I’ve made it a goal to go out on at least one date per week for the past couple of years, and in doing so, have met hundreds of fantastic people. Generally, these are first dates, and only first dates. Every once in a while, though, I meet a woman who I’d like to keep dating. And every once in a while, she ends up feeling the same way and it turns into a great relationship. (Sweet.)
I also get the occasional woman that I’m interested in, who doesn’t show the same interest in me. (Not so sweet.) And yet, that’s dating. I don’t get too broken up about it.
In those instances, however, there is one thing I wish were different: that people would be more direct when they’re simply not interested.
Walking the line.
We as men walk a fine line in pursuing women—that of being the confident, manly man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go for it, without becoming the desperate, needy man who can’t take a hint.
What makes walking this line so difficult, though, is the fact that some women play hard-to-get in hopes that the man will pursue her harder, while others play hard-to-get in hopes that the man will “get the hint” and leave them alone!
See any issues here?
Over the years, I’ve learned to not make assumptions. If I’m getting mixed signals, I’ll simply ask her where she’s at. I’ll be honest with my hopes (e.g. “Hey, I enjoy spending time with you, and would like to keep getting to know you”) and give them an out if they’re not feeling the same way (e.g. “and yet, if you’re not interested, zero hard feelings. I’d just like to know where you’re at.”)
When I’ve had that conversation, some women tell me that they’re simply not interested (great—no more guessing), while others admit they are interested, but have been playing hard-to-get because “otherwise, you men lose interest!”
What? Okay, sure. There is some psychological something around wanting what you can’t have, but dating is confusing enough without having to play that game. Can’t we just we spare it?
Let’s be real.
Instead of playing games, or trying to “not hurt the other person’s feelings,” I’m a proponent of kind, genuine honesty. If you’d like to keep dating someone, say so! If not, say so. Don’t “ghost” the person (i.e. stop returning their calls or texts) and don’t feed them endless excuses if they keep asking you out.
This goes for both men and women.
Now to be fair, telling someone that you’re not interested is much easier said than done. I do not envy women, as they’re often the ones being pursued, and therefore the ones having to figure out how to let the guy down easy. I’ve been there before—pursued by women I’m not interested in—and letting them down is tough. I’m always tempted to just give excuses or draw it out until they “get the hint.”
But that’s not honest. It’s not genuine. And you know what? It’s not even kind. Ignoring or avoiding someone when they’re clearly interested in you just prolongs an uncomfortable situation for the both of you. What is the kind thing to do? Let them know you’re not interested.
Recently, I had a woman text me after a first date and tell me she’d love to do something again sometime. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I was immediately tempted to say “Yeah, that would be fun!”
But honestly, I wasn’t interested. She was great in so many ways and I truly enjoyed getting to know her that evening, but I had no intention of asking her out again. We just didn’t click.
After giving it some thought, here’s how I responded:
Thank you, and I definitely will. And while I had a great time tonight (genuinely!), I’m not sure I really see things working out long term. I enjoyed getting to know you a little better—thank you for agreeing to go out!
Simple enough, right?
She was cool about it. Here was her response:
I wasn’t completely sure, but I had fun enough time talking that I had thought I would give it another shot. I understand though! Thanks again!
We wrapped up with a little more small talk and it ended positively.
Honestly, I just keep that response saved on my phone now and tweak it to each situation so it’s truthful and respectful. (Tacky? Maybe. I consider it efficient. It took me a long time to craft that response! You can use it, free of charge.)
Every time I respond in this way, I get a positive response, and both of us are able to move on without the uncomfortable guessing, avoiding, or worrying. Every time a woman has responded to me in this way, the result is the same. I admire her even more for having the maturity to be direct, and am grateful to be able to move on without any question.
Agree? Disagree? How do you let someone down nicely? Post about it in the comments below.