Not Interested in Dating Someone? Just Say So.

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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.

But how?

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.

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12 thoughts on “Not Interested in Dating Someone? Just Say So.”

  1. I wish women would take your advice. Instead they somehow manage to think lying and stringing men along is there easy way out? Shit gets so old.

  2. That’s a great response! Totally copying it. My method is telling them “even though you’re nice and good looking, I just don’t think we’re a fit. (I used to say there was no chemistry but have heard that can come off as offensive — as if they aren’t sexually attractive. XD

    1. Michael S. Sorensen

      Hi Jeanie,

      Right? And interesting insight on the “chemistry” piece—I hadn’t thought of that, but could see how it could be interpreted that way. Best of luck with the dating!


    2. Agree x infinity!!! I love your response and copied it. I was recently abruptly let go after being strung along. False words and promises. He said all the right things. Ugh! I’m not so much mad at him as I am at how he did it. I hate lies. Totally wasted my time.

  3. I’ve been up front and honest with men to the point where I’ve actually wound up saying thanks but I’m not interested to which I’m then attacked by being called really foul names. I’m almost too afraid to even try chatting with men usually I’ll say thank you for your interest but I’m just really not interested in going any further and then I’m attacked verbally. Maybe 1 or 2 out of the men I’ve said no thanks to have been cool about it the others though “scary” doesn’t come close to their reactions. Alot is their thinking I’m down for anything which I’m not i just don’t get why men get so angry for no reason. I’m just another woman in a long line of women they’ve pursued so what gives?

  4. As a women, we are often indirect about these things because of:
    A) fears of male violence – nearly all women have been verbally abused by women for rejecting them (being called a b**** or a w****, etc.). All women have heard of instances of women being threatened, physically abused or even killed for rejecting men. It’s just not worth the risk
    B) socialization – perhaps because of A, women are socialized from a very young age to be nice and not rock the boat

  5. I never show interest in women (even though I may be very interested) because no woman has ever shown interest in me. I’ve seen in several places that women usually initiate by giving hints to guys they like. Since I never get any hints from women, I don’t bother.

  6. I’m not interested in dating at all, but I do enjoy talking and socializing. I never flirt, I don’t respond to flirting, and I don’t lead women on. My problem is they get upset because I won’t ask them out. But I don’t feel like I need to give them a reason. No one is entitled to a date with anyone. Short of eliminating all social contact with women (a tempting option), how can I prevent them from becoming upset with me?

    1. I totally understand John. I like my own space and often tell men that I enjoy company and socializing, but I don’t wish for it to go any further. I find that being direct up front stops people from expecting it to lead somewhere. I also make it clear to men that they are welcome to sever the friendship if necessary for their own feelings.

    2. Michael S. Sorensen

      Hi John,

      That is a tricky situation, to be sure. You absolutely have every right to want to build friendships and not take them into the flirting or dating realm. As to how best to communicate that to these women, that would differ from case to case. If you’d like to provide a specific example, I’d be happy to suggest some ways to approach it. In general, though, it will be important to remember that while there are ways to tactfully approach the situation to increase their chances of understanding or respecting your boundaries, they still may still choose to take it personally or respond poorly. If they want you to ask them out and find out you aren’t interested, they’re going to be disappointed. No way around that. But we of course hope they’re emotionally healthy enough to not take that out on you.


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