourself spending time with them long-term, you can say, “I had a great time.” Otherwise skip this step.
Step 3: Identify their strengths
Maybe they were funny, smart, and/ or cute.
Step 4: I don’t feel we are a match
This is the most important part of your communication. Steps 1-3 create the understanding that the rejection doesn’t need to be taken personally. You simply are not a good fit for one another. If you feel you may want to date them in the future but you are currently emotionally unavailable (example: you recently got out of a relationship or you don’t want to prioritize a relationship right now), you can say that you don’t feel you are a match right now.
Step 5: Wish them well
Let them know that you wish them the best and good luck.
Here’s an example:
“Hey, thank you for taking the time to get to know me the other night. I’ve really enjoyed our connection. You’re super kind and sweet, but my instinct tells me we aren’t a match (optional: right now). Wish you the best!”
You DON’T need to explain your reasons for not wanting to continue dating, but if the other person asks and you feel comfortable with it, then go for it.
Being honest with yourself about a relationship that isn’t working takes courage. In a world that is becoming more focused on facade and image, being authentic with yourself and others is a rare gift.
Keep it up and be kind to yourself in the process!